9 signs you’re not “too sensitive”, you simply have a high level of empathy

Have you ever been told you’re too sensitive?

The world can be a harsh place. And sometimes, being overly sensitive can cause you unnecessary pain and heartache and make you unable to deal with the darker side of life.

Then again, sometimes when people tell you that you’re being too sensitive, it says more about them than it does about you.

You see, empathy, or the ability to put yourself in the position of another person and feel what they are feeling, is a highly underrated character trait. And sometimes, you’re not being too sensitive; you’re just being empathetic.

Here are some signs that you don’t need to harden yourself. Instead, you need to appreciate the empathy that you have.

1) You connect easily with other people

One of the clearest signs of a highly empathetic person is also one of the most positive traits.

Having a high level of empathy means you understand where other people are coming from. Even if they are very different to you, you can put yourself in their shoes and imagine their thoughts and emotions.

Often, empathetic people also have a high level of emotional intelligence. And this allows them to connect with other people on an emotional level.

If you find it easy to make new friends and understand where others are coming from, it may be a sign that you have high empathy. This is an excellent trait to have, and if it means that sometimes people say you are too sensitive, that’s really a small price to pay.

2) You pick up on the emotions of those around you

Psychologist Elaine Aron coined the term Highly Sensitive Person or HSP to describe people who are unusually sensitive to the world around them.

We will have some level of empathy, but HSPs take that to another level. They are not only able to understand other people’s emotions and imagine themselves into their position, but they may also actually feel the emotions that other people are feeling around them.

As you might imagine, this makes them uniquely able to sympathize with people and offer comfort to those going through hard times, and it can also be a joyous experience in shared environments like musical concerts, movies, or theme parks.

However, there is a downside to this. Psychologist Preston Ni writes that highly sensitive people often have difficulty letting go of negative thoughts that they pick up from other people.

So in the interest of self-care, if you are a sensitive person with a high level of empathy, it’s probably a good idea to be careful about the company you keep, since you may find yourself absorbing the emotions of those around you.

3) You are compassionate and generous

A person with a high level of empathy finds it hard to be happy when others are not. And this empathy often makes them some of the most compassionate and generous people around.

Others may say you are too sensitive. But when your well-developed sense of empathy leads you to help others, why would you want to change that?

You’ll often find highly empathetic people working for nonprofit organizations and charities or donating money and time to help others.

Often, they will also be very generous with their friends, spending time with anyone going through a hard time and supporting others wherever they can.

That doesn’t make you too sensitive. It just makes you a good person.

4) You think of others

Are you always thinking of other people? Do you find yourself buying gifts for others for no other reason than that it will make then smile, or visiting people when you know they’re going through a hard time?

If so, it might be because you have a highly developed sense of empathy.

Being empathetic means you can pick up on when other people are feeling bad. It also means that you never forget those you care about, and you show that empathy in small but meaningful ways.

5) You are intuitive

pic1614 9 signs you’re not “too sensitive”, you simply have a high level of empathy

We all have the ability to understand other people. As Michael Pluess, sensitivity researcher at Queen Mary University of London, points out, sensitivity is a continuum. All of us are somewhere on the spectrum of sensitivity to our environment.

However, the more empathetic you are, the more sensitive you are to that environment. And this can help enormously with your ability to understand other people.

Empathetic people are often noticeable for their intuition. They seem to have the ability to understand other people instantly and be able to predict their emotions and actions.

That doesn’t mean they’re too sensitive. But it does mean that their empathy is like a superpower to help them understand others.

6) You often feel burned out

By now, if you’ve read this far, you probably realize that heightened sensitivity and a high level of empathy can be a double-edged sword. Although it comes with some real benefits, there are also downsides to feeling everything so intensely.

One of them is that highly sensitive people often get burned out. Feeling what others feel can be exhausting, after all.

It also often means that sensitive people need to be conscious of the environments they put themselves in. Noisy or brightly lit environments can be overwhelming for people with increased sensitivity, so you may need to avoid them if you want to stay calm.

7) You are deeply moved by art and music

Another gift of being a sensitive person is the ability to be deeply moved by art, including paintings, books, movies, and music.

As an empathetic person, you are able to feel the emotions a work of art is trying to convey far more deeply than other people do. And as you might expect, this greatly enhances your appreciation of art.

in fact, you may even be gifted yourself. Linda Silverman, director of the Gifted Development Center, has pointed out that having a high level of emotional sensitivity is often linked to being gifted in other areas.

Empathetic people are often highly creative and imaginative, and this gives them a leg up when it comes to artistic endeavors.

But whether you are an artist yourself or you just enjoy consuming the art of others, empathy can give you a much better experience.

8) You are sensitive to physical pain

This one may be a little bit surprising.

But it turns out that as well as being more sensitive to emotional turmoil, highly empathetic and sensitive people are also more sensitive to physical pain.

It’s worth remembering that when someone tells you you’re making a big deal about nothing. It’s possible that, when it comes to physical pain, they simply aren’t capable of feeling it as strongly as you are.

9) You can still function while feeling deeply

Heightened sensitivity may be both a gift and a curse. But ultimately, it’s important to remember that there is a difference between being highly empathetic and being too sensitive.

If you are crippled by experiencing the emotions of others, worry obsessively about what other people think of you, and are constantly trying to please everyone to keep them happy, you may well be too sensitive.

If, on the other hand, you can put yourself in other people’s shoes without being emotionally damaged by what they feel, you are not too sensitive. Instead, you are just an empathetic person who feels emotions very deeply, but doesn’t let them control you.

Being an empath in a hard world

It’s not always easy being a sensitive person. Feeling deeply means you feel everything more, including sadness, loss, disappointment, and betrayal.

And when you react to these powerful feelings, often other people who don’t have your level of empathy will tell you that you’re being too sensitive.

But as you can see from this list, heightened empathy comes with so many positive traits too that it would be a shame to try and get rid of it.

Instead, focus on the heightened abilities increased empathy can give you, including your ability to connect with others, your creativity, and your kindness.

And if people say you are too sensitive, don’t take it too hard. After all, it would be a much poorer world without people who feel things deeply.

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Clifton Kopp

Welcome to my writings on Ideapod! I'm a bit of a "polymath" in that I like writing about many different things. Often I'm learning from the process of writing. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a comment on one of my articles.

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