Are you a highly sensitive person (HSP)?

Cherish your sensitivity. It is your superpower.

Do you experience more stress than the average person? Are you overly sensitive to external stimuli. Chances are, there is nothing wrong with you or your coping strategies.

Instead, your brain may be more sensitive to stress than the average person. You may in fact, be what Dr. Elaine Aron has coined “A Highly Sensitive Person” (HSP).

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Neurological differences found in HSP’s.

Brain scans show that HSP’s have “heightened activity in empathy-related brain regions” including the anterior insula (insular cortex), highlighted in the brain scan below.

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The intensified response of highly sensitive people (HSP) to stress is not a choice – it’s biological. HSP brains are wired differently than the average person. This fact has been clearly supported by scientific research.

Self Test: Are You Highly Sensitive?

  1. Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
  2. Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
  3. Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
  4. 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?
  5. Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
  6. Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
  7. Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
  8. When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?        

Source: HSP Self-Test                                                                                            

Harnessing HSP’s Strengths (aka Superpowers)

The main challenge for most HSP’s is to acknowledge their heightened emotional sensitivity, understand their unique emotional needs, and finally to employ distinctive strategies for coping with stress. Helpful websites and resources below –

  1. A Guide to the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) by Dr. Judith Orloff
  2. Coping Strategies for the Highly Sensitive Person by Dr. Ted Zeff
  3. How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Dr. Elaine Aron
  4. Highly Sensitive People in the Workplace by Janine Ramsey
  5. With Care, You and Your Sensitivity Will Flourish by Deborah Ward

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35 thoughts on “Are you a highly sensitive person (HSP)?

  1. HS people are often labelled as histrionic or over-anxious. This in turn can lead to their opinions, views, beliefs being belittled, dismissed or disregarded. Leading to further distress. A vicious cycle. Your article puts it into perspective. Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I so appreciate your feedback & insights.

      Having research to back up HSP traits demonstrates the legitimacy of the it. And gives HSP’s concrete evidence (for themselves & others) that being who they are is not a choice (or a mental health or a personality disorder) — it’s how their brain processes external stimuli.

      Similar to the distinction between introverts & extroverts in their differing cortical arousal. As discussed in this Psychology Today article on biology, personality, and self-acceptance: https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201009/revenge-the-introvert

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yep, I’m grateful to be an empath…guess it makes me struggle with those who aren’t, and I wish I could open their hearts somehow to what moves me, but then we would all be the same! And that would be boring

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good for you Lorena! Awareness & Acceptance of HSP are a powerful combination. Only then can you take it to the next step –> Sharing your unique perspective with the world unveiled. Shine on Lorena!

      Like

  3. Hello Dr Dinardo,
    Oh my… I was going to write a post about this on my blog but I just may reblog this in the coming weeks if that’s ok?
    I discovered this about three years ago and cried (naturally!) when I learnt this was me. All those years of being made to feel less because I took things to heart, became upset easily and noticed nuances in people to name a few… I’m very happy to say that I’m proud now. Great to get the information out to help others. I have Elaine’s book too.
    Thank you for this one,
    Di 💐

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so welcome Di!

      Thank you for the feedback. Knowing this information helped, makes the time to research & write the post worthwhile.

      And of course, I would love for you to reblog & share with your readers! The more this information helps, the better.

      This post also dovetails on my earlier post “Who are you?” https://drandreadinardo.com/2017/04/24/who-are-you/ Encouraging all of us to own who we are without apology.

      Sensitivity is a magical trait. Cherish it, as I do. xo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh thank you Dr. I most proudly will share it in another coupe of blog posts time. I’ll make mention of your ‘who are you post’ too.
        Yes, it certainly made a big difference to me firstly as far as the comparing to others is concerned…That’s been the biggie for me….still working on it but getting better.
        Thank you again for your beautiful reply, and yes, it is magical to be sensitive 💕

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Embracing it is essential!! We are very often made to feel weak, silly, overwhelming. But it is a gift, I truly believe. The world needs the sensitivity we bring. Thank you for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. leaguillory

    This is so wonderful and so amazing to discover! It’s nice to be able to identify with this and gain some resources where I can begin to find clarity. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on Matters for the heart and commented:
    Hello for another week,
    This post is a big one for me…

    You see, I’ve been sitting on this knowledge for a few years and waited for the right time and platform to share something that changed my life.

    I discovered I was a HSP, short for a Highly Sensitive person.
    I learnt there was such a trait after I heard it on a podcast and I literally bawled…I know there are reservations about labels, and having worked in Supported Education in a secondary school, I certainly know about the often overuse of labels.
    But in my experience, sometimes it was a helpful diagnosis for the student, and other times it was requested to remain hidden and not discussed.
    So it was with this in mind that I have held back.
    After finding a wonderful post about this very topic by a a Psychologist, school professor blogger by the name of Dr Andrea Dinardo…. I knew what my next reblog had to be…

    So it is with much pleasure that I’m helping to spread this information shared here by lovely Dr Dinardo from her inspiring blog about Positive Psychology (not to be confused with Positive thinking) .
    Our hope is for everyone who didn’t quite understand why they couldn’t just ‘fit in with the crowd’ for many reasons, who had been told to just ‘grow a thicker skin’, was made fun of for crying easily, over thinking everything… the list goes on, comes to accept there is nothing wrong with us. Dr Dinardo covers this topic beautifully below.

    There are resource links in Dr Dinardo’s post, including that of Elaine Aron, who pioneered the research.

    You will discover your sensitivity is a beautiful thing and something to be proud of, no longer wishing to hide it under the carpet for fear of ridicule. It’s in a way, like coming home to ourselves and feeling a new sense of belonging and purpose…

    This just may be… your first step to that self-acceptance you have strived for throughout your life…
    I’m with you in this HSP journey, and may just explain some of my musings in previous blog posts.
    Wishing you well,
    and I’d really welcome comments and thoughts if feel you have something to share about your experiences.

    Much love,
    Di

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You are very welcome Dr Dinardo. It was a pleasure to share the news and you had written about better than I could have hoped to do…
        The message is being received well and timely.
        Thank you for a lovely reply 💐🌟

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Smiling as I read your comment Miriam. I too have always felt things deeply. Which can be a blessing & a curse in my profession. I can relate to people so quickly & so deeply. The challenge is to turn the link off. Almost impossible in my early years as a psychologist. Much easier now with maturity & experience. Boundaries in all forms, are life saving for HSPs. And incredibly empowering!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Really interesting. I think this is me! I do get overwhelmed easily, have to hide away quite regularly so I don’t melt into a stressed puddle, cry very readily and have to ration my news intake as it really affects me badly. I usually just feel a bit inadequate, like I can’t cope well with things that others just seem to take in their stride. Now I know this is a thing, I am definitely going to be reading more about it. Thank you for the really helpful information 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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