The Highly Sensitive Child and Depth of Processing

In her groundbreaking book, The Highly Sensitive Person, Elaine Aron writes about the acronym DOES. The first letter, “D”, stands for depth of processing. Perhaps you are a parent of a highly sensitive child and you wonder how this processing works for your child.

A highly sensitive person processes things more deeply than most. If you are a highly sensitive person, this doesn’t come as a surprise to you, but you might wonder exactly how this plays out, especially in the mind of a child.

Let me relate a couple of childhood memories that might define what depth of processing could look like for a highly sensitive child.

Depth of Processing in a Young Child

I couldn’t have been more than four years old when our family was invited to a party next door. Every child’s dream, right? Not this child.  I couldn’t deal with the bright lights and all the talking and chatter and, most of all, the loud music.

Now, I don’t know whether I stayed there for a minute or two before asking my mother to take me home or whether I didn’t even get inside the doorway.

I do remember her bringing me a paper plate with some potato chips on it and a cup half full of orange soda. I remember eating it at our dining room table and listening to the music that I could still hear pretty clearly even from our house.

I recall going through the process in my mind of regretting that I didn’t have the courage to go and wondering what everybody thought of me for not wanting to be there … but at the same time feeling relieved that I could enjoy chips and soda in the relative safety of the house instead of in the midst of so much clamor and noise.

While few four-year-olds would have made that decision to stay home, others might have opted to remain home due to shyness. But few four-year-olds – except a highly sensitive one – would have processed the whole situation while sitting there munching on potato chips.

Only a highly sensitive child would have gone through the mental processes of …

  • what her mother thought about her
  • how the other people at the party must have perceived her
  • whether or not it was worth it to oblige what other people were thinking by deciding to attend the party
  • deciding it wasn’t worth the noise and clamor

Ultimately, I was left with mixed feelings about my decision to stay at home.

I considered the opportunity to have more chips or seconds on soda or perhaps a little bit of attention from friends or family at the party.

I also worried about being teased by my older sisters when they got home, or that they would tell me how much fun they had.

For a highly sensitive child, attending a party is not a single decision; it’s a thousand.

Depth of Processing in an Older Child

On another occasion, when I was about nine, I remember watching Fantasia with my teenage siblings and a couple of their friends.

While we were watching, my older sister made a comment about having watched the same video the previous week at their friend’s house.

The friend said something about how it was more exciting or more interesting to watch it that night.

No more words were exchanged but I intrinsically knew exactly what they had been talking about. I knew they had been doing drugs at their friend’s house and that the fact that they were high had changed their perception of the movie and made it more interesting in their minds.

This was before my parents knew my older sisters were doing drugs and before I necessarily “knew” it, yet I somehow already knew it.

I asked one of my older sisters about it later, and she laughed it off while admitting that, yes, I had been right about my assumption.

Looking back, I can’t explain how I knew what I had known.

  • Was it that thing they call intuition?
  • Did it have more to do with the wording or with their gestures?
  • Were there other cues they gave that I intrinsically understood?

I don’t know for sure.

For a highly sensitive child, perception is often on target.

Closing Thoughts

If you have a highly sensitive child, simply being aware of this fact can do wonders for your child.

As a parent of an HSP, here are a few ways you can make it easier for your highly sensitive child.

  1. Accept her decisions, as long as her choices are reasonable and safe.
  2. Don’t question his line of reasoning unless he offers information; it’s hard for an adult to track back their decision-making process. Think about how much more challenging it is for an HSP child.
  3. Be available. Sometimes a highly sensitive child needs someone to walk through that depth of processing with them and to reassure them that things will work out okay.
  4. Avoid teasing them. Remember that a highly sensitive person takes even gentle teasing far more seriously than the average person. Avoid teasing them about the way their mind works or the steps they took to arrive at a decision.

You would never want an HSP to think there is something wrong with them just because they process information differently than others.

As a parent of an HSP, you can be their strongest supporters … and your child depends on you for it.

HSPs in Literature – J Alfred Prufrock

Let us go then, you and I …

The famous opening line of what is possibly T.S. Elliot’s most well-known poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

The speaker of the poem, J. Alfred Prufrock, can be nothing but a highly sensitive person.

He remarks on his keen observations, things that only a highly sensitive person would tend to notice:

… Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
He even likens the streets of London to an argument … a tedious argument at that, which is what every highly sensitive person thinks of an argument – tedious and undesirable.
… In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo …
Few things tire a highly sensitive person more than draining conversations about nothing in particular, a.k.a. small talk.
… There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet …
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions …
How carefully do we HSPs sometimes have to “prepare a face” to meet the outside world?
How many decisions run through the mind of a highly sensitive person every day?
And how often do we envision dozens of possibilities, real and imagined, revising them, fretting over them, and wondering what will come to pass?
And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair —
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”) …
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”) …
Yes, these questions of a highly sensitive person … these concerns of what people are thinking and saying behind our backs.
… Do I dare
Disturb the universe? …
Sometimes we HSPs even worry our place disturbs the universe at large.
For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
               So how should I presume?
Sometimes a highly sensitive person feels like an old soul. Like they have somehow been around the block of feelings and knowledge and deep emotions more than their young years can prove, just like J. Alfred Prufrock.
… I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas …
And what HSP hasn’t wished, at some random moment, to be a creature of the ocean, beneath undulating waves, so far from the harsh rays of sun and sound?
To simply flow with the ocean’s endless tides.
… But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid …
As HSPs, we fear many things, yet somehow garner the courage to pursue and continue on in the face of our fears.
… Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball …
If one, settling a pillow by her head
               Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;
               That is not it, at all.” …
The things we say are often not the things we mean, but it is so difficult to express all we feel and sense as a highly sensitive person.
… Shall I part my hair behind?   Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each …
Amidst the trying questions of what we dare and dare not do, again, this HSP speaker longs for the peace of the ocean’s depths.
… I do not think that they will sing to me …
Our fear, however, is that the voices and the peace they represent are not for us.
… I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown …
As highly sensitive people, we might feel as though we are drowning among the human voices that surround us.
We picture with a sense of peace and joy the idea of the mermaids heading toward the sea, lingering peacefully among the waves and weeds of the ocean.
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” ends suddenly, as if his thoughts are cut short by those human voices cutting in on his reflective moments of peace and contemplation.
But the words of the speaker, and of the poet, T. S. Eliot, remain verses that endure and speak deeply to readers, poets, students … and of course HSPs.
Photo of peach on Foter.com

5 Worst Careers for a Highly Sensitive Person

Like any other person, a highly sensitive person needs to find a career where they feel comfortable and fulfilled.

Unlike any other person, however, an HSP faces certain challenges that make some jobs less-than-ideal.

Here’s our list of the five worst jobs for a highly sensitive person.

Sales and marketing

Whether it’s navigating the floor of a department store trying to make a sale, making cold calls, or knocking on doors and talking about a new product, the very idea of sales and marketing can make a highly sensitive person break out in a cold sweat.

This is for a few reasons …

  • An HSP is highly tuned into the reactions of others.
  • An HSP also reads body language and nuanced responses that others might not catch.
  • They can easily spot when someone is not open to their words.
  • The highly sensitive person will naturally translate this into rejection, the very thought of which can ruin an HSP’s whole day.

Now imagine having to deal with approaching strangers, giving a sales spiel, and hearing the words “No” (regardless of how politely they are spoken) … All. Day. Long!

For this reason, sales and marketing is an industry a highly sensitive person should likely avoid.

Customer support

A highly sensitive person feels things deeply and relates personally to problems they hear about or encounter.

Many HSPs are also empaths and they easily absorb the feelings of others.

In a customer support position, an HSP would have to hear about people’s problems on a regular basis. The problems might be technical or retail, but to a highly sensitive person, they’re personal.

Public relations

A person in public relations is perpetually on stage, at least during work hours.

A highly sensitive person regularly needs solitude and downtime, which would not be an option with a hectic Monday-Friday job in public relations.

Clearly, this would be one of the worst careers for a highly sensitive person.

Executive positions

Managers and supervisors need to take responsibility for other people. The proverbial buck stops with them.

However, a highly sensitive person already takes emotional responsibility for people around them.

An HSP in an executive position would have to deal with that doubly-strong sense of responsibility, internalizing daily problems and finding it difficult to disconnect from work troubles after clocking out.

Lawyers/prosecuting attorney

Conflict deeply disturbs the delicate equilibrium of a highly sensitive person.

And lawyers/attorneys make a living off of conflict, loosely speaking.

On top of that, they have to deal with the lack of justice they would face on a daily basis.

An HSP’s desire is to help people with their problems; therefore, having to face the fact that they can’t fix every unfair or painful legal issue would affect them more deeply than others.

Closing thoughts

If you are an HSP looking for a career, now you know the worst jobs for a highly sensitive person.

With this list of what areas to steer clear from, you can more easily narrow your job search and find something that works for you.

All the best in finding a career where you can find the support and balance you need as an HSP.


Photo on Foter.com

HSP Field Notes on Driving

As a highly sensitive person, you don’t want to take everything personally, but you do.

Everything includes driving, or more specifically, the other drivers.

You take it personally because you know the cars are not simply cars – inanimate objects operating independently of emotion and feeling.

There’s a driver inside … and that driver is making decisions that affects not only the vehicles, but everyone in and outside of vehicles nearby.

You Are a Highly Sensitive Driver When …

As an HSP, you might have begun driving later than most.

Or if you began driving as soon as you could get a license, you likely feel the heavy responsibility that driving is.

The fact that you’re steering a vehicle capable of murder – or at the very least, manslaughter. It might sound morbid, but it’s true. And a highly sensitive person has pictured what this might mean .. probably more than once.

About a year after I began driving, I was taking a free right turn on a street I often travel. The street’s sidewalk is bordered by a tall hedge, beyond which I couldn’t see anything.

I’d driven this route repeatedly on the way to my parents’ house, so I simply slowed to a rolling stop, ready to keep on driving.

And I almost hit a man on a bicycle who sped into sight from behind the hedge.

I stopped quickly, he passed, and nothing bad happened.

But I replayed that in my mind time and again, playing the “What if” game again and again.

I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t stop it.

  • What if he had been going faster?
  • How would it have turned out if I hadn’t stopped in time?
  • What if I hadn’t seen him until it was too late?

A non-HSP might just breathe a sigh of relief and say, “Phew, close call. Lucky for him.”

I pictured the guy’s family, the hospital, or worse, the morgue, the police officers … the undying guilt.

I don’t like driving, and if you’re a highly sensitive person, you probably don’t like it either. The responsibility is simply too great. You drive because you have to, not because you like to.

Dealing with Non-HSP Drivers

That was a tangent. The main point of these field notes on driving involve other people – the driver behind the wheel of the other car.

As mentioned above, you know there’s a person in the other car, a person just like you – except that by their choices, they are clearly not a highly sensitive person.

In short, their aggression grieves you or brings you anxiety, sometimes both.

Example:

You’re driving a two-lane road and see the sign ahead … you know, the sign that brings you sudden anxiety because when you turned onto that road, you turned into the lane you need to be in, in preparation for the next turn.

  • You hate having to veer into another lane last minute.
  • You don’t want to inconvenience the drivers in that lane.

So, you’re in the left lane, for instance, and you see the sign:

“Road work. Left lane closed ahead.”

Within half a second, you’ve turned on your blinker, even if you don’t yet see the place where the road narrows into a one-lane. You check your rear-view and your side-view mirrors (although you already know from frequent checking and heightened awareness what is behind and near you).

Within ten seconds – if at all possible – you’ve turned into the right lane and you breathe a sigh of relief. You’re safe. You’re in the proper lane. You didn’t crash into anyone.

And there it is ahead – the road narrowing into a single lane and cars filing toward that.

In your mind, it’s like a line leading toward an amusement part ride. Or a line in a cafeteria.

No cutting allowed.

You wouldn’t want someone to cut in front of you, and you wouldn’t dare cut in front of someone else.

It’s the basic Golden Rule at work, which Jesus so aptly coined by stating, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”

So, you’re driving in the right lane, and traffic is slowing down. It’s slowing down more than it should be.

Why?

It’s easy to see, but it bothers you … Every. Single. Time.

Vehicle after vehicle speeds ahead in the left lane, passing dozens of cars, and swerving into the right lane at the very last minute before it becomes one lane.

Most of the time, they don’t even use their turning signal.

It’s not necessarily the inconvenience it causes you and the other cars.

After all, you didn’t end up late to work because of the choice of one driver.

It’s just one car length.

And that’s the core of why it bothers you – not just in the above example, but pretty much every time you’re behind the wheel.

It’s not that you drive slowly. You keep up with traffic, but invariably every time you’re behind the wheel, someone speeds up, cuts in front of you, and then often slows down (and slows you down) so they can turn into some lane or other road.

Why, you want to ask the driver?

“Why not just remain at the same speed you were instead of cutting in front of one more car? It’s just one car length, after all. What does it matter?”

As an HSP, you wonder why it matters to you. Why it bothers you. But it does.

It bothers you because you know that’s a person behind the wheel. A person who probably wouldn’t, under normal circumstances, push in front of you in a line without saying a word.

They wouldn’t do that in person, so why do that in a vehicle?

It’s all the same in your mind, after all.

Whether in or outside of a two-ton hunk of metal capable of murder, the person is a person.

So, what kind of person allows the vehicle to change who they are and how they would otherwise act and react?

Road Rage and HSP Anxiety

You’ve heard of road rage, and if you drive, you’ve likely experienced it too. You know you’re not insusceptible to behaving rudely just because you’re safe behind the wheel.

But in the rare occasions you do attempt it, your heart races and you feel guilty just for speeding up to catch up with that person who cut you off.

The anxiety and trembling, the racing pulse, just aren’t worth it.

So, you let them pass, but you still want to understand.

If you could, you would step outside of your vehicle and knock on their driver’s window.

You’d say, “Hey, I was the one you cut off on the road a minute ago without using your blinkers. I’m just curious, why would you cut in front of someone without indicating?”

After all, to you, the blinkers are like “Please” and “thank you.” They’re manners on the road.

You’d want to know why the person was in a hurry.

This is what you want to ask:

“Are you late for work? Did you have a stressful day and you just aren’t thinking about the drive? Are you listening to hyped up music and is it affecting your mood?

Do you play a lot of driving video games so that, when you get behind the wheel, you’re just in that mode? Did you even think about it? Did you even think about me?”

As a highly sensitive person, that’s the crux of the matter, isn’t it?

You’re so highly attuned to people, to what they do and how they act, to what they feel and how they respond to those feelings. If you could, you would try to make a connection.

If you could, you would try to make a friend.

But you can’t, so you just stay in your lane and leave a few car spaces between you and the vehicle in front of you.

It’s your way of saying, “If getting ahead one more car length is that important to you, go ahead. You’re welcome to it.”

You don’t understand this aggressive mindset, but you try to navigate as best you can among and around them … because as a highly sensitive person, that’s just what you do.


Photo on Foter.com

10 Highly Sensitive Disney Characters

Not every Disney character is a princess seeking freedom from the perfect life laid out for her or a beggar boy hoping to be a prince. If you look closely, you’ll find that some much-loved Disney characters manifest highly sensitive personalities. A few of them also have introverted characters.

Highly sensitive Disney characters are often the sidekicks, the shy and unobtrusive ones. But sometimes you’ll find them playing lead roles.

These highly sensitive Disney characters are some of the most complex personalities. Some might be a little crusty and some more than a little cute … but all are unforgettable.

Which of these highly sensitive Disney characters to you empathize most with?

1. Flower (Bambi)

Flower No one who’s watched the classic Disney cartoon Bambi can forget the iconic character who didn’t even have the nerve to introduce himself correctly.

Instead, he simply stated, “You can call me Flower if you want to … I don’t mind.”

In fact, we never even discover his real name. We know the blue-eyed skunk from Bambi is bashful and seems to hate attention. But this highly sensitive character proves himself as a faithful friend … except when he wants to sleep (all winter long). 

And yes, we know how much HSPs need their sleep!

2. Bailey (Finding Dory)

BaileyThis highly sensitive Disney character has a keen (and probably overwhelming) sense of hearing (any HSPs out there relate?) and lacks confidence in himself.

It takes a close friend (Destiney) and a crazy newcomer (Dory) to convince Bailey that maybe there is life beyond his safe spaces.

But we’re pretty sure he’ll always be on the shy and sensitive side, no matter where he might end up in the big, wide world.

3. Sadness (Inside Out)

Sadness First of all, raise your hand (or just nod slightly) if you cried more than once while watching this movie.

And another nod if you could totally relate to Sadness, a softspoken and sensitive character whose personality is the exact opposite to Joy.

Sadness is certain that she ruined things by affecting one of Riley’s core memories with … well … sadness. But her sensitive nature proves to be a vital part of Riley’s psyche.

Sometimes you just need someone to cry with, and Sadness, with her highly sensitive personality, knew how to do just that.

4. Kristoff (Frozen)

KristoffThis might seem like a stretch, but remember his song to Sven: “Reindeer are better than people …” even if people do smell better than reindeer.

If you’re a highly sensitive person, you’ve doubtless had moments (or long seasons) where you’ve preferred animal company to humans.

And when Olaf the snowman sang his famous song about summer, Kristoff was deeply concerned about Olaf’s innocence and repeated, “Someone needs to tell him.”

However, he was too sensitive to state outright, “Dude, you’re gonna melt.”

5. Bashful (Snow White)

bashfulIf you’re a highly sensitive person, Bashful is probably your favorite dwarf (though depending on your mood, Grumpy might be a close second).

Bashful has a secret crush on Snow White, but can rarely stammer out much more than “Oh, gosh,” when he finds himself the subject of her attention.

He loves sugar and flowers, plays an instrument, and appreciates beauty. Need we say more?

6. Jiminy Cricket (Pinocchio)

Jiminy CricketSpeaking of appreciating beauty, Jiminy Cricket surely had a crush on the lovely Blue Fairy, who dubbed him Pinocchio’s conscience.

Although reserved and realistic, Jiminy Cricket still embraced the task wholeheartedly. 

As an HSP, you’ve likely held the uncomfortable position of serving as “conscience” to a friend or family member, whether you’ve wanted to or not.

If nothing else, you’ve probably thought it: That’s not the right way to go and they’ll end up disappointed or hurt. But you stayed true to your friend no matter what they chose. You can likely relate to Jiminy Cricket, who stuck by Pinocchio … even when he turned into a donkey.

7. Archimedes (The Sword in the Stone)

archimedesArchimedes might come across as a crusty old owl who wants nothing more than a bit more sleep … but if you’re a highly sensitive introvert, you’ve undoubtedly had those days where you were more than a little grumpy because you were tired.

He is easily offended, such as when he and Merlin are given the coldest, draftiest room in the castle.

However, when Arthur’s life is in danger, Archimedes risks his own safety to rescue the boy. When Merlin asks him about it though, he acts as though he did nothing of the sort.

Sometimes HSPs are unlikely heroes. 

8. Milo (Atlantis)

Milo ThatchThis Disney film from 2001 might not have been the most popular (possibly due to the lack of a Disney princess).

But Milo, the lead character, held his own as an awkward, highly sensitive genius.

A linguist and cartographer who finished high school at 11 and declined both Harvard and Princeton, Milo Thatch is a dream-chaser, reluctant to give up his hopes that the lost city of Atlantis really does exist.

Eventually, he leads a group of scientists to Atlantis, not knowing everyone but him is in it for the money. In spite of his awkwardness, his sensitivity and honesty bring all but the biggest villains to his side, and his courage helps to renew a dying land.

9. Alice (Alice in Wonderland)

Alice in WonderlandAny other HSPs love using their vivid imagination to escape the real world on a regular basis?

That’s Alice for you.

She loved reading, but not boring, visionless books. Alice wanted something that would capture her imagination and bring it to life … which is just what happens when she tumbles down the rabbit hole.

Alice cries a river … literally, and finds herself in adventure after adventure … all the while seeking a way to get back home.

Highly sensitive people are homebodies, after all.  

10. Belle (Beauty and the Beast)

BelleAnd yes, sometimes the highly sensitive person is the Disney princess, as Belle, the dreamer who is rarely seen without a book in her hands.

Even though no one could deny the truth of her name, the townspeople still state, “I’m afraid she’s rather odd–very different from the rest of us.”

Different … but that’s not necessarily bad. After all, she had the sensitive nature needed to see the beauty hidden deep within a terrifying beast, enabling him to transform into his true self.

HSP Field Notes on Loaning Books to Friends

Loaning BooksFirst of all, why would you be loaning books to friends?

Well, as a highly sensitive person, you consider your books some of your closest friends.

Your living and breathing friends are also your friends.

(Therein lies the problem.)

You love a good book and the thrill of emotion that stories can provide.

  • Books have healed you.
  • They’ve made you cry.
  • Books have made you smile and laugh.
  • Sometimes they’ve changed your life.

So, you want to share those joys with your friends (the human friends, not the friends that live between the pages).

So you loan your book to a friend.

The next time you see them, you eagerly ask what they thought of the book that you loaned.

They say something like this:

“Oh, I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet, but I can’t wait to find the time.”

You notice they post about a dozen times an hour on Facebook, but you don’t mention that.

You might ask the question once more, but you get another:

“Sorry, I haven’t had a chance to read it yet.”

You don’t ask again about the book you loaned them.

Why?

As a highly sensitive person, here are three main reasons:

  1. You don’t want to seem like a burden or an irritation.
  2. You definitely don’t want to seem desperate.
  3. But you don’t want to make your friend feel uncomfortable about the fact that you loaned them a book three months ago (or six months ago or two years ago) and they still haven’t read it.

But you remember.

You remember every book that you’ve loaned.

Although you might not remember exactly when the book changed hands and was no longer in your possession, you know who is currently in possession of the book.

And sometimes, when you notice the place on your bookshelf where the book used to be, you imagine where it might be in your friend’s house.

  • Is it on one of their bookshelves?
  • Did it end up in a box and get stuffed in their garage?
  • Might it be on their bedside table, meaning they really do plan to read it soon?
  • Did they move it along while following Marie Kondo’s advice?

So, to protect your highly sensitive self from the nagging worry of where your book-friends might be suffering some horrible fate, you decide you’ll never loan a book again.

Then your friend stops by for a visit

And when they ask what’s new, you happen to mention, “I just read the most amazing book.”

Your friend expresses an interest and you decide you’ll try it … Just. One. Last. Time.

So you loan them your book … and it begins all over again.

_______

Photo by Theo Crazzolara on Foter.com / CC BY

10 Signs You’re a Highly Sensitive Person

Signs of a Highly Sensitive Person

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.

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.

If it bothers you, try coming up with a return comment when people say it.

Maybe …

  • You’re not sensitive enough.
  • You’re too insensitive.

Or my favorite:

  • The world needs more sensitive people.

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?

If you find yourself feeling stressed or pressure, try going outside for even a few minutes.

Spending a few minutes under a beautiful blue sky or surrounded by trees and greenery can make all the difference.

5. You need more sleep than others

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 love sleeping as a young child, if you are a highly sensitive person, there was likely a point in time when you realized that you enjoyed resting.

While everyone in the world today needs sleep, HSPs really do need more sleep than others.

Because highly sensitive people have deep processing systems and easily get overwhelmed, they feel refreshed and recalibrated by sleep.

When a highly sensitive person reaches that point of exhaustion, nothing will do besides taking a nap (or getting a full night’s sleep).

6. You try to avoid conflict

If conflict causes you higher levels of anxiety or stress than the average person, you’re likely a highly sensitive person.

Whether it’s competitiveness among family members or competition in the workplace, you try to stay far away from it.

And that’s a good thing!

There is altogether too much conflict in this world and we need a few more peacemakers.

7. Beauty affects you deeply

Although you feel deeply affected by the negative side of life, such as conflict and competition, the positive side influences you just as intensely.

As a highly sensitive person, you might find yourself at the point of tears when listening to a moving song (and wanting to replay the song a dozen times to experience the feeling again and again).

Or you might be driving somewhere and catch sight of a magnificent sunset or even a single tree growing in the center of a field, and want nothing more than to stop and take in the beauty and the feeling that it gives you.

And what do you do when you can’t get a vision of beauty out of your head?

8. You seek ways to express creativity

Highly sensitive people experience things deeply, and not only turn to music and poetry and art to enjoy, but also as a mode of creative expression.

Many musicians, artists, and other creatives are likely HSPs and they define themselves as shy, sensitive, and introverted.

Being a highly sensitive person might mean you seek ways to create art through making music, or writing poetry or short stories.

9. You feel drained by “small talk”

If you are a highly sensitive person, the worst thing about parties is not the loud music or even the crowd.

It’s the small talk.

It’s the necessity to listen to acquaintances talk about fashion and clothes and shoes and sports and all those topics that really have no worth.

This does not only mean face-to-face interaction.

It can also mean engaging in online discussions. An HSP can get totally drained by reading a dozen comments on a post, even if the issue being discussed is not drawing conflict.

While interacting online and via social media can provide an extra boundary, it can still feel tiring for a highly sensitive person.

10. You think deeply about past interactions

You might remember nearly every word of a discussion that took place years ago.

What is more, those interactions and conversations affected you deeply.

And that’s okay. It’s part of being a deep person and a deep processor.

You’re not alone.

If you find yourself struggling with the memories of harsh or difficult interactions, reach out to someone in your personal support group (a friend or family member) to talk about it.

Sometimes all it takes is having someone to talk with to help you move beyond a difficult memory.

The Beauty of a Highly Sensitive Person

So, maybe you’re just realizing you’re a highly sensitive person.

If you’re new to the concept, please know that being an HSP is not a character flaw or a disorder.

It is the way you are wired … the way your mind processes information, and has done so since you were born.

I recommend that you learn what you can about highly sensitive people and that you connect with others.

Look around you.

There might already be a few in your circle or community that you just never realized were HSPs.

It takes all kinds of people in this world …

And highly sensitive people are a beautiful part of it.

That includes you!