These ‘normal’ behaviors are foreign, uncomfortable, and often downright baffling to HSPs.
I was seated at the back of the dark movie theater (back when we were actually allowed to do that) covering my ears to block out the loud gunshot noises coming from the speakers. I looked around only to see everybody else’s faces staring in amazement at the screen.
I thought to myself, “How could anyone possibly enjoy these types of violent movies? Or maybe I’m just really weird…”
A few years later, I realized that I’m not weird at all. I’m just a highly sensitive person (HSP), someone who is very aware of external stimuli, absorbs others’ emotions as though they’re my own, and is sensitive to violent movies (and depictions of violence overall).
Since I feel emotions intensely and process information deeply, “little” things which may not affect a non-HSP can really affect me. So my reactions to things — like those gunshots in the movie — can differ greatly from someone who’s not an HSP.
I’ve put together a list of 10 things that just don’t make sense to me as a highly sensitive person. If you relate to these things, you’re not alone.
10 Things That Just Don’t Make Sense to HSPs
1. Shallow convo. (No, I don’t want to talk about the weather.)
Because HSPs tend to be so introspective, when we talk to friends, we really talk to them. So small talk? I just don’t get it. How can anybody actually enjoy small talk?
I have trouble seeing the point of it and would much rather talk about deeper issues, and I think this makes me crave deeper friendships, too.
Plus, I can’t fake being interested in a topic which has no meaning to me: I’m not interested in how bad the weather is today or the latest celebrity gossip. Instead, I want to know what you’re passionate about. What makes you want to wake up in the morning? What makes you feel alive?
To me, these are the important things my HSP self craves answers to.
2. Violence, even fake violence. Just no.
Of course, nobody likes real witnessing violence or cruelty. But for us HSPs, we have a tendency to truly despise it.
I’ve never enjoyed watching violent movies, like thrillers or films with mass killings. This is because I don’t just watch what’s happening in the movie, I feel what’s happening in the movie. And the feelings stay with me even after the movie finishes. I can’t just shake it off like others might.
And in-person violence is even worse. Even as a child, I couldn’t bear to watch people harming or abandoning animals. In typical HSP fashion, I would literally feel their pain as if it were my own (and then want to take them home and take care of them).
Since HSPs are usually highly empathetic beings, we can’t stand to see others getting hurt, so for me, it’s comedies and rom-coms for the win!
3. Anyone with a mean streak — even when it’s not directed at us.
When someone is bullying others or making a not-nice comment to them, I absolutely hate it.
Aside from not making sense to me why anyone would want to make someone else feel inferior or sad, as an HSP, I feel absolutely terrible hurting other people’s feelings — just the thought of it gets my heart racing.
To me, even saying “no” to someone can feel mean. Highly sensitive people usually want to do all they can to make others happy, and research even says that HSPs are often people-pleasers.
So while I try not to be a doormat and overextend myself, it can still be hard for me to set healthy boundaries. I do try to do all I can to help people and avoid hurting their feelings.
4. The need to be “popular” or know everyone vs. cultivate deeper friendships.
Back in high school, it seemed as though everyone was dying to be popular and wanted to have as many friends as possible. But many of these people were pretending to be someone they weren’t in order to make friends. Isn’t putting on a mask for other people mentally exhausting?
I could never understand it. I think friendships that feel completely natural are the best ones.
I always enjoyed having a small, but true, group of friends around me — and still do. These friends understand me and my HSP self; they get it if I want to do something laid-back instead of going to a loud place on a Friday night. No matter what, we have a genuine connection and are able to talk about anything and everything.
5. Going to loud and crowded places? No thanks.
I don’t know about you, but this HSP completely shuts down in loud and crowded places.
It might be a concert, a nightclub, or a busy shopping mall — it doesn’t matter. But when you combine lots of people and crazy lighting, my highly sensitive brain struggles to process so much information at once. These environments can leave me feeling dizzy, sick, or uncomfortably hot.
If the place has loud music or noise, too, that’s even worse. My nervous system gets overwhelmed and goes into freeze mode; I can’t think straight.
So, overstimulation? No thank you. I prefer quiet, calm cafes where I can think slowly and clearly. And also … personal space, please!
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6. “Constructive” criticism? I’ll pass.
If it’s truly constructive criticism, done with a good heart, I’m open. But often people call it “constructive” when it’s anything but — and as an HSP, I don’t take that kind of negativity well. I find myself overthinking the mean comments again … and again … and again.
Since we HSPs tend to process all kinds of stimuli a lot, it may take us more time to recover from criticism than a non-HSP. The latter may receive mean comments and shrug them off after a few minutes. With an HSP, however, that usually doesn’t happen; harsh criticism can really hurt us.
This may be because we’re often already very critical of ourselves. So receiving more negative feedback from others can honestly feel like the end of the world, as though we aren’t enough.
7. People who never seem stressed.
We all know people who seem to “just handle” everything that comes their way with no problem at all — nothing seems to worry them or stress them out. This really bamboozles me.
I, on the other hand, worry about the smallest things, such as being late to a meeting or not having enough time at the airport before a flight, probably because HSPs hate feeling busy and rushed. Those who are really chill about everything, however, think, “No worries, we’ll make it on time.”
As HSPs, our heightened sensitivity means we are more prone to feeling stress in certain situations, like time pressures and being around other stressed-out people. Since we absorb other people’s emotions and energies, if they’re stressed out, that means we’re super stressed out.
So when I look at people who seem relaxed 24/7, I end up asking myself “How?!”
8. People who are not environmentally conscious.
People who are not sensitive to their surroundings and the earth — like my HSP self is — irritate me, especially during a time when we need to be aware of our environmental actions more than ever.
Nature is amazing, and something highly sensitive people tend to seek refuge in, so we should be doing everything we can to preserve it, along with our wildlife.
So watching people, including those in the public eye (like certain politicians), casually toss their cigarette butts or plastic bottles onto the sidewalk or dismiss climate change really gets to me.
9. Reading — and watching — the news too much.
Sure, it’s important to know what’s going on in the world. But reading — and watching — too many news stories can do more harm than good, I think. Doomscrolling is a common problem now: Some people can’t get enough bad news and research shows it’s having a negative impact on our mental health.
I don’t know about you, fellow HSP, but hearing about the endless number of natural disasters, crimes, and deaths can leave me feeling quite depressed and anxious. Since we absorb things so easily, I believe it’s best to switch off all news sources for a while.
10. People who can actually function on little sleep.
One thing many HSPs need is sleep — it’s as though it nourishes our sensitive souls back to life, and it’s the ideal remedy after an action-packed day of stimuli.
For me, a night of no-or-little sleep means I will be quite cranky and tired the next day. Plus, my brain won’t be able to function and my digestive system will feel “off.”
Seeing people go to work after a wild night out and still being “awake” enough to complete tasks never fails to surprise me. How do they do it?! In fact, just thinking about it makes me want to take a nap right now …
Highly sensitive people, would you add anything else to the list? Let me know in the comments below.