To feel intensely and deeply is oftentimes perceived as a weakness. This world can sometimes be harsh as people are in a constant hustle to get things done. Being strong emotionally is typically associated with being thick-skinned and confident. The idea that emotional sensitivity is a characteristic of broken, weak people who should just suck it up couldn’t be further from the truth.
Too much of anything isn’t good; and applies to personality traits, like emotional sensitivity. Being too confident gives the illusion of arrogance. Likewise, being too emotionally sensitive elicits a tone of frailty. The two are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Polar opposites.
It’s important to find an emotional balance so we aren’t constantly jumping from one extreme to the other. Not only is that exhausting for the brain, it takes a toll on the body as well.
To keep the personality pendulum swinging in a steady, manageable rhythm, try some of these tips and tricks for overcoming emotional sensitivity:
Accept that Being Sensitive is Not a Flaw
We have been conditioned to believe sensitivity is pretty much a shortcoming. That’s a load of hooey. For some people, being more in-tune to their own feelings and the feelings of others is more pronounced. That doesn’t make these people blemished or defective. So, stop the negative self-talk and defeatist attitude toward this beautiful, caring and thoughtful trait.
Emotionally sensitive people commonly feel inferior because their “stronger” counterparts seem to handle the same tasks with ease. Sometimes tasks take longer than anticipated and being over-stimulated, emotionally reactive and deeply tuned in to details causes physical and mental exhaustion.
Being afraid to express feelings and emotions is equally tiresome. Always trying to fake it to make others comfortable is another area where the emotionally sensitive folks have issues.
Current Opinion Reframed
When feeling particularly stressed or overwhelmed about a person or situation, reframe and try again. Find the positive counterpart to every negative feeling or assumption of oneself.
- Slow to make simple decisions / Careful and thoughtful decision making
- Gets very upset for making a wrong decision / Passionate about endeavors
- Isolated introvert / Comfortable spending time alone
- Extremely detail-oriented / Organized and neat
- Afraid of offending people / Great manners and social etiquette
- People-pleaser / Unselfish and cares deeply about others
Develop Healthy Habits
We have to remember to take care of our bodies; both physical and mental. After all, we are only given one for an entire lifetime. To avoid feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, make sure to get enough quality sleep and eat a balanced diet.
Running on empty isn’t going to do anything but lead to an inevitable breakdown. Also, when over-stimulated, consider it might not be just a situation or person rearing up the anxiety level. Many turn to coffee, energy drinks and other stimulants to get the blood flowing and keep up with the hustle and bustle of the day. In an emotionally sensitive individual, this might be a trigger and cost more than it’s worth.
As with the importance of taking proper care of the physical body, we need to maintain a balanced mental state. Mindful meditation, yoga and prayer are examples of how some are able to center and quiet the mind, body and spirit.
Do whatever is calming and removes the chaos of life, even if just for a few minutes. Using a calming exercise as a rescue measure during stressful times is great, but doing it regularly is being proactive and helps make the episodes not as dramatic or all-consuming.
Point Out & Appreciate the Positive
Sometimes the dark clouds make it hard to see the sun, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. A rainy day might be gloomy to some, but others choose to dance in the rain. It’s all a matter of perspective and finding the good in any situation.
There is something positive underneath the grit and grime of nearly every event. Train the brain to seek out something good instead of immediately turning toward the negative.
Create a Safety Plan
In cases where the stimulation and mayhem seems too much to bear, make sure there’s a rescue plan which can be initiated at any time. Being emotionally sensitive isn’t something that can (or should) be completely rectified – just altered a bit so things aren’t quite as devastating. There will be times when emotional overload seems eminent. Create a safety plan. Here’s an example:
- Retreat! Go to a quiet, empty area.
- Think! Search memories for something pleasant, happy, humorous and replay it.
- Listen! Find something funny to watch or upbeat music.
- Remember! It isn’t the end of the world. For this planet, survival rate of bad days has been 100% so far.
While working through the tips and hints above, keep this one point in mind: It’s okay to be sensitive. It’s normal. It’s beautiful. There are challenges yes, but there are also hidden strengths. Life is always going to deliver an ebb and flow; how we choose to spend that time is entirely up to us.