The essence of High Sensitivity is a more sensitive nervous system that takes in more stimuli including the subtleties with the brain processing everything deeply. It also results in stronger emotional reactions and greater empathy. All that activity can cause overarousal and overwhelm sooner for the Highly Sensitive than for those who are not.
Yet High Sensitivity is just one of the normal personality traits and every fifth person is born with. It also exists in the animal kingdom.
A lifestyle that is aligned with High Sensitivity enables a person to be connected to her/his inner wisdom and to experience the gifts of High Sensitivity. On the other hand, a life that does not respect High Sensitivity and its needs can lead to physical and psychological issues.
High Sensitivity is a normal personality trait that approximately every fifth person is born with (15-20% of the population, regardless of gender or race) and is very likely to be inherited (although not necessarily always passed on directly from parent to child).
Scientifically known as Sensory Processing Sensitivity is a researched trait with the pioneering work done by Elaine N. Aron, Ph. D. (you can find more about her and her work at www.hsperson.com).
High Sensitivity is shown as a more sensitive nervous system with its effects being sensing more stimuli and processing them deeply. Despite the fact that stimuli are absorbed through sensory organs, those with High Sensitivity do not necessarily have stronger senses (e.g. “Super Sniff”, “Hawkeye”, “Pricked Ears”). High Sensitivity is about the brain and its different, more complex processing.
In all Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs) there are four basic characteristics present (acronym D.O.E.S.) – if a person doesn’t have all four, they are probably not Highly Sensitive individuals according to Dr. Elaine N. Aron’s definition of High Sensitivity.
You can find some more information and resources here.
The basic characteristics vary in form and intensity and are displayed as follows:
D – Deep and thorough processing of the information that was taken in
A tendency to reflect, to ponder – the wiring of the brain enables it to compare the information that was taken in to past experiences and information that’s already there, to analyze it, sort it, and form a conclusion.
It’s the brain’s standard procedure, it does it regardless of the situation. And that is one of the reasons why in more complex situations, let’s say when a decision has to be made, HSPs need more time to make it.
The other reason is HSPs’ “need” to have more information at their disposal, which then has to be thoroughly thought through thoroughly (a mouthful) and reflected upon to lead to a “good” decision. Have you ever been criticized for not being able to make a decision, even though you knew that wasn’t the case – and that it was just a case of not having enough time to calmly gather and/or study all the information needed to make a decision?
O – Feeling Overstimulated, overwhelmed more easily
Do you find yourself being overstimulated, over-aroused, or overwhelmed more easily? Do you feel that for you there is too much stimulation and too much of everything?
Let’s say you commute to work on a crowded bus, train, or subway, maybe there’s a packed elevator, maybe you share office or open space with other people, or you might have a lot of telephone communication or people around you, maybe they talk loudly or a radio is turned on – and if you don’t retreat and take a moment somewhere private and quiet (one or more times), you might become overwhelmed early in the day.
How does this feeling of being overwhelmed manifest itself? Maybe somewhat like a battle for survival? You want everybody to leave you alone, you want to escape from the situation, from the feeling of being overwhelmed – anything as long as it ends what you are experiencing and feeling?
E – Stronger Emotional reactions to positive and negative experiences
It could be a criticism, merely some feedback information about your work or services that induces anger in you or a feisty spirit, great sadness, despair, shame – in short: a lot of emotions, while someone else (a non-HSP) might experience short-term anger, feel offended, but then think it through, act, and then move on.
Or it could be a simple act of watching a sunset with a loved one during which you are overwhelmed with happiness.
Would you say your emotions are amplified?
E – Empathy
Are you able to literally feel what other people are feeling (to a certain extent), in addition to your ability to sense how they are feeling and being able to put yourself into their shoes? Have you ever wondered why, while in the company of others, your mood suddenly changes and you cannot really say what caused the change?
S – Sensing the Subtleties (hardly noticeable things, things other people mostly miss)
Are you someone who always notices a new haircut, even if the hair has been cut by only a centimeter or two, or if someone has just changed their hairstyle e.g. by changing their parting?
Or are you the (only) one that starts to get upset and asks “Where’s the fire?” in the middle of a calm afternoon while others are having carefree chats on the terrace?
High Sensitivity really has an impact. Together with your other innate and acquired traits, it influences your perception of the world and everything in it, and your whole life, regardless of you being aware of that fact or not.
It’s important for you to know this: there’s nothing wrong with you for being Highly Sensitive. High Sensitivity is a normal, although sometimes somewhat impractical, trait. And a permanent one. It can’t be eliminated, it does not need a diagnosis and it can’t be cured.
Regardless of whether you have or don’t have the High Sensitivity trait, the chances are you have a person that is Highly Sensitive somewhere near.
In Europe alone, there are around 148 million HSPs (20% out of approximately 742 million people; estimated for 2018 by Worldometers), in the U.S.A. there are around 65 million (out of nearly 327 million people) and in the whole world it is estimated that there are 1.5 billion HSPs (out of 7.6 billion people).
Impressive numbers, would you agree?
NICE WORDS ABOUT ME AND MY WORK:
„I expected to learn a bit more about myself as a HSP. I wanted to set boundaries for myself as a HSP. After the session, I feel empowered to set boundaries for myself, and I have a strategy in place to successfully protect myself from unwanted feelings and unhealthy relationships. Manca was patient and present with me, and I felt comfortable to share my insecurities. Sometimes I was caught up in my own narrow way of thinking, she was capable of gently bringing me to look at the whole picture. As a highly sensitive person, I really appreciate Manca being very understanding yet professional towards my vulnerabilities. Manca’s coaching is effective and transformational, and you would feel very comfortable sharing your sensitive issues with her. She has comprehensive knowledge in this field and is very skilled at working with HSP. I’d definitely recommend her!“
– Yannan, UK