HSP stands for Highly Sensitive Person.
The scientific name for high sensitivity is ‘sensory processing sensitivity’. Sensory processing sensitivity is a personality trait, found in 15-20% of the population, that makes someone more perceptive of and responsive to stimuli. These stimuli are processed more deeply than in people who don’t have sensory processing sensitivity.
This can lead to the following characteristics (this is just a selection):
- being touched deeply by art, music, nature
- thoroughly analyzing situations before making a decision
- being more easily overwhelmed by too much stimulation, i.e. strong smells, loud sounds, bright lights
- feeling the need to withdraw and recover after busy social gatherings and/or situations with too much stimulation
- being empathetic to the feelings of others, sometimes feeling them as strongly as your own
- being aware of subtleties; noticing details and subtle changes
- feeling uncomfortable when having to do a lot in a short amount of time
- being conscientious and having a strong sense of responsibility and justice
The terms highly sensitive person and sensory processing sensitivity were introduced in the 1990s by psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron (who herself is highly sensitive) and her husband Arthur Aron. Elaine Aron wrote the book ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’, a (then) groundbreaking and very informative book on high sensitivity. I read the book when I wanted to learn more about being highly sensitive and I found it to be very interesting, helpful and recognizable.
I am not a HSP expert (although I gained a lot of insights and personal experience over the years ;-)), so I would also like to refer you to other sources for more information. Of course you can google and find lots of info about high sensitivity, Wikipedia has a good page on it, but I would like to recommend the following websites, which I find very helpful reliable sources:
- Elaine Aron’s website: hsperson.com (which has a self-test to help find out if you’re HSP)
- Irene Langeveld has a post on her website about how to explain high sensitivity to people who aren’t HSP: https://irenelangeveld.com/high-sensitivity-explained/
(For the Dutch version: https://irenelangeveld.nl/hooggevoeligheid-uitleggen/ en https://irenelangeveld.nl/wat-is-hooggevoeligheid/). Check out her wonderful guided meditations while you’re on her website.
- Another great website by a HSP: highlysensitiveperson.net (podcast, blog and book!)
- If you know you are highly sensitive and feel you could use some coaching or guidance, I can highly recommend Chungmei Cheng, Orchid of Life: orchidoflife.nl. She can coach you in Dutch, English and Spanish. She has a great blog in Dutch as well: lifecoachingdenhaag.wordpress.com, a book on anger and gives regular Facebook live sessions).
- More Dutch websites: hoogsensitief.nl (very informative), hoogsensitief.nu, pieteroffermans.nl, https://hspenwerk.nl/
Note: these are my personal recommendations, there is no sponsoring or anything involved ;-).