Dr. Elayne Daniels

If you are a Highly Sensitive Person, and you know it, clap your hands. (To find out if you are an HSP, click here to take the questionnaire.) The amazing and powerful characteristics of a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) ARE celebration – worthy.

Why? Because your nervous system is highly attuned and your perception is heightened. Your senses are turbocharged simply by nature. You are compassionate, intense, and thoughtful because you were born with a unique system that processes stimulation deeply.

You are among the 15% of the population born with the trait of High Sensitivity.

And, you are in great company! Many famous creative people, from artists (e.g. Vincent van Gogh) to musicians (e.g. Mozart, Drake, Celine Dion, and Bruce Springsteen) and poets (ee cummings; Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Frost) are considered Highly Sensitive People. You have a natural gift with language.

How unfortunate that the amazing and powerful characteristics of a Highly Sensitive Person are often not recognized, let alone celebrated. Even by HSPs!

Sadly, many Highly Sensitive People do not even know they are Highly Sensitive People. Instead, HSPs think of themselves as “too sensitive”, “too emotional”, or too something else (undesirable).

By understanding the characteristics of a Highly Sensitive Person with the acronym “DOES”, you can more easily recognize and celebrate being/knowing one.

  1. D stands for Depth of processing.

    Highly Sensitive People tend to think a lot and at a deep level. You’re reflective and take longer to make decisions.

    HSPs are “intense” and feel feelings deeply. As children, you may have been told you are an ‘old soul’ or ‘so mature for your age’.
  2. O stands for Over arousal.

    Highly Sensitive People notice a lot – people’s feelings (even if unexpressed), features in the environment (e.g. clutter; air temperature), and internal experiences (such as low blood sugar).

    This is the hardest feature to manage, especially if you don’t take time to recharge your batteries.
  3. E stands for Empathy/Emotion responsiveness.

    Highly Sensitive People have strong emotional responses to all kinds of situations. For example, you’re highly attuned to others’ feelings and can sense others’ ‘vibes’.

    You are deeply moved by nature, music, and the arts. And disturbed by violence, injustice, and cruelty.
  4. S stands for Sensory specific sensitivity.

    HSPs are more attuned to sights, sounds, smells, and tactile features of the environment.

    For instance, you’re more easily affected by bright lights, scratchy wool fabric, and sirens.

    But also by sunrises, the breeze, and birds chirping.

The most common reaction to learning about “DOES” as an HSP is something like, “I never knew this was a thing. I thought it was just me.”

Most Highly Sensitive People have been criticized for being “too sensitive” or told that sensitivity is a weakness or flaw. The literal opposite is true; the powerful and amazing the characteristics of being a Highly Sensitive Person are a strength, a gift.

Understanding the trait of High Sensitivity is like hitting ‘refresh’ on the keyboard. Or like switching to High Definition television.

The banner upon entering the refreshed or high def screen may as well say something like, “Welcome to a beautiful universe, thanks to the amazing and powerful characteristics of being a Highly Sensitive Person.

And with that welcome, comes a deep exhalation. Why? Because you spend less time defending your sensitivity – and more time enjoying the benefits.

Imagine actually emphasizing the powerful and wonderful characteristics you have as a Highly Sensitive Person. Doing so is the ticket to living your birthright of meaning and depth.

Let’s return to the gifts of “DOES” and the talents you may not recognize you have.

Depth of Processing:

As a Highly Sensitive Person, your inner world is fulfilling, alive and rich. Orgasmic even.

Deep thinking is an amazing quality of a Highly Sensitive Person’s wiring. You ponder and seek eternal truths, such as love, connection, meaning, justice, and peace.

Every HSP has different strengths, though — you may have great attention-to-detail, be creative, or disciplined. When you finally admit that you are more sensitive than others, you can spend less time trying not to be sensitive and more time making the most of the gifts of being sensitive.


Computer simulation studies suggest that HSPs, who take time to notice all cues before make a decision, usually come out ahead, despite the disadvantage of potential overstimulation.

Empathy/Emotional Responsiveness:

Heightened empathy provides a deep understanding of relationships and of other people’s feelings and thoughts. Hence, HSPs make phenomenal therapists, physicians, and other healers. Noticing subtle changes in body language, tone, and facial expression comes naturally. Your attunement and ability to put yourself in others’ shoes helps people feel understood and supported.

You notice emotional undercurrents that other people are completely oblivious to. Your antennae are just naturally on alert.

Plus, you’re awed by nature, art, music, literature. Soft warm breezes by the ocean, the sea’s many shades of blue, and sunlight shimmering on the water carry you to a different dimension.

You FEEL the beauty of life in every cell of your body.

Sensory Processing Sensitivity:

HSPs naturally notice details that others often miss. This type of attunement provides an evolutionary advantage and has prevented the human race from becoming extinct! Wow. Talk about powerful and amazing characteristics of the Highly Sensitive Person!

Let’s make this super concrete. A Highly Sensitive Person would be the one in the tribe to identify that the rustle in the bushes is a hungry animal ready to attack! Or that a change in barometric pressure means a storm is brewing. Or that those pretty berries don’t smell quite right and are unsafe to eat.

Thank you, Highly Sensitive Person ancestors for keeping our species alive!

So, You, Highly Sensitive Person, are a healer, a visionary, a seeker who marvels at the wonders of the world. Your creativity and intuition add depth to humanity.

But that is not all; you’re captivated by the beauty and mystery of the Universe. Own your gift and cherish its exquisite magical powers. The world needs more of what Highly Sensitive People naturally offer.

Embrace your sensitivity!

Because when you honor the amazing and powerful characteristics of being a Highly Sensitive Person, the Universe smiles. And we ALL benefit.

People feel heard, seen, and understood when you allow yourself to be you. And what better gift can anyone give to the world?

I enjoy working with other people who are also Highly Sensitive. Please contact me if you would like to learn more.

One Response

  1. Have you found that as a HSP lonely people, animals, children, and those in pain seem drawn to you and look to you for comfort? It doesn’t matter where I go I will always end up with a stranger beside me listening to their life story.

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