Okay, before I delve into the topic of zodiac signs, let me just say that I know astrology is not backed by any scientific evidence whatsoever—however, it is kind of fun and a guilty pleasure of mine. With that being said, my zodiac sign is a Pisces: I am compassionate and artistic but also fearful and dare I say it…sensitive. Again, I know that astrology is pretty much nonsense, but I fit my sign’s description pretty well.

Especially the sensitive part. I take criticism too harshly, my feelings are hurt often, and I tear up entirely too easily. But I’ve come to accept and embrace this part of me because being a sensitive person simply means that I process sensory data more deeply than others—and that’s okay.

As with most qualities, sensitivity comes with some good and some bad. But simply recognizing that you’re a sensitive individual can help you cope with the bad and capitalize on the good. So first, let’s figure out if you’re a sensitive fellow like myself. Consider the following things that highly sensitive individuals experience:

    1) They’re easily overwhelmed when they have a lot on their plate.
    When sensitive individuals have a long list of things to do, they become instantly overwhelmed and stressed. And the more stressed they feel, the harder it is for them to kick into work mode.

    2) They retreat or hide in these times of stress.
    After they experience something stressful and overwhelming, highly sensitive individuals often need to take a breather or time to recharge. They usually don’t want to talk about it with their friends, but instead wish to step away from the situation and gather their thoughts.

    3) They like their peace and quiet.
    Overly sensitive people typically prefer quieter spaces to noisy ones. And they are easily agitated by loud, sudden noises or general disruption such as a car alarm going off or talking in a library.

    4) They perform at their best when left alone.
    Highly sensitive people don’t perform very well under pressure or while being watched, but instead perform well when they’re working in private. So, giving presentations at school or talking at a meeting are deeply loathed by these individuals.

    5) They’re emotionally aware.
    Sensitive people know and understand what they’re feeling and why they’re feeling it. This allows them to not only handle pain or discomfort in a better manner, but really appreciate and soak up positive emotions like excitement and happiness.

    6) They recognize and understand others’ feelings.
    Because they’re so in touch with their own feelings and emotions, sensitive individuals more easily recognize and understand when someone else is feeling happy, sad, overwhelmed, upset. This makes them great listeners and even better friends.

    7) They’re big fans of the arts.
    If there’s one thing I can vouge for, it is this: sensitive people love creativity. They appreciate music, paintings, and novels. And they’re usually at their happiest when they’re engaging in some kind of creative act themselves.

How to Cope with and Capitalize on Your Sensitivity

Let’s be clear that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a highly sensitive individual (remember, I am one, so you can trust me). However, being sensitive can sometimes make day-to-day life more difficult. I mean think about it: we’re troubled by cars honking on the street, our coworkers tapping their pencils on their desk, and talking in front of others. These are all things we don’t really have control over and have to deal with every day. But fortunately, there are steps we can take to better handle this sensitivity, cope with its effects, and in turn embrace our sensitivity:

  • Figure out your triggers. Highly sensitive individuals aren’t always triggered by the same things. So first, pay attention to what it is that makes you uncomfortable, overwhelmed, or otherwise upset. Examples include loud behavior, violent media, or talking in front of others.
  • Circumnavigate your triggers. Once you’ve identified your triggers, you can work around them. This doesn’t mean you have to miss out on certain experiences or even make drastic changes. It instead involves making small changes that will make you feel more comfortable. For example, if you’ve found that your coworkers’ shenanigans or noisiness really gets to you, bring some headphones to work so you can tune them out and into your work.
  • Accept your sensitivity and its subsequent triggers. Sometimes there isn’t an easy fix to these triggers, to your feelings of discomfort, stress, or emotionality. But that’s okay. The best way to go about it and keep it from holding you back is to simply accept it. Just know that your sensitivity doesn’t make you a lesser person—it makes you a more understanding and emotionally intelligent one.