13 ways highly sensitive people see the world differently

Ever heard of highly sensitive people or HSPs?

Basically, highly sensitive people, or HSPs as they’re often called, are people who feel things deeply and experience the world in a way that’s unique from their less-sensitive counterparts.

Being an HSP isn’t something to be brushed off as ‘just being overly emotional’. It’s a genuine personality trait that researchers also refer to as ‘sensory-processing sensitivity’.

Around 1 in 5 people are thought to have this trait. So whether you’re an HSP yourself, or you know someone who is, understanding how they perceive the world can be a game-changer in relationships and self-appreciation.

Here are 13 ways highly sensitive people see the world differently.

1. They feel more deeply

Highly sensitive people are often considered the “deep feelers” of the world. They tend to experience emotions in a way that’s more intense than most. This doesn’t mean they’re constantly overwhelmed with feelings, but rather, they simply process experiences at a deeper level.

Whether it’s joy, sadness, fear, or excitement, the emotions are rich and multifaceted. This profound emotional depth allows them to appreciate the complexities of life in a unique way.

So, next time you notice someone experiencing emotions deeply, they might just be a highly sensitive person appreciating the world in their special way!

2. They’re more in tune with their surroundings

Ever know someone who notices the smallest details? Maybe they can’t ignore a faint background noise, or they’re the first to spot a change in a friend’s demeanor. Well, these observant people could very well be highly sensitive people.

HSPs are often highly aware of their surroundings. From subtle changes in lighting to the texture of their clothing, nothing slips past them unnoticed. This heightened awareness is more than just good attention to detail; it’s how HSPs naturally interact with the world around them.

It makes their world richly intricate, filled with details many of us might miss!

3. They need their alone time

Let me share something about myself. I love seeing my friends. But after a while, I start to feel drained and all I want is some quiet time alone. Turns out, this is a pretty common trait amongst highly sensitive people like me.

You see, HSPs often need time alone to recharge. It’s not that we don’t enjoy being around others; it’s just that socializing can be quite stimulating for our sensitive systems.

We often need a break to process our experiences and rejuvenate ourselves. So, if you ever meet someone who loves their solitude as much as their social time, they could be an HSP enjoying their much-needed downtime!

4. They get overwhelmed easily

Did you know that a crowded mall, a loud concert, or even a bustling office environment could be quite overwhelming for highly sensitive people? HSPs have a heightened awareness of their surroundings, and this can sometimes result in sensory overload.

The interesting fact is that this isn’t just a psychological phenomenon. Research has shown that the brains of HSPs actually work a bit differently – they’re more active in areas associated with attention and emotion regulation.

This means that they’re not just “overreacting” or being “dramatic”, their brains are actually processing more sensory information at once.

So, next time you see someone needing a break from a high-stimulation environment, they might just be an HSP navigating their sensory-rich world!

5. They empathize deeply

Highly sensitive people don’t just understand other people’s emotions – they feel them. It’s like they have their own internal emotional echo, resonating with the feelings of those around them.

This deep empathy allows HSPs to connect with others on a profound level, making them excellent friends, partners, and confidants. They can often sense when you’re feeling down or when you’re over the moon, even if you haven’t said a word.

And because they feel so deeply themselves, they understand the importance of compassion and kindness.

So, remember, if you ever meet someone who seems to truly understand your feelings, they might just be an HSP offering their heartfelt empathy.

6. They’re deeply moved by beauty

A few days ago, I was taking my usual evening walk when I came across the most beautiful sunset. The sky was a canvas of orange and pink, and the world seemed to pause for a moment. I stood there, completely absorbed in the beauty of the scene. I felt a deep sense of peace and awe that stayed with me long after the sun had set.

As it turns out, this is something many highly sensitive people, like me, experience. We’re often deeply moved by beauty, whether it’s found in nature, art, or a simple act of kindness. For us, these moments aren’t just beautiful; they’re deeply touching and meaningful. If you ever find someone lost in the beauty of a moment, they might just be an HSP savoring their vibrant world.

7. They can be easily hurt

Being a highly sensitive person isn’t always easy. Sure, feeling deeply and having a heightened awareness of the world can be beautiful, but it also means that we can get hurt – and I mean really hurt – a lot more easily.

Criticism, harsh words, or even a slight change in someone’s tone can sting like a wasp. We’re not being overly dramatic or seeking attention; it’s just that our emotional skin is a little thinner than most. It can be tough, carrying this tender heart around, but it’s part of what makes us who we are.

So, if you know someone who seems to be easily hurt, they might just be an HSP navigating a world that often feels too harsh. Remember to approach them with kindness – it means more than you know.

8. They’re often introverted

Here’s an interesting fact for you: about 70% of highly sensitive people are introverts. That’s right! While it’s not a hard and fast rule, there’s a good chance that if someone is an HSP, they might also be an introvert.

Being introverted doesn’t mean being antisocial or shy; it simply means that one tends to feel more energized from spending time alone or in quiet settings. This makes sense for HSPs, considering their sensitivity to their environment and their need for downtime to process their experiences.

So, if you know someone who enjoys their own company and seems to thrive in quieter environments, they could be one of the many HSPs who are also introverted. And remember, being introverted or extroverted isn’t better or worse – it’s just a different way of experiencing the world!

9. They’re detail-oriented

Let me share something about myself. I’m the kind of person who notices the tiny details in everything. Whether it’s the pattern on a butterfly’s wings or the way someone’s expression changes when they talk about something they love, I tend to pick up on the little things that others might overlook.

This attention to detail is a common trait among highly sensitive people like me. Whether it’s because of our heightened senses or our deep processing of information, we often notice and appreciate the smallest details.

It can be overwhelming at times, sure, but it also makes our world incredibly rich and detailed. So, if you know someone who seems to notice everything, they might just be an HSP enjoying their intricate world!

10. They can be easily overwhelmed

Life as a highly sensitive person can sometimes feel like standing in the middle of a whirlwind of sensations, emotions, and thoughts. When things get too loud, too busy, or just too much, we can quickly become overwhelmed.

It’s like our systems go into overdrive, and all we want is to retreat to somewhere quiet and calm. We’re not being dramatic; we’re just trying to cope with a world that often feels too intense.

11. They need more sleep

This one might surprise you, but it’s true. Highly sensitive people often need more sleep than others. We’re not being lazy, it’s just that our brains work hard during the day, processing all those details and deep feelings.

So at night, it takes us a bit longer to recharge and reset for the next day.

12. They can be perfectionists

This is a tough one to admit, but many of us highly sensitive folks are perfectionists. We set high standards for ourselves and feel deeply disappointed when we don’t meet them. It’s not that we’re seeking approval or trying to impress others; it’s that we’re constantly striving for an ideal that often seems just out of reach.

13. They struggle with change

Lastly, change can be really hard for highly sensitive people. It’s not that we’re stuck in our ways or resistant to new things; it’s just that change often brings about a whirlwind of new sensations, emotions, and experiences that can be overwhelming for us.

If we seem a bit hesitant or anxious about changes, big or small, understand it’s just our way of trying to navigate our sensitive world.

There you have the 13 ways an HSP sees the world differently. 

At the end of the day, being a highly sensitive person isn’t about being overly emotional. It’s actually a unique and special way of experiencing our world.


Picture of Jeanette Brown

Jeanette Brown

I have been in Education as a teacher, career coach and executive manager over many years. I'm also an experienced coach who is passionate about supporting people in finding real meaning and purpose in their lives, building a resilient, grounded inner self and achieving their desired goals.

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