One in every twenty people is considered to be a highly sensitive person (HSP). This means that either you yourself may be sensitive or someone you know is. 42% of the population is not highly sensitive, meaning that most things don’t bother them the way they will an HSP. Everyone else falls somewhere in between, with the odd few being completely unemotional about anything. (By the way – 20% of the entire animal kingdom is highly-sensitive as well).
Who are HSP’s and What Are They Like?
Who are HSP’s? We’re the thinkers, the cautious ones, the conservative people; the ones that say “Hey, wait a minute. Let’s think this through before doing something rash.”
Every society needs highly sensitive people, just as we need the warriors, the leaders who are ready to take the risks. However, we’re the ones that help to temper the not-so-sensitive types, the ones who can be bold, rash and impulsive and may have not thought things through to the consequences of their actions. Highly sensitive people are most often the people found in the roles of advisors, counselors and advocators for restraint.
Unfortunately, in western society, we’ve also been labeled as somewhat “defective”, according the way non-hsp’s see us. We’re considered “too sensitive, too cautious, too shy, too timid, too introverted, too fearful.” What needs to be realized is that these are not “problems” that need to be corrected and fixed with sensitive people. It’s the labels that are attached to us that cause the problems. Many non-sensitive people are also shy, timid, introverted and fearful, while there are many highly sensitive people who are out-going, super-friendly, extroverted, and risk-takers. We just tend to think things through first and weigh all the factors that our senses pick up on before forging ahead.
Traits and Characteristics Misinterpreted
So, what are some of the traits and characteristics of a highly sensitive person? Let’s look at some of the facts and the mythical labels that have been attached to this special group.
Shyness – You’ll probably find a larger portion of shy people in the HSP group. That does not mean that everyone is shy. That’s a myth. A lot of non-sensitive people are also shy. Sometimes, what’s mistaken as shyness is actually a sizing up of the situation and the people that we have just met. We’re cautious. If our senses are saying something isn’t right about the person, we won’t be so open to them. First impressions count. It’s not just the way the person is dressed, but their whole demeanor, aura, attitude and other little subtleties that we absorb with all of our senses. We process the thoughts, feelings and sensations that we receive in each new situation. This may make some of us appear “shy”, when we’re not.
Introverted – Another myth. You’ll find many HSP’s can be extroverted, out-going and fun-loving. You’ll also find many non-sensitive people as being introverted. Don’t mistake deep-thinking and inner-reflection as introversion. We do require much more alone time. This is because our nervous systems can go into over-load in a situation that a non-sensitive person would find somewhat stimulating. If we become frazzled and over-stimulated, we need to find a quiet spot as soon as possible to settle back down. This is why many HSP’s tend to stay at home more often than not, rather than go out to party. It’s not that we don’t want to… we just know our systems can’t handle the overload for too long a time. If we can’t get away, we’ll pull into ourselves, as a sort of protective shield, to try to reduce the noise, sights, sounds and smells that are bombarding us in order to calm down.
Fearfulness – Unless you’re completely unemotional and have a lack of conscious consideration toward others, who can say that they’ve never been fearful at times? This is not an exclusive trait of sensitive people. New experiences often cause butterflies, fearful thoughts and inner-turmoil in most people. HSP’s just tend to feel those emotions more deeply.
Timidness – Caution, careful evaluation of the situation, needing the see the “entire picture”, and the possible resulting consequences of our actions is just in our nature. If everyone heedlessly rushed into everything, we’d have even more chaos in our world than we do now.
Too-Sensitive – Yes, this is our major trait. We assimilate everything around us at once. Lights, noises, smells, energy vibrations, they all get absorbed, processed and evaluated. Unfortunately when there’s too much activity and noise around us, we can’t handle it for a great length of time. For example, what may be a low to moderate level of music for a non-sensitive person could sound like the level of a rock concert to us. Emotionally, we’re affected by much of the disharmony in the world. We feel another person’s heartache, we are aware of low levels of anger or resentment in a room, we empathize with other people’s problems, and feel great sorrow over horrific tragedies.
What Does All This Mean?
A highly sensitive person will pick up on subtleties in the surroundings that many non-sensitive people can’t see or feel. This can give us some great advantages. It can save us in many situations where there’s trouble brewing. Our abilities can keep us from making disastrous business or personal decisions, if we follow our instincts. And because of our deep sense of the environment around us, we’re often the ones that make others aware of potential environmental problems that unscrupulous companies ignore for their own benefits. HSP’s are often the ones that push for reforms and changes in government law for the better good of everyone.
As with anything, it’s good to know that you’re not alone, that there are others out there that have to deal with the same types of situations and “labels” as you do. True, it doesn’t hurt any less, but you know there are similar types that you can seek out and talk to…and they’ll understand. Yes, we do tend to exhibit more of the above traits and characterisitcs than non-sensitive people do, but we’re not exclusive owners of them either. Sometimes, it’s a misinterpetation of what’s really going on in the mind of an HSP by non-HSP’s. Only another highly sensitive person could really understand. The good news is that highly sensitive people have been around for as long as man has walked the earth… and we’ll always be here, working to make the world a more understanding, considerate and peaceful haven for everyone.