Stages of Cultural Awareness & Acceptance for the Highly Sensitive Person

Thanks to the recent September 10th premiere of the documentary Sensitive: The Untold Story, it is my sincere hope that many of the 15-20% of the population will find themselves moving more toward the Acknowledge or Affirming Stage of my Cultural Awareness & Acceptance when it comes to being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

I have long seen the trait of Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS) as a cultural diversity issue. Like other minority cultures, there is a tendency toward what is called "internalized oppression."

Internalized oppression is when an individual starts to internalize and believe the stereotypes and myths that are perpetuated about them in the dominate culture. This often leads to low self-esteem, unrealized potential, and if left untreated for too long, can lead to depression and/or anxiety.

Part of becoming what I have come to call an "Empowered HSP" is educating oneself about the research available which accurately defines SPS. This usually results in internal changes of self-acceptance, awareness of needs, boundary setting, and developing a plan for knowing when and how to be out in the world. It also involves becoming aware of our own values, beliefs and perceptions, including a belief that we can have opinions, thoughts and feelings that may be different from mainstream, without assuming that we are wrong.

An HSP who is in the Affirming or Promotion Stage also understands that there are positive and negative aspects of our HSP trait, just as there are positive and negative aspects of those who have not inherited the genetic trait. It becomes crucial to acknowledge that similarities and differences among people are important, while also recognizing that the world needs the minority view of the 15-20% of the population who are often underrepresented in our culture due to many feeling ashamed of their trait.

Now, let’s explore the stages of cultural awareness and acceptance when it comes to the trait of high sensitivity, or sensory processing sensitivity.

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