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6 Things I've Learned in Therapy About Being a Highly Sensitive Person

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Since starting therapy and beginning to better understand my emotions, I’ve come to realize I am a highly sensitive person. You often hear about sensitive people being “too needy” or “high maintenance.” Other times you hear they’re kind and caring. But being a highly sensitive person can be more than that. Here are some of my experiences.

1. I am highly empathetic.

This in itself is a pro and a con. It’s great to be empathetic, it can help you take care of and understand those around you. It’s generally considered a good trait to have. But it can also go too far. I’ve experienced countless times when I worry so much about people — often over minor things — to the point of tears and feeling physically sick.

2. I can be super emotional.

This may apply to all emotions, but as someone with depression and anxiety, I often feel it in terms of negative emotions. I cry easily, and sometimes it becomes difficult to hold myself together. Everything I feel, I feel deeply.

3. I’m observant of the behavior of others.

This is another that can be a pro or con. Paying close attention to others’ behaviors can help me pick up how they’re feeling, and allow me to help them. Once again, this can also go too far into constantly wondering how they are feeling and how my actions have affected the way they act.

4. I’m affected by the emotions of those around me.

I sometimes find myself taking on others’ emotions, which can be incredibly draining when done with negative emotions. This can make it harder to support those I care about, and that’s OK. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to help them, I may just find myself unable to. I often find myself feeling guilty for other people’s emotions, feeling guilty that I can’t help them, or feeling guilty for feeling happy if they aren’t. It can be easy for me to feel if someone I care about is unhappy, I don’t deserve to be happy.

5. I can be easily overwhelmed.

This can be by worrying too much as mentioned earlier, or being overwhelmed with tasks at hand, where even a small task seems incredibly daunting. This can extend to my environment too, where I may feel overwhelmed by busy, chaotic and noisy places, where any sound starts to feel overwhelming. I may feel irritated or uncomfortable, feeling as if I need to get away. I often feel like I need to withdraw, feeling drained after a busy day.

6. I often overthink small things.

Minor occurrences in my life have a large impact on me. I may spend hours overthinking something that happened or something someone said. I may spend hours trying to come to decisions, thinking over all the possible outcomes, and feeling crushed if it turns out to be a bad decision. Any comment of criticism becomes hard to take. I know it shouldn’t affect me, but it still has a large impact.

These are just some of my experiences, and may not reflect yours. But know that your experience is valid, and if you begin to struggle with this, there are ways to manage it, and you can get help.

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Thinkstock photo via Archv.

Originally published: April 25, 2017
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