Archives for July, 2012
Thank you to the 1,439 people who responded to our second survey. Your answers show the many similarities and differences among emotionally sensitive people and help increase our understanding. Sometimes just knowing that others have the same experiences as you can be helpful, and I appreciate your time and thoughtful responses. Coping Skills and Strategies How do the emotionally sensitive cope with their intense feelings? What a variety of answers you gave! Accepting the emotions, going to therapy, becoming a Buddhist, mindfulness, learning that others are emotionally sensitive, understanding that being emotionally sensitive can be a strength, dancing, exercise, faith in God, learning that thoughts are not facts, dialectical behavior therapy, the support of compassionate loved ones, Yoga, medication, setting boundaries, joining a loving church, and understanding that emotions pass were all ways you cope.
Most of the people who identified themselves as emotionally sensitive and completed the second survey were women (87.6 percent) between the ages of 40 to 60 (51 percent) with 29 percent between 25 to 40. Most were college graduates (37 percent). Over 60 percent of those who responded to the survey said they hide their emotional sensitivity so others do not know the intensity of their emotions. Many consider themselves flawed as humans because of their emotions (68.2 percent) and are uncomfortable when complimented about their character (61.6 percent) and their skills (61 percent), which likely makes it more difficult for them to foster a positive sense of themselves. It appears that accepting being emotionally sensitive is quite difficult for a lot of our readers.
Emotionally sensitive people are often artistic. Being artistic usually means having a strong appreciation of the senses, and information taken in through seeing, hearing, touching and tasting. They may also have a love of movement, such as dance. The emotionally sensitive person may have an active imagination and create works of visual art or spend time writing. They are often passionate about helping others. These attributes are gifts, and can also be ways to cope with intense feelings that can be overwhelming at times. Consider the following examples:
According to a study funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, about 40 percent of the time people spend driving and 20 percent of the miles we drive are due to "navigational failures." That's a polite way of saying the drivers were lost (Hallinan 2009). Many would guess that most of those miles driven due to being lost are because men refuse to ask directions. Many women reading this are probably shaking their heads at what they see as the stubbornness of men in their lives who insist on finding their own way. Is it true that men tend to not ask for directions?
Emotionally sensitive people sometimes have difficulty trusting themselves. There's often good reason for this; when someone has intense emotions, she can't be sure how she will react in different situations with various people. Most emotionally sensitive people have experiences in which they've reacted emotionally in ways they wish they hadn't. Maybe they feel embarrassed or ashamed of the way they've behaved in the past and fear repeating that experience. Often they can't be sure of how they'll react if they become jealous or angry or envious of someone else or if they feel intimidated or judged. Even when there isn't an emotional threat of any kind, just not knowing how you might react around other people can be scary. Sometimes being skillful and then sometimes being unskillful can be confusing.
The cost of judging is quite high, particularly for emotionally sensitive people. Think how you would live your life if you weren't afraid of being judged, either by yourself of others? Judging and fear of being judged often keeps people in a trap - an emotional jail. Instead of living your life the way you would love to, you live safely, doing what is acceptable, so you aren't labelled as crazy, stupid, worthless, a failure, lazy or some other hateful word. You may try to fit into molds that aren't right for you or that aren't even possible for human beings. Humans simply aren't perfect.
Most people have multiple ways of judging themselves, and often that involves comparing themselves to others. Maybe you have a role-model in mind, a person you think has it all together. Maybe you choose the best of several other people to compare yourself to--the role model for your professional life is different than the person you look up to in your personal life, and the person you admire for her mothering skills may not be the same person you want to look like in a swimsuit. Most people don't consider themselves good enough. We're not good enough at work, as a parent, or as a spouse. Our bodies don't look good enough at a pool party and we aren't pretty enough or successful enough at the high school reunion. We don't have enough friends and we don't have the right car. Emotionally sensitive people are more likely to judge themselves harshly. We live life as if it were a competition.
Emotionally sensitive people react to events quickly and with intense emotions, and then have difficulty getting their emotional reactions to subside. Finding ways to manage emotions effectively can decrease the pain they experience. Below are some suggestions for coping with intense emotions. 1. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness helps reduce anxiety and stress for everyone. Consider a way to practice mindfulness everyday that is easy to remember. Maybe mindfully brush your teeth or mindfully drink your coffee. Consider using a bracelet or a sticky note to remind yourself. 2: Play. If possible, find a way to laugh today. Be silly. Giggle. Dance, watch a comedy, run in the park, buy a balloon, dabble with paints, gather friends for games or play games designed for one player. Just for a few minutes. Enjoy a simple pleasure and focus completely on the activity - not on your concerns.