Sensitive? You May Be A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)

 Sensitive? You May Be A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)Photo by: Anais

It all added up.  Sensitivity to loud sounds, harsh light, emotional climates and over-stimulating situations?  I’d just discovered something I could use to quell the coarse incivilities about my nature.  I’m a highly sensitive person.

“Quit being so hypersensitive.  You have really thin skin you know!”

You see, ignoramuses like you fail to understand that I’m a highly sensitive person.  I was born that way!” 

In fact, the highly sensitive person IS born that way, with 15-20% of our population being genetically predisposed to higher levels of mental, emotional and physical sensitivity.  So are you a highly sensitive person?  Find out below.

What the Highly Sensitive Person Is

Mother of the discovery, Elaine Aron, has been researching the highly sensitive person for over 20 years now.  As such, she has a finely tuned list of traits and behavioral quirks that define the highly sensitive person.  See how many describe you in my updated list below.

  • I’m aware of subtleties and nuances in different environments. e.g. a tap dripping too loudly, a light bulb burning too brightly, etc.
  • I’m easily overwhelmed by the senses. Loud noises, strong smells, tastes and light affect me negatively. e.g. the pounding music of nightclubs, loud busy freeways and strong perfumes.
  • I need to withdraw from busy days and take a break, or a nap, by myself.
  • I’m overly sensitive to pain. e.g. needles, sports injuries, insect stings, etc.
  • I become spooked and startled easily.
  • I like to take my time, and not overload myself with too many activities as it drains and overwhelms me.
  • I prefer to avoid violent TV shows and movies.
  • I find it hard to adapt to changes in my life.
  • I tend to ruminate and process information deeply.
  • I’m empathic.  I’m aware of the way people feel around me, and when any slight change occurs in them.
  • Emotional environments tend to affect me deeply.
  • I’m often perceived as being introverted or shy.
  • I’m profoundly moved by nature, the arts or music.
  • I tend to be more philosophically and spiritually orientated.
  • I feel unusually strong emotions.
  • I avoid and deeply dislike confrontation of any kind.
  • I prefer to not be observed when fulfilling tasks.  It unsettles me.
  • I tend to avoid situations that are too intense or chaotic.
  • I seem to process the world at a very deep level.

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What the Highly Sensitive Person Isn’t

The three most common things the highly sensitive person is mistaken for can be found below.

Misconception #1:   HSPs are introverts.

We both like to reflect deeply, and both have vibrant internal worlds, but not all introverted people are necessarily highly sensitive.  In fact, as Aron points out, 30% of the total number of highly sensitive people are actually extroverted.  It’s a small minority, but it still shows that introversion does not equate to being highly sensitive.

Misconception #2:   Being a HSP is just another word for being shy.

Just like introversion, the highly sensitive person is often mislabeled as being shy.  Although the two share things in common – such as sensitivity to overwhelming social situations, they are essentially not the same thing.  While shyness is learned, being a highly sensitive person is not.

Misconception #3:   “HSP” is a mental disorder.

From the description, all the way to the shortened label (HSP), it’s easy to mistake the highly sensitive person as a sufferer of some strange mental condition.  Although there’s a small percentage of HSPs, the numbers are not small enough to be classified as a disorder, or large enough to be given much attention either.  Besides, what mental disorder allows the sufferer to be endowed with such genuine joy as being more empathic, spiritually orientated, and appreciating the details of life more fully?

How to live life with ease as a HSP

As highly sensitive author Kate Stefans points out in her post Underlying Dissatisfaction, highly sensitive people are prone to idealism and perfectionism.  This often spurs from deriving our self worth from the opinion of others, and not valuing ourselves enough.  Being a highly sensitive person can also hit you hard if you’re a male.  Being a thick skinned machismo-logician is favored as the masculine ideal in the Western world, rather than the sensitive, emotional poet.  But whatever difficulties we face as highly sensitive people can be overcome with the ability to reframe the negative into the positive, and actively work to better our environments.  Here are some tips:

1.   Learn to value yourself.

I learnt this the hard way.  When we place too much importance in what people say and think about us, we create immense psychological tension and anxiety.  We are living to satisfy the thousands of different perspectives of who we “should” be, rather than embracing what we are.  In essence, we are creating the exact thing we try to avoid that is detrimental to us: too much internal pressure and chaos.  Be nice to yourself.  Learn to value your qualities and gifts.  Realize that you’re the one and only master over yourself, and no one can have power over you unless you let them.

2.   Don’t take things personally.

This tip, mentioned by Don Miguel Ruiz in his well known book The Four Agreements, is essential for mental and emotional happiness.  The highly sensitive person, prone to getting hurt easily by other people and their words, frequently finds himself on edge in social situations, trying to finely tune his behavior to avoid conflict.  When we take insults and the moods of other people personally, we blame ourselves.  To overcome this dilemma, I’ve personally found that it’s best to think about the person, and why they said or behaved the way they did.  Are they going through a divorce?  Did they sleep well?  Did someone do something that outraged them today?  As Ruiz says “nothing other people do is because of you“.

3.   Embrace solitude.

Solitude is not loneliness, instead it is a chosen form of being alone, rather than an imposed one.  When we choose solitude and take mini retreats from our stimulating days, we give ourselves the gift of re-cooperation.  As highly sensitive people, we need to be in tune with our minds and bodies and the warning signs of burn-out, such as irritability and physical exhaustion.  Take a bit of time to renew yourself.

4.   Investigate, identify & act upon your sensitivity triggers.

Wouldn’t life be a whole lot easier if we managed to resourcefully alter or intelligently negotiate our way around the stresses and stimulation’s that come our way?  Of course, we can’t plan everything, but for the stresses currently existing in our lives, we can work to plan ahead and alleviate the incoming tension.  As a HSP, I struggled with this, stoically putting up with the extreme anxiety I felt at work, until I realized that it was weakening my health.  No, I didn’t do something drastic like quit my job, but I did decide to plan ahead and practice self-hypnosis every time I had to go to work, to prepare myself for the day.  I still do.  As a HSP, you may be suffering from the same problem I did: a self-sacrificial acceptance of your less than healthy response to a situation in life.  If you find yourself daily frazzled, try identifying what makes you so stressed out and think about what you can do to actively make your life easier to live.  Life wasn’t meant to be bared with gritted teeth.

 Are you a highly sensitive person?  Do you have anything to add to this article?  If so, please do below.  Also, you may like to take my Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) Test.

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  1. Melinda says

    I’m so glad I found this! For as long as I can remember I’ve felt sensitive to practically everything. My parents used to say I’d cry if someone looked at me the wrong way. My mother said that it was almost as though I was born with thin skin (well, I was born at 26 weeks 31 years ago so my skin was a little “see-thru”). She meant that it was like I was on edge all the time, as though all my nerve endings were on overdrive. My parents used to yell at me for getting upset about things, they’d call me a sook (or cry baby), and say I was over sensitive.

    My father died when I was 9, but my mother was brought up on the whole “stiff upper lip” stuff from her childhood in England. A few years ago after discussing things with a psychologist, I told her that I would appreciate it if she stopped calling me over sensitive and tried to see me as being hyper sensitive (I hadn’t heard of HSP back then), she just laughed, rolled her eyes, and told me stop being stupid and over sensitive.

    I have managed to stop crying about every thing that upsets me, but I also suffer from Depression and Anxiety, so things can be a struggle at times.

    I’m just glad I have finally found something that explains how I’ve been feeling for so long.

    • says

      Melinda, being mocked and rejected by your mother is a difficult thing to deal with. However, you aren’t alone (I also have dealt with this).

      I’ve learnt that it’s best to distance yourself from people who fail to accept you for who you are, and who constantly criticize you. Your mother must struggle with self-acceptance, because the way in which we treat other people is usually a reflection of how we treat ourselves.

      I’m so happy that you have found this article, and that you can put a name to such feelings.

      All the best!

      -Luna

  2. Valentino says

    It is both a blessing and a curse to je HSP and ambiverted in same time, but I would never change it for other characteristics.

  3. Erica says

    Hello! I’m only thirteen, but ever since I was little, I have been very sensitive to loud noises, bright flashing lights, and strong smells, tastes, etc. My family and friends fondly call me hyper-sensitive, as I am aware of pretty much every little change in my environment. I used to be very sensitive emotionally as well (still am), however, due to the negative comments people used to make about me, I learned to hide that part. I still am very sensitive, though. I have also been called empathic, as I will often be aware of the emotional state of being a person is in. I will also put my selves in people’s shoes, try to look at it from their perspective. In a situation where my emotional sensitivity comes into play, I will look at it from the other person’s perspective. However, it often backfires because I end up blaming myself… Also, what you said about being prone to perfectionism and idealism is true. I try to satisfy people in every way I can, however, that always backfires. I also am constantly trying to tweak and change things to fit my idea of perfect. Many times I have been called deep… I have tried to figure out what my personality is like, and I’ve realised that I’m an introvert, a perfectionist and idealist, a empathy but I didn’t know there was such thing as HSP. Thank you for making me aware of HSP! Also, are HSPs prone to depression?

    • says

      Hello Erica :).

      While reading your comment, you very much reminded me of Sol (coauthor of LonerWolf), and his amazing ability of consistently placing himself in the shoes/perceptions of others.

      HSP’s, like any group of people, are prone to depression. However, I would say that anxiety is more of an issue for the highly sensitive person. In my own case, constantly being overwhelmed by the external environment is enough to trigger a lot of chronic anxiety. However, depression is definitely an issue for Empathic people, as they carry the weight of other people’s emotions on their shoulders constantly.

      Many thanks for reading!

      -Luna

  4. Johne596 says

    Nice read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing some research on that. And he actually bought me lunch as I found it for him smile Thus let me rephrase that Thanks for lunch! keabceecaebe

  5. john smith says

    i taken the road trip to understand my self how ever in discovering your website here i know discovered another facet now i know why i hate loud environments being a extrovert i have no problem being around people but i am over whelmed by loud environment in my youth i could hardly stand going to school

    • says

      An extroverted HSP – I haven’t heard from many of those John! An interesting combination.
      I’m happy that this article could clear things up for you however. Now you can take this knowledge into your life, and send boundaries and limits for yourself in order to maintain your health and peace of mind.

      All the best,

      -Luna

  6. hannah says

    thank you for writing this article! its been very informative. i started looking into HSPs and realised i fitted the category around two years ago, but theres one thing that bothers me. whenever i’m around someone who’s emitting very strong emotions i feel as though i’m imitating them, for instance when someone is very stressed i’ll get equally as stressed, or if someone is sad, i’ll start feeling sad no matter what i was feeling beforehand. it’s not only sensing another persons change in emotions but also reflecting them? i guess thats the easiest way to put it. its very tiring, especially when i know its happening but i have no idea who’s emotions i’m taking on. do you think this is related to HSP? or is it something else. i’ve also done some research into empathic sensitivity but is that the same as HSP or does it differ in some ways? its all very confusing…

    • says

      Hannah, this is a common phenomenon amongst HSPs and Empathic people. Often we struggle to clearly identify the source of our emotions, failing to make a distinction between our own feelings and the feelings of others. This is something that we need to develop, like any skill in life. But as with the development of any skill, a lot of time, effort and struggle is involved, which is why we must possess a strong will to better our lives.

      Most likely you are a HSP and an empathic person. The difference between the HSP and the Empath is mainly physical vs. emotional/psychological. Whereas the HSP pertains mostly to a persons level of sensitivity to the external environment, an Empath is one who can feel the emotions of others strongly. There are some overlaps, but this is basically the definition of the two.

      I hope this helps. :)

      -Luna

  7. s says

    Though this isn’t the first time I’ve come across articles about HSP’s, I still makes me extremely happy when I see them. I like to know that someone is trying to educate others and even HSP’s themselves, about this unique gift. I know that before I discovered this, I was constantly being told, usually by my immediate family, that I took things too personally and that I was being too sensitive. To see that what I was feeling was actually normal was the happiest time of my life. Suddenly everything clicked. Since then, my family has become much more accepting as well, especially since I’ve learned not take things too personally.

    I am an HSP and very proud of it.

    • says

      Thank you S Says! This is a very encouraging comment, and demonstrates the power of self-knowledge to benefit our lives, and the lives of those we love. I’m really happy to hear that you find value in an article such as this, not only is it encouraging for me as a blogger, but for every person who happens to visit this page.
      All the very best, L

  8. Dyan says

    This is definitely me. What ever label you want to give it. I surely was born this way. And my saving grace in this world is solitude in nature. For me the forests, the trees, peace and quiet, restore and fill my soul and being. Thanks for the article. So validating, as it is often times, easy to forget, in this mostly chaotic world. :)

    • says

      Thank you Dyan! Hearing that this article has helped to validate the way someone is, is great encouragement to continue to write on the topic of Highly Sensitive People. One of the greatest joys in life is to discover why you are the way you are, and also to give a name to the feelings you feel. I’m happy that you could experience this at the hands of this article.
      I look forward to hearing your thoughts on other articles in the future!
      -Luna

  9. Annonymous says

    I always thought i was the weird one of my family, but know i know why! Everything about the above describes me on so many levels. I sense moods and when people are lying, and i hate hurting someone’s feelings and often say YES instead of NO because i find it hard to let people down in certain situations. I observe and appreciate the world and analyse things very deeply – always thinking of the bigger picture beyond the frame. I’m artistic and love learning. While i couldn’t live without my family or friends, sometimes i like to just be alone – physically or in thought.
    I feel spiritually sensitive, too. I am also Cancerian – a sensitive being. This article explains many things, but i feel proud to be who i am. I change now for nobody

    • says

      Hi Annonymous. It’s terrific to hear that this article has helped you to understand yourself more wholly! I too am a Cancerian Moon (as well as Leo Sun – opposite combination), so I can relate to that sensitivity. Many thanks for leaving a comment!

  10. Barbara Blackburn says

    Finally someone understands me. My eyes are very sensitive to light. As a child, when we would go to church on Sunday nights, my mother let me put my head down in her lap because the lights made my eyes hurt after awhile. I always thought that my problems with life stemmed from my traumatic childhood with a father who had a bad temper. All of these fit me, except I do like some scary movies. If there is a lot of needless violence though, I find myself getting angry. I always thought there was something wrong with me. Now I know I am not alone.

    • says

      Thank you Barbara! I’m happy to hear that this article helped you to understand yourself better. In fact, I’m having the same problem at this very moment of typing: the light of the computer screen is giving me a terrible headache (resulting in me darkening the screen down to 0% usually). Many thanks for commenting!

  11. says

    Thank you for writing such a good article. It was a good read for me and i found it very informative. Thank you once again :)
    I also referred it to my girl friend to overcome her weak parts.

  12. Attila Beres says

    There was a period in my life when I could sense the electricity circulating in the wires inside the walls and had to sleep outside in the countryside. I’m still extremely sensitive to bio energies in my environment and it requires great focus for me to be able to function among people.

    What I’ve found helps with being highly sensitive is:
    Eating plenty of healthy fats if you are a vegan or eating meat helps somewhat;
    Establishing strong boundaries by communicating of our feelings, needs and requests to others accordingly is even more effective;
    Becoming aware of our emotions, needs, values, passions and based on this clarity on what’s important to us beginning to shape our life towards a more fulfilling future. This will keep the aura in the confines of the body, present and focused, and NOT touching the outside world in a dependent and confused way picking up unnecessary information through the senses.

    • says

      Attila, many thanks for your comment and insights! I hope that others who fall on this page read your suggestions and try to adopt them into their own lives. Thank you for an inspiring post!

  13. Abhishek Mittal says

    I am very Introvert and HSP, all the symptoms above match so perfectly…
    I cannot handle any confront at all, instead I have to avoid the discussion and I feel really burnt inside when I am pretty sure that I am right but the person in front just don’t want to listen your opinion/idea/argument and just keep on exerting that point I am making is wrong and their one is right.
    Is there any way out to get rid of this?

    • says

      Hello Abhishek,

      Its a very common problem amongst Introverts, especially HSP. Its a double whammy!

      In having discussion and exchanging different points of view with Luna, Ive learned how she processes things much more slower and too much information can overwhelm her. When we first met each other, we shared a lot of different opinions. She had many ideologies and erroneous beliefs that would hinder her lifestyle, and she unconsciously felt it which is why she would talk to me cause I tried to provide clarity and make some sense of it all. Now days its much easier as we rare disagree on much.

      The little trick we used was; she communicated her thoughts via emails or messages. It allowed her time to read my responses, and not get overwhelmed or emotionally reactive from them. Instead, she would read them and wait a few hours, think about everything carefully, and then respond. Sometimes we would have a “silent day” where neither of us would talk, we would communicate via a notebook and write down our thoughts.

      I would suggest to use a similar technique, maybe exchange “difficult” ideas via letters, providing a much more HSP friendly climate/environment to be more receptive and clear to the ideas themselves, and not the overwhelming senses and emotions that can cloud your mental clarity.

      I hope that helped, and thank you for sharing your thoughts!

      Sol

  14. Bemni says

    I never even realized there was a thing such as HSP! I just assumed I was too sensitive. I’m friendly to people but very wary of them as well and don’t get close to people a lot. I also replay events in my head a lot and remember negative comments for a long time. I think I finally know why. Thanks so much for writing this. :)

    • says

      Hello Bemni!

      We are glad you found hints towards your self discovery on our site :). Its amazing how many aspects of ourselves we take for granted, we dismiss and ignore because we dont have anything to compare with. Youve never lived outside of your own body, how can you tell whether other people feel different than you do?

      Its only when you hear a new concept that you feel reflects you that it makes you stop and realize thats exactly what you feel, that since there was no name for it you just thought it was a normal life quirk you had to put up with.

      The beauty of Involution and self discovery is making the intangible unconscious feelings and thoughts in the back of our minds, tangible, known. It allows us to know where to direct our lives towards, to avoid certain things cause it will make you feel sick or too tired.

      Thank you Bemni for sharing your experience, we are glad you found something so helpful on our site!

      Sol

  15. Julie P says

    I definitely fall under the category of an HSP, but to me it’s just another label. No, it’s not a diagnosis or a disorder, but it’s still an effort by someone to lump a bunch of symptoms together under a label. It doesn’t change anything. I do appreciate the suggested coping skills in this article. Self-awareness helps so much and is the first step towards getting help. I do hope that those commenters who struggle with their label can get beyond that and learn to accept themselves for who they are and realize they are a gift to others and deserve to be happy like anyone else.
    Another typical “label” for people like us is “sensory-defensive.” This is a great book to read to help bring understanding to that description: http://www.amazon.com/Loud-Bright-Fast-Tight-Overstimulating/dp/0060932929
    The other thing that is beginning to gain more attention in the area of brain research is that our brains can change…otherwise known as neuroplasticity. Google it! Many things can cause underdevelopment of sensory areas in our brains/sensory systems (trauma, birth difficulties, lack of a proper sensory diet – not food, but activity – in youth), but with sensory therapy and targeted brain training-type applications, the development can be brought up to speed and sensory problems improved and sometimes resolved. I have completed sensory therapy at Minds-in-Motion in Indiana (mimlearning.com) and continue sensory activities at home. Though I still have a long way to go, I do feel like my anxiety has lessened, my self awareness has increased and I can better see the road before me that I need to take. This program (and many others that I have read about) have also been known to successfully improve symptoms of autism, ADHD, asperger’s and other sensory-related disorders.
    It’s encouraging to see professionals out there working to help people get relief and live a fulfilling life…a life where diagnoses don’t matter, because the symptoms are gone! I don’t much like diagnoses anyway. It seems like when people get a diagnosis, they focus on the medicine the dr. prescribes instead of focusing on the symptoms and what they’re telling us about what is wrong in our bodies and how to fix our bodies and make the symptoms go away.
    To your health and a happy life!

    • says

      Hello Julie, thank you for sharing some advice to the readers of this article. Labels in and of themselves are not bad things, so it really depends on the way in which they are used. We are fluid human beings who wax and wane, grow and change constantly, so applying a label rigidly to yourself never helps. This is also why I don’t believe in the value of getting diagnosed with ‘disorders’. Sure they are labels (like: general anxiety disorder for instance), but they are already predetermined as being negative, which prejudices our mindsets. I really appreciate this comment you made: “It seems like when people get a diagnosis, they focus on the medicine the dr. prescribes instead of focusing on the symptoms and what they’re telling us about what is wrong in our bodies and how to fix our bodies and make the symptoms go away.” I believe that the most tragic thing in modern psychological/medical practices is the quick jump to prescribing drugs as a way of masking the symptoms as a supposed ‘cure’. This is only really a superficial quick-fix, which is why I value the power of Involution so much, and it’s ability to help us to become more self-aware so that we can discover what exactly is making us so ill. What we need is to get to the root of the problems we face, but so many people don’t appear to be interested in investing that much time or energy in changing the way they think, and interact with the world, and therefore how healthy they feel or not. Many thanks for reading and commenting!

  16. Shilpi Gupta says

    first of all i would like 2 thanku for dis post coz b4 reading dis i had reached a stage where i was convinced dat something is definitely wrong wid me n i m not balanced,and at times i gave credit 2 my mother who is very sensitive.i tried a lot to be strong but nothing helped.yeah its true dat i try every way to avoid falling into troubles but then i feel there are lot more problems inspite of taking so many precautions.because of my sensitiveness i have hurt a lot of people.i feel guilty 90% of my time.i cant avoid feeling sorry for myself and i feel weak.i always need some1 2 share my thoughts there r always lots of queries in my mind,i m so confused.i dont know how to change.please do reply if u have any suggestion.because of my behaviour my roommates left me right now i m living alone.i had my break up just few days after they left and since that day i m monitoring my actions i m trying to change myself and to correct everything.but nothing’s working out.its been more than a month and i couldnt convince my bf that i wont repeat it please come back.i feel bad and i dont have exact words to describe my emotions,right now i have tears in my eyes and i knew it dat i was HSP b4 dis test even.i get proofs everyday.i want to become normal.i dont know how to do it.that day isnt far when i’ll be hating myself for who i am because definitely i m responsible for my actions if not for the outcome and i dont want to be sensitive.please suggest something.right now i m studying but after few years i’ll b in dat bad professional world where emotions have no meaning and i m afraid of moving ahead in life.i know with my this attitude i’ll have lots of problems in my job and i dont want that to happen because i seriously need my job.i need friends,companion,i dont want to live alone but i m helpless and on the verge of being hopeless please suggest a way to improve my relationship with people around me.i seriously need ur advice.

  17. GiantAmongLesserMen says

    Where was this thinking 30 some years ago when I was a young boy in school? Negative grades, teasing boys, and teacher’s disciplining; it seemed everything set me off. I was always the sensitive kid, but I never understood why. My parents did their best, always encouraging, always understanding. Even now I STILL get upset with myself when I cry at happy/sad endings in TV or Movies or Theater. I have always felt like it was some how emasculating. As my wife can attest other than my Highly Sensitive nature I’m am VERY Masculine. At over 6 and a half feet tall it is hard not to be. Growing up as a male HSP, I would say, was very difficult. Living with it in adulthood is equally as challenging. My wife often wonders why we seem to almost NEVER fight. Reading this article I can understand a little bit better why now. Most men in a relationship when they get mad they show it or say it in some way which sparks conflict and ultimately conflict resolution in healthy relationships. With an HSP Male, we get mad and tend reflect on that anger. What made us mad and why? Is the problem us or our partner? More often than not we recognize whatever the problem was it was likely either silly or us taking things to heart too much and dismiss our anger. Never causing any conflict or confrontation, because well…. that’s the way we like it.
    One thing that I will say from personal experience about HSP and males is our sexual peak doesn’t really follow the norm…. unless it’s just me. I’ve been peaking since the age of 16 and I’m approaching 40 and my libido hasn’t changed much in that time. I truly believe it stems from being Highly Sensitive. My wife says all she has to do is breath on me and I’m ready to go. HA! This isn’t always a good thing by the way. I do however feel that HSP effects sex in general. By that I mean I don’t think I enjoy sex the same way other males do. I get more pleasure from partner’s enjoyment than my own. I think that stems from our ability to “feel” what other’s feel, our empathic nature.
    Some women may read the last few sentences and wonder “really?!?” why is this guy talking about that here. Frankly it’s because I think HSP men are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to discussing how we feel and how we love because of society. Maybe just maybe another guy will read this like I just read this article and say, “AH HAH!!!! So that’s why I’m like that!!” Thank you Luna for opening my eyes to what I’ve been struggling with most of my life (as tears roll down my face as I type that last line– ugh….).

    • Susan says

      While I find all of your observations interesting, Giant, I am particularly fascinated with your observations regarding sex. I am and have always known that I am a HSP. I have always been keenly sexually aware, even from a very young age and though I am “supposed” to be at my sexual peak now, I am no more sexually motivated, which according to my partner is a good thing. I would love to find out more about if this is typical of HSPs. Thanks for mentioning it!

    • B says

      You described me to a t. From never fighting with my wife to the whole getting more pleasure from my spouses sexual satisfaction. So glad I found this.

    • says

      GiantAmongLesserMen, thank you for commenting and sharing your thoughts here. I think it will be a great source of comfort for other highly sensitive males to read your comment and to realize that they’re not as alone as they once thought. You make some interesting comments about sex here as well. Just as the highly sensitive person reacts to external stimulation and internal stimulation a lot more intensely than other people, I would say that this also applies to their sex lives and the way they approach sex in general. In this area, I’m personally very sensitive physically, and find the process more laborious and stressful than anything else, especially if I get too over-stimulated. This is why I gain the greatest pleasure out of seeing the other person enjoy themselves, and my own pleasure derives mostly from making the other person happy. So there, I can empathize!

  18. NoNameMatters says

    Another great article Luna. I’m definitely a HSP described above, and on top of that, a male one. It is hard sometimes indeed, and often confused with timidity.

    What I learned until my mid teens was to show people my middle finger – simbolically of course. They can say what they want, most of them don’t even know what hurts others and why they are doing this. Just shake it off. I think this approach helps HSPs a lot when dealing with negative, abusing people in daily life. After that you can start to take down that wall – and see how the world reacts to your true self. That’s what I am doing know – and it’s wonderful to be myself and aligned with my neighborhood at the same time. I’m still eccentric of course, and always will be – but adults are much more tolerant to difference than teenagers. And also manifesting more of their own souls rather than behaving some kind of ‘group-conscious’ way.

    I also feel true that being with others and in certain situations just takes too much energy out of me. Being alone and recreate that way truly works wonders – must find time for that somehow at least once a week. The other option is to get overstressed and go mad.

    • says

      Hello NoNameMatters, many thanks for commenting. I guess in a sense; the more self-aware and understanding we become of ourselves, the more aware and understanding we become of other people. Your comment reminds me of something that I’ve discovered in my own experience as a HSP, and that is to not take anything personally, because what people say and the way they behave is a reflection of themselves, their own misconceptions, prejudices, mindsets, and perceptions towards themselves. I’ve noticed that the most loving and accepting people are that way toward themselves, and then to other people. As HSP’s we often tend to take every little comment or action hypersensitively, and once we realize that people aren’t out to get us, but lack mindfulness of their actions and words, we can have more compassion. All the very best!

  19. Elisa says

    I loved reading my HSP book. I cycle from this category to the label of Female Aspergers.

    It depends on my mood as to which I attach to. Sometimes I resent the Aspergers one, just because it describes who I am in terms of a disorder, whilst HSP is more neutral. Other times, I possibly gravitate towards the Female Aspergers label, out of frustration at being excluded and not fitting in. ..then I can cycle back, feeling anger at society -which, makes it so hard for me to get a job even after five years of being well and having been gainfully employed for most of this….

    Mostly I think my issue is that I do not have a single soul who I feel understands me well. My cousin and her husband came close. …interestingly, i mentioned my possibly having Female Aspergers and not long after got harshly criticised. -this from someone who had largely been in mh corner: an advocate for the shy introvert.

    Again, it seems so hard to find acceptance.

    I think I would like a HSP/borderline aspie friend. Just to get a sense of relief and not having to feel like I have to hide flaws or never succumb to stress and a need to then be alone.

    I did actually try a group who had social anxiety. It was ok for a little while, until they seemed to be intimidated by my comparative greater social ease. Maybe I should have persisted and interpreted this as not being their desire not to have me around..? But one thing I do know is that I was prejudiced and social climbing at the time, because I rejected the offer of one of the females to hang out just tigether. She was perfectly fine as a person. This was a definite mistake of mine.

    It’s painstaking, but I am slowly gathering information about what my limits are. One is purely that I need to avoid group socializing. I need to, because I can’t get to know people in this way without it being considerably taxing. And, unfortunately prejudice is rife: a friend who got my preference for one on one interaction, nonetheless quit bothering to call and ask me out, based on the fact that she knew another group who I had been hanging around with, and I just could not handle keeping up the stamina needed to socialize in a group plus get over the high anxiety I was feeling trying to get used to the people at my new job. …so I learned that even when pushed, acting more extroverted is actually harmful to me. And I am just not going to bother befriending anyone who expects me to hang round in a group. I’m better off abandoning the friendship at the start rather than investing time and energy to have them reject me based on my “anti social” tendencies.

    My life could be a great deal better if I could break out of unemployment to get a decent STEADY job with mostly kind people. i’d go through anxiety more than likely. But
    I’d just go on antidepressants again. I’m hoping to learn some techniques to manage anxiety, too. But, if I have to spend time within a group I find it very taxing until tye time when I am reasonably used to them.

    I can generally be quite good at socializing on one off occasions. It’s when I have to do it a lot perhaps especially with the same people (where I think is that pressure to be accepted) that my anxiety shoots through the roof.

    It’s taken me years to understand why it is that in some situations I don’t have troubles and in others I do.

    I forgot what I had originally meant to say. …oh well.

    • says

      Thank you for sharing these thoughts Elisa. It’s not often that I come across people who identify as both highly sensitive, as well as possessing aspergers. One of the best ways to learn about ourselves and others is to read, which is an important step you’re making. Have you tried reading about aspergers symptom at length? This could meaningfully add to your understanding of yourself.

      During my time writing, researching and answering comments for this blog, I’ve come across a lot of different people who share with me the fact that they don’t have anyone who truly understands them. I dealt with this problem for the majority of my life, and can understand the feelings that accompany being misunderstood. After a while, I decided to throw myself out into the world by joining many different groups, finding work, volunteering. So I believe you would benefit a lot out of joining an Aspergers Group, perhaps online first. For instance, if you haven’t already, try becoming active on this group: http://www.aspiescentral.com/forum.php

      It’s frustrating opening yourself up to people who fail to understand you. I’ve done this many times. In the end, if the right person, or people, don’t come to you, you have to search for them, which is the best way to find the appropriate people to talk to and become open with.

      I wish you all the best in your personal journey of self-discovery Elisa! -L

  20. says

    All I had to do was read a description of HSP’s (in Quiet) to say “Yes! That’s me!” I was the despair of my parents. I cried so much of the time. If they would argue, or if one of them scolded my brother, I would cry. And if I was the one in trouble? Sob city. When I was sent to the corner, I would spend the time shouting “I just need some lovin’!” My dad thought I was “too sensitive” and was harsh with me to try to get me to toughen up. The more he did it, the worse it got!

    I was homeschooled, which made learning a breeze for me because I could do it on my own terms. I would take my books up a tree or into a blanket fort! When I went to school later on, I suffered a lot. It was so hard to focus on anything the teacher said, the other kids teased me and made me cry, and all of the teachers acted like there was something wrong with me because I cried so easily. I would get home and just lock myself in my room; I couldn’t bear to interact with anyone. Field trips or pep rallies made me go literally catatonic. I absolutely cannot bear strangers touching me. Touch is my most sensitive sense — I hate scarves, long sleeves, clumpy shoes, or jewelry. As a kid I had to have all the tags cut out of my shirts and I cried because my socks had seams on the toes!

    Learning how to cope with this trait has been life changing. I know now that, no matter how much I love talking to people, I have to leave noisy parties within an hour or two or I will suddenly hit a wall and be miserable. I know to say no to things that I know I won’t enjoy. When visiting my very noisy family, I’ve learned to retreat into a quiet room frequently to get away from being talked to by two or three people at once. And a wonderful thing has happened: when I’ve centered myself and am managing my own sensitivity well, I am now more sensitive to the feelings of others. I wasn’t very sympathetic to others when I was younger because I felt I had to throw huge walls up just to survive. Now I empathize with others easily and can often get to the bottom of an emotional situation while other people just don’t get it. That’s pretty essential for my job as a mother!

    One of my two sons is extremely sensitive as well. He’s three. I am teaching him to go to his room and listen to music when he’s overwhelmed, and to verbalize what is bothering him so I can help. Most of all I am just trying very hard not to label him or tell him there’s something wrong with him. I worry that people will bully him and judge him for being “not manly enough.” I want him to know that he is wonderful the way he is, and being sensitive doesn’t mean you aren’t strong. Luckily his dad is extremely understanding, even though he doesn’t always see the freakouts coming like I do. If I say, “He’s getting upset, please stop this game,” he will. He understands that there is no “toughening him up,” that my son is what he is and needs to be respected and nurtured for it, not changed.

    Thanks for this post; every HSP needs to know that this is a normal and beautiful trait, that they are not defective and that there are ways to deal with this overstimulating world.

    • says

      Sheila, I want to thank you for sharing this inspiring comment with the LonerWolf community here. Reading of your struggles as a child and as a young adult, and your slow progression in overcoming your difficulties (or at least having them under control) is wonderfully exciting! The techniques that you have shared here are invaluable, and I hope to experiment with them in my own life.

      Your child is very lucky to have a mother such as yourself to deal with his sensitivities. Growing up, my parents were much like yours: harsh and tough. But at the end of the day, these tribulations we experienced turn out to be gifts in disguise, especially when dealing with other people.

      Many thanks once again for your comment. I look forward to hearing from you more in the future! -L

  21. Martin says

    Love this article, it’s armed me with tools to get me living as I should, true to myself. Having read the post, I’m most definitely an introverted HSP, in addition to being a man. But the way the world’s wired for us men, it can get rough.

    Wonderfully, I relate to Vicki’s work experience with management. Some time back, my boss commented that he was pleasantly suprised by the quality of work I did on a product given my weirdness in the office. Case in point, unappologetically eating fresh fruits while working and shutting my eyes for a few minutes every half hour. The office was open planned, and I shared a single desk with two colleagues.

    I especially value the point on solitude and loneliness. I fell victim to perceiving my solitude as dreaded loneliness, amid much anguish. I reckon this alone is what befalls most of the 15%, I cannot undervalue the value of this advise. Regards to you, Luna.

    I greatly appreciate the sharing here, its quite refreshing. Given that HSPs genuinely care for others, and the world, they can, if unrestricted, quite easily change the world! Of course, for the better. 15% only! Thanks for the post.

    • says

      Martin, I’m delighted to hear that you found this article helpful! I also don’t often read the thoughts and experiences of HSP men, which is why your comment is all the more valuable.
      I wish you all the best in your discovery, and in living life as a highly sensitive person. Thanks for reading!
      -Luna

  22. Jeanette says

    Not sure if I am an HSP (I identified with 12/19 of your points) but can identify with taking everything personally, and intuiting the emotions of people around me. I seem to have spent a lifetime ‘taking it personally’ thinking I was to blame for everything.

    I am not oversensitive to visual stimuli, but sounds and horrible loud noises (drills, alarms) or other people’s terrible taste in music! I have been known to avoid Supermarkets where they play ‘greatest hits” and hate shops at Christmas!!!

    I would not cope working in a cublicle. too many sounds mean I hear nothing at al l- can’t focus. Funny thing is that I am a Kindergarten Teacher and this often involves lots of noise and chaos! I go home after work via a coffee shop where they don’y play any music. The peace and quiet (and coffee) is a break between the work me and the role of Mum. Thanks for your helpful article.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment Jeanette.
      I’m considering creating a test on this site to determine whether you’re a highly sensitive person or not, so stay in tune!

      It’s sounds like you’re mostly an auditory person, as you seem to be the most affected by noises. I’m an auditory person as well, and I can be really affected by a whole variety of sounds (including people’s voices, as well as loud cars and trains that zoom by on the streets sometimes. They really leave me in shock).

      Planning some time out from the world is such a wise idea for us HSPs and I admire your ability to do that amongst all your social responsibilities!
      Thank you for reading, and sharing a bit about your own experience :)

  23. says

    I recently shared a bunch of HSP links and information with two people I know online. One already knew she was an INTJ introvert but hadn’t heard of HSP … until we had some discussions, she took the “test” and had an epiphany. The other had been asking me questions for a while because she knew that she was more “sensitive” to a lot of things, but had believed this was a character flaw.
    Both of these women now feel stronger and more confident in their approach to work and day-to-day life.

  24. says

    I’ve always known that I was an Introvert, so I didn’t have that “Ah Ha” moment that some people had when, for example, they read Susan Cain’s “QUiet”, or watched the TED talk, or read one of these blogs.

    But I did have an Ah Ha moment when I first found out that I was an HSP and that HSPs account for 15-20% of the population. I’m “normal”. Yippee!

    Two jobs back, my manager actually put the following into my annual performance review:

    “Vicki works best when she can interact with a team and then be sequestered to do her writing, coming back for review or more input as necessary. She has a difficult and complicated time blending into the work environment and is very sensitive to physical factors such as noise. However, as much as these peculiarities make her not fit into a team, she overcomes them by being genuine, helpful, responsive, and productive.”

    He thought I was weird but was willing to get past it because I was productive. Go me.

    (My cubicle had no walls and was in a room with 7 other people. The room had a door but was just off the company break room. I moved there because my previous cubicle was on a major corridor, outside of a meeting room, with no windows in view and poor overhead lighting. Many people in that company turned off the overhead lights. I _need_ light, preferably actual daylight. Aarrgghh!)

    • says

      Vicki, That’s the precise feeling I felt when I discovered HSPs, it went something like “I’m not so isolated! Or so weird! Or finicky!” Like any label, I think being a HSP allows us to escape from that dreaded feeling everyone tries to escape from of being ‘different’. In a sense it makes us feel special and included in an exclusive group, and on the other hand it homogeneouses us by reassuring us that we’re “normal” again.

      Open office plans seem to be the bane of our introverted HSP existence – your managers review made me smile :) If only we could get the word out enough to warn people of our peculiarities before they meet us, haha

      It sort of reminds me of my recent need to buy earplugs and wear a eye-mask to fall asleep at night. I’m so sensitive to light and sound that I find myself waking up constantly during the night, sometimes for hours…and of course the next day I’m like an undead zombie, with barely enough energy to sit up, let alone do anything of any substance. I didn’t even figure it out (it was Sol that suggested it) about a week ago, and I’ve been living in my new house for about 5 months now, with appallingly shallow sleep :S

      Keep being weird and productive ;P Thanks for commenting!