Everyone has their own reaction to criticism, slights, and bad news. Some of us are naturally more sensitive than others. However, becoming very upset due to a perceived insult isn’t something you’re born with. It’s a skill that took a lot of practice to perfect.
Some of us have a perspective and set of mental habits that strengthen negative emotions. Luckily, these are under our control.
Learn to be less sensitive and find greater peace. Consider these ideas:
Realize that it’s most likely not about you. Overly sensitive people tend to take things very personally. But people say and do unkind things for all sorts of reasons.
● They might be having a bad day. They might be having problems at home. Health problems. Financial issues. The list goes on.
● Avoid assuming that every perceived slight and criticism is about you. Chances are, what someone said or did shows more about them than about you.
Give silence a try. It’s okay not to respond to every comment, criticism, and action. Responding can increase your emotional response. Have you ever voiced your agitation with someone, only to find that you became angrier once you got started?
● Practice letting it just roll off your back. This will get easier the more you practice.
Be realistic. Maybe you engage in exaggerated thinking. Try to keep your perceptions and thinking in line with reality. Avoid making something big out of something innocuous.
Value your own approval. You wouldn’t be so sensitive if you didn’t care so much about what others thought. Learn to be satisfied with your own approval.
● You’ll never make everyone happy. That’s impossible. You can’t control the values or opinions of others.
● Be a good person, please yourself, and ignore everything else.
Understand that negative feelings take time and effort to maximize. When you’re experiencing a strong emotion, it wasn’t strong right out of the gate.
● Perhaps you thought that someone sneered at your shoes. On a 1 - 10 scale, the strength of your reaction might have been a two, at first. You have to go through a complex routine of magnifying, assuming, visualizing, and self-talk to get yourself to a 10.
● Instead, what if you stopped right there? By not taking it further, you’d only have to deal with a minor annoyance instead of strongly upsetting yourself. You’d be a lot less sensitive and enjoy your life more.
Practice controlling your emotions. Watch a scary or sad movie and avoid identifying so closely with the characters. When something sad or frightening happens, maintain some emotional distance. Notice when you’re getting emotional and use that as a cue to just relax.
Keep your attention in the present. Instead of turning your attention and focus inward when you begin to overreact, keep your focus on what’s happening around you. Listen to the sounds in your environment. Put your attention on something you can see.
Do you cry at TV commercials? Do you hold a grudge because someone forgot your name? If so, you’re being too sensitive.
It’s great to be compassionate and empathetic, but when your sensitivity detracts from your life, it’s time to take back some control. As a human being, you have a lot of control over your reactions to things. You have the ability to think and to change your focus and behavior. Practice these strategies and gain greater peace.