Are You A Highly Sensitive Person?

Are you often told to stop taking things to heart or to toughen up? Do you over analyze things and get ‘stuck in your own head’? Or become easily overwhelmed by environmental stimuli and frequently need to withdraw? If the answer is yes, you are probably a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). 

One in five people are born with the trait of high sensitivity, yet far from being hailed for their increased compassion and empathy, these people are so often dismissed as being ‘flaky’ or ‘snowflakes’. In The Handbook for Highly Sensitive People, former prison governor and psychotherapeutic counsellor Mel Collins presents a path to true self-understanding and positive action. The book explores the main qualities and challenges of the trait, and how it can be a real gift in life, not a flaw. Mel Collins helps readers learn how to transform from feeling overwhelmed and frazzled to empowered and fulfilled.

Use the holistic checklist below to see if you are one of the 1.4 billion people with the high sensitivity trait. Please note – this tick list is not meant to diagnose or exclude the diagnosis of any condition. Please respond to each statement honestly and according to the way you personally feel. Tick the boxes that are at least somewhat true for you; leave the boxes that are not very true or not at all true for you unmarked.

You have often had comments from those around you that ‘you are too sensitive for your own good’, or that you need to ‘toughen up’ or not ‘be so sensitive
You experience emotions or feelings to a much stronger or deeper extent than other people seem to.
You often feel overwhelmed when around large groups of people and need to withdraw.
You are acutely sensitive to loud noises, crowds or negativity and often feel like you need to escape
You are highly intuitive and pick up on subtleties with people or environments. You can sense if something is wrong, even if others are unaware of it. 
You are highly conscientious and take longer to make decisions due to any possible consequences.
You have deep concentration and focus.
You give great attention to detail or could be considered a perfectionist.
You have a strong sense of duty
You have your own clear set of values and ethics
You are deeply concerned about social injustice and tend to fight for the underdog.
You are affected by environmental issues and feel deep pain caused by the destruction that humans are doing to the planet.
You can always see the ‘bigger picture’.
You ignore your body’s messages of being overstimulated and end up feeling either frazzled, exhausted and burnt out, or – the opposite – restless, anxious or unable to sleep. 
You tend to be affected by other people’s moods and can end up feeling drained while others comment that they feel better after they have been with you. 
You struggle with self-love and tend to look after or ‘rescue’ others. Or you suffer or have suffered with low self-esteem or feelings of not being good enough 
You are a natural giver and can often struggle to implement boundaries, which can lead to you being put upon or easily manipulated.
You can feel deeply hurt and find yourself ‘closing off/down’ when criticized, judged, betrayed, cheated on or lied to. It takes a particularly long time for you to recover from these or you may even feel that you will never fully get over it. 
You feel you struggle to find the ‘right’ relationship or have a history of ‘failed’ relationships because your partner doesn’t understand your sensitivity.
You have experienced ‘going out of your body’ (dissociating) in difficult emotional times or you ‘space out’ or daydream on a regular basis. 
You have used alcohol, drugs or food as a coping strategy for your sensitivity
You have felt like someone has switched on ‘a light in the darkness’ when someone really ‘gets you’ – whether this is a like-minded friend, another HSP, a therapist or a healer and you finally feel ‘seen’ and understood. 


  • If you ticked between 14 and 22 boxes it is extremely likely that you are an HSP (highly sensitive person).
  • If you ticked between 7 and 13 boxes it is likely you are an HSP.
  • If you ticked less than 7, but they are ‘extremely’ true of you, you would still be justified in thinking of yourself as an HSP, especially if you ticked boxes 1–5, 14 and 15.

In addition to the above, there are other aspects that are also common among HSPs, especially those who have a heightened awareness of, or affinity with, the spiritual aspects of the trait. So, as an HSP, you may recognize some of the following:

  • Being a deeply reflective person
  • A high degree of creativity and/or being passionate about the arts
  • Having vivid or prophetic dreams
  • Being drawn to charitable causes or a humanitarian calling
  • A strong affinity to animals, nature or crystals
  • Feeling quite different to your biological family
  • Seeing spirituality or a faith-based religion as a fundamental part of your life
  • Having a belief in the unseen world, such as angels, and/or having psychic or spiritual experiences

The Handbook for Highly Sensitive People is available now – and for a limited time, you can buy the ebook for just £3.50!