As a highly sensitive person (HSP) myself, I can tell you that my heightened sensitivity is both a blessing and a curse.
If you know someone who is highly sensitive and you’d like to understand them better, or you think you may be highly sensitive yourself, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, I’m going to go through the pros and cons of being an HSP, and hopefully, shed some light on what life is like for them.
Let’s start with the pros:
1) They have a high level of emotional intelligence
Did you know that there is more than one type of intelligence?
It’s not just about your cognitive abilities and how good you are at problem-solving or abstract reasoning.
There’s also something called “emotional intelligence” which is the ability to recognize and understand one’s own emotions as well as the emotions of others.
Trust me, when it comes to navigating the world, it’s just as important as cognitive intelligence.
I know so many people that have the first type of intelligence, but unfortunately, are completely lacking when it comes to the second.
2) They’re compassionate
Another good thing about being an HSP is their deep sense of compassion.
Think about it:
Compassionate people have an easier time building and maintaining relationships and are known for promoting social change because of their desire to help others.
It’s a very desirable quality that is valued in many cultures around the world.
3) They have meaningful relationships
They often tend to be introverted and aren’t very outgoing. In fact, people often refer to them as “shy”.
However, because of their emotional intelligence and compassionate nature, HSPs are capable of forming deep and meaningful connections with friends, family, and romantic partners.
They may not have as many relationships as other more outgoing people, but they certainly have more meaningful ones.
4) They’re very creative
Have you ever wondered why so many artists, musicians, and writers are HSPs?
It’s because HSPs have very vivid imaginations (I can attest to that) and a rich and colorful inner world that they need to channel somewhere – hence, all their artistic and creative works.
Look at me – I studied photography and film directing and here I am writing!
5) Deep appreciation for beauty
In addition to being creative, many HSPs have a deep appreciation for beauty.
I believe it’s got something to do with their heightened sensory processing and emotional depth.
What’s more, they experience emotions more deeply and are highly attuned to the subtle nuances of sensory input, such as music, art, and even fine dining, which can lead to a deeper appreciation for beauty.
The devil is in the details, and that’s where HSPs come in.
They’re amazing at spotting errors and mistakes. They tend to notice details that others overlook, and they’re very good at problem-solving because of their ability to break down the problem into smaller parts and take a careful look at each tiny part.
That means that they’re suited for work in important fields such as medicine, engineering, finance, and research, where small mistakes can have great consequences.
But they also make good designers, architects, and editors, so they have a lot of possible careers to choose from!
7) Strong sense of justice
Some people have a strong sense of justice, while others don’t. HSPs are part of the first group.
Because of their compassionate nature, they usually have a heightened sensitivity to unfairness and injustice, and that’s a good thing.
It drives them to advocate for social change and make a positive impact in their communities and the world.
8) They have heightened intuition
HSPs are known for being very intuitive, which makes them excellent judges of character and almost impossible to deceive. They’re basically human lie detectors.
Their sensitive nature means they can pick up on other people’s emotions through nonverbal cues such as tone of voice and body language.
But that’s not all.
By being able to read between the lines, HSPs are able to gain insight into what motivates people and what their true intentions are. That’s a plus in anyone’s book.
9) Greater mindfulness
You’ll often find that HSPs practice mindful meditation and yoga, and keep a gratitude journal.
That means that they’re in tune with their bodies, emotions, and the environment.
And guess what.
That’s the recipe for leading a happy and fulfilling life.
Now, let’s look at the cons:
1) Easily overwhelmed
HSPs are easily overwhelmed by stimuli that others may not notice, such as loud noises, strong scents, or bright lights.
Take me for example, I can’t sleep if I can hear the neighbor’s TV. My husband, on the other hand, doesn’t even notice the TV and sleeps like a baby.
2) Emotional exhaustion
Here’s the thing:
HSPs tend to be empaths. And that can be both a pro and a con.
But I’ve decided to put it under cons because feeling everyone’s emotions all the time can be extremely exhausting.
With all the joy they pick up on comes just as much sorrow and pain – and often it feels like there’s more of the latter because it really takes a toll on someone.
That’s why it’s important for HSPs to carve some time aside for themselves – away from other people, away from the news on the TV and their phones to recharge.
Remember how HSPs are detail-oriented? Well, it’s what leads them to perfectionism – and that’s not good.
Look, it’s one thing to have high standards, but it’s another thing to be a perfectionist.
Perfectionism can be unhealthy and lead to obsessive behavior, self-criticism, and negative self-talk.
When they can’t achieve perfection, HSPs feel anxious and even get depressed.
4) Tendency towards anxiety
Because they’re perfectionists and empaths, and because they get easily overwhelmed and have a tendency to ruminate on negative experiences and emotions, HSPs are highly likely to experience anxiety or stress.
That means that they don’t do well in overwhelming or high-pressure situations.
5) Difficulty with boundaries
I can totally relate to this.
A lot of HSPs struggle with setting and maintaining boundaries because they feel a strong sense of responsibility to others.
They want to help and they want to be useful, and that leads to getting phone calls in the middle of the night from friends who’re feeling sad or lonely.
6) Sensitivity to criticism
HSPs are extremely sensitive to criticism (even constructive) and negative feedback. They can’t help but take it personally and feel it more deeply.
Well, this is so me! I’ve been like that for as long as I can remember. Criticism always feels like a personal attack – even when it comes from a place of love.
7) Need for downtime
In itself, the need for more downtime and alone time to recharge and recover from overstimulating situations isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The problem is that not every HSP is in a position to take the time they need to recover. Some HSPs work long hours and find themselves in situations where they can’t risk getting fired.
8) Difficulty with change
Oh my god, here’s something else I can absolutely relate to.
I recently had to move after being in the same apartment for 7 years and it took about 6 months for the anxiety and depression to release their hold on me!
The bottom line is that HSPs struggle with change and hate uncertainty. They feel more comfortable with routine and familiarity.
9) Difficulty with decision-making
Here’s the thing: HSPs are so scared of making the wrong decision that they struggle to make any decision at all.
They feel overwhelmed by the potential consequences of every possible decision that they get lost in their emotions and are unable to make a decision.
Not only do I have a problem with decision-making, but so do several people in my life, which makes simple things like deciding where to go or what to eat needlessly complicated.
10) Feeling misunderstood
Finally, because of their sensitivity and how it impacts them, HSPs often feel misunderstood or overlooked by others who do not understand their sensitivity or even view it as a weakness.
Just remember that being an HSP is not a weakness or a flaw, but rather a unique trait that can bring a range of strengths and challenges.
Make sure to take care of yourself by practicing self-awareness, taking the time to recharge your batteries, setting boundaries, practicing mindfulness and yoga, engaging in fun activities, spending time in nature, getting enough rest, eating healthy, seeking support when you need it, and reframing your view of yourself – which means looking at your sensitivity as a strength instead of a weakness.