Are you are easily overwhelmed by stimuli, get stressed by loud noises and strong smells, are extremely perceptive, have a rich and often intense internal life, become depleted when it’s time for food and nutrition, and need plenty of quiet and down time to maintain your equilibrium? Then you may be a highly sensitive person (HSP), wired differently than 80% of the population.
According to Douglas Eby, a writer and researcher on the psychology of creative expression, high ability and personal growth, highly sensitive people do have five main gifts:
1. Sensory detail
One of the prominent “virtues” of high sensitivity is the richness of sensory detail that life provides.
2. Nuances in meaning
The trait of high sensitivity also includes a strong tendency to be aware of nuances in meaning, and to be more cautious about taking action, and to more carefully consider options and possible outcomes.
3. Emotional awareness
Highly sensitive people also tend to be more aware of their inner emotional states, which can make for richer and more profound creative work as writers, musicians, actors or other artists.
Psychologist Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, offers a quick on-line test to determine hsp tendencies. She estimates about twenty percent of people are highly sensitive, and seventy percent of those are introverted, which is a trait that can also encourage creativity.
5. Greater empathy
High sensitivity to other people’s emotions can be a powerful asset for teachers, managers, therapists and others.
Understanding the traits of the highly sensitive child or adult ought to keep us from jumping to quick judgments about ourselves and others. We who may be highly sensitive need to give ourselves permission to take care of ourselves, to know our boundaries and limitations, and to recognize that we process information differently than the majority. For men in particular, who are often pushed into cultural stereotypes, being highly sensitive may tend to set them apart, even alienate them from contemporaries. Coaching can help identify highly sensitive people, not as neurotics, but as the true gifts to society they really are.
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