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Are you a Highly Sensitive Person?

Have you ever wondered why things seem to bother you more than they do others? Have you ever felt like the most sensitive person in the room? Well research shows you’re likely not the only one feeling that way. 15-20% of the population is considered a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). Psychologist Elaine Aron began researching this concept in 1991 as a way to describe a personality trait of people who experience sensory processing sensitivity and are highly affected by social stimuli. Sensitivity is like a continuum, where most people fall somewhere in the middle. Both genetics and environment can impact one's susceptibility to being an HSP. ( ).

So, how do you know if this is true of you? Well, there is no official psychological test to determine whether you have this personality trait or not. However, if you often find yourself sensitive to sensory experiences (loud noises, hunger), feeling overwhelmed when too many things are thrown at you at once, or more emotionally in tune with others than the average Joe, you may be a Highly Sensitive Person. And, don't despair if you are! Check out some of these traits of HSP's, which can be incredibly helpful in many situations.

  1. You feel things deeply. You may have been called emotional or sensitive more than once in your life. While, our society doesn't typically see this as an asset and it can be really tough when you experience upsetting emotions, it also means you feel things like joy, gratitude, and happiness more intensely.

  2. You may be affected by other people's moods. This can be draining and you have to figure out how to best practice self-care if you experience this. But, research shows that HSP's can be extremely empathic. And who doesn't like to be around am empathetic person?!

  3. You're intuitive. You can walk into a room and get a "feel" for it almost immediately. This is great for trying to connect with people or even spotting what things in the room could be changed to make people feel more (physically) comfortable. You're perceptive, insightful and self-reflective.

  4. You are detail oriented and conscientious. You may be really tough on yourself and work hard to avoid making mistakes (and you should practice some self-compassion in this area). But that also means you probably do the things you do REALLY well.

  5. You're creative. And you probably really yearn for a creative outlet. You may feel particularly connected with music or fine arts. You probably think deeply and love a way to express those ideas. This could seem overwhelming at times, but channeled well can lead to some amazing outcomes.

HSP's can become overwhelmed and overstimulated easily, which can be challenging. Particularly if you are, for example, a mom of three young [read: loud] children and have a to-do list a mile long. However, I think one of the best things you can do for yourself as an HSP is grow your understanding of what it means to be an HSP and how this plays out for you. Then it's easier to recognize times when you need to withdraw or recharge alone. Or you need to go find a creative outlet, pronto. It can be so valuable to figure out how to best manage these traits so that you can make the most of them and not feel totally overwhelmed. It's also important to share your insights with those closest with you, so they can better understand and support your needs. And of course, HSP's can benefit greatly from therapy, so if you're looking for professional support, we are always here.


These are just a few of the traits that indicate high sensitivity in a person. For more expansive articles and lists, check out the links at the end of this blog.


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