Being a highly sensitive person (HSP) is a unique and often misunderstood trait. The signs of a highly sensitive persons may look different from one person to another but there are almost always some tell-tale signs.

Highly sensitive people tend to experience the world more deeply and intensely than others. They notice all the little details that others miss. They tend to be seen as very intuitive, deeply compassionate and empathic. They can also appear to be distant and elusive as they have a deep inner world that is always active which tends to pull them away from others. Their not always introverts, but more often than not, they are. They can sometimes be viewed as “picky” or “particular” or (my favorite 🙄) “anal.”

Sound or feel familiar?

signs of a highly sensitive person

signs of a highly sensitive person
Are you always lost inside your head? This is one of the signs of a highly sensitive person.

1. You Feel Emotions Profoundly

One of the hallmark characteristics of HSPs is their deep emotional experiences. You may find yourself easily moved to tears by a touching movie, a piece of music, or even a heartfelt conversation. Your empathy is a powerful force, and you often feel the emotions of those around you as if they were your own.

2. You’re Easily Overwhelmed by Sensory Stimuli

therapist for highly sensitive person 1
Are you easiliy overwhelmed by your environment? This is perhaps the most common signs of a highly sensitive person.

Highly sensitive people are often sensitive to sensory input like bright lights, strong smells, and loud noises. You might feel overwhelmed in crowded places or become irritable when exposed to too much sensory stimulation. Your heightened awareness can make you seek out quieter and calmer environments.

3. You Notice Subtle Details

HSPs have a keen eye for detail. You’re likely to notice the small things that others might overlook, whether it’s a change in someone’s mood, a shift in the environment, or the beauty of intricate patterns in nature. Your attention to detail can be a valuable asset in various aspects of life.

4. You Have a Rich Inner World

Highly sensitive people often possess a vivid imagination and an active inner world. You may daydream frequently, enjoy creative pursuits like writing or art, and have a deep appreciation for aesthetics. Your inner world is a sanctuary where you can process your thoughts and feelings.

5. You Need Regular Alone Time

therapist for highly sensitive person
Do you feel like you need more alone time that others? This is one of the signs of a highly sensitive person.

HSPs tend to require downtime to recharge their emotional and mental batteries. You may find that after social interactions or demanding days, you need solitude to decompress and regain your energy. This need for alone time is essential for maintaining your emotional well-being.

6. You’re Highly Empathetic

Empathy is a defining trait of HSPs. You’re adept at understanding and feeling the emotions of others, which can make you a compassionate and supportive friend or partner. However, absorbing the emotions of those around you can also be emotionally draining.

7. You’re Prone to Overthinking

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Are you often accused of overthinking? This is one of the common signs of a highly sensitive person.

Highly sensitive people often have active minds that can lead to overthinking and rumination. You might find yourself replaying conversations or situations in your head, analyzing them from various angles. While this trait can help you problem-solve, it can also lead to increased stress and anxiety.

8. You’re Sensitive to Criticism

HSPs are more likely to take criticism to heart and may feel deeply affected by negative feedback. You strive for perfection and may be your harshest critic. Learning to manage your sensitivity to criticism and develop resilience is essential for your well-being.

9. You Have a Strong Sense of Compassion

Your sensitivity extends to a profound sense of compassion and a desire to make the world a better place. You may be drawn to helping professions, advocacy work, or volunteering, driven by your deep concern for others’ well-being.

Recognizing the signs of a highly sensitive person is an important step toward understanding yourself better and embracing your unique qualities. While being highly sensitive can present challenges, it also brings many strengths, such as empathy, creativity, and a deep appreciation for the beauty in the world. Embracing your sensitivity and learning to manage it effectively can lead to a more fulfilling and balanced life.

Life is hard. If you a highly sensitive person and you don’t know it, it’s going to be a lot harder. If any of this rings true for you, find an awesome, HSP-informed therapist you like and trust to help you figure out how to better adapt to the overstimulating world around you.

James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in Greater New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.