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Science Says Being Highly Sensitive Is A Matter Of Genes, Not Personality

Science Says Being Highly Sensitive Is A Matter Of Genes, Not Personality

“A sensitive soul sees the world through the lens of love”

–Cheryl Richardson

Highly sensitive people (HSP) are a gift to mankind. Though often perceived as broken or weaklings, they are actually more intuitive, have deeper levels of empathy and carry with them the profound capacity to truly feel.Highly sensitive people are not damaged goods.  They posses the ability to resist society’s attempts at desensitization and have remained open, compassionate and alive instead of being cold and numb.

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High Sensitivity is genetic

Research shows that rather than just being a personality type, like being shy or outgoing, high sensitivity is defined as having a hypersensitive nervous system. Heightened sensitivity makes a person acutely aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.

I can hear you asking, “but isn’t our personality a product of our genes?”  And the answer to that question is yes and no.

To understand this question we first must understand that the essence of who we are is comprised of two parts: temperament and personality.

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  • Temperament  refers to a set of innate or inborn traits that organize and determine a person’s approach to the world. It is the internal processor and is hard wired into the DNA.
  • Personality is what arises within an individual as a result of their temperament, life experiences, value system, education and a host of other factors. Personality is the driver of external responses, social interactions and behaviors.

Simpy put, temperament is like an art canvas and personality is the painting on the canvas. The primary point is that personality can be changed and is constantly evolving but temperament remains the same.

High sensitivity is a result of one’s temperament and is reflected through their personality.

Brain activity in highly sensitive people is different than people without this trait

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    According to research,  the key difference is that, compared to the 80% without the trait, the brains of HSP’s are able to process everything around them much more—reflect on it, elaborate on it and make associations. When this processing is not fully conscious, it surfaces as intuition.

    The brains of the highly sensitive are hyper-processing, assimilating, evaluating and synthesizing information all of the time. This is what causes them to become overwhelmed, feel tired and explains their tendency to withdraw for periods of time. They need a break.

    Coping with Hypersensitivity

    Now that we understand this issue a little better we can begin to take steps to cope with it. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are or know a highly sensitive person:

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    1. Being highly sensitive is a gift–not a curse. Embrace it. Love yourself.
    2. Allow for the expression of emotions.  Do not bottle your emotions in an effort to be “normal”
    3. Understand the world needs your gift. Sensitivity reminds us of our frailties as humans and keeps us from drifting into the realm of inhumane and demoralizing thoughts and actions. It softens those around you.
    4. Take time away. Highly sensitivity people are vulnerable to anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses that can plague the mind of an emotionally driven person. Understand that your level of sensitivity leaves you open to becoming overwhelmed and mentally and emotionally worn out. Solitude is good for highly sensitive soul–it helps protect the gift.
    5. Be aware that an HSP is the best friend you will ever have. Highly sensitive people are kind and thoughtful. But more importantly they are attuned to and aware of the moods and feelings of those they love. Their ability to listen, understand and truly empathize is one of their best qualities.

    Final Word

    “…to feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the trademark of the truly alive and compassionate. It is not the highly sensitive person who is broken, it is society that has become dysfunctional and emotionally disabled. There is no shame in expressing your authentic feelings. Those who are at times described as being a ‘hot mess’ or having ‘too many issues’ are the very fabric of what keeps the dream alive for a more caring, humane world. Never be ashamed to let your tears shine a light in this world.”  — Anthon St. Maarten

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    Denise Hill

    Denise shares about psychology and communication tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on July 18, 2019

    What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

    What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

    Some people just seem to float through life with a relentless sense of happiness – through the toughest of times, they’re unfazed and aloof, stopping to smell the roses and drinking out of a glass half full.

    They may not have much to be happy about, but the simplicity behind that fact itself may make them happy.

    It’s all a matter of perspective, conscious effort and self-awareness. Listed below are a number of reasons why some people are always happy.

    1. They Manage Their Expectations

    They’re not crushed when they don’t get what they want – or misled into expecting to get the most out of every situation. They approach every situation pragmatically, hoping for the best but being prepared for the worst.

    2. They Don’t Set Unrealistic Standards

    Similar to the last point, they don’t live their lives in a constant pursuit towards impossible visions of perfection, only to always find themselves falling short of what they want.

    3. They Don’t Take Anything for Granted

    Happiness rests with feeling fulfilled – those who fail to stop and appreciate what they have every now and again will never experience true fulfillment.

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    4. They’re Not Materialistic

    There are arguing viewpoints on whether or not money can really buy happiness; if it can, then we know from experience that we can never be satisfied because there will always be something newer or better that we want. Who has ever had enough money?

    5. They Don’t Dwell

    They don’t sweat the small things or waste time worrying about things that don’t really matter at the end of the day. They don’t let negative thoughts latch onto them and drain them or distract them. Life’s too short to worry.

    6. They Care About Themselves First

    They’re independent, care for themselves and understand that they must put their needs first in order to accommodate the needs of others.

    They indulge, aim to get what they want, make time for themselves and are extremely self-reliant.

    7. They Enjoy the Little Things

    They stop to smell the roses. They’re accustomed to find serenity when it’s available, to welcome entertainment or a stimulating discussion with a stranger when it crosses their path. They don’t overlook the small things in life that can be just as important.

    8. They Can Adapt

    They’re not afraid of change and they work to make the most out of new circumstances, good or bad. They thrive under pressure, are not overwhelmed easily and always embrace a change of pace.

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    9. They Experiment

    They try new things, experience new flavors and never shy away from something they have yet to experience. They never order twice from the same menu.

    10. They Take Their Time

    They don’t unnecessarily rush through life. They work on their own schedule to the extent that they can and maneuver through life at their own relaxing pace.

    11. They Employ Different Perspectives

    They’re not stuck in one perspective; a loss can result in a new opportunity, hitting rock bottom can mean that there’s no where to go but up.

    12. They Seek to Learn

    Their constant pursuit of knowledge keeps them inspired and interested in life. They cherish information and are on a life-long quest to learn as much as they can.

    13. They Always Have a Plan

    They don’t find themselves drifting without purpose. When something doesn’t go as planned, they have a plan for every letter in the alphabet to fall back on.

    14. They Give Respect to Get It

    They are respectful and, in turn, are seen as respectable; the respect they exude earns them the respect they deserve.

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    15. They Consider Every Opportunity

    They always have their eyes open for a new road, a new avenue worth exploring. They know how to recognize opportune moments and pounce on them to make the most of every situation. Success is inevitable for them.

    16. They Always Seek to Improve

    Perpetual self-improvement is the key towards their ongoing thirst for success. Whatever it is they do, they take pride in getting better and better, from social interactions to mundane tasks. Their pursuit at being the best eventually materializes.

    17. They Don’t Take Life Too Seriously

    They’re not ones to get offended easily over-analyze or complicate matters. They laugh at their own faults and misfortunes.

    18. They Live in the Moment

    They don’t live for tomorrow or dwell on what may have happened yesterday. Every day is a new opportunity, a new chapter. They live in the now, and in doing so, get the most out of every moment.

    You can learn how to do so too: How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future

    19. They Say Yes

    Much more often than they say no. They don’t have to be badgered to go out, don’t shy away from new opportunities or anything that may seem inconvenient.

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    20. They’re Self-Aware

    Most important, they’re wholly aware of themselves. They self-reflect and are conscious of their states of mind. If somethings bothering them, they fix it.

    We’re all susceptible to feeling down every now and again, but we are all equipped with the necessary solutions that just have to be discovered.

    Lack of confidence, inability to feel fulfilled, and susceptibility to stress are all matters that can be controlled through the way we handle our lives and perceive our circumstances.

    Learn about How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life.

    Final Thoughts

    The main philosophy employed by the happiest includes the idea that life’s simply too short: life’s too short to let things get you down, to take things for granted, to pursue absolute and unrealistic perfection.

    For some, employing these characteristics is a second nature – they do it without knowing. For others, a conscious effort must be put forth every now and again. Self-Awareness is key.

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    Featured photo credit: Charles Postiaux via unsplash.com

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