7 Truths About Highly Sensitive People That Few Understand

A highly sensitive person dances in a field.

It’s not easy being highly sensitive. Highly sensitive people (HSPs) get to feel the world deeply, but they also get easily overstimulated and mentally and emotionally flooded. Only 15-20 percent of the population has the genes that make them highly sensitive, so our trait is often very misunderstood.

But even though it can be hard, we can’t deny that our sensitivity is also a precious gift.

We HSPs notice things that others miss, make connections no one else would make, and “sense” what others feel even when they have a hard time expressing it.

If that makes it sound like being highly sensitive is pretty complex, it is.

Here are seven truths about being highly sensitive that few understand.

Truths About Being a Highly Sensitive Person

1. We feel it all – very deeply.

Everything, from a shift in someone’s mood to how strong our coffee is. Perhaps someone said something rude and it hit our gentle heart like an arrow. Once it’s thrown, there’s no way to stop it from plunging right into our heart.

The heart will heal in time, sure. But it will bleed first.

Many people don’t understand how deeply HSPs feel things. They say we shouldn’t take things so personally, but the truth is, we don’t have that option. It’s not that we don’t want to. We just can’t help it.

It’s like throwing a glass on a hardwood floor and expecting it not to break. It will crash. But if the floor is safe, like with a carpet, it may not break if you throw it gently.

The same goes for highly sensitive people. If you don’t want us to shatter, handle us with gentleness and respect.

2. We have a profound appreciation of small details.

I’m not saying highly sensitive people have super senses. What I mean is that we notice things that most people ignore — whether it’s a little wildflower on a weekend stroll, the way the sun comes through the window early in the morning, or the subtle way the eyes of a loved one glow when they’re truly happy.

We notice those things. And we cherish them.

3. We’re very tuned into our world.

We’re very aware of sensorial changes — sounds, lights, smells, temperatures, textures, and tastes. We notice all those things with great detail, and it has a big impact on how we experience our daily lives.

Ultimately, it allows us to be more aware of our surroundings and how we interact with them. But when you’re so tuned into the world, as HSPs are, it can also lead to stress and overwhelm.

4. Yes, we really can peek into your soul.

Many HSPs genuinely care about other people’s feelings. Our strong ability to empathize is what lets us really understand them.

And, as highly sensitive people, we tend to be good listeners. Many HSPs work in the caring professions, as therapists, nurses, or social workers, for this exact reason. Since HSPs have particularly active mirror neurons, we’re often able to tell whether a person is hiding something, needs our help, or has something troubling on their mind.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that being an HSP feels like seeing someone’s soul through their eyes.

5. We can be easily overwhelmed.

Since we feel even the smallest things, we’re prone to overstimulation and overwhelm. And that should come as no surprise, taking into account everything I mentioned above. That’s why it’s so important for us to establish healthy boundaries that limit excessive external stimuli, like noise, strong lights, or even socializing.

And I do mean healthy boundaries. It’s not like we need to live in an isolated cabin in the woods — though I’ve got to admit that sometimes that sounds appealing after a particularly overwhelming day! Having a private room that’s our refuge, and owning our right to say no to invitations from time to time, is essential to HSP happiness.

Boundaries are meant to protect us. We still need good relationships and external stimulation — just in small and gentle doses. A meaningful conversation here, a nice weekend stroll there, little by little, we need that “external stimulation.”

And of course, there are things that we can’t avoid, like traffic or rude people, but we can avoid things like violence on TV or too much coffee. If we ask you to turn off the TV or watch something happier — or stubbornly insist on having tea instead of strong coffee — it’s because it helps us avoid overwhelm. (And when is it not the right time for tea?)

6. We have vivid inner lives.

We, as sensitive people, tend to be very creative. Even if we don’t work in the arts, we look at and think about things deeply — we may spend hours turning something over in our heads that others would dismiss in minutes. As a result, it’s not surprising that we make connections that others miss, and that we have a vivid inner life.

When an HSP is “processing,” we’re seeing endless possibilities, we’re dreaming big, and we’re envisioning everything we want to live in the real world.

And we have inner pep talks. Because we need them sometimes.

Our imagination not only allows us to create these striking inner worlds, but it also lets us project them into a work of art like a poem, a painting, or a melody. Great masterpieces like Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” required great sensibility to be produced, and may well have come from a sensitive heart and mind.

7. We get to live life to its fullest.

Ultimately, highly sensitive people experience life in a different way. A way that allows us to truly feel every aspect of it — happiness, love, loss, sadness, hope, and despair. All the ups and downs. Perhaps all in just one day.

We live life — both our inner life and our outer one — to the fullest. And that’s what makes us who we are.

Many people just “exist” — and miss all the great things that life has to offer. But HSPs don’t just exist. We have the ability to savor every single moment.

HSPs, don’t try to change who you are. Embrace your sensitivity and live like only you can do.

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