You are too sensitive. You should just grow thicker skin. Stop making a fuss over nothing.
If yes, there’s something I want you to know. Even if “helpful” friends, family members, or colleagues have suggested otherwise, there’s a good chance that there’s actually nothing wrong with you. You might just be a Highly Sensitive Person or HSP for short.
High sensitivity is thought to be an inborn temperament trait possessed by about 20 percent of people, including yours truly. We experience everything more intensely than the average person. And by everything I mean just about everything. Sensory stimuli like lights, sounds, smells, and touch. Social stimuli like meeting new people or receiving criticism. And emotional stimuli like our own and other people’s feelings.
To see if you might be a highly sensitive person, see how many of these 10 signs you can relate to.
10 Signs That You Might Be A Highly Sensitive Person
1. You’ve Been Accused Of Overthinking Things
When HSPs process information, we are more likely than non-HSPs to use areas of the brain associated with deeper processing. In other words, HSPs were born to mull things over, think things through, and carefully consider all angles. This is actually one of our gifts, because the world needs people who are capable of deep analysis. But on the flipside, our natural tendency to “think things through” often gets labeled as “think about things too much”.
2. You Have A Wild Imagination
Our capacity for deep processing means that we typically have a rich inner life, including a potentially wild imagination. We like to think a lot. We like to consider and ponder and dream and fantasize. We imagine how things might turn out. We imagine how things could be different. Some of us use our imagination for creative pursuits.
3. You Don’t Like Rushing Around
Do you like to take your time and move through life at your own pace? Do you get easily overwhelmed by endless to-do lists, tight deadlines, and hectic schedules? If yes, that’s another sign that you could be an HSP. Because we process information thoroughly and because our nervous systems are more sensitive to stressors and other stimuli, we are worn down by rushing around more quickly than non-HSPs.
4. You Have A Keen Sense For Subtleties
If subtle changes in other people’s moods or the general atmosphere are immediately obvious to you, that’s another sign that you could be an HSP. Because we are so sensitive to any kind of stimulation from our environment, HSPs have a tendency to notice subtleties that others miss and we often do this unconsciously, which results in us appearing more intuitive. We “just know” without being able to explain how.
5. You Feel Other People’s Feelings
HSPs tend to be highly empathetic to the point that we often feel other people’s emotions in our own bodies. This is because our mirror neurons, the neurons that help people assess other people’s emotional states, are particularly active.
6. You Have Strong Emotional Reactions
HSPs not only feel other people’s feelings, but our own emotional reactions also tend to be both more easily triggered and more intensely felt. When we feel good, we feel GOOD. When we feel bad, we feel BAD.
7. You Have A Hard Time Receiving Criticism
HSPs often have a harder time dealing with criticism than non-HSPs and there are two reasons for that. First, receiving criticism can trigger emotions and we feel these emotions more intensely than others. Second, we process events more deeply so we might analyze any feedback we get from every possible angle and have difficulty letting it go.
8. You Are super Conscientious
Because criticism feels so uncomfortable, we like to do everything in our power to avoid it. So many of us are conscientious rule followers, always trying to do the right thing, cause no trouble, and please others. Sometimes to our own detriment.
9. You Have To Have DOWN Time BY YOURSELF
HSPs feel more and process more. This means that our brains and bodies are taxed more and we need more rest. Even extroverted HSPs and HSPs who enjoy socializing need regular doses of quiet time with minimal stimulation.
10. You Struggle With Excessive Stress And Its Consequences
One of the defining characteristics of high sensitivity is having a reactive stress response. This means that our physical stress response gets triggered more easily and it takes longer for us to calm back down after being triggered. So when we are exposed to the same stressors as non-HSPs, our bodies are taxed more. Sometimes to the point that HSPs suffer the consequences that excessive stress can have on your mental and physical health.
CAN YOU RELATE TO THESE HSP SIGNS?
If you’ve been reading these signs and nodding your head to all or most of them, then the chances are good that you are, indeed, a highly sensitive person! And want to know the good news? The good news is that, while some of these HSP signs have a negative slant to them, living life as a highly sensitive person doesn’t have to be a negative experience at all. High sensitivity also comes with many upsides and the downsides can be managed. I hope you find the resources here helpful in doing just that!