Like many young kids who feel deeply, Susan was often told she was “too sensitive.” Dr. Elaine Aron began researching high sensitivity back in 1991 and was the first to label the trait: Highly Sensitive Persons, or HSPs, are easily overwhelmed by sensory stimuli (from loud sounds to coarse fabrics), are very aware of the moods in their environment, need a good amount of quiet downtime, have a rich inner life, and are often labeled shy.
HSPs make up 15 to 20% of the population and no, they’re not all introverts—actually 30% of them are extroverts. We’re born (not made) sensitive, and there’s nothing to “fix” here. It’s a personality trait, one that’s important for us to recognize in ourselves, our children, and other loved ones—so we can better meet our own HSP needs and those of the HSPs in our lives. Dr. Aron has a great website
where you can identify if you or your loved one might be an HSP and learn more about being or living with HSPs.
I took the test on the website and scored 14, which is borderline HSP. I didn’t think I’d qualify because I don’t recall being labeled “sensitive” growing up. At the same time, I developed the habit early on in my life to “suck it up” and not show my feelings. And a lot of the HSP traits do fit. I think I’m acutely aware of the moods around me and I’m very annoyed by intense stimuli (or less intense ones like tags in clothing).
YOUR TURN: Are there people around you who might be highly sensitive? What about you? Any aha moments?