The Difference Between Introverts, Highly Sensitive People and Empaths
The term highly sensitive person and empath get lumped together, while also being misplaced for being introverts. Although they share some similar traits, each of them are quite different. What is the difference – and do you fit into one or several of these categories? Let’s take a closer look.
Being an introvert doesn’t automatically make you shy or asocial. The truth is that many introverts are social people who love spending time with a few close friends. However, introverts can get drained quickly in social situations and need time alone time to recharge. That’s why introverts can prefers to stay in, or spend time with one or a couple of friends rather than a big group of people.
Being an introvert is genetic, and it includes modifications in how the brain processes dopamine, the “reward” chemical. Those who are born as introverts don’t feel as rewarded by external stimuli such as parties or chitchat, and as a result, they get exhausted in those situations relatively quickly. On the other hand, many introverts take deep satisfaction from meaningful activities like reading, creative endeavors, and time for quiet contemplation.
You can be an introvert and not be a highly sensitive person, nor an empath. This would look like being less stressed by certain types of stimulations, such as violent movie scenes, lights, temperatures, repetitive noises and less in tune with other people.
Highly Sensitive People
A HSP is sensitive and primarily reactive to the energy around them. Dr. Elaine Aron, the originator of the term, defines it this way:
“A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is therefor more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.”
HSP have the ability to process information at a faster rate, meaning that their brain pick up more cues than the average person (nerve impulses/per second). It’s common to use the word “sensitive” as if it is a bad thing, when in fact it implies having a higher sensory ability.
- HSP process information very deeply and notice connections and patterns that others don’t notice.
- Can get overwhelmed or overstimulated because their brain is processing to much input
- Notice small and subtle things that others don’t notice, such as faint noises and textures.
- Pick up on emotional cues, like empaths, and have the ability to feel a deeper level of empathy for others.
- HSP can be affected by the mood of their environment.
- Not all HSP are introverts
While all empaths are highly sensitive to energy, the difference is in their capacity to feel and sense another person’s actual feelings. Empaths, therefore, are more extrasensory and possess at least one significant ability for directly experiencing what it is like to be in the emotional/mental/or physical body of another– literally feeling what the other is undergoing.
If a person looses their child, most humans have the ability to empathize with the tragedy, even if they themselves have never experienced a significant loss. An empath, on the other hand, might literally feel what the person is going through in their body – the anxiety, sadness, and emotional pain mimicking in the empaths system as if they themselves were directly experiencing the loss. If the person has a headache from crying, the empath may develop a headache as well.
More experts are claiming that all empaths are HSP, but not all HSP are empaths. In addition, there are various types of empaths–which we’ll uncover more of as we move forward.
Are you an empath, or highly sensitive person — or both of those? Please leave your email below for future offerings and announcements on HSP workshops and workshops for empaths.