7 Things That Make Life Difficult for an HSP — And How You Can Help

A highly sensitive person having a difficult time

Highly sensitive people are naturally more reactive to things than less-sensitive people. Here’s what stresses them out the most.

Do you know a highly sensitive person (HSP)? And do you often feel that if you only knew how to help your HSP friend or loved one, you could have a much stronger relationship with them?

If you answered yes to even one of these questions, this article is for you.

HSPs are more sensitive than most people and struggle with things that are seemingly trivial to others. Knowing what makes their life difficult is the first step — and learning how to respond in a situation is even better.

In this post, you’ll learn seven things that make life difficult for an HSP and ways in which you can help in each situation.

Here we go.

7 Things That Make Life Difficult for an HSP — And What You Can Do to Help

1. Conflict

Highly sensitive people are very uncomfortable in conflict situations and try to avoid them at all costs. We’re also not fans of criticism.

So, even if we are upset about something, instead of facing the person who upset us or voicing our opinion, we tend to shove things under the carpet and avoid confrontation.   

How you can help: Don’t force HSPs into uncomfortable situations, even if you mean well. Also, try to broach an uncomfortable subject in a friendly way, instead of starting with an argument or criticism. You must remember that the “S” in “HSP” is for “sensitive,” so be mindful of your HSP’s feelings.

For example, let’s say you have a fight with your HSP partner and they walk out instead of continuing to argue. Instead of following them, give them the space they need to clear their head. Then, talk about the problem later on, when you’re both more calm and can have a more productive discussion.

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2. Saying “no”

HSPs are really bad at saying “no,” which often costs them emotionally and in other ways. Boundary-setting can be tough for them.

One reason for this is that they’re naturally empathic, so they want to make sure you’re happy and don’t want to disappoint you.

They also don’t want to upset anyone — they’re natural people-pleasers — so they say yes even when they don’t really want to. 

Finally, they may feel social pressure to say yes to things like going out or attending a party, which may not be how they want to spend their weekend. Due to all the overstimulation they experience, sometimes they need alone time to recharge vs. being on the go too much.

How you can help: When inviting an HSP to something or asking them for anything, always provide them with the option to decline upfront. Phrase your invitation as a question, not a statement. 

For example, instead of saying, “Let’s meet tomorrow evening”, say “Are you up for meeting for dinner tomorrow night?” And if they say no, respect their decision; don’t pressure them into saying yes.

3. Seemingly Simple Misunderstandings

While no one likes to be misunderstood, being so affects HSPs more than anyone else. The simple reason is that HSPs like to please people and avoid conflict, so if anyone misunderstands them, they feel a need to explain themselves.

Given that HSPs feel things more strongly than less-sensitive people, they tend to react to situations differently — and that causes situations where people might misunderstand them.

How you can help: Avoid assuming things when it comes to highly sensitive people. Instead, ask for clarification and give them the chance to explain their point of view, even if it might be contradictory to yours.

4. Overthinking

Most HSPs are overthinkers. They not only feel things more deeply, but also think about the consequences of their actions and how they will affect others.

This empathy, while a good trait, can lead to overthinking even the most trivial decisions, because they tend to think about things from 101 different angles.

Another extension of this habit is overanalyzing every conversation, as well as people’s tones, body language, and more. Sometimes HSPs will play conversations over and over again in their heads, thinking how they “should have” responded.

How you can help: While you can’t do much if someone has a habit of overthinking, what you can do is try to communicate better. Be clear in your communication, leaving no doubt for misinterpretation. Don’t say what you don’t mean. This will help sensitive folks overthink less and not feel as exhausted from doing so.

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5. Emotional triggers

As we all know, highly sensitive people are emotional and can get triggered easily, and in different ways. From ugly-crying watching a movie to having an emotional outburst in public, HSPs can get triggered and have an emotional response anytime, anywhere. It is easy for them to feel emotionally “flooded.” And something seemingly trivial, like making a rude comment or crude joke, may illicit an emotional reaction, which less-sensitive people may consider to be “dramatic.” However, remember: Everyone is valid to have their feelings.

How you can help: If you’re in a close relationship with an HSP, you can try to identify their triggers and avoid situations where they may get triggered. 

In general, you can just be more understanding of their emotions. Instead of calling them “dramatic” or “too emotional,” try being comforting and ask them how they’re feeling and what you can do.

6. Indecisiveness

As mentioned earlier, sensitive people tend to overanalyze things, scrutinizing every little thing in great detail. This often causes decision paralysis, as they get stuck in their heads overanalyzing, failing to make quick decisions.

For example, we HSPs can spend an hour deciding what to watch on Netflix and then give up, frustrated with all the options. Or we might change our minds about what food to order around 10 times before deciding to simply cook something at home.

Point being, decisions are hard for us, and not being able to make them causes a lot of frustration.

How you can help: Help HSPs make a decision by limiting the number of choices you give them. Or, better yet, make the small decisions yourself instead of putting it on them.

For instance, if you and your partner plan to go out, you either make the decision of where to go or give them 2-3 options to choose from.

7. Changes

Most HSPs don’t deal well with change, even small ones. They find comfort and safety in routine and are often known to have very fixed daily routines.

Moving to a new house, applying for a new job, or even planning a vacation can be stressful for HSPs. Anything out of their comfort zone can cause stress for a sensitive person.

How you can help: Take them through the change and how it will affect them. Reassure them that it’s not going to have a big effect on their daily life. And if it is a big change, reassure them that you’ll be there to help them navigate the change, every step of the way. You can also go over the steps with them and take things one step at a time…

Ready to Form a Deeper Connection With Your HSP?

Hopefully, you can relate to most, if not all, of these things if you are in any kind of relationship with an HSP.

Understanding things that make life difficult for them can help you make things a little easier for them, and they’ll appreciate it, trust me!

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