Highly Sensitive Refuge
A highly sensitive person plays the piano.

11 Things I Wish People Knew About Me as a ‘Sensitive’ Person

Being sensitive means you’re often misunderstood. Highly sensitive people (HSPs) are born with a particularly sensitive nervous system, and we process everything a little more than other people do — which changes how we experience the world. Unfortunately, that can create misunderstandings, even with our friends and loved ones.

While not everyone who’s sensitive is the same, we do share many experiences, and it’s hard when our closest friends don’t “get” us. Here are 12 things I wish others knew about me as a highly sensitive person.

What I Wish Others Knew About Me as a Sensitive Person

1. I lose my mind when my stomach is empty.

As a sensitive person, I’ve always wondered why I feel like there’s a ferocious monster roaring inside me as soon as I get hungry. While everyone feels this way sometimes, for HSPs, that hangry mood comes on easier and hits far harder. And there’s a good reason: HSPs are more susceptible to changes in their blood sugar levels.

So, dear friend, if you see me getting angry as mealtime is delayed, don’t think I’m upset. Try feeding me with a snack instead!

2. Some noises can drive me mad.

Some noises make me — to say the least — deeply uncomfortable. My highly sensitive system processes all stimuli more thoroughly than others’ do, making even small unpleasant sounds seem overwhelming (the biggest culprit for me: people making mouth noises right next to my ear).

Sometimes it goes beyond just bothering me mentally and actually becomes physical. An unpleasant sound can translate into unpleasant sensations throughout my body — anything from a sensation of ants crawling on me to the “itch” of needing to scratch myself sharply.

If your HSP friend or loved one is bothered by a noise — even if it seems minor to you — there’s a good reason for it.

3. Parties exhaust me.

I’m not what anyone would call a party animal. Loud music, people moving in every direction, and shouting to be heard — it’s just too much.

But this isn’t just me; it’s hard for any highly sensitive person to handle so much stimulation all at once. We process everything in the room much more deeply than most other people there, so everything seems “louder” and more in-your-face.

Some people may find me boring or call me a grandma, but feel free to take me for a walk in the woods or in the countryside, not out to a nightclub.

4. Some jobs are not for the highly sensitive.

Many people are okay with being pushed a bit at work, dealing with deadlines, and facing stressful work conditions. But these same environments quickly leave me exhausted. It doesn’t mean I’m lazy or weak. It simply means that not every job is right for me.

This is normal for HSPs, who make excellent team players and reliable employees (as well as great leaders), but need the right conditions. (This is why some careers are particularly good for highly sensitive people.)

5. I have a “sixth sense” about other people.

No, I can’t see the future, and no, I’m not a medium. Like many HSPs, I simply have good intuition, especially when it comes to people. I often guess changes in people’s lives before they tell me about them. I also read others well, detecting subtle shifts in their moods and mental states.

6. I’m a good listener (but it takes a toll).

I’m the person who everyone wants to tell their secrets to. And this is typical of many HSPs; our strong listening skills and sense of empathy make us the go-to friend when someone needs to confide. But there’s a flip side to this: I often get overwhelmed with people’s problems and worries as I tend to absorb others’ emotions and feel them as strongly as if they were mine.

7. I have a huge lack of confidence.

My best qualities can also be my greatest weaknesses. My empathy means that I often neglect my own feelings, needs, and desires, and I tend to define myself according to other people’s needs.

Many HSPs have difficulty setting boundaries, and because we care about pleasing others, any criticism hits us hard. That means that a single opinion (even if it’s well-intentioned) from a friend can cut deeply — and I ask that my friends remember that.

If you have to say something negative or critical to an HSP, go easy. It helps if you ask questions about the meaning or reason for what they’re doing rather than just shooting them down.

8. I need plenty of alone time.

Because it’s hard for me to bear lots of stimulation, and because I get overwhelmed easily, I need more alone time than some other people. Don’t feel offended if I ask you to leave for a while. I simply need some space to process and recharge my batteries; it doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong.

9. I love, love, LOVE creative activities.

I love writing, making music, making collages, and crafting things with my hands. Many HSPs do — in fact, many artists and musicians are highly sensitive. For me, creative activities are things I can do alone (if needed), and they allow me to express myself freely, deeply, and well. They’re a way to share my particular understanding of the world around me, or empty my head when it’s full of worries and overwhelming emotions.

If you want to really connect with the HSP in your life, try doing something creative together. Crafting activities, a painting class, or just sitting down and doodling beside each other are all HSP-friendly activities.

10. I cry easily.

Do you ever cry when looking at a beautiful landscape, or when someone shows you a photo of their pet? If you’re highly sensitive, you probably do. I’ve learned to suppress this (some of the time) when I’m with people who would think I’m crazy. But the truth is, as a highly sensitive person, I weep tears of joy as well as tears of sadness. If there’s a sensitive person in your life, let them cry without making them feel ridiculous.

11. Sensitive people aren’t broken.

High sensitivity is not a disease or a disorder. Although you can learn to cope with the overstimulation you face, it’s not something you can “recover” from. And I wouldn’t want to! I have no desire to become less sensitive. About 15-20 percent of the population is highly sensitive, and it’s a healthy trait that comes with many advantages.

Is There a Sensitive Person in Your Life?

Perhaps the biggest thing HSPs need from those around us is their understanding. Even if you’re “averagely sensitive,” chances are good that someone in your life is an HSP — and they don’t have enough friends who understand and embrace their personality.

Don’t wait the sensitive person in your life to try to explain their high sensitivity to you. Show them you care by giving them the best gift of all: acceptance.

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