Does it ever feel like you spend more time making decisions than most people? Do you have a hard time focusing with noise around you? Do people always tell you not to be “so sensitive” or not to “take things so personally”?
If any of this strikes a chord to you, then you may be a Highly Sensitive Person, or HSP. With one in five people possessing this personality trait, it is relatively common, but such people are still perceived as a minority.
Of course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Research on high sensitivity was first done in the early 1990s by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D., who has written multiple books and studies on the subject.
Being a highly sensitive person means you have a number of amazingly positive qualities and habits. While you might not feel that these traits are awesome, they really are.
1. They are deeply intuitive
The ability to feel with a lot more depth than other not-so-sensitive people is one of the more outstanding characteristics of the highly sensitive. These individuals can delve into a topic far more than any other person. Author of ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide’ and a few other books, Ted Zeff Ph.D., says that “They’re very intuitive, and go very deep inside to try to figure things out.”
2. Their emotional reactions are amplified
Highly sensitive people will always conduct themselves more compassionately in a situation or act with more concern for the feelings of another when it comes to dealing with negativity.
3. They are familiar with being called overly sensitive and asked why they take things so personally
Dr Ted Zeff interviewed a group of men from India and Thailand, where he found that they were unlikely to be teased for being highly sensitive, much unlike men from North America who were frequently mocked. Turns out its quite a cultural thing. The same person who is being teased for being too sensitive is considered an asset in some cultures, he reckons.
4. They have a really hard time making decisions
Even in situations where there is no right or wrong answer, a highly sensitive person will be more conscious of the tiniest detail that could make or break the whole deal. They will spend more time than most people making a decision, weighing out the pros and cons.
In a recent issue of Aron’s Comfort Zone newsletter, she explains the exception: When an HSP reaches a conclusion of what the right decision is, and what the wrong decision is, he or she will be quick to make that “right” decision again in the future.
5. About 30% of highly sensitive people are not introverts
Not all highly sensitive people are introverts by nature. Dr. Aron explains that highly sensitive people who are extroverts were probably brought up in a close-knit social environment like a small town or a place where exposure and interaction with other people is unavoidable.
6. They are excellent team players
Highly sensitive people can make beneficial team members and work partners because of their innate ability to process thoughts and ideas more deeply. But these people shouldn’t be put in charge of making the final decision. For example, highly sensitive people would be good at diagnosing the patient but someone else will need to make the tough decisions, i.e whether they should proceed with surgery.
7. They are more likely to be depressed or anxious
“If you’ve had a fair number of bad experiences, especially early in life, so you don’t feel safe in the world or you don’t feel secure at home or … at school, your nervous system is set to ‘anxious,” says Aron.
Not all highly sensitive people all develop anxiety. In fact, having people around that support you and your emotional sensitivity can help prevent it.
8. Annoying sounds are extremely irritating to the highly sensitive
Since literally everything is amplified to highly sensitive people, that somewhat vexing buzz from the fluorescent light that normally wouldn’t bother most people all that much is enough to drive an HSP to an entirely different level of insanity. They are easily affected and something others may find insignificant, can be overwhelming.
9. They are well-mannered
According to Dr. Aron, highly sensitive people are highly conscientious too and therefore, more likely to act considerately towards others and display excellent manners.
10. They feel the effects of criticism much more than most
What less sensitive people say “whatever” to and brush off, will affect the highly sensitive more severely, and consequently, will cause them to engage in avoidance tactics like people pleasing (so that there is nothing to criticize) or revert to self-criticism and avoid it altogether.
11. They prefer to either be self-employed or work in a quiet cubicle
Many highly sensitive people prefer to work for themselves or from home simply because they have more control over what goes on daily. For highly sensitive people who don’t have that luxury, they would much rather have the quiet retreat of a cubicle than work in an open-plan office.
To find out if you are an HSP, take Dr. Elaine Aron’s test HERE.
By Raven Fon