Do you feel things intensely? Do your feelings stick around a lot longer than they do for your peers? If you can relate, you might be a highly emotional person.
Being a highly emotional person can be a beautiful thing. Feeling deeply often lends itself to heightened creativity, self-awareness and emotional intelligence. But being highly emotional can also have its drawbacks. For example, it can be easy to feel hurt by the seemingly “harmless” comments people often say to highly emotional people.
Questions like, “Why do you take things so personally?” or “Why is that still bothering you?” can really sting when you’re a highly emotional person — even if you know the person asking meant no harm or judgment. Comments or “advice” like “You’re overreacting” or “Try to focus on the positive” may cause you to believe your emotional experiences are “wrong” when that couldn’t be further from the truth.
We wanted to know what “harmless” comments actually hurt, so we spoke to people in our community who identify as highly emotional to share their experiences with us. Below, you can read what they had to say. Can you relate? Let us know in the comments below.
Before we begin, we want you to know there is no shame in feeling things intensely, but if feeling “too much” is affecting your quality of life, here’s a skill you should try.
Here are 13 “harmless” comments that can hurt highly emotional people:
1. ‘You’re so extra!’
“‘You’re so extra!’ It makes me feel as though my feelings are frivolous and invalid.” —Bethany D.
“‘You’re being ridiculous.’ I’ve been told this for expressing my emotions on multiple occasions, and it makes me feel ‘crazy,’ delusional and invalid, and has prevented me from further sharing my emotions, even when I knew I really needed to.” — Remy L.
2. ‘It’s important to remember others have it worse than you.’
“‘Other people have it worse than you.’ I cannot stand when people say this to me because it invalidates my struggles and diminishes my level of pain and suffering.” — Cassandra T.
“‘Everyone struggles’ and ’It could be worse.’ These have become such minimizing comments to me. Of course everyone struggles. There isn’t existence without struggle. But, this much? This often? Awaking each day to dread? Dreading your existence is exhausting. And, it can always be worse. I know that’s partly why I’m so depressed. People mean no harm. But these statements can feel like jabs. Unintentional ones though.” — Kate U.
3. ‘You’re so sensitive about everything.’
“‘You’re so sensitive, you always get upset over everything.’ It makes me feel as if I shouldn’t have emotions or I should just turn my emotions off. So I try to hide them but they end up building up until it just explodes out of me.” — Sierra G.
“‘Well, stop being so sensitive about everything, or you won’t last long in this world!’ Thanks. Exactly what I need to hear when I’m already feeling like something’s wrong with me.” — Selena W.
4. ‘It’s time to move on now.’
“‘Just move on!’ My baby’s father said this to me one month after I gave birth to our son stillborn when I was crying over the loss. He couldn’t understand why I still cried over my baby. It hurt me so bad and I will never forget that.” — Meli M.
“‘It’s in the past, let it go.’ [After] coming out, finally talking about what happened growing up and liberating myself from keeping it bottled up… [hearing this] is a slap in the face, and makes me shut down and avoid people at all costs.” — Nikki M.
5. ‘I’m just kidding, geez!’
“‘I’m just joking.’ Said by a former best friend many times when I would take things literally and it hurt my feelings.” — Amanda M.
6. ‘If I can do it, you can do it too!’
‘“If I can do it, you can do it.’ I get that when people say this it’s well-intentioned. I don’t like it because it forces me to compare my life to another person’s and furthermore suggests I use their story as a blueprint to succeed. I already make unhealthy comparisons and try to adopt other people’s identities as mine. I know it’s a problem and I’m working on it. Every story is different and has a different blueprint.” — Brooklyn W.
7. ‘Why do you take things so personally?’
“‘Don’t take it so personally!’ was pretty great, but the winner has to be, ‘You create your own situations, you get out what you put in!’” — Ashley Q.
“‘Quit taking it so personally.’ It makes me feel like there’s something wrong with me. That I didn’t react the way I was supposed to. Then I start questioning myself and my own feelings.” — Shawna W.
8. ‘You shouldn’t care so much what other people think.’
“‘Who cares what other people think?’ I do. Very much. It’s part of the way my anxiety manifests itself and it’s something I can’t help sometimes. I wish I didn’t care but I do. Also ‘why are you so upset?’ I don’t know. That’s the problem.” — Kacey L.
9. ‘You’ve gotta have thicker skin than this.’
“‘Don’t be so sensitive, grow a thicker skin…’ etc. I spent a lot of my life thinking something was wrong with me. Then I learned what an empath is, and now I embrace my sensitivity and help my coaching clients through their hard times!” — Kristin F.
10. ‘Just stop thinking about it!’
“‘Just stop thinking about it!’ That is absolutely not possible. We do not have this magical ‘off switch… ‘At least help us distract from thinking about it, at least try to understand why we’re thinking about something so much. Just don’t tell us to ‘stop thinking about it’ as if we’re robots that can shut down at the press of a button..” — Aeden S.
11. ‘Don’t play the victim.’
“‘You have a victim mentality,’ when truthfully, I have had years of abuse and trauma that shaped me into the person who that has been said about. I have not chosen this, I did not ask for it, I actively strive to be different/think different/be different. But to have someone essentially devalue the experiences I’ve survived into a choice? Soul-crushing.” — Mia R.
12. ‘Focus on the positive.’
‘Just stay positive’ or ‘Have you tried therapy?’ I have no control over any of it. I can’t change it. Being told these things doesn’t help or make me feel any better about myself or the situations. What works for you doesn’t work for all. I understand you are trying to help, but you are only making it worse. You make it sound like it’s an easy fix that I just can’t get right and it’s not alright to make someone feel worse about themselves like that.” — Raven M.
13. ‘Oh no, not this again!’
“‘Oh here we go, not this again!’ When I get emotional or start crying people make me feel like I’m nothing but a burden or I’m overreacting. It hurts. I hate feeling like that.” — Brittney H.
If you are a highly emotional person who has ever felt hurt by statements like these, you’re not alone. To connect with a community that cares, post on The Mighty with the hashtag #CheckInWithMe. We care about your feelings and want you to feel supported.
If you love a highly emotional person, it can be tempting to try to get them to “see reason” by responding with a “logical” solution. Unfortunately, this can often come across as invalidating. Try to meet them where they are by acknowledging what they are feeling is real, and would be really hard to experience. It’s important to remember what may seem “harmless” to one person may actually be hurtful to another.
For some helpful ways to respond to a highly emotional person, check out the following stories from our Mighty community:
- 6 Ways to Support Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder
- 10 Things You Probably Don’t Know About ‘Highly Sensitive People’
- 19 Real Ways People Reacted When Their Loved Ones Said ‘I’m Depressed’