22 Signs You (Or The Person You Love) Are A Highly Sensitive Person

Photo: Breslavtsev Oleg | Shutterstock
empathic woman taking a quiet moment for herself in nature

Do you like to be alone? Do you feel overwhelmed in large groups of people? Do you need downtime to recharge after being around other people including those you love? If you do, you may be a highly sensitive person.

Highly sensitive people (HSP) intuitively recognize at a young age that they're different. They don't fit in and are often made to feel that there's something wrong with them because they're different.

Highly sensitive people are internally rather than externally motivated.

They seek intangible rather than tangible rewards in life.

If they're in a relationship with someone who's more externally driven, they may withdraw and become subdued because they don't share the same interests. 

The profound sense of being different is life-long because its cause is biological. So often, being highly sensitive is treated as an emotional defect when nothing could be further from the truth. Highly sensitive people feel things deeply because their nervous systems take in everything around them in the same way that a sponge absorbs water.

You could say that they have a biological sensitivity to the energy in their environment. Therefore, their feelings come from their biological makeup rather than as a function of personality or some sort of social agenda.

There are many characteristics of a highly sensitive person. These traits may help you decide if you're highly sensitive or in a relationship with a highly sensitive person.

Here are 22 signs you, or the person you love, are a highly sensitive person:

1. They suffer from physical sensitivities

This could be anything like loud sounds, too much noise, light, tactile, or touch sensitivity, which may cause discomfort or pain.

2. They often need time to themselves to rest after interacting with others

This helps them reduce the buildup of energetic stimulus and stress in their bodies.

3. They find social interaction to be draining

The only receptions are if it's for a short time, or with a few people in a quiet setting. Non-HSP are more comfortable with big, noisy social engagements.

4. They dislike small talk

They don't know what to say, and there's always awkward silence for them.

5. They're empathetic

They're so empathetic that competition and the highly sensitive person are like oil and water.

6. They're sensitive to the feelings of others

They have a tendency to absorb those feelings, which can cause them unwelcome pain and challenges with boundaries.

7. They're really empathetic

Empathy in sensitives is more than a feeling for others — it's an active way of learning about the world.

8. They're right-brained and introverted

Don't worry though, as 30 percent of highly sensitive people are extroverts.

9. They may have strong psychic and intuitive abilities

They can always sense when something is wrong.

10. They dislike pressure

It interferes with their gift for deep processing, which is their way of processing everything they take in so they can live authentically.

11. They prefer egalitarian social and work environments

Equality helps them feel more comfortable.

12. They don't like someone standing over them

They work best when given full rein to do their work since they're extremely conscientious.

13. They need a simple lifestyle

Because unnecessary complexity is draining for them.

14. They need stillness

Quiet helps them recharge.

15. They have a deep connection with nature and all the creatures in it

Often they will view nature as their primary home.

16. They're deeply spiritual

It gives them comfort to believe in something.

17. They have physical conditions and allergies

Their health can be negatively impacted by too much stress.

18. They can form deep bonds with animals

For them, animals are easier to talk to than people.

19. They take longer to heal from harm and abuse

They feel everything too deeply sometimes. 

20. They prefer relationships based on their empathetic values and lifestyle

They need someone who understands them.

21. They're usually in healing and creative occupations

It brings them joy to help other people.

22. They have serious and natural intuitive abilities which cause them to have profound insights

They seem to know the right words to say to anything.

Research psychologist, Dr. Elaine Aron, developed what we know today about HSP and has written extensively about the highly sensitive trait. Interestingly, the highly sensitive trait is found in animal species as well. According to her research, 15 to 20 percent of people on the planet are highly sensitive, which is more than 1 billion. The odds are high, therefore you may be sensitive or know someone who is.

Highly sensitive people bring many gifts to our world. Many of the most famous geniuses like Einstein and Robin Williams showed signs of the highly sensitive trait: empathy, deep processing and insights, creativity, and finding connections that add new wisdom to our world.

It's challenging to take in so much information and highly sensitive people struggle with their sensitivity. When supported and respected, their empathy, creativity, and wisdom can enrich all of the people around them. 

Maria Hill is a personal development coach, writer, and blogger.