Do you ever feel like you’re more sensitive than the average person? Do you seem to become overwhelmed easily? Are you highly in tune with the emotions and moods of others?
There’s actually a term for people who have these traits: highly sensitive person (HSP). It’s suspected that about 20% of the population falls into this category. Now, “highly sensitive person” isn’t a diagnosis; it’s a personality trait. That said, those who identify as highly sensitive certainly face challenges.
So, how do you know if you’re a highly sensitive person?
Here are 5 signs you might be an HSP:
You take in a lot of information at once, and oftentimes that can be overwhelming. Because of this, you prefer to process information slowly. But that’s difficult to do in a fast-paced society when we are constantly bombarded with swaths of information at all times. Having to sort through a lot of information and make a decision quickly is overwhelming and stressful, and will leave you feeling flustered.
You notice the details. You may take in subtleties that a majority of people will miss. You might notice someone’s body language revealing that they’re uncomfortable. This tendency to notice details can lead to you being very in tune with what others are feeling and experiencing.
You are easily overstimulated. Both external and internal stimuli can cause a strong reaction in you and can lead to feelings of overwhelm and fatigue. External stimuli can include loud sounds, bright lights, visual commotion, scents, and the feel of fabrics on your skin. Internal stimuli can include hunger, thirst, and emotional changes. When you experience this overstimulation, you may find yourself seeking out reprieve. For instance, leaving a party when it starts to get really noisy. Or you may avoid certain events altogether if you know they will be overstimulating.
You are highly affected by both beauty and violence. You may be very moved by artwork, a piece of music, plays or movies. The beauty in these things may even bring you to tears. On the flip side, you’re also very negatively affected by things that are violent and graphic, and you tend to avoid movies and shows that portray these things.
Other people’s moods and feelings impact you. You’re highly sensitive to what’s going on around you, including the emotions of others. You might find that the way others around you are feeling has an effect on the way you feel.
Do any or all of these traits resonate with you? There’s a good chance you might be an HSP. You can take a quiz here to find out if you score within the range of a highly sensitive person.
HSP: Gift or Curse?
If you have the traits of an HSP, there’s a good chance you’ve spent a lot of your life seeing them as a negative. After all, our society is geared toward stimulus. Everywhere you go, there are sights and sounds competing for your attention. And the phone you carry around in your pocket all day long is another source of stimulation.
While HSPs do face challenges in our world, their sensitivity is also a gift. Having a rich inner life often leads to incredible creativity and depth. And being so in tune to other people’s feelings can lead to very deep, meaningful relationships.
What’s important is to acknowledge these traits and to accept that this is the way you process the world. Instead of fighting against it, press into it. Use the strengths it gives you to improve your life and the lives of others. And give yourself the permission to hold back and retreat when you need to.
The content found on Integrative Counseling and Nutrition Consulting platform is not intended to be a substitute for professional therapeutic advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your psychiatrist, therapist or other qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a mental health condition.