60 Signs That You Are a Highly Sensitive Person
Are you often being called too sensitive or too soft? In this blog, we talk about the 60 signs that you are a highly sensitive person.
I am so excited to share this blog with you! HSP coach Tiara from HSPeace coaching and I have combined our strengths to put together this extensive list of signs that you are a highly sensitive person. Based on our own insights from working with and for HSP's and input from scientific studies we have created this massive list.
If you are anything like me, you have felt like an outsider or different from others for most part of your life. For a long time, you couldn’t make sense of it and perhaps you still can’t. I hope that after reading this blog, you will be able to understand why you are feeling the way you feel. Perhaps you will discover that you are highly sensitive. Find out by browsing through this extensive list of signs that you are a highly sensitive person.
Because of their depth of processing external stimuli, highly sensitive people have a tendency to overthink a lot. At times it might feel like you can’t turn off your thoughts.
Moreover, you might struggle to fall asleep in the evening because your thoughts won’t shut off.
Oftentimes, highly sensitive people also lay awake in the middle of the night because of their thoughts. These can be thoughts about the past day, thoughts about the future or even thoughts where you obsess about tiny details from the far past.
Hence, overthinking is one of the common sights that you are a highly sensitive person.
One of the consequences of deep processing and overthinking everything, is that you might feel tired and exhausted all the time.
Even after 8 full hours of sleep you might wake up and wonder what is wrong with you. I do this all the time.
Because you process everything so very deeply, you also need more time to rest during the night and throughout the day. This can be challenging for many highly sensitive people in this fast-paced society.
One of the signs that you are a highly sensitive person is that you tend to feel easily stressed.
As mentioned, highly sensitive people need more rest compared to less sensitive people. Accordingly, packed schedules and many tasks on the to do-list tend to stress out the highly sensitive person easily.
In addition, highly sensitive people are known to be conflict-avoiding and they care deeply about the expectations of others. They hate letting others down and when they sense that this is the case, this can cause great stress within them.
Finally, because of their ability to pick up the tiniest changes in their environment, this can cause great stress when their senses are stimulated in a non-pleasing way. Think about sudden changes in noise levels or brighter lights.
Highly sensitive people are some of the most productive and capable employees you can find.
While they are performing amazingly when working in a HSP-friendly, calm environment - preferably on their own-, they might function poorly when being observed.
Being observed causes them to feel stressed by the expectations of the others and as you may know, one of the worst fears of an HSP is to let others down.
Accordingly, this fear for disappointing others causes highly sensitive people to actually perform worse while being observed.
Do you sometimes feel that you experience certain emotions more deeply than others? This is one of the signs that you are a highly sensitive person.
In fact, studies show that highly sensitive people are known to process emotions more deeply. Accordingly, they feel emotions more intensely.
This can be a true gift in good times and feel like a curse in bad times. Therefore, it is incredibly important for highly sensitive people to manage emotional regulation.
For example, you might consider to try EFT tapping (emotional freedom therapy). Here is an interesting video upon EFT tapping:
Because highly sensitive people experience the world differently compared to less sensitive people, they might feel out of place many times.
Society is mostly fast and busy, as less sensitive people seem to have less problems with that pace. However, highly sensitive people might feel out of place and the desire to slow down more often.
This different need can cause them to feel different and like ‘the weird kid’. Know that it is completely normal to be highly sensitive and that there is nothing wrong with wanting to live a slower lifestyle.
Highly sensitive people have a tendency to overthink everything around them - including themselves and their own actions. Hence, the common highly sensitive person is rather self-conscious.
Because of their strong sense of self-consciousness, highly sensitive people often look at ways to improve themselves and grow on a personal level. Also, they tend to reflect in-depth about how they come across to other people.
This is one of the reasons why I started HiSensitives together with my fiance Riny; to support highly sensitive people’s need for personal growth.
Highly sensitive people have a heightened amount of mirror neurons in their brain. Mirror neurons enable people to emphasize and feel the pain of others more deeply.
Accordingly, highly sensitive people often are extremely empathic. They care deeply about everyone and everything around them and feel other people’s emotions as if they were their own.
If you'd like to learn more about empathy, here's an interesting video for you:
Due to their extremely empathic nature, highly sensitive people might experience a strong fear of being rejected by others. Especially highly sensitive introverts, who often are labelled as shy, might experience this fear strongly.
This fear can show itself in the strangest ways: for example by being afraid to raise your hand and speak up - even if you know you have the right answer.
Another way this fear of rejection can show itself is when you are afraid to share your opinion with someone you disagree with, out of fear of being rejected by them.
Another common fear amongst highly sensitive people is the fear of failure. Because they have a tendency to care so very deeply about everything they take on, the fear of it failing can truly eat us up.
In worst cases, the fear of failure within a highly sensitive person is so strong, that they don’t even dare to take on new projects or give their new dream a chance. The idea that it might fail horrifies a highly sensitive person.
Do you have a tendency to feel misunderstood by others? Either in relation to how you perceive your environment or how you feel about certain situations? This is one of the common signs that you are a highly sensitive person.
One thing I recognize often in the HSP community is that before highly sensitive people understand that they are highly sensitive, they feel like ‘the weird kid’. For example, they might feel like they are the only ones in the world experiencing things intensely or different.
Once you know for sure that you are part of the HSP-club, the feeling of being misunderstood will decrease. Finally you will find your people who get it. Who are the same. It will feel like a true relief to you. I know I felt that way.
Studies show that highly sensitive people process sensory stimulation more intensely. Hence, their senses are heightened and they are more easily overwhelmed by sensory input.
One type of sensory input that can feel overwhelming to highly sensitive people, are loud noises. Or even worse: loud, unexpected noises.
Highly sensitive people struggle to function when they are in a noisy environment. Therefore, noise cancelling earbuds (affiliate link) are a highly sensitive person’s best friend.
Another result of being easily overwhelmed by sensory input, is that many highly sensitive people prefer dim lighting.
Because it is less overwhelming to their senses, dim lighting is a pleasant and cozy light source to the typical HSP.
One of the signs that you are a highly sensitive person, is that you truly appreciate art and music.
You could just sit and listen to (calm) music for hours and feel the words and sounds in every fibre of your body.
The same goes for art; due to their deep sensory processing, beautiful art can trigger wonderful emotions within a highly sensitive person.
A positive side effect of being highly empathic, is that highly sensitive people often love animals.
They can emphasize with their pure, innocent nature and often find comfort in their pets. Comfort, which they sometimes struggle to find within other people.
Similar to being around animals, highly sensitive people seem to truly thrive when being in nature. A walk in the forest, on the beach or in the mountains can do wonders for their physical and mental health.
Why? Perhaps because the external stimuli from nature is more pleasant to them. No loud car sounds, construction sites and crowds of people. Paradise!
The empathic nature of a highly sensitive person often results in them caring deeply about everyone and everything around them.
Because of their caring personality, they sometimes struggle to realize that not everyone around them cares as deeply about things as they do. Hence, this can result in frustration and disappointment.
Highly sensitive people are known to have an incredible eye for detail. Because of that, they tend to be rather perfectionistic.
Their perfectionism can be a strength in relation to their work, as it causes them to deliver projects of high quality. However, it can also slow them down and sometimes even result in unrealistic expectations towards themselves and never being satisfied with the outcome.
Due to their overthinking tendencies, highly sensitive people often struggle with a strong inner critic. In addition, their challenges regarding dealing with criticism, causes their inner critic to remember every tiny bit of criticism they’ve ever received.
As a result, many highly sensitive people often are their own worst critic and almost bully themselves over the tiniest mistakes in their lives. If you struggle with a strong inner critic, this video might be interesting for you:
Have you ever found yourself dreading to go to work, because you don’t see the point in doing that job? Most likely, that job was not meaningful enough to you.
Studies have shown that highly sensitive people can’t just have a job to make money. It must be meaningful and support their higher purpose in life.
One of the other signs that you are a highly sensitive person, is that you enjoy the small things in life which nobody else around you seems to take notice of.
Because highly sensitive people process and notice every tiny detail around them, they are able to notice these seemingly small and simple things.
Have you ever found yourself appreciating the smell of the rain, a light breeze on your skin or the sound of the wind whispering through the trees, while the person you were with was looking at you like you were crazy? Welcome to the world of a highly sensitive person.
One of the most common thoughts we notice in our community for highly sensitive people and empaths, is that they are struggling with the pace of (Western) society. They find it too fast, too focused on competition and struggle with the ideal of working on multiple tasks at the same time.
Ask a highly sensitive person about their dream life and they will most likely talk about a calm home (in nature), with a job that is stress-free and can be performed at their own pace.
Feeling guilty about things that you say or do is one of the signs that you are a highly sensitive person. Most likely, this origins from the overthinking tendencies of the typical highly sensitive person.
Small discussions or signs that another person is displeased with a certain behavior might be overanalyzed by a highly sensitive person and hence result in feelings of guilt.
Oftentimes, when you check in with the other person and tell them about your guilt, you will realize that there was no reason to feel guilty about anything in the first place.
Because there are certain things that can result in overwhelm and overstimulation within a highly sensitive person, they might avoid specific situations.
Things that less sensitive people don’t seem to struggle with at all, might feel like a big deal to a highly sensitive person. Think about the yearly weekend getaway with your husband's entire family. All these people under one roof without a space to find silence, might be incredibly overstimulating for a highly sensitive person.
Not being able to deal with these types of situations ‘normally’, can cause a highly sensitive person to feel high maintenance.
Know that being overwhelmed by certain situations is completely normal when you are highly sensitive and that there is no reason to be ashamed of it.
If you are highly sensitive, you most likely have heard one of the following phrases sooner or later in your life:
- “You are so needy”
- “You are too emotional”
- “Just get over it”
- “Let it go”
- “You are taking things too personal”
- “You are too sensitive”
Do these sound familiar to you? If they do, chances are likely that they were said to you by less sensitive people and that you in fact are highly sensitive.
Oftentimes, when highly sensitive people don’t know about their trait, they struggle to set healthy boundaries for themselves. They push themselves to a level of emotional exhaustion and might occasionally experience ‘emotional overload’. It is often in those situations, when people feel justified to make one of those statements towards an HSP.
While it is not okay at all to be criticised like this, know that you will hear these types of statements less, once you find out how to set healthy boundaries for yourself and learn how to thrive as a highly sensitive person.
While no studies currently prove that highly sensitive people are more creative than less sensitive people, their depth of processing external input might result in creative output. However, this is only the case if the highly sensitive person has enough confidence to do so.
So if you find that you are very creative, this might be a sign that you are highly sensitive. Once you join a couple of communities for highly sensitive people, you will realize that being creative is a common shared interest among HSP’s.
Highly sensitive people are known to pay attention to detail. They will notice the tiniest, most subtle changes in their environment or in the behavior of a person.
Oftentimes, they see things which others tend to pass by without noticing.
One of the common signs that you are a highly sensitive person, is that you are trying hard to be a good friend. Oftentimes, you tend to remember the things that others seem to forget.
When your friend is feeling down, you are doing everything to comfort them in a way that makes them happy. Due to your empathic nature, this comes naturally to you.
Because you are a highly sensitive empath who feels emotions of others rather easily, you preferably want to be liked by everyone. Therefore you care deeply about what others think of you.
Oftentimes, you might overthink the signals you receive from others and start worrying about whether you did something to upset them or to like you less. If you recognize this behaviour within yourself, this might be an interesting video for you:
Another sign that you are a highly sensitive person is that you feel like a new person after recharging in your ‘sacred’ space. This could be a cozy living room, your bathroom or your bedroom, depending on where you can relax the most.
This is not only the case for highly sensitive introverts, who prefer downtime alone. Also highly sensitive extroverts need to retreat to their own space to recharge their energy.
One of the signs that you are a highly sensitive person, is that you prefer your home above anything else. Why? Because you have (hopefully) adapted your home to your needs.
Dim lighting, cozy furniture, silent rooms and pleasant smells are one of the main reasons why you prefer your home above a fancy hotel room or staying at a friends house. In addition, a bed that fits your sleeping needs makes you prefer to sleep at home.
Even if you are a high sensation seeker and HSP, nothing beats coming home to your own four walls to recharge after a fun experience.
Highly sensitive people might prefer to know what is going to happen around them, as they are easily startled by surprising sounds, lights or experiences. Therefore, they tend to prefer being in an environment which they know well.
Of course a highly sensitive person is able to adapt to new situations too, but these will most likely overwhelm them greatly due to all the new external input. Hence, they might feel the need to recharge after such an experience.
Another subtle sign that you might be a highly sensitive person, is that you prefer your own transport above public transport. The reason is simple: public transport craves more of your energy.
All the people, the sounds and the smells can feel quite overwhelming to a highly sensitive person. External stimuli, which can be avoided by commuting on your own.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were easily overwhelmed? Chances are likely that this situation involved unpredictable, loud sounds, bright lights or too many people around you.
This is a lot to take in for a highly sensitive person. Due to their depth of processing, the high amount of external stimulation can cause an HSP to feel overwhelmed more easily.
Accordingly, highly sensitive people might not be the biggest fans of large crowds and events, simply because it overwhelms them to the max.
Highly sensitive people and relationships can be a challenge if the partner, friend or relative does not understand what being a highly sensitive person means. Also, somebody close who does not acknowledge the trait can feel challenging for a highly sensitive person. How?
When your partner, friend or relative isn’t aware of the trait or does not want to acknowledge it, you constantly find yourself in situations that overwhelm you and they won’t understand why.
Accordingly, it is important to talk with them about your sensitivity and your needs and to set healthy boundaries in relationships. This can be an intense progress, as you might face resistance from them. Be patient and try to show them scientific data to back up what you are trying to tell them. Perhaps you could show them this video:
One of the common signs that you are a highly sensitive person is that you can’t stand violence and obscenity on television and in movies. Seeing such scenes might even cause you to feel nauseous or to have bad nightmares.
Accordingly, you might prefer to avoid these types of media.
Because of their heightened amount of mirror neurons, empathy and depth of processing, the mood of a highly sensitive person is easily affected by external input.
Their mood can change due to the mood of others around them, scenes from the news, watching a specific movie, listening to certain music and the list goes on. While this is wonderful with regards to positive energy, it can feel like a true curse when encountering negative input.
Therefore, it is important for highly sensitive people to spend time to properly ground their energy and stand with both feet steady on the ground. This can for example be achieved by protecting your energy. In this blog, we talk about it with regards to toxic people.
A highly sensitive person who is not aware of their trait and/or not able to set healthy boundaries for themselves, might feel continuous exhaustion and emotional overload. In extreme cases, some might even find temporary relief in alcohol or drugs. However, this is not the perfect solution, as it affects your physical and mental health deeply.
If you recognize this behaviour within yourself, know that there are other ways to learn how to tackle your daily challenges as a highly sensitive person. For example, you might want to consider seeing a HSP coach. HSP coach Tiara might be able to help you with your struggles and on Dr. Elaine Arons website you can find an extensive overview of other HSP experts across the world.
One of the common signs that you are a highly sensitive person, is that you seem to cry more easily compared to less sensitive people.
As you process external input more deeply both bodily and emotionally, an emotional overload might express itself in a good crying session. When you learn how to ground yourself more properly and set healthy boundaries, you will most likely notice that you will cry less in the future.
Because highly sensitive people have heightened activity in the part of their brain responsible for fear - the amygdala -, they also might experience more anxiety compared to less sensitive people. Hence, they come across as more careful and sometimes even nervous to other people.
Experiencing anxiety might be one of the biggest frustrations of being a highly sensitive person. Anxiety in combination with overthinking can greatly affect one's feeling of happiness. Accordingly, it might be wise to spend time on learning more about your brain and its patterns and how you can prevent certain destructive thought patterns effectively.
If you struggle with anxiety often, this technique might be interesting for you to try out:
Has someone ever told you that you are being ‘too soft’ and that you need to grow a ‘thicker skin’? That you need to toughen up?
These are common things that highly sensitive people hear from their parents, relatives or even their partner. They may mean well when they say those things, but for highly sensitive people this can come across as incredibly hurtful.
Their sensitive nature is something that deserves to be seen and that is needed in the world. Hiding away their trait would mean hiding away who they truly are.
Therefore, please don’t take these comments too serious and embrace your sensitive side.
Highly sensitive people tend to have a strong intuition, because they notice tiny details that others may not. In addition, their depth of processing this input enables them to connect the dots easily.
A highly sensitive person can oftentimes sense when someone is struggling, even when that person isn't saying a word about it.
Another typical sign that you are a highly sensitive person is that you may have few truly deep connections with people around you. Due to your depth of processing certain input, you might find it hard to find people who are able to ‘reach that depth’ with you.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you talked enthusiastically about for example the endless possibilities of the Universe and spirituality, and your conversation partner looked at you with empty eyes, wondering how on earth you could think about those things?
This is quite common for highly sensitive people and might even cause them to feel alone. Know that there are many other people out there who experience it just the same way you do. You can connect with them through HSP communities like this one.
Due to their empathic character, highly sensitive people often are people-pleasers. Since they feel the mood of others and don’t want to disrupt their mood by displeasing them, they often go out of their way to please them.
While pleasing others can be a wonderful characteristic, it is important to make sure that you are not being used by the other person. Ensure to set healthy boundaries in relationships and to know when enough is enough.
Have you ever found yourself walking into a room and feeling that something was ‘off’ with it? Seconds later, you found out that the people in that room just had a conflict.
Being able to feel energies in a room or amongst people can be related to your heightened amount of mirror neurons. Because you notice subtle changes in the behaviour if others, feeling these energy shifts comes natural to you.
Another typical sign that you are a highly sensitive person, is that you are sensitive to caffeine. This is not strange, as caffeine acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system of our brains.
A study shows that there was a significant increase in amygdala activity when caffeine was combined with a threatening situation.
Highly sensitive people already happen to have a higher amount of amygdala activity, so adding caffeine to that surely can’t be good. This explains why many highly sensitive people react strongly when consuming caffeine.
While you love having deep conversations with others, you might often find yourself distracted during those conversations. Usually, this occurs when there is too much external stimuli going on around you.
Loud noises, crowds of people and strong smells might distract you from your conversation. Therefore, it might be wise to look for calm places when you intend to have a deep conversation with someone (without being distracted all the time).
One of the typical signs that you are a highly sensitive person, is that you easily get scared. Because your amygdala - the part of the brain responsible for fear and the fight-, flight- and freeze reaction - already is more active, being scared by someone pushes it over the top.
Highly sensitive people prefer slow living and focusing on one task at a time. Because they are perfectionists and pay close attention to detail, they become very stressed when they don’t have the time to practice those skills.
This in combination with their fear of failure results in great stress within them, which again might limit them in performing as well as usually.
Have you ever found yourself binge eating after a rough day? Do you get ‘hangry’ easily on those days? According to this article, highly sensitive people often experience binge eating and weight gaining. This occurs due to their body’s reaction to negative influences from the environment they find themselves in.
By adding a layer of fat to our body, our body attempts to shield itself as protection against negative circumstances and energies. Hence, the eating.
Therefore, make sure to eat nutritional food that is good for you if you feel hangry. However, the best solution is to find other ways to protect yourself from negative influences by setting healthy boundaries, taking a step back or avoiding negative influences that don’t serve you or your life.
Another common sign that you are a highly sensitive person, is that you struggle to deal with changes. Changes often have a major influence on our daily rhythms and the tendency to bring us out of balance.
As highly sensitive people do their best to remain balanced in a rather fast paced world, that is not suited well towards the needs of an HSP, change can be truly frustrating. While you’re trying to prepare yourself the best you can for change, unforeseen situations still happen to occur.
I remember when we moved to our new, beautiful home and it took me 4 (!) months to truly get used to this change. Although we had planned the move for quite a while and made sure to not stress too much, it still was an incredibly stressful event.
Highly sensitive people were often labeled as shy or ‘too sensitive’ when they were children. Oftentimes, this shyness simply was a coping mechanism for the highly sensitive child, who most likely was overwhelmed and overstimulated.
Because many people and especially the older generations weren’t aware of the HSP trait, these were common labels to refer to. Nowadays, the HSP trait is recognized more easily in children and more and more people are learning about the trait.
Highly sensitive people might have difficulties to stay concentrated and focused while working. When there are unexpected noises or smells in their environment, chances are likely that they will be distracted by it.
These distractions might annoy them so much that their head feels ‘cluttered’ by it and they might feel a spontaneous need to get rid of the disturbance. First when it is cleared, they can continue to focus.
The standard society truly isn’t made for highly sensitive people. The idea to work for 8 hours straight with almost no rest, while preferably performing as many tasks as possible at the same time before a certain deadline, was certainly not created by a highly sensitive person.
Highly sensitive people tend to prefer working hours stretched out throughout the day, so they have enough time to rest in between working sessions and recharge their energy. Thankfully, big companies are acknowledging the benefits of this working structure more and more.
Questionnaires have shown that highly sensitive people are more affected by pain than less sensitive people.
Due to them processing external stimuli more intensely, it is logical that also internal stimuli such as pain can affect a highly sensitive person deeply.
If you find yourself worrying much about the future and the past, this might be one of the signs that you are a highly sensitive person.
Because you might tend towards overthinking things and processing them deeply, it is logical that worrying about the future and the past are part of it as well.
For the 'worriers' amongst you, here's an interesting video:
Have you ever found yourself walking in public and suddenly being approached by strangers telling you their entire life story? This is a common experience for highly sensitive empaths.
People sense the sensitive and empathic nature of an HSP and know that they most likely will be able to receive the support that they need.
Because of the heightened amount of mirror neurons, highly sensitive people are able to read the emotions of others exceptionally well. Hence, they also often have the skill to feel when somebody is lying or hiding something.
They notice the subtle changes in body language and tone of voice, which others might seem to look past.
As a result of their heightened processing of external stimuli, highly sensitive people are more sensitive towards smell. Accordingly, they might notice the tiniest changes in the smell of their surroundings.
While this is a wonderful gift when for example smelling pleasant smells like flower fragrances, this can be truly frustrating when someone in your surroundings has an unpleasant perfume which others don’t seem to be bothered by.
Finally, one of the signs that you are a highly sensitive person is that you easily get overwhelmed when doing too many things at once.
Because you prefer to pay attention to detail and perhaps even are perfectionistic, doing too many tasks at the same time disables you from practicing those skills. Hence, it can become a rather overwhelming experience to multitask.
If you would like to confirm that you are a highly sensitive person after reading this article, you can take the official self test here.
I hope that you found this extensive list of signs that you are a highly sensitive person useful and that you’ll share it with your friends, family and partner.
Do you think that you are highly sensitive after reading this article? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments below!