According to psychologist and researcher Dr. Elaine Aron (who coined the term), 20% of us are born as a Higher Sensitive Person (HSP) and 70% of all introverts are Highly Sensitive People.
What Does It Mean to be a Highly Sensitive Person?
Being a Highly Sensitive Person means that you have a highly sensitive nervous system and that you often connect with things on a deeper and emotional level.
Being highly sensitive is sometimes looked upon negatively as if it’s something that should be fixed or needs to change, usually by insensitive people who fail to understand the depth and richness of emotions of an HSP.
Being highly sensitive is a personality trait, not a disorder.
Being sensitive is often attributed to getting hurt very easily even if it’s just a joke, not being socially robust, sometimes even being codependent in relationships and someone who gets emotional very easily.
While part of it can be true at times, it usually depends on how a person channels their sensitive nature, and if their sensitivity is centered more towards themselves or other people.
If it’s centered towards yourself, you’ll be more focused on how people treat you, and often the smallest of things can make you upset, angry, and offended even if the other person has no malicious intent towards you.
If your sensitivity is centered towards other people, it’s translated into you being more caring and considerate towards others. Empathizing and reflecting on other people’s pain. You’ll have this distinct desire to help people solve their problems.
So being a Highly Sensitive Person doesn’t necessarily indicate a sign of emotional weakness. It can go either way depending upon how you channel your sensitivity.
You can utilize your sensitive nature to feel and cherish emotions more deeply than most people. You can feel love more deeply and care for others on an unusual level. Being highly sensitive can also allow you to think deeply and be reflective.
It’s really important for a highly sensitive person to acknowledge their sensitivity and care for themselves, or they could be prone to depression and being emotionally drained.
Here are 11 signs that’ll help you identify if you or someone around you is a Highly Sensitive Person. We’ll also look into 7 survival tips for a highly sensitive person to cope with stress and how to deal with overstimulation.
1. You Empathize Deeply and Feel Others’ Emotions
You are happy in other people’s happiness and you feel the pain when you see others in pain. You can’t help but put yourself in other people’s shoes all the time and internalize their emotions as if it’s not happening to them but happening to you.
Because people’s emotions rub off on you and affect you so much, interacting with people for long periods can be quite draining.
2. You Cry Easily and You’re Deeply Moved by Beauty
Watching an emotional video brings you to tears. Seeing someone in pain makes you worried and you keep thinking about them, wishing there was something you could do for them.
You also feel like crying when life gets a bit overwhelming, and it’s often very cathartic for you to cry to express your rich emotions.
You’re also deeply moved by beauty wherever you find it, not just physical or material beauty, but also the beauty you find on a spiritual level.
You cherish the subtleties and the creativity you see in works of art.
Whenever you’re exposed to nature, you’re mesmerized and lost in its beauty, even if it’s something as simple as watching the beautiful sky, noticings the details of plants and insects, or listening to the soothing sounds of birds.
3. You are Sensitive to High Stimulus
Too much use of social media, loud noises, traffic, crowded places, and long exposure to bright screens and artificial lights is overwhelming for you.
It’s not just your emotions but your senses that are sensitive as well, which makes you more in touch with your body and soul.
It makes you aware of your mental and physical capacity and you know when your mental and physical senses have had enough.
4. You Get Emotionally Attached to People and Your Surroundings
You tend to get exceptionally attached to the people you know. If someone moves on from your life, you find it difficult to let go of them, and it usually takes you a long time to move on from that person.
You tend to think too much of the people you know even though they might not be as close to you. Because of this, your care and attention might come off as a bit overwhelming for the other person.
Being emotionally attached and overly caring can sometimes also translate into being possessive and not giving people enough space that they need.
When it comes to your environment, big changes such as moving to a new place or switching jobs can overwhelm you because you felt attached to the previous place or people, and you almost feel like you’re losing a part of yourself by moving on from it.
During such times, anything that gives you a sense of familiarity usually becomes a great source of comfort and reassurance when going through all the changes happening in your life.
Things like meeting a close friend or a family member, going to a place you’ve known since childhood, indulging in an old hobby that you love, or doing something that brings you nostalgic feelings gives you the space to breathe when you’re drowning in all the changes in your life.
5. Tough Remarks and Even Constructive Criticism can Hurt Your Feelings Easily
Tough remarks and criticism are not easy to take for anybody, but being a highly sensitive person they affect you a lot more than usual. You also don’t take sarcastic jokes very well.
Even though sometimes you know that the criticism or that comment is coming from a sincere place, or that there is no malicious or toxic intent behind that joke that someone just made about you, you can’t help but get uncomfortable and even hurt.
Sometimes you find it difficult to be an easy-going person and develop resentment towards people, which leads us to the next sign…
6. It Takes a Long Time for You to Move on From Negative Experiences
You keep thinking about those uncomfortable interactions you’ve had with someone for weeks or sometimes months and that affects your emotional well-being. You find it difficult to let go of the intense negative emotions that keep coming up whenever you think about those interactions.
Because you keep repeating the memory of those instances over and over again in your mind, you tend to develop grudge and resentment for the person/people associated with those interactions.
The small things that people normally forget and move on, you tend to remember and hold in your heart. It takes a lot of conscious processing and conscious forgiving for you to let go and move on.
You also experience disappointment when people don’t treat you back with the same kindness, respect, and consideration that you show towards them.
7. You Overthink and Worry Too Much Even About Small Things
When it comes to doing something new, you are a worrier.
You worry about all the possibilities of things going wrong. You think of all the possible consequences, which in hindsight, help you prepare well, but also give you unnecessary anxiety over trivial matters.
You often overanalyze people and situations, making complicated links between certain events. Those links could indeed be true at times, but this kind of overthinking in small matters can drain you and make things more difficult than they should be.
8. Overthinking Also Leads You to Care Too Much About What Other People Think of You
You tend to care a lot about people’s feelings and attitudes towards you.
If you feel that something is off with someone, you instantly worry if it has something to do with you.
You worry about other people getting you in the wrong way or perceiving you negatively which can sometimes lead to people-pleasing.
You do not want to offend someone or make them uncomfortable, so you agree with them while putting your own opinions aside, never expressing your thoughts about the matter.
9. You Think Deeply and Often Have Deep Insights About Life
You have a reflective nature.
You reflect over everything in your spare time which can make you quite a philosophical person who thinks deeply about the occurrences of life.
This allows you to view things from different perspectives. You understand and respect the complexities and grey areas of life.
You don’t try to paint them black and white based on your own opinions, as many people do. Instead, you wish to understand the real truth beyond personal preferences and biases.
10. Sometimes You Want to Shut Everything Off and Hide
Because of being sensitive to all the external stimulation that life is constantly bombarding you with, you sometimes want to shut everything off and withdraw into your cave for a couple of days, away from everything and everyone.
You don’t want to meet anybody or go outside for some time. You just want to be in solitude for some time so you can recharge.
You are not always down to hang out with friends.
Sometimes you just don’t want to be disturbed by anyone and cherish your zone of solitude where you indulge yourself in the things that bring you joy and help you reconnect with yourself.
11. You Often Judge Yourself Harshly
You take all the blame on yourself when you don’t meet the high expectations that you’ve set in your mind. This could make you think less of yourself and look down upon yourself at times.
You go beyond taking personal responsibility and just take it all on yourself.
There are times when you give it your all and do all the right things, but things still don’t go the way you expect, and that is okay. That’s life. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Sometimes you want to help people change their lives and in doing so, you begin to take responsibility for them, and when you are unable to help them (because of their own will, actions, and behaviors), you feel frustrated, defeated, and drained.
It’s extremely important to remember that you cannot be held responsible for other people’s actions. No matter how much you care for them, you cannot control their actions and decisions.
You have to let people take responsibility for their lives and face the consequences of their own choices.
7 Survival Tips to Deal with Stress as a Highly Sensitive Person
Here are 7 things I’ve incorporated into the daily routine that helps me cope with all the extra stimulation and stress we have to deal with as Highly Sensitive People.
1. Set Boundaries with Your Phone
Our phone is one of the biggest sources of stress, anxiety, and overstimulation, especially as a highly sensitive person.
Have a set time of the day when you switch your phone off completely or at least put it on airplane mode.
Avoid checking your phone first thing in the morning and last thing before bed.
Getting rid of all social media apps proved to be a blessing for me. Recently, I had been having an intuition to get rid of Whatsapp as well, so I deleted it to see how it would benefit me, and I instantly felt relief as soon as I deleted it.
I must say that it wasn’t easy to decide to delete it.
It took me a couple of months before I finally got rid of it for the time being, but once I did it, I felt much more true to myself, and not playing into the societal pressures of keeping up with the world and being available to people all the time.
2. Have Some Me-Time Before Starting Your Day
Allow yourself some time in the morning to get in touch with yourself and set the tone for the day. Arrange your sleep schedule in a way that gives you that extra couple of hours before you engage in the frenzy of the world.
For me, waking up at dawn or even a bit before dawn is ideal as it gives me a few hours to myself during which I pray, meditate, exercise at home or go for a walk in the park, have a relaxed breakfast with no rush and probably do some reading.
Having this extra buffer between waking up and engaging with the world also helps avoid the rush and the anxiety caused by it, which we all know doesn’t set a very good tone for the day.
3. Have a place to Retreat to
Make sure you have a place you can escape to whenever you need to.
A cave where you can detach yourself from the world, decompress, and have some time by yourself.
Have a room or at least some quiet corner of the house where you can retreat to reconnect with yourself regularly. A place where you feel grounded and safe. A place where you enjoy your own company and dive into your creative, thoughtful, and reflective side.
4. Give Yourself Some Time to Recharge
After you indulge in draining activities such as going to a social gathering, being in a loud environment, being stuck in traffic, having a hectic day at work, or after talking too much, make sure you allow yourself to have a break so that you can momentarily go into your cave and rejuvenate yourself.
You can even have mini escapes from the frenzy of the world in the middle of those activities.
İf you’re at work, go to the bathroom to freshen up a bit. İf you’re in a social gathering, leave for a few minutes and go sit in your car.
We often feel the need to get in touch with ourselves and take a breather. Don’t feel awkward or ashamed when you have to.
5. Plan Your Daily Tasks Around Times When No One’s Around
A really smart way to conserve your mental energy as an HSP is to schedule most of your outdoor tasks around times when it’s peaceful and quiet. No traffic, no crowds, no noise.
Early morning or a bit later in the evening is usually the ideal time to avoid crowds and traffic.
The added benefits of getting stuff done at these times are that you won’t be stuck in traffic, you won’t have to wait in queues, and you can take your time exploring the stores at your pace without having the anxiety of being in a crowded and busy place.
You also get to park wherever you want, and you get to breathe some fresh air when there’s no traffic to pollute it!
Personally, I also try to plan such tasks in a way that is most efficient and least energy consuming. I usually do that by getting things in bulk (e.g groceries) or combining multiple outdoor tasks so I could get them done in a single trip and not have to go separately for every single one of them every other day.
6. Have Hobbies That Help You Refill Your Cup
This is interconnected with the rest of rest survival tips. Having certain hobbies that allow you to connect with your true self and help you ground your energy will fulfill your need to retreat to your cave.
These hobbies will, in fact, act as a cave itself because when you’re immersed in them, you’re on top of the world, feeling absolutely great mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
It allows you to access that special part of you that is creative, relaxed, productive, and free from the shackles of worldly pressures.
7. Respect Your Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Health
The generic advice of “take care of your mind, body, and soul” which applies to everybody is especially important if you’re an HSP since highly sensitive people are more prone to be affected by the wear and tear of life and usually suffer more than anyone else if they don’t take care of themselves.
You might look at other people around you and see how rough and tough they are mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, and you expect that same capacity from yourself, sometimes by being harsh and neglectful towards yourself.
But soon you find out that your capacity is quite different from many other people. The things that don’t bother or matter at all to other people, affect you strongly.
You see other people being careless and neglectful towards themselves, but when you try to do that, you face negative consequences almost immediately.
The truth is, being an HSP we operate quite differently than most people, and if we don’t respect our nature we’re going to wear ourselves down and become miserable. When insensitive people become miserable, they grow bitter, but when sensitive people encounter misery, they tend to go into depression and feel lost.
This all could be easily avoided by developing certain habits that facilitate our mental, physical, and spiritual health regularly.
Habits such as:
- Exercising regularly
- Having a good healthy diet
- Having self-care routine
- Connecting with like-minded people
- Reading good books that either help you grow or help you wind down
- Having a routine to access your spiritual side such as daily prayers, charity, random acts of kindness, and participating in things have a positive impact on other people’s lives and the world in general
- Avoiding things that have a negative influence on your mind, body, and soul is equally as important as developing positive habits.
If you find most of these traits within you, You are probably among the highly sensitive people. The world needs people like you who would think deeply for others and be unusually kind, considerate, and caring.
But at the same time, you must make sure that you are managing your emotions well and taking care of yourself for your own mental and emotional health and well-being.
It helps to channel your sensitivity in a way that’ll make you exceptional in certain areas and give you a rich experience of life while also benefiting other people in some way.
Take good care of yourself. I’ll talk to you in the next one!
A writer by calling, a life coach by passion, an artist by nature. Someone who has dedicated his life to exploring deep human potentials, spirituality, and timeless wisdoms of life with a hunger to share those experiences and knowledge to help others find meaning and improve the quality of their lives.