16 Small Difficult Things About Being a Highly Sensitive Introvert

IntrovertDear.com highly sensitive introvert small difficult things

It’s not easy being a highly sensitive introvert. Little things that don’t bother other people can be too much for you, like bright lights, big crowds, and changes to your routine. That’s because highly sensitive people (HSPs) have a more reactive nervous system than people who are not HSPs, which makes them more easily overwhelmed by things in their environment. But being highly sensitive is perfectly normal; according to researcher Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, 15-20 percent of the population are HSPs. And many introverts are highly sensitive — about 70 percent of HSPs are introverted.

Are you a highly sensitive introvert? If so, you can probably relate to these 16 small difficult things. I can’t speak for every HSP, but I believe these are generally true:

1. When the volume of something is too loud, but you don’t want to ask the other person to turn it down, because they don’t seem bothered by it at all.

2. When you don’t get a good night’s sleep so everything is awful the next day.

3. When other people don’t understand why going to the club, bar, party, or concert will be too much for you. So much noise and so many people.

4. When you have to skip watching a movie or TV show that everyone says is really good because you know it will be too violent and gory for you.

5. When you have a strong emotional reaction to a TV show, movie, book, song, or piece of art, and no one else around you seems to be as into it as you are.

6. When you notice that someone’s tone of voice doesn’t match their words, and you find yourself analyzing their comment well afterward, trying to figure out what they really meant. If the comment was about you, it’s 100x worse.

7. When someone tells a disturbing or violent joke and you can’t laugh. Other people say, “It’s just a joke,” but you have a hard time brushing it off.

8. When someone says or does something that hurts your feelings, but you don’t bring it up because you don’t want to upset them. So you try to forget about it but the tiny resentment you now feel toward them never completely goes away.

9. When you go on vacation and it’s supposed to be fun/relaxing, but little things, like sleeping in a different bed and being in a new environment, make you wish you were back home relaxing.

10. When your routine changes and you feel discombobulated; then you feel embarrassed for feeling discombobulated, because you think other people would probably just deal with it.

11. When you forget to eat and suddenly you feel really, really cranky and out of it.

12. When you have to do something quickly and you get flustered because there isn’t enough time to process what you’re doing.

13. When you have to do something while someone is watching you. Even though you normally can do it, the added pressure is too much and makes you mess up.

14. When you just want to spend the night alone doing nothing, but you say yes to socializing because you don’t want to let anyone down.

15. When a good change happens in your life, like dating someone wonderful or getting a promotion at work, and on top of the happy feelings, you feel a little overwhelmed just because things are different.

16. When you notice something beautiful in the world and you want to tell everyone about it, but you don’t because you know they won’t see it the same way you do.

What would you add to this list?

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  • David Mills

    when I join a hiking group and climbing a mountain I feel overwhelmed by the beauty around me and the silence except for the wind and the birds, and everyone else ignores all that and just focuses on getting to the top as quick as possible. This is SO my situation!

  • Alex

    Just the other day I decided to stop watching a (well rated in
    IMDB) TV show because it was too violent for me, as you say in point number 4 🙂

  • Alex

    And the number 8 also is so true! Hehe, I’m amazed, thank you for this post.

  • Monica

    I’m sitting hear reading this with ear buds plugged into my tablet listening to classical music because my husband has the TV so loud. You had me at #1.

  • brittabottle

    I’m a turbulent HSP INFJ and I simultaneously crave and despise change. I have been experiencing a lot of change in the last couple years because I believe it is what is best for me right now. I have learned a lot and experienced a lot and grown a lot–but it has also left me pretty consistently exhausted, anxious, and a bit on edge. Learning to balance my desire for growth and change with my needs as a HSP Introvert has been a HUGE part of the last couple years. I find that I have to keep reminding myself that just because I want to go, go, go doesn’t mean I should. I resonate with most of this points in this article to some extent.

  • JD

    Great post Jenn, I can relate to every one of these. It would be cool to see a similar list about the little positive things we get to experience as HSP introverts as well. I think we see and sense a lot of subtle beauty that others miss.

  • Jenny

    Entering a room where there has been something bad going on. Absorbing all the bad feelings and feeling bad the rest of the day because of it. And still don´t know what had happend in the room in the first place.

  • Carambola

    Oh my goodness, #13!!! I work in a call center. My former supervisor became one of my best friends. I know she adores me and knows I’m a good agent. She’s evaluated dozens of my calls. But if she comes anywhere near me on the floor it unravels me, and I turn 12 kinds of stupid. So crazy!!! She keeps asking me to come sit by her because it’s open seating, but I just can’t even….

  • Shelby Webb

    #1 is sooo me, but I definitely turn it down. I can’t and won’t have a conversation with loud music on.

  • Right on for all of them!

  • Obnoxious noises. Like tapping or clicking or squeaking. Or ticking clocks.

  • Anna

    So spot on! I can relate to all of these, except no. 9 – the changes and unpredictability that comes with travelling have almost always felt quite freeing in my experience.

    A comment made by one of the previous posters really struck a chord – “I crave and despise change” – yes!! Maybe that’s an INFJ-trait, which fits right in with our seemingly paradoxical nature. I need change, as long as I’m somewhat in control of it – planned change, as it were. Changes forced upon me by outer circumstances, on the other hand… Can’t say that I handle those all too well…

  • Bingo x 16!! Great list. Here’s another:

    You have one shining moment during a given day when you feel energized, accepting a party or get-together invitation — then, an hour later panic because now you HAVE TO go!

  • Teresa

    I’d add that when my ex and I broke up I never knew how highly sensitive I was. I wasn’t just heart broken and wanted to die because the love of my life didn’t love me anymore but also the fact that I was extremely scared of all the change that was to come from it all. I was so happy and content with the relationship and how it was even though it was better in the end that it ended. We probably got together too soon but who knows what the future holds.

  • kdrophd

    I resonate deeply with #9. I want to experience the beauty of the world and its people. However, travel leaves me feeling overwhelmed, run-down, and anxious. It is quite the catch 22.

  • sister2sister2sister

    #6 – As I was reading, in the back of my head was my supervisor playing the ‘woe is me’ game while mixing it up with ‘go fish’. Really ticked me off! I prefer no games-straight talk!

  • April

    Yes- I can totally relate. I love change and growth but it’s a balancing act for sure!

  • April

    Thank you for this. So accurate.

  • Joy

    This blog is so reassuring. Now I know nothing is wrong with me! An an ISFJ, highly sensitive, perfectionist I can totally relate. All these situations describe me so well. I knew I demonstrated all these characteristics and more but only in the last couple of years have I come to know there is a name for it and a personality type. All these informative articles and the comments have made me realise there are other people like me. I can stop apologising for who I am and just be me. Thank you so much.

  • Carson

    quite a few of these resonate with me. I am a highly sensitive INFP #6 and #13 are so true. I am a self taught guitarist and I decided that I was going to take some lessons with a local teacher and during the lessons I just couldn’t do anything. He kept telling me how patient he was, while the TONE of his voice and his BODY LANGUAGE were screaming “You are on my last nerve, can’t you do anything right? Even a beginner can do these exercises.” I am now back to being self taught and couldn’t be happier. I can even remember being in school and when the teacher would call on me I wouldn’t be able to answer and was always put in the “dumb” classes, although my IQ is way above average. I finally got over that fear in college though, and pulled through with a 4.0.

    One thing though, as a highly sensitive person, I find that I have a lot of illnesses that I don’t think I would have if I wasn’t highly sensitive, such as IBS and Asthma. I am also prone to depression and anxiety, especially when I have to take my mom to places such as Walmart. I know this has to do with being slightly empathic also, but dang, it really messes up my health. This seems to be impossible for non-introverts and especially non-HSPs to understand, which is so frustrating. Thank you for letting me share my experience.

  • Yes to every single one of those points from this HSP INFJ. I also have misophonia (intolerance to mouth and chewing sounds) and struggle with certain tapping or clicking sounds like Amber Russell already mentioned. Thank you for this blog!

  • Jen

    I’m a HSP INFJ. Everything you’ve listed rings true. One thing I struggle with is living in an open floor plan house where the kitchen is open to the family room. There is so much noise competition: microwave, range exhaust fan, tv, fireplace, refrigerator, dishwasher, conversations . . . . It’s exhausting when two or more noise sources are going on at the same time. If we ever moved to a different home, an enclosed kitchen would be of highest priority and an open floor plan would be a deal breaker. Unfortunately houses like that are getting harder and harder to come by.

  • Well said – was nodding my head in agreement to all of these!

  • Carson Hall

    #13. I have been playing guitar for about 5 years. I should absolutely be much better than I am, so I decided that I would take lessons. I couldn’t even make a simple chord in front of the teacher, while he kept saying how patient he was, his body language and the constant tapping of his foot said differently. I only took three lessons, and decided to just keep teaching myself.

  • Jewels Slab

    I certainly can relate to the “16”. The only thing that disturbs me is that a lot of the things that bother an HSP is about what other people think…actually it doesn’t matter what other people think. I am me and I know I’m unique…other peoples opinion of me doesn’t even make me blink…we are each individuals you have your strengths and weaknesses and I have mine we are all unique.

  • cheryl ford

    #8 – definitely #8, and most of the others

  • Kerry Wallace

    Definitely relate to all of this

  • OH. MY. GOD.

    MY LIFE.

  • Elise Hanssen

    When roomie cooks with lots of garlic and onions in the evening, and the smell keeps you from sleeping.

  • Noreaster88

    Phone calls, particularly when it’s a complicated request to a stranger. I feel like I have to explain myself really fast and I get all out of breath and anxious.

    In my next life I want to be clueless and a take no prisoners, bull in the china shop extrovert.

  • psileste

    When you hope all the people you work with will get new jobs because you’ve been so awkward around them you feel that you need a fresh start and you’re certainly not looking for a new job.

    When you pick up other people’s energy like a lint screen picks up fuzz and you have to physically wash it off you when you get home.

    When you try so hard to make it seem like these difficult things aren’t difficult for you that you collapse in an exhausted heap when you get home and can’t do anything else.