Are You Highly Sensitive?
Sometimes it can help to know where you are on the sensitivity spectrum. Theresa Cheung has created a self-help tool: a sensitivity scale that you can use as a gauge, or that you can use for someone you know to help them understand themselves better.
Listed below are the most common highly sensitive traits, or traits that psychologists believe identify a person as being highly sensitive. They have been reframed as questions to which you can answer yes or no. If you aren’t sure of your answer then the answer is no. The higher you score, the more likely it is that you are a highly sensitive person. If you don’t score on every trait, this doesn’t mean you aren’t sensitive and won’t ever be, it means that your potential for high sensitivity isn’t fully activated or triggered at at this present moment.
Note: This scale is NOT meant to diagnose high sensitivity or exclude it, and is not a substitute for testing by psychologists and scientists. Bear in mind, too, that no questionnaire can cover all bases, and if you recognise yourself in the stories shared in this book, then you can consider yourself sensitive.
The Sensitivity Quiz
- Do you sense or feel what other people are feeling without them having to explain?
- Do you feel things deeply and for longer than other people do?
- When you were a child did people call you sensitive or an old soul?
- Do you have a rich inner life? Do you have a vivid imagination? Are you a ‘head in the clouds’ kind of person, prone to daydreaming?
- Do you regularly need quiet time alone to withdraw or recharge?
- Do you find it deeply distressing seeing violence on screen or images of cruelty?
- Do you find it easy to give to or help others but hard to let people get close to you?
- Do you find loud noises, strong scents and bright lights distressing? Are you easily startled?
- Do you feel deeply moved by or drawn to music, creativity and the arts?
- Do you get stressed and find it impossible to concentrate when you are hungry?
- Do you find it extremely difficult to manage physical pain?
- Do you take ages to make any kind of decision, even relatively simple ones like choosing what to eat on a menu?
- Do busy and crowded places make you feel overwhelmed?
- Are you extremely sensitive to any kind of negativity?
- Do you have a strong sense of integrity and ethics?
- Do other people find it easy to open up to you and often say they feel better after spending time with you?
- Do you pick up on subtle changes in mood?
- Do you pick up on subtle changes in the environment?
- Are you extremely sensitive to the effects of caffeine, alcohol or any kind of stimulant?
- Do high-pressure situations, especially ones in which you are being observed or which require public speaking, make you panic?
- Do you panic when under time pressure or when you have too many things to do at once?
- Do you prefer to plan and schedule your time? Does the unexpected, visiting new places or meeting new people derail you?
- Do you struggle to love yourself or feel that you are good enough to be loved?
- Do you typically place the well-being of others above your own?
- Do your partners and loved ones often find it hard to understand you?
- Do you find it very hard, if not impossible, to recover when others judge, criticise, betray or lie to you?
- Have you ever turned to food, alcohol or addictive or compulsive behaviour to cope with your sensitivity?
- Are you drawn to environmental or charitable causes?
- Do you have a great affinity for animals and nature?
- Do you often feel that you are an outsider or that you don’t belong?
- Do you long to know what the meaning and purpose of your life is? Likewise, do you long to make a difference in the world?
- Do you describe yourself as a spiritual person or believe in unseen forces and energies?
What Did You Score?
If you answered yes to more than 20 questions, then you are very likely a highly sensitive person.
If you answered yes to between 10 and 20 questions, then you are very likely a sensitive person.
If you answered yes to less than 10 questions, then you are probably feeling sensitive right now or going through sensitive times. (Be aware, though, that even answering yes to just a few questions, and experiencing those sensitive traits acutely, could mean that you are extremely sensitive.)
If nothing resonated at all then you are not highly sensitive or going through sensitive times.