Have you ever wondered if you’re a highly sensitive person? Do you get easily moved by things where others seem to float on by? Do you have a deep connection with nature and a need to retreat from ‘real life’ at times?
Maybe you are wondering if your partner or loved one has this genetic trait?
Find out about the things HSP people do, and learn more about their unique strengths and weaknesses.
1) They avoid watching upsetting movies
As a HSP I do my best to avoid watching distressing movies. For some that might mean knowing whether the ending is happy, or if there are distressing adult themes such as torture or abuse.
I used to have a boyfriend who would screen things for me! But now I don’t.
So these days I use the website Does the Dog Die which is a great crowdsourced site that covers many movies and a huge number of potentially distressing themes that you or your HSP friend or partner can now avoid!
2) They avoid watching or listening to intense (audio) books
Similarly, books can really get me, and audiobooks can be worse. Why? Because as a HSP the world really comes alive in my mind and so if the story has a dark ending, I’m stuck there for days. It can be really creepy.
Still, I can take the occasional bit of intensity so I don’t screen everything out, just the majority. This means that when I do see or hear something upsetting, I can handle it!
If someone you know does something similar there’s a high chance they are a HSP.
3) They empathize wholeheartedly with you
Why don’t HSPs like intense movies and books?
It tends to be because they have a deep emotional response to things. This can also be music or art. But in this case, they are affected deeply by the emotions of others.
Have you ever spoken to someone and felt so heard? As if they really cared and they went on an emotional journey with you?
Again this is a clear sign of being listened to by a HSP. They feel your pain and empathize as if it were their own.
4) They feel emotional exhaustion in social settings
All that feeling and empathizing comes at a cost. An emotional cost.
HSPs usually love to give and care, but they can become overwhelmed easily.
If you resonate with the points above, feel emotionally drained after social interactions, and need alone time to recharge, you’re almost definitely an HSP.
Setting boundaries and taking breaks is essential for preserving a HSP’s emotional well-being in social situations. Some people might have a time limit and then their social batteries are over, whilst others can go all night but will retreat for a few days after.
5) They put their hands over their ears when loud noises happen
This can also apply to bright lights (cover those eyes!) or any kind of intense stimuli. For me, when a police car siren goes off, I usually have to stick my fingers in my ears as the noise seems unbearable.
I always used to wonder why other people didn’t seem to need to do the same.
Until I found out that I am a HSP.
A lot of people who are HSPs may avoid crowds and busy places altogether, feeling that too many people and too much action are way too overwhelming.
It’s worth being aware that sensory overload is difficult for other types of people as well including those with Autism and ADHD.
6) They notice the subtle changes
HSPs have sometimes been compared to the canary bird in the mines. (Spoiler alert: this story isn’t great for the bird). Miners would take canary birds into the mines to detect dangerous gases, particularly carbon monoxide and methane.
These sensitive little birds would react first to the danger and alert the humans. Canary birds have saved endless lives!
What has this got to do with HSP I hear you say? Good question!
HSPs can be seen as the human version of the canary bird. They would be the first to notice slight but important shifts. Similar to the way that animals seem to know if a tsunami or earthquake is coming.
By having HSPs in your group, who would detect anything from bad moods to environmental issues, you would have an evolutionary advantage.
7) They overthink and analyze till your head hurts
The mind of a HSP is often on overdrive. Especially since they care so much about how others are feeling. This is a great strength when problem-solving or getting to the bottom of a complicated situation, but like any strength, it can be a weakness too.
If you or your friend tends to overthink decisions and analyze potential outcomes deeply, then you or they are probably a HSP.
They may find themselves overanalyzing a throwaway comment or feeling a lot of shame about a seemingly innocuous situation.
But on the plus side, since their thorough problem-solving skills often involve delving into various aspects of a situation, they can give you insights like no one else.
8) They have a beautifully deep connection with nature and animals
Consider the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Milan.
In the world of dog training, Cesar Millan shows his deep emotional understanding. With an uncanny ability to decipher and address the intricacies of dogs’ emotions and behavior, he shows a deep empathetic, and emotionally perceptive nature.
Like that of a HSP.
But there’s more to his magic than just understanding. Cesar’s approach to dog training revolves around empowerment and respect, a testament to his compassionate soul.
Such heartfelt dedication resonates with the essence often associated with Highly Sensitive Persons, making him a true hero in the realm of animal connection and care.
If you or someone you know seems to be an animal whisperer, or loves to get lost in meadows, fields, beaches or other wildlands, this can be a sign they are a HSP. There’s nothing that most HSPs love more than reconnecting to themselves through animals and nature!
9) They make empathetic leaders
Whilst men and women can both be excellent empathic leaders, less has been said about HSP men, whom Dr Elaine Alon feels needs more attention. Why? Perhaps because it’s more culturally acceptable for women to show their feelings and sensitivity.
Meet Michael, a highly sensitive manager at a multinational company. In contrast to the traditional authoritative style, Michael leads his team with a compassionate touch.
He takes the time to understand the unique strengths and struggles of each team member, creating a safe and supportive space for open communication.
When a team member faces personal challenges, Michael listens attentively, offering guidance and empathy.
His empathetic leadership creates a sense of belonging, encouraging his team to collaborate and innovate freely. As a result, the team flourishes, surpassing targets and creating a harmonious work environment that inspires loyalty and dedication.
10) They use strategic decision-making
HSPs, whether men or women, are able to use their sensitive and perceptive nature to make choices that benefit the majority.
Enter Daniel, a talented architect with a passion for sustainable design and anthropology.
As a HSP, Daniel’s strategic brilliance emerges when he takes on a complex urban renewal project. He meticulously analyzes the community’s needs, collaborating with local residents to incorporate their input into the design.
As an anthropologist myself, I’ve seen the harm that can come from neglecting this step in urban planning. This is particularly so when rebuilding villages and towns destroyed by natural disasters.
Instead of rushing to implement the most straightforward solution, Daniel takes the time to delve into the subtleties and implications of each choice. His sensitivity to aesthetics and functionality guides him to create a sustainable masterpiece that blends seamlessly with the neighborhood, leaving a positive impact on the community for generations to come.
11) They are good at balancing sensitivity and resilience
It’s all very well being sensitive, but how do HSPs get through life when things get tough?
A good example is a friend of mine who we’ll call James. He’s a HSP who has faced a series of personal and professional challenges. When his dream project fell through, and he experienced setbacks in his career, James leaned into his sensitivity and resilience. As he often does.
What else does he do?
Rather than suppressing his emotions, he allows himself to feel the disappointment and frustration, acknowledging the impact events have on him. Then, drawing from his inner strength, James channels his sensitivity into finding alternative paths and new opportunities.
He seeks support from loved ones, discussing his feelings openly, which bolsters his emotional resilience. Through this balanced approach, James emerges from adversity stronger, using his sensitivity to connect more profoundly with his colleagues and infusing creativity into his work.
HSPs – the takeaway
Being highly sensitive means that these people need to do certain things to protect themselves, but HSPs also have superpowers.
Highly Sensitive Persons can embrace their empathetic leadership, strategic acumen, and balanced approach to life’s challenges. Their unique blend of sensitivity and resilience empowers them.
But wait – there’s more. They can create meaningful connections, excel in their endeavors, and positively impact those around them – as long as they take time to nurture themselves!
So if you or anyone you know is a HSP, remember to take care of yourselves as well as others!