Have you ever been told that you are too sensitive, that you cry too easily, or that you care too much? If so, how did that make you feel?
Did you find it frustrating? Did you sense you were being misunderstood or perhaps unfairly judged?
As a youngster, I often felt this way. As a result, since there isn’t a turn off ‘switch’ for sensitivities, I did my best to hide them. All the while, I was wishing that I had a tougher skin, that I didn’t take things so personally and that I could let other people’s opinions roll off of me, like others seemingly could.
It wasn’t until years later that I gradually learned how to care for and honour my sensitivities while recognizing them as gifts and strengths rather than nuisances or weaknesses. It is still a learning curve. However, I’ve come a long way because awareness and practise does work!
In my early twenties, I read a book about the ‘Highly Sensitive Person’. That’s when everything made so much more sense. Knowledge is indeed a powerful force.
Elaine R. Aron is the author, and she is a highly sensitive person herself. Having a Doctorate and Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, she researched this subject intensively using hundreds of detailed interviews with Highly Sensitive People.
It turns out that being highly sensitive is not a disorder or diagnosis. Rather, it is a personality trait, and there are more HSPs in the world than you may expect.
There are common characteristics among ‘HSPs’ like being easily overwhelmed and finding it hard to think straight when things are too busy, or by getting upset by violence on TV, and identifying as empathic and deeply emotional.
Knowing more about this personality type can assist you in navigating your life more smoothly and effectively, while acquiring strategies to develop and fine-tune these strong sensitivities, which can be used in your favour, and for the greater good – in useful and empowering ways.
If you aren’t an HSP, it’s highly likely that you have some in your family, friends, or colleague circle who are, so this is useful awareness in general.
Here’s a list of Six Typical Traits of Highly Sensitive People.
- You Identify as Deeply Emotional
If you have a strong connection to your emotions and you spend a lot of time and energy contemplating or cultivating your internal world, you may be an HSP. As adults, many HSPs say that as kids they were called shy, introverted or overly sensitive.
- You Have Been Called Oversensitive
This is a tell-tale characteristic of being an HSP, who tend to be much more sensitive to other people and environments than most people. HSPs commonly experience overstimulation from at least one of the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. This can range from a mild nuisance or distraction to feeling highly uncomfortable or anxious.
- You Avoid Situations that are Stressful
HSPs typically manage and structure their lives so that they can avoid stressful or overwhelming situations. While this may happen unconsciously, upon reflection many HSPs realize this is true for them. In fact, any display of violence in the media can be extremely upsetting for an HSP. As a result, they may avoid watching horror movies, or the news.
- You Are Overwhelmed by Crowds
HSPs often avoid big crowds, because the buzz of energy may feel overwhelming and make an HSP want to withdraw or shut down. This may be caused by the heightened and intensified sensory stimulation that comes with being in a crowd, along with absorbing emotional or mental energy from others.
- You Are Overwhelmed by Too Many Tasks
A long to-do list can be overwhelming for HSPs, especially when they feel as though there is not enough time to complete the tasks. This may be since HSPs don’t like to juggle too many things at once because the like to avoid making mistakes and don’t want to upset or let others down.
- You Are Attuned to Nuances
HSPs are adept at picking up subtleties: in the environment, in projects or art, and even in the emotional display or reactions of those around them. They often notice things that others may miss like a change in tone, a colour mismatch, or a slight temperature shift.
Do you relate to some of these above examples?
More people feel like this than we realize, and they wind up closing off their sensitivities in order to function more easily in the world.
Thankfully, with awareness and useful strategies, such as regular self care, meditation, and spending time in positive and nurturing environments like nature and our Women’s Wellness Circles, eventually, what may have seemed like a hindrance, will become strengths.
HSPs are known to be compassionate, intuitive, artistic, highly perceptive, and conscientious individuals with a depth of understanding that goes beyond the surface level. These are indeed qualities that our world can not only benefit from, but it is also craving right now.
Founder & Mentor Women’s Wellness Circles
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