While HSP, or the Highly Sensitive Person, is not a designation in the DSM, it is gaining recognition as a trait that may affect up to 20 percent of the population. Sometimes HSPs acquire titles like being shy or introverted, but they often vacillate between intense social interaction and counteracting with time to decompress.
As each person has unique personality traits, each HSP also varies dramatically.
Some of the possible qualities of an HSP include:
- Heightened sensitivity to smells, sounds, and visual stimulation
- Sensitivity to fabrics and tags in clothing
- Limited tolerance in crowds
- Significant emotional reaction to violence
- Heightened empathy for others’ emotions
- The need to withdraw following social situations
- Active imagination and deep internal exploration
To discover more about the qualities of an HSP and how to determine if you or someone you love possesses some or all or some of these traits, consulting the pioneer in HSP, Dr. Elaine Aron, provides invaluable resources to navigate the rich world of the Highly Sensitive Person. Dr. Aron’s book titled, The Highly Sensitive Person, is an expansive volume designed to discover the beauty and challenges of developing your own coping skills as an HSP or learning how to provide support for a partner or child.
Loving Your Highly Sensitive Person
Loving an HSP can open doors to a rich, unmatched emotional experience. Learning to provide your HSP loved one with support that enhances, instead of hinders, their openness takes practice and skill. It also requires implementation of reminders that their behavior and needs are not a reflection on you.
- Give them space to decompress
- Avoid heavy detergents and strong perfumes
- Reduce the sound on the television
- Remember that they internalize your behavior
- Speak respectfully and calmly
- Realize that you may need to leave social gatherings when they “max out”
- Festivals and crowded parades may overwhelm them
- Be responsive and know that HSPs have reduced tolerance to stimuli
- Remind HSPs to practice regular self-care routines
The reward of your efforts will pay off immeasurably. HSPs are often natural nurturers, remain tuned-in to your needs, and want to please those around them. Giving your loved one the space they need to recover from everything the world throws at them will allow them to achieve balance and be more present in day-to-day life.
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