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20 Signs You’re A Highly Sensitive Person Even If You Don’t Feel You Are (But That’s Fine!)

20 Signs You’re A Highly Sensitive Person Even If You Don’t Feel You Are (But That’s Fine!)

Everyone knows you just can’t stop taking things so personal. They know you always worry about how others feel and can easily guess others emotional state. You wish you got a dollar each time you were called too emotional or told that you are overreacting.

There’s nothing wrong with being highly sensitive, yet you have your own highs and lows, not everyone would understand.  Here are twenty of them!

1.You literary feel everything

Sometimes you think your emotions are practically palpable – anything can trigger them: from a passage in the book, to a cheesy scene in the movie or a few lines of the song you’ve overheard playing from someone’s car. These small things may mean nothing for someone else, but for you they can mean a thousand feelings at a time. Some days it gets just too overwhelming.

2. You have an ability to scan the vibe

When entering the room, joining a conversation or just coming into contact with another person, you can always feel or guess the mood of the conversation that was taking place. You can easily predict someone else reactions to certain comments and even change subjects in advance if you know that the conversation’s heading towards an emotional disaster.  People often call you are a master communicator.

3. You can always tell when something wrong

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According to this research, 20% of the population can react particularly strongly to other person’s emotional circumstances. “No, I’m fine” little lies won’t pass with you as you can always accurately feel when something gone wrong with your close one. “Your pain is my pain” has literal meaning for you as you often experience really strong empathy.

 4. You easily pick up on the subtle

Your close friends joke you can read thoughts as you often answer their questions before they even asked them. You easily sense and spot lies or tell when people are trying to hide something from you. A career in law or police might be a great option for you.

 5. You are a good storyteller

As you feel all the feelings so vividly, you can convey them into powerful words and tell captivating, mind-boggling stories about the slightest daily occurrences. Your recent clash with a careless drives, his car accident lawyer and yours turns into a multi-layer story of raw emotions, active confrontation and final miraculous victory, turned into a divine, emotional narration worth to be written down.

 6. You are incredibly polite

When you say it “was a pleasure”you genuinely mean it. You always notice other people’s manners and never forget to say “thank you” and “please” when it should be. Deep down inside, however, you know that you are just afraid of offending someone’s feelings by being rude or not polite enough. You will stay extraordinary polite until you are 100% comfortable around that person (and often even afterwards).

 7. You are easily moved by art

You think you have experienced Stendhal syndrome at least once in your life. Art captivates you. Aesthetical beauty, creativity and basically any forms of artistic expression resonate strongly with you and make your heart pumping. You never ask questions like: “What the author wanted to say with this?” as you can precisely feel the message encoded.

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 8. You love doing things solo

You are absolutely fine being alone without feeling lonely. There are a lot of activities you prefer to do solo like working out as team sports often make you feel as if each of your move is watched and judged; work at home alone (or have personal space at work) as large open space workplaces make you feel wary and less productive; traveling solo isn’t a problem for you too – you can always sense the attitude towards you and the environment around you to stay out of the harms way.

 9. Your intuition is mystical

You tend to listen to your guts as they rarely let you down. You often have this weird feeling of what’s going on in between the lines and what’s the best way for you to act even if you have no apparent reasoning for it.

10. You are often called a people pleaser

And even though you don’t like this fact, you did admit to yourself a while ago that you can’t stand criticism. So you try your best to please everyone around and do an extra mile, even if that’s against your own interests. Sometimes, you become so accommodating that you become anxious that people would think you are too annoying and then you try to go out of their way to make sure, they don’t think so. Some days you feel exhausted and look for ways of how you could tolerate criticism.

11. You have problems saying “no”

All your friend know that when they need a favor, you can always be counted on, whether it is moving a piano or walking with their dog in heavy rain; you would have huge problems saying no to them.  The truth is, it’s easier for you to do something you don’t really want or like, rather then offending someone’s feeling by refusing to do so.

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12. You fall in love hard and fast

As Psychologist Elaine Aron wrote in her book, when highly sensitive people fall in love, they often feel tremendous ecstasy, and often just too quickly, but they, as well, feel anxiety, overstimulation and difficulty processing their intense emotions.  This emotional blast and overstimulation, unfortunately, often make intimacy more difficult for us. Also, as we fall in love so quickly and desperately, the risk of heartbreak and unmet expectations is above average. We tend to show our emotions to hard and fast, expecting the others do same.

 13. You have powerful imagination


Your dreams are vivid and full of bright emotional details and you can easily zone off into magical realms within your mind pretty much any time. When someone tells you an emotional story, you can easily imagine all the thoughts and feelings on the subject and live through them.

Having huge imagination certainly makes you creative, but on the other hand, makes you worth in taking decisions. You always try to imagine all possible scenarios and play them over and over again considering how you would feel in each outcome.

14. You often cry (and it’s okay)

Obviously, all the emotions you feel need some outbursts and tears are just one of them. You cry when you are happy, you cry when you are sad, you cry because you are alive and human. You shouldn’t be ashamed of that!

15. You have lower pain tolerance

You feel pain more intensively than other people do. That’s why you hate various medical procedures, yet at the same time you need them as you just can’t ignore some nasty headache or muscle pain and shrug it off like most people do.

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16. You don’t like scary movies

Or books, or spooky areas at night and certain carnival attractions. Your imagination is just to vivid and you can easily picture yourself in the violent situation you see or spin off a possible bad scenario. Friends may tease you, but you don’t want particularly terrifying things to be buried in your brains for life and pop up any time you walk alone at night at an empty street.

17. You can’t stand loud or irritating noises

If most people would just feel irritated, you become outraged if you hear a particularly intimidating or loud sound for just too long. You have a burning urge to stop it or get away as far as possible.  However, it’s good to know a few ways how you can deal with the extreme noise factor.

18. You hate bright lights as well

You always give preference to dimly lit corners at the restaurant and love candlelit dinners. Extreme light is often just too much for you to handle, that’s why you never liked camping overnight when someone’s suddenly beaming with a torch straight into your face.

19. You are more prone to anxiety and depression


As Doctor Aron noted “”If you’ve had a fair number of bad experiences, especially early in life, so you don’t feel safe in the world or you don’t feel secure at home or … at school, your nervous system is set to ‘anxious.” When your feelings are so strong, you need to keep them under control and don’t let them dig into your personality.

20. You are probably not the only highly sensitive person in your family

“Sensitivity is an inherited trait,” says Dr Aron. You are not alone in your emotional woes and you can always come to another family member who totally gets you and shares the same joys and problems!

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

A dysfunctional family is more than disagreement or constant arguments. Anything from plain neglect, to abuse and even verbal and physical violence is the everyday experience of those who are part of a dysfunctional family.

You know how this looks:

  • Parents constantly comparing children.
  • Siblings in conflict because of tolerated bullying.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Adultery…
  • And many others.

For all the members, this will mean emotional pain and even trauma; which, in case it doesn’t get resolved, will have a detrimental effect on the individual’s personality and development.

Needless to say, the younger members are the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean the parents are out of danger, as most commonly the parents play the roles of abuser-codependent, and in some cases, both parts inflicting pain on one another.

Most like to think these problems stem from deep-seated issues, and that therefore it’s pretty much impossible to deal with them.

This is only true for families not willing to do what it takes, for if only a single member is determined and knows how to do it, the whole family can do a lot of progress.

In this article, I’ll break down for you the basic steps of fixing a dysfunctional family. Although it may seem hopeless, it is possible to turn things around.

If you have ever felt in this position, or if you know somebody who is, this article is for you.

How to fix a dysfunctional family

In a few words the solution for a dysfunctional family lies in dropping the ego, focusing on the solution, switching blame for responsibility and doing the work as a unity, for the good of the whole family.

And this will accomplish things you once only saw as a dream.

Dropping the ego? Switching blame for responsibility? Doing the work? What does all this mean?

It’s simple. In a nutshell, it’s that which will allow you to turn a dysfunctional family into a functional one.

Let’s take a look at how exactly this can be done. And near the end we will also talk about what you can do in a dysfunctional family with cynical traits.

Dysfunctional families where not only problems are well-known, but also nobody seems to want a fix or openly decide to perpetuate the harmful behaviors. Such as the case of abuse and physical violence.

There is also a solution for these, it’s just not what you are expecting…

Dysfunctional… Or just average?

Most families are dysfunctional, though at varying degrees of dysfunctionality.

The milder cases, are just marked by “typical” comically-shrouded bullying or lack of interest in other members’ development or wellbeing.

You can know a family is dysfunctional if their interactions are anything different than cooperation, solidarity, care and support. But let’s get more specific…

A dysfunctional family is one in which members directly or indirectly suffer emotional and/or physical harm inflicted by other members of their family. Most commonly, perpetrated by the parents.

Even harmful actions as “passive” as neglect, which is inflicted by inaction rather than action, signifies a dysfunction within the family.

Dysfunctional families have conflicts such as:

  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Lack of interest and time spent together
  • Sexism
  • Utilitarianism
  • Lack of empathy
  • Unequal or unfair treatment
  • Disrespect towards boundaries
  • Control Issues
  • Jealousy
  • Verbal and physical abuse
  • Violence and even sexual misconduct or abuse

You may think a dysfunctional family has very little or nothing to do with personal productivity, but you would be wrong in thinking this way…

If a person is not emotionally well, she will not be able to perform as desired, as the emotional harm that has been inflicted will hinder everyday performance in the way of inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and low levels of inspiration, motivation and discipline.

Having a functional family does exactly the opposite: It creates productive members with no emotional baggage.

How to turn it around

When you’re part of a dysfunctional family you know it. You can quickly identify in other members the behaviors and conflicts that create the dysfunction.

But just in case you’re having trouble telling functional from dysfunctional I will tell you the following:

One of the easiest ways you can recognize if you are in a dysfunctional family is to survey your won feelings.

We often overlook this, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you feel?

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As cheesy as it may sound it really sheds a lot of light on the subject.

What behaviors, actions and attitudes in your family you wish were better?

Do you think certain behaviors and actions from your family marked you in the past?

Sadly, we cannot go back to the past to correct it. But we can do a lot in the present…

Correction is possible

In order to fix a dysfunctional family, you must start by putting an end to the behaviors and actions that are affecting you.

Verbalize it.

All members of the dysfunctional family have one issue in common: They don’t put a stop to the harm.

Whenever you feel your boundaries being overstepped there is just one single word you have to remember: STOP.

This is the door to a better, more functional family, because after this, comes the fix.

But first you have to identify and make others know where exactly lies the problem.

So go ahead and fearlessly start with “Stop”, followed by your expression of dissatisfaction.

Putting it to work in real life

In real life it would be something like this:

“OK, stop! Every time you belittle me I feel you don’t care. I need attention and respect, and it is your responsibility as my family to provide them to me”

Or:

“Stop. When you compare me with my cousin it hurts, I feel like I don’t matter and that’s not ok. I ask you to stop doing it.

Or:

“Please stop. When you start yelling all respect is lost and it turns into a battle of who can do it louder. Don’t raise your voice and let’s work this out the way humans do”.

As you can see, here you start by putting a stop to the toxic behavior when it arises. And afterwards you verbalize why it’s wrong and what needs of you need to be fulfilled.

This is what you have to remember:

1-Stop.

2-Why it’s wrong?

3-What you need.

And this will also work well in case you need to do it for another family member.

It’s a family thing

A dysfunctional family cannot be fixed by one member alone.

Yes, a single member can initiate progress and be the leader of the change. But in order to completely become functional all members must contribute to the solution.

In other words, you will need cooperation…

So don’t be afraid of asking for it!

Approach your family member and ask to be listened.

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We sometimes feel our needs are “not that important” or we simply believe they won’t listen. But thinking like this would be like being defeated at an unfought battle.

You will be amazed by how much people listen when you voice your needs, especially if it implies showing yourself open, vulnerable and in need.

It’s not a free-for-all battle

In order to get your family to cooperate, first you must fix your individual relationships with every member of the family. Remember: Relationships are always between two people, and two people only.

No matter how complex, the quality of a multi-member relationship (like a family) will always depend on the quality of the individual relationships.

Once you have straightened the relationship with every member of the dysfunctional family you will be able to better communicate with other members and help in the betterment of their individual relationship.

And this is where we will talk about the fix itself. The one I mentioned in the introduction…

The method

1. Drop the ego

Wherever there is conflict there is ego.

You cannot fix a relationship where there is ego, because the ego will want to win. Always. Yours and the other person.

Ego craves control and satisfaction, and in many cases, to establish dominance.

What does this have to do with a dysfunctional family? Everything. Ego will interfere with every plan you have to fix it.

It will make people suborn and defensive. And it will also make them drop responsibility. This is why, the first step is to drop the ego.

After you make sure you are not going to allow your ego to interfere you must work to make the other person do the same. How? By speaking from the heart…

Tell the other person how important all this is to you.

Tell the other person that it’s not a matter of arguing, but just working things out together.

Point out how it is not possible for you to do it alone.

And ask for sincere attention without any desire of opposition, because what you are doing is by no means in the hopes of harming the other person, but just to better the relationship and stop the damage being dealt to you.

You will have to point out the mistakes you need corrected, that’s for sure. And that leads me to the next point…

2. Not blame, but responsibility

When talking about others’ mistakes we often use an accusatory tone. And that’s natural, it’s what things should be like if ego was not present.

But since we are all creatures of ego, this immediately brings the shields up. And then unsheathes the swords…

When we blame others they automatically enter a defensive state, and this only leads to a failed negotiation.

What you need to do is to shift from blame to responsibility. And even that will have to be done carefully!

Instead of telling them off or demanding change or complaining, calmly point what the problem with their behavior is.

As much as this feels contradictory, also make them feel understood. You know how difficult it is to accept a mistake, so just make them feel it’s no big fuzz… which does not mean it’s ok, but it takes tension off.

You will do something like this:

“Hello dad. Can I talk with you for a minute? I really need to tell you something.

I have been feeling pretty sad lately and I know this is something you do care about.

You see, whenever I talk about my accomplishments you mention something else that makes my achievement pale in comparison.

I know you don’t do this intentionally and I know you might have not realized this until now, but I want to let you know this really brings me down.

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It would mean a lot to me if you could stop doing it, and it would help better our relationship, because this has already forced me to distance myself from you. And I don’t want that, I want a good, healthy relationship with you”

What happened here?

We started off with making it something important, something that needs both time and attention. Then we openly show ourselves vulnerable, just as we are.

We also mention why he should listen, and shove our feelings there again, because they are important.

We describe the issue with no attachment and with no hostile intention. It’s just a description.

And then we take the blame off. Just before we assign responsibility without actually saying it.

You are not blaming him directly, but you are pointing out the inevitable fact that his actions are causing a dysfunctionality. He is now responsible for changing.

This is what “switching blame for responsibility” means. What comes next? Doing the work!

3. Doing the work

What would any of this mean if, in the end, nothing changes? Exactly, nothing!

This is why you must follow up with every change that needs to be done.

Do so in a manner that is not hostile. Bring it up in a casual manner, and emphasizing how you both reached an agreement and how that is important to the family.

If the person doesn’t follow up don’t hesitate to bring it up again, and tell them you feel disappointed that your honest try at it was not listened.

It may even be a subject in itself, and therefore the need for another conversation.

“When you go back to old habits it shows that you didn’t really care about what I said. But back in real life you just reinforce how much contempt you show towards me and my feelings.

I talk with you because I care. Because although it would be easier for me to just distance myself from you I rather do my part in nurturing this relationship.

But there is just so much I can do, if you refuse to do your part I can do nothing else.”

You need very clear and positive communication in order to make this work.

Love is all you need

You must remember that in order for a dysfunctional family to become functional, all the work needs to stem from love.

That is the single one requirement for all this to work: Love.

And what happens if it simply is not there?

What happens if, nobody is willing to do what it takes?

What happens if a member of the family refuses to change and is happy with the harm he or she is dealing?

There is only one thing you can do:

To break away.

Let’s be honest, people, especially adults, are very difficult to change.

There is a Jewish proverb that I love, which sums it up like this:

“We spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn what we learned before we were 7”

If you find it very hard to change the very traits that make your family dysfunctional or if it’s simply impossible, you still have a card up your sleeve…

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Although nobody likes to beak away from family members, we must remember we have a responsibility with ourselves as individuals, before any relationship with anyone.

You have the responsibility of making yourself happy and free. Because you matter as an individual, regardless of any relationships you have, be it family, friendship or romantic.

Putting distance

So in case you are dealing with a family member who is simply unwilling to change take both physical and emotional distance.

What do I mean?

Learn, first, to take their damage in a detached manner.

Don’t let it hurt you further. Instead take a deep breath and distance yourself emotionally.

Don’t be attached to feelings such as “Why doesn’t she love me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “If he wasn’t like that my life would be perfect”.

Simply refuse to keep participating in the emotional downward spiral and accept, even if it’s painful” that there is nothing you can do. Accept that even without that relationship you are whole, you are worthy of love and respect.

They are their responsibility and you are yours. So decide what is best for you.

Realize it only comes down to two possibilities:

I keep the relationship and therefore accept the abuse. Or…

I choose my peace of mind.

And don’t let your mind fool you. We often think that since we all are imperfect, we must take the good and the bad behaviors of people. And we are especially forgiving towards our family…

Well, guess what? We are also responsible adults who are aware and must own to their acts. Never excuse abuse or violence or transgression towards you or anybody else.

Choose your happiness and if possible, also distance yourself physically, as it will increase your peace of mind tenfold.

How to prevent it

There are two key concepts you must bear in mind in order to prevent the dysfunctionality of a family:

  • To be completely aware of one’s own mistakes and not allow them to impact others and…
  • To make sure our SO’s are also on the same channel before creating a family (i.e. having children)

Dysfunctional families are the product of irresponsible paternity, for the decades-long unresolved emotional conflict ends up surfacing in the family inevitably, and it will for sure harm those who least deserve it: Innocent children.

You may notice we went from talking about family, to talking about individual relationships, to talking about you. We went from “them” to “us” to “me”.

Why? Because in the end you have the power to fix a dysfunctional family. To correct the mistakes you have in yours and to prevent dysfunctionalities if you don’t have a family but plan to create one.

Priorities and clear thought

You may be part of a dysfunctional family, but that does not mean you are powerless or that you have to suffer the consequences.

You learned today how it’s all a matter of priorities and thinking clearly.

You learned that, if love exists, everything is possible. You learned that even when there is no love and no fix for your dysfunctional family, there are still things you can do. It’s a matter of choosing your peace, because you deserve it.

Everything will be better if you apply this knowledge. If you talk to that problematic family member. If you help them see the harm they are doing. If you make sure they do change and treat you the way you need to be treated…

If you choose yourself over that toxic family member. If you refuse to justify the harm that others can do to yourself. If you realize the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

And lastly, that you also have to be aware of your actions and be open to criticism. Because we might be unknowingly harming others. And that would be us creating a dysfunctionality. Don’t allow it to happen.

Dysfunctional families are not impossible to fix. It just takes love, cooperation and responsibility.

But if you tried and those elements are not present, just choose yourself instead.

Featured photo credit: Xavier Mouton Photographie via unsplash.com

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