Therapy for Highly Sensitive People (HSP)
Highly sensitive people make up about 20 percent of the population. Here’s how to know if you fall in this category:
A highly sensitive person (HSP) experiences the world differently than others. Due to a biological (genetic) difference that they’re born with, highly sensitive people are more aware of subtleties and process information deeper than others. They have higher activation in the parts of their brains related to empathy, emotion, and reading social cues. While this means that HSPs are highly empathetic and intuitive, it also means that they are more prone to stress and overwhelm.
HSP is not a mental health disorder or illness, it’s considered a personality temperament that was first coined by Dr. Elaine Aron in the mid-1990s. Since then, interest and research into the genetic trait has been gaining traction. There have now been over 100 specifies identified as having this personality temperament. The trait seems to increase the likelihood of survival because HSPs are highly attuned to their environment and always on the lookout for danger. Of course, as a human, constantly being on guard and reading others’ cues when there aren’t any immediate threats results in anxiety.
You may be a Highly Sensitive Person if the following ring true for you:
You think deeply.
The cornerstone of being an HSP is that you process information deeply. This means that you may reflect on your own experiences and “overthink” more than other people. Sometimes you may play events over and over in your mind or spiral into anxious thinking.
You have trouble saying “no.”
HSPs tend to pick up on the needs and feelings of others. They hate letting people down and are sensitive to perceived criticism or disappointment from others. As a result, they may struggle setting boundaries.
You experience emotions intensely.
Whether positive or negative, you find that you experience emotions intensely and react strongly to them. It is easy to become overwhelmed by negative emotions. It is for this reason that HSPs tend to avoid violent movies.
You become quickly stressed by conflict.
HSPs are more aware of the nuances in relationships due to their ability to read unspoken social cues. Due to their innate people-pleasing nature, they can become stressed when they feel that someone is upset with them.
You are intelligent and have always done well in school.
HSPs are often highly intelligent and seek out opportunities to do deep, meaningful work. Due to their unique ability to synthesize information, they are deep learners and enjoy going deep in their chosen subjects.
When you were a child, your parents or teachers seemed to see you as shy or sensitive.
Children who are highly sensitive are often misunderstood and perceived as being “too sensitive,” shy, or anxious.
You are highly sensitive to personal failures and criticism.
HSPs are their own worst critics and are more prone to rumination and self-doubt. They may replay an embarrassing event that others have long forgotten about over and over. They don’t like being watched or evaluated and tend to do worse than they would otherwise when not being watched.
Hectic schedules really overwhelm you.
Some people thrive on a busy schedule, but HSPs feel rattled when they have a lot to do in a short amount of time. They can become easily overstimulated and distracted when schedules get hectic.
You are very compassionate and generous.
You have always been a natural caretaker, seeking to offer comfort and help to those who suffer. You take on the feelings of others and go out of your way to avoid hurting someone else’s feelings.
You are sensitive to external stimuli.
While no one else around you seem to notice that buzz of the overhead lights, it is driving you nuts! As is the sound of your coworkers chewing, the rough fabric of your shirt, and the smell of your friend’s perfume.
You overthink and worry often.
You notice every detail and overthink what should be a simple decision, like where to go for lunch.
You are intuitive.
You walk into a room and instantly get a “feel” for it. You know how people are feeling. This is fine when the energy is positive, but can be extremely draining in more negative situations.
Living life as a highly sensitive person is both amazing and exhausting, but there are some techniques you can use to live your HSP life to the fullest. If you would like to speak to someone who truly understands what it’s like to not only live but thrive with high sensitivity, you are in the right place. I have been acknowledged by Dr. Elaine Aron (who coined the term) as an HSP knowledgeable therapist and would love to help!
Please reach out if you would like to learn strategies to manage your high sensitivity and overactive nervous system!
For more information on the HSP trait, please visit HSPerson.com