Eleven Traits of a Highly Sensitive People (HSP)

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About 20 percent of our world consists of Highly Sensitive People. HSPs are people who pick up on more stimuli than average people. They tend to be more empathetic and think deeply about the actions they take or the ones taken against them. HSPs have a deeper central nervous system which makes them more sensitive to physical, social or emotional stimuli than others.Their ability to understand other people makes it easy for people to confide in them. They pick up on the smallest of things because of their hyper sensory abilities which makes them observant. They indeed get on their coworkers’ nerves sometimes when HSPs catch them lying or want them to do something perfectly but their empathetic natures make them lovable. Believe it or not, but HSPs thrive as leaders.

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What is HSP (Highly Sensitive People) ?

HSP is treated not as a mental illness or a disorder but a personality trait . People develop this trait over the years of their lives or sometimes HSP is even hereditary. HSPs have heightened sensory input, they realise the smallest of changes in people’s behaviours and pick-up on social cues faster than regular people. Small changes in actions from their loved ones may hurt them gravely but they appreciate the little things their loved ones might do for them which others might not even notice. They have higher emotional reactions ; positive and negative ones.

People who have autism , ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity) and anxiety often are HSPs. These people have many things in common, they are more empathetic, show more emotions, help others and often put them first.

“scans have shown that HSPs have more active mirror neurons which are responsible for feelings of empathy for others and more activity in areas that are involved with emotional responses.  HSPs feel both positive and negative emotions more intensely than non-HSPs.”


Emotional HSP

It becomes easier for a Highly Sensitive Person like you to feel others’ emotions and hence you are usually more empathetic towards others than an average person. The combined effects of the trait result in empathic, conscientious, cautious individuals, who may also be sensation-seeking and relish the novelty. You will likely excel in a healing profession Eg: counselling, life coach, etc.

Imaginative HSP

You may have a great sense of imagination that contributes to a heightened aesthetic sense, being highly sensitive to beauty in nature and the arts. You might be more easily disturbed by ugly or coarse stimuli than less sensitive people and avoid violent action films .

Psychomotor HSP

You may show impulsivity and a need to move around more than an average person. You are sensitive to movement and motion and may find it easier to study, sleep, etc while being in motion Eg: sleeping on a train. Repetitive Motion could calm you down and sitting still can be fairly challenging for you. You may talk faster than an average person. It will be easier for you to understand the non-verbal cues of communication, in other words, you will be able to get along with the physical expression of others, you may also suffer from problems related to sleep patterns. Nervousness may strike you earlier than others and you may self-soothe by certain ticks like moving your limbs, nail-biting, etc

Sensual HSP

You might be more sensitive to sensory stimuli and have a refined aesthetic. You may fixate on sensory stimuli e.g., news coverage. You are also more likely to have vivid dreams and a rich inner life. Like the sensory HSP, you are likely to excel in artistic and creative fields. However, unlike the sensory HSP, your strength lies in abstraction, and originality of concept versus a refined aesthetic that’s more seen in the case of Sensual HSPs.

Orchid Child HSP

The Orchid child is the type of HSP that’s sensitive to rejection and criticism – real or precise, from the environment. This can make some people more vulnerable to anxiety and depression due to feeling poorly understood, coupled with the tendency to withdraw and self-isolate in harsh, critical environments of controlling or manipulative parents. Due to overstimulation, they might feel easily fatigued or exhausted and are more likely to be hit by migraine and autoimmune diseases, as a response to the draining energy racing against the stressors. However, HSP is a trait that presents a unique set of challenges and confers some advantages both to individual HSPs and the social groups they belong to at work, at home and in the community. They can also benefit significantly from positive, supportive, and nurturing environments and show a very significant improvement in their confidence, talents, and social skills if they change their environment.

Benefits of HSP

1: Eye to detailing

HSPs have the ability of being keen observers and show attention to detail this makes them equipped with the skill of having a good eye for things. This may help them choose a career path in which this skill is needed, film making, fashion designing or recruiting artists for art galleries are some options. Overall being observers makes them live in the moment, and look at things as they see it at that moment.

2: Being more empathic

Empathy is the ability to feel others emotions to a deeper level. HSPs are empaths and as they always feel invalidated they would never do the same for others. HSPs often feel for others, understand their situations and take actions accordingly. They are affectionate people who are gentle towards others feelings.

3: Love for nature

Being observers, HSPs find peace in nature. Often HSPs journal and meditate to feel better and what better place to do that than in nature. Forest Bathing is something that HSPs practice. The stillness of nature and the wind is an escape from reality and makes HSPs feel calm. Spending time in nature makes them feel like they belong.

Eleven traits of HSP

1: Not comfortable with the change:

Some people thrive in a changing lifestyle but HSPs find comfort in routines and people. It’s often observed that HSPs are scared or would avoid big or small changes in their lives. Moving out of the country, taking up a new job , commitment to a new relationship and many more changes intimidate them. “It all feels like too much.” is something they might say often when they don’t want to see changes in their immediate surroundings.

2: Avoid Crowds. Avoids socialising :

When dealing with crowds it often gets stressful for HSPs and garners strong unconscious activities that don’t let them process all the things that are going on ,in turn making them completely avoid social interactions. This in turn generates a feeling of missing out on stuff which inturn spirals them into overthinking.

3: Get hurt easily with other people’s actions :

HSPs feelings are invalidated most of the times, HSPs pick up on the smallest of changes and these changes make them feel out of the place, when this happens they look for the people they find comfort in but when these people reply with comments like “Oh you’re uncomfortable again?’’ or “Get over it, no one is acting differently” HSPs get hurt and feel misunderstood. These simple comments may feel valid to you, but to HSPs and their ability to pick up small stimuli it’s rude.

4: Over analysing things.

Let’s say your partner is an HSP, you meet them everyday and greet them with a hug. One day you forgot to hug them, this to you may seem okay, but your HSP partner is probably analysing everything that happened those last few weeks while engaging in a conversation with you and trying to observe every small action you do. “Did I do something to make them mad?” “Do they not love me anymore?’’ “Are they in a bad mood?” These are just a few of the billion questions, answers they are trying to find alone at that moment.

5: Finding it too difficult to be in a relationship :

It’s often seen that HSPs are single. This happens due to many reasons, HSPs often show their love for their partners overwhelmingly while the partner doesn’t know how to show it back to them . HSPs often need constant reassurance that everything in the relationship is going well and the partner still loves them . They often feel misunderstood and feel a lot less loved. HSPs give more than they take and this makes the partner often feel less of a person than them . Partners often get into fights and say things like “get over it” “it’s not a big deal” “you are so irritating” HSPs love language is seen to be words of affirmations and when their partners say something they don’t like they get hurt and feel like their relationship has come to an end.

6: Great difficulty in taking feedback at work:

HSPs are not good at taking constructive criticism. It makes them feel like all the work they have done has gone to waste. They are perfectionists. Constructive feedback is hard to handle for anybody but with HSPs it may be harder as they feel more deeply than other people. Criticism often raises anxiety , sadness and feelings of not being good enough in HSPs.

7: Finding difficult to say No to people

Approval. HSPs often seek approval and validation from not only people they know but also strangers.
When anyone asks them for a favour, HSPs almost never say “no.” They will take out time from a busy schedule but they’ll do the favour you asked them for. This is why HSPs often hear “you’re too nice” but this habit often gets HSPs into a bad place. They live for others’ approval and never live for themselves. They are scared that others won’t love them enough if they say “no”.

 8: Overstimulation :

New environments, new social interactions, new people may seem extremely fun to extroverts ,but to HSPs – 70% introverts – all those activities feel like a green flag for overstimulation. Due to the biological difference in our nervous systems some people never even get overstimulated while HSPs may get overstimulated by meeting 5 more people than usual.  Overstimulation occurs due to higher levels of dopamine reactions in your brain.

9: Low threshold for sensory awareness:

The nervous system receives input from various organs ie; nose , eyes, smell etc. This input is then processed as a neural process through a procedure called sensation. In simpler terms in a silent room you would hear if a glass fell down, but in a club you will not hear and process the same. That is sensory awareness. Insensitive people or people who come off as rude often have high threshold for sensory awareness, but HSPs who pick up on the smallest of changes in the environment have a low threshold for sensory awareness.

10: Having great manners and doing very well in the team

HSPs have a higher EQ or emotional intelligence and being perfectionists they have great manners as well. This makes them great team workers, they support others and often help solve
their issues . They take responsibility and make sure everything is done holistically.

11: Making decisions takes longer than normal:

Overthinking is something very common in all HSPs and being indecisive is something that comes along with overthinking. Making decisions is often very hard for them .They think about everything from all perspectives hence while every option may feel correct they may all feel incorrect as well.

Sensitivity is not a weakness. It makes people better humans. HSPs are more reliable and gentle and having those abilities can never be a weakness. You’re not alone, and wanting to be loved is valid. Accept yourself for who you are and love yourself.


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