If these 12 things get on your nerves, you could be an HSP 

I think we all have at least one HSP in our lives. It could be a friend, a family member, a coworker… it could be you!

The term HSP comes from the research of psychologist Elaine Aron into sensory processing sensitivity and was made famous by a popular book she put out on the subject in 1996.

Since then, people have come to recognize the specialness of people who have more sensitive central nervous systems and deeper mental processing of external stimuli.

HSPs are special, but being one could be a superpower or a curse, depending on the situation they’re in and the way they are treated.

Are you one?

Well, if these 12 things get on your nerves, you definitely could be.

1) Bright lights

Highly-sensitive people can find bright lights so hard to handle that they’re painful.

That’s especially true when they’re in a dimmer place and walk out into a really bright space. 

But don’t confuse this with being a sun sneezer!

My mother would sneeze as loud as a gunshot whenever she walked into a bright light situation, but it didn’t bother her.

For HSPs, on the other hand, bright lights everywhere can be an assault on the sense and make them want to put on shades or find a nice dark place to retire to for a while.

2) Loud noises

If an HSP heard my mom sneeze, they’d probably get pretty annoyed. 

Most highly-sensitive people don’t like loud noises in general, and that goes for both constant loud background noise like jet engines and sporadic, unexpected loud noises as well.

HSPs might enjoy listening to loud music of their choice, however. That may be because it’s predictable and controlled.

If loud noises drive you bonkers, technology is here to save the day.

Many HSPs love new active noise cancellation headphones and practically live with them on!

3) Too much caffeine

Do you love the rich taste and lovely aroma of a cup of coffee, but actually drinking one gets on your nerves, literally?

If so, you might just be a highly-sensitive person. After all, Aron found that about 15% of people have high sensitivity levels to many stimuli, and one of the most common was caffeine.

This normally mild simulant has a much stronger effect on HSPs.

It can cause jitteriness, nerves, and even anxiety, as you can read in this first-person HSP account of a battle with coffee.

The best advice?

Stick to decaf or skip it altogether and have an herbal tea instead.

4) Being hungry

This one is simple. Being hungry can make you hangry!

HSPs are far more sensitive to not having food in their bellies, and their emotions can be easily affected by this state.

5) The cold

Not many HSPs report being bothered by the heat, at least not more than most other people.

But being cold seems to really get to them. 

While being cool is nice for many people, nobody likes being cold anyway.

But for HSPs, dealing with the cold can be a real struggle. 

We’ve all heard people complain about the inconvenience of cold weather, saying things like, “We can’t go out in this weather” or “It’s too cold to play outside!”

However, HSPs can really feel quite strong physical discomfort from the cold. 

It’s often reported as feeling, strangely, like a burning sensation, but it’s always described as very unpleasant.

6) Being rushed

If these things get on your nerves you could be an HSP 1 If these 12 things get on your nerves, you could be an HSP 

Highly sensitive people often take longer to process things. They go deeper into their analysis of a situation than most people, so this takes more time, and they usually need to pause before they react.

So if you are a person like this and others push you to make quick decisions or react quickly, you probably find it quite maddening.

It’s hard to explain that you really need your time to process things, especially to people with Type A personalities who are chronically in a rush.

7) Violent depictions

While we all have strong reactions to violence and its depictions in videos and images, HSPs have a truly visceral reaction to it.

Seeing people hurt and in distress can be extremely tough for HSPs because it affects them deeply. They tend to be much more empathic and connect deeply with the feeling of others.

So when they see people in pain, they actually feel at least some of that pain themselves. 

HSPs normally hate watching gratuitous violence in movies and TV shows, but if the violence is justified, like when a team of good guys unite against the baddies, they’re more able to take it in.

8) Bad art

This might seem strange if you’re not an HSP, but if you are one, it’ll make perfect sense.

Highly sensitive people are typically able to find a deep appreciation for art as they can connect deeply with the emotions and messages that the artist is trying to convey.

In fact, they often are the artists expressing themselves in ways that most of us find extraordinary.

But when they find art they think is weak, unmoving, fake, or basic; they can really feel let down.

Whether it’s visual art, music, dance, or literature, bad art really upsets your sensibilities when you’re an HSP.

9) Uncomfortable clothes

Fashion is all about what’s hot right now.

So it’s probably no surprise that many highly sensitive people have a hard time following the latest trends.

There could be two reasons why.

First off, HSPs find it really difficult to wear uncomfortable clothes. 

It could be a rough or scratchy fabric, an item that hangs too heavy, something that’s too loose and ticklish, or even a piece of clothing that clings a bit too tightly.

That rules out a lot of wool, chiffon, and Lycra!

But HSPs also have trouble following fashions because they don’t like change. 

In general, change feels uncomfortable to them because it assaults their senses with new things, while they’re much more comfortable with what they’re already used to.

10) Surprises 

If you’re not big on change in general, you’re going to be even more unhappy with that form of instantaneous change people call a surprise.

Think about it:

A birthday party might already be a big challenge for an HSP. You know, lots of bright lights and shimmering decorations, loud music, layers of conversation, balloons popping, and lots of attention.

Now add in people jumping out unexpectedly, flicking on the lights, yelling “Surprise!”, and throwing confetti in your face.

You can probably see why this total assault on the senses may be a highly sensitive person’s worst nightmare!

Then again, if you are an HSP, you already knew that.

11) Bad manners

You know what really gets on an HSP’s nerves?

Bad manners.

Being the deeply sensitive and empathetic people that they are, HSPs’ manners are usually impeccable. 

They try hard to be polite and courteous to everyone they meet. They don’t want to offend anyone or make others feel less than.

So when they’re not treated with the same courtesy, HSPs can be quite bothered.

To them, this is a sign of a lack of caring on the other person’s part, and that feels quite insulting.

It may be accidental, but for very empathic people, it’s still discourteous and can really sting.

12) Criticism

If you’re an HSP, then by definition, you’re also a deep thinker.

You think a lot about the things you do and say before you do and say them, and they reflect a lot once they’ve been said and done.

So when you’re faced with criticism, it can really rankle.

But not for the reasons most people think…

It’s not arrogance that makes you offended by the criticism of others.

Instead, it’s an overwhelming feeling of, “Of course, I know that already.”

See, HSPs think a lot and critique their own action a lot.

They often know they haven’t produced the best work possible, for example, but it’s only because deadlines didn’t allow it.

Or maybe they don’t look all that fashionable, but they just can bear to wear what’s in right now.

These are people who are incredibly sensitive to the outside world but also highly aware of what’s going on inside as well.

Are you a highly-sensitive person?

I’ve just shared a list of things that normally bother the pants off HSPs, but that’s not meant to criticize anyone. It’s just to help you realize that you might be more different from others than you think.

As Aron argued strongly when she coined this term, being an HSP is a personality trait, not a disorder.

Knowing that, I think, is very powerful – it’s strengthening to be aware that there are others like us.

So if these things bother you, don’t worry about it. It just means that you’re likely an HSP, and you have different preferences and needs from others.

Picture of Marcel Deer

Marcel Deer

Marcel is a journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur. When not obsessing over his man cave or the latest tech, he’s failing helplessly at training his obnoxious rescue dog ‘Boogies’.

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