How to Tell if You’re a Highly Sensitive Person

First things first, let’s clarify this idea of being “sensitive.” In some cultures and sub-cultures (e.g. families, communities, schools) there may have been messages that being “sensitive” means you “can’t take a joke”, or you get your feelings hurt “too easily” and that’s said to the person with a judgemental tone. Being a highly sensitive person, is actually not a flaw. It can be challenging, but it also contains some amazing abilities as a person. A highly sensitive person has an awareness of subtleties. They not only have sensitivity or awareness to the emotional climate of people, but also to energy, sound, light, and other physical stimulus. These people are, literally, called Highly Sensitive People, or HSP for short.

Are You a Highly Sensitive Person?

Do some or all of the following characteristics ring true for you?

You’re very emotional

Whether positive or negative, you experience emotions intensely, react strongly to them, and cry easily.

You’re very compassionate and generous

You have always been a natural caretaker, seeking to offer comfort and help to those who suffer. You also go out of your way to avoid offending anyone or hurting their feelings.

You’re sensitive to criticism

Criticism doesn’t feel constructive so much as it feels personal and painful. You are not able to let it roll off your shoulders as others do.

You feel different from everyone else and sometimes alone

You’ve always known, or had it pointed out to you, that you were somehow different from everyone else. Because other people have told you that you need to “toughen up,” you see your sensitivity as a weakness and often feel alone.

You’re sensitive to external stimuli

While no one else around you seems to notice that the buzz of the overhead lights is driving you nuts! As is the sound of your coworkers chewing, the rough fabric of your shirt and the smell of the extravagant flower arrangement.

You overthink and worry

You notice every detail and overthink what should be a simple decision, like where to go for lunch. You also get stuck in the rehashing and what-if rut.

You’re intuitive

You walk into a room and instantly get a “feel” for it. You know the general vibe quickly.

You’re often tired and overwhelmed

Because you deal with the emotions of yours and you also pick up on the emotions of others. If that wasn’t enough, you also might be overstimulated with the senses. You easily become overwhelmed by all of it and feel as though you need to sleep more.

What You Can Do

Living life as a HSP can be tricky, but there are some things you can do:

  • See your sensitivity as a positive, not a negative. Remember what it gives you!
  • Remind yourself that this is a trait in a certain group of people. Nothing flawed or damaged.
  • Watch out for negativity, because it can have a substantial impact for you (e.g. people, situations)
  • Set boundaries with people who take advantage of your compassion
  • Learn relaxation skills. Maybe this is the time to explore some new strategies.
  • Give yourself the same compassion and generosity as you do others

If at any time you find yourself feeling depressed, anxious, overwhelmed or are having relationship struggles because of your sensitivity, try seeking the support of a therapist, who can work with you on emotion management, coping skills and boundary setting.

If you or a loved one are a HSP and would like to seek psychotherapy options, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

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Karin Lawson

2312 Wilton Drive, Suite 22
Wilton Manors, FL 33305