The more I learned about my sensitive nature, the more I grew as an HSP and discovered that I simply need more time and space to process things than other people.
The world used to be really overwhelming, especially when I had no idea I was a highly sensitive person (HSP). All I knew was that I couldn’t watch violent films, would cry when I saw people in pain, strong smells were overpowering, I got exhausted easily, and I hated crowds.
I cried most days and felt like a broken outsider. I didn’t understand why I was so “different.”
But, over time, I learned more about my sensitive nature. I discovered that my brain and nervous system processed information more deeply. And that’s why I struggled with overwhelm — I simply needed more time and space to process things.
Most importantly I learned that high sensitivity was a normal, biological trait. It wasn’t anything to be ashamed of. And it definitely wasn’t a curse. I came to see my high sensitivity as a blessing, a good kind of “different.”
Being Sensitive Is a Good ‘Different,’ Not a Bad ‘Different’
Because being a highly sensitive person is one of the best things about me. I’m creative, loyal, empathic, observant, and appreciate beauty deeply. I truly love being highly sensitive. And from this place of self-acceptance and self-love, I became a much more empowered person.
Looking back, I can see how much I’ve grown. I don’t get overwhelmed as often. I’m better at regulating my emotions and have overcome a lot of my anxiety. I’ve stopped people-pleasing and I don’t hide my sensitive nature in order to fit in.
It’s taken a lot of effort, self-reflection, therapy, and many years to get to this point. And yet there have been times where it felt like two steps forward, one step back.
So how do you know that you’re making progress on your healing journey? How do you know when you’re being truly authentic? How do you know if you’ve become more empowered?
After reflecting on my years of growth, I think there are some definite sign posts of maturity and signs I’ve grown as a highly sensitive person.
8 Signs You’ve Grown as a Highly Sensitive Person
1. You know your triggers
Living as a highly sensitive person isn’t always easy. There are so many things that can overwhelm us: strong odors, bright lights, and noisy, crowded environments.
As a musician, I’ve honed my sensitivity to sound. Which means that noisy environments are really draining. Competing conversations are particularly annoying, because I find it hard to filter out all the different voices around me.
But every HSP is different. When you know your triggers, you know exactly what drains your energy. You know the things that aren’t good for you. And you know the kinds of environments that don’t fit.
2. You have good boundaries
Now that you know your triggers, you feel confident letting people know if things aren’t working for you. Whatever your boundaries are, you know how to express them (as tough as that can be for us HSPs).
If someone suggests a violent film, you feel confident to say, “No, I’m not watching that.” If you’re struggling with a task, you’re happy to ask for help.
I’ll often ask to meet friends at cafes where we can sit in a quiet garden or where I know the acoustics are soft. That way, I know in advance I won’t have to suffer through a loud clattering environment and feel exhausted afterwards.
Having good boundaries is a form of self-care, especially for HSPs.
3. You know how to self-soothe
Because sensitive people process information deeply, they are more susceptible to emotional dysregulation. A dysregulated nervous system is one that has been inundated by stress and trauma — it gets “stuck” in hypervigilance, anxiety, and overwhelm.
However, a well-regulated nervous system is one that can easily shift from stress to calm. And you become more well-regulated when you consistently practice experiencing calm.
You know that you’ve grown as a highly sensitive person when you know how to calm yourself down. You have specific tools and strategies to help you restore your energy. Perhaps you exhale deeply to calm rising tension, or perhaps you regularly spend time in nature to keep yourself grounded.
It isn’t always possible to change or avoid certain triggers. But you know how to soothe your nervous system if you do feel triggered or drained.
4. You practice consistent self-care
When you’re highly sensitive, your nervous system absorbs and processes information much more deeply, which means it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and exhausted after a busy day. But you know that consistently practicing restful self-care is vital for your well-being.
Perhaps you enjoy a warm bath at the end of the day. Perhaps you give your overthinking mind some well-earned rest with a playlist of calming music.
Or maybe you realize you need more support with your day-to-day activities. Self-care doesn’t always mean doing things yourself, and there’s no shame in needing assistance.
Now that you’ve grown, you no longer feel ashamed for needing more rest, quiet, or alone time to recharge — plus, HSPs generally require more sleep than others. You give yourself permission to have your needs met.
5. You can cope with conflict
It’s common to want to avoid conflict when you’re a highly sensitive person. When you’re an HSP, you have a lot of empathy, which means you can literally feel another person’s pain. So arguments, disagreements, or misunderstandings can feel unsafe and overwhelming.
Unfortunately, in order to avoid conflict, you have to suppress your own needs. You might know what you really want, but hide your true feelings in order to “get along” with others.
But suppressing your needs in order to make others feel comfortable leads to self-abandonment and resentment. Learning to cope better with conflict is a signal of maturity, especially for sensitive types.
You know that you’ve grown when you feel comfortable standing your ground and expressing your needs. You know that dealing with conflict can be gentle and healthy. You can sit in the tension of disagreement and still feel okay.
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6. You understand what matters to you
Trying to live up to others’ expectations is another way that highly sensitive people can try to fit in. But it often leads to burnout and breakdowns.
Depth and a strong sense of purpose is a really important value for a lot of HSPs. And to know your purpose means you need to know what matters to you.
You need to know your values, what is authentic to you, and what your metrics of success are. You need to determine your own priorities and be able to connect to your inner wisdom.
When you’ve grown, you stop comparing your life to everyone else’s and start believing in yourself. The status quo holds no sway. You no longer feel the need to “keep up with the Joneses.” You have the courage to live your values, even when they don’t fit in. You know it’s okay to be different and you’re proud of who you are.
7. You live a deep and meaningful life
Now that you know what matters to you, you’re all-in on the deep life. You’re letting go of the shallow distractions of society, such as hustle culture, consumerism, and superficial relationships.
Maybe you’ve quit social media. Maybe you’re researching urban gardening or how to do a “no-buy-month.” Or maybe you’re embracing minimalism and zero-waste living.
You’re definitely nourished by creativity. You regularly connect deeply with your loved ones. Your relationships are deeper, more secure, and fulfilling.
Plus, you know that deep living isn’t all about you, because there are systems of oppression that make life harder for marginalized people. Which means you’re actively involved in social justice movements that are meaningful to you.
8. You’re a home to yourself
I think this is one of the biggest signs you’ve grown. Because now you are your own best sanctuary. Even though life gets difficult at times, you’ve nailed all the tools and strategies that help you get unstuck.
Becoming a home to yourself takes love and care. It means embracing your sensitive nature and accepting who you are. It means speaking to yourself with kindness and practicing self-compassion. It means keeping promises to yourself instead of abandoning yourself to please others. It means understanding who you are and what lights you up.
And when you do, you feel liberated, worthy, and resilient. You are a safe place to rest. You are home.
Growth Takes Time as a Highly Sensitive Person, but Is Worth It
Becoming an empowered highly sensitive person takes time and effort. Personal development is a commitment. And growth is never linear.
That’s why sometimes it’s hard to see your own progress. It’s important to take time to reflect on who you used to be, and how you’ve changed.
At the end of the day, you’ve probably grown more than you realize. And you’re doing better than you think.
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