The word “sensitive” has a lot of connotations to it—many of which are not flattering. So often it has the unspoken “too” attached to it…meaning, that you take things personally or are overly emotional. Perhaps these are true at times, but there is much more to it than that. And it’s not all bad. First, to see if you are considered a highly sensitive person (HSP), ask yourself these questions or take the online test here:
- Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or loud noises?
- Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
- Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
- Are you aware and deeply affected by other people’s moods and emotions?
- Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
- Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
- Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
- Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
If you answered “yes” to many of these questions, congratulations…you are an HSP! That may not sound like something to celebrate if you’ve felt like your sensitivity has been more of a curse than a blessing, but that feeling is usually based on not completely understanding or appreciating the positive aspects of being an HSP. For instance, according to Dr. Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, HSPs are often intellectually gifted, conscientious, and detail-oriented, making them exceptionally creative and productive workers. In relationships, they are considerate, compassionate, and able to connect deeply with others, making them attentive and thoughtful partners and friends. An estimated 15-20% of the overall population, HSPs are the visionaries, the artists, and the caregivers of society. Unfortunately, society doesn’t always value the HSP personality, only our contributions!
Try to start valuing the positive aspects of being an HSP and work on accepting the challenges that come along with it. Yes, we are more prone to depression and perfectionism and we have trouble taking criticism. We get over-stimulated more easily than others. Don’t beat yourself up for these things…just realize they are part of the package deal and do what you need to take care of yourself. Every personality has its strength and weaknesses, and it’s good that we’re not all the same!
How has being a highly sensitive person been a good thing for you and those around you?
Cherie Miller, MS, LPC opened Dare 2 Hope Counseling to help clients all over the country get free from their food, weight, and self-confidence struggles. Her specialty is eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating, orthorexia and other unhealthy eating patterns. Contact her here.