For me, it’s kind of fun to look back at something I used to do and say, “Aha! There was my high sensitivity rearing its head again.”
When I was very young, I had a stuffed rabbit that had very soft, fluffy ears. I loved the feel and texture of the rabbit’s ears so much that I would hold onto it almost constantly. Every night, instead of a lullaby or short story, I soothed myself to sleep by rubbing the rabbit ears. I did it so much that I rubbed the fabric right off until my rabbit’s ears were basically nothing. When that happened, my grandmother used her sewing skills and repaired the ears for me, as good as new. And then I did the exact same thing again. I rubbed the rabbit’s ears so much that they wore off.
I’m sure most of my family thought that this was just a little kid quirk, but looking back on it now with what I’ve learned about myself, I can see that it was my high Sensitivity tuning into a texture that it liked very much. Because it is so easy for us highly sensitive people (HSPs) to become overwhelmed — especially as children who know very little about themselves or the world — the soft ears on my rabbit felt comforting and safe. Touching, and feeling, them gave me the peace and de-stimulation that I needed, even at a young age.
If you’re like me, maybe you can look back on your childhood and notice some ways that your high sensitivity showed up before you even knew what it was. Perhaps you were very picky about what clothes you wore, leaving your parents frazzled (you weren’t trying to be difficult, but certain clothing was really bothersome). Whatever the case, we now are able to have much more clarity around ourselves and why we do the things we do. In keeping with that, here are seven more things you do because of your high sensitivity.
If You Do These 7 Things, You’re Probably an HSP
1. You are sensitive to others’ emotions — you may think they’re mad at you (even though you did nothing wrong).
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve walked into a new place and thought, “Gee, everyone hates me.” I know that can’t be true. These people don’t know me at all. How could they possibly hate me? I also tend to think that people are upset with me a lot. Why? I don’t know. They just are.
I think this happens to us because HSPs pick up on very small details, like body language, facial expressions, and little signs of annoyance from other people. In reality, we know that there is a logical reason for someone else’s frustration. Maybe they messed up a work assignment and got reprimanded by their boss. Or maybe their kids have been acting out lately and making them more stressed. Or any number of other things really.
We know these things happen, but we cannot see them. The only thing we can see is the other person’s irritation. So our brains naturally think, “This person looks upset, and I don’t see anything else wrong, so the problem must be me.” Sensitive people tend to be very hard on themselves — but give yourself a break!
2. You get “hangry” (hungry + angry) easily.
While skipping a meal is no fun for anyone, because HSPs are so in tune with themselves, the slightest physical discomfort can turn into a big nuisance. And no, we aren’t trying to be drama queens. It really does bother us a lot!
And this means that when I start to feel the first rumbles in my stomach that let me know I’m getting hungry, it’s very noticeable to me. Plus, if you’re like most of us who work and only get to take lunch at a certain time, this also means that I may have to wait a bit before I get to eat anything. Luckily, I’ve learned to keep snacks on hand for when I really need something, but even so, I can easily traipse into hangry (hungry + angry) territory if I ignore it for too long.
On a similar note, try to see if you’re “HALT”: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. If you are, taking care of these needs can help stop overstimulation — and we all know we HSPs can use a lot less of that!
3. You meticulously plan confrontations (but you generally hate conflict).
Look, none of us here like confrontation. Even the potential for conflict makes us tense, especially if we’re highly sensitive. So we do everything in our power to avoid it as much as possible.
But there are times when it cannot be avoided and we must do something we don’t want to do. Say, for instance, that we need to ask our boss for a little time off work for a personal matter. This simple thing can be nerve-racking for us, because we fear our boss getting annoyed, and we worry that we’re causing problems for the company by not being there.
Because all of this can really make us anxious, we use our powers of observation and plan our asking time down to the best possible minute. Maybe, for instance, you know that your boss has a conference call in the morning with a difficult client and she will most likely be stressed before that and annoyed after, so asking her in the morning is a no-go. Maybe you also know that your boss is always super relaxed and in a better mood when she first comes back from lunch, so that is when you will plan to talk to her. Whatever the case, we know how to plan things so they have the best possible chance of happening smoothly.
4. You are spiritual or religious (or believe in some kind of Higher Power).
While a person’s personal beliefs can develop for a multitude of reasons (based on their culture, family traditions, etc.), HSPs are more likely to develop a belief in something greater than themselves. This is because most sensitive people are constantly searching for deeper connections and meaning and, well, there’s only so much of that we can get here on earth.
Because we ask such deep questions that cannot really be answered — such as Why does hate exist? or Why does violence happen? — we have to look elsewhere to find some sort of clarity on these subjects. We are naturally drawn to subjects like spirituality, religion, and philosophy because, in addition to them giving us some clarity on the big questions, these subjects allow us to exercise our deep thinking muscle, which is something we greatly enjoy doing and one of our biggest HSP strengths.
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5. You desire self-improvement and purpose — and succeed more so than others.
Because we are so in tune with ourselves and our emotions, this means that we see our own shortcomings and often know very accurately where we need some work. This is true for a lot of people, HSP or not, but the difference with others is that they often let their ego get in the way of making any real, lasting changes. They know they get angry too quickly and snap at people, but when they try to work on being more patient, they get so annoyed by the uncomfortable feelings that they decide they had a right to be angry and give up.
Of course, HSPs struggle with this, too, but because we have so much self-awareness, we also know when we are BS-ing ourselves just to get out of doing something. And because we hold ourselves to a high standard, we are more willing to go back and do the uncomfortable — but necessary — work on ourselves.
Plus, we often won’t settle for the status quo — we are all about finding our true purpose and doing whatever it takes to succeed.
6. You are naturally creative, whether you’re a writer, painter, or have other artistic talents.
Although people may call us “too sensitive,” there are so many wonderful traits that we HSPs have. One of them is that HSPs are really, really naturally creative. Whether we’re writers, artists, or have a knack for making puns all day long, creativity fuels and inspires us. Plus, when we share it with others — through a painting or a joke we made, it fulfills our desire to make others feel good, too.
For example, when I’m with a group of people, especially ones I don’t know very well, my go-to tactic is cracking jokes to relieve the tension. It makes me feel a little more relaxed and, when I see other people smiling at something I said, it makes me feel good and encouraged that I was able to brighten their day just a little bit. And writing — articles like this one — fulfills me creatively, as well.
So if you think about it, I’m sure you have a lot of creative talents as an HSP, too!
7. You’re a natural “healer” — your intuition tells you when something is “off,” either with yourself or somebody else.
HSPs can see, almost in a psychic way, exactly what another person needs and if they are in distress, hurting, or frightened. This, combined with a HSP’s natural desire to end suffering, makes them be the first person to step up and start healing someone’s hurt before others even realize what is happening.
An HSP can direct their intuition and empathy toward any other living creatures, including their children, partners, friends, animals, or complete strangers. This is why, in addition to creative fields, you’ll see a lot of HSPs in careers as therapists, counselors, and the like. Helping someone relieve their pain is a great joy for us.
Recognizing — And Appreciating — Our Sensitivity Trait
As we all move along in life and continue this journey, I expect we’ll keep learning even more and more about what it means to be an HSP and have our prized sensitivity trait. And, for me personally, it’s kind of fun to look back at something I used to do and say, “Aha! There was my high sensitivity rearing its head again.” It makes a lot of sense, and also gives me an even deeper look into my own sense of self.
I would encourage you, too, to look at ways that your own sensitivity may be showing up without you realizing it. Because I can tell you that when you have this understanding behind why you do something, it helps you to know that you are actually wired this way and are not just being difficult or contrarian. You are who you are, which is perfectly okay. In fact, it’s a blessing, trust me.
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