highly sensitive introvert

Have you ever been told that you’re too sensitive?  Or have you noticed your own sensitivities to things like loud noises, caffeine, strong smells and emotions? You might be part of the 15 to 20 percent of the population that is considered highly sensitive.

About 70% of highly sensitive people (HSPs) are introverts.  This is not to say that all introverts are HSPs, but there is a lot of overlap between the two personality traits.

According to psychologist Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, being highly sensitive is an innate trait, which is present from infancy.  Just like introversion, it cannot be changed or outgrown.

Despite this, many people try to disguise their sensitivity.  They do this because the characteristics of an HSP are rejected by some cultures.  HSPs can be left feeling abnormal and defective because of qualities that go to the core of who they are. Sound familiar?

In his book, The Everything Guide to the Introvert Edge, Arnie Kozak, Ph.D., discusses the cultural bias against sensitivity:

“Sensitivity is not valued in this culture; it is seen as a liability. You may have been told you were ‘too’ sensitive; you should have a ‘thicker skin’ … people may not understand your intensity. You may not understand it either.”

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common characteristics of an HSP:

  • They are easily overwhelmed.  Because HSPs notice more subtleties in their environment, they can quickly become overwhelmed by too much intensity, chaos and noise. If you are an HSP, you might often feel the need to withdraw into a darkened room or some other quiet sanctuary where you can find relief from overstimulation.
  • They are aware of subtleties that others miss.  HSPs process more in a given situation.  They also reflect more deeply on what they observe.
  • They have a rich and complex inner life. Most HSPs have a deep appreciation for contemplation and introspection.  They tend to enjoy creative, philosophical and spiritual endeavors.
  • They notice and appreciate delicate scents, tastes, sounds and artwork.  While strong stimuli can be draining for an HSP, subtle and delicate stimuli offer pleasure.

To learn more about HSP and to take the test, visit Elaine Aron’s website.





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