How to Deal with Emotional Reactivity as a Highly Sensitive Person
Emotional reactivity is when emotions easily bubble up within you and become hard to control. Here’s my personal take on why that happens and how you, too, can cope with it.
1.) First, if you’re in public and feeling this way, remember to respond and not react.
Reacting is letting yourself be driven by your emotions, which can be destructive in certain sensitive situations. It’s similar to a child throwing a tantrum as a reaction to an outcome that isn’t in their favor. Responding requires some rational thought, which involves pausing, centering yourself, putting your emotions on a shelf to be examined for later, then giving a productive response.
Feelings and emotions help us know when we’re in danger or when a boundary is crossed, but if it’s none of those things and it’s simply that you got triggered because it reignited a memory of some past trauma, it’s helpful to just pin your emotions for later.
2. ) Determine if there’s anything wrong with your body. Are you hungry, lacking sleep, or is there any illness that’s making you more sensitive?
HSPs are more sensitive to bodily imbalances than most people. Whenever I get hyperacidity, the feeling when it hits and starts to constrict my chest and limit my breathing, triggers my overthinking and catastrophizing.
Ever since I gained awareness of how my feelings are, most times, the product of inflammations or bodily irritations, I’m able to better address the root cause of discomforts and control my emotions.
Maybe most of your emotional reactivity is from your body reacting to something too, so make sure your body is alkanized, well-fed(with a healthy microbiome!), and that you have enough sleep and exercise!
3.) Watch out for your environment and the people you’re with — the emotions you feel may just be projections from others.
Being hsps, we tend to also be empaths and take on the energies of the people around us
Sometimes, when I’m in crowds, I get anxiety attacks(probably from too much stimulation.) However, there was also this specific person who, if I was in their presence too long, I would start crying for no reason — like full on sobbing. I had the strangest feeling that the sadness they were unable to express somehow got channeled through me.
I know of a fellow empath who had her first narcissistic encounter, and ever since then, she’s been feeling unworthy and unloveable and like she can’t forget about that person, when usually, it’s easy for her to brush off people who’ve wronged her. I told her that it’s very likely she absorbed the subconscious feelings of the narcissist too much.
Whenever a feeling seems to not be yours(like it’s misplaced somehow), bring it to your awareness. This allows you to give it permission to not occupy your body anymore and let it go. What I like to do is just to sigh while saying “shoo” to the feelings that are being projected onto me. You don’t belong to me. It’s like gently nudging it away.
4.) If you’ve repressed your emotions for so long, your emotional reactivity might be your body compensating for it. Sit with your emotions and determine what it’s trying to tell you.
I wasn’t allowed to be angry or cry as a kid. Like Elsa, I was told to conceal, don’t feel, and don’t let it show. But emotions are meant to expressed.
I used to be able to express this through my art, but in college, I grew too busy and depressed to create anything. What’s more, I was repressing my sadness of studying a field I didn’t like, so my emotions just kept stewing.
If it isn’t possibly anyone else’s feelings, it could be that your shadow is telling you something. The harmless things that you can’t accept in others may be the things you have a hard time accepting in yourself.
When I became emotionally detached from myself in college, I envied others who could easily express themselves, or be in touch with their emotional sides and be vulnerable enough to show it. Emotions are there for a reason — it lets others know if you need support, help, or comfort. At that moment in my college life, I was very uncomfortable and unable to express my sadness because being vulnerable was punished growing up.
After I had a really traumatic experience in 2019, I cried almost every other day for a huge portion of 2020 because I finally realized that I was carrying so much pain in my body and it was time to let it out. I expressed my anger and grief from my upbringing by using my Arnis stick and hitting trees, or throwing unused glass or ceramics at a wall.
The amazing thing is, now that I’ve let it all out… I no longer cry or easily get angry as much.
So, talk to a therapist, try screaming somewhere private, smash plates, or go for an intense run. If you can, express all your pain and frustrations to the person/s who hurt you(provided you feel safe enough to do so). If not, write a letter that you’ll never send which includes what they did, how it made you feel, and what you wish they did differently instead(this is an exercise I learned as a therapeutic way to deal with grief).
There are all sorts of other ways to deal with intense emotions that are easily available on the internet, so you can search for other ways. But I promise you, it does go away and get better with time as long as you finally acknowledge, validate, and allow yourself to express and no longer associate shame with being the human you are.
So, to summarize:
→Respond, don’t react.
→ Determine if there’s anything wrong with you physically.
→ Check your environment if there’s a person or certain energy of the place that’s making you feel a certain way. Acknowledge that feeling and just let it go.
→When you’re emotionally reactive because you’ve repressed your feelings for so long, just allow yourself to express it all in a safe space.
And always remember: feelings are only temporary.
Hi, I’m Amelia! I’m a highly sensitive person, sharing my insights on healing from narcissistic abuse, having better relationships, and sustainable productivity. Subscribe on youtube for more: https://youtube.com/@ameliafall