Learning How To Cope With Emotions

By Toni Hoy|Updated April 4, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Laura Angers, NCC, LPC

Are They Highly Sensitive?

The architecture of the brain varies from person to person. There are those of us that may result from heightened awareness of one's inner emotional state and bodily sensations, with everyone's awareness lying on a gradient. When they are somewhere or with someone where their environment is full of stimuli, this can lead them to feel overwhelmed or overstimulated. Highly sensitive people are characterized in part by the hyper-excitability of their nervous system.

These people are at a higher risk of burnout due to their receptivity with which they experience the world around them. They may sometimes feel like they don't know how to hide their emotions, or that they can't control them when they come. Whoever they are, it's important to maintain certain self-care techniques to help them recharge and be at their best.

Learning How to Cope with Emotions

Much of popular culture puts a spotlight on the traits related to extroversion, leaving those on the other end of the spectrum widely unrepresented. Those with tendency towards these personality traits desire less stimulation and require more time alone to process their thoughts and experiences.

Sensitive to criticism or chastising, this can lead towards the development of people-pleaser tendencies as a coping mechanism for the discomfort. Simply an alternative form of emotional intelligence, this makes it possible for them to pick up on more emotional and behavioral nuances. This is an asset they can learn to utilize and defend, teaching those in their life how best to interact with them. This isn't possible without a measure of self-discovery.

Signs You are Highly Sensitive

For those with finely-tuned nervous systems, small changes in the way their body processes are going can create extreme variance in their experience moment-to-moment. Processing stimuli at a deeper level allows them to reflect, connect and elaborate on their experience. It is no coincidence that many highly-sensitive people become artists, writers, and other exhibited manifestations of creativity. These people are particularly prone to anxiety and depression.

When one is exposed to negative experiences repeatedly, especially at a young age, their nervous system is primed towards anxiety. Think of an experience as leaving a proverbial bruise on their system. In other words, these people may have become this way due to experience. This propensity leads them to wear their heart on their sleeve. Feeling very aware of one's physical actions, as if others are watching or judging, and needing more time to ruminate over a decision, weighing every possible option and outcome are signs of being highly sensitive.

The Traits Intersect

Dr. Mary Elaine Jacobsen, author of The Gifted Adult, approaches the concept of high sensitivity and its relationship with giftedness. While the psychiatric community has coined a related disorder known as sensory processing disorder, it is to be argued that this condition is nothing more than a variation in sensitivity, outside of the realm of abnormality. Normal is in the eyes of the beholder.

By trying to get our students to adhere to methodology developed with the mean in mind can have many far-reaching consequences. We place labels and diagnoses upon people without recognizing that they may thrive under more idiosyncratic circumstances. Too often, the go-to approach is to assume pathology and throw medications at the problem. This can often lead to misdiagnoses, with common labels being ADHD, OCD, oppositional defiance disorder, and variously manifested mood disorders.

Learning a Balance

The characteristic has been described as a "qualitatively different experience of life in terms of heightened tone and color and meaning," which can mean that their attention is naturally drawn to things that others ignore. There are steps that they can take to learn to use this lower threshold for sensory awareness to their advantage. If they maintain and care for themselves with their strengths in mind, they may be surprised with the results.

Those that house a burning creative energy without the attention or discipline to sit down and produce often are experiencing misrecognized anxiety. BetterHelp is a product of the digital age, revolutionarily connecting more people to the mental health care that they need. Many of us that yearn to express and create can end up sacrificing physical or emotional well-being to pursue our work. Talking with a professional can give them the leg up they need in tapping into the lifestyle elements that work best for them.

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