Thought Catalog

17 Signs You’re What’s Known As A ‘Highly Sensitive Person’

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Sanja Marušić
Sanja Marušić

In 1997 a surprise best-seller consumed the book market. It was a reference guide for a specific kind of person, The Highly Sensitive Person. A “highly sensitive person” or HSP is characterized by being more emotionally intelligent than most — feeling things more deeply and being more sensitive to the energy of others. About one in five people is a highly sensitive person.

1. Sometimes you feel like you are on a roller coaster of emotions. Whether it’s a positive or negative emotion, when you feel it — you feel it strongly. While other people can seemingly remain even keel through good and bad events, you feel consumed and fully present in wherever you are at the moment.

2. You frequently have very vivid and complex dreams. Your dream world contains detailed backdrops and nuanced scenarios that it feels like you spend hours at a time working through. When other people explain their own dreams, they seem simple and fragmented — not like the dreams that are familiar to you.

3. You’ve been told many times that you are simply being “too sensitive.”

4. It’s very easy for you to feel overwhelmed when being around a lot of people or listening to other people’s problems. Their problems easily become your problems. Long after you give advice and let them go, you linger in the experience of feeling the feelings they expressed.

5. You have an incredible sex drive. Being highly sensitive, you cherish the emotional connection sex can be between you and your partner. All the touching… making each other feel good. It’s totally your thing and you never have a relationship that doesn’t have a strong sexual bond.

6. You have a special relationship with caffeine. Whether you consume too much, or can’t handle the high HSP are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine, so they aren’t likely to use it in a normal way.

7. You prefer simple, serene settings to tons of clutter, mess — which you perceive as chaotic. You’re not one to decorate with a bunch of random knick-knacks. You hate clashing colors, loud noises, and bright lights. The same sensitivity that makes you feel emotions more deeply also applies to non-emotional stimuli.

8. You don’t understand what people mean when they say to “just let it go” or “take it easy.” For you, emotions are felt deeply — they aren’t something you can pick up or drop at a moment’s notice. If something is bothering you, a cliche phrase is not going to help.

9. You’ve struggled with anxiety or depression.

10. You can pick up on the ‘vibe’ of a room more easily than most. When your friends are having trouble in their relationships, you often know before they do. Even if someone is projecting a happy face, you can always tell what their true feelings are.

11. You HATE being late and you hate the pressure of working under a deadline. The added stress is not enjoyable for HSPs, and as they mature they become people who generally show up early, pay bills when they arrive, and do work as soon as it’s assigned because it simply feels better than being under the gun.

12. One of the things you treasure most in life is your time alone to refresh and just breathe and relax away from the inevitable drama that is other people. Not all HSPs are introverts, but even the extroverts cherish their alone time more than most.

13. You have a love/hate relationship with horror movies. On one hand your emotional depth makes you able to relate the antagonists in an exciting, suspenseful way. On the other hand, you startle easily so long after the movie is over you find yourself over-sensitive to dark, spooky corners. Also, you hate gore movies. All that blood just distracts you from the plot you wish you could get engaged in.

14. You prefer routine to change. Rather than getting bored, you thrive — there’s no surprise stimuli to through you off. You get to experience the same thing over and over again, being able to focus more and more without having to take in new surroundings.

15. Growing up, your parents introduced you as shy. As you grew up you began to realize what set you apart wasn’t being afraid of other people, you just didn’t get what the big deal was. You prefer to be alone or with a close group of friends rather than meeting new people all the time.

16. Also, your parents always said this was a trait you’d grow out of — but you haven’t. Unlike shyness or social anxiety, being a highly sensitive person is an innate personality trait (possibly genetic). It’s who you are, not something that needs to be fixed.

17. Sometimes other people seem primitive and even savage to you. They don’t take into account the feelings of others the way you do. They seemingly wander around life saying whatever pops into their head, even trying to hurt others. The ways of people like this are a total mystery to you. TC mark

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    • leighann

      Wow–thank you for normalizing it all. I am a HSP and (learning to be) proud of it

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