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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@thinknowlivenow, I really like your said with all the positive attitude/vibe radiating in all directions. Anyway, I was wondering how good you are in applying all these kind of things to your own daily life? Because I know how easy it is to talk about these kind of things and advice others to do so, but on the other hand how difficult it can be to apply it to your own daily life. What I find most difficult is remembering at some points when, for example, negative thoughts are coming into your mind, to focus and change your viewpoint to something positive.
Anyway, back on topic: how is everybody managing these days? How did this topic influence your behavior/thinking/feeling in the last two weeks? Have you guys been more conscious of your own feelings/emotions? Or did it change something in your social activities?
@filipek; you’re absolutely right, staying centered is VERY difficult…but not impossible!
One of the key things for me, in trying times, is to take deep breaths and remind myself that I am in full control of my thoughts and actions, regardless of how intense or screwed up the things around me get.
I actually posted an article just yesterday morning, which is totally applicable to staying centered in trying times, titled “How to Deal With Uncertainty, Negativity, and Limiting Beliefs”: http://www.thinknowlivenow.com/how-to-deal-with-uncertainty-negative-emotions-and-limiting-beliefs
Personally, yesterday was one of the most spiritually intense and testing days I’ve had in a long, long time. I knew, for the majority of yesterday, that my willpower and focus for action would be tested, and boy were they ever! You’re absolutely right, though; it’s VERY easy to talk about, but when the time comes to step up, you’ve got to be on the ball or negativity will consume your thinking.
The more experience I get with dealing with difficult emotions, the more I realize that the reasoning behind them is completely irrational, unreasonable, and based in illusion. Initially, we may objectively feel negatively towards something, but it’s almost ALWAYS due to an incomplete understanding or perspective of the totality of the situation. If/when we know more about what’s going on, we have more “pieces of the puzzle” and we soon realize our initial reaction wasn’t really necessary in the bigger scheme of things.
If anything, negative emotions are your clue or “alarm”, notifying you that a change in perception is needed!
The thing to remember is that ALL circumstances are temporary; they key is recognizing this and realizing that sometimes, time really IS the answer. This realization alone allowed me to “flip” a very difficult day into one full of absolution, understanding, and clarity.
I’m just gonna leave this baby here for someone to care for it.
man i am most certainly a HSP but it seems i realised it when i was still a kid and very successfully pushed away my emotions because my parents and society made me feel stupid whenever i was overly sensitive, though now these days i am emotionally numb in general and i don’t know how to overcome it
I have always known I was more sensitive, empathic, etc. than most others. What you guys say about ‘mimicking’ and feeling the mood of other people, beeing extremely sensitive to surroundinds, and/or just being very sensitive, fits my descreption very well. I’ve struggled with trying to fit in in social groups and society it self all my life. I’ve been depressed for many years and have been trying to solve my problems for equally many years. Depression have been a part of my life since very young (I’m now 21) and I’ve always just had temporary solutions, which made me think that I may be bipolar, because of the many ups and downs.
The last couple of months I’ve been really depressed and the feelings I’ve had is just getting overwhelming. It’s been really tough a couple of times before, but now it’s just like ‘WOW’. Allthough I’m not the biggest fan of psychiatrist’s giving diagnosis’, because I feel they conclude things way too easy and often lack empathic skills and so on, which I see as being very essential when understanding other people’s problems, I’m going to speak with a psychiatrist soon (which I’ve checked out and she seems very intelligent and empathic, also she is a big fan of buddhism and meditation which is a big +) just because I need someone to talk to who can really understand what I’m talking about when I’m talking about my deepest thoughts and the way I see the world. I RARELY get that kind of stimuli when I’m socilizing (allthough I have to say that this site often gives great stimuli) and sorely need it.
I want to thank you guys for this post which have shed some light into a otherwise very dark and depressed mind.
- Greetings from Norway.
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?
I would love to continue this discussion. I have always known I was sensitive for as long as I can remember, but I never thought of it as a good thing. It always got in the way of me feeling “normal” and acting “normal.” In my family, nearly everything I said was brushed off with a “Oh, here she goes again.” In response, I have spent most of my life trying to suppress my emotions which has led to periods of depression. Not to mention that it is exhausting always trying to be someone you’re not. I thought I was introverted or had anxiety, social phobia, maybe ADD. It feels really good to find out that other people experience the same thing and to actually see it in a positive light for once!
there are others!?! I’m inexpressibly stoked about this thread, especially the fact that i’m seeing and relating to others accounts on a site of intellectuals rather than the usual Web MD or drawing-conclusions/spinning-brooding-thought-webs off bits and pieces of ADD/social anxiety articles.
I find the easiest way to explain the strifes of HSP to others is that it’s like Spiderman’s “Spidey-sense”. I constantly find myself seeing body language and social cues that others just cant see, for example, I’ll be at a large party and with a quick glance I can tell a friend with the upmost confidence that “the girl in the red pants is into you” or generally just pick up the vibes of every individual in the room, with Sherlock Holmes-esque accuracy, coupled with equally Sherlock Holmsey social disfunction myself. The most interesting aspect of this spidey sense is sensing others who are on the same HSP plane as you, while it is a rare occurrence they do always deliver interesting and critical conversation on far deeper philosophical topics, such as the nature of human interaction itself.
I was wondering if any of you HSPs have experimented with psychedelics.?! I’ve done a good amount and i believe these experiences have really helped me see the extent of my sensitivity and helped me look at some of the sensitivity phenomenon (such as lack of self definition and irration fear of other’s judgement) with powerful but fleeting clarity. i trippily developed a few body destressing/focusing exercises that I implement regularly whenever i feel tight. These included activities like hackie sackin and a rather hard to explain hand-to-inner-elbow-ball-flick that require dexterity, fluid motion and focus that help me tune out the bad vibes, much like meditation and drawing have done for me in the past
@aalexcastroo, I did a fair amount of psychedelics when I was younger. I wish I could’ve written down what was going on in my head…It seemed like things would become crystal clear but then I could never remember what I figured out later. What do you mean by lack of self-definition? This reminds me of how I seem to be able to agree with nearly anyone (provided they aren’t a bigot or abusive or otherwise horrible.) There aren’t many absolutes to me and many more possibilities for right answers. I think some people see this as a fault, kind of like I don’t stand for anything (which isn’t the case, I just don’t really care much about what some people want to argue about.) On a different note, I am curious about others HSP’s experiences with alcohol, specifically in social situations. Does it help or does it make it worse for you?
@aalexcastroo, please do explain your trippy tricks further. :)
this describes me to tha teeeee!
My anxiety is freaking horrible, to where its the most known thing about me.
I try to avoid being in social situations where people are trying to analyze me, because i feel like they can sense that i’m ‘weak’ at the moment.
So, like, I’ll blush, everytime a person makes eye contact with me.
Its a miserable-circle.
& its totally not me.
So at partys, i’ll just drink as much as i possibly can so i’ll be ME again; it numbs me.
I too feel like I can read people very well. Most people don’t notice things that I do.
But I still expect them too.
uhmmmm, about the ‘tightnesss’ feeling. When I used to smoke weed, I would become very aware of EVERYTHING, & i would become so ‘tight’ that I would start like, seizing up & convulsing. it was absolutely horrible.
Also, anytime there is any negativity I blow up. I start to feel sick to my stomach, I feel like I need to cry, & i’ll just like, scream. LOL. its pathetic really.
I do know the answer is meditation & focus, as well as adjusting my perspective, but I do think that its really important to create as much as you take in.
I think if i could just get passed my anxiety so that I can be creative, put in more to the world, instead of just taking it all in and holding it, maybe i can somehow reach an equilibrium….
my sister is much more like this than i am, she is one of those that picks up on people’s energies very well. i think i have it to some degree, and i enjoy it. i have learned how to sit back and enjoy it. i tend to be an observer more often than not, oftentimes just finding a place to sit and watch people. you do have to learn to not let people get to you though. as a child i had a very short temper, i got angry very quickly. i had to get that under control when i nearly put my cousin’s eye out by throwing a rock at him. shit deserved it though…..XD seriously though, one of the biggest reasons i decided to control it is because i hate the idea of someone else being able to control what i feel and think. if they can make me angry, i’m not in control. so now i choose to laugh at things that normally would be infuriating. interesting thing is lately i have found myself much more sensitive to emotional things. like the movie The Patriot, nearly brings to tears, same with wreck it ralph. and tangled. i’m not the kind of guy you’d expect that from, trust me. lol, i don’t even show my friends or family that i am that sensitive. not many people would understand. i love my family, they are amazing people, but still. i just don’t think they’d get it.
@Lesley, I relate a lot to what you said! You put something I’ve always kinda known/suspected into words for me. I lose interest when people around me are arguing/debating almost instantly because most of the time I see it as pointless since like you said, there aren’t many absolutes.
With alcohol it helps me be more social with people I don’t know very well, but I think it makes me less sensitive if I pass a certain threshold. I’m really observant of the people around me but when I am drinking I tend to be less so. Also, it sounds kinda messed up but I find it harder to fake interest in topics that I really don’t care about when I’m drinking. I find that difficult anyway but can usually retain “politeness” otherwise.
@aalexcastroo, I also want to hear more about those tricks!
@BrittanyRenee, negativity is painful for me as well but with a lot of practice and awareness, I’m getting better at dealing with it.
“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. ”
i recenetly came to terms with this. i do this all the time, whether its walking out my front door, spending any money at all, or even sending a text message. Recognizing this really helped me. Because I know that I could just operate off the belief that whoever is on the receiving end of my actions doesnt think, “how could she do such a thing, if the consequences could have been this, that, or whatever” I just do whatever I fear, whatever is nagging away at me inside to do. And sometimes my fears were real and sometimes they weren’t. But at least the nagging voice is gone, that intuition telling me where to go. And I think that core part of me is stronger and wiser than I have given it credit for in the past, that my neuroticism has given it credit for.
I have visited that HSP website that you originally refer to and I found it very interesting that HSP’s are also very sensitive to things like drugs and being touched. My whole life I have wondered why I cannot wear hairbands or regular bras without being extremely irritated and getting a massive headache. Even pants that are too tight. Coffee sends me into overdrive and I have ALWAYS seen visuals off of only one hit of acid, which other people have told me it takes them more than that to have actual hallucinations. Anyone else experience these physical HSP symptoms as well? And I think the reason why so many of us hopped on this diagnosis is that it’s the reason why many of us came to this website and found a place of refuge here. Because we are not like the rest. I’m an artist and I showed the piece I’ve been working on, which is very emotionally intense, to a fellow artist that I know. This artist, Jonathan looked at the piece and then looked at me and it was like he look into my soul and totally understood. He asked me if I smoked a lot of pot and we got into a discussion as to the emotional purposes we do such things. He showed me artwork from hundreds of years ago where the artist paints about topics like consicousness and the realities that aren’t so easily seen. I was amazed that he had connected the dots to my interest in such things just by looking at that once poece. And I said, “wow I cant believe you came up with this to show me, I am so intersted in all this. And he said “that’s why you are doing what you are doing. That’s why other people do things like sail.” We are from a very wealthy yachting town. Artists are cut from a different cloth. I hated being who I was for a long time, I didn’t understand why it took me forever to wrack up reasons to do something so simple, when others seemed to do it without even giving it a second thought. I’m the one who needs the cursor to be off the youtube screen or else its all I focus on. I find it really difficult to play music for a room of people because I am so aware of everyones reaction to it and when I can tell someone doesn’t like it, I totally freak out inwardly and suggest that someone else take over the DJ booth. I hated being this way for so long. It led to me to such terrible places. So much substance abuse to try to avoid my feelings. But the substances sometimes only served to emphasize those emotions. I cannot outwardly keep my shit together when something is bothering me. I will be sitting in math class or at Easter dinner and something incredibly painful or powerful will strike me and I have no control over the tears that start rolling. However, I have been told that I am a very talented artist and I appreciate the fact that I am interested in subjects that this website discusses. In class or in a social situaion, I am always laughing the loudest, even at the smallest little crack of a joke. I am laughing my ass off in Zumba class while others sternly attempt to follow the leaders instructions. I feel music down to my very bones. I feel so much, all the time, that I have no idea how to relate to the idea of feeling emotionally numb to anything. I feel like I have no skin sometimes and my soul is just on display, unarmored, and that anyone can touch it at any time and send me into a sensory overload of sensations, chills, ultimate bliss, or downright terror. But I know that my heightened nervous system has led to one hell of a life so far, both in positive and negative ways. But I doubt I will ever look back on any time in my life as boring, my brain turns my reality into a movie every day.
@BrittanyRenee, I do not experience it in such a magnitude as you do, I used to in the past, but I kind of shut myself off for it to a certain extent, and actually I am trying myself again to be more responsive to these kinds of things. The thing is that you need to learn to find a way how to deal with it, you need to learn to acknowledge which emotions are caused because of something you have done and which emotions are caused because they are caused because somebody else has done something. In general, do not get attached to emotions, because emotions is not something that belongs to you. It is just something that you experience at a given moment in time.
Try to observe what the emotions do with you. Try to observe your body, your mind, your thought process and see how it affects you. Yes, meditation can be a great and helpful tool, I have learned a lot with it, and I am still using it as a tool to deal with life in general. It is something you need to practice continuously though, you have to make consistent effort, just like you have to eat to have a healthy body, I believe you need meditation to have a healthy mind. One calls it meditation, other calls it prayer, and another one calls it something else again. Does not matter. The matter is that I believe that your mind is equally important to your body and we should find a balance to get an equilibrium in which these two cooperate fully with each other.
Good luck finding your way, I know how tough it can be. Feel free to ask me anything.
Oh my god! Thank you for posting this. I didn’t know this existed or even had it. It feels sooo good to know I am not alone with this. Except I still struggle with controlling it or living with it better. If anyone else has a better grasp on this and integrating into your life more graciously, I would love to hear your two cents