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How do I know if I am an HSP?

What is a Highly Sensitive Person and how do I know if I am one?

A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) is someone who has a very (re-)active nervous system - it is taking in large amounts of sensory information and deeply processing it.

In a nutshell, HSPs think, feel and notice things more deeply than 80% of the population.

Everyone is sensitive to a degree but we HSPs are way more sensitive to external stimuli than the majority of people. We have heightened awareness and deeper processing abilities, which in everyday life translates to the fact that we more easily notice all the little details and the subtle changes in our environment through our senses - sight, hearing, touch/temperature, smell, taste.

Dr Elaine Aron who coined the term HSP uses the acronym DOES to describe it simply.

  • Depth of Processing - we process everything at a deeper level

  • Overstimulation - we notice everything whether consciously or unconsciously so we are quicker to be overstimulated and overwhelmed

  • Emotional Responsiveness & Empathy - we are very attuned to others & their feelings and are quicker to react

  • Sensitive to Subtleties - we are very aware of changes in the environment that most wouldn't necessarily notice

Being Highly Sensitive or having Sensory Processing Sensitivities (the scientific name for the temperament and not to be confused with Sensory Processing Disorder) is not a diagnosis or a disorder, but rather a personality trait that we are born with.

1 in 5 people have the trait (and over 100 species of animal), which works out to around 1.4 billion people, but we are in the minority and the world is not particularly sensitive-friendly, so we can tend to feel quite weird/isolated/wrong/not good enough and like we don't fit in.

We are in the minority and can tend to feel quite weird/isolated/wrong/not good enough and like we don't fit in.

If you resonate with (over) thinking deeply about things, wondering why you feel things so much more than most and why you react more strongly than others there is a high chance you may have the trait of sensitivity. Especially if you get easily overwhelmed and exhausted and need a lot of downtime to recover from too much “peopling” as I call it!

Our bodies are processing way more information than non-sensitives which means we get tired much quicker than them.

Because of the extra load on our nervous systems and the ease of overstimulation we can also have a shorter fuse than some, or the technical term - a narrower window of tolerance. High levels of stimulation are energy draining. Remember your nervous system is constantly taking in this information mostly subconsciously, so you aren't always aware that you are aware so to speak!

This is why it is so important to learn to nurture ourselves and our energy so that we are able to cope with life better and live it on our terms.

Am I an HSP?

Have a look at the list below and see how many of these resonate with you. Also just know that you may behave differently at different times, in different scenarios etc. You do not have to have all of these to have Sensory Processing Sensitivities, every HSP is different.

Do you feel:

  • easily overwhelmed?

  • often experience sensory overload?

  • more emotionally reactive than others?

  • everything deeply?

  • easily startled?

  • very intuitive?

  • very conscientious?

  • very sensitive to pain?

  • overly sensitive to caffeine?

  • uncomfortable with change?

  • easily moved by beauty, nature, music and/or art?

  • affected by other people’s feelings and reactions?

  • notice things that others miss, especially to do with your environment and other people’s emotions?

  • really stressed by deadlines and pressure (including someone watching you do a task - ask me sometime how many times it took me to pass my driving test....!)?

  • like you can tell if something small has changed in your environment (aware of the subtleties)?

  • a strong dislike of loud noise, bright lights, strong smells and/or tastes?

  • easily distracted because you are noticing so much around you, but at other times unaware of what’s going on around you because you are so deep in thought?

  • like you need more time away from people to feel like yourself again?

You can find Dr. Elaine Aron's test for high sensitivity in adults here.

You can find Dr. Elaine Aron's test for high sensitivity in children here.

If you are saying “YES that is me” right now you may be really relieved to finally feel understood and not alone in feeling this way! You may also be thinking eek all this sounds quite negative but allow me to flip that around.

This is an evolutionary genetic trait that has survived for a reason.

We are needed.

Our different way of looking at and processing the world is very much needed.

Our sensitivity is our superpower!

We are often creative, seekers of beauty and highly attuned to nature and animals. If this is you then you are definitely in the right place, welcome!

High Sensory Intelligence

My mentor and fellow HSP, Willow McIntosh calls it High Sensory Intelligence - “an ability to tap into a unique set of skills that draws on a deeper sensory perception”. That is such a powerful way of looking at our deeper awareness of life.

We have been gifted the ability to receive a lot of information about our environment.

Once we become aware of this and learn to ground ourselves and prevent overstimulation and overwhelm (from taking in & processing all this extra information) we can more easily tune in to the gifts of our sensory intelligence.

We are each given our unique gifts (skills, perceptions, feelings, passions and our own way of looking at the world) for a reason - to play our part in the ecosystem of life and help improve it for all, just as non-sensitives are here to play theirs! How cool is that?!

As soon as we stop beating ourselves for feeling like we don't fit in, & start seeing our value & understanding how to nurture ourselves & our energy, the better off everyone will be!

We tend to make excellent healers, coaches, therapists, artists & photographers (my former profession!) because of the depth of our awareness. “[We] process stimuli in a highly organised, big picture way, which includes awareness of nuances and subtleties that others might not notice.” Elaine Aron

Think about it for a second (or 110!!), wouldn’t you rather have as your healer, therapist or photographer someone who was going to notice an extra level of detail when working with you? Yes please!

How can I help HSPs?

The entire mission for my business is to help HSPs and those who resonate, to know, accept and nurture themselves so that they can do what they came here to do and share the unique gifts they have in order to change the(ir) world.

In other words, to help them understand their trait and feel seen, whilst sharing with them the benefits and helping them clear the conditioning and old stories and beliefs that they have grown up with that make them feel like there is something wrong with them. All these things are diverting their energy from what matters.

That might be high overwhelm & low self-worth, it might be shame and guilt. Whatever it may be, I am here to help my clients find a place of contentment with themselves and feel grounded (not easily overwhelmed) and good enough!

I have various ways of doing this, many different tools in my toolkit - EFT Tapping, Bach Flower Essences, Human Design, Botanical Enlightenment. I will use whichever I am drawn to in any of our sessions, with your full agreement of course.

Tapping is an energy healing modality that can clear and replace limiting beliefs, reduce stress levels and increase happy hormones and all in a very gentle way.

Bach Flower Essences are another very gentle way of supporting you to feel a different way. These are both ways you can use yourself outside of sessions too, very easy and gentle.

I will ask for your birth date, time and location if you know it, so that I can run your Human Design chart and use this to help guide your getting to know and accept yourself on a deeper level. Human Design is the science of energetic differentiation - learning how your unique energy system works best in the world and how to take your path of least resistance. If you'd like to know more about how Human Design helped me, jump over here.

Botanical Enlightenment sessions are a really fun way for us to connect in to the energy of what is wanting to be transformed in your life. We bring the plants on board to work with us in a fun way, either through plant oracle cards and/or through a mini plant photography project!

I also teach all my clients grounding techniques to help them feel steadier through their emotional transformation.


If you resonate with this please stay around to learn ways to...

If you would like your loved ones to understand you more then feel free to share this page with them or if you recognise this in someone else, please help them feel seen and cared about by sending them a link to this page. Share the love!


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Katie Spicer

Hi! I'm Katie, a neurodivergent HSP, EFT Practitioner, Quantum Human Design Specialist & mum to a 6 year old HSP.


I illuminate ways for you to get to know yourself, clear the overwhelm, release the negative self-judgement & feel calm & confident so that you can follow your delight and do what you came here for!

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