Do you often feel as if you feel too much? Do you have a close friend or family member that often places too much value on what others have to say? Have you considered that this person or yourself is a highly sensitive person? Intense physical, mental and emotional reactions to external forces or internal stimuli can be used to define high sensitivity. Someone who is highly sensitive can fall under the personality trait of an introvert, an extrovert or even somewhere in between known as an ambivert.
There are many advantages to being highly sensitive such as being able to listen and understand the needs and wants of others, a deep level of empathy, and strong intuition. However, in this article, we are going to explore the negative effects that being highly sensitive have on one’s happiness, relationships, success, and health.
Below one will find 21 signs that will help to determine if you or someone you know is highly sensitive. There are three categories in which sensitivity will be judged sensitivity about one’s environment (external), sensitivity about others (external) and sensitivity of one’s self (internal). These signs come from two books written by Preston Ni M.S.B.A. and can be found here.
It is normal to experience some of these signs every now and then because of life. However, what determines high sensitivity is that those affected will experience these signs and will be strongly influenced more frequently by them. It is important to note that each person is different and may experience only a couple of signs while others may be affected by multiple.
Section One: Sensitivity About One’s Environment
- Feeling uncomfortable in large groups/ public crowds in which too many things are occurring at once.
- Bright lights, particular strong scents, and loud sounds cause discomfort
- Easily frightened by abrupt sounds, fast traffic, or other displeasing surprises
- Reading negative news in the media is upsetting or frustrating and changes one’s mood
- Often feels unhappy when following people’s posts on social media
Section Two: Sensitivity About Others
- Thinks/worries about what others are thinking
- Often takes things personally/ Easily offended
- Feels hurt easily
- Often believes that they are too strong and that vulnerability is embarrassing; Bottles up negative emotions and keeps them to oneself
- On the other hand, often talks about negative emotions with others because there’s “so much going on” in one’s life
- Find it difficult to accept reasonable/ constructive critical feedback
- Even without concrete evidence, often believes people are judgmental
- Often feels awkward/unable to be oneself in group settings
- Constantly feels afraid of being judged or rejected by a significant other; Discomfort in romantic situations due to self-consciousness; An excessive need for partners approval
Section Three: Sensitivity of Oneself
- Often has a hard time letting go of negative thoughts and/or emotions
- Regularly feels physical symptoms (stress or a headache) when something frustrating or upsetting happens during the day
- Having a bad day affects eating or sleeping habits in an unhealthy way (ex. sleeping too much/little)
- Frequently experiences tension and/or anxiety.
- “Beats oneself up” when not meeting set expectations for oneself.
- Afraid of being rejected in seemingly minor situations
- Feels resentment or anger about situations in life or society that are unjust, aggravating, or annoying
While being highly sensitive is an admirable trait, it has its disadvantages. The signs/symptoms listed above can take a toll on one’s happiness, overall well being and relationships with others. Therefore, it is important for those who are highly sensitive to manage their oversensitivity. This can be achieved by employing tactics such as emotional, and sensory immunity strategies to avoid overstimulation. For those who interact with a highly sensitive person on a daily basis, it is important to establish effective communication skills to encourage positive and constructive relationships.