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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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Last Updated on October 14, 2020

The Art of Humble Confidence

The Art of Humble Confidence

To be confident or not to be confident, that is the question. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve been a bit confused about all this discussion about the subject of confidence. Do you really need to be more confident or should you try to be more humble? I think the answer is both – you just have to know where to use it.

East VS West – Confidence, It’s a Cultural Thing

In typical Western countries, the answer to the confidence debate is obvious – more is better. Our heros are rebellious, independent and shoot first, ask questions later. I think this snippet of dialog from The Matrix sums it up best:

Agent Smith – “We’re willing to wipe the slate clean, give you a fresh start. All that we’re asking in return is your cooperation in bringing a known terrorist to justice.”
Neo – “Yeah. Well, that sounds like a pretty good deal. But I think I may have a better one. How about, I give you the finger”
[He does]
Neo -“ …and you give me my phone call.”

In Eastern countries, the tone is often considerably different. Elders are supposed to be revered not dismissed. The words ‘guru,’ meaning a teacher, and the philosophy of dharma, loosely translated to mean ‘duty,’ come from here. In Eastern cultures humility and respect are more important than confidence.

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These perspectives are generalizations, but it shows how the confidence debate goes back deep into our culture. I think that both extremes of pure confidence or pure humility are misguided. Instead of rectifying this situation by simply blending the two: becoming somewhat humble, somewhat confident all the time, I believe the answer is to know when to be confident and when to be humble.

Humble Confidence – Know When to Use It

I’m going to make another broad generalization. I believe that virtually every relationship you are going to have is going to fit into one of two major archetypes, either master or student. In peer relationships this master/student role may switch frequently, but it is extremely rare that the relationship never leans to one side.

In the master role, you are displaying confidence to get what you want. This is public speaker, leader or seducer. Being the master has advantages. You have more control and ability to influence from this role.

The student role is the opposite. You are intentionally displaying humility. This is the student, disciple or follower. Being the student has advantages too. You can learn a lot more in this role and are more likely to win the trust of the other person.

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Know When to Shut Up and Learn

If you are a typical Westerner, you are probably already thinking about which role you prefer. Being the leader is great. You get respect and a higher status. Most of all you get a greater degree of control.

But the problem is that you can’t and shouldn’t always try to be the leader. Trying to assume that role without the skills, resources or status to back it up will lead to conflict. More importantly, there are many times when you purposely want to display humility. Some of the benefits to the student role include:

  • You learn more.
  • Smooths relationships.
  • Makes others more willing to lend a helping hand.

Knowing when taking the humble route is to your advantage. It is far easier to get mentors and advisors if you use humility rather than arrogance. A small sacrifice to your ego can open up the potential to learn a lot.

Confidence to Persuade, Humility to Learn

In reality almost no relationship is as clearly defined as master/student. Within our connections, people have overlapping areas of expertise. I might be an expert in blogging to a non-blogger, but they might be an expert in finance. In each area there are different roles to take.

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Before any interaction ask yourself what the purpose is. Are you trying to learn or persuade?

Persuasion requires confidence. If you are trying to sell, instruct or lead you need to display the confidence to match your message. But learning requires humility. You won’t learn anything if you are constantly arguing with your professors, mentors or employers. Taking a dose of humility and temporarily making yourself a student gives you the opportunity to absorb.

Persuade Less, Learn More

Persuasion is great for immediate effect, but learning matters over the long-haul. Instead of washing over all your communication with pure confidence, look for opportunities to learn. Persuading someone to follow you may give you an immediate boost of satisfaction, but it doesn’t last. Learning, however, is an investment for the future.

Whenever I make a connection with someone and realize they have a skill or understanding I want, I am careful to express humility in that area. That means listening with what they say even if I don’t immediately agree and being patient with their response. This method often drastically cuts down the time I need to spend on trial and error to learn by myself.

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Confidence/Humility Doesn’t Replace Communication Skills

This approach of selectively using confidence and humility for different purposes doesn’t replace communication skills. Humility isn’t going to work if the other person thinks you’re an irritating whiner. Confidence won’t work if the entire room thinks you are an arrogant jerk. Knowing how to display these two qualities takes practice.

The next time you are about to enter into an interaction ask yourself why you are doing it. Are you trying to persuade or learn? Depending on which you can take a completely different tact for far better results.

Featured photo credit: BBH Singapore via unsplash.com

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