Drama queens, crybabies, whiners, wet blankets – Highly Sensitive People (HSP) have been labelled all of these things and more, when the truth is, there’s a lot of things most people fail to understand about the concept.
The term was originated by Dr. Elaine N. Aron (1996), and it refers to an inherent, biological predisposition some people have to process and perceive information on a much deeper level. If you’re an HSP, then you think and feel things with greater intensity, in a way that many others can’t understand.
This negative view that some people have towards sensitivity and emotional vulnerability makes it hard for some Highly Sensitive People to accept and love themselves for who they are, but in reality, there are countless advantages to being an HSP. Here are 10 strengths you may not have known that Highly Sensitive People have:
1. You’re sensitive
First and foremost, one of the best things about being an HSP is being sensitive (as the name implies). While it can feel like a double-edged sword sometimes because of how overwhelming it can be to feel so much and so deeply, sensitivity is a gift. It makes you soft-hearted and compassionate. You care more about people and you treat them with tenderness. That’s why HSPs are some of the kindest and gentlest people you will ever meet.
2. You’re self-aware
Intrapersonal intelligence is defined as an awareness of one’s emotions, motivations, beliefs, and goals (Piechowski, 1997), and HSPs certainly have that in spades. When you’re an HSP, you’re a deep thinker by nature. You gain a greater insight into yourself because you’re so in touch with your own thoughts and emotions. You’re thoughtful, introspective, which means that you rarely ever feel confused or unsure of how you feel or what you think about something, and so, you can always trust yourself to make the right choice.
3. You’re more empathetic
Sensitivity and empathy go hand in hand, so it should come as no surprise that most HSPs are also incredible empaths. Being an HSP allows you to feel what others are feeling and put yourself in their shoes. Because you’re already so in tune to your own feelings, you are better able to perceive the feelings of other people as well. This makes it easier for you to relate to those around you and understand different points of view.
4. You’re a good listener
Another great quality a lot of HSPs have is that they are great listeners (Aron, 2013). Thanks to your natural intuition, you are more perceptive and observant than most, so you are quick to pick up on the subtleties of someone’s voice, gestures, facial expressions, body language, and so on. This makes you more attentive and responsive to others, which also makes you a better friend, partner, and source of emotional support.
5. You’re a good mediator
Highly Sensitive People make for excellent mediators, thanks to their great conflict-resolution skills (Sand, 2016). HSPs always seek to maintain positive, harmonious relations with others, and confrontational situations make them uncomfortable. Because they’re such empathetic listeners, they are often able to bridge the gap between two conflicting parties. This also makes them good team players and decision makers.
6. You’re creative
Studies have found that creativity is closely associated with being a Highly Sensitive Person (Zeff, 2004). This is likely because most HSPs are visionaries who have a rich inner world of their own. Since you experience both negative and positive emotions on such a deeper level, this kind of intensity lends itself well to creative self-expression — be it through painting, writing, designing, filmmaking, photography, and such. Even if you’re not an artist yourself, you are likely to have a good appreciation of art.
7. You’re passionate
To the uneducated, emotional sensitivity can look a lot like overreacting. Other people might dismiss you as nothing more than a wishy-washy daydreamer or romantic, but in truth, there’s so much more to you than that. Because you’re an HSP, you seek to live life authentically and wholeheartedly. This vulnerability is what gives you the passion to pour your heart and soul into everything you do.
8. You value integrity
Most HSPs are guided by their values and personal principles. They have a strong sense of right and wrong, and they believe in ideals of fairness and morality. If you’re an HSP, you most likely feel uncomfortable with anything that’s overly aggressive, violent, or demeaning, so you can’t stand injustice. You value integrity and pride yourself in your character, which is an admirable trait.
9. You live life fully
No HSP will ever live out their days half-asleep. Being an HSP means being present and living in the moment. Because you’re so sensitive, you’re most likely careful not to overstimulate yourself and be overloaded with thoughts, feelings, and sensations. This allows you to take things at your own pace, and in turn, you remind those around you that’s it’s okay to slow down every once in a while and just enjoy everything life has to offer.
10. You’re one of a kind
Last but most certainly not least, being a Highly Sensitive Person means that you are special. There may be some people out there who can’t understand what it’s like to be like you and see the world through your eyes, but know that your uniqueness is not your weakness. Being a Highly Sensitive Person is a gift, granted only to a rare few, and it’s part of what makes you extraordinary. In fact, only 1 in every 5 people have this particular personality trait (Aron, et al., 2010).
Now that you know all of this, you’ll hopefully gain a newfound appreciation for Highly Sensitive People. Those who are “emotionally gifted” are often gentle, nurturing souls who have an incredible capacity for kindness, empathy, creativity, compassion and spirit, so revel in what makes you different! Sensitivity is a gift, and there’s so many wonderful ways you could use it to help yourself and those around you.
- Aron, E. N. (1996). Counseling the highly sensitive person. Counseling and Human Development, 28, 1-7.
- Piechowski, M. M. (1997). Emotional giftedness: The measure of intrapersonal intelligence. Handbook of gifted education, 2, 366-381.
- Aron, E. (2013). The highly sensitive person. Kensington Publishing Corp..
- Sand, I. (2016). Highly Sensitive People in an Insensitive World: How to Create a Happy Life. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
- Zeff, T. (2004). The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide: Essential Skills for Living Well in an Overstimulating World. New Harbinger Publications.
- Aron, A., Aron, E., Jagiellowicz, J., Xu, X., Cao, G., Feng, T., & Weng, X. (2010) The trait of sensory processing sensitivity and neural responses to changes in visual scenes. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 6, 38-47.