Do you consider yourself a deep thinker? Do you feel things much more intensely than others? If you answered yes, then chances are you’re part of the small percentage of people who are highly sensitive.
Being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) means that you were born with a predisposition to process and perceive information on a much deeper level than most (Aron, 1996). Most HSPs are perceptive, empathetic, intuitive, and self-aware. They’re emotionally intelligent and incredibly creative, passionate, people.
But that’s not to say there aren’t any downsides to being so sensitive. Often times, Highly Sensitive People are easily overwhelmed and quick to let their emotions cloud their judgment. They can be erratic, indecisive, and overdramatic, especially to those who don’t really understand what it means to be an HSP.
With that said, here are 13 struggles only Highly Sensitive People will probably relate to:
1. You can’t function without sleep
Like a lot of us, Highly Sensitive People don’t do well when they’re sleep deprived. They’re likely to be cranky, irritable, groggy, and on edge because, as studies show, they tend to need more sleep than most (Kilgore, 2016).
2. You can’t stand loud noises
HSPs get easily overwhelmed where there are large crowds and lots of commotion. So while going to concerts, festivals, clubs, and parties may be a lot of people’s idea of a fun time, a highly sensitive person would find it difficult to enjoy themselves anywhere that’s too loud for their liking, which can often make them seem like such a “stick in the mud” to everyone else.
3. You often feel emotionally exhausted
One of the core characteristics of being a Highly Sensitive Person is that you feel things more deeply than others. You often absorb and reflect the emotions of those around you, too, which can make most days feel like an emotional rollercoaster.
4. You scrutinize social interactions
HSPs are the type to notice the little things that other people often miss, particularly in social situations. They’re very good at perceiving non-verbal cues and analyzing another person’s body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. As a result, they’re also likely to end up overanalyzing things and making a big deal about something that might not even matter.
5. You’re easily triggered by violence
Are you squeamish about watching gory movies and feel disturbed listening to stories about heinous crimes being committed on the news? Highly Sensitive People have very strong reactions towards violence and cruelty, which is why it can be so unsettling for them to watch or hear about anything too graphic.
6. You have a hard time moving on
One of the most painful downsides to being so sensitive is that it can take you a long time to get over things. When someone says something mean or does something bad, you can’t just let it go, no matter how much you may want to. You know in the back of your mind that it’s not really a big deal, but you can’t help making it one anyway.
7. You’re uncomfortable with change
Navigating new environments can be taxing on HSPs because they have to take everything in before they can start to feel comfortable. They feel anxious when eating somewhere new or trying something they’ve never done before, because they’ve spent so much time getting comfortable with their usual routine that it feels uncomfortable to suddenly change things up.
8. You don’t react well to criticism and conflict
HSPs are some of the gentlest and most tender people you will ever meet. They are emotional and soft-hearted, which means you should take extra care when dealing with them. Criticizing them, raising your voice at them, and getting upset with them in any way can hurt them a lot, even if it comes from a good place.
9. You don’t do well under pressure
Deadlines and time pressure can cause serious distress to a Highly Sensitive Person. They hate having to rush into anything and juggling several tasks at once. They’d much rather take their time with their projects and give their full attention to whatever they’re doing.
10. You say yes to things you don’t want to do
HSPs are more emotionally aware than most, so it’s easy for them to sense when others are disappointed or upset about something. Because of this, they often end up saying yes to a lot of things they don’t want to do, just to please those around them and avoid letting them down.
11. You’re your own worst critic
A highly sensitive person finds it difficult to come to terms with their personal failures. They beat themselves up over every little mistake they make and hold themselves to an impossibly high standard. No one is harsher or more demanding of themselves than an HSP.
12. You need time alone
HSPs can’t be around other people for long periods of time, and some days are simply too much for them to bear. Because they process things at such a deeper level, they need more time to rest and recover from all the mental and emotional energy they expend.
13. You’re often misunderstood
Finally, if you’re a Highly Sensitive Person, you probably feel misunderstood by those around you. Because HSPs are often hard to come across – only 1 in every 5 people have this particular personality trait (Aron, et al., 2013) – it can be difficult for other people to relate to you and understand your point of view.
While it’s certainly no walk in the park being a Highly Sensitive Person, it’s a wonderful trait to have and part of what makes you so special. HSPs are insightful, artistic, and open-minded. They’re great listeners with an admirable capacity for kindness, compassion, and understanding. So if you’re a Highly Sensitive Person, you should count yourself lucky to be one. HSPs are often some of the most passionate, authentic, and idealistic people you will ever meet, and many of them go on to change the world for the better in their own unique way.
- Aron, E. N. (1996). Counseling the highly sensitive person. Counseling and Human Development, 28, 1-7.
- Killgore, W. D. (2010). Effects of sleep deprivation on cognition. In Progress in brain research(Vol. 185, pp. 105-129). Elsevier.
- Aron, E. (2013). The highly sensitive person. Kensington Publishing Corp.
- Sand, I. (2016). Highly Sensitive People in an Insensitive World: How to Create a Happy Life. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
- Zeff, T. (2004). The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide: Essential Skills for Living Well in an Overstimulating World. New Harbinger Publications.