Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ten Challenges of an HSP's Daily Grind

A highly sensitive person experiences day to day life very differently than someone who is not highly sensitive. Prior to discovering research on the trait of high sensitivity, I thought something was wrong. It was implied by those around me who were not highly sensitive that something was wrong. I didn't understand why I was different or why I reacted differently to certain situations. The following is a list from my perspective on the challenges that HSPs may face during their daily routines:

1. An HSP feels everything around them. This includes the unspoken emotions and intents of others. They are likely to become irritated and overwhelmed when there is a lot of activity or people in the same room. This may unintentionally come across in their body language.

2. An HSP is often physically and emotionally tired. Perhaps this is from thinking too much, absorbing everyone else's energy, being a natural insomniac or a combination. This means they likely won't have the energy to go out after a day at work or they may need more downtime by themselves at home. They may not have the energy to talk at the end of the day because all of the energy they've absorbed is still swirling inside them and they need time alone to process and divulge. This shouldn't be misinterpreted as anti-social or depressed. Being physically and mentally tired may mean they are more likely to need to take naps or sleep longer than others.

3. An HSP often has trouble discerning what they want versus what someone else wants. They are easily influenced by the energy of someone else's presence and may need to "get away" from that person in order to respond to them with their own thoughts and convictions. Others shouldn't take this personally.

4. An HSP is able to intuit more than others. This means that they instinctively know things that others wouldn't without asking questions. They also pick up and learn quite a bit by observing and then reflecting. This may make them seem more withdrawn, uncommunicative and possibly uninterested. Usually this isn't the case.

5. An HSP often absorbs themselves in learning and can at times seem to "become" what they've learned. This comes from the innate ability to transcend themselves, a technique often used by actors to portray a character. This doesn't mean that they actually want to become what they've learned. They do get bored easily and have a thirst to continue grasping new concepts.

6. HSPs often don't believe in their abilities, at least in Western societies. Perhaps this comes from Western culture's preference of the "warrior" type personality. They have difficulty with compliments, don't see the results of their talents as anything special (it is "normal" to them) and at times will have difficulty following through with their ideas.

7. HSPs have a tendency towards emotional downspirals or "depression." They experience emotions more intensely than others and are often surprised and overwhelmed by the intensity. They also have difficulty discerning between their emotions and the emotions of others. It can seem as though someone else's emotions are their own. However, this doesn't mean they actually are depressed.

8. HSPs are easily irritated by the little things, such as hearing neighbors close and open doors, the sound of music playing from a car driving by or through the walls of their home. To an HSP, even the slightest noise can be disturbing and magnified. They are also easily irritated by the small inconsiderations of others, such as other drivers following too closely or others pushing past them in a store. They may find themselves reacting in a frustrated manner, which may come across as rude and mean to those around them.

9. Introverted HSPs hate small talk. They don't find it interesting and it can actually be almost impossible for them to do it. They would rather have philosophical, deep conversations. This can make them appear unapproachable. They are anything but.

10. An HSP has an intense desire to help and please others. They become so absorbed with what others expect that they forget about or are completely unaware of what their needs are. They take criticism from others harshly, which can result in immediate withdrawal. They have difficulty standing up for themselves and often overlook the devious intentions of others. This shouldn't be misinterpreted as weakness, for they often have an inner strength that surpasses that of those less sensitive.

Copyright 2009 by H.E.A.


  1. Great article! I love your perspectives and insights. You are so right about our ability to "transcend ourselves."



    Jenna Avery

  2. This is an amazingly insightful post. It made my morning! Thank you for sharing.

    1. This is truly a precise description and reflection of our inner self values. Thank you for putting them in such clear and inspiring words. My best wishes from Italy to all other HSP.

  3. Thanks for this great article; I love reading about myself! *grin* I've ALWAYS felt like no one "gets" me or understands me and I've always felt like an outsider. It's so nice to not be alone anymore!

  4. It's been a while since I read any articles on HSP. This was soooooo timely. Ah yes, there is a real reason for why I am so exhausted - every paragraph fit perfectly! Thank you for describing my life so well.

  5. It is like someone is explaining *me* to somebody else. Thank you for sharing and articulating so beautifully what it means to be HSP.

  6. I've learned it takes a lot of courage to write about being HSP! I'm still not very comfortable with it, because my husband is very different from me, and life is often easier if I hide my struggles, instead of bringing them to the light. Bravo!


  7. Wow I can transform into what others want me to be or think i am.
    I am also jighly sensitive to the neighbors that lived upstairs from me. One of them smoked cigeretts and that made me so ill. I could feel and hear them in every room they were in. since they have moved out i am so Free in my space and can write and enjoy my quite down time. I can even meditate. I consume others energy also. I go to a meeting with a group of people and I always thought I had overwhelming anxiety due to fear. I now know its the energy I absorb.I am writing my Autobiography now, that has taken me 23 years now. I am struggling with resistence and guidence.

  8. Thank you so much - doesn't it make life easier, first when you now you are not alone, secondly when someone puts into words what you've known below the surface all your life - that you "cope" with life differently. But that doesn't make you odd or wrong - in fact it makes you more empathic, more caring and more creative. All gifts come with challenges.

  9. Great summary of HSP traits. Really perfect. I've known that I'm HSP for about 6 years but this still surprised me with how well it fitted me.

  10. Practically all of what you wrote is what I experience as an HSP. I am steadily making "my world" comfortable for me. This takes a lot of effort, and it sometimes feels wrong, but I am determined to adjust my world to suit me. We owe it to ourselves to gently educate those close to us. More importantly, we must feel comfortable making no apologies for who we are. Thanks.

  11. So awesome finally I have proof from other people's points of view that the way I am is not a mental illness. i.e. bipolar or major depressive disorder. After years of meds that didn't work I have now discovered I'm just fine (so to speak) I wish I knew this 60 years ago...a lot of wasted time thinking I'm a freak and "hiding out" and then trying to be like everybody else, numb to the world around them...not having any emotions must make life so much easier.....I wouldn't mind trying it. Oh yeah I think they have pills for that! No thanks...been there done that!��