10 Signs You May Be a Highly Sensitive Person – Are You More Sensitive Than Most?

by Self-Development and Personal Growth

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Angie Ramos

Clinical Hypnotist , Havening Techniques® Certified Practitioner, Somatic Practitioner

Today, I would like to talk about a topic that is very significant to me – the discovery of being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). This realization had a profound effect on how I view myself and the world around me. Additionally, it helped me change the way I raised my daughters, particularly my eldest daughter.

My discovery of being an HSP was incidental. I was trying to improve my relationship with my daughter and understand her better. That’s when I stumbled upon “The Highly Sensitive Person” by Elaine Aaron, a scientist who conducted research on HSPs. The book helped me realize that both my daughter and I were highly sensitive, which explained our behaviour, perception of the world, and why some environments or situations felt overwhelming.

Today, I am sharing what it means to be highly sensitive. If you are an HSP, understanding yourself better can help you regulate your nervous system. This, in turn, can help you manage stress and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

What is it to be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?

As a highly sensitive person (HSP), you may have experienced feeling like an outsider in social situations, or been told that you are overly emotional or sensitive. However, being a HSP simply means that you have a higher than average emotional and sensory sensitivity. This can manifest in various ways, such as experiencing emotions with greater intensity, having a deep empathy for others, being sensitive to sensory details, and feeling easily overwhelmed by the environment. 

HSPs are highly perceptive to subtle changes in their surroundings and can easily feel overwhelmed by sensory stimuli such as loud noises, bright lights, or certain textures. They also tend to experience emotions more deeply than others, which can make them more susceptible to stress and conflict.

Sights, sounds, smells, and other forms of sensory information can cause a heightened experience for HSPs. For example, a sound that most people would barely notice can be very noticeable or even painful for an HSP.

It’s important to note that being highly sensitive is not a weakness, but rather a characteristic of the way some people interact with the world. While it may present challenges, it can also be a source of strength and creativity. Accepting and acknowledging one’s sensitivity is the first step towards self-discovery and personal growth.

Characteristics of HSPs

Highly sensitive people have a sensitive nervous system, which means they absorb and process more information than the average person. They also reflect on this information more deeply. This trait is often confused with introversion or being overly emotional. However, research has shown that high sensitivity is not related to those characteristics.

This term can also be mistaken for weakness, unsociability, insecurity, fear, neuroticism, depression or anxiety. In reality, highly sensitive people are often highly capable, diligent, and conscientious individuals. They are more in tune with their environment and the feelings of others than most people.

Being a highly sensitive person involves more than just sensitivity to stimuli. Other features include: 

  • processing environmental stimuli more deeply, 
  • being more emotionally reactive to inhibiting behaviors, 
  • being more physiologically reactive to inhibiting behaviors, 
  • having a stronger nervous system activity in stressful situations, 
  • having stronger emotional responses (both positive and negative), 
  • being highly perceptive of subtle differences, 
  • having a low tolerance to high levels of sensory input, 
  • and having a low pain threshold.

Being a highly sensitive person means experiencing emotions with overwhelming intensity. It’s like having your heart exposed to the world, and every vibration of the universe is absorbed with a depth that few can understand. However, this sensitivity also holds a unique beauty and capacity for deep connection with the world, and an empathy that transcends the ordinary. Being highly sensitive is both a gift and a challenge, an invitation to explore the world from the depths of the soul.

Highly sensitive person - Angie Ramos

High sensitivity and emotional trauma

It can be difficult to recognize if someone is a highly sensitive person. In fact, many people are not even aware that they have this trait. I myself was unfamiliar with the term, and although I noticed certain differences in how I perceived certain things, it wasn’t entirely clear.

According to Elaine Aron, PhD, high sensitivity is primarily characterized by a depth of processing. This means that highly sensitive people tend to absorb more information from their environment than others and analyze it more deeply, often unconsciously.

Being highly sensitive is linked to emotional trauma, not because trauma causes high sensitivity, but because processing more information can lead to more deregulation of the nervous system. As such, it is more likely that highly sensitive people develop some form of emotional trauma, which in addition to all the information they are processing, leads their nervous system to be more activated and in survival mode.

Moreover, highly sensitive people are more prone to emotional trauma, particularly during childhood. As sensitive children, they absorb more information and need more support to process their emotions.

Of course, healing our nervous system has a significant impact on all people, but it is even more essential for highly sensitive people. It helps them better connect with their unique characteristics, allowing them to experience life with greater empathy and deep emotional understanding.

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Signs that you are a highly sensitive person

High sensitivity is a trait that is not very common, which can lead many highly sensitive people to feel alone and misunderstood. Often, high sensitivity is misinterpreted as shyness, anxiety, or introversion, even though both introverts and extroverts can be highly sensitive.

For many individuals, discovering that they possess a high level of sensitivity can be the key to understanding many of the difficulties they may have been facing throughout their entire lives. Are you a highly sensitive person? Below, I have listed the 10 signs of high sensitivity. How many of these signs do you relate to? The higher the number of signs you relate to, the more likely it is that you are a highly sensitive person..

1. Emotional depth:

Highly sensitive people have emotional depth that can be overwhelming even for themselves. They feel every emotion with great intensity, immersing themselves in an ocean of emotions where each wave is significant. Their emotions act like prisms that refract the light of the soul, giving them a richer and more complex understanding of the inner and outer world.

2. Sensory sensitivity:

As an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), the world can be overwhelming due to the heightened sensory stimuli that we experience. Every sound, every texture, every aroma is perceived with a crystalline clarity that can be both captivating and overwhelming. Although our sensory sensitivity connects us more intimately with our environment, it also exposes us to sensory overload and exhaustion.

For instance, sunlight might feel magnificent on our skin, but bright lights in certain places can be too intense. Similarly, music may be something we look forward to playing in the background all day, but there will be other times when too much noise is extremely stimulating. The texture of things can be a comforting caress or a source of discomfort that makes us want to retreat to a quiet place. Have you ever felt the label on your clothing and couldn’t tolerate it anymore? Or maybe there are certain foods, especially when we were children, that we couldn’t eat because of their textures?

In this aspect, it is essential to pay attention, especially for parents, to the fact that small children can be around us with noises, touching us, not allowing us to go inside ourselves to have a little silence. This is particularly true when our children are young, and that’s where we need the support of other people so that we can get some rest for our nervous system at this time.

3. High empathy:

There is a term called “empathetic” or “empath” in English, which refers to the ability to feel other people’s emotions. Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs) experience the pain of others as if it were their own and celebrate the joys of others with the same intensity. This deep empathy makes them natural confidants, shoulders others can lean on, and hearts willing to open to the suffering of the world.

However, because HSPs are more prone to emotional trauma, especially in childhood, it is important for them to learn to heal and regulate their nervous system. If they do not, they may continue to be overwhelmed by the emotions of others.

In my case, as I began to heal and learn to stay more present in my body, I became more aware of the emotions of others. However, I have also developed the ability to not absorb them and let their emotions take me out of my own state of emotional regulation..

4. Intense reactions:

Highly sensitive people tend to experience intense emotional reactions in response to everyday situations. Whereas what may seem like a minor setback for others, can become an emotional roller coaster for them. Although this intensity can be disconcerting to those who do not share their sensitivity, it is a constant reminder of the depth of their emotional experience.

It is important to note that for many highly sensitive people, these intense reactions only occur internally, and it is not easy for them to express them outwardly. This is because they do not feel safe to do so.

I recall watching a Lex Fridman Podcast where it was abundantly clear to me that, like many highly sensitive people, we tend to hide our emotions. It may appear as though nothing is happening because our faces do not show it, but when we start listening to the person, we can feel their high sensitivity, which can evoke great emotions in us.

Furthermore, these intense reactions are not always prevalent in all situations. They are rather highly linked with emotional trauma and our lack of emotional regulation. However, this does not mean that we will lose our sensitivity, but rather we can learn to manage our reactions and express them in a healthier way.

5. Sensitivity to the environment:

As highly sensitive people, we are like antennas that capture the subtleties of the environment around us. We can feel the changes in the atmosphere, sense tensions in the air, and perceive energies flowing around us. This sensitivity allows us to appreciate beauty in the smallest details, but it can also make us vulnerable to the negativity and chaos of the world.

Recognizing that you are a highly sensitive person can be helpful in taking precautions and discovering new ways to regulate your nervous system in a world full of chaos.

6. Need for alone time:

In today’s noisy and chaotic world, individuals with high sensitivity often yearn for moments of calm and solitude. They require disconnection from the hustle and bustle of the outside world to recharge their batteries and reconnect with themselves. Solitude is not a form of punishment, but rather a sanctuary where one can find peace and renewal.

It is essential for highly sensitive individuals to have time alone to process emotional experiences, recharge, and reconnect with themselves on a profound level.

7. Perfectionism:

It is quite common for people to develop a tendency towards perfectionism. Highly sensitive individuals are always in search of excellence, and every task or project becomes an opportunity to achieve perfection. However, this constant pursuit can lead to self-criticism and overwhelming internal pressure.

While it was previously believed that perfectionism was a virtue, it is now known that it is actually a response to trauma. Being a perfectionist can prevent us from being our true selves and feeling safe in our own body.

8. Emotional responses to art and music:

Art and music are sources of inspiration and comfort for highly sensitive people. They are deeply moved by aesthetic beauty and find in these artistic expressions an escape and a connection with the divine.

For many of us, art and music is a way to experience our sensitivity safely, it is like a small space where we can go where we can let ourselves be carried away by the sensations that this generates within us.

9. Acute intuition:

Your intuition is a guiding light that helps you navigate through life. It relies on your gut feelings to make important decisions, and you know that your inner wisdom is an invaluable resource in an uncertain world.

If you struggle to trust your intuition, it’s important to work on healing emotional wounds. I have seen firsthand how anxiety and doubts resulting from trauma can hinder us from connecting with our intuition.

For many survivors of childhood trauma, their intuition may have been silenced out of fear of retaliation. However, by working with your nervous system, you can learn to connect with your intuition in an authentic way.

10. Sensitivity to other people’s pain:

They are deeply affected by the suffering of others. They are always the first to offer a helping hand, to comfort those who are crying, and to fight for justice and equality. Their sensitivity to the pain of others is a reflection of their compassion and humanity.

What to do now?

Managing high sensitivity can be challenging, but it can also be an opportunity for growth, healing, and flourishing. Here are some strategies for managing high sensitivity and how healing the nervous system can play a crucial role in this process:

1. Recognize and accept your sensitivity: The first step to managing your sensitivity is to recognize and accept it as a part of yourself. Instead of perceiving it as a weakness, see it as a unique gift that allows you to experience the world in a deeper and more meaningful way.

2. Set healthy boundaries: Learn to say “no” when necessary and set healthy boundaries in your relationships and activities. This will help protect you from excess stimulation and preserve your emotional energy.

3. Practice emotional self-regulation: Develop emotional self-regulation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, and visualization, to manage stress and anxiety that may arise due to your sensitivity.

4. Cultivate a supportive environment: Surround yourself with people who understand and support you on your journey as a highly sensitive person. Look for online communities or support groups where you can share your experiences and feel validated in your emotions.

5. Heal emotional trauma: Many highly sensitive people have experienced emotional trauma in the past that can affect their emotional well-being in the present. Seek the help of a trauma therapist or mental health professional to address and heal these deep wounds.

6. Regulate the nervous system: Healing the nervous system can be essential to managing extreme sensitivity. Techniques such as somatic therapy, hypnosis, and Havening Techniques can help regulate the nervous system, reduce hypersensitivity, and increase emotional resilience.

7. Practice self-care: Take time regularly to take care of your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This may include activities such as gentle exercise, spending time outdoors, therapeutic writing, creative art, and adequate rest.

8. Develop a compassionate narrative: Change your internal dialogue from self-criticism to compassion. Recognize your strengths and achievements, and give yourself permission to be human, with all your imperfections and sensitivities.

9. Cultivate gratitude and connection: Practice daily gratitude and seek moments of meaningful connection with others and with nature. These simple acts can help you maintain a positive outlook and strengthen your relationships.

10. Seek professional help when necessary: Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help if you feel like you are struggling to manage your sensitivity. A therapist or specialized professional can provide you with the support and tools necessary to thrive as a highly sensitive person.


If you have discovered that you are a highly sensitive person, it is important to remember the following:

  • Being highly sensitive is normal. It is estimated that between 15 to 20% of the population has this trait, which means that it is not a disorder, but it is also not the majority.
  • Being highly sensitive is innate. It has been found in more than 100 species, including fruit flies, birds, fish, dogs, cats, horses, and primates. This trait reflects a survival strategy of being observant before acting, and the brains of highly sensitive people work differently than others.
  • Highly sensitive people are more aware of subtleties than others. This is because their brains process information more deeply, allowing them to notice more of their environment.
  • Highly sensitive people can become overwhelmed more easily. Since they notice everything, they may feel overstimulated when things are too intense, complex, chaotic, or novel for a long time.
  • Being highly sensitive is often misunderstood. HSPs prefer to look before entering new situations, which is why they are often called “shy.” However, shyness is learned, not innate. In fact, 30% of HSPs are extroverts, and the trait is often mislabeled as introversion. It has also bee

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