Are you a highly sensitive person? What does that mean exactly and is it normal? Are you weird? Should you change or be different?
The answer is…
No, you are already perfect, exactly as you should be! In fact, research has been taking place for the past decade or so to look at the qualities and characteristics of highly sensitive people. That research has also been applied to children and animals. Scientists have now identified some of the personality traits of sensitivity.
Elaine Aron has written a book on this, the Highly Sensitive Person. She says that about 20% of people are highly sensitive. If you are a bit more emotional than others, you more than likely fall within this 20% – a full fifth of the world’s population!
The research shows that highly sensitive people are often not understood by others, at times are thought to be a bit crazy, told to stop crying, and can experience being pushed away. They may be labelled in childhood as being difficult, shy or introverted, which they may not be at all, they are merely having a hard time dealing with their own levels of sensitivity.
Highly sensitive people may be overstimulated in group settings and not want to engage or speak because they are overwhelmed. Sometimes they are thought to be on the spectrum, when they are not.
Elaine Aron says that there are 4 main qualities of a highly sensitive person:
- Depth of processing – they know things without always knowing how they know it. They are not able to exist on the surface of life, but need to delve into how things feel in order to be authentic to themselves and their world. Sometimes highly sensitive people can be viewed by others as too emotional and too intense. But the fact is, they see and perceive and feel things deeper and this is not good or bad it just IS.
- Overstimulation – this happens easily and more often than other people might experience it. Because of this, they need time out and may be quite sensitive to noise.
- Empathy and emotional responsiveness – they tend to know how other people are feeling without needing to be told. Highly sensitive people cry more than others, but they process emotions more thoroughly.
- Sensing the subtle in the environment – they are able to perceive things that others may miss. This leads to creative expression and creativity is a great outlet for a highly sensitive person. Not all creative people are highly sensitive, but Highly Sensitive People are generally more creative. Despite being very creative, they need down time. This is something that needs to be planned for.
When they are criticised, misunderstood and treated harshly in childhood, the highly sensitive can carry this wounding into their adult lives, which can create all kinds of complications for them.
At the end of the day, we all process emotion differently to each other. With the right support and guidance, a highly sensitive person is likely to be a world beater. More creative, more in tune, more able to manage relationships and people. Their sensitivity is not a curse, it is a superpower!
To cultivate, support and refine our understanding of this superpower, we created the Path of Ease and Grace, a series of courses providing a raft of tools and simple techniques and ideas to help the highly sensitive person to not just survive, but truly thrive in life. You can find out more about these courses and The Consciousness Connection HERE, and know that you are not alone.