Why I’m Thankful to Be a Sensitive Introvert (Even Though It’s Not Always Easy)

A highly sensitive introvert smiles, leaning against a wall

When you’re a sensitive introvert, it’s easy to see your “faults” — but we bring many strengths to the table.

I am kind, thoughtful, and compassionate, I write down, wracking my brain for any positive attributes that come to mind. 

It’s an exercise from The Highly Sensitive Person’s Workbook by Dr. Elaine Aron, the matriarch of high sensitivity. She calls it “An Inventory of Assets,” and explains that, particularly in a professional context, highly sensitive people (HSPs) can struggle with naming what we bring to the table by way of our talents, skills, and virtues. She knows that sensitivity and introversion are not highly regarded in our society, so we must insist on valuing the unique strengths we possess. She challenges the reader to fill all sixty spaces provided in the workbook with a distinct positive asset about themselves. Sixty

I stare at the blank spaces for a long time. 

It’s not that I deny that I possess positive attributes; it’s more that I spend so much time dwelling on the negative ones. Positive feedback and encouragement from others are squashed under the weight of even one or two critiques.

“Overly emotional.”

“Takes things too personally.” 

“Too slow.” 

“Too timid.” 

“Too intense.”

“Just too much.” 

I shake myself back to reality and the task at hand.

I am kind, thoughtful, and compassionate. Reliable, loyal, and persistent.

My mind jumps back to memories of jobs where I became the unofficial confidant of discontent employees. Even coworkers I barely knew would come to me to air their grievances. I’m not sure why. I must have somehow garnered a reputation for being a compassionate, listening ear

I’ve always been that way. 

It makes me feel good that people feel they can come to me, and I take my reputation as being a reliable person very seriously. The fear of letting others down drives me to always do what I say I will do. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more intentional with what I will say yes to, so I can make sure I remain reliable. 

Sometimes, I feel like these qualities are taken for granted, but I also pride myself in them. I value being compassionate and dependable just because I like myself for being that way. 

You can thrive as an introvert or a sensitive person in a loud world. Subscribe to our email newsletter. Once a week, you’ll get empowering tips and insights. Click here to subscribe.

I am curious, a deep thinker, and investigative. 

When I am interested in something, or need to learn something new, I want to know as much as I can about it. I feel like I won’t be able to claim any sort of proficiency until I know everything. This applies to anything from pop culture to parenting to politics. When it piques my interest, I instantly have a million questions that I set out to find answers to. 

But I can also do this to a fault. I can use information-seeking as a way to cope when I’m feeling anxious or unsure. For example, I only relied on outside advice for every little issue as a new parent. Whether it was starting solid foods or helping my toddler sleep, I had to read every opinion, and evaluate every argument, before I could move forward. 

I’ve realized I used to do this because I did not trust myself to know what to do. I needed “experts” to tell me what to do. But now I am much more connected to my intuition (thank you, high sensitivity!) and I try to trust it to discern the information I crave. 

Especially when it comes to personal matters, like parenting or career advice, it has to go beyond cognitive understanding to a deeper level, an inner knowing, or else I can’t follow it. Making quick decisions may not be my strength, but all in all, I think my curiosity and deep processing lead to better choices. At the very least, they are well-informed. 

I am focused, organized, and conscientious.

I write these down but then almost cross them out. I evaluate them for a minute. I can be all of them… except when I am overwhelmed, I realize. 

I look at my list of attributes thus far and realize they are all rendered false when I am overwhelmed. It’s the Achilles’ heel of highly sensitive introverts, our kryptonite. And overwhelm is always lurking behind the next outing, the next task, the next unexpected noise. Ready to derail us from our best selves.

But before I cross out every attribute I’ve worked so hard to find, I take a breath and acknowledge that no one is who they want to be all of the time. No one, not even the least sensitive and extroverted among us, is always their best self. 

I decide to leave my list as-is and appreciate how often my ability to focus comes through for me. In my work, I’ve learned that even something I am absolutely dreading can transform into an interesting and compelling task once I settle into it. 

To that end, I’ve learned that I have my own style of organization that works extremely well for me. Once I figure out a system, I can stick with it. Lists are key. My husband laughs at all my lists, but when I already sent off the payment he had forgotten about, or I bring home the grocery item he just realized was empty, I tell him, “Thank my lists.” 

As an HSP, I appreciate the depth of the word conscientious. It’s more than being meticulous; it brings a deep awareness to my careful and measured actions. I am a planner and I make careful decisions with the long view in mind. This is both a source of comfort and pride for me. 

I am perceptive, insightful, and wise.

I’ve been called “wise” my entire life. I remember how, back in high school, two cheerleaders I barely knew came up to me — the epitome of a non-cheerleader — to ask for my advice on something and said, “We just wanted your opinion since you’re so wise.” Again, I have no idea how I gained that reputation, especially among the cheerleaders. But I was happy to offer my perspective. 

I have to admit, I’ve always sensed that I could perceive things others couldn’t. It’s taken me a long time to trust it, as I used to be convinced that any observation I could offer would be obvious at best. But experience has taught me that it’s worth speaking up because, more often than not, not everyone can see it. 

In addition, I think my insightfulness has made me a more content person. I’m not above being emotionally reactive (hello, HSP here!), but I can also think through a situation and usually see why things happened the way they did — why there is tension, what another person is dealing with, and all the reasons for a circumstance that has nothing to do with me. 

It’s like I can hold a situation in my hand like a diamond, and turn it around in every direction to see the complexity and nuance refracted and reflected back that make it unique, intricate, and multifaceted. 

Is the chaos of life overwhelming you as a highly sensitive person?

Sensitive people have certain brain differences that make them more susceptible to stress and anxiety. Thankfully, there is a way to train your brain so you can navigate the challenges of sensitivity, access your gifts, and thrive in life. Psychotherapist and sensitivity expert Julie Bjelland will show you how in her popular online course, HSP Brain Training. As an Introvert, Dear reader, you can take 50% off the registration fee using the code INTROVERTDEARClick here to learn more.

I am grounded, spiritual, and open.

I’ve always had a connection to the immaterial, though I don’t know how special or unique my sense of spirituality is — other than I can’t deny it. After a painful deconstruction from a high-control religion, finding my way back to my intuition and openness has been one of the sweetest journeys of my life. Spirituality grounds me, it connects me to the soil beneath my feet, to the stranger on the street and on the other side of the world, and to that which we cannot see. I wouldn’t give up this sense of inner knowing and expansiveness for anything. 

I also can’t deny the depth of feeling I experience thanks to this spiritual sensitivity, or whatever we should call it. It extends into the emotion behind a melody, the colors in a painting, and my kindergartener’s belly laugh. There is just so much to be felt and experienced in this life and it seems highly sensitive introverts get to take in the full range of it. Perhaps it’s that extreme sensing that connects us with the spiritual to begin with. 

I am inclusive, empathetic, and accepting.

Out of all the attributes I’ve come up with, I write these down without any hesitation. I cannot deny or downplay their effortless presence in my life. My struggle is never in the ability to extend empathy or consider the inclusion of others, but rather, in living out these intense and enduring values. My introversion, timidity, and overthinking might prevent me from reaching out as much as I would like, but I’m learning how to surrender my actions to the unwavering sense of acceptance of those around me, especially when no one else will. 

There have been many times when I’ve been on committees, in meetings, or just planning something with friends where an idea gains traction, but all I can think about is the one person (or small group of people) who would be inconvenienced or excluded by the idea. My mind always goes to those who stand to be forgotten by the decision. When I bring it up, it is often met with a surprised, “Wow, I hadn’t thought of that.” 

Sometimes I wonder if the trait of high sensitivity evolved out of a need to protect the herd, the group, our collective fellow humans. A means of keeping the whole community safe by seeing what others couldn’t, including the needs of every last member. 

It makes me happy to think that perhaps I have a part to play toward that goal. 

I am highly sensitive and introverted.

To be highly sensitive is to be burdened by eyes that see, ears that hear, a heart that feels, and a mind that perceives depths and expanses many go through life utterly free from. To be an introverted sensitive person is to experience all this depth within the confines of our own being and to not always have the capacity to share it with others

I will not downplay the overwhelm. I will not gloss over the real challenges to living as the best version of myself and proving the value of my attributes to others. 

But as I look back over my list, I am filled with gratitude. These are attributes I am proud to possess. 

I am thankful for the best version of myself and I am learning to have compassion, and a gentle motivation, for my struggles — even when I am overwhelmed. Most of all, I am grateful for all I have learned about myself; the whys of sensitivity and introversion and how to nurture who I am instead of berating her as I used to do. 

Perhaps what ties all this together is my ability, as a highly sensitive introvert, to take in the good parts of who I am. Sensitive people are susceptible to negativity, yes, but we are also highly sensitive to the good stuff. We get to sink into all of life, including the best parts. 

I look at my list, and I smile. Grateful to be me. And I hope you feel the same way about you.

You might like:

This article contains affiliate links. We only recommend products we truly believe in.