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We are all unique in our sensitivity to the external world and to our internal world. For many highly sensitive people (HSPs), the world can seem overwhelming, as if they are bombarded by too many sounds, sights and colours, smells, strong tastes and strong foods, lots of movement, lights and lots of activity around you. Physically you might be aware that you are very sensitive to changes in temperature, perhaps you hate the cold, scratchy clothes, rough textures, hard surfaces; perhaps being in crowded noisy places is unsettling and draining. Emotionally you might feel buffeted by other’s emotions or your own, and spiritually you might feel you lose access to your own sense of yourself when others are overbearing or critical.

Are you a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?
Have you often been told you were too sensitive, too weak, too scared, that nothing’s wrong, you must be wrong and similar dismissive statements, starting from when you were a child and continuing to this day?  Well, it could be that it is just that you are a highly sensitive person (HSP), about 20% of people are. There are now many books and websites about HSPs which can help you identify if you have these characteristics and can give you useful information. A pioneer with HSP is Elaine Aron, her website is  http://www.hsperson.com/ with much valuable information and many links and resources. You can take her self-test http://www.hsperson.com/pages/test.htm . She has written information-filled books about HSPs. Perhaps after learning more, you will start to value your sensitivities for the gifts and skills that they give you. There is a website for Australia and New Zealand http://www.hspnetwork.com.au/.

There are other possible explanations for having acute sensitivity to many of the triggers mentioned above, including anxiety, unresolved abuse or trauma, thought disorders, physical illnesses, etc. So it would be wise to do the checklists and read the websites or books and see if you identify yourself as an HSP. 

HSPs and Emotions
The most precious gift that HSP’s have is their finely tuned ability to be aware of both their own emotions and other people’s emotions. HSPs are good listeners who are empathic and often find people confide in them. However, you may become emotionally worn down if you take on their emotions. Also, if you sometimes have difficulty experiencing, expressing or managing your own emotions, or you have unresolved trauma or emotional vulnerabilities, you may try to disconnect from your emotions. But this prevents you from discovering their cause and finding ways to resolve them or protect yourself. See my page on Emotions for more information.

Being able to sense both your own and other’s emotions gives you valuable insight into what might be best to do or say. It can help you protect yourself from people who might be harmful physically, verbally or emotionally. It can help you be clear about what is important to you and help you make life decisions so that you can live in a way that is true to you.

HSPs and Food Intolerances
The physical sensitivity can show up with intolerance to foods and chemicals that we come into contact with by breathing, eating, drinking, or on our skin. If you do have this sensitivity you might experience a range of side-effects from headaches, irritation, digestive upsets, and fatigue but remembering that these symptoms can come from many other health problems so be sure to have medical practitioners check out your concerns.

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