Being sensitive isn’t always a bad thing. In some communities and cultures, being highly sensitive might actually be appreciated. However, it can make daily life difficult and overwhelming sometimes.
Thankfully, there are ways to practice how to stop being sensitive. While you can’t cure your sensitivity, as it is a trait and not a disorder or a learned behavior, this article has included 11 tips to help reduce your sensitivity and how it affects you and your life. Additionally, if you want to learn more about what it means to be highly sensitive, that is covered below too.
What Causes a Person to Be Highly Sensitive?
Surprisingly, high sensitivity may not be your fault. Some studies have shown that being sensitive actually has genetic roots. The trait is usually known as sensory-processing sensitivity (SPS). They usually have a higher emotional sensitivity such as reactions to pain, hunger, light, and noise. These reactions may be both external and internal.
Many people blame various situations for raising their child’s sensitivity, but it isn’t something that is learned. However, the way it affects the child and changes their behavior is based on their situation.
Children shamed for being sensitive tend to be more introverted, shy, and have devalued self-worth, while those praised for it tend to be more well-adjusted and have higher self-worth.
Sometimes, sensitivity also has to do with your body’s reaction to stimuli. Those who are very sensitive might have a nervous system that is more sensitive to a variety of stimuli, such as physical, emotional, and social.
High sensitivity isn’t just found in people, but in various other animals as well. Over 100 species have been found to have some highly sensitive members. This benefits a lot of animal species as these animals are often more quick to detect a problem and react to any situation that may be unsafe.
Things You Should Know about Being Sensitive
There are tests to measure a person’s sensitivity. This is known as the Highly Sensitive Person Scale or HSPS. It was created in the 1990s by Art Aron and his wife.
Interestingly, sensitivity is measured in a variety of different cultures. In places where being a sensitive person isn’t considered a valuable trait, the self-worth and self-esteem of these people are drastically decreased.
Many people assume that those with a lot of sensitivity are introverts or shy, but that isn’t the case. While a lot of sensitivity is considered genetic, shyness is learned. Up to 30% of highly sensitive people are extroverts at some level. While some highly sensitive people are nervous, shy, or inhibited, that isn’t always the case.
While you think you might be alone being sensitive and shy, studies find that easily 15 to 20% of the population could be considered highly sensitive people. This puts highly sensitive people into a weird position as it is above the average considered for disorders, but still isn’t enough to make this behavior considered widely normalized.
How to Stop Being Sensitive: 11 Tips
Unfortunately, being sensitive isn’t something that gets better or worse over time. Since it is a genetic trait, improving your mood or self-esteem will not magically make you less sensitive. However, there are ways you can learn to handle your sensitivity better, and handle social situations with more ease.
What Not to Do
To start, let’s discuss the ways that don’t work. Though it may feel better in the present, avoiding situations or making your life easier by doing only easy things will not make it better. This means that while shutting people out, not getting a job, or avoiding social situations feels like an easy answer right now, it only makes it harder in the future.
In fact, doing this regularly may make your moods worse as they heighten loneliness, your feeling of being misunderstood, and depression. Most people that try these techniques suffer from depression in the long run.
Now, let’s talk about the ways to make your life a little easier while still being a sensitive person.
Being mindful means making sure you learn how to be present. It helps with a variety of problems like stress, anxiety, and depression. It is about noticing exactly what you are doing at any given moment such as fidgeting or experiencing negative emotions.
At first, when you practice mindfulness, it is just about acknowledging what you are feeling and doing during your practice sessions. Eventually, though, you will notice them automatically, and be aware.
This may not seem beneficial, but later down the road, it will stop you from reacting negatively without conscious thought. This can help stop people from being overwhelmed by their situation and feel a little more in control as well.
There are plenty of apps and programs online to help you get started.
Move Your Thoughts
Finding techniques to change your thoughts when you are reacting negatively is a great technique. It works with mindfulness, as you have to be aware of when you are reacting in a bad way.
But then you take it a step further and find ways to distract yourself. This can be something like listening and changing your breathing, going on a walk, calling someone to talk, counting all the yellow things around you, or listening to music.
Many people who are highly sensitive feel alone. They may feel like it is them against everything else and have negative thoughts as a result. Practicing changing those thoughts and looking at them from a new perspective can help to change your mindset in the long run.
A good way is to think about it from a very strange perspective. Think about what an alien would think about your situation, or a person from ancient Greece. This boosts your creativity and allows you to think about fun situations.
You can also think about what an author would write about you as the main character in a story. It is important to think about these seriously, and not give them half-hearted attempts for them to actually work.
Accept Yourself and the Situation
Sometimes, things are out of your control and will mess up your carefully-laid plans. This can make it hard to go on with your day, or may make you feel like you failed.
Instead of letting it get you down, try to accept it. Ask yourself what is the worst thing that can happen, and whether you can handle that worst-case scenario or not. If you can, have someone else ask you. Sometimes, when you have to say it outright, it sounds more silly to you than if you just say it in your head.
Also, practicing self-compassion is a good tool. Pretend that you aren’t trying to help yourself, but a friend. What would you say to someone else that was suffering the same situation as you and that was being hard on themselves?
Practice Mindfulness Techniques
On top of just practicing mindfulness, you can find other techniques that help you. Things such as journaling can allow you to self-reflect as well as get out any emotions that might be building up. It doesn’t have to be something long, just a couple of sentences.
Journaling can also help you change your mindset. Instead of focusing on the bad, you can challenge yourself to write two or three good things that happened that day. Whatever you choose, it is important to do it daily.
Practice Self Care
Those that are sensitive emotion-wise also seem to be also sensitive to physical situations. This means that if you tend to eat poorly, get too little sleep, or injure yourself, you may have a worse day the next morning and feel even more out of control.
Make sure you give your body plenty of love. It is the only one you have and it works hard to keep you going. Also, remember that while your friends may be able to handle things, that doesn’t mean you can without any negative consequences.
Create a Routine
Creating a routine can be helpful, as it can reduce a lot of your stressors daily. However, it is important to not get too reliant on your routine, as you don’t want to shut down when things deviate from the norm or don’t go as planned.
Know What Triggers You
Finding what things trigger you can be important. It helps you to be more self-aware of what will set you off so you know when you will have to work harder to stay calm. For example, if loud noises set you off, bringing things like noise-canceling headphones with you can help you be prepared.
Or, if you know you are going to be in a stressful situation, you can work to get ready beforehand with mindfulness techniques and planning how to handle it.
Exercise can also be helpful. It can help to create a routine and a rhythm. Plus, if you exercise, it may force your brain to focus on only that and not other issues or problems running through your brain.
Don’t go too hard though. Because you react negatively to physical stimuli as well, high-intensity exercise may actually make your situation worse. Start simple, and work your way up if you want to later. Even a light walk or jog can be beneficial.
Speak up for Yourself
Just because you are not the same as everyone else, doesn’t mean you have to handle the same situations. If you don’t bring up what bothers you, things will never change. For example, if your roommate playing violent video games gets to you, ask them if they can play it quieter, or turn their desk around so you don’t have to see it.
It is important to be polite about this though, and don’t expect people to automatically do what you say. Some people don’t feel comfortable changing or have issues of their own that make it difficult to accommodate you, but it is always worth asking.
Are There Benefits to Being Sensitive?
People who are more sensitive tend to have a lot more empathy than others, and they are more attuned to the moods or people around them.
Another benefit is that those who are more sensitive also seem to be more creative, and foster deeper personal relationships. They also tend to have a better appreciation for the arts and beauty.