Are You Too Sensitive? 8 Ways to Deal With Emotional Sensitivity
Being sensitive is good, but too much of a good thing isn't great. Here's how to become less sensitive and have thick skin.
Updated 30 Oct 2019
Do you react extremely negatively when someone makes a passing comment about you, whether it’s your hairstyle, a silly mistake you made or your choice of degree?
If the answer's a hesitant "yes", there's no need to worry. Being sensitive is good as it’s part of emotional intelligence, but too much of a good thing isn't great. Here’s how you can keep your emotions in check by turning your oversensitivity down a notch or two.
#1. Write down your feelings
The first thing you should do after a sensitive episode is to write down how you feel. It doesn't matter if you don't have good writing skills; as long as you pen your emotions to paper or tap out a long Twitter thread, that should suffice. The key is to untangle the knot of feelings swirling about you to clearly understand what made you so affected.
#2. Figure out what makes you sensitive
Now that you have everything in black-and-white, read through what you wrote and pinpoint the crux of the matter. Did you feel prickles of sensitivity when someone pointed out a mistake you made? Maybe you felt slightly offended that someone assumed you were ignorant about something. Now that you’ve figured out what’s bothering you, you can move on to fixing it.
#3. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Remember, being sensitive is a good thing as it means you're compassionate and empathetic to other people's situations. Yours is just a little over the bar, verging on oversensitivity. This can affect your mental wellbeing, especially if you take things too personally and dwell on it for long periods of time.
However, before you start beating yourself up by saying how much of a cry-baby or a whiner you are, stop yourself. Focusing on negative labels will only put the spotlight on these traits, which can be problematic. Instead, immerse yourself in positive thoughts.
#4. Limit overthinking
Do you overthink situations and comments, obsessing over the slightest action or words? Why, you even let your thoughts run into overdrive and fantasise about things that didn't even happen!
Avoid making mountains out of molehills as you'll find it difficult to be productive and calm. Yes, reflecting on the consequences of your actions is wise, but constantly gnawing away at it will not do you any good.
#5. Think before you react
Before you jump to conclusions and get on the defensive, take a mental step back and think before you react. When you immediately assume something about a person's intentions or behaviour, you're filtering it negatively without any facts or evidence to support your hypothesis.
For example, your best friend doesn't reply to your text about catching a movie over the weekend. Your emotions run high and you think she’s too busy spending time with her new college friends, resulting in you acting cold towards her and ultimately losing the friendship. Hey, presto! You’ve overblown the situation unnecessarily.
So, always think before you react.
#6. Challenge yourself and ask for feedback
You nervously show your work-in-progress assignment to your lecturer, hoping for the best. Newsflash: She doesn't think it's good enough. Previously, you would've let your oversensitivity flare up. However, you've read this article and know that you need to keep it in check.
Instead of licking your wounds and not saying anything, do ask for feedback and constructive criticism. As long as you learn not to take things personally and remember that the comments are about your work and not who you are as a person, getting feedback will help desensitise you.
#7. It’s not all about you
Think your lecturer hates you? They're probably just not invested in your progress, which is a shame, but doesn't classify as distinct hate. Being a sensitive person might make you believe that everyone’s behaviour is a reaction to you.
Realistically, most people are too busy thinking about their own struggles and problems, which means they frankly aren't thinking of you at all. Instead of automatically reacting to their behaviour, have a think about what they are feeling instead. Remember, you aren’t the leading character in everyone’s life.
#8. Be patient
It takes time to become less oversensitive, so don't take it to heart if you still feel prickles of sensitivity every so often. You'll learn how to manage your feelings in due time. Also, think of how this learning process will greatly help you as you get older and experience more emotionally-challenging situations. Patience is key when it comes to improving yourself.
Kudos to you for taking the right step in managing your oversensitivity! You'll soon develop a thick (emotional) skin and will emerge as a mature adult capable of handling their emotions. Here's to a better version of you!