High sensitivity in private and at work - with test questions - Lifecoach München

High sensitivity in private and at work – with test questions

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In the first session Selina tells me that she works as an osteopath. While working, she often listens to patients’ life stories, most of which are not positive, let alone hopeful. After that, she is often tired.

Selina comes to life coaching with two concerns:

First, she wants to find out why she is so exhausted, or if she is even heading into a burn out. When she comes home from work, she feels mentally drained. Could it be that people’s stories are so incriminating to them? Or is it because the small talk with her colleagues stresses her out. She can no longer cope with all the hustle and bustle, feels completely overwhelmed.

Second, she wants to understand why she always has problems in her relationships. When she argues with her boyfriend, she pays attention to every word, every facial expression, every little gesture. She feels guilty every time, as if she alone brings about these conflicts. Does she act strange, different from others? She feels reminded of her elementary school days when her teacher wrote in her report: ” Selina is very shy. It’s hard to figure out exactly who Selina is. It’s hard to access.”


Overview Blog Sensitivity

Blog history
1) Analysis in Life Coaching on High Sensitivity
2) What is high sensitivity?
3) 5 highly sensitive person types
4) Test questions about high sensitivity (with evaluation)
5) Advantages of high sensitivity
6) Disadvantages of high sensitivity
7) The philosophical and social dilemma with high sensitivity.


1) Analysis in Life Coaching on High Sensitivity


Sensory overload at work

At work, Selina is overwhelmed by the many impressions, she finds it difficult to deal with negative feedback, feels criticized by it. After we talk about the topic of high sensitivity, she realizes a few things. She recognizes herself in almost all points. Selina resolves to bring more peace and serenity into her life. She sets the goal to work again with joy and more motivated, to increase her self-worth. She wants to rebuild a harmonious relationship with her boyfriend.


Solutions high sensitivity


1) Control conversations

Together we work out the following solutions In order for Selina to be better able to deal with patients’ narratives and problems at work, while remaining confident and empathetic , we work out some methods from the field of small talk. In role plays, she additionally hones her rhetoric. The first successes occur after only two weeks. Patients continue to tell her about their problems. Selina, however, masters the conversation to her liking, now setting boundaries when it gets too much for her. In the meantime, she has even discovered strengths in leading conversations, she now enjoys it and can remain emphatic while doing so.


2) Find places of retreat

Retreats where she can briefly relax and recharge her batteries are important to Selina. That’s why she occasionally goes to lunch alone, even if some colleagues misunderstood this at first and reacted somewhat dismissively. That doesn’t bother them anymore. In order to have even more time for herself, she decides to work one day less per week. A change of profession is out of the question for her. Her profession makes her happy and is also her vocation.


3) Bring more peace into the relationship

Selina has problems dealing with conflicts properly. She perceives the feelings of others very intensely, especially with her boyfriend she then quickly feels overwhelmed. Lately, conflicts with him have mostly revolved around family visits and meetings with friends. Since Selina seeks communication with her boyfriend and explains to him how she feels and why she reacts more sensitively than others, things are going better. For the first time, she clearly communicates her needs and seems more relaxed and authentic. Your boyfriend now understands what high sensitivity is and is relieved that both of you can work on the relationship.


4) Embrace high sensitivity

Selina now does less, even sometimes cancels a friend. With her boyfriend she sometimes does nothing at all, except relax, cook together, watch a movie, go for a walk. Selina does not necessarily go to his family anymore, unless she feels the need to. She is very glad and happy that things are working out well with her boyfriend and is pleased with the recognition she now receives from him. She feels more self-determined.


2) What is high sensitivity?

A so-called HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) is someone who reacts with above-average sensitivity to impressions and stimuli. A highly sensitive person perceives finer nuances in the body language and moods of others. Highly sensitive people see, hear, feel, taste, smell without filters. As a result, highly sensitive people get into a stimulus overload more quickly and feel the need to withdraw more quickly. It is important that highly sensitive people recognize and respect their needs and learn to protect themselves in an overstimulating environment.

Psychologist Elaine Aron is the creator of the term ‘high sensitivity’. It lists the four main characteristics of high sensitivity using the acronym DOES:

D = depth of processing = deep processing of stimuli
O = overstimulation → everything that hits us on a daily basis.
E = emotional reactivity and empathy → reaction to both positive and negative stimuli.
S = sensing the subtle = sensory sensitivity → attention and attention to detail


High sensitivity is not a disorder

High sensitivity affects about 15 to 20 percent of the population. In psychology, it is not considered a disorder or disease, but an innate trait that can come in various forms. There is no universally accepted definition of high sensitivity. This can lead to confusion about who is considered highly sensitive.

More importantly, the term high sensitivity offers support to many people. It helps them to understand themselves better, to become more self-aware and to clarify their needs. Also, the findings from Elaine Aron’s research make it easier to live and work with others who are not highly sensitive. It is still unclear how society will react to highly sensitive people.


3) 5 highly sensitive person types

The five types of highly sensitive people can be described as follows:

1. empaths: they have the ability to empathize strongly with other people’s emotions. They perceive the emotions of others more intensely and can quickly feel overwhelmed by them.
2. sensory highly sensitive: they react very sensitively to environmental stimuli such as sounds, smells or light. They can quickly become overwhelmed if there are too many stimuli at once.
3. emotionally highly sensitive: they react strongly to their own emotions. They can quickly become overwhelmed by their own feelings, even if they are perceived as pleasant.
4. creative high-sensitives: they are often very artistic and imaginative. They have a strong imagination and the ability to see beauty in the world that others may not.
5 Intellectual Highly Sensitive: They often think very deeply about complex issues. They have a strong ability to reflect and process information. However, they can also quickly become overwhelmed if they have to process too much information at once.

Most often, hybrids of these types of people occur.


4) Test questions about high sensitivity

Write down how many test questions you answer yes to.

– I am easily overwhelmed by strong sensory impressions.
– I perceive many vibrations in my environment.
– Other people’s moods affect me.
– I am rather sensitive to physical pain.
– After efforts, I feel the need to retreat to a place where I can recover from stimuli.
– I am very sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
– I am very sensitive to bright light, strong smells, coarse materials or noise.
– I possess a rich, complex inner life.
– Loud noises make me feel uncomfortable.
– Art or music move me deeply.
– It happens that my nerves are so irritated that I just want to be alone.
– I describe myself as very conscientious.
– It often happens that I get scared.
– When I have a lot to do and little time to do it, it upsets me.
– When people feel uncomfortable in a place, I am more likely than others to know what is needed to create well-being.
– When people try to make me do too many things at once, I get annoyed.
– I obsessively try to avoid mistakes.
– I avoid violent movies and TV shows.
– When there’s a lot going on around me, I get stressed out easily.
– Feelings of hunger trigger a strong reaction in me that disrupts my concentration or mood.
– Changes in my life stir me up.
– I perceive and enjoy fine scents, tastes, sounds, works of art particularly intensively.
– When there is a lot going on at once, I find it uncomfortable.
– I try to avoid exciting or overwhelming situations.
– When I have to compete with others or am observed doing a task, I am so nervous that I perform worse than usual.
– When I was a child, my parents or teachers perceived me as sensitive or shy.

Evaluation of the test
If you answered yes to more than 14 statements, you are probably highly sensitive. The test is for guidance only.

5) Advantages of high sensitivity

1. stronger empathy: highly sensitive people often have a stronger empathy and are able to recognize finer nuances in communication.
2. creativity: highly sensitive people have a vivid imagination and are able to express their emotions and experiences in a creative way.
3. intuition: highly sensitive people often have a pronounced intuition and can perceive subtle signals through their fine perception, which remain hidden to others.
4. mindfulness: highly sensitive people are often very mindful and can perceive subtle changes in their environment or in other people.
5. physical perception: highly sensitive people often have a very fine physical perception and can quickly recognize their own needs. They often sense quickly when something is wrong and pay attention to what is good for them.


6) Disadvantages of high sensitivity:

1. overstimulation: highly sensitive people can quickly become overstimulated, which can lead to exhaustion or overstimulation.
2. difficulty with loud noises: Highly sensitive people can be very sensitive to loud noises and have difficulty concentrating in noisy environments.
3. sensitivity to media content: Highly sensitive people may be sensitive to violence, cruelty, or tragedy in media content and may have difficulty distancing and recovering from such experiences.
4. vulnerability: highly sensitive people can quickly feel hurt when they are criticized or confronted with difficult situations.
5. higher perception of pain: highly sensitive people can perceive pain and discomfort more intensely than others, which can lead to increased sensitivity to pain.


7) The philosophical dilemma with high sensitivity

In his essay “What It’s Like to Be a Bat,” philosopher Thomas Nagel argues that it is impossible to understand the consciousness or experience of another species because we cannot put ourselves in their shoes. This also applies to the approximately 20 percent of highly sensitive people, as their experiences and sensations are different from those of the majority. We can try to put ourselves in their shoes, but we can never fully understand what it’s like to be in their shoes.

Another issue concerns whether or not society recognizes the importance and positive aspects of high sensitivity. Some argue that society often views highly sensitive people as weak and too emotional (generation “snowflake”) or even depressed. Others believe that society is beginning to recognize high sensitivity as an important trait. It is desirable that society recognizes the uniqueness of highly sensitive people and does not consider their sensitivity as a weakness or abnormality.


© Timo ten Barge 13.04.23

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