In this post I want to shed some food for thought on HSPs (Highly sensitive persons) and their traits. It is widely known that there is simply not just one type of intelligence, we all excel in different areas of life. A type of intelligence that is almost always attributed to HSPs in some regard is emotional intelligence. Being emotionally intelligent enables you a deeper understanding about human functioning and connectivity in the world. You have a greater understanding of how people around you function and why they do the things they do.
It can also give you a deeper understanding about the things you do yourself. HSPs are often feeler type personalities which is why EI (emotional intelligence) tends to be highly developed among us. As a feeler you are more sensitive emotionally then others and even thought you have a heightened EI understanding, you can easily have bouts where you might experience an difficulty controlling your feelings and maybe even act highly irrational at times. Extroverted feeling personalities in MBTI (INFJ/ENFJ primarily) often run into problems here since they are highly emotional but also extrovert their feelings and judgments. This combination can result in heated situations where you act according to feelings and when the situation has passed you might feel you overreacted or acted unreasonable. Fortunately these type of personalities are also concerned about the well-being of others and often seek out to correct any wrongdoings they might have done others. This is important since they value their morals and doing others wrong will in turn cause themselves great emotional pain.
Statistics tell us that most highly intelligent individuals are also HSPs. We are talking about the population here which is considered the top 2%. It seems to be a common tread that an increased sensitivity to stimuli equals greater understanding of concepts, theories and the outside world. It is said that around 15% of the population is highly sensitive to some degree. About 35-50% of the population is introverts. Introverts belongs to the majority among the gifted population, and the top 2% contains almost exclusive introverted, intuitive HSPs.
What people outside these minorities fail to grasp is that being an HSP and especially an gifted HSP also comes with a hefty price. Belonging to a minority often isolates you from the rest. Most humans find security in what is familiar and reject what is not, same functioning as many other animals on this planet. In other words being different can push you away from the norm and make relationships that much harder.
Heightened sensitivity to stimuli is a neurological trait which you are born with and not something that can be changed. Unfortunately for HSPs even thought our brains work differently the world around us still works as suitable for non HSPs. We are expected to think, act, feel and produce results just like other people even though we are not. A heightened sensitivity is not because our sensing organs like eyes, ears or nose are more developed then other people. The sensitivity comes from a lower threshold for stimuli. In other words we need less of everything when other people need more to reach the same level of excitement, feelings or understanding. HSPs don’t need many cups of coffee to get them focused. Watching TV doesn’t make us tired. High pressure and pace doesn’t make us more motivated to work etc. Just a few examples but generally you could say that in a way it is the complete opposite of ADHD.
The downside of being an HSP is being unable to shut it off. There is no off switch and this is where the problem comes in. With a lower tolerance for stimuli we overload quicker because our capacity is still the same as other people. HSPs are not superhuman even thought we might have exceptional talents because of our sensitivity. We are simply born with a openness to new experiences that others don’t have, a lack of filtering. It is this openness that is a common trait among gifted people. As an HSP and intuitive you can perceive the world in a clearer way then non HSPs who’s world view is primarily based on their previous judgements and experiences. People tend to form who they are and their image of the world through the judgements of their ego. You like this but are afraid of that etc. They react to new experiences based on previous ones and therefor never consider things for what they really are, only for what their ego tells them they think of it. That is an lack of intuition and perceptiveness.
As we all know there are many problems in the world and the majority humans cause themselves. We have a tendency to destroy the environment we live in, scavage our planet until there is nothing left, we are reckless against ourselves and others, wage war against each other over pieces of land, the list is long. What is certain is that the human condition is something entirely different from the rest of the creatures on our planet. An organism that is at war with itself is doomed from the start, and this is what most people fail to realize. There is a widespread close-mindedness in today’s societies and most can’t really perceive what is really happening in the world aside from what their ego tells them. As HSPs and intuitive’s it is important to not judge ourselves like others might do. To not see our unique traits as something to try to change or get rid of because there is nothing wrong with them. Thinking that being like everyone else would make you happier is simply grasping, and grasping won’t give anyone happiness because the grasping never stops.
I think most people would agree that having a higher perceptiveness and caring for the people, animals and environment around you would be a good thing. The planet could sure benefit from having more people with these unique traits and who’s to say that this is not the next step in human evolution? We started as primitive ape like creatures and our minds have evolved considerably since that. The next logical step would indeed be to expand our mind to comprehend the world around us more, now when we have developed the ability to perceive ourselves. That is for sure some great food for thought.
Until next time, thanks for reading!
PS: Here is some recommended reading on Emotional Intelligence and how it can matter more then IQ:
I’ve known I was INFJ for about 20 years, but recently have been more interested in what that means and why I am the way I am. I appreciate the information you have here and can truly relate (perhaps for the first time) to some of the vocabulary put out there to describe the way I have been different from others my whole life. And I while I can also appreciate viewing my (and all INFJs) uniqueness as a gift rather than trying so hard to conform to what others think I should be like, this article makes me feel uncomfortable. It’s seems very egotistical and even dangerous to call ourselves the next step in evolution. Adolf Hitler was supposedly an INFJ and was very twisted up about human evolution. I love to speculate as much as the next INFJ, and it’s completely honest to say we are different from most people. But celebrating our similarities to the rest of humankind should be the second part of any conversation celebrating our differences.
I have recently discovered that I’m an INFJ and an HSP and I full heartedly agree with your judgement in regards to calling ourselves ( or any type of intelligence albeit it emotional or rational or both ) is very dangerous . i share your sentiment about ego because I thoroughally believe that that kind of self centered nature that humans can exude just stagnate our proggression as a species . We all are what we are and we should help one another find a way to better ourselves and in that process of improving we will eventially more broadly realize that we are a part of a whole and all interconnected no matter how different we are in appearance or as a persona . We all came from the ego , it makes us want to survive but we should not let it control us . With love , a random bloke .
Excellent content in the article, many grammatical errors. I can proofread for you and give suggestions, I saw at least 4-5 at first glance. firstname.lastname@example.org if yes.
Melissa Gonzalez says
Thank you kindly for writing this, it literally brought tears to my eyes. For the longest time I tried to conform myself to how the world is, growing up I wasn’t comfortable with myself because I knew I wasn’t like everyone else. The way I thought and felt about everything made feel like an outsider, even in my own family. I’m 38 years old now and I still get blown away by little things, for example where I live in SC the mountains are so breathtakingly beautiful that words can’t describe the overwhelming feeling I get when I see such magnificence, all I can do is cry. I used to think that the only thing I was good at was crying because I cry when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m tired… you name it and I’ve cried because of it. Lol. I have always been able to feel on a much deeper level than anyone I knew and always tried to surround myself with people and things that are positive because I absorb the pain and feelings of living things, (people, animals, and plants) it was sometimes difficult to differentiate what it was that I was feeling. I would beat myself up because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. When I reach the point where I was tired of trying to be who everyone wanted me to be and embrace my inner weirdo (my sensitivity lol) was when I finally felt alive because I no longer cared what others thought or if they stared at me. (if I’m in a good mood I give them a show so they’ll be entertained while they stare lol) When I get around people I try to make them smile by giving a sincere compliment or holding a door, I make sure that I’m being mindful of what I am feeling so I don’t get overwhelmed by what others are feeling. I love so much more about myself now because of my unique nature, sometimes I wish I could wire others into my thoughts and senses so they could feel the beauty in this world as I see and feel it.
Muscle Rampage says
I?m impressed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog that?s equally educative and engaging,
and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something which not enough people
are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy
I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to this.
and people not seeing one´s hsp, i mean, it is only recently where more websites and articles have appeared, before that one wasn´t really aware ? a few years ago i kind of became aware or more aware of me reacting to things, like a clock ticking and it grating and hurting me that i threw something against it, that thing where one feels it more intensely than maybe others. and i felt that i would feel the energy from the high street around the corner, like i could literally feel all the energies together. then i decided to do a search on the internet and came across ´´ hsp ´´. found a test and scored like 285 out of 300 or something. this was shortly before my stress had catapulted me into illness realm and i ended up in icu almost going into a coma ( i assume ).
before these articles and websites, how would one define what one had ?
i would suffer at home with the loud music being played, music that expressed something heavy and weighty and dread, the loudness and the feeling the music´s personality, it was very strainful and angst inducing. the neon lights in drawing class flickering and making me feel slightly epileptic ( though i am not epilaptic ). reactions to things in ways other people would not react. it was always evident that there was some sort of sensitivity going on with me but it was not seen by others. wasn´t paid attention to. i feel i have or had suffered immensely because of that. other people not experiencing things in those ways and not being aware. now that one knows what it is one can be more aware and take precautions. but before that ? how did you know what was going on with you before information on hsp ?
i feel i had suffered a lot. feeling like i had an odd kind of sensitivity. definitely different to many i was surrounded by. feeling weak, physically weak due to all the physical impressions, sometimes felt like an energy breakdown. i could almost cry at the thought of the things one had to experience. loss of energy and feelings of collapsing. like being suddenly overwhelmed and faltering into a feeling of a weak, filigrane insect buzzing.
i have found something that helps me steer away from such physical negatives more often. almonds.
they keep the energy in balance and you can eat them fast and anywhere without any preparation.
such small and simple and effective solutions.
Morgan Brown says
Wow, thank you so much for this entire page. I stumbled across it last night, and couldn’t sleep because I read about a half dozen of your articles.
Do you have suggestions for those of us who have these traits, yet are detrimental self-judgmental? I’ve noticed an ongoing patter in my life, where I tend to fail; not because I can’t do it, infact… I can understand anything anyone throws at me as long as I’m alone. Rather, because I convince myself that I can’t.
That even if I get a 4.0 in college, I can’t maintain the knowledge all at once, nor the pressure a sophisticated job entails. I’m only 18, so I’m hoping I can get past this. Any suggestions could help, thank you. (:
Hey Morgan, thanks for reading. Self-judgmental, for sure here as well. I like to call it being a perfectionist instead. I know the feeling. Sometimes you might think there is no point of doing anything or risk anything if it can’t be done well or fill a purpose. Not worth trying something if it might involve losing more? You can picture how everything should go perfectly in your mind but somehow life is more chaotic and never seem to play out like that? Hence it is not worth trying? I want you to think a bit about what is really important in your life. Let’s get realistic here, life is short. We only have so much time on our hands to do the stuff we want. To spend with the people we enjoy being with, read the books we want, see the movies we want, travel to exotic places. Perfect score in college, high pace job that will stress you out. Is this really what you want to use the time you have for? Or is this what people and the society around you tell you you should want? That this is what you need to enjoy your life? Well it’s not true. You already have the answer to your question, you don’t feel comfortable in this situation and there is no reason you should, maybe you should start looking for something that you enjoy instead you know? I think you put to much pressure on yourself caring about things that really doesn’t matter that much in the end. Failing is a part of life, you go somewhere and do something, you might fail and if that is the case you carry on onto the next thing. The one thing we can control in our life is our choices and how we react to what life throws at us. You cannot control the outcome of things or what other people do. Thinking that you can by avoiding trying will not work, trust me. I suggest you go out and read a bit about something called Stoic philosophy, this book is great:
It will help you gain a fresh perspective on things and easier relax under pressure. And then go out and spend that time you have on something that matters to you. Something that makes you feel good and even if you fail, it is just part of the road to where you need to go. It’s just an obstacle along the path.
btw loved the article.
As a 36 year old male i am just discovering who i am and why i am me. I’ve always been really sensitive, so being the youngest of my three half brothers who were alpha type males, was quite confusing. I’ve known i’ve had gifts for a long time as i was reassured by physical exams hearing tests and eye exams 20/15 and better vision and i confused the lady who was examining me with that beeping hearing exam, there is an extremely high pitched beep most people miss but i did not miss the 5 times she used it in either ear. Always been highly talented in anything sports or physical balance, strength and speed. The biggest problem in life is that no one knew what i could do or see how deeply my peers effected me. Constant bullying and put downs by my older brothers, a workaholic father who was emotionally closed (literally never spoke to me, no i love you’s ever) but was a good family provider, and a mother who constantly preached how little time we all have left. Did great in school until 9th grade when emotions ran over me and my pain came out. 13 years old and i was arrested 3 times once in a high speed pursuit, another driving with a deadly weapon, and then having a bag of homegrown i bought at school. From there until i was 23, there was darkness for me, another person created by society and the pain inflicted on me by trusted people and governmental systems and schooling. It really creates fear and anxiety and i have shut down and secluded myself away from life. It’s a shame because my creativity is endless but without support, which i’ve never had from anyone, you stop supporting yourself and almost welcome death. There’s nothing in life i couldn’t have done especially as a Judge or a chemist or something else really important, but some wrongly placed trust in the justice system will ruin an entire life. I pled guilty to a crime i never committed when i was 21 and extremely insecure and vulnerable, because i had no fight in me at all. It sucks to find yourself, discover who you are and how great you are after you’ve ruined it all.
I see this article as stuffy. I’m sure it was really not meant that way, but it came out sounding like that all the same. I guess I liked the facts that you put inside and all.
They were interesting.
Thank you for sharing. As an INFJ, I feel deeply always, im too honest, too sensitive, too much sometimes. When I am in a situation where I feel bullied by extraverts, or insensitive people, I leave. If it is a job, there is another one with my name on it. I think the toughest part of being different is the deep heart of an INFJ. Depths to many means nothing. I isolate myself willingly. Sadly.
Hello, first of all – great thoughts and great writing. As a fellow INFJ I understand your struggle with “switching off”, and I believe that every INFJ or HSP owes it to themselves to learn how to regulate their own stressors and ability to heal. For me this is through gaining a really good understanding of the para-sympathetic nervous system (rest and digest, as opposed to fight and flight). The world we live in constantly throws our type into stressful circumstances, but we need to learn how (when away from stressful circumstances) to let ourselves rest properly. Enabling a lower heart rate, easy digestion of our food and an immune system in good working order, the parasympathetic nervous system also enables us to meditate (rather than ruminate), and step back from the outside world and be still and feel safe and secure (the opposite being completely alert and having the mindset of being able to run away from a hungry lion). As highly intuitive and emotionally intelligent types, once aware of our bodies ability to switch off we luckily can gain good intuitive control of it, even though our sensing isn’t too hot. A hobby of mine is yoga, the classic activity for switching on the parasympathetic nervous system (and very popular with INFJs), but everyone may have different techniques. I now enjoy teaching yoga to a room of stressed out people and seeing them nourish their minds and bodies with proper care and rest. All the best, and all the best of rest.
Many thanks for your reply and input CJ, highly appreciated. I agree with everything you said and it is something that I’ve been working on for the past years. I meditate and do yoga daily and recently picked up Tai Chi as well. All are great tools in improving emotional stability and also happiness. Studying eastern health philosophy has been something of an obsession of mine for the past year and I hope I can share my experiences with all of you later this year.
Beautifully written! I felt it strongly and agree with every word… it makes both so very sad but also happy to feel that there are others.
Much love, friend! <3
Appreciate the feedback, thank you and right back at you! :)
due date calculator says
The love of any INFJ is intense.
All or nothing, really. All or nothing.
Hello, fellow INFJ. Great post! Your right about how we humans have ravaged the ecosystem. I do hope that we evolve into a better species. Maybe we can make a difference for future generations. Thanks for the insight.
Thanks for reading!