At the end of a therapy session, a young woman who is an HSP asked if I could provide an “in a nutshell” description of a highly sensitive person. She expressed frustration with how her long-winded explanations of this trait to others seemed to get lost in translation. “They didn’t get me”. “Could I help her develop a condensed script?”.
How to keep it succinct when our tendency is to go deep.
Elaine Aron, best-selling author of The Highly Sensitive Person, provides a valuable companion: The Highly Sensitive Person’s Workbook: The Practical Guide for Highly Sensitive People and HSP Support Groups. This depth workbook helps HSP’s develop a deep sense of self-acceptance and a greater level of conﬁdence in their relationships with others. It provides a basic knowledge about your trait, helps with reframing your life, self-care, and ways to integrate the trait within speciﬁc areas of life.
In a Word
Aron’s acronym DOES can be utilized as a concise way to summarize all aspects of high sensitivity. DOES: Depth of Processing. Overstimulated. Can only process so much at once. Emotional reactivity and Empathy. Sensitivity to subtitles.
My attempt to provide a ready reply to the question “What is an HSP?” began something like this: 20% of the population has this sensitivity trait. We process experiences deeply and think about things more than others. We notice things others miss. We have stronger emotional reactions, both positive and negative when we notice and feel so much there is a tendency to be overwhelmed so we need more downtime and we are bothered by having too much to do at once. Suddenly there was an aha moment for me. HSP’s are not naturally equipped to give the facts in a nutshell.
If pressed for HSP synopsis respond: Emotional depth.
A highly sensitive person thinks, feels and reacts fully.