What’s an HSP?

What’s a Highly Sensitive Person? 

Quite simply, HSPs notice more.  We don’t have super-powered sensory organs necessarily, but we are primed to notice subtle stimuli- subtleties in the environment, internal sensations, and emotional cues that others don’t.  We also process this information differently. We reflect, analyze and categorize sensory input more thoroughly than non-HSPs.

High sensitivity is an inborn trait found in about 20% of people.  You will find it across species (my Boston Terrier is definitely an HSP!)  An HSP’s biochemistry is different as well.  We have lower levels of seretonin, and increased norepinephrine, cortisol, and heightened activity in the right hemisphere.  I’m obviously not a scientist, so please check out this article for the nitty gritty research.

Dr. Elaine Aron, the author of The Highly Sensitive Person, uses the acronym “D.O.E.S.” to describe the underlying trait of sensory processing sensitivity.

  • D= Depth of Processing.  We observe and mull it over before we act.  We reflect upon lessons learned from our and others’ experiences.
  • O= Overstimulated.  Since we notice more in any situation, we will hit that overstimulated point before a non-HSP.  Moderately arousing settings can seem over-arousing to an HSP.
  • E= Emotional reactivity.  We have strong emotional reactions, and we are in tune with others’ emotional cues, which makes us very empathetic.
  • S= Subtle Stimuli.  We notice subtle stimuli in the environment that others don’t.

are you an hsm

  • Do you react viscerally to your child’s cries?
  • Can their moods and tantrums rub off on you for hours?
  • When they nap or eat poorly, do you feel like a failure?
  • Does kid clutter in the house drive you nuts?
  • Do you need alone time where you can have a break from the constant demands of parenthood?
  • Do kids’ play places (think Chuck E. Cheese) rub you the wrong way because they are so overstimulating?
  • Do you prefer quiet mellow outings to the park or library instead?
  • Is it very stressful when you have to deter from your kids’ normal routines?
  • Do you aim to be careful and consistent in your parenting?

If so, you may be an HSM (Highly Sensitive Mom/Dad.) Me too. High five!

Why “Highly Sensitive Mom” blog?  

Being HSP affects parenthood in profound ways. There are several great blogs for HSPs, but this blog is for parents, moms or dads, who find that their HSP qualities make parenthood more intense.  The highs are higher; the lows are lower.  So often our hearts and minds feel frazzled and overaroused, and we long for a calm heart and home.  I think a calm heart and home is possible, even with kids. Let’s explore how we can make the most of our sensitivity!