9 Signs You Are A Highly Sensitive Person
Do you ever feel like you’re overwhelmed and more emotional than most people? Maybe you’re a highly sensitive person.
High sensitivity is a personality trait found in roughly 20 percent of the population, so it’s actually not that uncommon. The proper term for this trait is Sensory-Processing Sensitivity or SPS, but many people call it Highly Sensitive Person or HSP.
The brains of those with SPS work a little differently than those without the trait. Nearly all animals have demonstrated this trait, including dogs, cats, fish, and horses. Even insects can have the SPS trait.
Dr. Elaine Aron defines the highly sensitive person as someone who “has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.”
If you or someone you know is a highly sensitive person, understanding what it means can help. It’s not a bad quality to have and in fact you can use this ability to your advantage as a more empathetic person.
One out of five people have the SPS trait. Learning how to manage it can be useful in certain situations.
Highly sensitive people tend to be very thoughtful, creative, and intelligent. They can also be great partners. You have a lot to offer if you’re highly sensitive.
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Are You A Highly Sensitive Person?
Highly sensitive people often share a set of traits:
Very emotional. You know the type. They cry at commercials. They cry when overstressed or uncertain.
While crying is nothing to be ashamed of, highly sensitive people are often embarrassed by how easily they can be brought to tears.
React more strongly. It’s common to “overreact” when you’re highly sensitive. Things that upset the average person upset a highly sensitive person a lot.
All emotional reactions are stronger and can seem excessive.
Make decisions more slowly. Highly sensitive people are committed to making the best possible decisions.
They painstakingly go over every detail and consider all the possibilities. It can take a significant amount of time to get it right. Be patient when making a decision.
Are more self-critical. Highly sensitive people are highly self-critical. They know how to beat themselves up. Anything less than perfection can be a source of anxiety and embarrassment.
Care about the details. The highly-sensitive notice everything. No detail is too small to make note of.
Are more annoyed by stray stimuli. Whether it’s a squeaking noise in the car or a stray pebble in their shoe, highly sensitive people are less able to ignore annoying stimuli.
Highly sensitive people are easily overstimulated and overwhelmed by things that barely register in the awareness of the average person.
Easily overstimulated by crowds, too much activity, bright lights, loud noises, or strong odors. Do you avoid places with a lot of people or loud noise? Do strong odors bother you? Are you easily overstimulated in general?
You enjoy spending time alone. Do you truly enjoy spending time by yourself? When you’re alone, do you like to keep things simple and quiet? Or, do you listen to loud music while playing video games?
More alert to changes in environment. You know when something has changed, or items are out of place. You can feel when the mood of a room has changed and it impacts how you feel.
Difficulty accepting criticism even if it’s accurate and constructive. Criticism isn’t easy for most people to hear, but is it devastating for you? Are you greatly upset by any type of criticism? Does criticism make you want to quit?
Give yourself time for your emotions to return to normal before responding.
Negative thoughts and emotions consume a lot of your time. Do you spend a lot of time dealing with negative thoughts and emotions?
Easily upset by negative news media. When you watch or read about negative news stories, are you bothered more than most others you know?
They are easily overwhelmed by time pressure. When there’s a lot to get done in a short amount of time, they can become bogged down by their anxiety very easily.
Able to enjoy subtle things. You can notice small things and appreciate them. You’re more likely to enjoy looking at art, a butterfly, or the clouds than the average person. This is almost like a superpower. You can keep yourself with the simple things.
Does any of this sound familiar? If so, do you feel relieved to have a better understanding of yourself or someone else in your life?
How To Deal With Being A Highly Sensitive Person
There are many things you can do to mitigate the potential negative effects of the SPS trait:
Get enough sleep. Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine. You don’t need additional stimulation.
Practice Self Care:
Meditate. Meditation helps relax your mind, body and spirit.
Journal. Journaling can help you release emotions and de-stress.
Strengthen your emotions. Learn how to develop emotional strength and resilience to better manage how you’re feeling.
Spend time in relaxing environments each day. Create your own space. Avoid spending too much time in noisy, highly-stimulating environments. Give yourself enough time to complete tasks.
Create your own Self Care Space.
Take the time you need before reacting to any emotional upset.
Be understanding of any highly sensitive people in your life. Remember that the condition is genetic. Asking someone with the SPS trait to be less sensitive is like asking a 25-year old to be taller.
A highly sensitive person might not be the person to take to a weekend rock music festival, but you’ll never find a more attentive listener and understanding friend.
There are advantages to being highly sensitive. Being observant and detail-oriented can be a valuable trait in the right setting. Make the most of what you have to work with and you’ll find life to be more fulfilling.
It’s easy to see how these characteristics would be useful in art, negotiating, or working in counseling. There are many ways to use these abilities to your advantage.
There are also fields that you should probably avoid if you want to feel happy and peaceful. Working on the bond trading floor in Manhattan probably the best choice. Selling door-to-door probably doesn’t appeal to you either.
Use your natural strengths and avoid your natural weaknesses. This is always good advice if you want to be happy and successful, especially as a highly sensitive person.