Highly Sensitive Person: Explaining the Trait


How to begin the process of telling someone about the trait of being a highly sensitive person:

A lot of HSPs ask me how I would explain the trait. I wrote this out in hopes you may find this helpful. Let me know in the comments if it's helpful!

I think when we want to teach someone about our trait it is important to do it with an energetic feeling that you are educating them about something that you are excited to have learned about yourself. If we talk about it as if something is wrong with us, then we project we think there is something wrong. So start off with the projection that this is an awesome trait that has a lot of positives and also some challenges.

With that said, I might say something like…

Have you ever heard of the trait called the highly sensitive person or sensory processing sensitivity? If they say no, then I will say…

It’s an innate trait that makes up to 15-20% of the population and is also found in several species of animals. It’s a type of survival strategy that involves a special way of processing extra, subtle details. We have the ability to read micro-expressions, for example, that up to 85% of the population cannot. We process the 5 senses in a much deeper way.

Imagine there are about 3 tubes of information coming into our brains, for example. That is the experience of the majority, but HSPs, have 50-100 tubes of information coming in to process. This means we can be very intuitive and empathic and it is often like having a whole other 6th sense.

As you can imagine, taking in so much information so often can feel quite overwhelming and exhausting at times. To function our best, we usually need more quiet, down time to process all that information.

It’s a pretty remarkable trait and there is a lot to learn about it if you would like to know more. Learning about it has really helped me understand myself better and I would love to teach you more about it too so you can also understand me better.

(Then, here is where you can add in specifics depending on your circumstances).

If I’m trying to teach my family or friends I might add in specifics like…
Sometimes I will need to go outside and take a walk during get-togethers, go home early to rest, pick restaurants that are less noisy and less crowded (I often prefer to sit next to a wall, for example, and go at off-peak times). There might be times when my system gets too overloaded and I need to turn down invitations or change plans sometimes. I just want you to know you are important to me and if I ever do need to change plans or make adjustments I hope you can understand these needs are a part of who I am and how I’m created. I really appreciate you are taking the time to listen and learn. ☺ 

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~Julie Bjelland is a psychotherapist, global HSP consultant, and leader in the field of high sensitivity and has helped thousands of highly sensitive people around the world. As an HSP herself, Julie understands what it is like to live with high sensitivity and strong emotions. Julie teaches an online course for HSPs and is the author of several books.  www.juliebjelland.com.