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What it’s like to be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)

Wonder what it’s like to be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)? In this week’s podcast episode, Anne Bogel and I discuss what it’s like to be HSP, how it has changed our life to understand this, and why we are so passionate about this topic.

Missed previous episodes of The Crystal Paine show? You can listen to them here.

a group of friends on a beach

Last time we recorded an episode for The Crystal Paine Show, we had just gotten back from Kansas. And this time, we just got back from Destin, Florida!

It was our first time there (can you believe it?), and we had an amazing trip. We haven’t gone on a long road trip by ourselves since our honeymoon, and even though it was a little bit weird to be in the car for six hours by ourselves, I’m so thankful that we got to go!

anne bogel

Are You a Highly Sensitive Person?

Today’s guest on the show is the amazing Anne Bogel, who you may remember from an earlier episode! (She’s actually the first second-time guest on the show.)

We had such a fantastic conversation that Jesse and I didn’t want you to miss a single minute of it, so we skipped our usual segments of the show to make room for the whole interview.

Anne and I are both Highly Sensitive People (or HSPs). Now before you just think that means someone is overly sensitive or emotional, do yourself a favor and listen to the episode. At least 15-20% of people are HSP — many just don’t know it!

Even If You’re Not HSP, You Need to Listen!

I didn’t know this about myself until I learned it through reading Anne’s book Reading People. When I read her chapter on Highly Sensitive People and realized that she was exactly describing me, it changed my life! All of a sudden I understood why I big crowds drained me, loud noises over-stimulated me, certain fabrics of shirts were incredibly annoying, and why I can’t function well if my house is a mess.

We’ll start off by talking about how Anne came across this concept, and how it helped her regain a sense of control and improving her own life experience. We’ll also dig into the impact that being an HSP can have (some of the struggles as well as the perks!) and how to tell if you’re an HSP.

Even if you’re not a Highly Sensitive Person, don’t miss this amazing conversation! You’ll likely identify someone close to you who is and it will help you have a better understanding of how to love them and interact with them (and maybe not think they are just high maintenance or needy!)

In This Podcast Episode:

[00:25] – Jesse and I discuss how weird (and fun) it was to go on our first road trip by ourselves (without kids) in years.

[04:10] – This episode will be a little bit different because I ended up having such a long conversation with Anne Bogel that we decided to make the interview the focus of the episode. 

[04:56] – I (re)introduce Anne and ask her to share about her new podcast that just launched! Check it out at One Great Book.

[09:14] – When did Anne first learn about the concept of Highly Sensitive People (HSP)? She talks about when the light bulb went off for her and how discovering this idea changed things for her and helped her regain a sense of control.

[15:26] – Anne and I discuss our greatest struggles and greatest strengths as a Highly Sensitive Person.

[21:19] – I can’t watch certain movies or listen to certain kinds of news, because it will be too heavy and too much for me. Anne shares how she can’t write when there is music playing with words.

[22:17] – We talk about the best way to determine whether you’re HSP, or whether one of your kids or friends might be? (“When you know, you know,” Anne explains. “HSPs often don’t even need the test.”)

30:38] – What is Anne reading right now?

[32:16] – Anne talks about what’s saving her life right now: walking to work (even though she works at home!).

[34:39] – Did you enjoy that conversation as much as I did? Do you have any questions, comments, or feedback? Get in touch by email at!

Links and Resources From Today’s Podcast:

How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show

The podcast is available on iTunesAndroidStitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.)

Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app.

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  • Kitty says:

    I’m an INTJ and a highly sensitive person. I am not sure whether my HSP is just my INJTness though. I have learnt that it is essential for me to have downtime, away from others, else I get ill (depression or migraines). Luckily, my husband and children are all introverts which makes my household very peaceful (also why I love them so much and my home). Weirdly, enough, I was brought up in a household of extroverts!
    I hate bright lights, loud noises, scratchy clothes and really busy places. A calming cup of tea and a good book is heaven!

  • JJ says:

    If you haven’t read, Raising Your Spirited Child, you would love it!!! It sounds like it might be the same thing(but I will listen to your podcast to see!). It is so so good and has really helped me understand my children and myself. I am slightly more extroverted than introverted but do not enjoy crowds of people I don’t know. And that surprises most people. Haha! And after beginning to read How to Talk so Your Kids Will Listen and How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk, it has really helped me to respond in a way that calms them and me. There are specific steps(which helps someone like me!) and comic strips throughout where they give examples of situations. It also has a workbook section to practice and record situations that come up and how you applied what you learned. The simple steps show that you are acknowledging their feelings and allowing them to feel their feelings(while giving direction if something is harmful). I have already seen amazing results and have seen gaps bridged in my relationship with my Littles. I am an emotional person and most people just try to make you happy by telling you it is ok and explain why you should feel the way they think you should. But just acknowledging someone’s feelings and allowing them to feel them is so freeing and helps you move past them instead of people trying to tell you how to feel. It’s been good for me and them!!! I can’t wait to hear the podcast when I fold the laundry. Haha!

    • I’d love to hear after you’ve listened to the podcast whether it’s a similar thing or something different. Let me know as I’m very curious!

    • Lindsey S. says:

      That book, Raising a Spirited Child, helped me survive parenting my most difficult child when she was a toddler. I love it and have given out many copies and loaned mine out many times. It helped me to see that my frustrating kid was actually really sensitive and once I understood that and had coping techniques to deal with her, things got easier.

  • Lindsey S. says:

    I appreciated this podcast because I’m an HSP too! I didn’t find this out until recent years, so it explains why childbirth was so much more painful for me than my friends (low pain tolerance), why parenting 4 kids 5 and under was absolutely overwhelming for me when others breeze through it, why my neck goes out of place easily with lots of stress, and why I zone out and just can’t listen to people if I haven’t had adequate quiet time in a few days. Often I wish I didn’t feel things so deeply because I can be wounded easily or absorb other people’s stress, but then again, that’s what makes me unique and able to minister well to others because I notice the little details and use that to help others. Having teens is a new challenge for this HSP because they are staying up later than before and wanting to talk more, and this means that it can feel impossible to carve out quiet time in my day. Hot baths, peaceful walks, a little corner I made in my bedroom as a prayer closet, and driving alone to pick up kids from various places allow me a little bit of “recharging” time. Even though it’s unusual for most people, my husband and I sleep on separate twin beds pushed together. He rolls all night long, likes 1 thin blanket on him (even in the winter here in the Rockies), breathes very heavily, and likes a hard mattress. I like a squishy, soft mattress, a weighted blanket and several plush blankets, and I don’t roll or move around. It works very well for us to get our sleep until we can afford a really nice dual-control mattress. God is definitely using my family to refine and sanctify me. My husband and 3 of my 4 kids are super-high-energy, noisy and extroverts, and they love to stay constantly busy and are in and out of the house a thousand times a day and love to have people over continually or be doing social things all the time. I am thankful that they’re old enough to go on occasional snowmobile trips, downhill-mountain biking trips, camping trips with Dad so that my youngest, who is also an HSP, and I can stay home and have a quiet house while we read and listen to audio books.

    • So interesting! Thank you for sharing how this has played out in your life! I want to sing this from the rooftops so that more people can feel less alone and like something is “wrong with them”. Understanding HSP has truly changed my life!

  • Tina says:

    I am an HSP and ISFP mom of 7 with #8 due in a few months. I have been reading Anne’s book “Reading People” over the past few days and it is eye opening. I just learned about HSPs a few years ago and can totally relate. I have a few HSP children as well. It is so helpful knowing how to help them and myself cope.

  • Amy F;) says:

    high five from another HSP! 🙂

  • Kris says:

    Thank you for doing this podcast. My son was diagnosed when he was 9-10 yrs old that he was HSP. I read Dr Elaine Arons book the highly sensitive child. My husband is the at the other end of HSP where he can’t get enough stimulation and he’s very observant and notices subtleties that most people miss. what I didn’t realize until I heard your podcast is that I have similar traits to NAP. I think I I have forced those feel I vs down to survive life. Wow! Thank you. I think I will re-read Aron’s book and read Anne’s book.

  • Beth says:

    How do you balance HSP with not having the energy to create a “safe place”? I think I’m not realizing how much clutter (physical, noise, visual, etc.) is getting to me until it’s too late. A kind of silly example but I’ll turn a range fan on while I’m cooking. Then almost forget it’s on but then when I turn it off it’s like a weight has been literally lifted. Sometimes I struggle to identify my triggers. Clutter bothers me but I have a smallish house with three young boys. Clutter is inevitable. I don’t have the energy to insist on everything being picked up every day. Or even a place to put it all. But then the clutter is draining :). Can’t win. The littles stage is hard. I really want to have people over, to be more involved in church ministry, etc. but I can barely survive the stimulation in my own home! And we’ve decided to homeschool – which I love! but still…so much noise!
    As a random side note, I’ve found that I really enjoy Gregorian Chant. I rarely play music (I like music, but again, the noise 🙂 ) but the chants somehow cut through everything else and are soothing.
    Also, I know people have mentioned they wish there were transcripts for the podcast. I totally get why you don’t and I’m not pushing that you do, but I think that’s why I almost never listen to (anyone’s) podcasts – too much noise. I’d much rather read.
    OK, and the fabric thing – how can you stand to wear leggings? 🙂 ? The few times I’ve worn them they’ve felt too much like panty hose! Maybe I should try them again – my friends’ daughter is sensitive and that’s all she wants to wear :).
    These thoughts are random and coming after a day of entirely too much (fun) stimulation. Thanks for doing a podcast on being HSP. I would be interested to know how you balance the crazy life of having lots of social responsibilities with your HSP. And has it gotten easier now that your kids are older? I have a passion for people but not the energy or head space.

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