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Wondering Why You Feel so Overwhelmed? You Could Be a Highly Sensitive Person

At some point in most people’s lives they’ve probably been told that they are overreacting to a situation, or that they are being sensitive, but if you continually hear these statements regarding overthinking and sensitivity, then it could be possible that you are a highly sensitive person (HSP)—a term coined in the ‘90s by psychologists Elaine Aron and Arthur Aron.

"It's like feeling something with 50 fingers as opposed to 10," Judith Orloff, a psychiatrist, and author of Emotional Freedom told Psychology Today of what having this trait is like. "You have more receptors to perceive things."

Psychology Today notes that being a highly sensitive person can be a positive quality because it allows the individual to feel empathy, and understand other people's needs and wants better, but it can also have its drawbacks. These include struggling to let go of negative emotions and thoughts, as well as experiencing anxiety and stress. A highly sensitive person doesn’t necessarily only feel sensitivity about oneself, but also others, resulting in them potentially feeling hurt easily, having the inability to accept constructive feedback, and struggling to let go of feelings they have over what others may view as only a little unpleasant.

A third category that could indicate signs that an individual is a highly sensitive person is their reaction to their environment, including feeling uncomfortable in large crowds and disliking bright lights, noises, and surprises. The publication also notes that these individuals could feel upset over the news, and looking at other people's social media posts could provoke a reaction.

Recognizing the signs is one thing, but it is also important to understand that HSP is not a disease or disorder, Highly Sensitive Refuge reports. The publication highlights that HSPs are often misunderstood, despite making up a decent percentage of the population—between 15 to 20 percent—can be classified as such.

Psychologist Elaine Aron has penned books and offers self-tests for HSPs, and her website, The Highly Sensitive Person (a topic she has been researching since 1991) wants to inform people that firstly, the trait is normal, it’s also innate and has been found in a number of different species, reflecting a certain survival strategy. She also acknowledges that HSP is misunderstood, noting “30% of HSPs are extroverts, although the trait is often mislabeled as introversion. It has also been called inhibitedness, fearfulness, or neuroticism. Some HSPs behave in these ways, but it is not innate to do so and not the basic trait.”

[Image via Shutterstock]

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