A Warm Welcome to All Our Fellow Highly Sensitive People
Whether you identify as a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) or you’re simply curious about understanding and supporting someone who is, we’re here for you.
Constellations Counselling is the place in Vancouver, BC for HSPs and our mission is to provide you with expert guidance and support from a place of true empathy.
Being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) comes with a rich tapestry of experiences – a keen perception of nuances, a deep ability to feel and empathize, and a thoughtful, introspective nature. Here, let’s talk about how understanding and embracing the traits of high sensitivity can actually enhance your overall well-being. And at the end of this page we have included some HSP-specific resources for you.
Highly sensitive people are those who possess an innate trait known as sensory processing sensitivity. This means your brain processes information at a deeper level, making you more attuned to subtleties in your environment and more emotionally responsive. You might feel more deeply, get overwhelmed easily, and require more time to recharge. The key to remember is that high sensitivity is not a flaw or disorder – it’s a natural trait possessed by approximately 20% of the population.
Empaths, on the other hand are particularly attuned to the emotions and energy of others so much so that at times it can feel all consuming.
Imagine a spectrum of empathy, with empaths at the highest end, highly sensitive people in the middle, and people with strong empathy but who are not HSPs or empaths a little lower on the spectrum. This distinction helps us better understand the varying levels of sensitivity and empathy that individuals may experience.
By knowing the differences between HSPs and empaths, you can gain a deeper understanding of your own unique traits and learn to manage your sensory input, emotions, and environment in a manner that promotes your holistic health and emotional wellbeing.
I want to be clear that being a HSP or empath does not constitute having a mental illness.
However, HSPs and empaths often experience challenges due to their sensitivities. Some of these sensitivities include but are not limited to:
- Sensitivity to loud noises, bright lights, strong smells, and other forms of sensory input that can be overwhelming.
- Sensitivity to the emotions of others and the energy of different environments, which can lead to feeling drained or overstimulated in certain social situations.
- Sensitivity to criticism and negative feedback, which can be taken to heart and affect self-esteem.
- Sensitivity to violent or negative media, such as movies or news stories, which can have a lasting impact on mood and well-being.
- Sensitivity to change and transitions, which can be difficult to navigate and lead to feelings of anxiety or stress.
- Sensitivity to one’s own emotions and the emotions of others, which can be both a gift and a challenge.
- Sensitivity to subtleties in the environment, such as small changes in lighting, temperature, or energy, which can be noticed and affect mood and well-being.
- Sensitivity to social injustice and a strong desire to make a positive impact in the world.
If you are not aware of being a Highly Sensitive Person or an empath, you may experience unexplained stress reactions leading to confusion, guilt, and self-blame, which can result in unhealthy coping mechanisms.
At Constellations Counselling our goal is to help you discover your true self as a sensitive person and provide you with the tools and resources to navigate your path with safety, confidence, and capability.
We view our sensitivities as a strength, but we understand that it may take some time for you to embrace your sensitive nature, and that is perfectly okay.
The Strength of Sensitivity: Navigating the World with Empathy, Insight, and Resilience as a Highly Sensitive Person
Dr. Elaine Aron is the originator of the ‘Highly Sensitive Person’ concept and describes HSPs as having a sensitive nervous system. HSPs are aware of subtleties in their environment and can can be easily overwhelmed in a highly stimulating environment. Take Dr. Aron’s self-assessment for HSPs.
Research by Dr. Arthur Aron and Dr. Elaine Aron, the originator of HSP, has shown the different ways HSPs process emotion, awareness, and empathy through MRIs. Twenty percent of the population is genetically pre-disposed to empathy. “We found that areas of the brain involved with awareness and emotion, particularly those areas connected with empathetic feelings, in the highly sensitive people showed substantially greater blood flow to relevant brain areas than was seen in individuals with low sensitivity,” said Dr. Aron.
Dr. Judith Orloff is an expert on empaths and describes empaths as those who feel and absorb other people’s emotions and/or physical symptoms due to their high sensitivities. They are incredibly intuitive and often have a difficult time sorting out their feelings. Dr. Orloff has a free self-assessment to find out if you are an empath.
Dr. Orloff writes about the differences between empaths and HSPs in her blog.