What do you think when you hear the phrase
highly sensitive person?
Do you think weak? Emotionally unstable? Drama queen?
Someone who cries and complains all the time and gets offended easily?
Take a moment and really think about the word sensitive and what it means!
There is nothing inherently negative about the word sensitive. It means observant, conscientious, and aware of small changes. It means being tuned in to the world around you–the sights, sounds, and emotions of others. Having a delicate appreciation of others’ feelings.
Those are all good things!
The phrase Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) sometimes gets a bad rap because the word “sensitive” is often negatively charged.
HSPs represent about a fifth of the population, equally across genders. HSPs process sensory data more thoroughly and deeply due to biological differences in their nervous systems.
That’s right–being highly sensitive is a trait we are born with, like being left-handed or introverted or extroverted. (For more on the scientific research of HSP traits, read this post by Dr. Elaine Aron or listen to this episode of my podcast.)
So, are you a highly sensitive person?
Let me tell you a little about us.
Psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron, the most well-known researcher of this trait, explains that HSPs process sensory data more deeply and thoroughly due to biological differences in their nervous systems. The trait is often confused with shyness, social anxiety, social phobia, and introversion.
We think about things deeply. We analyze information and don’t like making wrong decisions—in fact, we can have a hard time making decisions. We can become overwhelmed easily by too much stimulation and information and may need to withdraw for relief. We are incessantly bothered when our physical environment is uncomfortable. We are empathic to the feelings of others. We are easily startled by loud noises. We can be strongly affected by violence and horror in media and entertainment. We are often affected strongly by caffeine. We can be moved deeply by music, art, and nature. We are uncomfortable when we have to do a lot in a short amount of time. We may be extra sensitive to pain.
You might be thinking: that sounds just like me!
You aren’t alone. You aren’t wrong or weird. You just might be highly sensitive.
High sensitivity is innate, in your brain, like being left- or right-handed or introverted or extroverted. Sensitivity isn’t an illness, a detriment, a problem, a diagnosis, or something that needs to be fixed or cured.
And, most importantly, sensitivity isn’t weakness.
Your high sensitivity is just as valid as not having the trait of high sensitivity.
Why does it matter if you are highly sensitive?
Learning about high sensitivity can be life-changing. It can open your eyes to many aspects of your personality that you never understood or realized. It can help you better accept yourself. It can help the people around you better understand you, too.
Hi, I’m Kelly. I’m a Highly Sensitive Person and an introvert. Learning about HSP and introversion helped me better accept who I am and how I am.
In my blog and podcast, I share my experiences and stories, hoping that they will help other people learn to better accept themselves. I’m the host of the Highly Sensitive Person Podcast (ranked as high as #67 on iTunes!) and the author of the book A Highly Sensitive Person’s Life: Stories & advice for those who experience the world intensely.
I live in California with my husband and fluffy little skateboarding dog.
This blog has been mentioned in Inc.com, San Diego Reader, KPBS radio, Bootsnall, and on Susan Cain’s QuietRev. I’ve been interviewed on HuffPost Live and on podcasts The Overwhelmed Brain, No Totally, Gentle Rebel Podcast, and the Introvert/Extrovert Podcast. You can contact me here.
I accept requests to be a guest on the podcast, but you must offer a sincere benefit to my specific HSP audience.