Emotional Hypersensitivity: When Emotions Are Always Bursting
Has anyone ever told you that you’re too sensitive? Does it feel like everything affects you much more than others? Any situation, as inconsequential as it might seem, provokes a reaction in you that many consider exaggerated. If it feels like your emotions are always bursting, perhaps you have emotional hypersensitivity.
“Never apologize for being sensitive or emotional. Showing your emotions is a sign of strength, not weakness.”
People who fall under the category of emotional hypersensitivity have something like a sixth sense, a highly developed level of empathy that allows them to recognize different emotions in others. For example, if someone is suffering, they’ll notice it before anyone else. If someone is unhappy, they’ll know.
The big problem is that this affects them, and because they feel much more than everyone else, they feel other people’s pain in their own flesh. So it’s not strange that they present a sort of emotional impulsiveness that surprises the people around them.
It’s all a question of perspective
Perspective has a lot to do with the development of emotional hypersensitivity, although it’s true that there’s also a clear biological component. At least that’s what they found in a study done by psychologists at Stony Brook University in New York.
In the study, they took images of brain functioning that showed that people who are more sensitive showed higher activation in the frontal cortex when presented with happy or sad faces, for example. They picked up on and compared the details on these faces with more precision than less sensitive people.
However, environment also plays a big role. In fact, it’s a combination of genetic and environmental factors that gives rise to emotional hypersensitivity. For example, think of a child born in an unstable family environment who experiences serious emotional deprivation. As he grows up, he’ll develop serious problems with regulating his emotions, and due to his childhood experiences, he’ll be more sensitive to everything.
Sometimes you feel overwhelmed by the feelings around you, and that prevents you from listening to yourself.
This child might experience a lot of embarrassment, shyness, insecurity, etc., but despite all that, perspective also plays an important role. With effort, through looking at things in a different way, he can improve his situation. In this way, even though he’ll continue to be a hypersensitive person, he’ll know how to manage his emotions, expressing and reacting to them in a much less exaggerated way.
Seeing the trees, but not the forest
Emotional hypersensitivity can be a very positive thing. You can support the people who need you, show a lot of empathy, and adapt your behavior to people who are having a hard time. But if you focus too much on the details, you could be neglecting a more global view of everything.
That’s why it’s so important to see things through different perspectives. When you focus on the details, your perspective is influenced by your own feelings, fixated on something specific, and therefore you assign it too much importance and overreact to things that other people don’t perceive.
For example, a word or phrase said with a certain intention can make you feel a lot of aggression, anger, or rage, while nobody else even perceived that inflection you heard, and so it wasn’t relevant to them.
Hypersensitivity is magnified by past problems. That is, if in the past you were emotionally neglected, lied to, or hurt in some way, finding yourself in a similar situation – or anticipating it – will affect you much more deeply.
Can emotional hypersensitivity be a positive thing? Of course it can. In fact, it allows you to connect better with others and help them if they need it. The big problem is that there’s also a dark side loaded with insecurity, difficulty managing emotions, and irritability.
I feel more than others. It’s like I take everything more to heart. My pores leak emotions that I’m unable to control or manage.
Anxiety, stress, and depression are illnesses that commonly affect people with emotional hypersensitivity. Because they feel too much, worry too much, and focus on things that others ignore, this “gift” (as some consider it to be) can turn into the person’s worst enemy.