If I stood on a busy street corner and polled people on what they knew about Highly Sensitive People, I doubt there would be many with any idea of what I meant.
Undoubtedly there would be a few who would make reference to people they know who are “overly emotional” or prone to tears. Such a description is not entirely untrue of a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), but it is only about 1% of all the premium characteristics that are typical of most HSPs.
High sensitivity isn’t a widely discussed topic – until now. HSPs play a unique and vital role in the world – in businesses and communities; as parents, caregivers, healers, and advisors; in love relationships and friendships. They are the ‘behind the scenes’ people who are deeply attuned to the subtleties in life. They see the details below the surface, connect the dots, and recognize unmet needs – all as part of their regular course of life.
HSP in a Nutshell
High sensitivity is a temperament trait that is possessed by only 15-20% of the population. The key attribute of high sensitivity is depth of processing; highly sensitive people take in the physical and emotional environment on a deeper level than the other 80% of the world.
It’s like seeing and feeling in 3D or 4D.
Highly sensitive people are extremely empathic and can easily notice subtleties and slight nuances. They are highly intuitive and strong in creativity. They have ‘superpowers’ of sorts.
What Being an HSP is Not
High sensitivity should not to be confused with the similarly named Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). SPD is a neurological problem wherein a person’s brain does not organize information into appropriate responses.
The HSP trait is a normal temperament variation that shows up equally in men and women.
There are more HSPs who are introverts, however 40% are extraverts.
The Life of an HSP
The plus for HSPs is that they have invaluable strengths and skills that non-highly sensitive people (non-HSPs) do not possess. The challenge for HSPs is that they stand out as ‘different’ from the norm which can be difficult socially – especially if their trait has not yet been identified.
HSPs have heightened awareness that affects the amount of information they take in at all times. Think fire hose vs. garden hose. This is the standard method of operation for an HSP – it’s their ‘normal’ to see everything with greater depth and meaning. As such, HSPs have to be mindful to maintain balance so as to avoid becoming overwhelmed by too much stimuli to attend to all at once.
If you want to see an HSP really thrive, watch them in positive and supportive environments where there is authentic connection and strong sense of purpose. They will go the distance to do the right thing.
HSPs are creative problem solvers and are some of the most conscientious people you can know. Their presence helps to foster a peaceful and cohesive environment. These gems feel and love deeply. They tend to have an innate sense of responsibility to make the world a better place.
A Unique Relevance
HSPs have mad skills that the majority of people don’t have. The world needs them now and will need them increasingly more in the future. They are the behind the scenes advisors who add wisdom, harmony, and depth of understanding to relationships, businesses, governments, and communities.
Seek and You Will Find
One in 5 people have the HSP temperament trait. Chances are high that you will encounter HSPs throughout your life: as employees or coworkers, at school, in your friendships, families, and love relationships, in your community organizations, etc.
HSPs stand out if you become intentional about looking for them – and I believe you should. They are an under-utilized resource in the world and their natural skills and strengths are an asset for the future.
Seek out the HSPs in your life or business and get to know them. You want them as your right hand man/woman.
Think you might be an HSP yourself? Take this assessment to find out. If you discover that you are an HSP, then get to know yourself in light of this new frame.
Amy Hallagan is an LCSW, personal coach, and the owner of Exubero, Llc, Coaching & Personal Development, in Loveland, Colorado. Amy is most passionate about helping people with high sensitivity to create truly meaningful lives rooted in their unique strengths, skills, values, passions, and purpose. Connect with Amy by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through her website, www.exuberocoaching.com. Subscribe to her blog here.