Sometimes the world might seem like it is too intense. Maybe you have strong reactions to the actions of others. Maybe you feel overwhelmed by the myriad of interactions you experience every day. You may not be alone. If you’re a highly sensitive person and feel like you have different traits than other people, you’re actually not wrong.
While there has been an increased interest in popular culture when it comes to introversion and sensitivity, both traits are actually in the minority (and not necessarily mutually exclusive) according to standard knowledge.
First researched by Elaine N. Aron, PhD in the 1990s, it is estimated that 15-20% of people are highly sensitive. She studied a wide range of personality types to determine what makes someone highly sensitive. And if you bear some the following traits, you may be one of them too.
1. They Are Emotionally Reactive
An emotionally reactive person may have more empathy or concern for people than those who are not, which is a trait of the highly sensitive. They may also be more likely to look in on people during negative events and be concerned with how they are feeling. In many ways this gift can become a burden when you always feel responsibility for the pain of others around you.
2. They Get Told They Are Sensitive
Highly sensitive people probably already know they are sensitive because they’ve been told they are since they were young. Particularly in Europe or North America, sensitivity is considered a negative trait, especially in men. They may have been told throughout their childhood and teenage years to “toughen up” or to “stop being so sensitive.” Culturally, this has become a pejorative, but we know that sensitive people have very delicate and nuanced perceptions and can be the most creative people.
3. They Are Detail Oriented
Those who are highly emotionally sensitive are also very detail oriented. They may notice things that other people don’t, such as changes in patterns or small imperfections in projects that others may just let go of. Instead, the detail oriented person wants to fix it immediately and ensure things look their best. This can be a very trying trait for the sensitive person. Many times they feel that no one really cares and that they carry the burden of making things right for others. When given individual tasks they can complete on their own they tend to be very precise and perform with excellence.
4. They Have A Higher Rate of Anxiety and Depression
Unfortunately, those who are highly sensitive are also prone to anxiety and depression, especially if they have had many negative experiences themselves. If these bad experiences started earlier in life so that they didn’t feel safe at home or at school, they may have trouble feeling safe in general, which will make depression and anxiety far more prevalent. The pressure of sensitivity can manifest in cruel ways when they don’t feel understood. If they don’t have a solid support system that understands their outlook on life they can drift into deep sadness and isolation.
5. They Cry Easily and Hate Violent Movies
Since highly sensitive people are more empathetic, they often cry easily, especially at things other people might not think is something to cry at. Because of this, they need to feel like they are in a safe place to cry. Depictions of violence strike them to the core. It is difficult for them to suspend disbelief when they are watching fictional scenarios. They feel every lash of the whip and every cruel word said on the screen as if they were the recipient. This is why most sensitive people tend to prefer films and content with uplifting themes and positive messages.
Sensitive people are full of wonderful potential, but require special circumstances and environments to thrive. If a sensitive person is surrounded by brutish people their light is dimmed and they can be driven into dark depression. Most importantly, their amazing gifts of productivity, creativity and inspiration are kept from the world. Their potential is harmed if not destroyed.
If you are a sensitive person, seek out those who compliment your personality and do not let others damage your confidence with their ugly attitudes. If you know a sensitive person, become their champion. Stand up for them and give them the opportunity to grow in a safe environment and they will thrive and may even surprise you with their amazing abilities.