A lot of people misconstrue sensitivity as a weakness, but a person can be both sensitive and strong at the same time. Having a strong personality means you’re not easily discouraged and you don’t let setbacks keep you down for long. You fight for what you believe in and you’re fearless in the pursuit of what makes you happy, never letting anyone get in the way of what you want. You live life bravely, boldly, and authentically.
But that’s not to say that those who have a strong personality don’t know how to be sympathetic and self-aware as well. Some of them might even be what is known as a “Highly Sensitive Person”; someone who perceives things at a much deeper level, and so they experience feelings and sensations much more intensely than others (Aron, 1996). Highly Sensitive People make up 15-20% of everyone all over the world, and even rarer are those who are both HSPs and have a strong personality. Are you curious if you might be one of them?
Here are 8 signs you’re a Highly Sensitive Person with a strong personality:
1. You stand up for what’s right
You have a strong sense of right and wrong, and you’re not afraid to stand up for what you believe in. It’s easy for you to relate to how other people are feeling and put yourself in their shoes, so when you see someone being mistreated or mocked in any way, you’re the first to jump in and protect them. When someone says something mean or does wrong against someone else, you can’t just turn a blind eye. You feel their pain like it’s your own, and you’re strong enough to speak out on their behalf and help those being hurt (Cooper, 2015).
2. You’re a natural leader
You don’t try to steal the spotlight or take charge of situations, but for some reason, you usually have leadership positions thrust unto you by others. Your friends and family all turn to you for advice, and when they don’t know what to do next, they simply follow your lead. A lot of people are drawn to your strong personality because you’re confident, assertive, and self-assured. But being an HSP, you’re also more empathetic and great at communicating, which are all crucial elements of effective leadership. You’re a deep thinker, so others know that they can trust you to make the right decisions, and you’re always encouraging and helping them to do their best.
3. You’re a great mediator
One of the greatest strengths of being so sensitive is that it makes you great at mediating and resolving conflict. While most HSPs feel uncomfortable about confrontations, you don’t let it intimidate you because you have a strong personality. You don’t like feeling any tension or animosity between your loved ones, so you make it your job to get to the bottom of things and come up with the best way to approach the problem. You’re able to set your personal feelings aside to help your friends and family work out their differences by getting them to hear each other out and come to an understanding (Aron, 2001).
4. You think things through
You never make a decision without completely thinking things through first. You like to consider every possible angle and entertain as many probable outcomes as you can. You think long and hard about what you want, what other people want, and what’s best for everyone involved. You’re thorough, analytical, and strategic with every move you make. Being an HSP, you make sure to think about how your words and actions will affect those around you, but you also don’t let other people’s personal agendas sway your opinions and cloud your judgment.
5. You always tell the truth
You do your best to be as truthful as you can, with yourself and those around you. You’re not afraid to speak your mind, but you do it in the gentlest, most considerate way you can. You tell your loved ones what you think they need to hear, even if it’s hard. You call people out when you feel that they deserve it and you’re never fake or disingenuous with your words or your friendliness.
6. You’re an active listener
Most people don’t really take the time to listen to one another. They simply think about what they’re going to say and wait for their turn to talk, but not you. You really take the time to listen and understand what the other person is trying to say because you know how nice it is to be heard. Your heightened sensitivity allows you to pick up on the subtleties of their words, movements, and facial expressions to get a better understanding of what they really mean, and you use your strength to keep your composure and stay reassuring and supportive (Aron, 1999).
7. You’re fiercely independent
All Highly Sensitive People need time alone to recharge and collect their thoughts. You can’t function properly if you’re not given the personal space you need to process everything that’s going on, and some days are simply too exhausting and overwhelming for you to bear. You like to work on your own because you’re more productive that way; you’re self-sufficient, self-directed, and self-motivated. You know what you want and you go after it relentlessly but at your own pace. You don’t need anyone telling you what to do or how to do it (Zeff, 2004).
8. You crave meaningful relationships
Finally but most importantly, if you want to have meaningful relationships in your life, there’s a very good chance you’re an HSP with a strong personality. You don’t want casual friends to make meaningless small talk with just for the comfort of having someone to talk to. It’s important to you that you connect with people on an emotional level and feel comfortable enough to share a laugh with them, call them up after a breakup, and have late-night conversations about your dreams in life. And you’re not happy settling for anything less (Sand, 2016).
While it may not seem like it at first glance, sensitivity and strength actually go hand in hand. Being an HSP makes you more introspective, empathetic, compassionate, and perceptive; while having a strong personality makes you more open, courageous, and tenacious. So if you’re lucky enough to be blessed with both, never lose sight of it. Because to be soft and strong all at once is a rare and beautiful gift many of us can only hope to have.
- Aron, E. N. (1996). Counseling the highly sensitive person. Counseling and Human Development, 28, 1-7.
- Aron, E. (1999). The Highly Sensitive Person’s Workbook: The Practical Guide for Highly Sensitive People and HSP Support Groups. Broadway Books.
- Aron, E. (2001). The highly sensitive person in love: Understanding and managing relationships when the world overwhelms you. Harmony.
- Cooper, T. (2015). The Ordinary Magic of Resilience and the Highly Sensitive Person. The Guilford Press, New York: NY.
- Piechowski, M. M. (1997). Emotional giftedness: The measure of intrapersonal intelligence. Handbook of gifted education, 2, 366-381.
- 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.