“You’re overthinking things. You’re too sensitive. Toughen up!”
I feel emotions very strongly, and I’ve been told various times to grow a thicker skin.
Especially in the workplace, it’s been challenging to stay on track at times, as I can get swept away by emotions and find it hard to function.
It could be anything:
- critical feedback,
- a conflict with a team member,
- anything intangible.
I don’t know about you, but I often feel worse when I know (or think) that I messed up or could have done better than when other people are not behaving the way I’d like them to.
I only just recently learned that I’m a highly sensitive person, and, as beautifully coined in this post, “It’s like you were born missing a protective layer of skin that others seem to have.”
Marc & Angel
“It’s like you were born missing a protective layer of skin that others seem to have.”
Now, in my opinion, advice like “you need to grow a thicker skin” simply isn’t helpful.
First of all, while yes, we can all use to know more coping mechanisms, it’s probably not realistic to “grow a thicker skin.”
I’ve read a fair bit on introverts, HSP’s and high reactivity, and if you fall into one or more of these categories, it seems to be in your genes to feel things more intensely than others. Sorry.
Second, our feelings and emotions are there to tell us something, and analyzing is much more helpful than ignoring them.
Here are a few things you can do with your emotions:
1. Ask WHY.
There’s an exercise called the “5 WHY’S”.
The idea is to ask yourself questions, like: “Why am I feeling this?” until you get to the core of your feelings.
2. Ask what you can do.
- What’s your learning?
- How can you deal with the situation in a constructive way?
- How can you behave next time?
3. What’s the worst that can happen?
Ask what the worst-case scenario looks like.
This usually brings some perspective.
Accept that you feel those emotions and know that they will pass.
The more we fight, the more they usually persevere.
5. Interrupt your thinking pattern.
We create our emotions through thoughts and our interpretation of events.
If you would like to learn more about changing your thinking pattern, you can check out my post on emotional mastery here.