If you are in relationship with a highly sensitive person (HSP), then this post is for you.
An HSP as described by Elaine Aron in her book “The Highly Sensitive Person” is someone who is more sensitive to subtleties of the environment, has a more sensitive nervous system and more active insula (the part of the brain thought to be the centre of overall awareness).
She estimates that 15-20% of the population is highly sensitive, and as such these people have slightly different needs to the other 80%.
Growing up, HSPs have usually been made to feel ‘too sensitive’ and have developed a sense of being somehow ‘flawed’, which sends them further into themselves. As a result, they may have learned to hide their true feelings and inadvertently give out mixed messages.
When HSPs feel overwhelmed, it can come on quite suddenly. It may have been bought on by feeling hungry, or there being too much chaos in their environment, or a combination of factors. They may seem to be fine one minute, and the next have to leave where they are almost immediately. This can seem odd if for you very little just changed. In such circumstances it is wonderful if you can help them get what they need. That is probably a quiet space and something to eat in this example.
It is a gift to them if you can allow for their high sensitivity without judging them. They feel the judgement and impatience. In relationship, you are likely to find that the HSP is very sensitive to your needs, it is a gift if in return you can be sensitive to their needs.
If you would like to learn more about HSPs I highly recommend Aron’s book “The Highly Sensitive Person”.
Reference: Aron, E. N. (2016). The Highly Sensitive Person. NY, New York; Random House.