Highly Sensitive Refuge

5 Ways Your HSP Intuition Can Keep You Safe From Harm

You have a highly tuned nervous system that can pick up on subtleties (i.e., danger) that others may miss.

Being a sensitive person goes so much deeper than how we feel and absorb emotions. It also influences how we process all kinds of external stimuli, and helps us to pick up on the energy and intentions of the people in our personal space. 

There have been countless times in my life where my highly sensitive person (HSP) trait has kept me safe from harm. For example, a couple years ago, I wandered through a food market in London with a close friend. Happily stuffing our faces with every food sample that we could get our hands on, we were bumped around by the crowd of people enjoying the Saturday sunshine. 

Suddenly, I caught sight of a man far off in the crowd. There was nothing remarkable about him, and yet I felt a strange sinking in my stomach. As I watched him, the man slowly made his way through the crowd to me and my friend. He was walking in a zigzag path and talking into a phone, which I’m sure had no one at the other end. 

“That man is going to try to steal your backpack,” I said to my friend. 

Sure enough, as the man approached us, he reached out to grab my friend’s backpack. But, because I was ready for it, I snatched it away before he could. He looked awkwardly between me and the bag, and then turned on his heel and ran away. My friend was amazed that I saw that coming, but I was just as amazed that he didn’t!

Highly sensitive people frequently report going through similar experiences, and I consider this intuition one of the many gifts of being an HSP. Here are some of the reasons that highly sensitive people pick up so well on threats.

5 Ways Your HSP Intuition Can Keep You Safe From Harm

1. You absorb other people’s feelings, even those of strangers.

Being so in tune with other people’s feelings makes us HSPs caring souls who are full of empathy. It also means that we notice when people are feeling nervous or fidgety, like pickpockets poised to take a phone out of our purse on the subway or steal my friend’s backpack. Being so aware of the other people’s emotions around us comes naturally, and it means that we pick up so much more than what is on the surface. 

2. You are a deep thinker and cautious — you’ll strategize where to sit and know where the emergency exits are.

HSPs have complex inner worlds, and we often find ourselves thinking deeply. For many of us, this includes imagining worst-case scenarios. When we get too wrapped up in these thoughts, it can have a negative effect on our mental health. But in moderation, it means that we have good instincts that keep us safe. 


For example, I often find myself choosing a seat in the corner so no one can sneak up behind me, and I always know where the emergency exits are. So long as we don’t let these precautions take over our lives, there is nothing wrong with this. In fact, it’s wonderful that we want to protect ourselves and our loved ones. (I also have some pretty detailed plans for the unlikely event there’s a zombie apocalypse. OK… maybe that’s a tad too far!)

3. You have a high startle reflex: you jump when someone sneezes, but also when someone’s about to mug you.

Do you ever find yourself jumping when someone sneezes? Me, too, and it’s really annoying. But the reason we highly sensitive types have a high startle reflex is because we are constantly scanning our environment for threats at a subconscious level. This can be exhausting and frustrating when you’re just trying to get through a normal day, but it can be extremely helpful in a tight spot. If we sense danger, we’ll likely immediately evade it or scream (which will also result in evading it).

In her book, The Highly Sensitive Person, Dr. Elaine Aaron talks about how helpful sensitive people are for ensuring the safety and well-being of our communities. We have an evolutionary role of protecting and preserving human society. Kind of like a secret HSP superpower.  

4. You are perceptive and insightful, constantly aware of the stimuli around you.

I spent so many years of my life wishing I could be less sensitive. But when I stopped focusing on trying to be something that I’m not and started appreciating my sensitivity, I realized all the strengths that come with being an HSP. Of course, two of these are how insightful and perceptive my high sensitivity enables me to be. 

As sensitive people, we have fantastic instincts. We may have been trying to shut up our authentic feelings for a while, but nothing that we could do will take them away — something I’m continually grateful for. Once we start embracing the HSPs we really are and listening to our gut, it’s amazing what it can tell us. Like, for example, that man on the other side of the food market coming to steal my friend’s backpack!          

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5. You have a highly tuned nervous system that can pick up on subtleties (i.e., danger) that others may miss.

We HSPs have highly tuned nervous systems. This makes us sensitive to alcohol and caffeine, and it can lead to feelings of overwhelm in loud and busy environments. But our constant state of high alert can help us pick up on subtle threats that other people might miss. Of course, we don’t want to live our entire lives being so hyper-vigilant that it causes us anxiety or stress, but we can certainly be grateful that our body is hard-wired to protect us from harm. 

If you are struggling with this hyper-vigilance, taking the time to do yoga or practice meditation really helps. Meditation is a bit like taking a shower, though; you have to keep doing it regularly or you won’t notice the difference!

Embracing the Fact That My Sensitivity Keeps Me Safe

I know that being highly sensitive can feel like a lot to handle sometimes. I’ve struggled with it over the years, and I understand that you can’t just click your fingers and embrace the parts of yourself that you are having difficulty with

But I also know that my sensitivity keeps me safe, and I am so grateful for that. The more that we can respect what our sensitivity is trying to tell us, the more it can empower us to move through life with confidence and joy. 

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