The best books to thrive as a highly sensitive person

Who am I?

As a human behavior professor, award-winning executive coach, and trained therapist, I’ve spent the last decade helping thousands of high-achieving, highly sensitive professionals discover ways to enjoy their success without self-doubt, stress, and emotional overwhelm. I’m a highly sensitive person myself, so I intimately understand what it’s like to navigate the world as a deep thinker and feeler. Trust Yourself is the actionable guide I wish I had had as a big-feeling, driven person trying to find my way in my career and figure out how to believe in myself in the process.


I wrote...

Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work

By Melody Wilding,

Book cover of Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work

What is my book about?

Being highly attuned to your emotions, your environment, and the behavior of others can be the keys to success, but they can also lead to overthinking everything and burnout. Trust Yourself offers concrete steps to help you break free from stress, perfectionism, and self-doubt so you can find the confidence to work and lead effectively. Learn to: achieve confidence and overcome imposter syndrome; find your voice to speak and act with assertiveness; build resilience and bounce back from setbacks; and enjoy your success without sacrificing your well-being.

The books I picked & why

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The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You

By Elaine N. Aron Phd,

Book cover of The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You

Why this book?

I first read this book in my 20s and it changed my entire life. Up until that point, I had always felt different than my peers. I never understood why I was more affected by everything, held onto criticism for days (or weeks), and experienced more stress. Discovering there was a term for deep thinkers and feelers like me was enlightening and empowering. Dr. Aron is the foremost researcher on high sensitivity and I appreciated that this book is both evidence-based and practical. It’s a seminal must-read. 


The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People

By Judith Orloff,

Book cover of The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People

Why this book?

Highly sensitive people (HSPs) have more active mirror neurons, which means they can more acutely sense other people’s emotions. I have found that my empathy can be a tremendous gift, but without the right tools, feeling others’ energy can be draining. I enjoyed that Dr. Orloff’s presented a comprehensive toolkit, particularly for navigating relationships at home and work. This book isn’t a one-time read. It’s the type of book you reference and revisit over time. 


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

By Susan Cain,

Book cover of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Why this book?

I felt like this book peered into my soul. I count myself among the 70 percent of highly sensitive people who are also introverted. That means I need time to think before I act and more space to adjust to changes. I tend to be more reflective, serious, and dislike being observed and being the center of attention. Before reading Quiet, I assumed that these qualities were character faults. But now I understand that they are not only part of my wiring, but that they can also be my greatest superpowers. I love Cain’s use of engaging stories and research. It makes for an immersive read. 


The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

By Brené Brown,

Book cover of The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Why this book?

For most of my life, self-doubt had been a constant companion. I was someone who looked successful on the outside, but didn’t feel that way within. I kept pushing in my career – trying to earn validation and compensate for my insecurities – until I hit severe burnout. That’s when I first read The Gifts of Imperfection. This book helped me unpack the thoughts and conditioning that were contributing to my sense of inadequacy and set me on a path to rebuilding my self-worth and confidence as a highly sensitive person. 


Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself

By Nedra Glover Tawwab,

Book cover of Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself

Why this book?

I’m a recovering people-pleaser. Setting boundaries is a struggle. I find it hard to say no because I don’t want to hurt, offend, or disappoint others. I often overextend myself to make other people happy. I’m also a therapist by training and I’ve read umpteen books about setting boundaries, but they all felt too theoretical. Enter Tawwab’s book. It’s like the boundary bible. I love that the book features tons of specific scripts. It’s skimmable and easy to consume – perfect for a busy, time-strapped reader like myself. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in self-actualization, self esteem, and change?

5,716 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about self-actualization, self esteem, and change.

Self-Actualization Explore 102 books about self-actualization
Self Esteem Explore 53 books about self esteem
Change Explore 27 books about change

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Big Magic, Lovingkindness, and The War of Art if you like this list.