High Challenges Being A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)


High Sensitivity

Is being “a highly sensitive person” (HSP) a good thing…or not?

As an HSP myself, I’d say the jury is still out.

I’m deeply grateful for the work of Elaine Aron and Susan Cain, both HSPs, who have laid important groundwork for awareness and education about this temperament.

They have revealed not only sensitivity issues for the HSP, but the gifts and attributes associated with this trait as well.

But is it easy to be HSP?

No, it is not.


High Sensitivity Reality

I was reminded of my own HSP temperament, recently, when I spotted a squirrel dashing out in highway traffic.

Heart. Pounding. Terror.

Hoping for powers of mental telepathy, I ‘begged’ the squirrel to scramble safely across the road.

The squirrel made it across.

The End.


My internal story was merely beginning.

We all take risks crossing the road OF LIFE, I thought to myself. We take risks every single day. Our beloved children take these risks. The tiny child does too, chasing after the bouncing ball, not knowing better than to follow it…

I can’t handle this life!

Yes, HSPs are prone to a firing squad of complex thoughts and emotions regularly. Thoughts about the most minute aspects of life; mysteries we seek answers for.

“We feel so intensely,” says Elaine Aron: “…we process everything very deeply—we are more motivated to think about things by our stronger feelings of curiosity, fear, joy, anger…but this intensity can be overwhelming…”

And there are plenty of us. Researchers from the University of California confirmed in 2014 that 20 per cent of the population is genetically pre-disposed to this temperament.

“…Those who think we can just…’get over it?‘ says Elaine Aron. “We can’t.”


You’re An HSP – Now What?

“HSPs tend to worry that something is wrong with them,” says Margarita Tartakovsky.

No kidding.

We’re annoyed by bright lights, spontaneity, loud people, cruelty, judgment, gossip. We’re overly empathic, want to fix the world, savour deep conversations, can’t bear hurting other’s feelings, sense textures, smells, noise acutely, probe our minds too deeply.

And the afflictions we are predisposed to because of intense sensitivity? Among them, anxiety, negative perceptions, people pleasing, and depression.


How To Cope

I did not understand my temperament until I read Elaine Aron’s groundbreaking first book about HSPs.

I understand my temperament now. And I’ve learned how important it is to care for it.  

Here’s how:

  • Educate Yourself. Learn all you can about your high sensitivity trait. Start with Elaine Aron’s first book on the subject, “The Highly Sensitive Person.” You will also be comforted and empowered by insight she shares on her website. (More reading recommendations, below.)


  • Rest Your Brain. HSP brains, always on dramatic overload, demand extra rest. It is exhausting to be an HSP. You know when you’ve had too much stimulation. Pay attention.


  • Air Your Worries. Existing in a mysterious world loaded with unanswered questions is tough for the ever probing HSP. Find a caring professional with whom you can release your thoughts, and get them out in the open. ‘Journalling is helpful too.


  • Learn About Emotion Regulation. This involves strategies and methodologies that help individuals address and use their emotions in a positive way. Very helpful for the overly reactive HSP. Also, remember the role of your ego, which can skew perceptions.


  • Understand Your Challenges. Avoid (or cope in a better way) with people, places and things that overwhelm your already over-used energy reserves. For example, protect your boundaries.


  • Accept Yourself, And Embrace Your Gifts. You are uniquely compassionate and caring. More grateful for life’s tiniest blessings. Deeply creative and intuitive. Intensely focused. And that’s just the beginning. A big list of HSP attributes, here.



The Challenged HSP

How marvellous to be gifted (?)

Also, how draining to over analyze, worry about and ponder life, to excess.

This is why, as an HSP, it’s so crucial to: 

Learn about your temperament.

Accept your temperament.

Don’t apologize for your temperament.

Lean on tools that help you cope with (and manage) your temperament. 

And then be proud of who you are.



Recommended Reading

Wondering if you qualify as a Highly Sensitive Person? Try this test.

Jim Hallowes: “Highly Sensitive People” http://www.highlysensitivepeople.com/

Books on high sensitivity by Dr. Ted Zeff, including “HSP Survival Guide” and “The Power of Sensitivity.” – http://drtedzeff.com/

Richard O’Neill “It’s Good To Be Sensitive! – 25 Wonderful Aspects Of Highly Sensitive People” http://richawriter.hubpages.com/hub/Its-Good-To-Be-Sensitive-25-Wonderful-Aspects-Of-Highly-Sensitive-People

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017 at 12:28 am and is filed under Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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