Healthy Eating for a Highly Sensitive Person

In the discussion of healthy living, the matter of healthy eating is bound to come up at some point. “You are what you eat” and all of that.

Naturally, diet is an important part of a healthy-living conversation, but it is not the whole conversation. I feel that sometimes when discussing healthy living, diet and exercise are the only things discussed to the neglect of other important aspects of healthy living.

At the same time, diet and healthy eating cannot be completely ignored when it comes to the matter of healthy living. A healthy diet is part of a healthy lifestyle, and it is vitally important for a highly sensitive person due to our often keen sensitivities to certain foods. The link between diet and HSPs is a central one.

Why The 40-Day Journey?

I’ve taken these journeys before in which I have tried to embrace various aspects of healthy living, usually over a period of 40 days. Why 40 days? Well, I’ve read that it takes roughly six weeks to build a habit, and 42 days is basically six weeks – give or take a few days. So that’s one reason.

But the other reason is the significance of the number 40 as in ancient literature 40 days (or 40 years) were significant markers measuring a bridge from one place to another. (I hope I am not the only highly sensitive person who loves significant numbers and patterns.)

Think of the Israelites and their 40 years in the wilderness. Or Jesus and his 40 days in the desert before beginning a public ministry. Or the 40 days he remained on earth after rising again before ascending to heaven and releasing his gift of the Holy Spirit.

Whether or you consider these ancient narratives as truth or myth, there is definitely something about that 40-day mark that acts as a bridge from one thing to another.

In choosing 40 days for my journey toward healthier living, I am hoping to tap into that medium and find some form of bridge or breakthrough.

Now I am not naive in thinking that 40 is a magic number. (Would that it was.)

It is all too easy to land upon a certain time frame – or a certain diet, returning to the earlier conversation – and assuming it is all you need to find significant change in your life.

It rarely is all that you need. Usually, significant life change is only bought at a significant price.

The season of the coronavirus pandemic we are facing worldwide bespeaks the importance of being aware that significant life change can occur when we least expect it. Perhaps a reason to do what we can to prepare for such times.

A Just Balance in Healthy Living

But back to the conversation about diet and healthy eating. In times past, I have used my diet (and more specifically, my weighing scale) as a measure of how effective my healthy living quest happened to be.

In short, if I lost 10 or 20 pounds, it was a success. If I didn’t, well, that was all that really mattered. It is embarrassing to admit this especially when considering the fact that I have never been overweight. As a highly sensitive person I have been aware that thinness is merely an unhealthy societal expectation, I have still succumbed to the cultural view that the thinner you are, the better.

This is why I I’m making an effort to focus on other aspects of healthy living before the matter of my diet. Aspects such as a clutter-free lifestyle and a mind learning and growing through good books.

The problem is that it is often all or nothing at all with me. If diet is not the main focus, I find it difficult focusing on it at all.

Perhaps this is a common plight of highly sensitive people. Because of our depth of processing and the fact that we think so deeply on various matters, it is difficult and next to impossible to focus on so many aspects of healthy living at the same time.

And so it has been with me over the past week since I began my 40-day journey toward healthier living.

I start out the day decently, but the early part of day has never been my problem. It’s always near the end of the day when I begin to crave salty or sweet things.

Questions from an HSP on What Healthy Living Really Is

It is, I believe, my seeking of a comfortable and familiar thing, the way I turn to these things in the evening, usually when I have a small amount of space to myself, even for just a few moments, to read and to indulge in a few squares of dark chocolate or even something as unsophisticated as Cheetos.

And I find myself as a highly sensitive person waging some inner war against myself in some inner discussion. Wondering if I lack the strength to simply say no to these bodily concessions and do without. Wondering if it really would make a difference to my soul or spirit if I were to cut the extras out of my diet, to trim the fat so to speak.

Or if by the eating and the indulging I am simply being true to myself and partaking of those things that help to relax or refresh me as an HSP when I need it the most.

Who is to say? Which really happens to be the healthier kind of living?

What really wins when the mind wins over the body? Is it a victory or simply a decision?

Naturally, I understand that moderation is key to all things, and if I were to consume a pound of dark chocolate on a nightly basis, the discussion would be a different one altogether.

For now, this is only the beginning of the conversation of healthy living and healthy eating, and perhaps one vital aspect of the conversation is to be open to these questions and to understand there is no single right or wrong way to “do life” or to “do healthy living,” especially for a highly sensitive person.

The Complex Emotions of a Highly Sensitive Mama (on Mother’s Day)

So, it’s Mother’s Day 2020. By the looks of it, a lot of moms are celebrating by posting photos of their kids or photos of their mom or both. There’s not a whole lot more we can do with the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic.

I remember reading somewhere that Mother’s Day is the most popular day of the year for eating out (they can’t expect us moms to make dinner on our special day, right?) so plenty of restaurants are probably ruefully counting the amount of money they’re losing by not being open today … but that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about motherhood and belonging and complex emotions and just how exhausting they are for a highly sensitive person (HSP). This Mother’s Day, I’m at the point of tears and just keeping them at bay because I don’t want anyone in the household to know what I am dealing with.

I’m trying to do my best to follow social distancing guidelines by not visiting my parents because they are both nearing 70 and in the high-risk category. Although I and my kids have been staying home pretty much 24/7, we definitely don’t want to put my parents at risk. So although we live in the same city, I called my mom to wish her a happy Mother’s Day instead of stopping by.

I also asked her what she was doing, hoping that she’d find some way to celebrate and enjoy this day. She did. She and my two sisters (both moms) are meeting up to spend a few hours together.

That’s it. I should be happy for her, for them, but instead, this highly sensitive mom feels shattered.

It’s not that I necessarily even like going places. I’m an introvert. Spending more time at home with my family is one of the best things that has happened during the coronavirus pandemic.

But I’ve also been stuck at home for weeks on end with no “me time” or free time and would so love to have been invited for a few hours out “with the girls.” My husband is home today and could have looked after the kids. I would have been available. I would have gone.

Sorrow wells up inside me. I try to step outside of my emotions, stand beside myself and figure out what exactly I am struggling with most among these complex emotions that threaten to wash me under. Is it disappointment? Hurt? Just plain old feeling left out?

I come from a large family – seven kids; I am the sixth. Many of my earliest childhood memories involve being left out, feeling left out, or feeling like no one wanted me around. As a highly sensitive child, I picked up on the comments, attitudes, and reactions of my siblings and it affected me deeply. I mean, what child does not want to belong?

After a childhood and teenhood facing these same problems of seeking and not finding acceptance among my family, I moved away from home at a young age to try to find it in other places. A decade or so passed with little luck.

Marrying and starting a family gave me an automatic place to belong, children to belong to, although I enjoy my space as much as anyone (and need regular space in order to process as any HSP DOES). But sometimes I feel like my mind and heart are pulled back to those exact same emotions I struggled with as a child … of truly needing to find acceptance and belonging, and failing to find it among my own family members.

I get along fine with my brothers and sisters, my parents. I have seasons where life gets busy and I don’t stay in touch as much as I should. I also have seasons where social media gets to be too much so I don’t keep up with what others are doing in life online. I call them my hermit seasons, when I would love nothing more than to find an abandoned cottage in the mountains and live in solitude and contemplation for a while. (I don’t know if that will ever happen, but it remains a dream of mine in times when life gets a little overwhelming.)

I think of my sisters and mom gathering together. I think of me not being there. Instead, I am here, in my home, sheltering in place and finding the need to find shelter in my complex emotions as well.

I have a daughter doing something in the kitchen. (She told me in no uncertain terms that I am not allowed in there.) I have a son who drew me a lovely picture of a mama bird with three baby birds beneath. They look up at her with something like admiration or at least acceptance and belonging. I have a child sitting near me now, occupied with something and showing it to me every few minutes for my reaction.

It is Mother’s Day and I am not alone, though the complexity of emotions that face me regularly might threaten to overwhelm me even on days like this. (Although, running through these thoughts feels like a mental marathon and I might need a nap … or two.)

To all you highly sensitive mamas, wherever you might be and whatever way you might be finding to honor this day … you are important, you are loved, you are needed … Happy Mother’s Day.

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!