One amazing thing about highly sensitive people is the way their awareness of subtleties makes them human barometers with built-in alarm systems.
If someone had asked me as a teen or young adult what the best parts of being a highly sensitive person (HSP) were, I would have given them a blank look. It was something I tried to hide, not something I celebrated.
However, learning more about the trait of high sensitivity helped me to gradually embrace my identity as a highly sensitive person. I discovered I wasn’t alone and that there was nothing “wrong” with me for being sensitive.
As a psychologist, I specialize in helping people who are newly self-identified HSPs or who are working to accept that part of themselves. The approach that I’ve developed, Singularly Sensitive, helps people focus on how high sensitivity makes them uniquely equipped to thrive. Here are 14 amazing things about being a highly sensitive person.
14 Amazing Things About Being a Highly Sensitive Person
1. If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. Or maybe do both.
Highly sensitive people are perceptive and observant, which supports having a great sense of humor. Sometimes dry, dark, or sarcastic, that sense of humor helps us move through a complicated world. But we are just as easily able to connect to pain, injustice, and suffering, so our ears flow freely. Being in touch with our emotions and expressing them freely is part of HSPs’ defining characteristics and part of our fundamental strengths.
2. You’re a human barometer with a built-in alarm system.
Our awareness of subtleties makes us human barometers with built-in alarm systems. We pick up on changes in the weather, our physical surroundings, and other people’s behaviors, especially their body language. As such, we often know something is changing or going wrong before anyone else.
3. You’re a great detective. (Move over, Sherlock Holmes!)
You’re a great detective — metaphorically, at least. Highly sensitive people are great at piecing together complicated scenarios, seeing connections, and finding solutions where others may not see them. We also excel at turning this introspective lens onto ourselves. When we channel that process, such as through guided journaling, we empower ourselves to heal and grow.
4. Imagination and creativity are among your strong suits.
Deep processing feeds our imagination and creativity. Some HSPs pursue hobbies or careers in the arts, writing, or performing. Others bring their imagination to activities outside of traditional creative fields, perhaps by developing entertaining, educational games for a classroom of preschoolers or managing a team to succeed by changing traditional protocols.
5. You’re a conscientious decision-maker.
Sensitive people tend to take in copious amounts of information and process it from multiple angles. Our decision-making process accounts for both facts and feelings, so we excel at making decisions that have the most positive impact on the most people. Like a diesel engine on a cold day, we may be slow to come to a decision, but we are powerful once we get moving.
6. Alone time is vital for your well-being.
Your perpetually active brain demands rest, quiet, and time alone to recuperate. Highly sensitive people often develop elaborate, unique ways to enjoy their time alone. Many of us are genuinely comfortable with going solo through a wide range of activities, from reading to spending time in nature to traveling — whatever works best. Afterwards, we’re recharged and ready to be among the masses again. (Okay, maybe not masses, but people in general.)
7. You try to see the best in situations.
Research on vantage sensitivity suggests that HSPs have a remarkable ability to maximize the benefit of positive conditions and experiences. We make the best of anything that is good in our lives, like how a desert blooms after the rain. And when we’re with others, we try to get them to see the best in a situation, too.
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8. You care deeply about the world…
Highly sensitive souls are some of the most dedicated, loving activists I’ve met. We care deeply about the causes that reflect our values, like peace and justice, the environment, and animal welfare. Often, that concern is reflected in actions to align our lives with the things that matter to us most.
9 …And extend that same caring to the people in your life.
Loyalty, devotion, and unconditional support — HSPs bring these qualities to our relationships. We love deeply, attach strongly, and grieve deeply when a relationship is suffering or comes to an end. We hope that our partners in particular will embrace our sensitivity and be equally devoted.
10. You are incredibly understanding of others.
My highly sensitive clients amaze me in their willingness to give people chances, forgive, see the context for others’ behaviors, and extend compassion and understanding to other people. I wish HSPs were more able to extend that kind of grace to themselves! Regardless, we have so much empathy when it comes to others, which is definitely a big asset.
11. Coping with difficult people in the workplace is your specialty.
Workplaces may challenge us, but our powers of observation and empathy give us what we need to deal with challenging people and situations. Highly sensitive people excel at the so-called “soft skills” of listening, diffusing disagreements, and helping people succeed. Although we do not love conflict or constructive criticism, we know how to manage it with our HSP superpowers.
12. You’re a great neighbor (but may keep to yourself more often than not).
As in all our relationships, we tend to be conscientious and thoughtful. We’re likely to think twice about doing anything that disturbs our neighbors’ peace. At the same time, living near people can be challenging — so many sights, sounds, and smells that can add to overstimulation. We may prefer to make our homes a retreat, our very own HSP sanctuary, even from the best neighbors.
13. You might look more independent than you feel.
Many highly sensitive people appear to be very self-sufficient, spending a great deal of time alone and rarely asking for help. Sometimes this comes from a healthy place and reflects an introverted personality (many HSPs are introverts). At other times, we may desire connection and support, but are not quite sure how to get it.
In this case, it’s possible that we’re displaying pseudo-independence. This can be based on a fear of connecting, feeling overwhelmed, or difficulty accepting support because we find it hard to tolerate others’ reactions to our needs. Even though we’re empathic, not everyone else is.
14. No matter what, you are always doing the work of growing.
It’s hard for us to process so much about ourselves without launching into self-development projects. And we often expect the people and systems in our lives to do the same. Learning to balance our desire for improvement with mindful, nonjudgmental acceptance of the present — such as through meditation — is the key to staying compassionate with ourselves and others.
Embrace All the Amazing Parts of Being Highly Sensitive
Highly sensitive people can be walking contradictions… yet that complexity is part of what makes us amazing. By learning to accept and embrace all the nuances of our sensitivity, we are free to use the gifts of our sensitivity to enrich our lives and those of the people and world around us.
If you’re curious about how to embrace all the amazing things about your own highly sensitive identity, please request a copy of “Singularly Sensitive: A Guided Journal for Highly Sensitive People” at LoriCangilla.com/request.