We hear a lot about introverts vs extroverts and the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, but there's another personality trait that might apply to you if you've ever been called thin-skinned or too sensitive. Like introversion, being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) isn't a flaw, and about one out of five people would qualify as one.
Photo by gagilas.
Dr Elaine Aron identified this trait back in the mid-1990s, but it's still a characteristic that's misunderstood or just unknown to many. People who are HSPs tend to be more sensitive both physically and emotionally. Loud noises can be especially startling, for example, or clothing tags can be unusually irritating. The Highly Sensitive Person also tends to notice more in the surroundings, ruminates deeply, is very aware of how others are feeling (high empathy) and usually feels strong emotions.
The Loner Wolf blog explains three common misconceptions about people who are highly sensitive:
- They're not necessarily introverts. They can be or they can be extroverted. The difference is introversion and extroversion are measured by how much energy you get from social situations, while being highly sensitive is more about your threshold for stimulation and how you process the world.
- It's not the same as being shy. Both shy people and HSPs can be overwhelmed in social situations, but shyness is learned, while being highly sensitive is something you're born with.
- It's not a mental disorder. If you're highly sensitive, there's nothing "wrong" with you, though there are challenges.
If this sounds like you, check out the Loner Wolf's blog post for tips on surviving in a thick-skinned world. If you're not sure, Dr. Aron's 27 question self test, linked below, could help you find out.
Are You Highly Sensitive? [The Highly Sensitive Person]