Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)? Test It With These 10 Features

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Tips For Living With High Sensitivity

Do you experience many emotions internally and do you sometimes find it difficult to control them?

Do you find it difficult to let go of an argument and does it come to you more violently than to other people?

Do you often worry about how you reacted in a given situation?

Then you might be a highly sensitive person.

Do you want to find out whether your reactions are indeed the result of high sensitivity? Then this article can help you.

Purpose of this article:  In this article you will learn what high sensitivity is. I explain in great detail the difference between high sensitivity and high sensitivity. On the basis of the typical characteristics you can determine whether you are a highly sensitive person. The tips will help you to better deal with your high sensitivity.

What is high sensitivity?

Highly sensitive and highly sensitive are often confused or used in the same sense. However, these are two different concepts. How high sensitivity and high sensitivity differ will be discussed in detail later in this article.

I can already tell you that high sensitivity mainly has to do with the senses and high sensitivity with emotions.

Woman lying in a wheat field and looking up

If you are highly sensitive, you experience things emotionally differently from other people. Your reactions to certain things or situations can be very strong and you often deal with things that happen to you in a different way. This can make you vulnerable.

The special thing about these reactions is that you often have no control over them. Many external factors can influence your reactions: fear, stress, traumatic experiences, high sensitivity, etc…

If you are highly sensitive, your reaction is sometimes more intense than other people will react to situations.

Comments from others

As a highly sensitive person, you may not always be understood. Some people, out of ignorance, make comments like, “You do cry a lot, don’t you.” or “You always have a short fuse.” If you hear this from someone who really just doesn’t understand you, it’s very annoying.

If others think you come across that way, it doesn’t necessarily mean this is your true nature. Very often circumstances are the basis of your high sensitivity.

Highly sensitive people are often described as people with a short fuse or as crybabies.

You often come across that way to others, but this does not necessarily mean that this is your true nature. Very often circumstances are the basis of your high sensitivity.

The good news is that you can do something about this. What exactly, you will find out later in this article.

Let us first examine what exactly the characteristics of high sensitivity are.

Woman thinking and holding her hand to her chin

Characteristics of high sensitivity (HSP)

I am often asked what exactly high sensitivity is.

In answer to this question, I have listed a few characteristics of high sensitivity.

Read these carefully to find out if you are highly sensitive:


#1 You can react very strongly in certain situations

As a highly sensitive person you can react very strongly in certain situations.

Because your nerves are so tense, you often have no control over your reactions. You know you’re overreacting, but this is stronger than yourself.


#2 You are very emotional in certain situations

Emotional reactions are very typical of you. An argument with your best friend can upset you so much that you burst into tears.

A lot of people think a romantic film is wonderful, but as a highly sensitive person you become so absorbed in it that you often burst into tears. Movies with animals can also make you very sentimental.


#3 You are very soft-hearted and empathetic

As a highly sensitive person, you tend to take in all the negative and painful feelings of others.

You understand the pain and sorrow of others so well that you feel these emotions yourself. A lot of people can appreciate this in you.

  • This also has a lot to do with hypersensitivity.

#4 You sometimes find it hard to let go of things

You also feel the fear or pain of others very well and you can worry about this for days. You want to come up with solutions, but at the same time realize that you are powerless against the pain and sorrow of others.

Woman taking a deep breath and standing outside with her eyes closed

#5 You are drowning in your own feelings, as it were

A violent outburst or emotional reaction can upset you so much that you drown in the feelings it caused you.

Not only do you dwell on your own reactions, but also those of others.


#6 Worrying about reactions

Highly sensitive people can spend hours or days worrying about how they have reacted and how others have reacted.

Suppose you reacted irritated to something your neighbor noticed.

As a highly sensitive person, for a long time after the incident, you still wonder if you reacted the right way and if your reaction sometimes hurt her.

This worrying also works in reverse. If someone has given you an annoying comment, you can think about it for days.


#7 You are often ashamed of your behavior

Others don’t always understand why you are so irritable and emotional.

They often think that this is part of your character, that you are a whiner or a difficult person.

You know this isn’t the case, and that’s why you often feel ashamed of your behavior. You wish you were a little less responsive or less emotional.


#8 You often think ‘it must be me’

Not everyone gets along well with highly sensitive people. An emotional outburst, whether aggressive or sentimental, is often misunderstood.

It therefore happens very often that others start to avoid the company of highly sensitive people. Being avoided is experienced by most people as very annoying.

Still, non-highly sensitive people can handle this quite well. They assume that others will eventually come around.

Highly sensitive people can become so upset about this, however, that they blame themselves for this.


#9 Difficult to deal with sadness

As a highly sensitive person you often deal with grief very intensely and difficult. Just because you react emotionally quickly, sadness can be so overwhelming that it doesn’t let go at all.

Sad woman looking down

#10 Depressed feelings

It is not always easy to stand your ground as a highly sensitive person in our society.

On the one hand you know that you react irrationally to certain things, on the other hand these reactions are stronger than yourself.

This complexity of high sensitivity can lead to feelings of depression.

If you also get the feeling that you are not understood by others, you can end up in social isolation.

That is also the reason why highly sensitive people are prone to social phobias.

Man looking down depressed with his hands together due to his high sensitivity
  • See also:  What Is Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)? Simple Explanation

Do I have a highly sensitive child?

Just like adults, children can also be highly sensitive.

High sensitivity can also be the basis of high sensitivity in children.

Highly sensitive adults absorb many more impressions and need more time to process them. This is no different with highly sensitive children.

As an adult you often notice that you do indeed become much calmer if you can withdraw for a while and get rid of all kinds of impressions.

You then recharge your batteries so that the chance of high sensitivity is reduced. However, this is not so easy with children and high sensitivity is often the result of this.

It is typical for highly sensitive children that they often have anger outbursts or that they often cry.

Mood swings are also very typical for highly sensitive children.

I mentioned it before: high sensitivity can be related to high sensitivity. Do you want to know more? Read my article ‘ Highly sensitive child? 10 Features & Advice For Parents ‘.

Child sitting on the floor and screaming

In the next section I explain the difference between high sensitivity and high sensitivity in great detail.


Highly sensitive or highly sensitive?

Highly sensitive and highly sensitive are often used interchangeably. However, these terms do not mean the same thing.

In this section I will try to explain exactly what the differences are.


high sensitivity

High sensitivity is mainly related to sensory perceptions. In English, by the way, senses are ‘senses’, hence the word ‘sensitive’.

In a highly sensitive person (HSP), all perceptions come in much stronger. They may be hypersensitive to light or sound. But highly sensitive people also feel tensions better.

Woman smelling a mushroom outside - highly sensitive

Highly sensitive people are also more sensitive to the beautiful and simple things in life. They can really enjoy nature, a beautiful summer day or soft melodies.

Precisely because highly sensitive people receive stimuli so intensely, they need more time than others to process them.

It has been shown that highly sensitive people often suffer from winter depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)). Of course, this does not mean that every HSP suffers from this.

Research  has also shown that people with winter depression often have a vitamin D deficiency.

Highly sensitive people like to withdraw to recharge their batteries. Not only do they like this, but they also need it.

High sensitivity is not a disorder or disease at all, but a character trait.


high sensitivity

Where high sensitivity mainly has to do with sensory perceptions, emotions play a role in high sensitivity.

Man with different emotions and a sheet in front of his face by being highly sensitive

Not everyone who is highly sensitive is also highly sensitive. But the reverse is also perfectly possible: you can’t be highly sensitive at all, but you can be highly sensitive.

Do you find this all a bit confusing? If you read the text below carefully, everything will become much clearer.

In the following video,  Elena Herdieckerhoff  tells more about what high sensitivity is during TEDx Talks :


Highly sensitive and highly sensitive

As an HSP you need time and space to process all intense stimuli.

Often you prefer to do this alone and in a place where no new stimuli come in.

Failure to do so may result in highly sensitive reactions. This way you can get angry faster or burst into tears more often.


Highly sensitive but not highly sensitive

The better you can deal with your high sensitivity, the smaller the chance that you will become highly sensitive.

Female eyes looking to the right

As a result of various studies, Professor Elke Van Hoof  at the Free University of Brussels states that high sensitivity is a possible but not necessary consequence of high sensitivity.


Not highly sensitive but highly sensitive

Even as a non-highly sensitive person you can be highly sensitive.

Due to persistent stress, your nerves can be constantly on edge that you react highly sensitively in certain situations.

An unprocessed event from the past can also be the basis of high sensitivity.

Woman holding her hand to her forehead and leaning back on a chair

I can understand very well that as a highly sensitive person it is often not easy for you.

That is why I would like to give you some tips to deal with this as well as possible.

Also watch the following video to understand what HSPs often deal with:


7 tips for when you are highly sensitive

I can understand very well that as a highly sensitive person it is often not easy for you. Fortunately, I can help you deal with this better.

Together we will ensure that we convert your special qualities into exceptional strength. So read the tips below carefully.


#1 Look for the cause of your high sensitivity

I mentioned earlier that high sensitivity can have various causes. In order to better deal with your high sensitivity, it is important to find out the cause.

Man holding back a domino effect with his hand

Is your high sensitivity the cause of high sensitivity?

Are stress, a traumatic experience or a burnout at the root of your high sensitivity?

Once you know the cause of your high sensitivity, you can take a more targeted approach to tackle it.

Various techniques from trauma psychology can help you to better deal with your high sensitivity. Trauma in the psychological sense of the word is the result of an overwhelming amount of stress.

If you are unable to process this trauma, you can get all kinds of complaints. One of the complaints of this is that you react much more sensitively than others in certain situations.

Let’s take a closer look at these techniques:

EMDR treatment

With an EMDR treatment, you recall the traumatic experience under the guidance of a therapist. At the same time, you follow an object that moves rhythmically with your eyes.

As a result, the memory loses the emotional charge it brought about in you. By concentrating on this rhythmic movement, you pay less attention to what has traumatized you.

Family Constellations

Your life is shaped by the family you were born into. As a child, you often adopt the feelings and behaviors of one of your family members. So you can hold onto feelings that aren’t really yours for a lifetime. Hellinger himself speaks here of ‘entanglement’.

During the treatment, your family will be ‘reconstructed’. It is checked who you are entangled with and how you can free yourself from this person. This way you can let go of these feelings and thoughts and follow your own emotions again.

Family setup with father, mother and two children cooking together

Rebirth therapie

Rebirth means rebirth. With this form of therapy you go back in time and find out which situations or circumstances were decisive for your high sensitivity.

After all, things that you experienced as a child can haunt you for the rest of your life. This may have been trauma, for example the divorce of your parents or the death of a family member.

But also lack of warmth or space to be yourself can have a very negative influence on you, making you hypersensitive.

Hypnosis

The typical characteristics of high sensitivity can also be controlled with hypnosis. By means of hypnosis, a so-called ‘filter’ can be placed so that you can better shield yourself from external stimuli.

However, stimuli from within can also make you highly sensitive: emotional reactions, worrying, etc… Hypnosis also offers relief with these stimuli. Under hypnosis you can better see a connection between your emotions and the way you express them.

Woman being hypnotized with a pendant

Is high sensitivity the basis of your high sensitivity? Then in my article ’25 Signs That You Are Highly Sensitive (HSP) (Without Diagnosis) ‘ you will find many tips to deal with this.

If it is mainly general tension that causes your high sensitivity, then the tips in this article can help you perfectly.


#2 Make your high sensitivity a topic for discussion in your relationships with others

People can be quite startled if you react violently or emotionally.

It is often difficult to count on understanding if you come across as quite irritated.

High sensitivity is often one of the reasons why relationships break down.

It is very important that you discuss this topic. Explain to others why you often react violently.

Make it clear to them that it is often difficult for you too and that you really don’t want to hurt them.

If others know the cause of your high sensitivity, you will certainly be able to count on more understanding. In turn, this will make you feel calmer, which can have a positive influence on your high sensitivity.


#3 Live healthy

A good night’s sleep is very important. You probably know that fatigue and irritability go hand in hand. The more tired you feel, the more likely you are to react fiercely.

Weight, fruits, vegetables and healthy drinks for healthy living

Sufficient exercise – preferably outdoors – can also help you find peace of mind. The calmer you feel, the less likely you are to become irritated.

A healthy and balanced diet keeps your blood sugar level at the correct level. However, this is not the only reason why a healthy diet is important if you are highly sensitive. Certain vitamins and minerals ensure that your nervous system can work optimally.

As a highly sensitive person you have a more sensitive nervous system, which means that stimuli hit you extra hard, as we have already seen. The better your nervous system works, the better you can filter stimuli.

Different types of vitamin B in food

Which vitamins?

Vitamin B and in particular B1, B6, B12 and folic acid, ensure a better functioning of the nervous system. These vitamins are mainly found in green vegetables, bread, whole grain products, meat and dairy.

Magnesium also helps your nervous system to work properly. This mineral is mainly found in green vegetables, nuts and seeds, bananas, whole grain products and raw cocoa.

If you want to give your nervous system a real boost, a vitamin or magnesium cure can help you with this. The most important thing, however, is that you get the necessary nutrients through your diet.

Woman holding some pills in her left hand and one between her fingers on her right hand

#4 Avoid stress

When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to react irritably. Avoiding stress is therefore a necessity if you are highly sensitive.

Perhaps when you think of stress, you immediately think of a stressful job, heavy traffic and how hectic your home can sometimes be. All these things do indeed cause a lot of stress for most people. If you are highly sensitive, things that you actually really enjoy can also cause you stress.

You really don’t have to visit all the sights during a weekend away. You really don’t have to attend every concert or performance. You really don’t have to go to the cinema after an afternoon of shopping.

These impressions are all too much for you. They create chaos in your head that can make you highly sensitive to normal everyday things. You snap at your kids or your husband or you burst into tears because it’s all getting too much for you.


#5 Schedule decompression time

Literally, decompression means ‘to suppress’. Taking the pressure off every now and then is very important if you are highly sensitive.

Have a busy week at work planned? Do you know that you will be very busy in terms of social contacts in the coming days? Are there any events or trips planned? Try to plan your decompression time.

Clock and a calendar

As a highly sensitive person you know that you can react very strongly if everything becomes too much for you. This is not fun for yourself, but also not for those around you.

You really need this decompression time to come to yourself again. Closing off all impressions for a while will do you good, so that you will react less sensitively.


#6  Accept who you are so you can overcome your high sensitivity

As a highly sensitive person you can spend days thinking about your own reactions or those of others.

You really shouldn’t do this. After all, you can’t undo reactions and worrying about how you or someone else reacted really gets you nowhere.

Now I hear you think: that’s easier said than done. And you are right! It is indeed not always easy to view your reactions in an objective way. After all, these did not arise from objectivity, but from a subjective feeling.

Man bending forward and cupping his hands with the sunset just above

No matter how well you take care of yourself and no matter how well you try to deal with your high sensitivity, accept who you are. Accept that stimuli come in a little harder to you than to others. Accept that you need more time to process these. It is true that sometimes your reactions are too strong.

Try to check exactly when you give certain reactions. Give your reactions a place and frame them within the circumstances of the moment. The better you can frame your reactions or emotions, the better you can deal with them and the less time you will worry about them.

Only if you can get rid of impressions, emotions and reactions in the right way, will there be room for more positive emotions so that you can better deal with your high sensitivity.

Woman holding cotton candy and looking smiling

#7 Learn to process impressions, emotions and reactions

You may not like to hear it, but we live in a very stimulating society. All these stimuli can overwhelm you to such an extent that you become hypersensitive and hypersensitive. I understand that very well. That is why in this last tip I would like to give you some practical tools to process both stimuli and the accompanying emotions in the best possible way.

Meditation

By meditating you put your thoughts and emotions on pause. You can meditate on your own in silence, but there is also guided meditation. Someone guides you – usually with his or her voice – in letting go of thoughts and emotions.

Meditating woman with her eyes closed

Write

Writing your thoughts off can certainly help you process all the emotions. After all, you don’t have to think about everything you write down. You can compare it a bit with a shopping list. Once you have written everything down, the groceries that you have to get at home will no longer haunt your head. It is the same with thoughts and emotions. You no longer have to think about what you wrote down. This creates space in your head again and everything becomes less chaotic.

When you write, you also express your thoughts. This can give you a completely different view of what is bothering you or what you worry about – probably wrongly.

Person who writes in a booklet

art

Another perfect outlet for processing impressions and emotions is being creative. Many well-known artists have already preceded you in this.

Personally, I immediately think of Vincent van Gogh. This Dutch painter is known to have painted his masterpiece ‘The Starry Night’ when he had suffered a nervous breakdown for the second time. Painting was the ideal way for him to process his feelings.

Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ is also a perfect example of how the artist felt when he painted the artwork.

Get started with what you love to do. The most important thing is that you find the ideal way to create peace of mind. When you have found this peace of mind, you will notice that you can use your special qualities in a very constructive way.

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