You might have heard the term “highly sensitive person” recently. Perhaps you even took the online test to find out if you are a highly sensitive person (HSP).
But even if you found a few things in common with the highly sensitive person test, you’re still not quite sure if you are one.
In this article, we want to make it easier for you to determine whether or not you really are an HSP.
“Never despise a person’s sensitivity. His sensitivity is his genius.” – Charles Baudelaire
So, read on to discover 10 signs you’re a highly sensitive person …
1. You cry easily
Now, before you quickly write off this point and say, “No, that’s not me,” think about it more deeply.
Culture has a lot more bearing than we sometimes realize on some aspects of our nature.
For example, as a highly sensitive person, you might frequently blink back the tears or push them down just because “It’s not manly to cry,” or “Big girls don’t cry.”
But while growing up, perhaps you found yourself crying more easily than friends.
And these days, you still make sure you have a few tissues in your purse or back pocket when going to the movies … just in case.
2. You grew up hearing, “You’re too sensitive.”
About that crying … even though you couldn’t help it, did you still get reactions from people such as:
- It’s not a big deal.
- There’s nothing to cry about.
- Why are you being so sensitive?
- You’re just too sensitive.
If so, you’re likely a highly sensitive person … and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
3. You need alone time
It’s not that you don’t like people … you do. In fact, as a highly sensitive person, you likely empathize with people more deeply than non-HSPs.
Therein lies the issue.
Because you are more sensitive to attitudes, nonverbal language, and moods, it can be exhausting to hang out among people.
- And this doesn’t just mean strangers.
- Sometimes you need a break from your own family.
Highly sensitive people need time alone to recharge and process or decompress after spending time with people.
4. You find yourself calmed by nature
You’ve likely discovered that your environment greatly influences your mood.
Perhaps you also know by now that the simple act of stepping into a peaceful backyard or taking a walk in a park does something special to your psyche.
In fact, “Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings.” (Source)
How much more so for highly sensitive people who find themselves more susceptible to issues of stress and anxiety?
5. You take naps
Growing up, you might have been one of the few children who didn’t mind hearing a parent say, “It’s nap time!”
Even if you didn’t embrace the nap as a child, you likely consider it one of the best times of your day as an adult.
Why is this?
Now, taking regular naps might simply help you not feel as tired physically.
But napping offers a whole lot of other benefits, including:
- Greater alertness
- Higher levels of creativity
- Less stress
- Improved perception
- Greater stamina
- Better accuracy with motor skills
- Boosted mood
These are improvement for the average person.
For the highly sensitive person, naps offer an added benefit: a simple mental break.
Let’s face it: perpetually processing high amounts of sensory input can feel exhausting.
A nap provides a daily break for your mind.
6. Conflict upsets you
If conflict causes you higher levels of anxiety or stress than the average person, you’re likely a highly sensitive person.
This is not a “you problem.”
In fact, clinical health psychologist Elizabeth Fox Butler explains it this way:
HSPs struggle with sensory processing sensitivity. Sensory processing sensitivity causes faster stimulation of an HSP’s nervous [system]. They go into fight or flight mode easier than you do, which triggers anxiety. (Source)
Don’t consider yourself weak if you need to take steps to protect yourself from conflict.
7. You tend to avoid competition
Whether it’s competitiveness among family members or competition in the workplace, you try to stay far away from it.
It’s not that you’re afraid to compete, or that you think you’ll lose.
In fact, often, the opposite is the case.
For instance, when you win – whether it’s a board game, a sports competition, or the coveted corner office – you might wish you hadn’t.
Because you’re so attuned to the reactions and attitudes of the other person/people involved that you can’t simply enjoy the win.
You keenly feel the disappointment of the losers as if you had been the one who didn’t win.
8. You deeply appreciate beauty
- Ever cry while listening to a song?
- Have to wipe away tears when gazing at a painting?
- Does a gorgeous sunset stun you into silence?
- Do you feel like you could stay in a moment of beauty forever?
Although you feel deeply affected by the negative side of life, such as conflict and competition, the positive side influences you just as intensely.
This leads us directly to the next point.
9. You gravitate toward the arts
So, what do you do when you can’t get a vision of beauty out of your head?
You express it through art.
Poetry, painting, blogging, sketching, dancing, crafting … the form doesn’t matter.
The expression does.
And the highly sensitive person must seek some form of expression for all that sensory input.
10. Social interaction tires you
This does not only mean face-to-face interaction.
It can apply to social media too.
Although a highly sensitive person often appreciates the medium of the Internet for social interaction, sometimes even that can prove too much.
Reading an insensitive or inflammatory comment on Facebook or Twitter can completely ruin an HSP’s whole day while the person who made the comment probably didn’t bat an eyelid (or forgot it an instant later).
If you are a highly sensitive person, your emotions require that you monitor all avenues of social interaction and input, even from social media.
Closing thoughts on signs you’re an HSP
So, are you a highly sensitive person?
Only you can really answer that question, but if most (or all) of the above signs apply, you just might be an HSP.
You live and love deeply.
You sometimes find it challenging to process the smallest things in life.
At the same time, your sensitivity often helps you develop an inner strength that enables you to withstand life’s greatest storms.