What Does It Mean To Be A Highly Sensitive Person?



What does it mean if I’m a Highly Sensitive Person?

The term “highly sensitive person” is being used more frequently in popular culture and media, but this phrase can be misleading. In this blog, I’ll walk through what the term highly sensitive person really means, the common signs, and the benefits of therapy for highly sensitive persons.


What Is a Highly Sensitive Person?

A highly sensitive person or HSP, as the name indicates, is an individual who feels overwhelmed or experiences heightened responses to stimuli. This is often a heightened emotional reaction to everyday situations and events. What does that really mean? Many HSPs go through life feeling overwhelmed or like there’s something wrong with them. They think that responding differently means that people just don’t understand them. It can feel very lonely and isolating, and many HSPs try to disguise or repress their responses in order to fit in.


All of this is perfectly natural for HSPs who often feel misunderstood and overwhelmed. First and foremost, you are not alone. Studies indicate that up to 25% of the U.S. population can be considered an HSP. More good news is that being an HSP means a variety of positive things. Most HSPs are more compassionate and empathetic with other people, they have more finely attuned intuition, and they deeply appreciate art, music, and natural beauty. Unfortunately, these deeper emotional experiences can also be very draining and difficult to navigate, especially during times of turmoil or transition. Working with a therapist can help HSPs develop the necessary skills to navigate these emotions and lead a more fulfilling life.


Am I An HSP?

If you’re wondering whether you could be considered an HSP, take a few minutes to answer the following questions:

  • Do others often tell me I’m too sensitive?

  • Do I feel emotions very intensely even in ordinary situations?

  • Do I seem more aware of my surroundings compared with others?

  • Do I have a more active or richer inner life?

  • Does the lack of compassion, violence, or cruelty of others cause me to be extremely upset even if I’m not directly impacted by these actions?

  • Does talking to others about their emotions and experiences leave me feeling exhausted?

  • Do I take more time than others to consider the ramifications of my choices before I act?

  • Does critical feedback from others weigh heavily on me?

  • Do I avoid conflict or confrontations with others?

  • Does conflict and confrontation overwhelm me?

  • Do I feel deeply moved by beauty in the natural world or artistic expression?

  • Do I often feel exhausted by interactions and need down time to recuperate?

  • Does sensory information (sights, sounds, smells, tastes, textures) overwhelm me?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you may be an HSP.


How Can Therapy Help?

Being a highly sensitive person isn’t an official clinical diagnosis. Instead, we think of it as guiding terminology that can help you better understand yourself, your needs, and how your brain is wired. During therapy, you can learn about the many ways that being an HSP impacts your ever day life while developing valuable skills and tools to help you navigate life as an HSP. Therapy can also help you develop strategies to address the feelings of overwhelm and isolation that so often go hand in hand with being an HSP and build your resilience by learning to embrace heightened emotions instead of avoiding or repressing these feelings. Finally, a therapist who really understands HSPs can assist you learn to appreciate the many positive aspects of living life with deeper emotional experiences and connections.


How Do I Get Started?

Hi, I’m Christine Tomasello. At Beachside Counseling, I welcome HSPs who are ready to start building greater resilience and feeling less overwhelmed by life’s daily challenges. If you’re interested in working with me, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can use the online request form, call (858) 863-8695, or email hello@beachsidecounseling.com.

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