I recently heard of a new term called the highly sensitive person. It made me think of various clients that I had, as well as recognize some of the traits in myself. The person who had done research and written books on this topic is Elaine Aron.

You might qualify as a highly sensitive person, if you are someone who has heard people say “you need to toughen up, get a thicker skin.” If you have heard this enough, you might think something is wrong with you. Let me assure you that you are just fine. All personality traits have pros and cons, and this may just be one of yours. Or perhaps you know or love a highly sensitive person. To find out if you are a highly sensitive person, you can click this link and take a test.

How to Tell If you Are a Highly Sensitive Person

You feel overpowered by strong stimuli such as bright lights, odors, stiff fabrics or sirens

You get anxious when you have a lot on your plate with a limited amount of time

Life transitions tend to be overwhelming

You stay away from violent films

When your are overwhelmed with all you have to do, you want to be alone and get away from it all

Your inner life is full and intricate

People told you that you are timid or thin-skinned

According to Aron, you are not alone. It can occur in up to 20% of the population and it affects males, just as much as females. In addition, 30% of highly sensitive people are actually extraverts. Some of these characteristics may sound more typical of introverts.

Traits of Highly Sensitive People

Dr. Aron uses the acronym DOES

Depth of Processing

Those who are highly sensitive process information more deeply than others. This happens automatically Their intuition is great. When it comes to decision making you do it more slowly than others, as you want to come up with the best option. They tend to notice their surroundings more than others.


You are more likely to get overwhelmed when things go on for a long time, as it involves more information to process. This can be exhausting. Highly sensitive people also tend to like a little more quiet and stay away from noisy parties, as it is stressful. This is not to be compared with autism, as those with autism have trouble knowing where to pay attention and where not to. For example they might pay just as much attention to the floor as someones face. Highly sensitive people will be looking more at peoples faces and trying to figure out what they are feeling.

Emotional Reactivity and Empathy

Those who are highly sensitive tend to pay more attention to positive situations than negative. This holds true even more so if they had a healthy childhood. Highly sensitive people have more empathy when they pick up on strong emotions, wether they are happy or sad feelings. These strong emotions tend to motivate them.

Sensing the subtle

These people pick up on subtle differences. Highly sensitive people pick up on things that others may not notice. Their ability to sense things whether it is sight, sound, taste, touch or smell are more acute. They can pick up on nonverbal cues.

I have noticed these traits in come of my clients. Some people tend to feel things more deeply than others. So if you are a highly sensitive person, that is OK. We can certainly come up with strategies to prevent you from becoming too overwhelmed. My guess is that you have figured some of these out. If not, I’m just a phone call away 713-304-6554.

Take care,