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  • Benefits of Being a Highly Sensitive Person, or HSP

    Are you a highly sensitive person, or HSP? If so, you’re not alone. It is estimated that roughly 15 to 20 percent of the population is highly sensitive. In fact, scientists now believe there is a gene behind this trait.

    But what does it mean to be highly sensitive? The HSP is generally defined as someone with “acute physical, mental, and emotional responses to external (social, environmental) or internal (intra-personal) stimuli.”

    The bad news is, being highly sensitive can make many common life situations feel awkward and downright uncomfortable. But fear not, there are many benefits to being highly sensitive, and we’ll share those a little later in this post.

    Signs You May Be a Highly Sensitive Person

    If you are curious whether you may be part of the population that is highly sensitive, here are 10 signs to look for:

    • You are quick to feel emotions such as sadness and anxiety
    • Any comment by loved-ones can be heard/perceived as potentially malicious, depending on your and/or their mood at the moment
    • You may feel physical symptoms in relation to these emotions, such as headaches and muscle tension
    • You become overwhelmed with physical stimuli such as sound, light, and smells
    • You have never felt comfortable around crowds. The energy of the crowd easily overwhelms you
    • You become very emotional over the injustices of the world
    • You may cry and/or become angry at the thought of children or animals being harmed
    • You often worry what others think of you
    • You are quick to take things personally
    • You have a hard time letting things go
    • You struggle with critical feedback even when it is constructive
    • You avoid most social situations and prefer to stay home alone
    • You startle easily to loud noises

    Benefits of Being a Highly Sensitive Person or HSP

    As mentioned earlier, while being an HSP can cause you to feel awkward or overwhelmed at times, there are also definite perks to being highly sensitive. For starters, you are someone who can enjoy subtle sensory detail that a majority of the population misses. You get pleasure from noticing the little things. You’ll notice subtle shades of colour and texture and feel immense pleasure at the complexities of international cuisines.

    You’re also aware of others’ feelings, needs and emotions. Because of this natural empathy, HSPs make great teachers, managers and leaders.

    HSPs are also incredibly creative. Many artists, musicians and famous actors are highly sensitive people who have gifted the world with their talent and insight into what it means to be human.

    Strengths of Highly Sensitive Persons

    The following are just some of the strengths of highly sensitive persons, or HSPs:

    Highly Sensitive Persons Are Innovative

    Some of the world’s most skilled artists include HSPs. Why? Because HSPs are neurologically wired to create. So, lean into your curiosities, ask questions, and explore your creative genius. This is one heck of an amazing strength of yours!

    Highly Sensitive Persons and Emotional Intelligence

    HSPs have a keen ability to read between the lines; to see the details. This is just one of the reasons HSPs can be great entrepreneurs and marketers, because they tend to be so skilled at building rapport, being deeply tuned in, empathizing, and listening.

    Highly Sensitive Persons and Conscientiousness

    Many HSPs are highly practiced at processing a lot of input, which often enables HSPs to easily come up with plans and solutions for complex problems.

    HSPs can also get energized and concentrate deeply by getting lost in big or small ideas. This positions HSPs very well for success in many professional and personal challenges that require sensitive care and detail.

    Highly Sensitive Persons and Multiple Passions

    One of the strengths of HSPs is that they tend to care deeply. And perhaps you are working towards giving fewer f**ks about what people think of you. You are passionate about your work, your relationships, and have no interest in hiding your passions.

    HSPs are often trailblazers who find ways to uniquely combine their many interests into meaningful careers that have impact on you personally, your community, your loved-ones, and the larger world.

    Don’t React. Respond

    HSPs often struggle with the balance between lashing out and/or withdrawing. This can be particularly true when it comes to relationships. Truth is though, life doesn’t always go according to our plans, and as a highly sensitive person, it’s important to practice ways to respond to surprises rather than reacting. To reduce panic, overwhelm, even flooding, practice distancing. For example: Imagine you have a remote control that you can use to distance the issue so you can gain a better outside perspective at the situation.

    Develop a cue word or phrase with the people around you. For example: Referring to a focus on something that has potential to get derailed (e.g. a challenging conversation), give your loved-ones the heads up that you want to speak to something that’s potentially triggering for you and/or them. Perhaps you say something to the effect of “May I turn on the light for a moment?” (turning on the light referring to shining the light on what’s going on at the moment). Then ask, “HSP is saying ‘…,’ is that what you meant to say?” Clear communication is key for HSPs to thrive.

    Feedback is Healthy

    HSPs often struggle with surprises. This includes surprising comments from loved-ones. Truth is, one hurtful comment can shake an HSP for days, sometimes even weeks. Being well prepared for a response can be very helpful. The following are some examples of ways to respond:

    • “I don’t have the answer at the moment but let me get back to you on that”
    • “Thanks for the feedback. Give me some time to process what you have shared”
    • “Great question. What is your impression on what’s going on”

    Boundaries Are Good

    Each of us has a finite amount of emotional and physical resources/energy. Challenging emotional experiences can drain your resources quickly, perhaps even dipping into a deficit frequently. This is just one of many reasons that boundaries are so important for highly sensitive persons.

    Celebrating Highly Sensitive Persons

    As you can see, if you can manage the negative aspects of being a highly sensitive person, you can reap some pretty fantastic rewards!

    If you or someone you love suspects they are a highly sensitive person and would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with us. We’d love to discuss how we may be able to help.

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