What does it mean to be highly sensitive?
Highly Sensitive People (HSP) are characterized by sensitivity to sensory stimuli, deeper cognitive processing and high emotional reactivity. HSP are often extra sensitive to all manner of sensory stimuli: color, light, texture, taste, scent, hot/cold, sound, social interaction, sleep disturbance, inflammatory foods and violent entertainment. HSP is not a disorder; around 15-20% of the population is considered Highly Sensitive. Which means being a HSP is normal, although less common.
While the traits attributed to HSP can be a gift, they can also lead to feelings of being easily overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or otherwise unwell. If you notice everything, you are naturally going to be overstimulated when things are too intense, complex, chaotic, or novel for a long time.
This trait is not a new discovery, but it has been misunderstood. Because HSPs prefer to look before entering new situations, they are often called “shy.” But shyness is learned. In fact, 30% of HSPs are extroverts, although the trait is often mislabeled as introversion.
As stated previously, being highly sensitive is not a disorder that requires "help"; but knowing more about the trait can help you to understand which self-care techniques may bring your life back into balance.
- Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
- Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
- Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
- Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
- Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
- Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
- Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
- When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?
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