How to Respond When Someone Says You’re Too Sensitive

Have you ever been told you’re too sensitive? Maybe dozens of times, or more? If so, you probably wish you knew how to respond when someone says you’re too sensitive, right?

Every time it happened to me over the years, I used to ask myself, “Why am I so sensitive?” But I no longer ask that question — I accept that my sensitivity is part of my character and my personality.

This change has been part of my own personal growth over the years and my understanding that sensitivity has a variety of origins. Sensitivity also comes with many wonderful character traits.

I now accept that sensitivity is OKAY — in fact, I am proud that I am a sensitive person. I consider it my Super Power.

But let’s explore this subject more because it can be rather complicated.

a young woman leans her forehead on her arm against a window and looks down in reflection as she ponders how to respond when someone says you're too sensitive plus an encouraging quote overlays the photo
How to Respond When Someone Says You’re Too Sensitive

Related Article: 50 Powerful Affirmations for Self Love


What Does It Mean When Someone Says You Are Too Sensitive?

There can be many things going on when someone says you are too sensitive. But they generally mean you are too easily hurt or bothered by things, or you’re overacting to something.

If someone says you are too sensitive, they could also mean:

  • You need to toughen up.
  • Can’t you take a joke?
  • Why do you take everything personally?
  • You should learn to let things go.

It is usually intended as a criticism of your character, and as such, it is more a reflection of the other person’s character than yours.

What ‘You’re Too Sensitive’ Really Means

“You’re too sensitive” is often not really about you — it’s more often about the other person who willfully makes such a statement — a person who is manipulative and unkind.

Remember that people who criticize others are often hurt or angry people, or feeling less than good about themselves, or have other deep mental health issues that are probably more problematic than sensitivity.

In psychology, a comment like, “You’re too sensitive.” can be a form of verbal abuse, or gaslighting. Gaslighting happens when someone tries to control you by twisting your sense of reality. Making a critical comment attempts to shift the negative behavior onto you because they don’t want to admit they’ve said or done something wrong.

You might also be called “too sensitive” if you have expressed displeasure about the other person being disrespectful toward you. Instead of accepting responsibility for the disrespectful behavior, the person will try to shift the wrongdoing on to you. It’s your fault, right? Because you are too sensitive.

Narcissists will accuse you of being “too sensitive” as a way of controlling or making you feel bad. Again, it’s never about the accuser, right?

When someone calls you too sensitive, they are being dismissive, judgmental, and/or manipulative. It’s not really about you.

Is Being Called Too Sensitive a Bad Thing?

The act of someone calling you ‘too sensitive’ is rude and disrespectful, so yes — it’s a bad thing.

But is having the character trait of being sensitive a bad thing — no it’s not a bad thing.

Being sensitive is the basis for sympathy and empathy. It’s the foundation for compassion, kindness, and understanding. These are great qualities to possess.

Being called too sensitive is really about having your emotions invalidated. It’s not about whether you are too sensitive or not — you are awesome just the way you are! And you should never have your emotions invalidated by another person.

The only reason being sensitive might be complicated is if you feel it causes you internal conflict for some reason. That’s a whole different discussion.

But the reality is sensitivity is not a weakness — in fact, it’s a strength — and you should be proud.

Why Do I Get So Sensitive?

There are many reasons you may be sensitive. Sometimes, we become more emotional when we go through difficult or stressful times. Recent bereavement, trauma, and stress can make us feel more emotional.

Some people tend to be emotionally sensitive simply because it’s part of their personality. We all process and experience emotions differently. Emotions are part of our biological hardwiring — all special and unique.

Remember, there’s nothing wrong with being sensitive. Approximately 15-20% of the population is highly sensitive so you are not alone.

Your upbringing and genetics both contribute to your level of sensitivity, also. Life experiences and values help to shape your sensitivity. And the list goes on.

Research shows sensitive people tend to have increased awareness of subtleties in the environment and are easily overstimulated by those factors.

Are you overly sensitive? Nope, not at all. You are exactly the way you are supposed to be.

So it’s time to trust that there are many, many contributing factors that make a person sensitive — and it’s a wonderful quality to possess.

a teal background with a small silhouette of a tree and birds with an inspirational quote about sensitive people

How to Respond When Someone Says You’re Too Sensitive

You have choices about the way you respond when someone says you’re too sensitive.

You could ignore the comment. Or you could try to explain your sensitivity.

Your response should be based on your relationship with the person who made the comment and their intent (although it is never okay). You response should also be based on your feelings about the circumstances under which the comment was made. And it should be based on how you feel about your sensitivity.

Here are some things you could say:

You could say, “It sounds like you think that being sensitive is a weakness. But feeling things deeply is a strength for me.” Then don’t try to explain yourself any further. Either the person will understand or not and it’s not worth your mental health to argue about it.

You could respond with information by saying, “Are you aware that sensitive people are very empathetic, creative, reflective, and intuitive?” This could lead to a more in-depth conversation if you want it to; otherwise let that be the end of discussion.

Or you could say, “Please don’t say that to me. It’s not your place to determine how sensitive I should or shouldn’t be. But thank you for your concern.” Then don’t spend anymore time discussing your sensitivity. Remember, the person who says this is trying to diminish you to make him/herself feel more powerful over you.

Here are some additional ideas to consider:

Stop explaining yourself. Just stop feeling the need to explain yourself to anyone who makes this comment to you. You know that being sensitive is not a negative trait. Internalize this fact. Believe it. Own it. Don’t let yourself debate the issue or explain it to anyone.

Don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable. Don’t put yourself in situations where you are vulnerable to people who are critical or manipulative. Be aware of the kind of people who put others down and don’t let them into your world.

Don’t take the bait. Often times people who criticize others are looking for comebacks or a confrontation. These kind of people need chaos and drama in their lives in order to feel important. If they see you as a sensitive person, they may consider you to be an easy target. Don’t give into them.

Work on you. This does not necessarily mean work on becoming less sensitive. This means learning to set boundaries with people. Learn to be confident in your choice of responses to people. And if a comment about your sensitivity triggers you, you may want to seek therapy to help you deal with triggers and learn to think of your sensitivity as a positive trait.

Explore the character traits of a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). You may actually be a highly sensitive person (HSP) and would benefit from learning more about how to live with your super power. Highly Sensitive Person, or HSP, is a term coined by psychologist Elaine Aron in the 90’s. Are you a HSP?

a reflective young woman rests her chin on her crossed arms on a desk and looks out the window thinking about how to respond when someone says you're too sensitive plus an encouraging quote on an overlay

You’re Too Sensitive Quotes

Use these inspirational quotes about being sensitive as inspiration for remembering your sensitivity is YOUR SUPER POWER — it’s not a negative character trait. Be committed to not allowing others to make you feel bad for being a sensitive, caring human being.

“You’re not overly sensitive. You’re not overreacting. If it hurts you, it hurts you. Don’t let anyone invalidate your feelings. Ever.”

~ Unknown

“Being soft-hearted does not make you a weak person. It takes courage to stay delicate in a world that is sometimes cruel.”

— Unknown

“Being sensitive is a super power that will heal the world.”

— Glennon Doyle

“Highly sensitive beings suffer more but they also love harder, dream wider and experience deeper horizons and bliss. When you’re sensitive, you’re alive in every sense of this word in this wildly beautiful world. Sensitivity is your strength. Keep soaking in the light and spreading it to others.”

— Victoria Erickson

“It’s okay to be sensitive. That’s what happens when you have magic in your heart.”

— Unknown

“Highly sensitive people are too often perceived as weaklings or damaged goods. To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the trademark of the truly alive and compassionate. It is not the empath who is broken, it is society that has become dysfunctional and emotionally disabled. There is no shame in expressing your authentic feelings. Those who are at times described as being a ‘hot mess’ or having ‘too many issues’ are the very fabric of what keeps the dream alive for a more caring, humane world. Never be ashamed to let your tears shine a light in this world.”

~ Anthon St. Maarten

“I am a highly sensitive individual. I don’t just listen to your words. I listen to your use of words, your tone, your body movements, your eyes, your subtle facial expressions. I can interpret your silences; I can hear everything you don’t say in words.”

— Unknown

“I will never apologize for having too much soul, being too emotional or having too much love to offer. You weren’t capable of handling my kind of love and that is your issue not mine.”

— Katiavilla

“I was born with a soul that is way too sensitive for this cold and ugly world; I have always felt things deeply and differently than most people. That has always been my blessing and my curse.”

— Reggie Nulan

“Some say I’m too sensitive, but the truth is I just feel too much. Every word and every action goes straight to my heart.”

~ Unknown

“Sensitive people should be treasured. They love deeply and think deeply about life. They are loyal, honest, and true. The simple things sometimes mean the most to them. They don’t need to change or harden. Their purity makes them who they are.”

~ Unknown

“As a highly sensitive person, I can sense your mood from a mile away. Don’t try to hide it. You’re not fooling me.”

— Tracy M Kusmierz

“All can hear, but only the sensitive can understand.”

— Khalil Gibran

“To be sensitive simply means being able to sense things. Sensitivity means aliveness. Being in harmony with life. To be numb is to be dead.”

— Unknown

“Never apologize for being sensitive or emotional. It’s a sign that you have a big heart, and that you aren’t afraid to let others see it. Showing your emotions is a sign of strength.”

— Brigitte Nicole

“Sometimes I think, I need a spare heart to feel all things I feel.”

— Unknown
an inspirational quote about highly sensitive people overlays a photo of a young woman standing in the sunlight smiling and putting her hair up in a ponytail

Final Thoughts About Being Sensitive

Who would have thought that being sensitive could be so complicated, right? I hope you’ve gotten some ideas about how to respond when someone says you’re too sensitive. Being sensitive is such a wonderful quality that helps you understand people better and express compassion.

I’ve had people say this to me in my personal life and my work life — but as an educator, I am darn proud of the fact that I am sensitive and compassionate toward other people. Unfortunately, it took me a long time to be able to express this when someone commented that I am too sensitive.

So let’s go forth together and be well-prepared for how to respond when someone says you’re too sensitive! We can do this!


If you are working on your personal growth, you may also enjoy 55 Awesome Self Growth Quotes to Inspire Your Personal Development.


Love to ALL! ~ Susan

Have You Ever Been Told You’re Too Sensitive? How Do You Respond?

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