Many of us have had a difficult journey on the path to understanding ourselves as highly sensitive people. We may have been misunderstood as children, and perhaps even as sensitive adults. We might have been bullied. We might have felt shame in how others treated us in regards to our sensitivities. Whatever the case, the difficult journey to Highly Sensitive (HSP) discovery is often a bumpy one.
How do I know if I’m a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?
A good place to begin is by taking one, or several, sensitivity quizzes to gauge your level of sensitivity. After going taking the quiz, sit with your results for a day or two. Contemplate them and see if it feels like a good fit. Often, I find that some people are sensitive in one or two areas, but not sensitive in many areas. You might have a close loved one who is emotionally sensitive, and yet insensitive in other areas. Taking a few different quizzes will help you determine if you’re on the sensitivity scale and how you compare to others who take the same test.
Some of the HSP questions include:
- I am easily overwhelmed by strong sensory input.
- I notice and enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, works of art.
- When I was a child, my parents or teachers seemed to see me as sensitive or shy. (Questions taken from Dr. Aron’s test.)
What are the characteristics of a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?
HSPs typically prefer few close friends to large groups, are mostly introverted (extroverted HSPs are a rare unicorn), have sensitivity to light and sound, have lower pain tolerance, and have a rich, complex inner life that is somewhat hard to explain to a non-HSP. Out of all the profiles and quizzes, I find this complex inner life trait to be one of the best indications that someone is truly highly sensitive. If you have someone take Dr. Aron’s quiz and they start laughing or respond derogatorily to this question: beware, you are not dealing with an HSP. Another way to describe this complex inner life might be emotionally intense. Often highly gifted people are also intense with rich inner lives.
While many HSPs share similar characteristics, each person is completely unique with special God-given gifts and abilities. I’ve heard of some HSPs have deep connections with animals in a way similar to the Horse Whisperer–almost reading the minds of the animals they train. Others perhaps can deeply sense the energies of other people and seem almost as if they are mind readers (think of Deanna Troy from Star Trek). It’s important in all things not to compare yourself to other sensitive or empaths (another term often used synonymously for HSPs). It’s hard, but I find that the more I focus on uncovering my own unique gifts, talents, and sensitivities, the better human I become. When I compare myself to others, rarely are there any positive repercussions.
The Difficult Journey to Highly Sensitive (HSP) Discovery
Often the path we find ourselves taking is a windy road to uncovering that who we are is a Highly Sensitive Person. I always thought something was wrong with me. I felt alone before I discovered my HSP trait. I didn’t think I really belonged anywhere. It was a very lonely road until I found a close friend in my late teens who “ticked” as I did. To find a close friend or partner who truly understands you is a huge gift–one that many HSPs are still hoping to find.
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