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Emotionally Sensitive People: Survey Results, Part 1

Bloomingdale Trail charrette weekendMany thanks to every one of the two hundred and sixty two people who answered the questions on the survey about emotionally sensitive people (ESP). The answers were enlightening, heartfelt and touching.

Let’s take a look at what you said about being an emotionally sensitive person.

Most had at least one other person in their family who was also emotionally sensitive and many had more than one. Most of you (68.3%) were told as a child that you were too sensitive. The teen years seem to be time that you were the most emotionally sensitive (60%).

Relationships were a primary concern. The emotionally sensitive like being aware of others’ needs and being in touch with their feelings. They like connecting deeply with friends and the beauty in the world and many believe they are more accepting of others.

They enjoy caring for and empathizing with others and they cherish being passionate about what is important to them. Helping others feel at ease and being able to” read” people is positive for them. They have an understanding of others’ emotions that can be helpful.

At the same time, intense emotions get in the way of relationships. Many (51%) have stopped being friends with more than five people because they hurt you. Many of you (52.6%) also hide your feelings from others most of the time. You find the emotions of others burdensome at times, perhaps because so many of you ( 78.8%)  have been complimented on your compassion for others and see yourselves as being loyal to the point it is not in your best interests.

Most of you (79.3%) can sense others feelings even when they don’t say or show how they are feeling. Several of you mentioned how difficult it was to not experience the emotions of others and 57% of you cannot watch the news without getting upset. Most of you are introverts or someone who reenergizes by being alone (72%).

Emotionally sensitive people don’t like feeling like their mood is at the mercy of people around them. Other people have far too much influence on their mood , so ESPs hold back on what they say. They also tend to overanalyze people’s words and behaviors out of fear of being hurt. At times they feel paranoid, focused on what they believe others think of them. Many are afraid of their emotions (53.7%). Anger is the most difficult emotion for the emotionally sensitive to manage.

Many of you have found therapy helpful (88%) and the most common issue was depression (71.2%). Exercise helps calm emotions for a large percentage (71.4%).

Many coping skills were suggested including sleeping, meditative prayer, music, positive self-talk, reading, quite and solitude, talking with  a trusted confidant, feeling heard, playing video games, writing, distractions like television and computers, art, checking out the truth of the situation, petting animals, thinking about someone they love, listing gratitudes, yoga, breathing exercises, watching positive movies, self-help books, being in nature, baths, mindfulness, self-compassion, crying, rocking, organizing and cleaning, identifying the cause of the reaction, medication, imagining something funny,reminding themselves they are human, thinking happy thoughts, putting the hurt in perspective, cocooning, empathizing with the other person, thinking of alternative views of the situation, validation, mental exercises, and reading encouraging quotes.

Learn more about the survey results in the next post, including what emotionally sensitive people wish others understood about them. Also, watch for my next survey.


Creative Commons License photo credit: Steven Vance

Emotionally Sensitive People: Survey Results, Part 1

Karyn Hall, PhD

Karyn Hall, Ph.D. is the owner/director of the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Center in Houston, a DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified Clinician, a RO DBT Approved Supervisor and Trainer and owner of, an online educational program. She is a trainer/consultant as well as a therapist and certified coach, author of The Emotionally Sensitive Person, SAVVY, Mindfulness Exercises for DBT Therapists, and co-author of The Power of Validation. Her podcast, The Emotionally Sensitive Person, is available on iTunes.

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APA Reference
Hall, K. (2012). Emotionally Sensitive People: Survey Results, Part 1. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 18, 2019, from


Last updated: 8 Apr 2012
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