While emotionally sensitive people are more vulnerable to depression, anxiety and borderline personality disorder, too often being emotionally sensitive is pathologized. Being emotionally sensitive is not a disease or a disorder. Accepting your own emotional sensitivity can help you not add suffering to your life because of your sensitivity.

Emotionally sensitive people are often artists or therapists or involved in more of what is often referred to as right brain activities. The following questionnaire from the book  The Emotionally Sensitive Person may help you determine if you are emotionally sensitive.  Circle the answer that best indicates to what extent you have experienced each situation.

Emotional Sensitivity Self-Assessment

1.  I’m often told by people who know me well that I’m too sensitive.

1  Strongly Disagree                2  Disagree                3 Agree                4   Strongly Agree

2.  I often worry about hurting other people’s feelings.

1 Strongly Disagree                 2 Disagree                 3 Agree                4 Strongly Agree

3.  If I’m asked where I’d like to go to lunch, either I say “I don’t know” or I choose where I think the other person wants to go, because I want to make others happy.

1 Strongly Disagree                 2 Disagree                 3 Agree                4 Strongly Agree

4.  Making decisions is difficult for me.

1 Strongly Disagree                 2 Disagree                 3 Agree                4 Strongly Agree

5.  If something unfair happens, I have a hard time letting it go.

1 Strongly Disagree                 2 Disagree                 3 Agree                 4 Strongly Agree

6.  Nature is particularly grounding and calming for me.

1 Strongly Disagree                 2 Disagree                 3 Agree                 4 Strongly Agree

7.  When other people are upset, I get upset too.

1 Strongly Disagree                 2 Disagree                 3 Agree                 4 Strongly Agree

8.  I try to avoid or hide my emotions.

1 Strongly Disagree                 2 Disagree                3 Agree                  4 Strongly Agree

9.  I change to fit in with the people I’m with.

1 Strongly Disagree                 2 Disagree                 3 Agree                 4 Strongly Agree

10.  If a friend doesn’t return my call or text, I assume she’s angry with me.

1 Strongly Disagree                 2 Disagree                 3 Agree                  4 Strongly Agree

11.  I have more intense reactions to bad news than most people do.

1 Strongly Disagree                2 Disagree                  3 Agree                   4 Strongly Agree

12.  When I’m emotional, I have difficulty thinking.  My brain shuts down.

1 Strongly Disagree               2 Disagree                   3 Agree                   4 Strongly Agree

13.  I avoid projects and social activities because I’m afraid of being criticized.

1 Strongly Disagree               2 Disagree                   3 Agree                  4 Strongly Agree

14.  I often cancel plans with friend because I don’t feel like being with them.

1 Strongly Disagree               2 Disagree                   3 Agree                 4 Strongly Agree

15.  I shop too much, drink too much, work too much, eat too much, or sleep too much.

1 Strongly Disagree               2 Disagree                  3 Agree                  4 Strongly Agree

16.  I often don’t know what emotion I’m feeling or why I’m feeling a certain way.

1 Strongly Disagree              2 Disagree                   3 Agree                  4 Strongly Agree

17.  Other people are usually jerks who are out to make life hard for me.

1 Strongly Disagree             2 Disagree                     3 Agree                 4 Strongly Agree

18.  I really don’t know what other people see in me or why they’d want to be around me.

1 Strongly Disagree              2 Disagree                    3 Agree                  4 Strongly Agree

19.  Change scares me.

1 Strongly Disagree              2 Disagree                   3 Agree                   4 Strongly Agree

20.  I hate myself and how emotional I am.

1 Strongly Disagree              2 Disagree                   3 Agree                    4 Strongly Agree

 

Scoring:  Add your points for all the questions.

70 – 82     Strongly emotionally sensitive

55 – 69     Emotionally sensitive

45 – 54     Mildly emotionally sensitive

20 – 44     Not emotionally sensitive

 

If you are emotionally sensitive, being aware of that characteristic can help you stop judging yourself and learn more about how to manage your feelings so you can the life you want to live. Many emotionally sensitive people find ways to cope well and enjoy their sensitivity.  Ideas about how to manage your emotions are offered on this website and in the book The Emotionally Sensitive Person.

NOTE:  If you are looking for a way to supplement the therapy you are doing, to review the DBT skills you learned, or to learn more about how people apply the skills in their lives, you might find DBTCoaching helpful.  Starting in August, you’ll have access to materials about a different skill each month. There will be videos about the skill, fact sheets, a webinar by Dr. Hall, and suggestions for applying the skill.  You can register now on the site  to receive more information as the launch date nears. Hope to meet you there!

You might  enjoy The Emotionally Sensitive Person podcast.  Let us know if you have suggestions for topics or any feedback.  Would love to hear from you.

TRAINING IN DBT:  In October I’ll be in Philly for Treatment Implementation Collaborative for a 5-Day Jump Start in DBT.  Come join us!

Research study update:  Thank you again to all who participated in the research study about emotionally sensitive people.  Many of the results are available in the book The Emotionally Sensitive Person.  However, the study is still not complete as the comparison group interviews are not complete.