Highly Sensitive Person: Explaining the Trait
Explaining The Trait Of The Highly Sensitive Person To Someone Else:
A lot of HSPs ask me how I would describe the trait to someone. I wrote this out in hopes you may find this helpful. I think when we want to teach someone about this 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. (If you struggle to see this trait as a positive, my 8-week brain training program might be great for you).
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 about 20% of the population and is also found in several species of animals. It’s equal in gender, about 70% of us are introverts, and they have already seen this trait in over 100 species. It evolved as a type of survival strategy of the population. Those of us with this trait have some extra special abilities that involve a unique way of processing additional, subtle details. We process information deeply, are aware of subtle details, and experience more emotional responsiveness. We tend to be extra compassionate and empathetic and can read micro-expressions, that up to 80% of the population misses. Imagine that the other 80% have about three tubes of information coming into their brains. HSPs, have 50-100 tubes of data coming in to process.
As you can imagine, taking in so much information so often can feel quite overwhelming and exhausting at times and is the reason I might get overstimulated and need extra time to myself to process it all. To function our best, we usually need more breaks, and quiet, downtime.
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 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 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 trust I am ok and need a little quiet time to rest and reset. There is so much information I would love to share with you about this trait so you can know me better.
Julie Bjelland is an HSP herself, and a psychotherapist that has written several books about this trait that might help you understand me better and she has a lot of really great resources on her website. She even writes a weekly newsletter that I hope you will subscribe to as well so you can stay updated about the trait and it will help you understand me even more. I appreciate you are taking the time to listen and learn more about me.
More on the definition of the HSP trait.
More about the brain differences of the HSP
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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.