9 things you don’t know you’re doing because you’re a highly sensitive person

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Being a highly sensitive person (HSP) is like having your internal radar consistently on high alert. As an HSP myself, I can tell you that it’s not always easy. We often pick up on subtleties in our environment and the emotions of others that most people overlook.

But the thing about being an HSP is, sometimes, we’re not even aware of the unique things we do because of our heightened sensitivity.

Now, don’t get me wrong, being highly sensitive isn’t a flaw—it’s a superpower. But it can lead to some interesting habits and behaviors that seem a little “extra” to others.

1) Overwhelmed by crowded places

For the average person, public events like concerts or city festivals are a ton of fun. But if you’re a highly sensitive person, these kinds of situations can feel like sensory overload.

The noise, the lights, the sheer number of people – it can all get a bit too much for an HSP. And the thing is, you might not even realize this is why you’re feeling overwhelmed.

You may find yourself gravitating towards quieter, less crowded places without really knowing why. It’s not that you’re antisocial or don’t enjoy having fun. You’re just more comfortable in environments where your senses aren’t being bombarded from all sides.

When you’re feeling stressed out in a crowded place, don’t be too hard on yourself. It might just be your highly sensitive nature kicking in.

2) Easily moved by art and music

We all have songs that make us feel a certain way, or paintings that seem to speak to us. But as a highly sensitive person, the connection to art and music goes much deeper.

For example, I remember the first time I heard “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. I was driving home from work, and the song came on the radio. There was something about the raw emotion in his voice and the poignant lyrics that really resonated with me.

Before I knew it, I was pulling over to the side of the road, tears streaming down my face. That’s a level of emotional connection to a song that not everyone experiences – but for us HSPs, it’s pretty much par for the course.

Art and music can speak to our souls in a way that’s hard to describe. It’s one of the beautiful things about being highly sensitive – even if it does mean we occasionally find ourselves crying on the side of the road!

3) Sensitivity to caffeine

Here’s something you might not be aware of – your morning coffee could be hitting you harder than you think. Highly sensitive people often have a more pronounced reaction to stimulants like caffeine.

Scientific studies have shown that caffeine increases heart rate and blood pressure, and stimulates the release of stress hormones. For an HSP, who already has a heightened response to their environment, this can lead to feelings of jitteriness and anxiety.

If you’ve ever wondered why that single cup of coffee sends your heart racing or leaves you feeling anxious, now you know – it’s just one more thing that makes you a highly sensitive person. It might be worth considering a switch to decaf or a caffeine-free alternative.

4) Deeply affected by others’ moods

As a highly sensitive person, you might find yourself feeling upset or anxious, and not know why. The answer could be the person sitting right next to you. HSPs are often deeply affected by the moods and emotions of those around them.

This is because we have a high level of empathy, allowing us to pick up on subtle shifts in other people’s emotional states. This can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it makes us great listeners and friends, but on the other hand, it can leave us feeling drained or overwhelmed.

When you’re feeling off without any apparent reason, take a look around – it could be that you’re picking up on someone else’s emotions. This insight can help you manage your own emotional well-being more effectively.

5) Need for alone time

Ever find yourself craving a little solitude? This is a common trait among highly sensitive people. While we value our relationships and enjoy socializing, we also need time alone to recharge.

Our heightened sensitivity can sometimes leave us feeling drained, especially after intense social interactions or busy days. That’s why a quiet evening at home or a peaceful walk in the park can feel so rejuvenating.

Remember, needing alone time isn’t about being antisocial or not enjoying the company of others. It’s about taking care of your mental and emotional health. So go ahead, take that solo coffee break or plan a weekend staycation – it’s not just okay, it’s necessary for your well-being.

6) Deep connections and conversations

As a highly sensitive person, small talk isn’t really your thing. It’s not that you’re not good at it, but rather that you yearn for something more meaningful. You’re drawn to deep connections and conversations that touch the soul.

For HSPs, interactions are not just about passing the time or idle chit-chat. We crave connection, understanding, and depth in our relationships. We want to know what makes people tick, their hopes, dreams, fears and passions.

This can be a beautiful trait, allowing us to form profound connections with others. However, it can also leave us feeling unsatisfied or out of place in social situations dominated by surface-level conversation.

If you ever feel like an outsider at a party full of small talk, remember – it’s not you. You’re just craving a deeper connection, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s all part of being a highly sensitive person.

7) Overthinking and worrying

Late-night worry sessions are a common occurrence in my world. As a highly sensitive person, I often find myself replaying conversations in my head, analyzing every word and reaction, or worrying about future events.

Our heightened sensitivity means we process information more deeply than others. This can lead to a tendency to overthink and worry, even about things that others might consider trivial.

While this can sometimes feel like a burden, it’s also part of what makes us thoughtful, empathetic, and careful decision-makers.

So yes, I might lose some sleep overthinking, but I also know that it’s these same traits that make me the caring individual I am.

8) Sensitivity to criticism

Feedback is a natural part of life – we all need it to grow and improve. However, as a highly sensitive person, you might find that criticism hits you harder than most.

This isn’t because you’re overly sensitive or can’t handle feedback. It’s simply that as an HSP, you process things more deeply – including critical comments. What may seem like a minor critique to others can feel significant and personal to you.

This sensitivity also means that you’re more likely to take feedback on board and make positive changes. It’s about finding the balance between accepting constructive criticism and not letting it affect your self-worth.

9) High levels of empathy

One of the most defining traits of being a highly sensitive person is your deep sense of empathy. You don’t just understand other people’s emotions – you often feel them as if they were your own.

This intense empathy can sometimes be overwhelming, but it’s also a powerful gift. It’s what enables you to connect with others on a profound level, to offer comfort and understanding when it’s most needed.

Your empathy is the heart of your sensitivity. It’s what makes you who you are – a highly sensitive person with an extraordinary capacity for compassion and understanding.

Embracing sensitivity

The journey of understanding and navigating life as a highly sensitive person can be a complex one. However, it’s crucial to remember that sensitivity is not a weakness – it’s a strength.

Being an HSP means you possess a unique ability to connect deeply with others, to experience the world in vivid detail, and to feel emotions on an incredibly profound level.

Yes, it comes with its challenges, such as dealing with overwhelm or heightened emotional responses. But it’s these very traits that also allow you to appreciate beauty, art, and human connection in ways many others can’t.

Remember, your sensitivity is not something to be tamed or hidden away. It’s an integral part of who you are, a defining characteristic that shapes your interactions with the world.

Embrace your sensitivity. Celebrate it. Because being a highly sensitive person doesn’t just mean you experience life differently – it means you experience life deeply. And there is immense beauty in that depth.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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