You’re at work busy on a project. Then your boss comes over to your work area. They point a couple pieces of feedback for what you’re working on. Just a few tweaks, they say.
From their perspective, they are making some minor observations that will help your project be even better. Although you can put up a fake smile, inside you’re panicking and you get overwhelmed really quickly. This happens all the time, and it’s so stressful!
It’s as if you can’t help yourself. The problem may be that you’re an emotionally sensitive person. But taking part in DBT will make these situations much easier to handle.
What It Means To Be Emotionally Sensitive
An emotionally sensitive person, also known as highly sensitive person, is a term used to describe people who have a greater reaction to what they experience both in their environment, as well as inside themselves. For example:
- Loud noises, lights that are too bright, and other issues related to the five senses.
- Any type of criticism or perceived slight.
However, it’s not all negative. Emotionally sensitive people also have a strong response to things that are positive. This includes when you watch a romance movie, view art, listen to moving music or spend time outdoors.
However, there really isn’t a balance in which an emotionally sensitive person can enjoy a wonderful song, but then be able to hear feedback from someone else.
If this sounds like you, DBT can help.
1. Learning Distress Tolerance Skills
One way DBT can help you with emotional sensitivity is through distress tolerance skills. Feedback or other similarly perceived negative experiences can be tough to deal with. Even if, in the big picture, are not as serious as you would think. This causes you to experience distress. Hence why distress tolerance skills can be so useful. They are an important part of DBT.
Examples of distress tolerance skills include:
- Weighing both sides of a situation.
- Accepting the situation for what it is and embracing it.
- Distracting yourself from what is occurring.
- Using self-soothing techniques such as breathing exercises.
2. Emotional Regulation Skills for Highly Sensitive People
Another way in which DBT is helpful for highly sensitive people is by learning emotional regulation skills. These skills will help you identify why you feel so overwhelmed when you get feedback or are in a situation that you perceive to be negative. This helps you to move past simply feeling “bad” and to address the specific emotion that you are experiencing.
That way you know which direction to go, instead of feeling stuck and overwhelmed in the moment. For instance, if you receive feedback, even minor feedback, you might feel overwhelmed. But, in actuality, you are highly sensitive to rejection, which is how you perceive the feedback.
You’ll also lean in emotional regulation practical things you can do to better manage emotions. These include:
- Getting enough sleep.
- Avoiding using alcohol or drugs to cope with your emotions.
- Exercising regularly.
- Making better food choices.
3. Finding a Middle Way
Another problem that emotionally sensitive people struggle with is that they have these big responses to what they perceive as positive or negative. It’s either everything is great, or what they are facing is overwhelming. There isn’t a middle ground. For instance, “I don’t like getting feedback, but I know right now my supervisor is trying to help me.”
DBT can help you be more comfortable on the middle ground, which helps you to avoid these wide pendulum swings one way or another.
DBT is a great way for emotionally sensitive people to overcome distress with perceived negativity. However, the best way to get the most out of DBT is by working with a therapist trained in the technique. Reach out today to learn more about how anxiety treatment can help.