Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, is brilliant. Her book changed my life in countless ways and I think her research is groundbreaking for individuals who are “Highly Sensitive.” I don’t, however, love being called a “Highly Sensitive Person” or HSP. Due to this trait affecting about 15-20% of the population, HSPs are in the minority. Most of society does not value our trait. Rather than seeing the inherent value in our trait, many have given us the message that there’s something wrong with us. I recently posted a Facebook ad online with a flyer for a Highly Sensitive Person support and process group. While I received many likes on the ad, I also received some negative reactions, as well as a comment that was particularly harsh.
I have to be honest, I was quite shocked by that comment. In fact, I began to have some of those old scripts start running through my head – “because I’m sensitive there must be something wrong with me!” Luckily, I have done a significant amount of healing in this area. I have learned to value my sensitivity and see it as a strength. In fact, now when people ask me about my biggest strength, I immediately respond with, “My sensitivity!” I now have confidence in my trait that is very much a part of who I am.
It seems that a lot of therapists identify with the term “Empath,” but not “Highly Sensitive Person.” Why is that? I believe that is because many of us grew up being called, “too sensitive,” “bleeding hearts,” “weak,” or “shy.” Many may take the label “highly sensitive” to mean what they were always called, “too sensitive.”
I don’t have exact numbers on any of this, but I suspect that over half of therapists are highly sensitive and over half of our clients are highly sensitive. Elaine Aron makes a reference to “the minority of people, but majority of clients.” Still many of us are hesitant to accept our inherent trait of sensitivity.
Unfortunately, it seems that this name is going to stick, so later this week I'll write some on how I learned to accept my sensitivity and how you can too.