by Dr. Diana Samardzic

Do you find that you are significantly affected by the mood of others?

Do you get overwhelmed by things like bright lights and loud noises?

Are you deeply moved by the arts and music?

Were you often described as shy or sensitive as a child?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be that you are a Highly Sensitive Person, or HSP for short.  Elaine N. Aron, PhD. conducted extensive research and wrote a book to illustrate her findings.  In the book, she designed a short quiz with questions such as the ones above to help you determine if you are an HSP and what it means to be a highly sensitive person.

You may be wondering: “But why would I want to determine this?  Isn’t it bad to be sensitive?  Doesn’t sensitive mean weak?”  These are great questions as they are a reflection of some cultural beliefs that many of us hold to be true.  However, discovering that you or someone who is close to you is an HSP can be very beneficial, can enhance your life and deepen your understanding of yourself and what you need.  Dr. Aron speaks about being an HSP as sort of like having a superpower.  According to her research, Dr. Aron found that approximately 20% of the human population is highly sensitive.  Reframing one’s emotional and physical sensitivity as a strength has brought much insight and healing to many who have embraced it.

However, like any personality trait, being highly sensitive has its advantages and disadvantages.  It means you are more aware of subtleties in the environment, enabling you to appreciate the less obvious beauty and wonder that exists in everyday life.  Yet, all this stimulation can often overwhelm the nervous system, making you feel exhausted and depleted.  Therefore, HSPs have different needs that include regulating their nervous system and maintaining an optimal level of arousal for as much of the time as possible in order to thrive in the world.

If you find that you may be an HSP, I definitely suggest reading Dr. Aron’s many books she has written.  I would also recommend further exploring what particular needs you may have with a therapist and learn more about what it means to be a highly sensitive person.

Being a highly sensitive person can cause you to have higher levels of anxiety. Reach out to learn more about how anxiety therapy can help.


The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You 

by Elaine N. Aron, PhD.

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