9 signs you’re a genuine HSP, according to psychology

There’s a huge difference between being overly sensitive and being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

The distinction lies in the understanding. An HSP is someone who experiences acute physical, mental, or emotional responses to stimuli. This might be due to an innate higher sensitivity to their environments or deeper cognitive processing.

Being an HSP is not just about getting easily upset. It’s about experiencing the world in a profoundly deep way. And psychology has given us certain indicators to recognize if you’re a genuine HSP.

Here are some signs that you should look out for in your behavior patterns.

This article, “9 signs you’re a genuine HSP, according to psychology”, is here to help you identify if you truly fall into this category. Let’s delve into these signs and see if they resonate with your experiences.

1) You’re deeply moved by arts and music

In the realm of sensations and emotions, those with high sensitivity often have a deep appreciation for art, music, or any form of creative expression.

This is not just about getting teary-eyed during a poignant movie scene or feeling goosebumps when listening to a particular piece of music. For a genuine HSP, these experiences can be deeply moving and profoundly emotional.

This heightened emotional response is often because HSPs process information on a much deeper level than the average person. They don’t just hear a song or see a painting; they absorb it, they experience it. They can be deeply affected by the mood, the tone, the colors, the words, the melody – all those intricate details that others might overlook.

So if you find yourself regularly moved by arts and music to the point where it stirs strong emotions within you, you could very well be a genuine HSP. But remember, being an HSP is not just about this one sign, so let’s keep exploring.

2) You get overwhelmed in crowded places

A common trait among HSPs is the tendency to feel overwhelmed in busy, crowded environments. This could be a bustling marketplace, a jam-packed concert, or even a crowded bus.

I recall an experience of mine when I attended a music festival a few years back. While most people were dancing and enjoying the music, I found myself feeling increasingly anxious and agitated. The loud music, the bright lights, the sea of people – it was all too much for me. I had to step away, find a quieter spot where I could breathe and compose myself.

This intense reaction to sensory overload is typical for an HSP. Our nervous systems are wired differently, which makes us more susceptible to becoming overwhelmed by stimuli that others might find exciting or enjoyable.

So if you often find yourself needing to retreat from crowded places to catch your breath, you might just be an HSP.

3) You have a rich inner life

Genuine HSPs often have what psychologists refer to as a “rich inner life”. This means they have a vivid imagination, engage in deep contemplation, and often self-reflect on their thoughts and feelings.

Interestingly, this is tied to one of the key traits of HSPs – depth of processing. HSPs tend to process information more deeply than others, leading to a heightened awareness of their internal and external environments.

This depth of processing can result in a strong inner world that’s full of intricate thoughts, emotions, and dreams. It’s like having a kaleidoscope in your mind that constantly shifts and changes, creating beautiful and complex patterns of thought.

4) You’re highly empathetic

Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, is often amplified in HSPs. This goes beyond mere sympathy; HSPs can actually feel what others are going through.

This heightened empathy can make HSPs excellent friends, partners, and caregivers. They are often the ones people turn to when they need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on.

However, this extreme empathy can also lead to emotional exhaustion. Because HSPs feel so deeply, they can absorb others’ emotions like a sponge, which can be draining.

If you often find yourself deeply affected by the emotions of those around you, to the point where you feel as if you’re experiencing them yourself, this could be a sign that you’re an HSP.

5) You’re easily overstimulated

For an HSP, what seems like a normal amount of stimuli to others can feel excessively overwhelming. This is because HSPs have a lower threshold for stimulation.

Whether it’s a loud noise, bright lights, or even the constant buzz of a busy day, these stimuli can quickly lead to overstimulation, and result in feelings of stress or anxiety.

Overstimulation can manifest in various ways – you might feel a sudden urge to escape the situation, your mind might start racing, or you could even feel physically drained.

If you find that you’re easily overwhelmed by sensory input and often seek out quiet, less chaotic environments, you might well be an HSP.

6) You need time alone to recharge

Every one of us needs time alone to rest and recharge. But for HSPs, this isn’t just a luxury, it’s a necessity.

After dealing with the constant bombardment of stimuli throughout the day, HSPs often need periods of solitude to process their experiences and regain their energy. This is more than just being introverted; it’s about needing a safe space to decompress and realign oneself.

If you feel that your need for alone time is more than just a desire for quiet, but a vital requirement for your well-being, you might be an HSP.

It’s not about being antisocial, it’s about caring for your mental and emotional health in the way that best suits you.

7) You’re affected by other people’s moods

It’s not uncommon for HSPs to pick up on the moods of those around them and even absorb those emotions. This heightened sensitivity to the emotional climate around them can often leave HSPs feeling emotionally drained.

I remember walking into a room full of people and immediately sensing tension. Even though no words had been exchanged, I could feel the unease, as if it was a tangible thing.

That sense of discomfort stayed with me, weighing heavily on my mood long after I left that room.

If you often find yourself picking up on subtle cues and absorbing the moods of others, even when they’re not explicitly expressed, this could be a sign that you’re an HSP.

8) You’re detail-oriented

HSPs are often detail-oriented, noticing small changes or details that others might overlook. This can range from spotting a tiny error in a report to noticing a slight change in someone’s mood.

This attention to detail is tied to the HSP’s depth of processing. They don’t just see things; they observe, they analyze, and they reflect. This can make them excellent problem solvers and creative thinkers as they perceive nuances that others might miss.

However, this keen eye for detail can sometimes lead to overthinking or worrying unnecessarily. It’s about finding the balance and using this trait to one’s advantage.

Id you pick up on little details and nuances that others miss, you might be an HSP.

9) Self-care is crucial for your well-being

For HSPs, self-care isn’t just about bubble baths and spa days. It’s about creating a lifestyle that respects and nurtures their high sensitivity. This means prioritizing rest, establishing boundaries, and finding healthy ways to cope with overstimulation.

Understanding your needs and taking care of yourself isn’t selfish; it’s necessary for your overall well-being. As an HSP, you have a unique gift of sensitivity, but it also comes with its own set of challenges.

Learning to navigate these challenges through self-care practices can help you thrive as an HSP.

Embrace your sensitivity

Being a Highly Sensitive Person is not a flaw or a weakness to be corrected. It’s a unique trait, a different way of experiencing the world.

HSPs possess a deep capacity for empathy, a rich inner life, and an ability to appreciate beauty and subtleties that others might miss. They are often creative, intuitive, and caring individuals who bring a unique perspective to the world.

However, being an HSP also comes with its own set of challenges. Overstimulation, emotional exhaustion, and the need for solitude can often make life feel overwhelming.

But remember, being an HSP is not about fitting into a mold or changing who you are to blend in with the crowd. It’s about understanding your unique traits, embracing your sensitivity, and learning to navigate the world in a way that honors your needs.

So if you’ve identified with any of these signs, you might be an HSP. And that’s perfectly okay. Embrace your sensitivity. It’s not just a part of who you are; it’s what makes you, you.

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Picture of Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the editor of Ideapod and founder of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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