“How Highly Sensitive People Interact with the World Differently”

I saw this article about HSPs on Huffington Post today and wanted to share it on this blog.

How Highly Sensitive People Interact With The World Differently
The Huffington Post | By Lindsay Holmes

Photo: ballyscanlon via Getty Images

Highly sensitive people have been labeled a lot of ways in the past, like fragile, over-emotional and intense. But there’s more to a highly sensitive person than just excess crying and a whole ton of feelings.

Those with an empathetic personality are actually biologically wired to behave the way that they do. As a result, they also have an entirely different approach to to their physical environment — and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Below are just a few ways highly sensitive people interact differently with the world around them than their “thick-skinned” counterparts.

They’re easily overstimulated by their surroundings.
Loud noises, big decisions and large crowds don’t bode well for HSPs without a little downtime to balance them out. This is because they have a very active emotional response, according to Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person and one of the original scientific researchers of the personality trait.

“The reason this happens is because they’re processing everything around them so thoroughly,” Aron told The Huffington Post. HSPs process their surroundings or life events based on emotions. In other words, the more overwhelming their circumstances get, the more deeply they feel.

They pick up on the subtleties in a room.
Did you rearrange your living room? Did your spouse make you upset at a dinner party? Sensitive folks can sense many subtle shifts, whether they’re tangible items or emotional moods, Aron says. “There’s just this intuition they have about their environment that other people generally aren’t aware of,” she explained.

That intuition also guides them in their own relationships as well. HSPs notice different attitudes that may not be picked up on by other people. So if you’re using different language or texting more abrasively than normal (think periods instead of exclamation points), chances are a HSP is going to take note.

They’re more emotional in their relationships.
HSPs crave deep connections. According to Aron’s research, sensitive people tend to get more bored in marriages than non-HSP couples, mostly due to the lack of meaningful interaction that naturally occurs as time goes on. However, this isn’t necessarily bad news. Aron says that the lack of meaning doesn’t mean an HSP is going to abandon ship — it’s only going to motivate them to have more stimulating conversations.

The key to a successful relationship for an HSP is communicating what they want out of a relationship and finding a partner that understands their emotions are part of their nature. “Sensitive people can’t help but expressing what they’re feeling,” she said. “They show their anger, they show their happiness. Appreciating that is really important.”

Sometimes they prefer to fly solo.
HSPs function best when they’re in quieter environments — particularly in the workplace, according to Aron. “Open office plans aren’t productive for them in most cases,” she says. This preference to operate alone may even go for leisure activities outside of the office. HSPs may also avoid group sports or physical activities because they feel like their every move is scrutinized, Ted Zeff, a researcher and author of several books on highly sensitive personality traits, previously told HuffPost.

They might be more sensitive to caffeine or alcohol.
This certainly isn’t always the case, but Aron says on average HSPs may have more of a sensitivity to stimulants like caffeine or substances like alcohol, based on self-tests she’s conducted for her research. HSPs are also more easily bothered by hunger, she said.

They get anxious around conflict.
Conflict is a tough road to navigate for HSPs, according to Aron. They have two approaches to dealing with it, and those ideas are often at war with each other. “Sensitive people get torn between speaking up for what they feel is right or sitting back because they don’t want a violent type of reaction [from others],” Aron said. “They’re very sensitive to environments where they’re being judged for their sensitivity or for anything else.”

On the other hand, HSPs have a way of managing disagreements in a rational way. Because of their high levels of empathy, sensitive folks can often put themselves in the other person’s position and see their side of the argument, Aron explained.

When it comes down to it, Aron says the key for sensitive people is to embrace their personality trait rather than work against it. “Highly sensitive people make excellent leaders, friends and partners,” she said. In other words? Keep on experiencing those emotions, HSPs — even if they do make you cry.



19 thoughts on ““How Highly Sensitive People Interact with the World Differently”

  1. Great article! I read this a while back and definitely describes me except I don’t get anxious in crowds, etc. But I do feel the emotions of those around me. My family calls it my witchy sense lol. It’s a gift n a curse. Have a great day xo

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is me, to a T. I feel other people’s emotions so acutely that it’s almost like I have ESP. I can even feel when someone is praying. It’s like there is a peculiar energy source flowing upward from the front top area of a person’s head when they pray. I know that sounds crazy, but I have proven it to myself enough times that I know it is true.

    What I mean is, I can be sitting somewhere, like in a restaurant, reading a book or eating, and suddenly I will get that sense of a force going up — and I will turn and look in the direction of where I felt that force, and there I will see a person with their head bowed and eyes closed, obviously saying a silent blessing over their food. The moment they raise their head and open their eyes, the sensation of that upward flowing energy force stops.

    I know, I am weird.

    Another thing I often feel is other people’s pain, whether emotional or physical. Which was both good and bad for me as a nurse.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you so much for this post. I have recently discovered that there is finally a name for me feeling this way, all my life. I have found it to be both a curse & a gift at times. I have also found that because I see the world as a HSP, I get called crazy a lot. I have found it difficult to find others, who truly understand me or my sensitivity.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh me, too. I am naturally quiet and shy. But give me something with caffeine and I turn into “I’m talking and I can’t shut up!”

      Most of my long comments here happened after a cup or two of strong coffee. Probably all of them. I am weaning myself off now because I don’t like getting all hyper like that. But when I stop cold turkey I get migraines and depressed. Sigh.

      Liked by 2 people

        • Oh no, I only had half a cup today as I am tapering off. No, I am talking about comments that go longer than Lucky Otter’s posts, lol.

          I also cannot handle alcoholic beverages. It takes almost nothing to get me drunk. Because of this, I haven’t had a drink since January 14, 1990.

          Liked by 2 people

          • I can’t give up coffee. I have to have one vice at least (okay, and chocolate!)
            Comments longer than my posts, lol! Stinker. šŸ˜‰
            I’m working on another long post right now, I’ll put it up later.

            I rarely drink anymore. I’m not an alcoholic, but I think I almost became one, I drank A LOT in my 20s. I mean, a LOT! I can drink but I don’t like it much anymore. I can’t even tolerate beer, it gives me heartburn. I like wine, but after one or two glasses, I’m done. There’s no longer any desire to get wasted like I did during my youth. Sometimes drinking just makes me feel kind of sick.
            Congratulations on your sobriety–that’s a very long time! šŸ™‚

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks! Twenty-Five years… I started to say “sober,” but I wasn’t always sober mentally or emotionally. It’s great that you didn’t become alcoholic. Trying to medicate our highly sensitive pain is more the norm, I think.

              Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, I seriously had no clue! That explains all sorts of things. Pair me up with a narc, and I’m in big trouble!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s nice to be able to “rebrand” some of these conditions i.e. “thin-skinned” with more scientific names. I hope this will help to better pinpoint physical causes for some of these conditions and, even better, will eventually yield effective treatments.


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