How to stop being too sensitive

"How Can I Be Less Sensitive?" Techniques That Help

By: Aaron Tait

Andrea M. Darcy

Constantly told you overreact? Do your emotions ruin relationships and opportunities? Leaving you wondering ‘how can I be less sensitive?”

Why am I so emotionally oversensitive?

Often wonder, “Why me? Why am I so oversensitive?“. Genetics can contribute. But even if we are born more prone to be sensitive, we’d need to live through environments that trigger it.

Trauma in particular causes emotional sensitivity. It’s as if our brains want to protect us from further trauma, so overreact as a way to protect us. We can even end up with borderline personality disorder, or a diagnosis of emotional dysregulation.

Techniques that don’t work at all

Often sensitive people come up with their own methods to be less sensitive. These include things like:

  • avoiding social situations
  • shutting out other people
  • staying unemployed
  • developing a cold hard exterior
  • pretending to be someone they are not.

By: Valeria P.

These techniques might work short-term, but at a high cost. You will find yourself lonely, unhappy, misunderstood, or unable to remember who you really are. Depression is usually the long-term result.

7 ways to be less sensitive

So what sorts of techniques might you learn in therapy to control your emotions? That mean you can be less sensitive?

1. Mindfulness.

Daily mindfulness is one of the best tools to pull you away from your reactive thoughts and into the present moment. It leaves your mind calmer and clearer and raises your self-esteem, and it’s now a cornerstone of several types of therapy.

You can learn mindfulness now by reading our free ‘Guide to Mindfulness‘.

Note that mindfulness takes time, often several months or more, to really ‘get’, so stick it out. If you are struggling, consider using a mindfulness app.

2. Brain training.

Our brain is a bit like a computer. It likes to repeat the same program unless told otherwise.

If you are sensitive, the pattern will tend to be, ‘feel threatened, overreact or withdraw’. You need to teach your brain new ways of responding.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) achieves this through ‘thought charts’. By spending several weeks recording stressful thoughts and working them through a specific process, your brain eventually starts to recognise where you are mistaking assumptions for facts.

Learning how to spot assumptions is alone very powerful. When we stop thinking we know everything, and begin to realise we might be seeing things wrong, we start to be less sensitive. 

3. Displacement techniques.

By: Michael Himbeault

The idea here is to notice when you are being emotionally triggered, and then using a predetermined tool of distraction to pull you away from your thoughts. Tactics that get you out of your head and into your body are best. Dialectical behavioural therapy suggests things like holding ice, belly breathing, or physically taking a few steps backwards. Read more in our article “Techniques to Stop Distress“.

4. Perspective jumping. 

When we see things from a narrow view of ‘me against the world’ we tend to always be on alert and sensitive. A useful life coaching technique is to learn how to switch perspective. Think of a situation you recently experienced where you felt very sensitive. What would an alien watching from above think? Your eighty-year old future self? What would the Dalai Lama suggest you do in such a situation? It might feel silly, but it creates distance and surprising wisdom.

5. Acceptance.

The more we judge ourselves for being oversensitive, and fight against the situations we find ourselves in? The more we seem to overreact. But when we start to accept situations and ourselves, a strange thing happens. We relax a little. Suddenly we feel a bit less sensitive.

Try the ‘worst case scenario’ trick. When things seem overwhelming ask, “What is the very worst thing that can happen here? Can I accept and handle that?” If yes, you’ll relax a little. If no, you can decide who to ask for help.

A good tool to help with self acceptance is  self-compassion. When you find yourself judging or berating yourself, imagine you were instead talking to a good friend. How would you speak to and treat them? Offer yourself the same.

6. Daily journalling.

By: Walt Stoneburner

We aren’t talking about recording what happens to you. We are talking about ‘journal therapy‘, where you take time every day to explode your feelings onto a page. It’s a good idea to then rip up what you wrote, so that your unconscious mind feels safe to unload. The idea here is that your emotions release onto the page instead of onto others around you.

The key word here is ‘daily’. Think of it like a pot of water on the stove. You need to keep lowering the heat or it will boil over.

7. Self care.

Emotionally sensitive people often suffer  from ‘sensorial overload‘, or are just physically more sensitive as well. Things like poor sleep and too much sugar  can mean you are even less in control of how you feel. Yes, perhaps your friends can go out drinking all night and be fine. But if you are left an emotional wreck the next day, is it worth trying to keep up?

When it’s time to seek support

There are actually specific types of therapy designed to help you be more resilient and less oversensitive. 

These include dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), schema therapy, and mentalisation-based therapy.

If your sensitivity is connected to one exact trauma, eye movement desensitisation and reprogramming (EMDR) is also a useful therapy to try.

Harley Therapy connects you with top London therapists in central locations. Not in London or the UK? Our new booking platform means you can be talking to a therapist over Skype as soon as tomorrow. 

Still have a question about how to be less sensitive? Ask in the comment section below.

Andrea M. Darcy is the lead writer and editor of this site. And she is highly sensitive herself, so knows these techniques help. She also knows it can be hard to find the right therapist as a sensitive person, and offers consultations to help you figure out the right therapy for you. Find her @am_darcy .

How to Stop Being So Sensitive

Everyone has their own reaction to criticism, slights, and bad news. Some of us are naturally more sensitive than others. However, becoming very upset due to a perceived insult isn’t something you’re born with. It’s a skill that took a lot of practice to perfect.

Some of us have a perspective and set of mental habits that strengthen negative emotions. Luckily, these are under our control.

Learn how to stop being so sensitive. Consider these ideas:

1. Realize that it’s most likely not about you. Overly sensitive people tend to take things very personally. But people say and do unkind things for all sorts of reasons.

They might be having a bad day. They might be having problems at home. Health problems. Financial issues. The list goes on.

Avoid assuming that every perceived slight and criticism is about you. Chances are, what someone said or did shows more about them than about you.

2. Give silence a try. It’s okay not to respond to every comment, criticism, and action. Responding can increase your emotional response. Have you ever voiced your agitation with someone, only to find that you became angrier once you got started?

Practice letting it just roll off your back. This will get easier the more you practice.

3. Be realistic. Maybe you engage in exaggerated thinking. Try to keep your perceptions and thinking in line with reality. Avoid making something big out of something innocuous.

4. Value your own approval. You wouldn’t be so sensitive if you didn’t care so much about what others thought. Learn to be satisfied with your own approval.

You’ll never make everyone happy. That’s impossible. You can’t control the values or opinions of others.

Be a good person, please yourself, and ignore everything else.

5. Understand that negative feelings take time and effort to maximize. When you’re experiencing a strong emotion, it wasn’t strong right out of the gate.

Perhaps you thought that someone sneered at your shoes. On a 1 – 10 scale, the strength of your reaction might have been a two, at first. You have to go through a complex routine of magnifying, assuming, visualizing, and self-talk to get yourself to a 10

Instead, what if you stopped right there? By not taking it further, you’d only have to deal with a minor annoyance instead of strongly upsetting yourself. You’d be a lot less sensitive and enjoy your life more.

6. Practice controlling your emotions. Watch a scary or sad movie and avoid identifying so closely with the characters. When something sad or frightening happens, maintain some emotional distance. Notice when you’re getting emotional and use that as a cue to just relax.

7. Keep your attention in the present. Instead of turning your attention and focus inward when you begin to overreact, keep your focus on what’s happening around you. Listen to the sounds in your environment. Put your attention on something you can see.

Do you cry at TV commercials? Do you hold a grudge because someone forgot your name? If so, you’re being too sensitive.

It’s great to be compassionate and empathetic, but when your sensitivity detracts from your life, it’s time to take back some control. As a human being, you have a lot of control over your reactions to things.

You have the ability to think and to change your focus and behavior. Practice these strategies and gain greater peace.

Tagged as How to stop being sensitive, Life Coach For Men, Personal Coach, Resilience

What to do if you are too sensitive. And this is noticeable

Heightened emotionality is no longer a sign of weakness - it is a feature of the psyche. The existence of highly sensitive people has been scientifically proven. In a world where more and more people cannot cope with stress, American psychologists are closely studying those who are especially prone to worry about any reason. "Lifestyle" offers to join them.

If you can't stand bright lights and turmoil around you, you can't watch horror movies, and after watching the news about an earthquake or a military conflict, you begin to cry out of pity for the victims, you are a highly sensitive person. According to the author of the term Elaine N. Aron, there are about 20% of people like you in the world. This means that it's time to stop hiding your feelings and no longer be ashamed of crying in the movies.

In today's Western world, it's a shame to be a weakling — and that's why we have to hide our feelings, constantly keep in good shape, pretend that we can live without lunch and sleep and work 12 hours a day, otherwise our colleagues will look askance at us , and the authorities - to make jokes about us.

In our country, it is not customary to be capricious, and that is why we are forced to agree to the conditions that we have, to work in a basement or open space, under the wind of an air conditioner, under the harsh light of fluorescent lamps and under the cries of colleagues from neighboring departments.



Are we suffering from all this? Yes, we suffer. In general, we suffer from a lot of things: we can’t stand the feeling of hunger, we can’t watch films about the war, we don’t wear woolen clothes because they prick, we tear off the tags from T-shirts because they get in the way. We cannot work when it is cold, hungry or noisy, we react sharply to criticism and take any comments personally, we catch changes in the mood of others. It remains to say who we are.

We are highly sensitive people. Do not rush to laugh and call us sissies - and not only because it is very offensive to us.

You may also be one fifth of the world's population, which is characterized by a particularly sensitive processing of sensory information. Then you are one of us.

Perhaps you, too, were forbidden to watch the news program as a child, because they show war and starving children in Africa? Maybe you were dying of shame when a geographer slapped you a deuce once in your life? Maybe they hated running and, in general, any form of competition, when everyone is looking at you, and you run no more than a three? Maybe at school it was a real torment for you to raise your hand in class, even if you knew exactly the right answer? Maybe. Or maybe you have other examples from your childhood that will help you to say that you were a highly sensitive child and probably grew up to be a highly sensitive adult as well.

The term "highly sensitive person" was first used in its current sense by Dr. Elaine Aron, a scientist and author of The Highly Sensitive Person, published in the United States in 1997. The hypothesis that high sensitivity to external stimuli is a feature inherent in about 20% of the inhabitants of the Earth was put forward by a psychologist twenty years ago.

However, the real interest in this idea has awakened among the public only now, when it became clear that more and more people can not cope with stress.

And I woke up just in time: for twenty years, Dr. Aron and her colleagues have done a lot of research that helped to understand what processes occur in the brain of a highly sensitive person, and to conclude that this feature is innate: certain parts of the brain of such a person react to external stimuli sharper than other, less sensitive people.

And not only negative ones, but also positive ones too. Yes, highly sensitive people feel acute discomfort in awkward situations. But brighter experience the pleasure of contemplating objects of art and views of nature, listening to music, communicating with pleasant people.

How to know that you are a highly sensitive person



1. You have deep feelings

One of the main characteristics of highly sensitive people is the ability to deeply feel what is happening around. They have developed intuition, which allows them to be more perceptive than their less sensitive comrades.

2. You react more emotionally than others

Highly sensitive people experience more intense emotions and are often infected by the emotions of others. These are not necessarily close people, they can easily pick up a bad mood from a friend or take care of a colleague's problems. This makes them hate delivering bad news or making unpopular decisions – they worry about how others will react to it.

3. You are often told: “Don't take it personally.”

Sensitive people are treated differently in different cultures: if in the West emotionality is a manifestation of weakness, then in the East everything is not so simple.

Dr. Ted Zeff, author of The Highly Sensitive Person's Survival Guide, states from his research that in India and Thailand sensitive men are very rarely teased, while in North In America, men with a fine mental organization are often the objects of ridicule.

4. You prefer to exercise alone

Highly sensitive people hate team sports, according to Dr. Zeff. And our experience confirms this: such people like cycling, swimming or walking, but playing football or basketball causes them to panic.

However, there are exceptions: if such a person is lucky with smart and understanding parents, he may not be afraid to show himself in a team.

5. You find it difficult to make elementary decisions

Highly sensitive people are attentive to the details of the situation and the subtleties of circumstances. From this, they try to take everything into account and fall into a stupor, because there is too much of this.

Even the task of choosing an ice cream can confuse them. However, there is good news: having once understood how to behave in a certain situation, in similar conditions in the future, such a person, without getting lost, will immediately do the right thing.

6. You get upset when you make a mistake

Mistakes upset everyone, but highly sensitive people - especially: because of annoying little things and oversights that others have forgotten to even think about, they can suffer for weeks, imagining that they still remember the mistake.

7. You are an introvert

But there are exceptions: according to Dr. Aron, 30% of highly sensitive individuals are extroverts. This happens when a person grows up in a closed environment where everything is in plain sight, in a village, a small town, a religious community or a family of a public person.

8. You know how to work in a team

Paradoxically, but true: the depth of experience makes highly sensitive people excellent workers. Only they should not take positions in which they must make final decisions: for example, if it is a doctor, he should have the opportunity to consult with colleagues before prescribing treatment.

9. You are prone to anxiety and depression

This only happens if you have experienced a lot of adversity in the past - but who among us is lucky to do without them at all? Shy people are often teased in childhood: if a highly sensitive person was not given proper support in childhood, he grows up with the feeling that the world is hostile, and only doctors and antidepressants can help here.

It is worth taking a closer look at your child: high sensitivity is often inherited.

10. You can't stand sharp sounds

Someone can't stand it when Styrofoam squeaks on glass. Someone - the sound of a perforator or drill. It annoys someone when others eat loudly: champing and smacking is really impossible to endure, why do people even allow themselves to eat with their mouths open ?!

11. You can't see the violence on the screen

A highly sensitive person cannot watch horror films about dismemberment, disaster films about drowning dogs, and arthouse about rape. Lars von Trier, Gaspar Noe and Michael Haneke are cinematic enemies.

Salo by Pier Paolo Pasolini? Look in your VGIK, and it’s enough for us to read the plot.

But you can watch Game of Thrones by closing your eyes in certain places, because the costumes are beautiful.

12. You can cry from scratch

When such a person is offended to tears for some reason, he is really capable of bursting into tears. And, by the way, it costs him a lot of effort not to do this. A sad film (without violence), a touching commercial for a charity campaign, a story about a penguin who annually comes to the Brazilian (or Chilean?) who saved him - in general, anything can cause a surge of feelings.

13. You are very polite

Good manners are a hallmark of highly sensitive people: it is important for them not to hurt the feelings of others. They try not to inconvenience others: they regularly give up their seats on public transport, carefully place their carts in the supermarket, let people go ahead, and endlessly apologize and thank you. So sometimes it's even annoying.

14. You are sensitive to criticism

Highly sensitive people literally cannot stand criticism, taking it to heart. When their team is criticized, they take everything personally.

Because of this, they often use ridiculous defense mechanisms: they try to please everyone in advance, they criticize themselves, they avoid everything that can be a source of criticism.

Dr. Aron claims that self-defense such people use the following methods, which may seem strange to most: minimizing contact, blaming, trying to achieve too high a result, resentment, projecting, refusal to compete.

15. You can’t work in an open office

Open space is a nightmare for any office employee: noise, bright light that not everyone can stand, constant flickering, talking on the phone, disputes and extraneous smells - all this makes you a highly sensitive person's head is spinning, but it does not work out in any way. He is generally incapable of working under pressure: maybe someone needs a good kick to start working, but not for him.



10 Rules for a Highly Sensitive Person

1. Remember that you are not alone and that what happens to you is normal.

2. Avoid people you don't like.

3. Avoid situations that tire you.

4. Don't overload your schedule or you may fall off at the most inopportune moment.

5. Set healthy boundaries with people who use your capacity for empathy.

6. Keep a diary to help you clear your head and learn how to make decisions.

7. Enjoy good music, art, and people who support you.

8. Find time every day to relax: take a bath, meditate, go for a massage, sit quietly with a book. Alcohol in this sense is a bad option for relaxation: you get tired every day, but you can’t drink every day.

9. Find opportunities to be alone.

10. Take care of yourself: you need to take care of yourself in the same way as you take care of your loved ones.

How to stop being too sensitive?

Publication date . Posted in Character

What does it mean to have "thick skin"? As a rule, this means that a person can perceive criticism, insults and unpleasant information without being too emotional and irritated. A person who does not have thick skin can be very sensitive and overly reactive. They often scream, cry, and defend themselves when they think they are in danger. But a thick-skinned person knows how to stay calm under pressure. Thick skin is an important part of emotional intelligence. It is about learning to manage your speech and actions, even when a person feels the most negative and painful emotions.

Psychologists believe that much of the difference between people with high and low sensitivity may be due to differences in how the nervous system processes information. It is clear that sensitive people have many advantages. They can often communicate easily with others and be more kind and understanding towards everyone, as well as more introspective and creative. However, sometimes this high sensitivity can also become tiresome, unhealthy, and counterproductive.

When a person is overly sensitive, it often means that he is too focused on information that should not matter to him. Sometimes it's better to "reduce" your sensitivity a bit. Someone might say to a person, for example, "Damn, your group really sucks," and he won't be able to stop thinking about it, because it bothers him a lot. But in fact, no one should care what one person thinks, maybe he is just an envious person.

Too much sensitivity can prevent you from following your goals and passions in life - because the person will be too concerned about what other people think of him, and he will not be comfortable being himself, despite negative judgments. If you look at the most successful people in life, you will notice that they often have a layer of thick skin that desensitizes them to this type of useless criticism and hatred. In fact, the more successful a person is, the more criticism he has to endure daily - which means that his skin will be thicker.

Sometimes living your life means ignoring what other people think and just "not giving a damn." Sometimes you need to be compassionate and empathetic, but sometimes you just need to let go and not care so much.

How to become "thick-skinned"?

Here are the key strategies to use when trying to create "thick skin" in your life. You need to be patient with yourself, and it will be easier to manage your emotions in relation to things that make you feel threatened and uncomfortable.

  1. Practice silence - do not respond to everything people say or do. Silence is one of the main actions of those who have "thick skin". They simply skip the words and actions of other people without thinking about them.

  2. Demand more criticism - actively bring more criticism into your life. Ask people what they think. You have to learn not to take personally what people say. The more criticism a person receives, the more feedback he receives, and in general becomes less sensitive to it. It becomes a normal part of growth.

  3. Get out of your "comfort zone" - try to expose yourself to things you don't like. You can just watch a movie you don't like or listen to a genre of music you hate. You need to learn to find something positive in these things.

  4. Pay attention to what offends. When a person feels hurt or threatened by something, they need to ask themselves, “What about this is really bothering me?” The response may help him see that he is overreacting.

  5. Avoid overthinking - often people seem overly sensitive because they have overthinking. They misperceive a minor situation and turn it into something much bigger than it really is.

  6. Trust yourself - don't seek other people's approval all the time. It must be remembered that the only thing that really matters is your own approval. It is important to trust yourself more to do the right things and make the right decisions in your life.

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