In this brief guide, we will discuss the question many sentimental people may ask themselves, which is “Why am I so sensitive when someone yells at me?”
Why Am I So Sensitive When Someone Yells At Me?
There are many reasons why you may cry when someone yells at you, one of which may be the simple fact that many people perceive being yelled at as a threatening stimulus, which merits strong emotion like heightened sensitivity, akin to facing a predator in a jungle.
In other cases, you may be so sensitive when someone yells at you because you are an emotional person in general and you perceive someone yelling at you as them abandoning you or finding faults with you or just generally disapproving of you.
Another reason for your sensitivity when someone yells at you may just be that you are a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), which is a relatively new concept and refers to someone who is prone to feeling emotions in a slightly different manner compared to others and someone that responds more openly to strong feelings as well.
If you are wondering whether this is a real thing, you shouldn’t, because there is documented psychological literature that explores the phenomenon of being a Highly Sensitive Person, and this concept was put forth first by prominent writer and researcher Elaine Aron, in her book by the name of the Highly Sensitive Person.
What is a highly sensitive person then? And does this concept explain the question that so-called oversensitive people always seem to be asking themselves, which is “why am I so sensitive when someone yells at me? Let’s explore this further.
The Highly Sensitive person
The highly sensitive person, or HSP, is simply someone that is more attuned to the outside world, especially threats or predatory stimulus like someone yelling at them, and may have a more extreme response to such things as well.
An HSP may find crying a natural response to sadness, happiness, or being overwhelmed and they may cry more easily than those around them.
One may find the highly sensitive person holding back tears anywhere there is a lot of stimuli.
These individuals may often feel bad about the amount of crying they do or maybe even feel ashamed, but the truth is, they don’t need to be, because research suggests that the Highly Sensitive Person actually processes stimulus differently than other people, and the brain activity in these individuals is stronger than in any other person.
A study done by Acevedo et al employed the test for Highly Sensitive Persons and measured the relation of the traits they found on the test with those measured by an fMRI.
They had 18 participants, with 10 females and 8 males, who viewed photos of their romantic partners and of strangers displaying positive, negative, or neutral facial expressions.
They were scanned one year apart, and 13 of the 18 participants were scanned twice, and they also took the highly sensitive person test.
The study concluded that “As predicted, for partner images and for happy facial photos, HSP scores were associated with stronger activation of brain regions
involved in awareness, empathy, and self-other processing. These results provide
evidence that awareness and responsiveness are fundamental features of SPS,
and show how the brain may mediate these traits.”
In addition, according to the Highly sensitive person website by the proponent of this theory, there are some traits of the highly sensitive person that are common to most of these individuals, which she helpfully frames in the context of questions the person may compare themselves to like so:
- “Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
- Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
- Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
- Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed, or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
- Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
- Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
- Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
- When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?”
According to the same website, you can also take the Highly Sensitive Person test online, here.
The Highly Sensitive Person theory explains very well why someone people are more prone to sensitivity when someone yells at them, and it may be worth it to find out why through this test and through exploring this concept further.
Psychological effects of being yelled at
Given below are some of the main psychological effects of being yelled:
- Possible Depression
- A condition or anxiety or feeling anxious all the time
- A constant state of stress and fight or flight response in the body
- Long term effects like personality problems or physical issues like gastric problems
- Lack of communication between the person yelling and the person being yelled at
- Breaking down of a relationship and not being able to fix it properly
- Anger issues in both the people
- Chronic physical pain as a result of mental anguish
It is not even necessary that the psychological effects of being yelled at show up immediately in the form of crying or yelling back, they may also make their presence known in the form of long-term consequences, but they will always show up.
The psychological effects of being yelled at are only one reason to not engage in this maladaptive manner of communicating, just the fact that there are so many other side effects of being yelled at or yelling with someone, like in the case of parents who yell at their children, for instance, the NAMI talks about how it affects their relationship:
“Attachment and infant-mother research confirms what we all intuitively know: Humans do better when they feel safe and consistently loved, which means, among other things, being treated with respect. What is news to many of us is that we are born with fully matured, hard-wired, core emotions like sadness, fear, and anger. And when fear, for example, is repeatedly triggered by a harsh environment, like one where there is a lot of yelling, automatic physical and emotional reactions occur that cause traumatic stress to a child. The stress in their little brains and bodies increases from anything that makes them feel attacked, including loud voices, angry voices, angry eyes, dismissive gestures, and more.”
Why Do I Cry When Someone Yells at Me?
People cry when someone yells at them usually when they are sensitive, to begin with, or because some people perceive yelling as a sign of danger and this causes them to get emotional as a coping mechanism, or something they unintentionally employ because their brain feels that it could get the other person to stop yelling that way.
You may also cry when someone yells at you because sometimes it causes a sense of helplessness when someone yells at you, and a feeling that you are not in control of the situation at all and might be vulnerable.
Other reasons include misperceiving a harsh tone of voice as someone yelling at you, which is possible if someone is on the spectrum of autism or autism-like problems like Aspergers.
If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it.
According to Dr. Marcia Eckerd, “Most experienced parents and teachers are well aware that children with NLD and Asperger’s don’t pick up on nonverbal cues. Most often the focus (and intervention) is on cues having to do with facial expression, body language, and gesture. What many don’t realize is that tone of voice is also a nonverbal cue that is often misinterpreted.”
“Another critical aspect of tone is understanding inferences and sarcasm. One could say “Get out of here” in a way that is unfriendly, or one could say the same words with a tone that is teasing, meaning “I can’t believe that.” Children (and adults) who miss that tone can’t tell if someone is teasing, and again, they can assume a negative intention. Or, frequently, they’re mystified when others laugh because they don’t get the humor.”
“There are ways of helping. A Speech and Language Therapist can work with someone, helping them listen to and identify different intonations. Role-playing saying the same word with different feelings is helpful. Volume can be practiced by experiencing oneself or someone else goes through a variety of different volumes, sometimes at different distances.”
How to stop someone from yelling at you?
While you may not be able to stop someone from yelling at you unless you have an honest conversation with them, you may be able to do something about not letting someone yelling at you make you feel so horrible:
- Think about something that makes you happy, and try to get away from that person
- Drink water
- Look away and try not to focus on that person
- Try meditation
- Try to say to the person, “I understand that you are angry, but I cannot talk to you if you are going to raise your voice, let’s discuss it when you are feeling less angry.”
- If you are suffering from abuse at home, try a helpline like Victim Connect.
In this brief guide, we discussed the question many sentimental people may ask themselves, which is “Why am I so sensitive when someone yells at me?”. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you have.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Why Am I So Sensitive When Someone Yells At Me?
Why do I cry when someone yells at me?
You may cry when someone yells at you because you may see the stimulus as frightening, overwhelming, or unpleasant.
When someone yells at you it may make you sad because you might feel affronted, and some people also cry when they are angry.
Why do I get scared when someone yells at me?
You may get scared when someone yells at you because someone yelled a lot as a child and you might have learned to expect some kind of punishment after yelling now.
It may also be that you are scared when someone yells at you because you associate yelling to something negative, that may be a part of your suppressed memories that trigger that fear.
How do you react when someone shouts at you anger?
Here are some ways to react when someone shouts at you in anger:
Try to stay calm and don’t yell back
Take a mental step back.
Don’t agree with the person that is yelling at you
Calmly address the person who is shouting at you
Try to take a break from the person