If you are a highly sensitive person (HSP), others may have said you are too emotional, too dramatic, or too thin-skinned. Maybe you’ve been told to stop taking things so personally and to stop being so sensitive. You might feel like there is something wrong with you and that you are different from everyone else. However, sensitivity is not a bad thing, and neither is being an HSP. In fact, the world would be a rather sad place without the natural empathy and compassion HSPs provide. Below are some things that you might identify with if you are a highly sensitive person.

The Highly Sensitive Person

According to psychologist Elaine Aaron, HSPs make up about 15 to 20 percent of the population. Those that have the HSP innate trait process things more deeply and are very detail oriented and aware of their surroundings. If you identify as an HSP, you are more easily impacted by overstimulation. Crowds, loud sounds, strong smells, and chaotic environments can be very overwhelming. Although you may or may not be introverted, you may choose to avoid events or situations that are highly stimulating. You are probably very creative, and even innovative, and have strong empathy and compassion for others. Emotions are deeply felt, and can be shown easily as well. The HSP easily notices even the most subtle changes in others and their environment.

HSPs Brains Are Different

The brain of an HSP is different from those that are not highly sensitive according to research. Mirror neurons in the HSP are very active. These mirror neurons enable you to understand what someone is experiencing by observing them. When your mirror neurons are more active, you are able to feel more empathy and compassion for others. HSPs are also thought to respond differently to dopamine. Dopamine is a hormone released by the brain as a reward for doing certain things. HSPs are less driven by external rewards than non HSPs. If you are an HSP, you have a gene that enables you to respond strongly to your environment. This creates a more vivid emotional response to external stimuli. You really are able to experience things on a deeper level and your central nervous system is very active.

HSPs Notice The Details

HSPs are very attuned to their environment and very detail oriented. You notice everything and everyone around you. If a dangerous situation develops, you are already aware of the possible escape routes. Since you are so hyper-aware, crowds, loud noises, and a lot of activity or change can be overwhelming at times. You can also be very moved by art and the beauty you see all around you. Although it is unlikely that much gets by you, environmental changes can be draining and you may need to withdraw from stimulating situations to recharge.

HSPs Have A Lot Of Empathy And Compassion

As an HSP, you are not only attuned to your environment, but also to the people around you. This causes you to be able to sense the moods of others, especially those that you are very close to. Since you are aware of what others are feeling, you can respond to them on a deep, caring level. This helps you form strong emotional bonds with others. You are able to respond to others with empathy which helps you establish meaningful relationships. Although you are not one for superficial encounters, your compassion and understanding often extends to everyone and everything around you. 

HSPs Feel Things Deeply

HSPs feel everything deeply. Since you are able to experience your feelings at a deep level, you may laugh or cry easily as well. Even if you hide your emotional reactions from others, the depth of feeling you possess is still evident. While there is nothing wrong with feeling your feelings so deeply, you need to spend time with them and process them as well. When you don’t give yourself time to process your feelings, you can forget the joy and struggle with symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

HSPs Are People- Pleasers

If you are an HSP, you might be a people-pleaser. It is probably natural for you to take care of others and you may enjoy being a nurturer. Since you feel other people’s pain so strongly, you probably avoid hurting others. However, when you care for others at your own expense, it can be unhealthy. Criticism can have a major impact on you, so you might avoid criticizing others, even when it is needed. You could have problems speaking up for yourself and expressing your needs and setting boundaries. This can cause you to feel lonely and misunderstood in your relationships. Remember, taking care of yourself is necessary in order for you to really care for others.

HSPs Benefit From Alone Time

Alone time is very important for an HSP. While you probably enjoy being with others that you are close to, you also need to spend time alone to recharge. You need your own space where you can relax and unwind. Since you absorb so much from external stimulation, you benefit greatly from having a serene place you can retire to. Time spent alone enables you to decompress and process your emotions. This also gives your central nervous system a chance to calm down. You may benefit from meditation, exercise, and deep breathing.

HSPs Are Very Creative

HSPs are very creative. If you identify as an HSP, you probably enjoy some form of creative expression. You are more likely to be emotionally moved by art, music, or literature that you resonate with. Because you can perceive things so intensely, you are able to infuse your creations with emotion that often resonate with others. Even if your creative outlet consists of journaling for yourself only, it can be very helpful to you. Engaging in some form of creative activity can help you more fully process your feelings as well.

If you identify with some of the above, you might be a highly sensitive person. There is nothing wrong with being an HSP, and it is not something you can change or even need to change. However, if you are struggling with symptoms of anxiety or depression that is having a negative impact on your emotional well-being, therapy can help. Gaining more insight into what it means to be an HSP can help you have more self-understanding and more self-compassion.

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