70 percent of HSPs are introverts. Do you suspect someone you know is a highly sensitive person? Perhaps the first step in dealing with any highly sensitive person is deciding to be sensitive enough to learn who they are. Some of the characteristics of a highly sensitive person (HSP) include:
- Prefers meaningful conversations over small talk
- Reflects deeply
- Tends to dwell on things
- Take their time to decide and respond
- Requires lots of down time
- Detail oriented
- Prone to anxiety or depression
A highly sensitive person may also display unusual or uncommon sensory issues, e.g. a heightened sense of smell. In that case, they may not only notice a scent you didn’t. They may also have an extremely low threshold for that odor.
This type of reaction to sensory input could also involve noise and sound, a wide range of tastes, and even different types of touch. As a result, the HSP often declines social invites. When they do hang out, it may not be for long and don’t expect them to be the life of the party.
None of this makes them weird or wrong or unlikable. It’s not something you have to fix. In fact, HSP are barometers for the emotional climate around them. They are like the canaries that they use to send down into the mines so that when the bird died of the toxic changes in the environment they would get the miners out for safety because the miners may not notice the subtle changes that were deadly in their environment. However, if there’s an HSP in your life, it first helps to identify them. From there, you can begin the process of being a better friend/colleague/neighbor/partner/parent or whatever to them.
8 Ways to Deal with a Highly Sensitive Person
1. Provide patience
Don’t rush to react or judge behavior different than yours. Relish the opportunity to cultivate patience and to learn something new.
2. Give them time and space
Some folks thrive on pressure. The HSP requires some distance. They may take a little longer to reply to your text or email. At a social gathering, you will likely find them off to the side—away from the crowd.
3. Encourage basic self-care
Everyone needs self-care. For a highly sensitive person, it’s even more crucial. Encourage and support them in this need. The basics:
- Healthy eating habits
- Regular sleep patterns
- Daily exercise and activity
- Stress management
4. Appreciate the “new eyes”
Being close to an HSP gives you an opportunity to see (and hear and feel) the world differently. Some may choose to perceive this as a nuisance. But you can view it as the gift it truly is.
5. Learn to identify and modulate your sensory style
Do you speak loudly or quickly? Do you like to get physically close to those you’re interacting with? What other physical cues are normal for you? Take inventory of your typical choices and adjust from there.
6. Trust and value their critiques
The HSP is observant and detail oriented. Therefore, you may just want to seriously consider their input. Again, a new perspective offers plenty of room for growth.
7. Learn how to authentically apologize
We all mess up at times. No one should expect perfection from themselves or others. However, it’s perfectly normal to expect a real apology when you’ve been wronged. Own up. Take responsibility. Show remorse. Do the work to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
8. Ask for help
If you’re not sure, ask. Let your HSP friend know you care enough to do the work.
What if the highly sensitive person is you?
Of course, you may be reading this because you’re the HSP in your life. If so, you don’t need anyone to tell you how that feels. It can be frustrating to find that people around you are unwilling to accept your style and your awareness’s.
Working one-on-one in counseling as well as working with a counsellor who does neurofeedback and hypnosis is a healthy choice for working on this reality. You’ll learn to better understand and accept yourself. In the process, you’ll discover new ways to exist in a world that won’t always get you. Working with a counsellor will help transform to become more resilient so that your HSP experience is felt as an asset rather than something to feel overwhelmed by. HSP’s that have developed a resilient Central Nervous System and a balanced brain are the most caring and emotionally and mentally balanced.