In 1997, Dr. Elaine Aron released her book The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You after years of research on the trait. There is an estimated 15 to 20% of the population who are highly sensitive. HSP is intrinsic, and according to Dr. Aron, "reflects a certain type of survival strategy, being observant before acting." HSPs are intuitive, notice more, aware of subtleties, and reflect more deeply. HSPs can easily become overstimulated and overwhelmed when situations become chaotic and intense. HSPs are often mislabeled as shy and introverted. The scientific term is Sensory-Processing Sensitivity (SPS).
Common characteristic behaviors of HSPs:
- Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
- Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
- Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
- Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
- Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
- Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
- Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
- When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?
Dr. Aron has a Self Test on her website.
Dr. Susan Biali shares helpful survival tips on Psychology Today for those living the HSP life. Boy can I relate! I usually keep my lights super dim in my living room where I spend most of my time, despise loud and crowded areas and events, can't watch the news, and plan my life around having "me time."
I'm suddenly noticing others sharing their HSP stories, survival tips, and discovery: Tiny Buddha, Hannah, and Susannah. I think this goes back to what I said in Part I, these beautiful people and articles are noticeable to me now because I'm finally ready to receive the information and knowledge they have to share with me.
I am no longer willing to shame myself for my "weird" behaviors and emotions. I'm much more grounded and stable than I have ever been and I'm ready to receive the truth the universe has to share with me and the teachers it chooses to send my way. This is the spot where I'm firmly planted and these roots run deep. I am strong. I am complex. I am me.
Last month I took the Clifton Strength Finder assessment to discover my top 5 unique traits (of 34). Major revelation in 3-2-1...my #1 top strength is Empathy! LOL. The universe is at work here. :-)