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).


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.


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


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

  1. 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

  2. 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?” 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

    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!


  3. 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

  4. 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 1 person

    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:

      Liked by 1 person

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