Studies estimate that about 15 to 20 percent of the population is highly sensitive. Yet, many people don't know what it means to be a highly sensitive person.
Although related to introversion, being a highly sensitive person not the same thing. Highly sensitive people are hypersensitive to a variety of stimuli, ranging from pain to caffeine consumption. Consequently, highly sensitive people exhibit specific, observable behaviors.
Adapted from Aron and Aron's Highly Sensitive Person scale, here are nine things highly sensitive people do:
1. They become overwhelmed when they have a lot to do.
Highly sensitive people struggle to stay on task when they have several different tasks to do. They become observably anxious and the higher their stress level becomes, the more difficulty they have being productive.
2. They find noisy environments chaotic.
Highly sensitive people don't work well in open offices. Their senses get put into overdrive by the sights, sounds, smells, and activity buzzing around them.
3. They get 'hangry.'
When highly sensitive people get hungry, they grow angry. They struggle to function and often take out their frustrations on those closest to them.
4. They choke when they're under observation.
Highly sensitive people perform at their peak when they're in private. Put them in high stakes situations, like a boss observing their sales pitch, and they're likely to choke under the pressure.
5. They're deeply moved by the arts.
Whether they're attending a musical or visiting an art gallery, highly sensitive people appreciate the arts. Their emotions get stirred up and they feel their emotions deeply.
6. They recognize other people's discomfort.
Highly sensitive people recognize when someone else needs the lights dimmed or the music turned down. Without saying a word, they can easily sense when other people's senses are getting overloaded.
7. They retreat when things become too overwhelming.
After a long day or a busy week, a highly sensitive person will need quiet time to recharge. A dark bedroom might provide the perfect space to recuperate.
8. They grow uncomfortable when there are loud noises.
Loud rock concerts and noisy fireworks displays usually aren't much fun for highly sensitive people. They have a lower threshold for noise compared to the rest of the population.
9. They avoid violent media.
Watching violent movies or playing graphic video games can be too much for highly sensitive people. So don't be surprised if they opt out of watching horror movies with you.
The Pros and Cons of Being a Highly Sensitive Person
While many people have warned against the dangers of being a highly sensitive person--like the increased risk to depression and anxiety--being sensitive isn't all bad.
Highly sensitive people are more conscientious. They notice certain details others may overlook and they can be very creative.
Being a highly sensitive person doesn't mean you have a disorder that needs to be fixed. Instead, it simply means you process sensory data more deeply. Recognizing that you're a highly sensitive person could help you develop a better awareness of yourself and your needs.