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10 Characteristics of Highly Sensitive People (and 5 Pieces of Helpful Advice)

10 Characteristics of Highly Sensitive People (and 5 Pieces of Helpful Advice)

In today’s fast-paced, mega-digital world, any information we’re given about highly sensitive people tends to be negatively focused — things like “here is why they are so stressed,” and “here’s how they can cope with stress.” However, the trait of high sensitivity is not necessarily a bad one. In fact, it’s a rare strength that can be molded to help you navigate the world with intense inner power.

So if you are a highly sensitive person, don’t fret. There are more opportunities than ever out there to help you learn how to nurture your sensitivity. Here are 10 common characteristics — both positive and negative — that may sound familiar if you are a highly sensitive person.

1. You need time alone — lots of it

While this is a common trait for most introverts, needing extra time to yourself is especially true of highly sensitive people. Whether you’ve just conquered another long day at work or a night out with friends, the idea of immediately moving on to another social activity is usually out of the question.

Tip 1: The most important thing to do if you need more downtime is not to resist those feelings! Don’t pressure yourself to pack your schedule and don’t let others talk you into things. Everyone has different needs, and those around you should be respectful of that.

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2. You regularly have “meltdowns”

This is only true for those highly sensitive people who have yet to find healthy ways of accommodating their sensitivity. Let’s just say it wouldn’t be strange for these people to break down in tears over a mildly heartwarming commercial, or throw a tantrum when they drop a fork in the kitchen.

Tip 2: If feeling overwhelmed is your norm, that’s not normal. Try adopting a “venting” practice, like writing to clear excess mental clutter, or participating in a fun vigorous exercise to blow off steam. Simply letting yourself cry is enough to lower cortisol levels and bring you back to balance.

3. You don’t get uncomfortable when people get emotional or honest

Maybe you’re the only one at your workplace who doesn’t awkwardly tiptoe away when a coworker is sobbing over a breakup. Instead, you’ll probably console them. What’s the big deal? In your opinion, they seem to be handling it rather well.

4. You often end up in situations “by accident”

As a highly sensitive person, it’s easy for you to empathize and put yourself into someone else’s shoes — sometimes quite literally. Highly sensitive people shouldn’t be surprised to find themselves refereeing friends’ arguments or going too far to solve problems for other people.

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Tip 3: Learn how to harness your intentions and recall what matters. It may take some deliberate practice to not let others steamroll your short-term and long-term plans. Practice recognizing the difference between your priorities and those of others.

5. Your emotional life is rich and colorful

This isn’t something that you’ve cultivated on purpose. Rather, you seem to experience far more emotion than the average person does without even trying. By the time you’ve had breakfast each morning, a handful of feelings, epiphanies, and ambitions have probably already inched across your mind.

6. You become sick easily and often

This can occur in two ways. First, it’s easier for highly sensitive people to wear themselves out with common stressors, thus lowering their immune system and contributing to illness. Second, this can manifest itself through immediate experience. For instance, you might faint at the sight of blood or feel nauseous after witnessing a violent scene on TV.

Tip 4: If you feel you are sick more often than normal, it may be time to implement lifestyle changes and minimize contact with draining people and activities. Chronic illness stems from chronic habits.

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7. You are powerfully affected by the feelings of others

Have you ever hung out with a friend who was absolutely miserable and still had a great time? Didn’t think so. Generally, highly sensitive people tend to absorb the energy of those close to them. This is great when the energy is positive, but not so much fun when it’s all negative.

8. You are conscientious and sometimes work too hard

Highly sensitive people often have a great deal of mental energy and intelligence. Combine these components and it’s easy to see how they can get in over their head. With sensitive nervous systems, highly sensitive people can develop adrenal burnout and fatigue before they even realize it’s happening.

Tip 5: Being a hard worker is rarely regarded as a bad trait, but it can be taken to an extreme. Getting a deep sleep, not an interrupted sleep, can make a massive difference when it comes to burnout. Learning what happens when your brain doesn’t get enough sleep should serve as quite the motivator.

9. You are a tad bit psychic

This is a trait frequently coupled with high sensitivity. The belief is that highly sensitive people have a closer connection with their intuition or gut instincts. Sometimes, this literally enables them to predict future events or avert disasters because something “just didn’t feel right.”

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10. You love animals and they love you back

Many people love animals, but highly sensitive people often have a deep, unspoken understanding of them. It wouldn’t be uncommon to see a highly sensitive person in the corner of a crowded party, having a blast with the sole canine guest. Pets can sense this too, cozying up to them right from the first meeting.

Featured photo credit: Stokpic via stokpic.com

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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