8 classic signs you’re a highly sensitive introvert, according to psychology

Hi, I’m an introvert.

I’m also highly sensitive. I get easily overwhelmed by harsh lighting and loud noises, and if I watch a horror movie, I’m afraid of the dark for weeks.

And that’s just the start.

It’s not easy being an introvert or an HSP (highly sensitive person), but if you combine the two together, you’ve got yourself a truly catastrophic mix.

Despite it all, though, I absolutely love being an introvert who feels deeply.

What about you? Are you part of the club?

Let’s find out.

Here are the 8 classic signs to watch out for.

1) Your social batteries run out pretty quickly

Many people think the difference between extroverts and introverts is that the first are outgoing and the latter shy.

However, the truth is actually a bit more complex. As researcher and professor Scott Dust PhD explains:

“For introverts, environmental stimulation depletes energy. For extroverts, environmental stimulation enhances energy. Thus, when introverts don’t seem to talk much, it’s typically because they have depleted their energy tank or are proactively trying to reserve their energy for later.”

I don’t think I’m particularly shy or withdrawn in social situations, however, my social batteries do run out quite quickly.

When I go on a date or have dinner with friends, three hours is usually my limit. If my energy gets too depleted, I slowly grow quieter – not because I no longer have fun but because I’ve exhausted all my socializing power.

That’s how I know it’s time for me to go home, grab a book, and not talk to anyone for a while.

This applies even more so if you’re an introvert who’s also an HSP because you may get easily overstimulated by the bustle around you.

When you finally come home, the silence of your bedroom feels like a reward after a long and tiring day.

2) You don’t really get FOMO

And that brings us to another point – if you’re a highly sensitive introvert, there’s a good chance you don’t really have FOMO, aka, the fear of missing out.

While I do enjoy the occasional party or get-together, I also don’t mind skipping these kinds of events if I don’t feel like going.

Reading a good book after I’ve done my skincare, made myself tea, and put my hair in a protective hairstyle before I got to bed sounds like the perfect evening, so if I do prioritize it over networking events or parties, I don’t mind one bit.

Introverts gain energy when they’re alone, which means we thrive during solitary activities. You can’t really have FOMO if being on your own is what truly fulfils you.

3) You absorb other people’s feelings like a sponge

Ah, here comes one of my most and least favorite things about being such a sensitive person – it often goes hand in hand with high levels of empathy.

So high, in fact, that you end up absorbing the emotions of everyone around you. What ensues is a chaotic mess of feelings and the struggle to determine whether they’re actually yours or not.

Don’t get me wrong, I love how empathetic I am. It makes it very easy to form deep connections with others, see through pretense, and notice things other people may accidentally miss.

However, there’s no doubt that soaking in the feelings of everyone in the five-mile radius can be a bit of a hindrance.

Is it all that surprising that people who are like this crave a lot of alone time?

Yeah. Exactly. We need to be alone so that we can decompress, take a deep breath, and untangle our own feelings from those of other people.

Alone time is a necessity for us because it’s when we can self-reflect and truly be with ourselves.

4) You experience high sensory processing sensitivity

“What the hell does that mean?” you might ask.

Well, according to psychologist Arash Emamzadeh, “Sensory processing sensitivity refers to individual differences in the perception of and response to stimuli (e.g., noise, light, touch).”

He says there are four components:

  • Deep processing of sensory data
  • Strong emotional reactions
  • Susceptibility to overstimulation
  • High awareness of environmental subtleties

In other words, it’s common for HSPs to get overwhelmed by harsh lights (for example in a supermarket), loud noises (think parties or clubs), busy environments (classrooms during breaks), or all the emotions floating in the air.

Personally, I used to suffer from migraines while growing up because I found it very difficult to spend most of the day at school, surrounded by loud and rich stimuli.

If you also get easily overstimulated, it’s another sign you might be part of the highly sensitive and introverted club.

5) You need to be careful about what kind of content you consume

As an introvert socializing drains me. I would rather spend time alone that surrounded by people who dont understand me 8 classic signs you’re a highly sensitive introvert, according to psychology

I’m extremely impressionable.

If I watch a movie in the evening, the images stay with me as I go to sleep and slowly drift away.

If I see some kind of violence (even just on a screen), I feel rattled for days.

Since I’m so susceptible to external stimuli and also feel everything very deeply, it’s pretty easy to throw me off.

This is why apps like TikTok pose a certain issue – I have very little control over what comes up next on my screen, which means I get easily disturbed by random videos that don’t fit in with my usual content during a scrolling spree.

The lesson here should be to use social media less frequently, of course, but it’s also to be very careful about what kind of content you consume because the online algorithm will latch onto it and show you more of the same videos or photos.

Remember – the algorithm doesn’t care about your well-being. It cares about your attention.

And as a highly sensitive person, your attention is a very limited and valuable resource.

6) You love to soak in casual daily magic

See those two birds flying across the sky?

What about that dog across the street? And the flower that’s beginning to bloom as spring slowly approaches?

How does the coffee you’re drinking taste in your mouth? Isn’t that song you’re listening to beautiful?

This, my friend, is what best-selling author in education and YouTuber Jade Bowler calls “casual magic”.

Casual magic is all about noticing the little things in life, taking in the beauty of the world around you, and using those positive feelings as fuel to grow and feel happier.

And if you’re an HS introvert, there’s a high chance you’re already doing all of that.

Sure, we may get easily overstimulated in loud environments, but that also means we are more perceptive.

Things that don’t faze others cause us to experience deep and rich feelings, and I don’t know how about you, but I wouldn’t trade this trait for the world.

I love that I can appreciate the magic of everyday life on planet Earth. And I love that my experience of being human is so rich and complex.

7) You would take quality over quantity any day

Elaine N. Aron PhD, clinical and research psychologist who has studied high sensitivity since 1990, says:

“[Introversion] means you prefer to have a few close relationships rather than a large circle of friends and don’t usually enjoy large parties or crowds. But even the most introverted person is sometimes an extravert and enjoys a stranger or crowd. Even the most extraverted is sometimes an introvert.

“Introverts are still social beings. In fact, their well-being is more affected by their social relationships than is the well-being of extraverts. Introverts just go for quality, not quantity.”

So, there you have it.

Introverts aren’t necessarily shy or withdrawn. We don’t hate people. We just value quality over quantity.

I have quite a small circle of friends, but I don’t mind at all because each of those friendships is invaluable. I thrive when I have deep and meaningful connections with others; not when I’m acquainted with a whole village of people.

8) You love to probe the complexities of your own mind

I’ve had an overactive imagination ever since I can remember. My mind has always been a fascinating place to be, and so it’s no surprise that I enjoy exploring it in depth.

This isn’t to say extroverts can’t be creative. They absolutely can.

However, introverts do tend to enjoy introspection a bit more, which allows their creativity to flourish.

As psychotherapist Allison Abrams LCSW-R writes, “Imagination being the birthplace of innovation and creativity, it stands to reason that many of our most gifted writers, performers, athletes, and artists tend toward the introverted end of the spectrum.”

If you almost never get bored because you always have new thoughts and hobbies to occupy yourself with, if you enjoy being on your own because you consider your mind to be a refuge rather than a battlefield, and if you love to get creative…

Congratulations! You’ve ticked off the final sign on the list. You’re a highly sensitive introvert.

Welcome to the club. Grab a cookie and a book. The rules are simple: we read books in silence and don’t speak to each other.

Deal?

Denisa Cerna

Denisa Cerna

Hi! I’m a fiction author and a non-fiction freelance writer with a passion for personal development, mental health, and all things psychology. I have a graduate degree in Comparative Literature MA and I spend most of my time reading, travelling, and – shocker – writing. I’m always on a quest to better understand the inner workings of the human mind and I love sharing my insights with the world. If any of my articles change your life for the better… mission accomplished. Get in touch at denisacerna.writing@gmail.com or find me on LinkedIn.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.

0:00
0:00