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Are You Being Oversensitive

  • High sensitivity can be defined as acute physical, mental, and emotional responses to external or internal stimuli.

  • A highly sensitive person will likely “feel too much” and “feel too deep.”

  • Signs can include various sensitivities about oneself, others, and one's environment.

Are you a highly sensitive person? Do you know someone in your personal or professional life who may be highly sensitive? High sensitivity can be defined as acute physical, mental, and emotional responses to external (social, environmental) or internal (intra-personal) stimuli. A highly sensitive person may be an introvert, an extrovert, or somewhere in between. Although there are many positive aspects of being a sensitive person (such as greater ability to listen and affirm, greater empathy and intuitiveness, better understanding of others' wants and needs, etc.), in this writing we will focus on aspects of high sensitivity which adversely affect one’s health, happiness and success, and often complicate relationships. Below are 24 signs of a highly sensitive person, with excerpts from my books: "Are You Highly Sensitive? How to Gain Immunity, Peace, and Self-Mastery" and "How to Communicate Effectively with Highly Sensitive People". These traits are organized into three major categories: Sensitivity About Oneself, Sensitivity About Others, and Sensitivity About One’s Environment. While many people may experience some of these signs from time to time, a highly sensitive person will likely “feel too much” and “feel too deep.” Some individuals may be highly sensitive to just one or two stimuli, while others may be strongly affected by more on the list. Category One: Sensitivity About Oneself 1. Often has difficulty letting go of negative thoughts and emotions 2. Frequently feels physical symptoms (i.e. stress or headache) when something unpleasant happens during the day 3. Often has bad days that affect eating and/or sleeping habits in an unhealthy way, such as eating or sleeping too much or too little 4. Often experiences tension or anxiety 5. Tends to “beat oneself up” when falling short of own expectations 6. Is afraid of rejection, even in relatively minor situations 7. Compares self with others often (in physical, relational, social, work, financial, or other scenarios), and experiences unhappy feelings from negative social comparison Often feels anger or resentment about situations in life or in society which seem unjust, aggravating, or simply annoying Category Two: Sensitivity About Others 9. Often thinks/worries about what others are thinking 10. Tends to take things personally 11. Finds it difficult, when triggered by relatively small unpleasantness with people, to just “let it go” 12. Feels hurt easily 13. Often hides negative feelings, believing they are too strong, turbulent, embarrassing or vulnerable to share; keeps a lot of negative emotions inside 14. Alternatively, often discusses negative emotions with others because there’s a lot of “drama” in one’s life 15. Has a hard time accepting critical feedback, even when it's given reasonably and constructively 16. Often feels like people are judgmental, even when there’s no strong evidence 17. Often overreacts to real or perceived slights and provocations 18. Often feels awkward in group situations and feels unable to be oneself 19. Feels self-conscious in romantically intimate situations; excessively worries about partner’s approval; is unreasonably afraid of being judged or rejected by partner Category Three: Sensitivity About One’s Environment 20. Feels uncomfortable in large public crowds, in a room full of people talking, or when too many things are occurring simultaneously 21. Feels uncomfortable when exposed to bright lights, loud sounds, or certain strong scents 22. Startles easily at sudden noises, fast traffic, or other unpleasant surprises 23. Often feels upset when watching or reading negative news in the media. Dislikes “shock” entertainment (i.e. intensely scary or violent shows) 24. Often feels unhappy when following people’s posts on social media Again, although there are many positive qualities to being a highly sensitive person, this article focuses on aspects of high sensitivity which adversely affect one’s happiness and well-being. While some highly sensitive individuals are affected by just one or two of the traits above, others may be overstimulated by more on the list. For many highly sensitive people, the key to managing oversensitivity is to utilize emotional immunity and sensory immunity strategies, to calm and alleviate overstimulation. For those who live or work with highly sensitive individuals, effective communication skills are a must to positive and constructive relationships. See references below.


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