Are you the type of person who apologizes multiple times a day or even before your second cup of coffee? Do you apologize to a chair if you bump into it (I've done that!) or apologize for winning a race or getting a promotion? Do you apologize because you bought the last copy of a book someone else wanted or because someone bumped into you (Excuse me for being in the way of your mad dash to get to the coffee)?
In Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness has both How Skills and What Skills. The What Skills are what you do to be mindful and the How Skills are how you do the What Skills. One of the DBT What Skills is Describe. When you describe mindfully, you apply accurate words to events actions of others. This means that you learn to not take thoughts and emotions as necessarily being accurate. You can have many thoughts and interpretations that turn out to not be accurate at all. For example, when you feel afraid, that doesn't necessarily mean that there is a life-threatening situation happening. It doesn't necessarily mean that anything threatening is happening. Just because you feel afraid doesn't mean that you are in danger.
Amy's just got a promotion, Jill is going to Europe for a month, and Larry just lost 20 pounds and looks so fit he could be a trainer. When you look at what is happening in the lives of your friends, do you congratulate them and feel happy for them? Or do you use their good news to feel bad about yourself? Social comparisons are a sure way for many emotionally sensitive people to judge themselves negatively and be in a funk.
When you are an emotionally sensitive person, it's important who you have in your life. When you have intense feelings and are easily hurt, harsh people can be difficult for you to be around. When you've had difficult experiences with others you may struggle to trust your judgment and decide to not get close to others. While understandable, that decision can lead to loneliness and depression. As an emotionally sensitive person, you may struggle with knowing who you can be emotionally open with and trust. Brene Brown offers some guidelines by using the acronym BRAVING. Here's Dr. Brown's guidelines for determining if you can trust someone.
In Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), FAST is the skill for maintaining your self-respect. The T in FAST stands for Tell the Truth. When you are maintaining your self-respect, it's important to tell the truth. This means to tell the truth about yourself, about others, and about events even when you are upset with that other person. Or yourself.
Sometimes people feel an emptiness inside, as if their heart has a big hole in it. It's a painful feeling. Trying to fill that hole often leads you to search for someone to love you. You believe that having someone love you will fill the hole and you will be complete.
Emotionally sensitive people often struggle with trusting their internal experience. They have been told so often, "You're too sensitive," or "You are such a drama queen, " or "You always over-react," that they believe there is something wrong with them. Others frequently don't understand the intense emotions that the emotionally sensitive experience. In my experience, this leads many emotionally sensitive people to look to others for how they are supposed to feel, think, and act. They are sometimes fearful they can't manage their intense emotions on their own, so they look to others for help. This can lead to clinging or holding on too tightly to others.
There are many ways that emotionally sensitive people are controlled by their emotions. Consider the following two situations. Jen, an emotionally sensitive person, is a dentist who works hard and cares about her clients. She also has the personality characteristics of being overly agreeable. This means that she fears alienating others, to the point that she may not express her opinion when she knows others won't agree. She is sensitive to what others may want to hear and she sometimes finds that she has different opinions about issues depending on who she is with. She easily sees multiple sides to issues so it's easy to justify different views.