Have you ever heard someone say that you were 'too sensitive' or vice versa? I have. No one has ever said that I had tough skin, that I can remember. At 18 years of age, I accept the fact that I am more sensitive than the average full-of-all-possible-emotions teenager. I'm cool with it. That's not to say that the way I react to certain situations or what people say to me are valid or even wise. Sometimes I misinterpret things, as we all do. There have been situations where I have taken what someone said and blew it WAY out or proportion. Other times, I've not heeded the words that people say enough, which is equally detrimental. Over the years, I think I've gotten a little better with identifying an insult and someone just joking around (which are hard to differentiate between sometimes). Maybe you're the type of person that thinks everyone around you is sensitive, and in that case, you might not be hearing people out. Or you might actually be surrounded by a bunch of touchy people (sorry). For the sensitive ones, here's what I've learned:
1. Don't Get Offended Right Off
Alright, you sensitive folks, this is not an easy one AT ALL, but it is really important. This is the one that I REALLY struggle with, which is why it's first. If someone says or does something that you think was an insult, just lay low for a second. Think about what they said, especially within the context that they said it. Try not to assume anything. If you're close to that person and if you feel comfortable asking them to clarify what they said, ask. They might not have meant what they said in the way that you took it. The Golden Rule is to stay neutral for a second before losing your cool. It pays off in the end.
2. Look For Constructive Criticism
This point goes hand in hand with point one. When someone says something that offends you, it's usually for two reasons: to hurt you or help you. Jealousy plays a big role in criticism, and you have to keep that in mind. You have to define the relationship with the person that said the thing to you, first and foremost. If someone says something to you in love and to help you, it might hurt, but it's for your benefit. If you sense that someone is jealous or seeks to tear you down, that's not healthy. If someone tells you that you're not liked by many people, that's a hurtful thing and not helpful. Constructive criticism is different. If a professor tells you that you need to improve a conclusion on a paper because it was weak, that's constructive. Don't cry about that.
3. Identify Who You Are
Only you know your true character. If you know who you are, then people's comments (incorrect or correct) won't affect you as much. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but you know yourself best. Be honest with yourself when you analyze who you are. Are you compassionate? Are you jealous? Are you kind? Are you selfish? People are going to call you out, but the way to combat reacting in sensitivity is to know that you are not what people say you are. How can someone's words affect you if they have no truth, and therefore no power?
In conclusion, being sensitive is not easy. You soak up your surroundings and try to make sense of them, which can hurt you. You can't necessarily cure yourself from sensitivity because it's just who are. Hone in on the gift of sensitivity, because the world is lacking in it. Use it for good.