Back in 1991, the term, “highly sensitive person” was coined by a clinical psychologist, Dr. Elaine Aron. Dr. Aron used this term to describe people who are particularly sensitive to the world around them. Due to their highly sensitive nervous systems, sensitivities naturally are more acutely aware of physical, emotional, and social stimuli within their environment, particularly from other people.
Are you a highly sensitive person? Since you are reading this short article, it is likely that you are! If you are not sure, click here to take a short self-test.
Research shows that the brains of highly sensitive people function differently in at least five ways:
they process dopamine differently. This means that HSPs are less motivated by high-risk situations and external rewards, like money.
they have more active mirror neuron systems. This means that HSPs feel more empathy, because they recognise and relate more strongly to the pain or joy of another person.
they experience emotions more vividly. This occurs due to differences in the brain related to your emotions, your values and the processing of sensory data, which causes HSPs to feel more deeply.
- they are wired to notice and interpret the behaviour of other people. Because of this, it is more difficult for sensitive people to tune out from other people.
- they have greater connectivity for the storage and retrieval of memories. Learning from our past experiences is important. But this greater connectively means that HSPs are more prone to experiencing trauma of any kind, including PTSD.
What can we learn from this?
Our HSP brains enable us to be highly aware of our external environment and those around us, and their potential to either benefit us or threaten us.
Our sensitivities are a superpower that we need to value and protect.
How can we value and protect ourselves?
The best way to value and protect ourselves through self-care – meditate, settle into yoga, read or listen to relaxing music. Surround yourself with crystals – black tourmaline, rose quartz, amethyst and labradorite are great for this!
You can also find a quiet place, close your eyes and say the following affirmation:
I take time to reconnect with center of my being,
the central core of who I am
And if you need outside support, choose someone you trust to hold space for you. As a highly sensitive person myself, I have learned that the support of my friends who value all aspects of who I am, including my sensitivities, is essential.