HSP (The Highly Sensitive Person)
Hi, I found this website in a search for stress management techniques. So I thought I would share. I have summarized (with excerpts from different websites) below for those who do not wish to search for it.
A highly sensitive person (HSP) is a person having the innate trait of high psychological sensitivity (or innate sensitiveness as Carl Jung originally coined it). According to Elaine N. Aron and colleagues as well as other researchers, highly sensitive people, who comprise about a fifth of the population, may process sensory data much more deeply and thoroughly due to a biological difference in their nervous systems.
Your trait is normal. It is found in 15 to 20% of the population–too many to be a disorder, but not enough to be well understood by the majority of those around you.
It is innate. In fact, biologists have found it to be in most or all animals, from fruit flies and fish to dogs, cats, horses, and primates. This trait reflects a certain type of survival strategy, being observant before acting. The brains of highly sensitive persons (HSPs) actually work a little differently than others’.
You are more aware than others of subtleties. This is mainly because your brain processes information and reflects on it more deeply. So even if you wear glasses, for example, you see more than others by noticing more.
You are also more easily overwhelmed. If you notice everything, you are naturally going to be overstimulated when things are too intense, complex, chaotic, or novel for a long time.
This trait is not a new discovery, but it has been misunderstood. Because HSPs prefer to look before entering new situations, they are often called “shy.” But shyness is learned, not innate.
In fact, 30% of HSPs are extraverts, although the trait is often mislabeled as introversion. It has also been called inhibitedness, fearfulness, or neuroticism. Some HSPs behave in these ways, but it is not innate to do so and not the basic trait.
Sensitivity is valued differently in different cultures. In cultures where it is not valued, HSPs tend to have low self-esteem. They are told “don’t be so sensitive” so that they feel abnormal.
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It plays off of the autonomic “fight, or flight” response. The problem is that being this sensitive to environmental stimuli can trigger this very easily since any perceived negativity towards, or from, a person is always at its core based on fear. Therefore the hormones that are supposed to help you survive end up building up in the body to the point where it cannot break it all down. This can actually cause the person to become physically ill, sometimes literally, over nothing. I was actually wondering if anyone else suffers from this on HE.
@otingocniman, I for sure have this. It’s not an illness or disease, it’s just how our bodies are wired. It’s definitely a negative trait to have in our society, and I think many people who are extremely sensitive to external stimuli end up becoming reclusive. While being highly observant and watchful, we also base most of our actions off of fear. We tend to think of more possibilities, outcomes, and consequences. Where as most people would just do something, we think about all the reasons why we should and shouldn’t do it. So essentially,in this society, we are constantly in the fight or flight response even if nothing in particular is going on around us. This can cause profound anxiety, depression, and over stimulation at things that other people would consider small events. If you don’t understand what’s going on and learn to turn these ‘negative’ characteristics into positive, beneficial qualities, it can turn you into a shell of yourself. It doesn’t have to be that way though.
I know this type of person exists, cus it’s me. I have actually been trying to fight it somewhat, as I feel it has not serviced me well in life. There’s something to be said for being true to yourself, but being too sensitive just seems to have developed fear and anxiety in me.
I struggle with this, because I do feel that a lot of the time I make more observations than others. But most of the time I let these observations affect me so much, that I start to just avoid those scenarios all together (i.e. I avoid trying new things, going new places, etc). Is it really just being highly sensitive? Or is it being weak?
That “awareness of subtleties that others may miss” is also very likely were exceptional artistic talent comes from. In order to help others see what they didn’t know was there… somebody has to be sensitive enough to see it, or feel it, first. That’s also where it’s really important not to be a pussy about it. :)
This wiki post really reminds me of this.discussion:
Check out the over excitability part specifically
I’m not sure I understand what you mean by being sensitive. Are we talking awareness or emotional vulnerability, or both? Heightened empathy? I would argue that the more aware/sensitive I am about a given occurrence/environment, the less emotionally sensitive I become.
I think it comes down to giving greater meaning to ordinary things (ordinary being defined by the masses). When i used to smoke weed I got ultra sensitive to my surroundings and began to feel like everything was a message. Like the world was almost speaking to me. It seems like this is becoming more and more common in people lately.
Definitely, definitely, DEFINITELY ME. Discovering this not too long ago has really helped me understand myself better. I’ve always known I was “different” but just thought I was “shy”, which never explained everything because sometimes I love socializing. This definitely explains why it almost physically pains me to hear people complain or talk shit on their friends, and why I need time to think to know whether I liked or disliked a movie and why.
How do you fellow “HSP”s deal with a world that (to me at least) has a constant abundance of obnoxious stimulation and noise? As I type this I’m at work and though I mute the big TV in the lobby every time I come in, I can hear the one in the other room. It’s hard for me to think of something I hate more commercials. They’re so fucking INTRUSIVE!!!!!!!!!!!
@tangledupinplaid21, this is hard… to ignore everything. One of the hardest practices I am still learning.
If I am not listening to “my” music or something, or when I made music and every little noise was bothering me… but I figured out that I could ignore the distractions and be a little more hard on myself, because I’m constantly making excuses.(?) It’s kinda stupid when something is distracting me right in my fucking face, but I still convinced myself that everything I complain about is an excuse I make. I cannot imagine how you deal with painting if someone else is interfering.
For me it is most difficult to deal with the fact that we feel/sense/take over other people their emotions so easily. Concerning the good emotions I am fine with it, but concerning the negative emotions I would really like to learn to deal with that. How to distinguish my own from others their emotions? This feeling when you are with somebody and you simply know that something is bothering the other person. Especially when something about me is bothering that person I feel it extrenely. But I never know how to deal with it and/or how to start about the subject. What if I am wrong? It is kind of awkward then, especially with people I am less close with. I really believe in a sixth sense which shows itself in this way.
Furthermore the concentration problem some are talking about: this bothers me as well. Smoking weed helps to deal with this in the best way for me, but this is not a solution. Of course meditation is something that can definitely help to deal with this as well. Maybe meditation is also a solution for distinguishing your own from other people their feelings?
@beyond, It’s funny you mention that because painting seems to be an exception to this. We have had more than one party over at our apartment where people are loud, drunk and obnoxious and I’m in the corner painting in my own world the whole time. I still hear them but I’m so focused on what I’m doing that it doesn’t bother me. If I wasn’t painting or drunk with them they’d probably drive me nuts.
@filipek, I would like to learn this too. I just posted this in the “vibes” discussion so I will just copy and paste what I said there. I’m dating someone who is really intense and also really expressive so when something bad is going on I feel it like a dagger and it gives me really bad anxiety. Haven’t figured out how to deal with this because one should be able to count on their significant other to listen to them even when it’s not necessarily positive. But too much negativity and I will lose composure completely.
@tangledupinplaid21, I know exactly what you are talking about. I think the fact that I am struggling with my own identity is due to the fact that my whole life I have been ‘taking’ other people their feelings/emotions, which led me to great confusion. The greatest example is my dad (from who I believe I got this ‘gift’ (I prefer to say gift rather than curse), who could change the mood of the whole family with his great negative tension. I think we, as HSPs, take over a lot more emotions/feelings/habits/traits etc. from other people during our childhood, than non HSPs. Therefore it is a lot harder to form our own identities and I think we are all more prone to developing anxieties, depressions and the like.
I really hope to get more insights into this and I think ‘we’ as HSPs should get more attention from the scientific world. Schizophrenics, people with MPD, ADHD, OCD etc are all mentioned in the DSM, but why are we not? I do not think HSP is a disorder, because I see it as something positive, but it would be helpful if we would have some ‘general’ guidelines to focus on. I mean, it would be easier for us to deal with it if we would know what this ‘it’ is.
Furthermore I think that nowadays there are a lot more HSP persons than in the past, also due to the ‘spiritual shift’ that I think is going on on planet earth. More people are interested in these kind of subjects and therefore these kind of skills are also being developed more.
I’ve had this all my life, and it’s good to know I’m not alone : ) I’ve dealt with much anxiety, fear and doubt in my own life, and these experiences have afforded me much wisdom and foresight in dealing with myself as well as others. “Flipping” the negatives into positives is not only true for sensitive people, but for personal progress in general.
http://www.hsperson.com/ is the website I started on, but there are many more if you just google “highly sensitive people”.
@dick. I am talking about hyper-awareness of ones surroundings, emotional states of people around (so much that I tend to not “feel” much as a coping mechanism), and social subtleties that cause me to be slightly paranoid because of the conclusions I can sometimes make based on these observations (even if it is just in my head).
Recently I have been trying to re-program my “flight, or fight” response by attempting some breathing, relaxation, and meditation exercises. I am also training myself to be able to “forget” things (which is hard), so that I can disassociate the thoughts that cause this autonomic response. Sadly, the only thing that works sometimes is to hide under the covers in my bed (as goofy as that sounds) until I can “re-combobulate” myself.
It’s funny to me that so many people have jumped in with the HSP self diagnosis. I get the sensations (fear, anxiety, doubt), but I don’t give them my time. If there is negativity in the air I’m generally gutted, but then I quickly realize that it’s not my problem, it’s theirs…unless it is my problem of course. Numb isn’t a bad way to describe it, because I am numb enough until i have had time to digest the significance of the emotion. If I didn’t I think I’d be another victim of HSP.