HSP as a Quality

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Irritating labels in clothes, crowded situations, loud music, noticing specific details and many more. These are several recognizable situations for HSP’s, ‘Highly Sensitive Persons’. A HSP is on average more sensitive for impulses and stimuli than other people. This definition was created by an American psychologist, dr. Elaine N. Aron.

Also, a HSP experiences some situations more intensively than others.  For example, entering a party with 300 to 400 people. During this party a HSP is exposed to many stimuli such as many people who are moving, loud music and bright lights. A well-known Dutch author, Arthur Japin, explained in Psychologie Magazine that he needs to recover at least two entire days on the couch from a long-lasting night party. Since he knows he is a highly sensitive person, he describes the main character in his recent books as one too.

About 20% of human people are HSP. According to a famous clinical psychologist from Belgium, Elke van Hoof, HSP is not something that you have or get, but rather something you ARE. She emphasises that HSP is not a disorder or disadvantage, but she sees HSP as a power. Therefore, you need to know how to use it. Below follow several useful tips to take advantage of HSP.

As a HSP, it is useful to take more frequently breaks after long tasks. These pauses can differ from meditation up to reading an inspiring book. Besides, it is recommendable to turn off your mobile phone at least two hours before you go to sleep. Furthermore, choosing your own workspace could be helpful. It is known that HSP’s are having trouble with crowded writing desks and offices with a lot of employees. Thus, it is more likely that HSP become a freelancer.

Keep in mind, the ideas above count as advice and not as obligations. Not every tip works for all HSP’s. But being a HSP also has some negative influences. In the first place, HSP’s are more sensitive to stressful situations and consequently burnouts. From the research of the German psychologist Friederike Gerstenberg became clear that HSP’s make  mistakes less often during a big task, but experience earlier more stress-related feelings. Moreover, they have earlier a so called ’overstimulation’. This is what happens when the stimuli and impulses from your environment directly affect your behavior, which could result in intensely emotional reactions, feeling anxiety or being unconfident.

There are some contradictions in the life of a HSP. For example, a HSP could enjoy beautiful music the most, but get annoyed by a loud irritating radio. Other people experience this radio as just a background tune. Another contradiction could be: being empathic is super great, but constantly reviewing someone’s feelings and thoughts is very exhaustive, speaking from my own experience.

The aim of this article is to make people aware of their feelings, thoughts and behavior. People act differently, that is a fact. Another purpose is to make clear to HSP’s that high sensitivity is not a disadvantage, rather a positive way of processing your feelings. But please keep in mind to use your high sensitivity in an appropriate way to avoid unnecessary stressful thoughts. More importantly, enjoy being a HSP.

By Jean-Luc Budel

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