Are you a highly sensitive person? Do you want to know? HSPs tend to be affected both positively and negatively by the trait (mostly positively). Knowing if you have the trait might help you manage any negative aspects effectively and optimize the way you enjoy the positive aspects!
Contrary to what it might sound like, the high sensitivity person is someone endowed with four powerful character components: higher perceptive capacity, fine sensorial acuity, more depth of processing, and more intensity of emotions. People sometimes confuse this trait with introversion, or the idea that someone is too “sensitive” emotionally or unable to handle life demands. This is not accurate, as I will show below. So…how many people have this trait?
Looking at the statistics, about 20% of humans are endowed with this normal and widespread temperamental trait. That means that out of five individuals you meet, one might be experiencing the world with this trait. The statistics are much higher among counselling patients. One-in-two, or 50% of patients, have this trait!
There are many advantages to individuals with the the high sensitivity trait. The four main advantages are high perceptive capacity, high sensory acuity, more depth of processing, and relatively more intense emotions. HSPs are deeply admired and appreciated in a work environment, as friends and partners. Members of this group tend to have higher than average ability to assess situations, perceive changes and patterns, and notice social and emotional cues.
MORE DEPTH OF PROCESSING
The most important positive aspect of the trait is the depth of perception. High Sensitivity Persons take their time making their decisions and are not impulsive. They are the kind of person that “cases out” a party before plunging in. When they make a decision, it has been deeply considered. It’s why they make great planners and strategists.
MORE SENSORIAL ACUITY
High Sensitivity persons also have greater capacities for “taking in” the environment due to higher sensorial acuity. They tend to notice changes in the environment that others might not. This is a very powerful survival tool.
They actually might be the first to notice the flicker of a fluorescent light, when someone changes their hair, when something in a room has been moved, or when the heating breaks down. Loud noises like the sounds of fire-trucks or the texture of a clothing label can be more bothersome to them. If they don’t take a low stimulation break, they will feel overloaded.
HSPs also have more sensitive bodies. They are more aware of bodily changes, pain, and may be more intensely affected by surgery, medication, or therapies. Health professionals that are not aware of this trait often think their patients are making it up, but the experience of sensitivity is real.
SOCIAL CUES and INTUITION
High Sensitivity persons tend to pick on social and gestural cues that others miss due to their very active mirror neurons. Mirror Neurons are the nervous system component that is the basis for building understanding of other individuals’ state of mind.
This is why, in my line of work, having the trait helps me be more attuned to my patients’ experience. We HSPs tend to “know” how to make people comfortable and help them feel better.
On the other hand, having slightly more permeable boundaries, HSPs need to be aware of when they are getting overwhelmed, especially in high stress environments working with people with poor boundaries or lack of self-control. Good boundaries are necessary and useful for them.
INTENSE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
In terms of emotions, High Sensitivity persons have relatively more intense positive and negative emotions. This can work both ways. Individuals with this trait tend to flourish when they find themselves in the right environment. When they understand their trait they can maximize the benefits.
Adversely, they tend to also be affected by negative environments, that is why a compatible workplace or relationship is important.
Often admired by clients, peers and co-workers for their insight and intuition, your high-sensitivity trait comes packaged with modes that may cause you occasional distress. For example, if you have this trait, you may find yourself overwhelmed in intensely noisy environments, and overloaded with sensory stimuli if you cannot take break to re-charge. This may affect your social life, relationships and tolerance to work-related stress.
The good news is that if you are a high-sensitivity individual, you will tend to respond better to psychotherapy and to “get” the ideas behind treatment faster. Working with a counsellor or therapist to help you manage these gifts will help you make your work more successful and your life experience more enjoyable and sustainable. You can learn techniques that help you manage your trait in a positive and enjoyable way.
Yoga and mindfulness are very helpful to unwind and re-charge. Noticing how your experience affects you might give you clues to managing your life in an optimal and enjoyable manner.
For more information Psychotherapist Elaine Aron, PhD, has done intensive research on this trait and you can read some of it here >> ELAINE ARON’s PAGE<<
Ariel Blau has a formidable passion for helping his clients energize a joyful, loving and creative life. He has more than 30 years of experience helping people bloom. His formal education includes a Master’s degree in Social Work from New York University, a Master’s in Fine Arts from Brandeis University, and a great number of workshops, certificates and seminars. He has been studying mindfulness and how to bring compassion into the world for more than 15 years. His passion for helping others is matched by his enormous drive for continuous learning. Ariel completed his professional clinical training at Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital and served as Lead Clinician at the Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven.