“Our culture tends to value logical, analytical thinking. That doesn’t make their way better. In fact, emotionally sensitive people are the ones who become passionate about causes and make changes in the world. They are artists and caregivers and those who contribute to humanity.” — Lori Deschene
Have you ever been described as hot headed or impetuous? You may also find that you cry easily and take things to heart. If this sounds familiar to you, then your emotions may often take charge and leave your rationality behind. The prominence and dominance of your emotional self may also make you emotionally sensitive. So, what does it mean to be emotionally sensitive? What causes it? And what are the positives of being emotionally sensitive?
What is emotional sensitivity?
Psychologist and author of the book The Emotionally Sensitive Person, Karyn D. Hall, explained what emotional sensitivity is and how it manifests itself. When someone is emotionally sensitive, they tend to experience emotions more intensely than other people do. Common feeling such as love, happiness, anger, and fear are felt to a greater degree. As your emotions can sometimes get the better of you, you tend to be apprehensive about how you will react in different situations.
Emotionally sensitive people have a sensitive way of viewing the world around them. They are acutely aware of the emotions of others and can be overly tolerant or intolerant. Many emotionally sensitive people work on an intuitive level and thus do not know how to verbalize themselves and their thoughts with great accuracy. If they believe they have been rejected, emotionally sensitive people can take it very personally. Decision making can be a difficult process for these people.
What is the cause of emotional sensitivity?
Lori Deschene, the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story explained the cause of emotional sensitivity as follows:
“Emotional sensitivity is biological. Research shows that some individuals are born with more intense emotions, meaning you react faster to emotional situations, your emotions are more intense, and your emotions take longer to fade. Events in a person’s life could also influence that emotional sensitivity.”
What are the two distinct types of emotional sensitivity?
Deschene identified two types of emotional sensitivity: reactive and avoidant. There are those who are reactive; these people tend to act on feelings before they undertake the process of thought. They are exposed to an emotional trigger and they react. They can be spontaneous and fun because they possess strong impulses.
People who are avoidant tend to shy away from uncomfortable emotions and situations that they believe will be unpleasant. If, for example, someone has offended them, they will move to the other side of the room to avoid talking to that specific individual.
What are the positive aspects of being emotionally sensitive?
Emotionally sensitive people have a heightened awareness of what other people are feeling. They experience intense joy and tend to be very passionate about things that are dear to them. Because they’re passionate, they tend to strive to make a difference to their surroundings. Emotionally sensitive people also tend to care intensely about others and express themselves authentically.
People who fall under the category of being emotionally sensitive are often careful not to hurt people’s feelings. They value memories and tend to dwell on things that have happened in the past. For these people happiness is more important than success and mistakes are viewed as part of the process, rather than something to get upset about.
Hall said, “Being emotionally sensitive can be a gift. It can also be very painful and more difficult than most can understand. If I could communicate one idea, it would be to accept your sensitivity rather than reject it or hate it, and learn to manage your emotions so you can find joy and peace. You may learn to cherish your emotional sensitivity—it can be done.”
If you are someone whose emotions tend to override their rationality, then do not view this as a negative trait. Being emotional and emotionally sensitive is a very positive thing. As Hall said, it is a gift.