Do you suffer from high sensitivity? Do the test!
Psychologists define a highly sensitive person (HSP) as someone who characteristically has high sensory processing sensitivity (or innate sensitiveness) meaning that they are more sensitive than most people are to an assault on their senses. This can take the form of being sensitive, or averse, to loud noises, overly-bright or fluorescent lights, or even strong smells or tastes.
It is estimated that approximately 20% of the population are highly sensitive people, and that the numbers are split equally between men and women.
These people will process the information they are presented with, day to day, on a much deeper level than everyone else. The consequences for a HSP can mean that they are shy to the point of introversion, or suffer with social anxiety problems, social inhibition, social phobias and inherent fearfulness. The HSP may suffer with low self-esteem, although this is not a given. It may simply mean that HSPs are struggling to live in a world that is not as sensitive as they are. However, many HSPs are happy and confident and use their sensitivity to good effect.
Quiz: Are you a highly sensitive person?
How can you tell whether you’re a HSP? Answer these questions honestly, by scoring yourself out of 5 for each one, where 5 means “This applies to me 100%” and 1 means “This doesn’t apply to me at all”. Then read on and see what the results say about you.
- Do people see you as sensitive or shy? Did your teachers think so when you were young?
- Do you cry easily?
- Do you dislike loud noises and music?
- Are you empathetic? Do you feel sad or down if other people around you are blue?
- Do you need to have time alone if you have had a busy day, or you have spent a lot of time with a number of people? Does social interaction leave you feeling exhausted? Do you yearn to be alone and block out all sources of stimulation?
- Are you averse to surprise? Do you like to forward plan? Do you dislike having to do things in a rush or at the last minute?
- Do you dislike change?
- Do you avoid or dislike caffeine or alcohol?
- Do you try to avoid things that make you feel negative, or that upset you in some way, such as violent or aggressive television shows, the news, or certain sports or competitive shows?
- Do you dislike presenting, giving speeches, or being watched? Do your nerves lead to you underperforming?
- Do you seem to be more sensitive to pain than most people you know?
- Do you appreciate the calmer, quiet, subtler things in life, such as Art, literature and fine food?
- Are you happy in your own head?
- Are you easily alarmed?
- Do you like to make other people feel comfortable in your environment?
Of course most people will be able to answer yes to some of these questions, because everyone has some sensitivity. If you scored 30 or more then it is likely that you are a highly sensitive person and it is worthwhile reading more about the condition and what it means for you.
It’s not bad news!
Take heart! HSP can use their sensitivity to great advantage. The fact that HSPs feel more deeply for example, means that they can be great when working with other people, especially in the caring professions, or as teachers or managers. They make great friends too, because they really try to understand (and feel) what their friends and family are going through. HSPs make wonderful team players, because everyone needs a deep thinker on their team. Also, because HSPs are more detail oriented they are good finishers and will be more conscientious. Finally, HSPs are excellent when participating in creative endeavours.
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