Do you feel like you reflect on things more than everyone else? Do you find yourself worrying about how other people feel? Do you prefer quieter, less chaotic environments?
If the above sound true to you, you may be highly sensitive. The personality trait -- which was first researched by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D., in the early 1990s -- is relatively common, with as many as one in five people possessing it. Aron, who has written multiple studies and books on high sensitivity, including The Highly Sensitive Person, also developed a self-test (which you can take here) to help you determine if you are highly sensitive.
While recent interest in introversion -- driven largely by high-profile publications on the subject, including Susan Cain's book "Quiet," -- has brought more awareness to personality traits that value less stimulation and higher sensitivity, Aron notes that highly sensitive people still tend to be considered the "minority."
But "minority" doesn't mean bad -- in fact, being highly sensitive carries a multitude of positive characteristics. Read on for some of the commonalities shared by highly sensitive people.
1. They feel more deeply.
One of the hallmark characteristics of highly sensitive people is the ability to feel more deeply than their less-sensitive peers. "They like to process things on a deep level," Ted Zeff, Ph.D., author of The Highly Sensitive Person's Survival Guide and other books on highly sensitive people, tells HuffPost. "They're very intuitive, and go very deep inside to try to figure things out."
2. They're more emotionally reactive.
People who are highly sensitive will react more in a situation. For instance, they will have more empathy and feel more concern for a friend's problems, according to Aron. They may also have more concern about how another person may be reacting in the face of a negative event.
3. They're probably used to hearing, "Don't take things so personally" and "Why are you so sensitive?"
Depending on the culture, sensitivity can be perceived as an asset or a negative trait, Zeff explains. In some of his own research, Zeff says that highly sensitive men he interviewed from other countries -- such as Thailand and India -- were rarely or never teased, while highly sensitive men he interviewed from North America were frequently or always teased. "So a lot of it is very cultural -- the same person who is told, 'Oh, you're too sensitive,' in certain cultures, it's considered an asset," he says.
4. They prefer to exercise solo.
Highly sensitive people may tend to avoid team sports, where there's a sense that everyone is watching their every move, Zeff says. In his research, the majority of highly sensitive people he interviewed preferred individual sports, like bicycling, running and hiking, to group sports. However, this is not a blanket rule -- there are some highly sensitive people who may have had parents who provided an understanding and supportive environment that would make it easier for them to participate in group sports, Zeff says.
5. It takes longer for them to make decisions.
Highly sensitive people are more aware of subtleties and details that could make decisions harder to make, Aron says. Even if there is no "right" or "wrong" decision -- for example, it's impossible to choose a "wrong" flavor of ice cream -- highly sensitive people will still tend to take longer to choose because they are weighing every possible outcome. Aron's advice for dealing with this: "Take as long to decide as the situation permits, and ask for more time if you need it and can take it," she writes in a recent issue of her Comfort Zone newsletter. "During this time, try pretending for a minute, hour, day, or even week that you have made up your mind a certain way. How does that feel? Often, on the other side of a decision things look different, and this gives you a chance to imagine more vividly that you are already there." One exception: Once a highly sensitive person has come to the conclusion of what is the right decision to make and what is the wrong decision to make in a certain situation, he or she will be quick to make that "right" decision again in the future.