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What is a Highly Sensitive Person? Main features

What is a Highly Sensitive Person? Main features

A Highly Sensitive Person or PAS is someone who processes sensory data in a deeper way than most, shows greater emotional reactivity and sensitivity to stimuli.

Origin of the term PAS

This term was coined by Dr. Elaine Aron in the 90s, author of the book "The Highly Sensitive Person." According to its author, this personality characteristic is between 15 and 20% of the general population. His book also includes research that shows how the region of the brain that deals with empathy and sensory information is different in people who score high in the sensitivity scale.

In addition to being people who are easily overwhelmed by emotional things, since tend to have incredible empathy and they get upset very easily, the PAS also seems to come out of the story of the princess and the pea with physical sensibility such as lights, sounds, temperature and even clothing labels or certain fabrics.

Singer Alanis Morissette is a confessed PAS. In his own words: "My temperament It is very sensitive. I am very much in tune with the most subtle things, be they food, minerals, lights, sounds or smells; over stimulation happens to me quite easily. "

Characteristics of Highly Sensitive People

Feel more deeply

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Highly Sensitive People is their ability to feel more deeply than other people. “They like to process things at an intense and deep level, they never stay on the surface,” says Ted Zeff, author of The survival guide of the highly sensitive person and other books on the subject.

They are emotionally more reactive

They are very sensitive in their reactions. For example, they show a lot empathy and feel great concern about the problems of their friends. Too they can worry excessively about how another person may be reacting to a negative event.

Nothing is trivial

They are people who it seems that everything is taken very well. Depending on the culture, this sensitivity can be perceived as a positive trait or as a negative trait, explains Zeff. In some of his research, Zeff interviewed highly sensitive men from other countries - such as Thailand and India - where they said they rarely or never made fun of them, while the highly sensitive men he interviewed in the United States responded that they were frequently targeted. of teasing

They prefer to do things alone

PAS usually tend to avoid team sports, where they have the feeling that everyone is watching their movements, says Zeff. In their investigation, most of the Highly Sensitive People who interviewed about sports responded that they preferred individual activities, such as cycling, running or walking, over team sports. However, this is not an absolute rule, some very sensitive people who have had parents who provided them with a lot of understanding and a strong supportive environment made it easier for them to participate in group sports, Zeff says.

They need more time to make decisions

Highly Sensitive People are more aware of the subtleties and details that their decisions may entail, which leads them to have more Doubts. Even if there is no "right" or "wrong" decision, such as choosing a "wrong" ice cream flavor, because they already know what they like, PAS tend to take more time to choose, since they are weighing on every possible outcome. Aron's advice to deal with this is: "Take all the time that the situation allows to decide, and ask for more time if you need it and you can take it." Once a PAS has concluded that it has made the right decision and what is the wrong decision in a given situation, it will be faster to make that "right" decision again in the future.

They feel more upset if they make a "bad" decision

We all know the awkward feeling we have after making a bad decision, right? But for Highly Sensitive People this emotion is amplified because their emotional reactivity is much higher.

They look more at the details

The PAS are the first to notice the details of a room, the new shoes you wear, or a change in the weather.

Not all PAS are introverted

In fact, about 30% of Highly Sensitive People are outgoing, according to Aron. She explains that many times, the PAS that are extroverted grew up in a very united community and thus were "forced" to interact with a large number of people.

They work well in team environments

Because PAS are deep thinkers, they are valuable workers and team memberssays Aron. However, they are usually well suited for positions where they do not have to make the final decision. For example, if a PAS is part of a medical team, it could be very valuable in analyzing the pros and cons of a patient's surgery, while another person would be more skilled in making the final decision about whether that patient undergoes surgery or not.

They are more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression

When someone has had a large number of bad experiences, especially at the earliest stage of their life, they will not feel safe to face the world or at home or at school ..., your nervous system will be predisposed to anxiety, according to Aron. But that does not mean that all PAS will suffer anxiety and, in fact, living in a supportive environment can be a great protector. The parents of highly sensitive childrenIn particular, they can do great things with these children, but they have to know how to handle them the right way, says Aron.

They are more bothered by noise

While it is true that no one is a fan of annoying noises, for the Highly Sensitive People these noises and chaos can be truly unbearable. This is because they tend to feel overwhelmed more easily and feel too stimulated by excessive activity.

They have a hard time watching violent movies

Because PAS are so empathetic and have a greater ease of feeling over stimulated, violent or horror films can be unbearable.

They cry more easily

That's why it is so important for PAS not to put themselves in situations that make them cry and then feel ashamed, says Zeff. If your friends and family realize how they are - that they cry easily - and support their way of expressing themselves, this "easy crying" is not going to be seen as embarrassing.

They have very good manners

Highly Sensitive People are also very aware of everything that happens around them. Because of this, they are more likely to be considered and exhibit good manners, to avoid offending someone, on the other hand, they are also more likely to notice when someone is not being fully educated.

Amplify the effects of criticism

Their reactions to criticism are much more intense than those of less sensitive people. That is why negative comments towards them are best made with a lot of tact, because they seem to take everything very carefully.