What Is an HSP by Shannon Garza

What Is an HSP?

A Highly Sensitive Person or HSP, is someone who experiences life on a deeper level.

We feel things intensely and can become overwhelmed easily. Our nervous systems are wired differently, more developed than most and the way we react to stimuli can be more intense.

Everyday life is amplified for the sensitive. There’s no muting the stimuli. It can be a struggle to some and to others a great gift or, many times, both together.

High sensitivity is a genetic trait, it encompasses all the senses and mental processing and is experienced by approximately 20% of the population. We’re everywhere 😉

High sensitivity can be defined as acute physical, mental, and emotional responses to external (social, environmental) or internal (intra-personal) stimuli.

Some individuals may be highly sensitive to just one or two stimuli, while others may be strongly affected by more. Sometimes it can be beautiful and sometimes it can be painful. But there’s no escaping it when you’re born with the trait.

High sensitivity, also known as sensory processing sensitivity (SPS), is a personality trait that involves an increased sensitivity of the central nervous system and a deeper cognitive processing of physical, social and emotional stimuli.

Sensitives may be sensitive to hot and cold and may be strongly affected by atmospheric changes. Bright lights are very uncomfortable and even painful to some. Loud noises are awful and also painful for some.

We can have adverse reactions to medicines or foods. We get extremely uncomfortable with certain textures and materials. We are very sensitive to scents sometimes to the point of nausea. We are also affected by electromagnetic energy. When we are overwhelmed it’s common for us to shut down.

When something unpleasant or highly stressful happens, it can cause us to get sick. We are very susceptible to GI issues and we can also experience bad headaches. We also are susceptible to adrenal fatigue.

When we are in a negative environment, we suffer more so than someone who doesn’t have the trait. HSPs are also more prone to depression and anxiety.

I am diagnosed with clinical depression but I am a coach for sensitives. I have learned not to let my depression define the quality of my life. Instead I use the skills I’ve learned to navigate my depression to uplift HSPs and show them they too can do the same.

Being sensitive also has many positive and exciting traits and abilities.

HSPs have a very active imagination. A rich inner life. We tend to be artists, writers and philosophers and create wonderful things. We think about the beauty in everything. We see it everywhere.

We have a finely tuned intuition and read body language very well. We are problem solvers. We notice subtleties and can make someone feel heard and seen. We are able to listen without judgment or criticism. We listen instead with empathy and compassion. We are very intuitive.

We are intensely connected to nature, animals, and the people we’re close to.

Due to the high level of connectedness we experience many of us are creators. We create beautiful things such as photos, poetry, writing, and more. We are kind and intuitive, especially concerning the feelings of others. We find joy in the simple things and are easily entertained.

When we are exposed to a positive environment we flourish.

What’s really important for us is time to recharge and recoup. If we get the right balance of rest to stimuli, we can use our gifts to make a great impact on both our own and other’s lives.

I am so grateful that I was blessed with this gift.

I won’t lie – at times it’s hard and heartbreaking but to feel so intensely is a beautiful thing and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I would say in a way we are like a tree.

“A tree is such a rich metaphor in a million beautiful ways. You can consider a tree growing and consider its connectedness to all things above and under the ground.” – Ann Brashares

So what do you think, are you a sensitive too? 🙂

Pic credit via Larisa-K

Shannon is a Highly Sensitive Person and an Introvert. She is a coach for Highly Sensitive People. She is an advocate for breaking the stigma on mental health. She loves laughter, kittens and helping people live their best lives.

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