ARE YOU A HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON (HSP)?

Photo by  Hal Gatewood  on  Unsplash

Maybe you are but you just never knew it!

Being highly sensitive is a personality trait that in recent decades has become more familiar an acknowledged, after a long-term study by psychologist Elaine Aron concluded that twenty percent of us are 'highly sensitive'.

This can involve being physically sensitive to light and sound, being emotionally sensitive when it comes to social interaction or creative experiences, or various levels of both.

Aron explains and explores this characteristic in her book 'The Highly Sensitive Person', in which you can take the test to see if you qualify for this trait.

Some of the questions asked to determine if you are an HSP include:

  • Are you aware of subtleties in your environment?

  • Do other people's moods affect you?

  • Do you find yourself needing to withdraw during busy days, into bed or into a darkened room or any place where you can have some privacy or relief from stimulation?

  • Are you deeply moved by arts or music?

  • When you compete or are observed completing a task, do you become so nervous or shaky that you do much worse than you would otherwise?

I've always known from a young age that I was highly sensitive. My emotions are like a sixth sense, as impactful on my daily experience as the weather and at the risk of becoming overwhelmed and anxious, I have to work ensure I am protected from too much negative stimulation in my life. I have a highly intuitive ability to tune into and read the energy of other people and situations beyond the outside presentation, which is what makes me a very good Life Coach, because my natural state is one of empathy. Being highly sensitive is mostly found in introverts, but can also be found in extroverts and ambiverts, like myself.

It has taken me many years to really begin to appreciate this characteristic of myself, where in the past I have not known how to embrace and nurture it. This has led to many misunderstandings with people I interact with and made this side of me feel like a curse rather than a blessing.

It wasn't until I was trapped in a hotel suite in Korea with a bad back, a heap of books and my own thoughts to keep me company that I began to explore this side of me. One of the books I was endulging in was called 'Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking'. I couldn't have been in a more perfect environment to read this book! It had a whole section on HSP's that led me down a wonderful path of self-discovery. I practically inhaled the book by Elaine Aron and also watched the documentary about HSP's called 'Sensitive The Movie'. It features interviews with Alanis Morissette who also identifies with this trait.

Like myself, many people who are not aware that they are HSP, find themselves becoming overwhelmed in certain situations and not knowing why, which can cause debilitating anxiety. However, when you learn about the ways in which you are highly sensitive, you can then learn not only how to manage certain situations in your life, but actually thrive and seek out activities and work where your highly sensitive nature is valued and utilised. This can be through creative expression, using your intuition to help people in need, or generally providing a deeper perspective and connection to others that they cannot find elsewhere, thereby empowering yourself rather than allowing this unique trait to hinder you.

Some Life Coaches who are HSP, specialise in HSP coaching to help others discover and nurture this side of themselves and in my next blog I will be writing about a coach I met recently who does just that.

If you relate to some of the characteristics I was describing in this blog then I would recommend Elaine Aron's book or go to her website https://hsperson.com/ for more information.

Take care for now.

Oliver

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