When you’re a highly sensitive person, it seems like you’re on a nonstop trampoline, bouncing back again… and again… and again.
Everyone experiences physical and emotional pain in their lives to an extent, with some people experiencing more than others. After all, pain is an inevitable part of life.
If you’re a highly sensitive person (HSP), you may have noticed that your pain threshold is lower than the average person — you feel pain earlier, and more intensely, than others. Even if a stimulus is subtle, and may not be noticed by a non-HSP, chances are that a highly sensitive person will be affected by it.
Early research, too, found that so many HSPs had revealed their increased pain response that it became a factor used to make up the HSP scale. Sensitive people experience everything, including stress, with more intensity — and stress can impact someone’s pain threshold, too.
This may be due to the genetic mutations found in HSPs in three neurotransmitters that are connected to stress and pain tolerance: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Research shows that it is necessary for dopamine and norepinephrine — which amplify one’s ability to process and regulate pain — to be well-balanced.
Before we get into why this makes us HSPs more resilient than non-HSPs, let’s define what it means to be a highly sensitive person.
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The Science Behind Highly Sensitive People
Everyone is sensitive to a point, but some are more sensitive than others — in fact, nearly 30 percent of people are born more sensitive than average, both emotionally and physically. (Meanwhile, about 40 percent of people are average in sensitivity while 20 percent are low in sensitivity.) Researchers call this trait environmental sensitivity, or Sensory Processing Sensitivity. And, not to worry — all three levels of environmental sensitivity are considered to be healthy and normal.
Highly sensitive people, or HSPs, are those who fall near the high end of the sensitivity continuum. Some telltale traits include: they are more sensitive to noises, smells, textures, and other environmental factors, often noticing subtle details that others miss; they’ve naturally cognizant of others’ feelings and emotions; they’re deep thinkers and value deep connections over surface-level ones; and they’re highly creative and empathetic. Furthermore, some researchers believe high sensitivity is linked to giftedness.
Sensitive people are likely born that way, and their sensitivity trait continues to develop as they age. HSPs are sensitive for life, yet they can learn to regulate and better manage their often-overwhelming thoughts and feelings, as well as all the overstimulation they experience. By embracing their sensitivity, they can use their strong, sensitive mind to their advantage.
So, though pain affects sensitive people more, this makes them more resilient as a result.
Why Highly Sensitive People Are More Resilient Than Others
This might be counterintuitive, but the reason why highly sensitive people are also highly resilient people is precisely the fact that they are more sensitive to — and constantly being bombarded by — all sorts of stimuli.
Consciously or subconsciously, all sorts of input comes at us all day long. These can include external factors, like a chaotic office space or traffic, as well as internal factors, like our thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Of course, our minds go into overdrive and we process all of these deeply.
Furthermore, we are more sensitive to both unpleasant and pleasant stimuli. Therefore, like those studies above found, the amount of discomfort (physical or emotional pain) that we experience every day is higher than what a non-HSP would experience.
This means that, regardless of any challenges and circumstances life continually throws at us, we HSPs go through a lot! Yet we still present ourselves to the world, are of service to others, follow our intuition and dreams, and try to be the best version of ourselves. We bounce back again… and again… and again.
Similarly, our ability to endure multiple daily stressors makes us very tenacious people who can commit to difficult long-term challenges. This is because we have developed an exceptional strength and resistance to unpleasant events.
Of course, there are limits to the frequency and intensity of the pain we can, and want to, experience. And, when it comes to life choices, it should be a conscious decision. You may have a life purpose, goal, or path that gives you so much gratification and joy in the long-term that the pain along the way pays off — like all the grunt work you must endure. (I’m certainly not advocating staying in a toxic, unhealthy, or unbearable situation.)
Need to Calm Your Sensitive Nervous System?
HSPs often live with high levels of anxiety, sensory overload and stress — and negative emotions can overwhelm us. But what if you could finally feel calm instead?
That’s what you’ll find in this powerful online course by Julie Bjelland, one of the top HSP therapists in the world. You’ll learn to turn off the racing thoughts, end emotional flooding, eliminate sensory overload, and finally make space for your sensitive gifts to shine.
Stop feeling held back and start to feel confident you can handle anything. Check out this “HSP Toolbox” and start making a change today. Click here to learn more.
How Challenges Benefit Highly Sensitive People
As I mentioned above, challenging situations end up making us more resilient. And, oftentimes, the harder something is, the more satisfaction and joy we’ll feel. Even if we don’t get what we were initially looking for, we’ll definitely gain much wisdom and become a more authentic version of ourselves.
In my experience, I have found that I am willing and able to endure more discomfort in the long-term than other people. As a salsa and pole dancer, I have noticed that I often experience pain sooner and more intensely than others. But, that said, I have also realized that I am willing and capable of higher levels of sacrifice and commitment than others. And those are very needed skills to pursue any big goal in life, any worth-the-wait feast where gratification is usually delayed. This is an example of the pain paying off and making me more resilient in the process. And I wish the same for you.
HSPs, do you have any life experiences that prove how being highly sensitive has made you more resilient? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!
As a highly sensitive person, learn how to design your life and environment to reach your full potential. Schedule your first free 20-minute session by sending an email to [email protected].
You might like:
- 5 Ways Highly Sensitive People Show Resilience
- HSP Brains Process Everything Deeply, Even at Rest, Study Finds
- What to Do When Your Highly Sensitive Soul Is in Overdrive
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