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What is a Highly Sensitive Person?
A highly sensitive person or HSP is someone who has a very high sensitivity to external stimuli. This can be physical, social or emotional. The term was introduced by psychologists Elaine Aron and Arthur Aron in the mid-1990s but it describes something that has been known of for a lot longer.
HSP is not the same as SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) which is a diagnosable condition. It is also not the same as being introverted, although there may be some overlap. Being a highly sensitive person involves a set of common personality traits or characteristics. It is thought that around 20% of the general population are highly sensitive people.
Is there a Test for a Highly Sensitive Person?
If you aren’t sure if you are a HSP you can look at the Aron’s Highly Sensitive Persons Scale (HSPS).
Highly Sensitive Person Traits
- Avoiding high conflict or violence in TV shows and movies
- Particularly sensitive to pain, caffeine or other drugs
- Being deeply moved by arts or music
- Seen as a very shy or sensitive child
- Get very nervous in high pressure situations
- Feeling easily overwhelmed by loud noises, crowds, bright lights or uncomfortable clothing
- A strong need for downtime or alone time especially after social events
- Deep empathy and upset at others’ situations
- Easily startled
- A rich and complex inner dialogue with deep thoughts and strong emotions
- Feeling hunger very strongly and becoming easily ‘hangry’
Benefits of Being a HSP
For sensitive people the lows in life may be felt very keenly but equally the highs are too. HSPs are generally very grateful for what they have in life and this strong sense of gratitude can greatly increase happiness.
Dangers of Being a HSP
Being a HSP brings both benefits and challenges.
HSPs can be more susceptible to stress. This includes work stress, personal stress and social stress. HSPs are very socially astute and can perceive many different ways in which things can go wrong. They are sensitive to conflict and can perceive tensions and hostility when others may not.
Sensitive people can also struggle with high demands and hectic schedules. Plus, things we all tolerate during our days such as noises, smells and hunger may take more out of a HSP.
HSPs tend to be their own worst critics and can be very prone to self-doubt, embarrassment and blushing. They may ruminate on mistakes for a lot longer than a non HSP. They can often struggle in situations where they are required to perform under a watchful eye such as tests, public speaking or job interviews. It’s not that they are less capable, but they are very aware of the things that can go wrong and also of how their stress is affecting their performance.
A highly sensitive person is capable of building very deep relationships but may struggle with some aspects. They may take things to heart and be very easily offended. If they are feeling overwhelmed they can lash out or become emotionally aggressive. They may be very deeply affected by their partner’s moods, both negative and positive, meaning they try very hard to make them happy.
HSPs can feel other people’s disappointment and troubles very keenly so can get stuck in the trap of people pleasing. Because highly sensitive people can sense when things are ‘a little off’ they tend to do better with open people who are good communicators. People who keep things pent up can trigger great stress for them. They may also be more upset when a relationship ends.
Highly Sensitive Person Coping Strategies
- Learn to say no when you need to
- Build resilience
- Create a calm space for yourself
- Schedule regular breaks and positive experiences
- Avoid known stressors if possible
- Prioritise communication in relationships
- Learn to control thoughts and behaviour in highly stressed situations
- Avoid negativity spirals
- Enjoy the small things
- Avoid tiredness, hunger and excessive caffeine
- Spend time in nature
What Hypnotherapy Can Do For You
If you feel like you might be an HSP there a number of ways in which I might be able to help you. Many HSPs avoid asking for help as they can feel overwhelmed by the idea of opening up. However, my approach is very unobtrusive and tailored to you.
I can help you develop coping strategies for when you feel most disjointed or stressed. I can help you reframe your beliefs about relationships, work and your personal life making you more resilient and positive. We can work together for real lasting change.
Hypnotherapy is the best way to change subconscious beliefs and personality traits such as this with minimal effort and willpower. Why not try it and see how much easier it can make your life? Either from the comfort of your own home via online sessions, or in my London hypnotherapy clinic. Contact me today for a free, no-obligation discussion.