Are you or do you know someone who is highly sensitive? High sensitivity can be characterized as an immediate response to external (social, environmental) or inner (intrapersonal) stimuli, physically, mentally and emotionally. An introvert, an extrovert or somewhere in between may be a highly sensitive person.
Fifteen to twenty percent of the population are highly sensitive and process stimuli profoundly from sight to sound to emotion. The HSP responsiveness to sensory processing means that reality is “changed” more than other experiences. The nervous systems are no less sensitive than introversion, depression, anxiety or even autism, and process information more deeply because of a biological difference.
Signs of a Highly Sensitive Person
So, what’s it like to be an HSP? While many people may occasionally experience some of these signs, a highly sensitive person is likely to “feel too much” and “feel too deep.”
- They feel things profoundly and observe people well but may shield their feelings from others because they have learned to withdraw into ourselves. They struggle with sleep and anxiety, and they may feel angry or upset about social injustice in society.
- In group situations, such as work meetings or parties, we can feel overwhelmed because of the number of stimuli, including loud noises and strong scents. This does not mean that relationships are not respected.
- If they watch or read negative media content, they may get upset. They hate programming with “shock” value (i.e. shows that are extremely frightening or violent). They feel unhappy after reading social media posts.
- They may seek reassurance when they start new relationships, such as friendships or romantic partnerships, because they are hypersensitive to any perceived signs of rejection.
- On the other hand, they talk about negative emotions because of the amount of “drama” in their lives. They find it hard to accept feedback, even if it is offered in a fair and constructive manner. They feel like people will judge them, no matter what, despite a lack of strong evidence otherwise.
Although a highly sensitive person has many positive qualities, others can be overstimulated with more signs in the list.
For many sensitive people, emotional and sensory immunity techniques can be used to soothe and relieve overstimulation to control oversensitivity. Efficient communication skills are required to cultivate positive and constructive relationships for those who live or work with extremely sensitive individuals.