Telltale Signs You Are A Highly Sensitive Person

Telltale Signs You Are A Highly Sensitive Person - HSP Health Blog
Frightened © by Simon Blackley

Do you like solitary pursuits?

Do you get overhelmed easily?

Do you hate small talk?

Even if you do, how do you know you are a highly sensitive person?

Traits Of The Highly Sensitive Person

Highly sensitive people get the sense at a young age that they are different. They don’t fit in. They are not interested in the same things that other people are interested in. They are not motivated in the same way.

This profound sense of being different is life long. It does not go away, and can cause pain when the sensitive’s differentness is treated badly by family, peers, and early authority figures.

There are many reasons that the highly sensitive person will get the message that they are different:

  • physical sensitivities like loud sounds, too much noise, light and tactile or touch sensitivity may cause discomfort or pain, which is not necessarily true of non-HSP’s.
  • a highly sensitive person often needs time to themselves to rest after interacting with others. Non-HSP’s often recgarge with other people.
  • social interaction can be draining unless it is for a short time, with a few people in a quiet setting. Non-HSP’s are more comfortable with big noisy social engagements.
  • the highly sensitive person hates small talk, something that non-HSP’s thrive on.
  • competition and the highly sensitive person are like oil and water. Non-HSP’s are more comfortable with competition.
  • highly sensitive people are sensitive to the feelings of others and have a tendency to absorb the feelings of others causing much discomfort and unhappiness.
  • HSP’s are known for their empathy. Empathy in sensitives is more than a feeling for others – it is an active way of knowing the world .
  • HSP’s are right-brained. Non-HSP’s are more left-brained and ¬†analytical.
  • HSP’s can have strong psychic and intuitive abilities.
  • HSP’s dislike pressure, which non-HSP’s accept more easily.
  • HSP’s need egalitarian social and work environments. Non-HSP’s are more comfortable with hierarchical and competitive systems.
  • highly sensitive people do not like someone standing over them.
  • HSP’s need a simple lifestyle. Non-HSP’s are ¬†more comfortable with busyness, stuff and activity including multitasking.
  • HSP’s need stillness. Non-HSP’s often avoid stillness.
  • many highly sensitive people are introverts.
  • HSP’s often feel a deep connection with nature and all the creatures in it.
  • highly sensitive people can be deeply spiritual.
  • many HSP’s will have physical conditions and allergies of one form or another.
  • HSP’s can form deep bonds with animals.
  • harm and abuse of all kinds are harder for highly sensitive people to heal.
  • many HSP’s dislike rrelationships and find them difficult based on values and lifestyle.
  • a highly sensitive person belongs in occupations that bring out the best in them: healing and creative occupations are among the best for HSP’s.
  • HSP’s intuition and sensitivity causes them to have profound insights and has the potential over time to lead them to great wisdom.

Deciding That You Are Highly Sensitive

Dr. Elaine Aron who pioneered the category of the highly sensitive person has written extensively about the highly sensitive trait. Her books are must reading for anyone wanting to know more about the trait – it is her life’s work. She estimates that 15-20% of people on the planet are highly sensitive. That is a huge number of people: more that 1 billion! Therefore it is highly likely that you may be sensitive or know someone who is.

There are many HSP quizzes online including the one on Dr. Aron’s site which you can take that can help you decide if you are highly sensitive.

However, in reading this list, you will notice how you feel around others: enhanced or drained, your relationship with nature and stillness, your values and attitude about competition and the type of environment that suits you the most. These are telltale signs that you are sensitive. If you are, you have an important journey ahead learning about yourself, and what you bring to the world.

Many see the highly sensitive person as vital to the changes we are making in the world, and I believe that it is true. The wisdom and empathy of HSP’s is badly needed.

So although being highly sensitive has been treated as a curse, it is now finally being seen as valuable as it should be. As our problems get worse and the need for wisdom and creativity rises, being a highly sensitive person will finally be welcomed in the world.


  1. says

    I appreciate your posts very much. In this one, I will have to say that I do disagree with a few points. HSP’s can have a variety of differences in the way they interact with the world. I’m an HSP, and I am “opposite” of a few items in the above list. For example, I enjoy movement, not stillness. I am very analytical along with some creativity – I see this same trait in my daughter who is very highly HSP. I enjoy being with people.. albeit in one on one or small groups, not big boisterous gatherings. So, the above list may be true for some, and yet HSPs certainly and do have a very large variety of traits which may or may not agree with the list. I’m sure this information, just like Dr. Aron’s site, is not meant to be an exact or exhaustive list, but rather a “guideline” to help deepen our understanding of HSPs. Thanks again for all you posts.

    • says

      Thanks for stopping by! I am glad that you are enjoying the posts.

      You are right that this article does not cover all of the traits of highly sensitive people. For one, it does not cover the high sensation seeking HSP’s who are fewer in number from what Dr. Aron writes.

      When I write about the HSP trait I am usually discussing “basic” traits, because so many people are just discovering that they are highly sensitive. Personally I think there is a lot of variation between highly sensitive people. It seems natural to me that HSP’s who are so deep will also be very different. (David Ritchey gets into that in his work. I don’t know if you are aware of him; he is coming out with his new book soon.)

      I think you are right that many HSP’s love people but can only take so much. I know I fall in that category and prefer smaller gatherings myself. However, I love stillness because that is where I rest.

      I think that you make a good point about how analysis and intuitive creativity coexist in HSP’s. I read somewhere that the corpus collosum in the HSP brain is such that we have a greater communication between the left and right side of the brain. I do not know how true that is, but it makes sense to me and so I expect HSP’s to have many capabilities beyond the basic HSP one’s.

      Having analytical and creative capabilities seems normal to me. Since we are so aware of nuances, then we need to understand them and to me that takes us where it takes us – whether it’s an analytical or intuitive journey – I think both are fine. I like seeing HSP’s develop themselves.

      Feel free to stop by any time, and I love hearing your questions, insights and concerns. All the best!

  2. says

    This is amazing. How did I get this far and not know about this ‘condition’?

    It’s like my brain has feelers. Music can disable me. The other day I was out for a walk when an ambulance siren blared in the distance. My startle response jumped into action and I checked things out. After I had dealt with this intrusive sound, I noticed that other walkers were just now becoming aware of the siren.

    Thank you for your informative and provocative piece.

    Paul Matthews

    • says

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for stopping by. People who are highly sensitive often feel that in being different there is something wrong with them. Often we get that message overtly or covertly and assimilate it.

      I sounds from your self observation that you may be a highly sensitive person. I startle often myself. You may want to check out Elaine Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person, and also check out the website of Ted Zeff. Dr Zeff specializes in highly sensitive men and boys.

      If you are seeking relief from anxiety I highly recommend that you consider he Ayurvedic herb, Ashwaghandha.

      Let me know if I can help you further.

      All the best,

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