Why Am I So Sensitive? I’m Convinced My Coworkers Hate Me

Ask a Witch is StyleCaster’s advice column offering sage advice and practical magic for modern problems. Every Friday, our resident witch Roya Backlund will answer your most vulnerable conundrums through the lens of astrology, Tarot, and spirituality. Submit questions to askawitch@stylecaster.com, along with your birth information—date, time, and location—as well as birth information for other parties involved, if you have it. Hex what vexes you: Ask a Witch.

Dear Roya,

I’m a sensitive person. I overthink texts, have cried over one-word replies in emails, and have been convinced people “hate” me over nothing at all. It’s a problem, and it’s something I’ve been working on in therapy for a while.

But lately, work has been extra-stressful, and I catch myself taking every piece of feedback or outcome incredibly personally. I know I need to stop attaching my self-worth to my job. But as a millennial and daughter of immigrants, I can’t help but feel guilty and ashamed and awful if anything goes wrong at work—even though I know that’s just the way things go. I end up getting so worked up over it too!

Ugh! Will I ever change?

Too Sensitive

Dear Too Sensitive,

If sensitivity gives you the capacity for empathy and connection, then that sensitivity is worth celebrating. If sensitivity strengthens your intuition and makes you a more observant person, then that is proof of its power. While I don’t believe there’s such a thing as being “too sensitive,” I do think the impulse to think everyone hates you stems from something even deeper. Whether you realize it or not, you’re making a judgment call when you assume other people don’t like you. Is it even fair to assume they hate you? Is it fair to jump to the conclusion that they’re an asshole who has something against you? Unless someone directly tells you they have a problem with you, it’s in everyone’s best interest to continue operating as though everything is hunky dory. Even if someone does have one-sided beef with you, it’s their problem until they set aside the time to respectfully talk to you about it. And until they do, you shouldn’t take their passive aggressive bait.

You say you’ve been going to therapy, so I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. Logically, you know you’re not responsible for everything that happens at work and you understand that constructive criticism isn’t personal, but that doesn’t mean your nervous system is on the same page. That doesn’t mean your defenses won’t flare up during a tense meeting with your boss or colleagues. And even though it sounds trite, it’s never your fault. If you’re sensing stress or negativity from someone at work, it’s not your responsibility to solve it or blame yourself for it. Which brings me to my main point—it’s not about you. The way others choose to feel about you is a reflection of themselves, not you. And the way they see you is tainted by the way they see the world.

Overthinking the way others perceive you and constantly wondering whether you’re measuring up to a certain standard is a recipe for one thing—self-destruction. The more you overanalyze yourself, the more difficult it is to simply be yourself. The more you self-consciously think about yourself, the more it feels as though other people are judging you, criticizing you, and hating on you. When you stop looking at yourself under a microscope, you’ll be able to see that your coworker was short with you because she was rushing to a doctor appointment. When you stop picking at your own flaws, you might realize your boss came down hard on you because their boss came down even harder on them. Take a step back, and look at the full picture.

So where does all this self-criticism come from? For starters, you’re a Capricorn rising. Capricorn is the zodiac sign of discipline, hardship, ambition, and legacy. When your ascendant is under this cardinal earth sign, it means you were born carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. You feel responsible for everything and everyone. You feel like you have to work harder than everyone else, and the truth is you are. But you don’t have to. No one needs you to push yourself to the brink of an emotional, mental, or physical breakdown. Having faith that everything will work itself out is not something that comes naturally to a Capricorn rising, but that doesn’t make it any less true. (Learn more about your rising sign.)

Being a Capricorn rising means your chart ruler is Saturn—planet of restriction and delayed gratification—and in your case, Saturn is retrograde and sitting in your first house of the self. This makes you a pretty extreme Capricorn rising, which explains the immense pressure you put on yourself. You may constantly feel as though you’re never enough, that you never do things the way you’re “supposed” to. But you’re also judging your natural-born creativity to the point of not appreciating it. You were born with many gifts—you just weren’t necessarily taught they were gifts. The times in which you feel scatterbrained, overwhelmed, and stressed out are actually side effects of your natural-born talents. These flustered moments create neural pathways that allow you to weave the thread of creativity. And without them, you would be sacrificing the best parts of yourself. Perfection is always ideal, but it’s ultimately fake, unrealistic, and boring. (Learn more about what Saturn means in astrology.)

All that pressure you put on yourself is multiplied by your need to please others, as seen in your Libra moon. Libra is the zodiac sign of balance, harmony, and social connection, which means your emotional wellbeing often depends on the way you mesh with the people around you. And because your moon is also sitting in the 10th house of career and public image, you’re even more concerned with what people think of you and whether you’re being seen the way you want to be seen. You’re also incredibly ambitious, which will always ruffle people’s feathers. Instead of trying to curtail it, embrace it! (Learn more about your moon sign.)

Your Libra moon is also involved in a harsh T-square with Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus, and your Capricorn rising. With Jupiter in your partnership sector, your go-getter nature can cause friction in your relationships, both good and bad. With your natal Neptune and Uranus in the first house of the self, there’s a sense of unease surrounding your identity, as though who you are can easily shift based on who you’re around. This makes you highly intuitive and adaptable, but it can cause you to set aside your own self-worth if you allow it to depend on how others feel about you. Your T-square makes you an unstoppable force, increasing your drive, stamina, and ability to succeed. But you don’t get ahead in life without making a few enemies along the way. You of all people should make peace with that fact. (Learn more about the 12 astrological houses.)

Luckily, your birth chart points to a very obvious solution to so many of your concerns: Be yourself. I’m so serious. You were born with romantic Venus and intellectual Mercury in Taurus, dancing up a storm in your fifth house of creativity, self-expression, and inner childhood. This has given you an effervescent personality that is infectious to all who experience it, as well as limitless artistic potential. You were literally born to shine, regardless of whether that light is too blinding for others to handle. (Learn more about your Mercury sign and Venus sign.)

However, with dark and destructive Pluto in your 11th house of community, directly opposing your natal Mercury and Venus, it makes sense that you feel like your peers could turn on you at any moment. Talent inevitably inspires envy, which has made you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around people. You may even feel like you need to dim your shine so you don’t take up too much space. But honestly, you couldn’t dim your shine if you tried, and the more you continue trying, the more your insecurity muddles your shine and makes it appear less authentic. People can sense when you’re not being true to yourself. When you alter the way you present yourself in order to appease others, you’re handing over the keys to people who don’t understand you and can’t possibly know what’s best for you. Their social acceptance does not dictate your power. In fact, it reduces it. And to be quite frank, the more you own your personality and enjoy yourself without worrying about what people will think, the more you’ll naturally become more popular. We all love to witness a beautiful bird sing, but the bird is never singing for us and doesn’t care to sing for us. They sing for themselves, pure and simple. We’re simply happy to admire it from afar.

Before you start thinking you’re doomed for a lonely life at the top, let’s get one thing straight—your natal Pluto forms a trine with lucky Jupiter, which happens to be in Cancer (where it is considered “exalted”). This is actually a powerful sign that people like you so much more than you realize! However, they like you best when you’re simply being you, not the “you” that cares more about being liked than being yourself. It’s better to have a few enemies and loyal supporters than it is to have no enemies and a ton of fake friends, and this is especially true in your case. (Learn more about your Jupiter sign.)

You’re currently in the throes of an exciting spiritual awakening, as a Jupiter-Uranus conjunction landed just 2 degrees away from your Mercury in Taurus on April 20, 2024. This activated your fifth house in a major way, and because the fifth house rules over fun, creativity, and self-expression, it means you’re creating something incredibly powerful right now. Once that creation has been manifested into reality, it will diminish your stress over petty social politics and work drama. These nagging insecurities will pale in comparison to the beauty of what you’re creating. You owe it to yourself to give your creation your all. Forget everything and everyone else. You can’t spread yourself thin when you’re working on something so magical. Allow your creation to speak for itself, as it will attract admirers who love you and see you for who you really are.

About Roya

Roya Backlund is StyleCaster’s Senior Lifestyle & Astrology Editor and a professional witch. Born in Los Angeles on May 26—the same day as Stevie Nicks—she’s been obsessed with the zodiac since she discovered she was a Gemini as a child. Her interest in mysteries and the occult began in the metaphysical section at her local Borders. If you’re a fan of astrology, spirituality, and witchcraft, you’ve probably read her horoscopes and lifestyle articles, which have appeared elsewhere in Elite Daily, PopSugar, Astrology.com, and more. Whether you want to delve deeper into your birth chart or interpret signs from your spirit guides, Roya’s got you covered.

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