Could you be an HSP-HSS?

Are you a highly sensitive person (HSP) who hates repetition and is easily bored? Do you crave new experiences and even – gasp! – adventure? Do you often feel compelled to push your sensitive self way beyond your limits and then suffer the consequences?

If any of this sounds familiar, you might be a highly sensitive person who is also a high sensation seeker. Or HSP-HSS for short.

What Is An HSP-HSS?

High sensation seeking is a personality trait – just like high sensitivity – but it’s kind of its opposite.

According to Tracy M. Cooper, Ph.D., author of Thrill: The High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Person, sensation seeking “can be thought of as a greater willingness (and openness) to approach new stimuli and new situations.” According to Cooper, high sensation seeking manifests itself in four ways:

  1. Thrill and adventure seeking – think physical thrills, like snowboarding or roller coaster rides.
  2. Experience or novelty seeking – traveling, trying new restaurants and the like.
  3. Disinhibition – being open to breaking social conventions and getting a little wild. 😉
  4. Boredom susceptibility – easily getting into an understimulated state.

And as crazy as it may sound, a person can be BOTH highly sensitive and high sensation seeking. As a matter of fact, Cooper points out that about a third of HSPs are also HSS.

If you are wondering whether you could be an HSP-HSS, you can take a test here.

My Personal Experience As An HSP-HSS

Full disclosure: I actually don’t score quite high enough to qualify as an HSP-HSS according to the test. But I’m pretty sure I would have in my younger years. My favorite hobbies used to include horseback riding and downhill skiing, and at age 17, I spent a year on the other side of the world as a foreign exchange student. And to top it all off, I didn’t always make the safest of choices when it came to entertaining myself. 😉

I have mellowed a bunch since those days though and apparently that’s not uncommon for sensation seekers. According to Cooper, “sensation seeking tends to peak early in life then taper off as we age, except for the boredom susceptibility, which remains fairly constant throughout life.”

And that matches my experience to a tee. At age 45, I consider roller coaster rides to be a form a voluntary torture, but geez, I still can’t stand repetition and I get bored really easily.

Which can be a problem when you are also highly sensitive – ie. prone to overstimulation and needing lots of alone time to process.

Navigating these competing drives and balancing my conflicting needs has not been easy, but I want to reassure you that it can be done! Click here for more details on what I’ve learned about finding balance as an HSP-HSS and what I’ve learned about overcoming career struggles as an HSP-HSS.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Anni! I'm a life and career coach for stressed out highly sensitive people. My mission is to help you discover your true self and create a life you ACTUALLY like.

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