10 Struggles of Being a Highly Sensitive Person

Fred Bahnson 

Introduction to Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)

Being a highly sensitive person or HSP means having a nervous system that is more sensitive to stimuli in the environment. This sensitivity results in deeper emotional responses to experiences, both positive and negative.

A study conducted by Dr. Elaine Aron estimates that about 20% of the population belongs to the category of highly sensitive people. Although highly sensitive people have certain advantages, there are also struggles and challenges that come with being highly sensitive. Some of these struggles are unique and intense that make it hard to handle everyday situations.

Highly sensitive people have a natural inclination toward empathy and strong intuition, but it can lead to emotional exhaustion when they encounter overwhelming situations. In this chapter, we will discuss in-depth the ten common struggles of being a highly sensitive person, which can hamper their personal and professional development.

It’s important to talk about these struggles so that highly sensitive people can identify them and learn to cope with them, instead of feeling ashamed or guilty.

Let’s explore the 10 struggles that highly sensitive individuals may face in their daily lives:

10 Struggles of Being a Highly Sensitive Person

As a highly sensitive person (HSP), you may find yourself struggling with certain situations that others seem to handle more easily. While sensitivity can be a valuable trait, enabling you to feel deeply and intuitively, it can also present its own set of challenges. Here are 10 struggles of being a highly sensitive person:

1. Harsh self-criticism: HSPs tend to hold themselves to incredibly high standards, and may judge themselves harshly for not meeting these expectations. This can lead to feelings of anxiety and self-doubt.

2. Fear of rejection: Highly sensitive people are often very attuned to the emotions of others, and may worry about being rejected or criticized by those around them. This fear can make it difficult to form close relationships or take risks in social situations.

3. Taking things personally: Because of their sensitivity to others’ emotions, HSPs may take even minor criticisms or negative feedback very personally, feeling hurt or defensive in response.

4. Physical pain from stress: High sensitivity can also manifest physically, with HSPs experiencing headaches, stomachaches, muscle tension, and other symptoms of stress on a regular basis.

5. Difficulty accepting feedback: HSPs may struggle with receiving feedback, feeling attacked or overwhelmed even when it is well-intentioned. This can make it difficult for them to grow and improve in various areas of their lives.

6. Emotional reactivity: Because their emotions run so deeply, HSPs may be more reactive to situations than others, experiencing intense feelings of joy, anger, or sadness in response to relatively small stimuli.

7. Being easily distracted by external stimuli: Highly sensitive people may struggle to block out environmental factors, such as loud noises or bright lights. This can make it hard for them to focus on tasks or stay calm in chaotic situations.

8. Struggling in group settings: For HSPs, being in large groups of people can be overwhelming or overstimulating. They may struggle to keep up with multiple conversations or process too much sensory input at once.

9. Stress while driving: Even driving can be a stressful experience for HSPs, who may be more prone to road rage, anxiety, or accidents due to their heightened sensitivity to stimuli.

10. Negative effects from social media: Because of their emotional sensitivity, HSPs may be more affected by negative comments or interactions on social media, leading to feelings of anxiety, depression, or self-doubt.

While these struggles may seem daunting, it’s important to remember that high sensitivity also has many strengths. HSPs tend to be creative, empathetic, and emotionally intelligent, capable of deep connections with others and a profound understanding of the world around them. Managing the challenges of being a highly sensitive person is about finding ways to harness these strengths while mitigating the downsides. In the next chapter, we’ll explore some ways to cope with being a highly sensitive person.

Ways to Cope with Being a Highly Sensitive Person

As a highly sensitive person, it is crucial to understand and accept oneself. One needs to learn to cope with the negative impact their sensitivity has on their daily life. Coping techniques enable HSPs to balance their sensitiveness and make a positive contribution to the world around them. The following are ways HSPs can cope with their sensitivity:

1. Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation is an essential tool for coping with sensitivity. It helps HSPs tune out external distractions and focus on their internal state. Through meditation, HSPs can increase self-awareness, empathy, and emotional regulation. Regular mindfulness meditation may also decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Meditation can be done anywhere, anytime, from office to home to public places.

2. Self-Care

Self-care includes activities that prioritize mental, physical, and emotional health. Self-care activities may include taking a walk, enjoying a massage, getting a good night’s sleep, going for a run, eating healthy foods, taking a break from social media, and engaging in hobbies. Highly sensitive people need to take care of themselves to avoid becoming overwhelmed by stress and anxiety.

3. Emotional Regulation

HSPs need to learn to regulate their emotions effectively. They can do this by identifying their emotions and developing strategies to manage them. Self-awareness is vital in emotional regulation, enabling HSPs to understand their emotions and why they feel that way. HSPs can practice emotional regulation by creating a safe and private space where they can meditate, breathe, or do something pleasurable.

4. Social Support

Social support is essential for HSPs to cope with their sensitivity. They may feel safer and more comfortable around people who understand and appreciate their trait. HSPs can benefit from finding support groups or connecting with other HSPs. They can also benefit from interacting with compassionate friends and family who validate their emotions and provide comfort.

5. Physical Exercise

Physical exercise is a great way for HSPs to reduce stress and improve their physical health. HSPs can choose any activity that appeals to them, such as yoga, walking, running, weight lifting, or swimming. Not only does exercise release endorphins that help boost mood and energy, but it also helps improve sleep quality and cognitive function.

6. Creativity

Highly sensitive people tend to have natural creativity. Engaging in creative pursuits such as painting, writing, music, or anything creative can be a powerful way of coping with their sensitivity. Creativity is an excellent way of channeling thoughts and emotions, allowing HSPs to express themselves. Engaging in creating may also increase self-confidence, reduce anxiety, and boost overall mood.

7. Time Management

HSPs need to plan and manage their time effectively to avoid becoming overloaded or overwhelmed. Time management enables HSPs to prioritize important tasks and give themselves enough time for rest and relaxation. It may include developing a schedule, breaking down tasks into smaller segments, and making time for hobbies and leisure activities.

8. Cognitive Restructuring

Cognitive restructuring is a form of therapy that helps HSPs restructure negative thoughts into positive ones. It involves identifying cognitive distortions and changing them into more positive and helpful thoughts. Cognitive restructuring helps HSPs become more proactive and productive, rather than being held back by negative thoughts and emotions.

9. Professional Help

HSPs may benefit from professional help, such as seeing a therapist, counselor, or life coach. Professionals can offer further support and guidance on how to effectively cope with sensitivity and manage its impact. They can also provide insight and perspective for both positive and negative aspects of being a highly sensitive person.

10. Living Authentically

Ultimately, living authentically as a highly sensitive person is crucial for effective coping. When HSPs live authentically, they can accept and appreciate their sensitivity while making positive contributions to society. It involves embracing their uniqueness, setting healthy boundaries, and being secure in their sense of self.

In conclusion, highly sensitive people face many struggles. However, they can learn to cope with their sensitivity and live full and happy lives. By utilizing coping strategies such as mindfulness meditation, self-care, emotional regulation, social support, physical exercise, creativity, time management, cognitive restructuring, professional help, and living authentically, HSPs can embrace their sensitivity and harness its strengths to cultivate lasting happiness.

Embracing and Harnessing the Strengths of Being a Highly Sensitive Person

Being a highly sensitive person is not always easy, but it is not a weakness. In fact, being highly sensitive brings along several strengths that can be harnessed and embraced. Here are some of the strengths of being a highly sensitive person that you can use to your advantage:

1. Creativity: Highly sensitive people usually have a rich inner life, and they are more in tune with their emotions and surroundings. As a result, they tend to be highly creative. HSPs are often excellent writers, artists, musicians, and actors. They see the world through a nuanced and subtle lens which they can use as a source of inspiration.

2. Empathy: Highly sensitive people are naturally empathetic. They have the ability to sense and feel the emotions of others which makes them great listeners, friendship builders, caregivers, and leaders. They can relate to others on a deeper level and understand where others are coming from.

3. Intuition: HSPs have an excellent intuition and can make good decisions based on their ability to feel the outcome or impact of a situation. They are good at sensing when something is off or wrong, and can easily read nonverbal cues.

4. Attention to Detail: Highly sensitive people tend to be very observant and detailed oriented. They pick up on the small nuances and make connections between different things that others might miss. They also tend to have a great memory for details and can recall sensory information, which can come in handy in many professions.

5. Adaptability: While highly sensitive people can struggle with abrupt changes, they are actually very adaptable and able to adapt quickly to new situations. They are able to process new information deeply and adjust to changing circumstances.

6. Non-Violent Communication: HSPs dislike conflict and prefer to communicate in a non-violent way. They often use a soft spoken manner, and will approach tough topics with kindness and compassion. Additionally, they are able to express themselves in a clear manner, making them good communicators.

These strengths do not just make highly sensitive people valuable individuals, but also unique employees and leaders. Here are some ways that highly sensitive people can use these strengths to promote their professional growth:

1. Choose a career that speaks to your sensitivity such as in fields like art, therapy, social work, or teaching, where your creativity and empathy are highly valued.

2. Build a support system. Highly sensitive people need a group that is able to understand and relate to them well. This group could be a therapist, coach, or mentor, who supports you professionally and personally.

3. Embrace and integrate your sensitivity in your work. Your ability to notice small details and be empathetic makes you a valuable asset to employers and colleagues. Consider organizing an environment that caters to your needs.

4. Find a balance. HSPs can easily get overwhelmed and burned out, so it is crucial to find a good work-life balance that includes hobbies, exercise, or meditation, self-care, and mental health.

In conclusion, being a highly sensitive person is not a weakness. You have the ability to harness and use your innate qualities to become a valuable and successful professional. Accept your sensitivity as a part of who you are, and use it to your advantage. You are unique and have a lot to offer the world.