High sensitivity is one of the most misunderstood and undervalued traits in the world.
A highly sensitive person (HSP) is someone with a personality trait characterized by hypersensitivity to external stimuli, high emotional reactivity and a greater depth of cognitive processing. The term was popularized in the mid-1990s by Elaine Aron.
People across the globe relate to her identification of this innate trait of sensitivity, and her work gave hope to those who felt they didn’t fit into the world today, so that they feel valuable, unique and to accept themselves and their sensitivity.
According to Elaine Aron and colleagues, people with high SPS (sensitive person scale) comprise about 15-20 percent of the population.
Although they state high SPS is not a disorder and is linked with positive outcomes, other researchers have consistently linked it to depression, anxiety and autism spectrum disorder symptoms.
What Does It Mean To Be Sensitive?
Hypersensitivity is not a disorder. In fact, it brings countless benefits, such as being able to „read” the mood of a room quickly and factoring in subtle cues when making a decision.
“It’s good in some situations and not in others”, says Elaine Aron.
HSPs have nervous systems that are more sensitive than others, and it is designed to pick up on and interact with subtle experiences.
Like a tracker following almost invisible signs of their prey, HSPs have the ability to experience their world, beginning with their own bodies, to a very intense degree of perception and accuracy.
The up-side of being an HSP is that they are often deeply spiritual, creative, insightful and emphatic.
9 Traits of a Highly Sensitive Person
#1 They are innovative and creative
One of the greatest HSP gifts is their sparking creativity.
Because HSPs experience the world differently than other people and receive so many extra stimuli into their psyches, they are compelled to make sense of the internal chaos through creative expression.
Creativity usually becomes a coping mechanism for the sense of overwhelming they feel, but it is also a result of their active imagination and intelligence.
#2 They are more sensitive to stimulants
HSPs report having a heightened response to stimuli such as pain, caffeine consumption, hunger, violence in the media and loud noises. Caffeine, in particular, makes them more anxious and agitated than the average person.
They can never drink caffeine in the evening if they want to sleep. They often have reactions or side effects to medications.
#3 They’re more emotionally reactive
HSPs will react more in a situation. For example, they will have more empathy and feel more concern for a friend’s problems.
They may also have more concern about how another person may be reacting in the face of a negative event.
#4 They need time alone
It is easy for an HSP to dip into overload after an afternoon of running errands or a dinner party with friends.
Frequent a bit of alone time to meditate, read, daydream, garden, create, stretch, nap or simply “be” is all that is needed to get grounded. It is crucial to find a way of self-connection that works for them.
#5 They are more detail oriented
They can sometimes overthink details to a point of driving everyone around them mad, but their observations frequently pay off greatly.
They naturally pay attention to the emotions and body language of everyone and everything around them. From nature to animals and people, they can predict something before it’s even been revealed.
#6 They are compassionate
HSPs can truly hold concern for other people when they see others in a difficult situation.
They don’t need to know the person in harm’s way on a personal level, but can instantaneously feel compassion for the child who just fell off their bike, the shop owner who was just robbed, or even the character from a movie who just had their heartbroken.
Note – Frederick Buechner, an American writer, said about compassion:
“Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin.”
Buechner went on to say:
”It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.”
#7 They cry more easily
That’s why it’s important for HSPs to put themselves in positions where they won’t be made to feel embarrassed for crying easily.
If their friends and family realize that that’s just how they are, that they cry easily and support that form of expression, then „crying easily” will not be seen as something embarrassing.
#8 They have great manners
You can pretty much always expect a highly sensitive person to be aware of their surrounds by showcasing their expert manners. In return, they expect the same politeness and well-mannered behaviors from other people and may see you as rude if you don’t.
#9 They are deeply moved by the arts
Whether it’s visiting an art gallery or attending a musical, HSPs appreciate the arts. They find that expressions of creativity incite their emotions.
Understanding the highly sensitive person
Because HSPs are everywhere, it’s extremely important to understand them well so that you can get along with them without hurting them.
By understanding and accepting them, despite the fact that they’re different from most of the people we know, we allow ourselves to fulfill our own unique raison d’être.