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HSP : 15 big little struggles

Did I use the words struggle and highly sensitive altogether? That must be a mistake from the auto-correct! :))) But stop! I also used “big little” so you chose yours! For myself, I will pick up the second one! :)

Overwhelmed Woman

More seriously, we all encounter struggles in life, you don’t have to be highly sensitive for that, but HSP can have their share of them and they could go without some of them. Let's take inventory together of the few big little struggles that most highly sensitive people can experience, relate with, and also might be the only ones to understand. So if you are a person who constantly overthinks, a person who feels a lot of emotions and can be overwhelmed easily, you may be one of the 20% of the population who are highly sensitive. If so, stay tuned, you've come to the right place, otherwise everyone is invited to discover the small or big disadvantages of highly sensitive people, this could perhaps also help those who accompany us in life!

Let’s make a list of the HSP 15 big and little struggles that can affect your daily life and the way you interact with people. If you relate with most of them, you are probably a highly sensitive person.

1. Sleep, not just a need… a must.

This one is a big one, you do not function well without sleep.

Highly sensitive people, like most people, have functional problems when they haven't slept well at night. But because HSP’s nervous system is much more sensitive than average, a lack of sleep will make them much more irritable, moody, touchy and susceptible than others. It has been proven in scientific studies that they generally need a little more sleep than others, just in order to recharge and to function better.

Turn off your computer and go to sleep, I won’t go anywhere neither this post. Good night and sweet dreams!

2. The unbearable noises… loud or specific ones.

You can't stand loud noises or… certain sounds.

Going to a stadium, a concert or even to a restaurant where the music is too loud can cause you a problem. Highly sensitive people can quickly feel overwhelmed by the din and being in a crowd. So of course, you can be seen as a weird antisocial person with exaggerated reactions, or as someone withdrawn who does not like to participate to social events, which couldn't be more untrue; but the reality is that the highly sensitive people need to protect themselves from all the bombardment of sounds around them if they don’t want to get stressed and overwhelmed.

3. You often feel emotionally drained.

If you are very sensitive, people often look up to you for your kindness and praise your empathy. They also appreciate that you are a good listener and a trustworthy person, because indeed, you have all these qualities. But one of the characteristics of the hypersensitive is that they can be real energy sensors and deeply feel the emotions of those around them. They are like emotional sponges. The catch in all this is that they can quickly feel completely exhausted and drained when they come into contact with certain people. If you come across someone who is psychologically or emotionally unstable, someone overwhelmed with problems, or the type of person who takes up space and conversation (energy vampires), all of these encounters can really overwhelm you and drain your energy.

4. You deeply analyze your social interactions.

In general, even if they do impress those around them because of their ability to analyze and notice every little thing around them, it can also be annoying for others.

They will immediately catch clues that often escape others, such as non-verbal communication,... non-verbal posture that others do not perceive, or… for example, the change in the intonation of the voice. As a result, a highly sensitive person can quickly pick up when someone is lying or when someone is not congruent between what they say and what they truly feel. But this capacity has a downside. When a highly sensitive person begins to overanalyze a conversation for example, they can make a mountain out of very tiny things and overinterpret things that are altogether pretty minor or not so relevant.

So this quality is a double-edged sword, but for a bit of humor, it's also a fantastic gift because hypersensitive people are real lie and BS detectors (excuse my language!), so no talking with us!

Take this short quiz (below) if you want to know if you are a highly sensitive person.

test : are you highly sensitive

5. This one is a hurdle… you are easily affected by violence.

Highly sensitive people are easily affected by any kind of violence and will avoid all the triggers of violence, whether it is in real life, in the street, at work but also on the screens. HSP have strong emotional reactions to violence and injustice in general, even if it's in fiction. It can be very disturbing for them to watch violent events on the news and they usually don’t like violent or scary movies either. And it is not only just about visual stimuli,... an aggressive voice, or once again a violent sound can make them really uncomfortable and very anxious.

6. Moving on and letting go…not really your strong point!

The sense of justice and the sense of fairness are important for HSP and they find it difficult to move on. If, for example, they may have been betrayed, hurt or lied to, sometimes even several years before, they will feel the pain so deeply that it will take much more time for them to heal… even if, deep down, they know it's overdue to let go and get over it.

Once again it is related to the overthinking and overinterpretation of all social interactions and relationships.

7. You don’t really like changes

Yes, HSP can encounter this issue… they don't like change. It can just be the idea of going to eat in a new place, working in a different office or connecting with a new social circle. Just changing the environment can be very trying for HSP. Why? Because they have to get used to new stimuli and that takes a lot of mental work and a lot of energy, both mentally and emotionally. That's why changes can be a bad experience for them or create a certain level of discomfort.

8. Criticism and conflict are not your cup of tea.

Indeed, you do not react well to criticism and conflict and, here again it is all about their perception of emotions which is much higher. Being perfectionists, they will give their best and get fully involved in all what they do, so if the feedback is so-so, if someone criticizes them, raises their voice, makes a tasteless remark or reacts abruptly, it can leave them very confused or even feeling hurt.

9. Pressure, not for me!

That’s a point, you do not deal too well with pressure. It is a big struggle!

If some people feel stimulated by being under pressure, whether about the level or the timing of a task, HSP do not fall into this category. Of course, they can do it and will do their best, but it will be detrimental to their balance, and they could quickly suffer from burn-out.

Highly sensitive people don’t really like deadlines or any other form of pressure, because having to juggle several tasks in a minimum of time is quite restrictive for these perfectionists. They prefer to take their time in their projects and devote all their attention to them.


10. Limits? Never heard of it! I don’t know what you’re talking about!

Shame on you!... I am just kidding, but it is true, you, generally and easily, ignore your boundaries, and it is one of HSP's biggest struggles.

Why? Because you prefer to satisfy the needs of others, you forget your own boundaries at your detriment. Your strong sense of compassion makes you neglect your own needs and takes your attention away from yourself by always putting others first. It is generally very difficult for a highly sensitive person to say no and to respect their own limits. HSP are emotionally more aware of things, so naturally they sympathize much more easily, but when their entourage detects it, very often they take advantage of it. Because of this, highly sensitive people often say “yes” to those around them, because they like to please and like to help, even if deep down inside, they don't want to.

11. The king and the queen of critics… auto-critic!

Sadly true, you are your worst critic.

HSP have trouble dealing with their own failures. They blame themselves all the time for having failed, for having made a mistake or reacting badly to a situation. Often, at the end of the day, highly sensitive people take stock of all their little mistakes, and overwhelm themselves by going back and forth to what they could have done differently.

In general, a highly sensitive person sets the bar super high in their life goals. You have to remember this, no one is harder on themselves than a sensitive person. And it is true that this may seem paradoxical, because generally as much as the highly sensitive person is benevolent with those around them, as much they will be excessively harsh and critical of themselves.

12. Solo time, what happiness!

Indeed, you need your "solo time" more than anyone else. However, this need to be alone is often misunderstood by those around you. Have you ever expressed a desire to be alone and suffered remarks that made you feel guilty because of your frequent need for solitude and isolation?

I used the word need, not the word want for a very simple reason, which is that highly sensitive people cannot stay in the company of others for too long because they spend a lot of mental and emotional energy. It's not because they don't enjoy the company of others and are antisocial, on the contrary, it's because their attention is so focused on others that they quickly find themselves emotionally overwhelmed.

When they experience social interactions, they “take in” everything at a much deeper level than others. They therefore need to constantly recharge and rest from the mental and emotional load in order to be comfortable in society.

13. You have an “over the top” sensory sensitivity

HSP can be very sensitive to smell, fabrics, noise, lights or to food, alcohol and medications, and of course, it can really affect their daily life.

While sensory experiences are often enjoyable (the taste of cake, or the smell of fresh linen), there are times when they can be too much for you.

If you get irritated by the sound of a dripping tap or you flinch if someone touches your arm, that’s how high sensory sensitivity feels like.

For example, the texture of food, the feel of fabric on the skin, the clatter of a spoon, the pitch of a particular song, or the smell of a shampoo can all be triggers.

While these things may make anybody feel annoyed or tetchy, it can be quite different to highly sensitive people who are experiencing it day to day to the power of 10 or more!

As you can imagine, this can be very stressful, uncomfortable, and at times intolerable.

14. Nobody gets me! 😩

Indeed it is a recurring feeling, you feel misunderstood

If you are a very sensitive person, you have certainly experienced this feeling very often, and it is normal. Not being misunderstood, of course, but the fact that most people don't understand your personality. As I told you at the beginning, one in five people (about 20% of the population) has these traits specific to hypersensitivity, so it is a minority of the population, which can be a difficulty for others to understand your point of view and how you feel. Because many people do not know this personality trait at all, are not familiar with it or sufficiently informed about the mental and emotional functioning of highly sensitive people, for the majority, we will fall into the category of difficult, weird, too this or too that. Sounds familiar?

So of course, the feeling of not being understood can be very present and heavy.

15. Where is the button "off"?

Life can be overwhelming and difficult for those who tend to overthink things. And overthinking is a struggle for HSP. Sometimes you want to have an “off” button and not think about anything.

Highly sensitive people think a lot and this can cause them real mental exhaustion.

“My brain won’t turn off” or “I can’t turn it off!” » or “Here I am overanalyzing again.” Does this mean anything to you? These are unfortunately common refrains for highly sensitive people. It can be incredibly frustrating and overwhelming at times. Yet this non-stop thinking actually makes a lot of sense when we know that one of the main characteristics of high sensitivity is “depth of processing”. This means that we think at a very deep level, and therefore our head never stops. We always have something to think about because we analyze all the information absorbed from our environment. It makes us dive into our thoughts about all the situations we encounter, about others, about our own actions, about our beliefs and values, everything is subject to reflection! It could simply be a comment we heard or even the look someone gave us. Unfortunately this can make us fall into a spiral, and make us cry: “Stop!”

To conclude, and despite all the small drawbacks mentioned here, being an HSP doesn’t mean dealing only with problems and struggling. Highly sensitive people have beautiful characteristics in their way of functioning, a lot of them.

A highly sensitive person is a perceptive, open-minded, creative and deep person. They are warm and love passionately. Their strong emotions also mean that they have a great capacity for understanding and listening, for compassion and kindness, in short, they have all the best attributes of a person who is simply human.

So remember that, despite all these big little struggles, you can thrive in society and you can have fantastic relationships. And believe me, your presence makes the world a better place. Even if it's not always easy to be a highly sensitive person, I personally consider it a super gift.

You want to share your story, your struggles and the battles you won, and be part of our circle of sensitive and intuitive people. Come with us and let's chat with other highly sensitive people! Join the Highly Sensitive Empaths community:

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What is your biggest struggle?

  • Feeling emotionally drained

  • Moving on and letting go

  • Criticism and conflict

  • Being under pressure

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