12 Signs To Tell If You're a Highly Sensitive Person

Do you often feel like you're overthinking everything in your life? Do you over-analyze every social situation you get yourself into and do you often hear people tell you to not take something they said personally? If you've answered with "yes" to all three of them, you might be a highly sensitive person (HSP). What makes you a highly sensitive person? Being a highly sensitive person is an innate trait, which means you were born with it. About 20 percent of the general population falls into this category. Below are a number of characteristics explained. If you can relate to most of them, you could be a highly sensitive person.

12 Signs To Tell If You're a Highly Sensitive Person

1. You react more strongly to situations

People tell you to stop taking things to personally and you feel that everything people say to you affects you heavily. You care a lot about what other people think about you and that could withhold you from embracing your talents and your personal needs. You worry a lot about your shortcomings and you tend to be hard on yourself. Unnecessarily overthinking every situation is a common occurrence. You often wonder why everyone around you doesn't seem to care that much about anything that happens in the world around them.

2. You're an empathetic person

You sense and absorb other people's feelings, problems, needs and insecurities. You're very aware of people's subtleties, like their facial expression, body language or tone of voice and they urge you to enact upon them. People find it easier to communicate with you. Resolving emotional conflicts and pleasing others aren't that much of an effort, but you often forget to prioritise pleasing yourself. You tend to care more about others than yourself. The emotions you feel aren't your own and this often leads to emotional exhaustion.

3. You have a hard time working under pressure

Ever heard someone say that they perform better while under pressure? HSPs are often significantly more sensitive to stimulation. Say, you're at school doing an exam and you're going at a slower pace than expected. You'd become extremely anxious. The stress could then exceed a certain level, making you unable to perform optimally. This also happens when you've been assigned a number of tasks and people keep asking you to do things for them. The tasks would add up and you'd have a hard time maintaining them. This is often accompanied by panic and you could end up giving up and not doing anything about it.

4. You're a problem solver

As a highly sensitive person, you're good at sensing problems and you focus on mitigating them as soon as you possibly can. Your commitments and efforts reward you well and therefore people would gladly work together with you in teams. You're also able to sense new opportunities and you always make sure you take them.

5. You're very perceptive and details matter to you

You notice things others do not, such as the tiniest changes and details. People find you insightful and they often appreciate that you're able to sense and comply with their preferences. However, being that meticulous could lead to perfectionism, which in turn could lead to delays when making decisions and that could cause you a lot of pressure. Perceptiveness is often seen as a positive trait, but too much of it can lead to a vicious circle.

6. You tend to keep your social circle small but valuable

Having the right friends is of great importance to almost anyone, but the amounts and types of relationships vary from person to person. Both introverts and extraverts can be HSPs. As a highly sensitive person you'd rather have a small selection of really close friends to whom you can entrust almost anything than many friends in multiple circles. You value the relationships you have with the people you care about and you're willing to put a lot of your energy into maintaining those relationships. Having too many friends makes you unable to give your closest friends the attention and love you'd want to give them, as you'd have to divide you're attention among more people. As a highly sensitive person you want to avoid that and make sure that you have a couple of people surrounding you of whom you're sure of that they'll stick with you in the long term.

7. You like to take things nice and slowly

As a highly sensitive person you need more time to process your daily experiences. You value the time you have for yourself and reflection is important to you. You often like to sit in a dark corner, so you can lower your stimulation level and recharge. Because you're conscientious about how others might perceive your decisions, you take your time to think about all possible implications they might have.

8. You have a hard time dealing with criticism

You've been criticized by people and you have trouble coping with it. You tend to work much harder to avoid receiving similar remarks again and that often leads to burnout. When someone tells you what they think of you and your performance it will always stick in your head, which will make you overthink the criticism you've received and make you anxious. In the end it often turns out that the remarks weren't as bad as you'd thought they were and you'd have lost a lot of energy unnecessarily.

9. You're easily overwhelmed by your environment

You hate to be in areas containing huge crowds and are easily overwhelmed by noise. Therefore, festivals, concerts and shops on black friday might be too much for you to handle. You prefer more open environments, which you're able to control by yourself. You want to be aware of your surroundings, so you want them as well-lit, quiet and uncluttered as possible.

10. You seek meaning and purpose

You often wonder why things are the way they are. You also tend to look for goals to work for and achievements to obtain. As a highly sensitive person you'd want to find a job that makes you feel like you have some kind of purpose. You care more about making a difference than about money.

11. You have difficulty with change and moving on

You have a hard time letting the past behind. As a highly sensitive person you like to stick to your habits and you wouldn't change them easily. The familiar is less stimulating than something new and will always result in stress. Even positive changes would be hard to deal with. It often happens that you experience both stress and happiness. When you move, you can't let go of your old home. You'll always remember it.

12. You avoid imagery containing violence and cruelty

When you watch a movie that contains a lot of violence, cruelty or gore, you'll feel very unsettled. You're the type of person who'll stay up all night after watching a scary movie, cause you can't get the image out of your head. You tend to avoid such imagery, but when a friend asks you if you want to watch such a movie together, you wouldn't resist because you don't want to upset them.

How to cope with high sensitivity

If you've spent a lot of time thinking about how to get rid of high sensitivity, try to instead embrace your traits and think of them a gifts. Being a highly sensitive person comes with its' pros and cons, but by accepting it and trying to find ways to understand your sensitivities better, you'll learn to live with it. There are ways to make your life as a HSP easier and more enjoyable and we've written an entire article about them here, but it's of great importance that you see the steps you take as progress in your personal development and not as ways to change yourself completely. It's a good thing to accept yourself the way you are, cause one can never be comfortable without self-approval.