Are you 1 in 5 ?
Are you a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?
A Highly Sensitive Person has a trait referred to as Sensory Processing Sensitivity (the scientific term), which simply means that an HSP has a highly-tuned nervous system and an above-average sensitivity to sensory input.
It's important to note that being a Highly Sensitive person is normal, it is not a disorder. It is a personality trait, one we were born with. However, most people have never heard of the term HSP. Because of this, it is often misunderstood by the HSP themselves and those around them, hence being called "too sensitive", "too much", "too shy" or told to "toughen up, get a thicker skin".
Read the questions below and if any or all resonate with you click here or scroll down to "Take the full quiz..." button to complete a more comprehensive quiz.
Do you often feel overwhelmed by the pressures of life and wish that you could slow it all down?
Are you sensitive to other people's energy and can sense how they're feeling?
Do you frequently feel like you need to escape and be alone?
Have you been called weird, crazy, complicated, too sensitive or too much?
Have you often felt like you don't belong here and don't fit-in?
If you can relate to any of these it's extremely important to understand and accept that you're not broken. Being a Highly Sensitive Person is an innate trait that approximately 1 in 5 of us have and it simply means that our brains are wired differently than the rest of the population. This trait is also seen in over 100 species, ranging from fruit flies, birds and fish to dogs, cats, horses, and primates. It is believed to be perpetuated because it aids in survival from an evolutionary standpoint. In our ancestors' time HSPs were the healers, shamans and intuitives. They were very responsive to their environments and they sensed when to move, where to seek food, how to heal with the use of our plant friends and what emotional needs needed to be met. Without them our legacies would not have lived-on. In more modern times many are artists; musicians, authors, poets, philosophers and are driven to create connection and meaning through their chosen medium.
It is possible that a person with high sensitivity may be misdiagnosed with Anxiety, Depression, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and even Autism due to their perceived thoughts, habits and behaviours from a medical standpoint. It's important to note that HSPs strive to self-regulate uncomfortable emotions and feelings arising from hypersensitivity to external stimuli. For example, an introverted HSP who works in a busy environment may choose to isolate at the end of the day. Perhaps they feel the need to calm their nervous systems by "checking-out", through numbing television, drugs, alcohol or food because they don't realize that their environment (life, work, home, relationships) is not in alignment with how they're built and what "nourishes" them.
Many times HSPs are misdiagnosed with any of the aforementioned conditions due to the lack of awareness and evidence of this personality trait. Evidence suggest that approximately 20% of people are HSPs (men and women equally) and go through life unaware of their trait and struggle because they lack the tools to understand themselves and practice self-regulation of their emotions.
HSPs have an overly active Amygdala, which can result in a delicate fight/flight/freeze response. This activation often releases adrenaline and cortisol and can create symptoms such as a racing heart, difficulty concentrating, having a hard time accessing memory and facts, feeling "out of control", a quick shift of mood and often extreme emotional reactions. This over-activation is commonly the culprit to higher stress levels and many symptoms of anxiety and even depression. With the right tools though, we can reduce this over-activation without medication.
Here's a brief way to define what being an HSP means. It's an acronym representing the model of the HSP trait, created by Dr. Elaine Aron, a pioneer in the study of the innate temperament trait of high sensitivity.
The "D.O.E.S." Acronym helps you to identify key traits of HSPs.
Depth of Processing: HSPs have brains that work a little differently. We process information from our 5 senses in a deeper way which means we take longer to process information, potentially causing us to delay or avoid making a decision.
Over-stimulation: It's easy for us HSPs to become overwhelmed when too much sensory information is around us, such as crowded or noisy places, by loud or repetitive noises, (hammering or even a ticking clock can make us "crazy") which can potentially cause us to feel agitated or exhausted and prone to overreacting, removing ourselves from the trigger or avoiding them if at all possible.
Emotional Reactivity: Because of our tender nervous system we tend to exhibit strong reactions to stimuli. This can often cause us to blurt out what we think and feel in a moment without processing our words and the benefit or detriment of them. This is where learning to respond instead of react can be deeply useful to cultivate work and personal relationships.
Sensing the Subtle: Our awareness of subtleties is useful in an infinite number of ways, from appreciating the simple pleasures in life to strategizing our response based on our awareness of others’ nonverbal cues regarding their mood or trustworthiness. We may also have a tendency to notice when something in a room has been moved, whether in our own space or someone else's.
Our place as HSPs in this world is fundamentally more important than ever - technology is steadily giving rise to losing our connection with each other and the condition has tragically worsened with the rise of Covid-19.
In our work together, you'll learn how to nourish your tender nervous system so that it's less reactive and train it to become more responsive. Most importantly, begin to reconnect with yourself so you can connect with others in your world. Then, we can begin to flourish in our lives and instead of feeling as though we can barely survive, we can learn how to thrive.
Deep down we all yearn for more Love, Joy, Peace and Freedom don't we?