The 6 Real Reasons You're A Highly Sensitive Person

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artistic woman feeling all emotions

"You're so sensitive!" is often said as a criticism. Anyone who's teared up at inappropriate times is easily offended or has to leave crowds because they find them overwhelming and knows the pain of being called over-sensitive.

But when you look at all the amazing qualities of a highly sensitive person, it becomes clear that "sensitive" shouldn't be an insult. Sensitivity is not a weakness; it's a strength that should be celebrated. 

"Being sensitive can be a great quality," says Katie Ziskind, a holistic family therapist at Wisdom Within Counseling. "Sensitive people tend to be more compassionate, feel more, and are more empathetic to others. People who are sensitive are more impacted by textures, fabrics, food, pressure, temperature, energy, and even light, and sound. People who are more sensitive are more prone to sensory overload from being in a large crowd, a noisy cafeteria, or even Walmart."

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While this is not a bad thing, it is a reason to take extra good care of yourself.

"Highly sensitive people also need self-care practices to release, such as gentle yoga," suggests Ziskind. "For instance, you may be really sensitive to wool clothing, certain foods, medication potency, and loud noises. Sensitivities can come in different shapes and sizes for every person. Focus on your strengths, and look at your sensitivities as a superpower... We need more empathetic people in this world."

If you're asking yourself "Why am I so sensitive?" it's important to take a step back. Someone can be sensitive for many reasons, but here are a few possible ones. 

Here are 6 reasons you're a highly sensitive person — and why it's okay:

1. You're overwhelmed

While sensitivity can be an innate characteristic, it can also be circumstantial. If you're going through a stressful time at work or at home, any other stressors added on top of that might get to you more than they otherwise would. And if you're already sensitive, overwhelming situations may make you especially emotional. 

"Sensitive people tend to get overwhelmed when there’s a lot going on," says Caleb Backe, a Health & Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics. "They become anxious and this can lead to a heightened state of sensitivity. This can potentially result in a reduction in productivity and ability to stay on task." 

2. You're empathetic

You might be feeling all the feelings because you're feeling other people's emotions as well as your own. Being empathetic "can mean that your own sensitivities are more acute," warns Backe. "Sensitive people are more able to pick up on the emotions of others, which means that they really feel as though they are ‘experiencing’ what other people are going through."

While being empathetic is an admirable trait, make sure that you're not overextending yourself and that you're taking care of yourself as well as you're taking care of others. 

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3. You've overcome adversity

"Those who have been through uncommon emotional trauma at a young age seem to be the most sensitive of all," says Jodi Livon, Author of The Happy Medium book series, an intuitive coach, and resident psychic on ABC's Twin Cities Live. "It’s clear that numerous people are uncomfortable around big emotions, so turn away from anyone displaying them and, in so doing, rouse feelings of isolation."

Difficult experiences force you to deal with strong emotions, making you more comfortable feeling them later in life, even as they overwhelm others. 

4. You're creative

Creativity can drive you toward exploring your own emotions as well as others, putting you in touch with your sensitive side.

"Highly imaginative people tend to be sensitive," says Livon. "Creative folks have more access to their insights because they work intentionally through the energy of inspiration. Inspiration is connected to love and intuition."

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5. You're intuitive

Speaking of which, another trait that correlates with sensitivity is possessing a strong intuition since intuitive people pick up on everything around them.

"Your intuition can act as an internal alarm system, warning you of trouble, and it can help you find employment, love, and even a great parking spot," advises Livon. "Intuition is a partner in the creative force that helps you magnetize that which you most desire."

6. You have Borderline Personality Disorder

This is a rarer cause of sensitivity, but some people who find themselves very easily distraught may be suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder.

According to Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist, and author of The Self-Aware Parent, "A marker for Borderline Personality Disorder is sudden mood changes on a dime. Most people think this means going from calm to a sudden outburst of angry rage. That is not always the case. There are some people who break down into tears suddenly."

If you've exhibited signs of Borderline Personality Disorder, such as sudden changes in identity and fear of abandonment, find a therapist who can empathize with your struggles. Mental illness is not a moral failing, and you did not ask for it. 

The bottom line? "If someone tells you that you are sensitive, thank them," says Livon. Your sensitivity is at worst a struggle outside your control, and at best a beautiful gift, so don't be afraid to use it. 

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Suzannah Weiss is a freelance writer and contributor to PopSugar. She has written for The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Washington Post, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Playboy, and other publications.