Do you have the trait of high sensitivity? Does this sound like you?
You tend to be very aware of the subtleties in your environment;
You pick up on other people’s moods;
You need quiet-time on very busy days;
You’re sensitive to caffeine;
You’re overwhelmed by loud noises, bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics;
You startle easy;
You have a rich inner life.
Yes? Then, like me, you may be a highly sensitive person (HSP).
You, along with 15-20% of the population, have a nervous system which is more sensitive to your surroundings and stimuli.
There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s just how you are.
But being sensitive can feel like a curse – we feel EVERYTHING so intensely it can be overwhelming.
We can feel like a square peg in a round hole of our culture. We live in a world of open plan workspaces, of group work, of noise and stimulation, of aggression and pushiness. Outgoing people seem to “get on” in life better – being rewarded for their gregariousness by promotions and popularity.
“Sensitive” is used as an insult. We often feel misunderstood and over-looked.
But I am passionate about the trait of high sensitivity being a gift.
HSPs tend to be more empathetic, more intuitive, more aware, more soulful, deeper thinkers. We are creative. We think and process deeply which means our ideas and solutions come from a place of awareness not reaction. Which is what our society sorely needs.
And I’ve noticed that the trait of high sensitivity is more well-known in America and less spoken of or written about here in the UK.
I am currently realigning my work to support Highly Sensitive People to understand, nurture and embrace their sensitivity.
In the meantime here’s how you can work with me (my yoga teaching is already HSP-friendly! )
- Weekly yoga classes to release, rest & reconnect
- Monthly restorative yoga to calm your nervous system
- Workshops & events to nurture yourself
- My blog where I share experience & offer tips and inspiration
- Here are my posts specifically on high sensitivity
And to find out if you’re highly sensitive take the test.
(Reveal: I answer yes to every question…)
I love peace and quiet. I love to sit and think and feel and day dream. I have a vivid imagination.
I’m easily over-whelmed my noise and bright lights and being around a lot of people I don’t know so I tend to avoid large gatherings or come across as quiet and reserved when I’m in them. I also have a very busy mind which notices all that’s going on around me and is aware of the permutations of a course of action even before I take the first step!
I need my time alone each day – and if I don’t get it I wind up anxious, drained and utterly exhausted.
I first learned about the trait of high sensitivity in 2014 – and it changed my life.
I’m a lover of mindful living, self-care and kindness; taking the radical option of rest and relaxation and meditation; appreciator of life’s simple pleasures; follower of the seasons and cycles of life; and a highly sensitive person. All of this is at the heart of how I teach. I’ve been practising yoga since 2000 and teaching since 2011.
Read more About Me and my journey.
Further reading & links
- The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron
- The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide by Ted Zeff
- The Emerging Sensitive by Maria Hill
- A Highly Sensitive Person’s Life by Kelly O’Laughlin
- The Highly Intuitive Person by Heidi Sawyer
- Quiet by Susan Cain
- Elaine Aron’s Highly Sensitive Person website
- National Centre for High Sensitivity (UK-based)
- Sensitive Evolution
- Andover HSP Meet-Ups
- Worldwide HSP Meet-Ups
Keep in touch
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More about High Sensitivity
A highly sensitive person is someone with a trait characterized by hypersensitivity to external stimuli, a greater depth of cognitive processing, and high emotional reactivity.
“Sensory Processing Sensitivity” is the scientific name for this trait (known in the mainstream as being a “Highly Sensitive Person”)
The term and trait were identified and disseminated by the research and writings of Dr Elaine Aron whose original research which identified this innate temperament trait was carried out in the early ‘90s.
Dr Elaine N Aron describes high sensitivity thus:
“Your trait is normal. It is found in 15 to 20% of the population–too many to be a disorder, but not enough to be well understood by the majority of those around you.
It is innate. In fact, biologists have found it to be in most or all animals, from fruit flies and fish to dogs, cats, horses, and primates. This trait reflects a certain type of survival strategy, being observant before acting. The brains of highly sensitive persons (HSPs) actually work a little differently than others’.
You are more aware than others of subtleties. This is mainly because your brain processes information and reflects on it more deeply. So even if you wear glasses, for example, you see more than others by noticing more.
You are also more easily overwhelmed. If you notice everything, you are naturally going to be overstimulated when things are too intense, complex, chaotic, or novel for a long time.
This trait is not a new discovery, but it has been misunderstood. Because HSPs prefer to look before entering new situations, they are often called “shy.” But shyness is learned, not innate. In fact, 30% of HSPs are extraverts, 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.
Sensitivity is valued differently in different cultures. In cultures where it is not valued, HSPs tend to have low self-esteem. They are told “don’t be so sensitive” so that they feel abnormal.”