The term highly sensitive person (HSP for short) was coined by Dr. Elaine Aron. HSP refers to a sizable portion of the population (15-20%) that is highly sensitive. Often times, being sensitive is seen as a negative thing. Like when someone says to you, "Geez stop being so sensitive!"
What's great about Dr. Aron's research on HSPs is that it validates high sensitivity as a normal way of being for many people, both on a psychological and biological level - rather than some sort of abnormality one should be ashamed of.
Below is a list of some common traits of highly sensitive people. Do you relate to any of these?
If you answered "yes" to most of the questions above, you are most likely a highly sensitive person.
While I hope to cater to HSPs in some capacity on this site, I like to look at sensitivity from a broader perspective. Rather than thinking about certain people as sensitive and others as not, I like to look at sensitivity on a spectrum that we all fall into in some way, shape, or form in different contexts.
The visual above represents what I mean by being on a spectrum. I like this model because it gives us a multifaceted way of looking at sensitivity. While you can use the spectrum to view yourself as a whole, you can also use the spectrum to view different aspects of your self. On Sensitive Self-Care's blog (coming soon!), I will mainly look at sensitivity from three different aspects: food sensitivities, skin sensitivities, and emotional/energetic sensitivities. For example, while you may be highly sensitive or even empathic when it comes to emotions, perhaps you are only moderately sensitive when it comes to food. Or, perhaps you are highly sensitive when it comes to your skin, but seem to have low to no sensitivities in other areas. Everyone is different.
I'm sure you've noticed that the last term of the sensitivity spectrum is empathic. This term is a little different from the rest and comes from the term, empath.
You're probably more familiar with the term empathy. So the idea of being able to relate to others; to feel what it's like to be in somebody else's shoes.
Someone who is an empath is more than just empathetic. An empath can feel other people's feelings as if they are their own. You can read more about empaths here. For our purposes here, what I want you to note is the intensity that the term empathic denotes. While someone who is highly sensitive to others' emotions might understand how someone else feels, an empath will literally feel the other person's emotion inside of themselves, as if it is their own emotion.
An HSP and empath are not considered to be the same. While someone who identifies as an empath is often also an HSP, an HSP is not necesarrily an empath. There is, however, a lot of overlap between the two. I believe that we all have the capacity to be empathic, but that capacity may not have been awakened in many of us. For this reason I feel that the spectrum model is very useful as it depicts different levels of capacities, rather than labels that box people in.
Like I said earlier, everyone is different. My hope is that by exploring sensitivities from multiple perspectives on this site you will gain a deeper understanding of yourself as a whole, and be able to make the most optimal self-care choices for yourself.
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