Elaine Aron, the psychologist that has extensively studied and named the trait, has identified 4 key elements that indicate whether someone is Highly Sensitive. These elements are easily remembered by the acronym D.O.E.S:
D is for Depth of Processing.
Highly Sensitive People think about things and process them more deeply.
O is for Overstimulation.
Their tendency to notice more things and process them deeply can lead to overstimulation and overwhelm.
E is for Emotional Reactivity & Empathy.
They react more to negative and positive experiences, and are really good at picking up on what other people are feeling. This reaction is stronger to positive experiences and positive emotions.
S is for Sensing the Subtle.
Highly Sensitive People are better at noticing little things that others miss.
These 4 elements must all be present for someone to have the trait of High Sensitivity. Of course there are many people that are sensitive, but if any of these elements are missing, they are probably not Highly Sensitive.
If you think you may have the trait, you can take this Self-Test on Elaine Aron’s website.
The important thing to realise if you are Highly Sensitive is that it is a normal temperament trait that you were born with. There isn’t anything wrong with you and you certainly don’t need to be ‘fixed’!
In fact, 1 in 5 people share this trait with you. As do 1 in 5 cats, dogs, horses, chickens, fruit flies, bats… (over 100 animal species have been tested and shown to display this trait in the same proportions).
Your pet that has an uncanny knack of knowing when you need a cuddle? You guessed it – it’s probably Highly Sensitive!