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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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?
I too see myself as HSP, but iv wondered about the correlation between heightened sensitivity and anxiety.
Are we anxious because we are highly sensitive? or are we highly sensitive because we are anxious?
chicken or the egg ?
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.
@filipek, thank-you for your response. i have always struggled with assuming i know what is going on with another person due to my intuition and empathetic nature. however, i understand now that i still need to communicate and investigate my feelings because my feelings remained unresolved, i could be wrong, or i could be right and i still need to talk about. as you say this stems from when i was growing up and the messages that i received at home and school. thank-you!
@otingocniman, yeah..i’ve been wondering about this lately…seems when I’m around people who are drunk I will start to feel nauseous and sick like I’m drunk and it’ll take me a whole day to recoup…and side note: I don’t drink. What is it?
Acronyms make everything better! =D Most people just saw my behavior as immature. I always knew it wasn’t, because at age 5 I was contemplating things like -if all people actually saw things the same, if the kids in my school were racist because of family, and what on Earth will we do to save endangered species? People thought I was just reciting something I saw on T.V, and to this day, the way I see and feel GREATLY effects how people view me. I have always gotten this sense of outside stimulation. Sometimes it is very positive! At a party, if everything is going smooth, and there’s a good crowd- I become ecstatic!!! If the vibes around me are bad, however, my body feels really tense. Like I can’t move or breathe… When I’m alone I don’t feel this… this burning sensation running through my nervous system. The minute I’m around people, my neck tenses up, and I have the eyes of a hawk after that…. It seems introverted, but it’s not. It’s my nerves!!! I’m pretty confident with who I am, my social skills, and my talents, but that does not matter if you are like this… Whenever I’m in the presence of another human being, my whole body just feels strange… Very uncomfortable as well… I mean sometimes painful… I can’t explain this without people saying I’m “bipolar” or something along those lines, so I just spend most of my time alone…. talking to people I don’t know and probably never will meet… All I know is as much as this has effected my life negatively, it has also given me a lot of material to use for art, and this deep connecting with everything… I try to photograph the most simple and pure beauty as my therapy… Thanks for sharing this info, I knew there was something different about me but NOT WRONG WITH ME!!!!!
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!!!!!!!!!!!
@apples30, I know how difficult it is, but I know most of the time it is the only solution, simply talk.
And think about this: you can better regret something that you have done, than regret that you have not done it and you will never know the outcome.
What is the worst thing that can happen? You will be rejected? You will be laughed at? You will be abandoned? So what? It does not define YOU as a person, no matter how difficult it is. You prefer to live in a constant lie and illusion where everything is fake and you do not know how to make a distinction between what is real and what is not?
@dick, who ever said anything about victimhood? It’s simply a different way of experiencing the world, and it’s very real. Where others have immediate reactions to things, I need time to process each factor. In addition to soaking up negative vibes like a sponge, I also see beauty and opportunity in things that others may consider “mundane” or not noteworthy by others. This can be overwhelming, but I’ve never considered myself a victim of heightened sensitivity.
I’m not sure but this might apply to me I would like to hear from an outside source who may have an opinion on my situation…
I’m 17 years old, very outgoing, lots of friends, a higher thinking level than most of my peers, and very normal reactions to anger or unreasonable reactions from other people.
Maybe i should mention that i’ve used physcadelics and other drugs such as Marijuana, Mushrooms, LSD, DMT and others i’d rather not say.
The one problem i’m having is the over-analyzing of everything that happens throughout my day. This usually includes over-thinking about what someone said to me, or most of the time what i said to someone and what they are going to take away from it. On paper it sounds like i’m self-critical or worried too much about others opinions… But i’m not.. Its almost like I naturally want to filter out what I really think or how I really want to act, but the other side of the coin is me wanting to be very honest.
It could be my school environment because it is made up of not the brightest people and most of the conversations I’m forced to keep up with are lacking in intelligent thinking. And thats what i enjoy. I enjoy talking politics, history and theory, but that is lacking in my everyday life. I only get a chance to talk to some great friends on the weekends.
I usually just brush this off as normal high-school problems and a simple step in growing up.. But this HSP thread has made me think maybe it is that.. Any thoughts?
@michaelfindel to answer your question, we are highly sensitive because of an extremely efficient nervous system. Therefore, it takes much less to starle an HSP verses a non-HSP. That basically just causes our nervous system to over-react too often, which can be stressful to deal with if you do not understand what is causing it. It actually comes from a genetic survival trait that your ancestors developed through evolution, this caused them to think before doing (or at the promoted it). The problem is that HSP’s tend think about a subject longer before processing it as some hav already claimed.
@lalamakays, that feeling is truly unbearable sometimes. Those are the effects of the stress hormones your body releases in response this perceived threat.
@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.
@filipek, you are right, i do not want a life that is comprised of the constructions that i have built in my mind, especially when my mind is not very nice to me at times. how you have phrased things has really resonated with me because i struggle with this quite a bit. What keeps me from pushing through it is how it is, but i understand the payoff is to have the life and relationships that i truly want. thank-you, i will think about this often.
@otingocniman, How should you deal with it, it is like as if you’re sensing every move in the room, every tension or change in emotion wave people have in that same room, it’s really stressful. Is there a way to make this sensitivity less impactful?
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?
As an HSP myself, I invite everyone in this thread to check out my site http://www.thinknowlivenow.com if you haven’t already. I built the resource to help assist others see past and overcome negative psychological “blocks” and “obstacles” which keep them from taking action. Only action can bring the results we truly desire in life, and understanding is the first step.
Great discussion guys!
@tangledupinplaid21, I agree. But overwhelming is just an illusion. I call it experiencing everything. I wonder why people always talk about the negative aspects of this. Hyper sensitive people are more creative and damn… they even feel intimacy on a different level.
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. :)
@lalamakays, wow I relate to everything you just said SO MUCH. I have wondered if I am bipolar as the result of stuff like this. I have gotten much better in social situations and can actually interact and enjoy it now though.
@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.