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9 Signs You're A Highly Sensitive Person

Kristen Matthews
November 18, 2014
Photo by Getty Images
November 18, 2014

Has anyone ever told you to calm down, stop being so sensitive, or not take things so seriously? I can say yes, yes, and yes without a blink of an eye. I was the sensitive one in my family, and I guess I still am. We all laugh about it now, because I can easily be brought to tears by so many different things.

I don't question what may be wrong with me anymore, because when you live with people who don't show their emotions like you do, you think something's wrong with you. Age, along with the knowledge that 15-20% of the population is highly sensitive, helped me embrace my personality.

Since discovering that HSPs are such a large group of people, I've learned more about what it really means to be a highly sensitive person. There's much more to this trait than just crying easily.

Below are some common characteristics that people with HSP share; if you recognize these signs in yourself, you may be one too. I can personally relate to each and every one.

1. You're hyper aware of subtleties in their environment.

HSPs usually notice things that other people miss. Maybe it's a new haircut or furniture that's been rearranged. Sounds can startle them easily, and they're more sensitive to certain smells and fabrics.

2. You're easily affected by others' moods.

Everyone is affected by the moods of others, both positive and negative, but the effect is heightened in highly sensitive people. It's great if you're around positive people, but not so great when you're around people with heavy energy.

3. You become overwhelmed quickly.

If you ask an HSP to do too many things at once, she becomes overloaded and rattled. HSPs don't do well in chaotic or stressful situations. Many times highly sensitive people will arrange their lives to avoid overwhelming situations. If they end up in a chaotic environment, they'll probably find a quiet place to down-regulate their overly stimulated brain.

4. You take criticism to heart.

Criticism is part of life. But because highly sensitive people feel things more deeply, they'll hold onto criticism longer than someone not so sensitive. As a result, they tend to be people-pleasers, removing room for criticism. It's important to note that while they hold onto criticism, a compliment will go a long way.

5. You make compassionate friends.

Highly sensitive people are also very intuitive and feel deeply. They're able to empathize with people, to a point where you almost feel like they're going through what you're going through.

6. You're conscientious.

HSP's are very considerate with above-average manners. They're the first to notice when someone is rude or inconsiderate. They'll give up their seat on a bus or move out of the way on the sidewalk without even really thinking about it. It comes naturally to them.

7. You tend to avoid violent movies and TV shows.

Since HSP's rank high on the empathy scale, they tend to stay away from shows with violence or horror in them. They know negative news or violence will upset them, so they do what they can to avoid it.

8. You have a deep appreciation of art, music and nature.

Highly sensitive people are often deeply moved by the arts and nature. The natural beauty of nature is healing and calming to them. Oceans, rivers, and lakes give them a sense of comfort.

9. You don't feel very decisive.

Highly sensitive people think with their emotions. This, coupled with being acutely aware of subtleties and details, makes it harder for them to come to a decision. They can easily get upset if they make the wrong decision or poor choice.

Kristen Matthews author page.
Kristen Matthews

Kristen Matthews is a Santa Monica–based Pilates teacher and co-founder of The Pilates Fix, an online site promoting healthy lifestyle choices with workouts, recipes, and encouragement. She co-created the fitness DVD "Trim, Tighten & Tone," has been featured in Pilates Style Magazine, and contributes to various health and wellness blogs.

Kristen is known for creating fun yet challenging full body workouts while focusing on length and opposition, attention to detail, and the body mind connection. With an endless curiosity of people and the body, she continually seeks out new ways to enhance her clients' lives. While teaching is Kristen's first love, she enjoys the creative outlet writing has to offer.