One in twenty people is considered a highly sensitive person (PAS). This means that you may be sensitive yourself or someone you know is. 42% of the population are not highly sensitive, which means that most things don’t bother them like they would with an HSP. Everyone else falls somewhere in between, and a few are completely indifferent to anything. (By the way, 20% of the entire animal kingdom is also very sensitive.)
Who are the PAS and what are they like?
We are the thinkers, the cautious, the conservatives; The ones that say, “Hey, wait a minute. Let’s think about this before we do anything rash.”
Every society needs highly sensitive people, just like we need warriors, leaders who are willing to take risks. However, we are the ones who help temper the not-so-sensitive types, the ones who can be bold, reckless and impulsive and may not have thought about the consequences of their actions. Highly sensitive people are usually the people who find themselves in the roles of advisers, counselors, and advocates of moderation.
Unfortunately, in Western society, we’ve also been labeled somewhat “flawed,” according to how non-HSPs view us. We are considered “too sensitive, too cautious, too timid, too shy, too introverted, too fearful.” The thing to keep in mind is that these are not “problems” to be corrected and worked out with sensitive people. It is the labels that are attached to us that cause the problems. Many non-sensitive people are also shy, timid, introverted, and fearful, while there are many highly sensitive people who are outgoing, super-friendly, outgoing, and fearless. We tend to think things through first and weigh all the factors that come to our senses before going any further.
Misunderstood traits and characteristics
So what are some of the traits and characteristics of a highly sensitive person? Let’s look at some of the facts and mythical labels that have been attached to this special group.
– You will probably find a larger portion of shy people in the HSP group. That doesn’t mean everyone is shy. That is a myth. Many non-sensitive people are also shy. Sometimes, what is confused with shyness is actually a dimensioning of the situation and of the people we have just met. We are cautious. If our senses are saying that something isn’t right about the person, we won’t be as open to them. First impressions count. It’s not just the way the person is dressed, but their entire demeanor, aura, attitude, and other little subtleties that we absorb with all our senses. We process the thoughts, feelings and sensations that we receive in each new situation. This can make some of us appear “shy” when we are not.
– Something like a myth. You will find that many PAS can be outgoing, outgoing, and fun-loving. You will also find many non-sensitive people as introverts. Don’t confuse deep thinking and inward reflection with introversion. We need a lot more alone time. This is because our nervous system can become overloaded in a situation that a non-sensitive person would find stimulating. If we get tired and overstimulated, we need to find a quiet place as soon as possible to sit down again. This is the reason why many HSPs tend to stay at home more often than not to go out and party. It’s not that we don’t want to… we just know our systems can’t handle the overload for too long. If we can’t escape, we close in on ourselves, like a kind of protective shield, trying to reduce the noise, sights, sounds and smells that bombard us to calm us down.
-Unless you’re completely unemotional and have a conscious lack of consideration for others, who’s to say you’ve never been afraid at times? This is not a trait exclusive to sensitive people. New experiences often cause butterflies, fearful thoughts, and inner turmoil in most people. HSPs tend to feel those emotions more deeply.
– Caution, careful assessment of the situation, the need to see the “big picture”, and the possible consequences resulting from our actions is just in our nature. If everyone carelessly rushed into everything, we would have even more chaos in our world than we do now.
– Yes, this is our main feature. We take in everything around us at once. Lights, noises, smells, energy vibrations, they are all absorbed, processed and evaluated. Unfortunately, when there is too much activity and noise around us, we can’t handle it for long. For example, what may be a low to moderate level of music to a non-sensitive person might sound like rock concert level to us. Emotionally, we are affected by much of the disharmony in the world. We feel another person’s pain, we are aware of low levels of anger or resentment in a room, we empathize with other people’s problems, and we feel great grief over horrible tragedies.
What does this all mean?
A highly sensitive person will pick up on subtleties in the environment that many non-sensitive people cannot see or feel. This can give us great advantages. It can save us in many situations where trouble is brewing. Our abilities can prevent us from making disastrous business or personal decisions, if we follow our instincts. And because of our keen sense of the environment around us, we’re often the ones telling others about potential environmental issues that unscrupulous companies ignore for their own benefit. HSPs are often the ones pushing for reforms and changes in government laws for the good of all.
As with anything, it’s good to know that you are not alone, that there are others who have to deal with the same type of situations and “labels” that you do. True, it doesn’t hurt less, but you know there are similar guys you can look up and talk to… and they’ll understand. Yes, we tend to exhibit more of the above traits and characteristics than non-sensitive people, but we don’t exclusively own them either. Sometimes, it is a misinterpretation of what is really going on in the mind of a HSP by non-HAPs. Only another highly sensitive person could really understand. The good news is that highly sensitive people have been around for as long as man has walked the earth…and we will always be here, working to make the world a more understanding, considerate, and peaceful haven for all.