First and foremost, before we talk about anything else, let’s talk about what a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) is. Research shows us that 15-20% of the population is considered to be highly sensitive, which means that they have a personality trait called Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS). For some people, this quality leads to being an HSP, which is described as having hypersensitivity to external stimuli, a greater depth of cognitive processing, and high emotional reactivity.
Does this sound like you or someone you know?
Here are 12 Habits of a Highly Sensitive Person:
Taking a while to make decisions
I like to call this analysis paralysis. Whether a highly sensitive person is picking out which flavor of ice cream to get, what to order at dinner, or which house to buy – they take a while to make that decision. This is particularly challenging when there is no “right” or “wrong” choice to be made – but rather just preference.
Avoiding super noisy environments
The concert pictured below is a perfect example of a situation that may be too intense and loud for an HSP to be in for too long. Physically, a highly sensitive person has a lower threshold for noise. Then, on top of that, an HSP’s brain will interpret the noise as chaos – which can lead to feelings of anxiety and ungroundedness.
Feeling really deeply
Have you ever been told “Wow, you’re so sensitive,” or “you take things so personally,”? Highly Sensitive People feel things really deeply. Happiness, sadness, fear – it’s all felt deeper than a typical human being would feel that feeling.
While this may come off as someone being nice, what’s happening here is a highly sensitive person avoiding criticism. HSPs are so uncomfortable receiving criticism because it hurts so badly, that they will sometimes go to extremes to avoid receiving any.
Attending art shows, museums, the theatre, or other art-based activities
Ever heard of a “creative brain”? Well, creative brains typically get filled-up or stimulated by art-based activities like seeing a show, musical, museum or something similar. This is because there is a correlation between someone who is stimulated and filled up by the arts and someone who is highly sensitive.
Recognizing someone else’s discomfort
Have you ever been around someone and just have a gut feeling that that person is uncomfortable? Then you may be a highly sensitive person! Some call this intuition and other’s call it a gut instinct. Whatever you want to call it, HSPs do this often.
Displaying impeccable manners and respect
Highly Sensitive People are extremely conscientious and are very sensitive to the needs and feelings of those around them. A great example of this would be at a grocery store. An HSP is hyper-aware of where their cart is, as to not inconvenience the other shoppers in the aisle.
Retreating when overwhelmed
Have a friend who disappears for a day or two? They’re not doing anything harmful, but rather, they’re isolated and refueling their tanks. A Highly Sensitive Person needs time to charge up like our cell phones. When an HSP gets overwhelmed, they retreat so that they can do exactly that – recharge.
Working well in team or group work and play settings
Highly Sensitive People work well in group settings because of all of the habits mentioned above and below this one! They’re super aware of other people’s feelings, they feel things differently, and will do their part (and sometimes more) to make sure things go well.
Being extremely detail-oriented
Perfection is ideal for an HSP. However, there’s one problem. There is no such thing as perfection! Uh-oh. So rather than being a perfectionist, a Highly Sensitive Person comes is extremely detail-oriented.
Similar to needing time to recharge after feeling overwhelmed, a highly sensitive person feels much more comfortable and happy exercising alone.
Contrary to popular belief, crying does not equal sadness. I tell my clients often that crying is emotional sweating. No matter what emotions are getting bottled up inside – they need to get out! And, crying is one of the ways that emotions can be released. Since an HSP feels so deeply, you may see them crying, or emotionally sweating, more than others.
MYTH ALERT: ALL HIGHLY SENSITIVE PEOPLE ARE INTROVERTS.
It is entirely possible to be an extrovert and still feel as though you’re a Highly Sensitive Person. Not sure if you’re an introvert or extrovert? Check out this blog post about Meyers-Briggs Personality Types. Want to if you’re a Highly Sensitive Person? Here is a quiz! Additionally, this Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide is an excellent book if you’d like to learn more and identify with these habits and feelings! Let us know what your takeaways were by commenting below or joining the discussion in our online therapeutic community on Facebook. We’d love to have you!
Finally, as the author and therapist Amy Morin has said, “Being a highly sensitive person doesn’t mean you have a disorder that needs to be fixed. Instead, it simply means you process sensory data more deeply. Recognizing that you’re a highly sensitive person could help you develop a better awareness of yourself and your needs.”Being a highly sensitive person doesn't mean you have a disorder that needs to be fixed. Instead, it simply means you process sensory data more deeply. Recognizing that you're a highly sensitive person could help you develop a… Click To Tweet