Are you a Highly Sensitive Person?

May 26, 2009


Yesterday I wrote about the joys of solitude. For some people, ‘me-time’ is a necessary part of their self-nurturing. I regularly need to have some quiet time alone in my home to maintain my equilibrium – if I spend too long in an urban environment or anywhere with a ‘bad’ atmosphere, I start to feel uncomfortable and restless. When I spend time out and about with my partner, he can always tell when I’m ready to return to the peace of my sanctuary. (Just to give you an idea of how peaceful it is, the picture accompanying this article is the view at sunset from my blissfully tranquil back garden….)

However, I wasn’t always aware of this need. Rather than listening to my inner guidance, in my younger days I was more determined to feed the needs of my ego, resulting in not enough downtime and an extremely frazzled nervous system. Fortunately, having taken the time to get to know myself and listen to the wisdom of my inner guidance, I am now confident and clear about what is good for me and what isn’t, resulting in a firsthand experience of  how self-awareness helps us heal holistically and brings harmony and serenity into our lives.

If alone-time is crucial in your life, then you may be one of life’s ‘Highly Sensitives’. If you’ve ever been called ‘too sensitive’, or felt that your view of life seems different to that of everyone else, then check out the article reproduced below which describes the HSP in more depth. And remember –  insight is the first step towards positive change… 🙂

By Jenna Avery, CLC, Life Coach for Sensitive Souls


Do you often feel overwhelmed by your environment or the people around you? Has anyone ever called you shy, or worse, too sensitive? Do you care deeply about EVERYTHING? You may be a Highly Sensitive Soul, a person of deep empathy and high intensity, with powerful intuition, awareness, and intelligence.

Being Highly Sensitive, you have a uniquely perceptive sensory system. You are therefore more sensitive to emotions, energy, environmental conditions such as lighting or sound, other people, excitement, and stress. As a result of constant stimuli, you may feel easily overwhelmed or unable to cope. Things can be particularly confusing when others seem unperturbed by the same experiences. For example, your friends might be able to shop all day, go out to dinner, and then head to a loud party. For you, that would be unbearable.

Research psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, has studied high sensitivity extensively. Her research shows that being sensitive is a personality temperament or trait, one usually inherited. According to Dr. Aron, up to 20% of the population is Highly Sensitive.

How To Tell If You Are Highly Sensitive

Being Highly Sensitive comes with a number of gifts, as well as challenges. See if any of these Highly Sensitive qualities resonate strongly with you.

1. You are deeply affected by all aspects of your life. As a Sensitive Soul, you have great emotional passion, intensity, and depth. You may have been told that your emotions are “too much.” You are sensitive, caring, and easily affected by the energy and emotions of others. These qualities make it easy to lose touch with your needs and desires.

2. You have heightened perceptive skills. A Sensitive Soul is intuitive, highly aware, and keenly observant of the subtleties of your environment, including energy, light, noise, smell, texture, and temperature. You may also be empathic or even psychic. Your perceptive skills operate in the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual realms. You tie together things you see into complex and original concepts. This makes you a visionary.

3. You have a lower tolerance for stimulation than others. Because you receive so much information from your surroundings, your threshold for what’s “too much” is significantly lower than for those around you. This means: a) You may be seen as shy or timid; and b) You may feel uncomfortably dissimilar to others because you respond so differently to stimulation.

4. You are highly conscientious and thorough in all your undertakings. A Sensitive Soul makes a great employee. You concentrate intensely and process multi-source information. However, you require privacy, uninterrupted time, and little or no pressure in order to do your best work.

5. You have a strong relationship with aesthetics and art. As a Highly Sensitive Soul, you have a passion for beauty, art, and aesthetics. You may be highly artistic and creative yourself. You easily create beauty and comfort. Seeing things ‘out of alignment’ can actually be physically or psychically distressing.

6. Your inner life is just as intriguing and inspiring as your outer life. You likely have a rich, complex inner life and are highly imaginative. You may find it challenging to connect to ‘real world’ priorities and realities.

7. You absolutely require private time alone in order to feel replenished. Up to 70% of Highly Sensitive Souls are introverted. But even extroverted sensitives need downtime to rejuvenate, often in a darkened, quiet room.

8. You have a strong spiritual connection and depth. If you are Highly Sensitive, you experience a profound spiritual connection with the divine and/or spiritual realm. You ‘see’ a lot in what appears common. Because of this you may feel impatient with the truly mundane.

Learning to Thrive

Learning to thrive as a Highly Sensitive Soul presents challenges. If you’re sensitive, you have likely accumulated years of training in trying overcome the trait because you don’t ‘fit in’ with society. And yet being Highly Sensitive is a vital part of you.

A first step toward thriving as a Sensitive Soul is to understand and accept your trait. Hear this now: There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. You are just different. As one of my clients says, being Highly Sensitive is both a gift and a responsibility.

Sensitive Souls require regular self-care, meaningful work, and supportive relationships. Working with a sensitive coach or therapist who helps you tune into your own magnificent inner guidance system ‘your sensitivity’ is a powerful means of support.

Additionally, there are books, Web sites, Web-based communities, and teleconference gatherings on the subject. Connecting with like-minded souls is often deeply healing for sensitive persons.

As you begin to manage your life in a way that truly works for you, you will trust the power and gift of your sensitivity, and be inspired to share your much-needed wisdom with the world.

Further reading: The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Survive and Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N.Aron

The Highly Sensitive Person in Love: Understanding and Managing Relationships When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N.Aron

Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Personby Barrie S.Jaeger



  1. Hi, Sharon.

    While being highly sensitive does present its challenges, the rewards to those who’ve learned to thrive as an HSP are remarkable.

    I am currently working on a new online community and magazine for HSPs that we hope will provide insight and inspiration by showing the upside of being highly sensitive.

    The site and magazine celebrate all that HSPs have to offer due to their sensitivity, insight, and creativeness. Check us out at tribe.paramimedia.com

    Peace. Live happy!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Todd, and the link to your site. It looks like a fabulous resource and I will add a permanent link on my blog.

    There are indeed many rewards in being a HSP and an empath – I will be writing more on the delights in part 2 of my article ‘On Being an Empath’ – part one, which highlights the challenges, can be found here: http://www.empathicguidance.co.uk/articles.htm

    Thanks again for the introduction to your site, I look forward to exploring it further 🙂

    Warmest wishes


  3. Oh this is me ! Although I know it and always have it is not something I think about actively. Admittedly this may be that I am still overcoming the years of guilt thrust upon me for being “too sensitive”…a “sook”…too “touchy-feely”. Now this is not a problem for me outwardly…I embrace it and thankfully call upon these traits on a daily basis in my professional life as well as personal. It is time to celebrate it again…thank you for the reminder !

  4. You are very welcome, Colleen – your comment reflects exactly the reason why I do this work, so it’s wonderful to hear that it’s given you a timely reminder. Whilst living with a high level of sensitivity can be challenging, once you’ve embraced it and adapted your life accordingly, the blessings are innumberable.

    Warmest wishes 🙂

  5. I am definitely a highly sensitive person! good post 🙂

  6. I’m definitely an HSP/empath. Once I had a name for what I’d been feeling all of these years, I felt a huge relief! Now I know how to protect myself (most of the time) and avoid situations and people that drain me!

    – Lindsay

    • I feel the same way,Lindsay..well said for us Empaths/ HSP’s,thank you ..:)

  7. Very recognizable! I’m so grateful for my backyard too, which has a very similar energy. Cities are definitely overwhelming, but I’ve noticed that natural environments can be intense too, in their own way. I’ve walked in areas near Big Sur, CA, where the energy was so intense, that I felt like looking into a bright light. Thank you for sharing the links, I found them very useful!

    – Edwin

  8. […] course, if you are a HSP (highly sensitive person) or an empath, then you will have been born with a nervous system which is already hypersensitive to […]

  9. Hello,
    I am a highly sensitive person. I want to find out information and to meet others who are also Highly sensitive. I’d like to join a group. Most people in my life have pushed my sensitivity out the window.

  10. […] Are you a Highly Sensitive Person? « Inner Simplicity with Empathic Guidance. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. « Recognizing […]

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