Aron writes that high sensitivity is a specific trait with key characteristics and is not the same thing as shyness, inhibition, fearfulness, or introversion. In fact 30% or more of HSP have extroverted personalities. HSP is found in nearly all higher animals at a rate of 15-20% and is exhibited equally in both sexes.
HSPs are excellent employees because they:
- Are dedicated to colleagues, causes, and organizations;
- Detail-oriented and conscientious;
- Able to detect subtle nuances and anticipate the emotional reactions of others;
- Thoughtful and sensitive to the needs and emotions of others;
- Process ideas and issues deeply;
- Work well with little supervision and instruction;
- Avoid office politics and self-promotion;
Occupational suggestions for HSPs:
Market researcher, political consultant, fashion designer, massage therapist, nurse, physician assistant, counselor, social worker, perfume or taste tester, human resources specialist, artist, actor, musician, speech pathologist, audiologist, librarian, researcher, clergy member, interior designer, occupational therapist, alternative medicine practioner, detective, veterinarian, ergonomic consultant, writers, and editors.
Unfortunately, HSPs may encounter the following challenges:
- Society’s view of sensitivity as a flaw;
- Putting others before self;
- Fear of rejection;
- Detachment, emotional numbness;
- Blurred boundaries and role confusion;
- Inability to thrive or even survive in physically or emotionally toxic environments;
- Prone to illness, addictions, and compulsions;
- Often times idealistic and struggle with perfectionism – hard on self and others,
- Take on too many responsibilities, burn out and become resentful,
- Not contribute to discussions and team work;
- Easily overwhelmed in noisy or toxic environment;
- Prefer to avoid conflict and confrontation;
- Become manipulative or passive aggressive;
- May under-perform when being watched;
- Socialize less with others, difficulty building work relationships;
- Avoid self-promotion and/or be overlooked for promotions
How to deal with being an HSP:
It’s important for HSPs to recognize the many gifts high sensitivity brings them in order to avoid focusing on the challenges. Here are some helpful suggestions to help you or your loved ones deal with being highly sensitive:
A healthy lifestyle will help immensely if you often feel tired, anxious, or overwhelmed. Be sure to get enough sleep, exercise routinely, eat healthy meals; and avoid sugar and caffeine.
Avoiding stimulating environments and engaging in centering activities such as taking warm baths, long showers, deep breathing relaxation, dimming the lights, using candles or herbal remedies including flower essences, essential oils, or herbal teas can quiet both the mind and senses. Don’t forget about yoga, tai chi, massage, or energy work. Prayer, meditation, reading, and journaling can do wonders for the highly sensitive person.
Learning to set healthy boundaries is essential for HSP survival. Avoiding toxic people and environments will be helpful in addition to learning how to avoid taking things personally. Identifying a “safe” group of friends to talk to and discuss issues with will be very comforting. Hopefully your friends are highly sensitive too! If you tend to avoid conflict, it’s important that you practice confrontation and conflict resolution skills.
If you’re really struggling, it’s important to talk to a counselor who can help you examine your core belief systems, values, and help you set healthy boundaries. You may need to consult with a qualified physician to use medications that can help you sleep, decrease anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive symptoms that may be related to being highly sensitive.
If you’d like to find out if you are a highly sensitive person, take the online quiz to find out.