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    Highly Sensitive People & Introverts

    While the two traits often share overlapping characteristics, not all HSPs are introverts and vice versa. I do not want to overgeneralize or oversimplify, as there are also differences within and between groups of introverts and HSPs. The main differences between and among HSPs and introverts tend to be:

    • 70% of HSPs are introverted, while 30% are extraverts
    • Not all introverts are HSPs
    • Introverts have wide variety of preferences regarding how much time they spend with other people
    • HSPs have sensitivities to many different types of stimulation and are not all affected equally by the same situations

    Keep in mind that you might be BOTH an HSP and introvert. Please use these lists as general guidelines rather than strict “rules.” See my diversity policy in the middle of this page for more information.

    Am I An Introvert?

    You may be an introvert if you

    • Prefer one-on-one conversations over interacting with groups
    • Seek quiet environments
    • Tend to be self-reflective and analytical
    • Have been referred to as “shy”
    • Are often uncomfortable meeting new people
    • Feel small talk is labor intensive and unrewarding
    • Value transparency and authenticity
    • Are energized by and enjoy downtime
    • Feel misunderstood or lonely while simultaneously craving alone time

    Am I A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?

    As described by Dr. Elaine Aron (the woman who discovered the genetic trait), the acronym D.O.E.S. quickly summarizes the four main components of sensory processing sensitivity:

    D is for Depth of Processing

    HSP’s often process information over a longer period of time than their non-HSP counterparts. The upside is often more creative solutions, strong intuition, and a fine-tuned ability to recognize patterns.

    O is for Overstimulation

    All people become overstimulated at some point or another; HSP’s usually become overstimulated easier and with less sensory input than others, due to difficulty differentiating which information to ignore and which to integrate. Unfortunately we haven’t discovered the upside to overstimulation yet, other than recognizing it as a sign to slow down and take care of yourself.

    E is for Emotional Reactivity

    HSP’s experience strong, intense emotions, especially when overstimulated. The upside is often high empathy, understanding others’ needs, strong ability to attune to loved ones’ feelings, and ability to form deeply connected relationships.

    S is for Sensing the Subtle 

    HSP’s are more sensitive to sensory changes (e.g. temperature, scent, tastes, physical touch, sounds, and visible details). The upside is attention to detail and extra consideration for others’ comfort, and finding meaning in the seemingly mundane.

    If you are HSP, this manifests in your daily life. You

    • Are easily overwhelmed by loud noises, strong smells, rough textures, bright lights, violent movies, temperature changes, crowds, and other intense stimuli
    • Struggle to manage stress when overstimulated; angry outbursts or uncontrollable crying may result due to unmanageable anxiety
    • Become noticeably calmed by pleasant stimuli, such as comfortable temperatures, certain types of music, soft textures, fine art, or quiet settings
    • Value personal growth
    • Have an active mind
    • Consider others’ feelings, which can lead to being taken advantage of or overextending yourself
    • Feel others’ emotions, particularly pain
    • Are intuitive, which makes you a great listener but also requires strong boundaries
    • Self-medicate with substances or impulsive behaviors when overstimulated
    • Experience anxiety in a variety of contexts
    • Thrive remarkably in familiar, controlled environments
    • Fall ill often due to chronic stress or immune dysfunction
    • Have a hard time accepting criticism
    • Believe you feel emotions stronger than others do
    • Process caffeine differently (experience the effects faster/more intensely) than others

    Still not sure? To find out whether you or your child are an HSP or introvert, contact me or my assistant to schedule your 15-minute consultation.

    See Resources for additional information on introverts, HSPs, relationships, anxiety, and more.