Characteristics of Highly Sensitive People

Six Characteristics of Highly Sensitive People

Highly Sensitive People are individuals, yet we have several characteristics in common. Take a look at the six below to see if you identify with them.

  1. Have you ever heard, “Don’t be so sensitive,” at some point in your life? Instead of looking at this trait as a flaw, just know that it is a sign of emotional intelligence that makes you a master at problem-solving, conflict-resolution, and inspiring others to take action. I got the message that I was too sensitive since the time I was little, and always felt it was something to be ashamed of until I learned through Elaine Aron’s book The Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), it’s simply a character trait like one of many other traits people possess.
  2. HSPs may also be empaths. It’s a bit different than empathy. One definition is that empaths possess a keen ability to sense other people’s feelings, needs, insecurities, and are generally tapped into the emotions of those around you. This can be both a blessing and a curse; it makes you a great friend and confidant, yet it’s important to learn how to release other’s feelings so you’re not burdened with them. By the way, you can be an HSP without being an Empath, but not an Empath without being an HSP.
  3. Most HSPs are creative in some form or another; whether it’s the arts, music, decorating, writing, or bringing a new approach to an old paradigm. I know I was first recognized for my ability to play piano. When I was about 8 year’s old my piano teacher wanted me to go to Julliard. While that didn’t happen and I’ve gotten so rusty I would be embarrassed to try to play today, it was the feeling I put into the music that she was so taken with–definitely an HSP thing. Many highly sensitive people could probably relate to a beautiful piece of music moving them to tears or a painting taking their breath away.
  4. As an HSP, small annoyances can drive you nuts! Ever left a meeting and remarked about your client’s annoying and incessant pen-tapping only for your coworker to say, “Oh, I didn’t notice that?” HSPs experience noise, chaos, and other types of external stimulation profoundly, so what may be a major annoyance to you could go pretty much unnoticed by a non-HSP. A friend and I have compared notes on how annoyed we get when the windows are open, and someone is using an electric hedge clipper or leaf blower. We both close all the doors and windows immediately until it passes.
  5. You exude kindness. Highly sensitive people are often complimented on their politeness, courtesy, and clear understanding of what’s right and wrong. As an HSP, you’re probably known for your integrity and keeping your word at the office or with your friends. These traits are important to create harmony and engender likability and trust; but on the flip side, HSPs are often annoyed by the rudeness of others, which compounds feelings of isolation and aloneness. I’ve often told my clients that the person they thought was rude probably wasn’t even aware that their behavior might appear that way.
  6. Most HSPs don’t like being observed; therefore, we prefer solo activities to team sports, we would rather work alone, and we tend to do much better in situations where we don’t feel judged, such as writing vs. public speaking. I threw myself into public relations after college to overcome those feelings. I even served as spokesperson for a hospital. While I did learn to manage my sensitivities under those circumstances, it was a belief that it wasn’t all right to feel the way I did that prompted me. Today looking back, I might have done things differently, rather than take the path I found most stressful.

I hope this gives you the recognition that there are others out there just like you. We may only be 20% of the population, but with the right cultivation, we bring a powerful salve to a warrior-like world.

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