13 Signs You’re Secretly a Highly Sensitive Person

Signs you are secretly a deeply sensitive person

From absorbing others’ emotions to having a “sixth sense” about things, you may be a sensitive person and not even realize it.

Being labeled a “sensitive person” often has a negative reputation. You may hear comments like “Why are you so sensitive,” which may lead you to believe something is wrong with you

But, as a psychotherapist, I’m here to tell you that being sensitive is a good thing! It means you are very connected to your emotional world — in a world where many avoid their feelings and inner experiences, this truly is a gift! Plus, you’re in good company — about 20 percent of the population is made up of highly sensitive people (HSPs)

When sensitivity pops into your mind, what comes to mind? Is it someone who cries easily or takes things personally? Or someone who gets overwhelmed by too much stimuli around them?

Well, whether you’re aware of them or not, there are many signs that you may secretly be a sensitive person.

13 Signs You’re Secretly a Sensitive Person  

1. You have a vivid dream world — you’re one of those people who remembers every little detail. 

Do you tend to dream often? What do you recall about your dreams? 

Those who are sensitive have a vivid inner world and often resolve or work things out in their dreams. Because of this, it can be really helpful to keep a dream journal to track your dreams. 

Ask yourself: What were the themes? What symbolism was represented? And, most importantly, how did you feel in the dreams and upon waking up?  

This can be valuable information, especially as you reread your dream journal to recognize any patterns that emerge

2. You feel everyone’s feelings, not just your own.

Can you sense the emotions of others? For instance, you can just feel when someone is anxious, sad, or mad — before they even communicate this or give other typical signs of feeling these emotions. 

This is described as being an “empath,” which is common for someone who is sensitive to experience. You literally feel what others are feeling.  

And, as you are quite in tune with your own emotions, you are also in tune with the emotions of others and pick up on these emotions quite easily, both the good and the bad. This can quickly make you feel exhausted. Speaking of which … 

3. You need more sleep than you think you do.

Sensitive people require extra sleep; maybe your partner or family members even tease you about this. 

But sleep helps you to feel rested and rejuvenated from all that you’ve absorbed throughout the day. Yes, as a sensitive person, it truly feels as though you’ve absorbed others’ energies and emotions, not to mention all the stimuli you were exposed to all day long. And that’s a lot to carry, so it makes sense you may need some extra rest. 

Additionally, you may also resolve conscious (or subconscious) upsets in your dreams, which is like doing work in your dreams, in a sense. So even when you’re sleeping, your mind is still quite active. This can also lead to you needing some additional shut-eye.

4. Your intuition is strong — you have a “sixth sense” about things.

Intuition is sometimes referred to as your “personal GPS” — and those who are sensitive may find they have an “inner knowing” about something (or, frankly, about almost everything). 

While many people experience these types of intuitive nudges, they choose (either consciously or subconsciously) to overlook them. But for those who are sensitive, their intuitive self is more heightened; that inner voice is really hard to ignore.

And, almost always, it’s also right

5. You get overstimulated in crowds.

Sometimes crowded places, and being around crowds, can feel annoying for anybody. But for those who are sensitive, this may feel intolerable and you may easily become overstimulated. All the people, emotions, energy, and stimuli — it’s all too much!  

Those who are sensitive need their space, as these environments feel draining, mentally and emotionally. As a result, you may find you avoid crowds or are only able to tolerate crowds, parties, or social gatherings for small periods at a time. 

6. You are very cognizant of noise, even if others don’t sense it as much.

If you have found yourself sensitive to noise, you are probably secretly sensitive. 

Whether it’s a TV turned up too loud, an ambulance driving by, or a ticking clock in an otherwise quiet room, many types of “noises” may annoy you … even though other people may not even notice them.

But you noticing them is a sign your sensitivities have kicked into high gear, and you may find yourself feeling uncomfortable, annoyed, or have trouble focusing.

7. You feel a connection with TV, movie, or book characters.    

If you’re a sensitive person, not only will you naturally absorb the emotions of people in person, but also fictional ones: in TV shows, movies, and books. Heck, I think everyone I’ve met has cried during at least one episode of This Is Us or had an emotional reaction to a Grey’s Anatomy plot. 

And those who are sensitive feel a really deep connection to characters and storylines — it may feel as though the characters are part of your life and world. You may notice sadness, grief, anxiety, excitement, or anger heighten when reading a book, watching a show, or even while watching a TV commercial! 

8. You have a deep connection with music and the arts.     

Those who are sensitive often appreciate the little things in life; they experience a deep connection with, and are drawn toward, things they find beautiful. This can include flowers, nature, music, and art, to name a few examples. You may even feel as though these things “speak to your soul.”  

Whether you admire these things from a distance, or actually create music and art yourself, it may feel as though you get lost in the beauty of the experience. These experiences make you happy and may also feel calming, as though they are helping you escape from the stress of your outer world.

9. You have a heightened imagination — daydreaming is part of your being.

A vivid, active imagination is common for those who are sensitive. 

Similar to your dream world when you are sleeping, while awake — if you find that you spend a lot of time in your head imagining, visualizing, and daydreaming about things — it’s a sign you are sensitive. 

You may also find yourself experiencing the feelings of joy, happiness, or love during your daydreams.

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10. You often crave “me” time (especially after getting overstimulated).

Since being around groups of people can make sensitive people feel overstimulated, it also makes them crave alone time — it’s a necessity in order for them to recharge. 

Whether you create an HSP sanctuary — an area of your bedroom or home full of calming things, like throw pillows, scented candles, and your favorite books — your “me” time is time to relax, rejuvenate, get grounded, and enjoy being with yourself. 

Others may not understand your need for alone time, but it’s something you need in order to get rebalanced.

11. You have an undeniable love for — and connection with — animals. 

Those who are secretly sensitive have a special bond with the animal world. Whether it’s your own pet or an animal you encounter, you feel an instant connection with them, and it may feel soothing to pet them or feel their calmness, like the purr of a cat.

Others may say to you, “Wow, my pets never approach people, but they seem so drawn to you.” You’re like an “animal whisperer,” as you feel you can connect and communicate with animals in a way others simply cannot.

In essence, you see animals as special creatures with a soul — not as simply as “animals.”

12. You’re a natural helper — your empathetic nature makes you readily available to help others.

Those who are secretly sensitive may often find themselves in helping roles, such as that of a counselor, nurse, or a teacher. This may be the path you follow professionally, but it also may show up as the role you play with friends or family. 

No matter what, you always want to help others feel better. Remember, as a sensitive type, you constantly feel the emotions of others, so it feels good to know you are able to help them, too. 

However, it’s important to find a balance so you don’t overextend yourself or fall into a people-pleasing pattern. You need to “fill your cup” — take care of yourself — first, so you’re not giving from an empty cup. 

13. You may experience anxiety and/or depression.

Since those who are sensitive are very in-tune with their inner world and emotions, and deeply connect with the outer world, research shows they may find themselves a bit more susceptible to depression and anxiety more so than those who are not as sensitive. 

This is because they tend to “wear their heart on their sleeve” and show their emotions quite easily. They also spend more time in their headspace, perhaps worrying about the future or replaying things from the past, which can also contribute to depression and anxiety.

Remember, Your ‘Secret’ Sensitivity Is Your ‘Secret’ Gift

Remember, in a world where many tune out from their emotions and inner world, your “secret” sensitivity is truly a “secret” gift. You are able to experience life through a deeper lens and see the beauty in your experiences. 

To end with a quote I love: 

“I used to dislike being sensitive. I thought it made me weak. But take away that single trait, and you take away the very essence of who I am. You take away my conscience, my ability to empathize, my intuition, my creativity, my deep appreciation of the little things, my vivid inner life, my keen awareness of others’ pain and my passion for it all.”  Caitlin Japa

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