It’s normal to feel hurt when others wrong you. However, oftentimes, people’s actions have nothing to do with you, yet they can still sting. Sensitive people in particular often find that any sort of criticism or perceived slight is enough to devastate their self-esteem. The depth of feeling you experience makes it much harder to not take things personally. While you may know intellectually that someone else’s bad mood has nothing to do with you, that doesn’t stop the negative self-talk from chiming in: What did I do wrong? I’m the worst.
There is nothing wrong with being sensitive, and we are all emotionally connected—you cannot expect to be a robot in the face of other people’s emotions. Of course you are going to care. But there are ways you can manage your emotions to ensure that you don’t have to take things so personally that they ruin your day or make you beat yourself up.
Know Your Worth
A strong sense of self-worth is the ultimate tonic against other people’s judgments. When you know your own worth, it doesn’t matter what other people think about you—you think positively about yourself. This is easier said than done for many sensitive people, but with time and concerted effort, you can strengthen your sense of self. You might find it helpful to list out your positive qualities so that you can remember them when you start to take something personally.
Identify Your Triggers
Your past has a big impact on how you react to things in the present moment, so being aware of what triggers from the past come up for you regularly can help you manage your feelings. For example, if your father was very critical of you growing up, you might be more sensitive to criticism than someone who didn’t have that experience. Being self-aware and compassionate towards yourself in these moments can help. When you pinpoint your triggers, you can take a step back when you’re feeling sensitive and think, “Am I upset about this current situation, or is this an emotional trigger?”
Do you ever feel like you are pretending to be someone else to please others? Do you feel like you need to change to be accepted? You are never going to be able to make everyone happy. It’s inevitable that you will disappoint someone, whether you are being yourself or someone else, so why not just be yourself? When you let go of who you think you should be, you can embrace who you actually are. Put your own needs first and the people who really care about you will understand and accept you.
Sensitive people are almost always people pleasers who want to make everyone around them happy. This makes it especially hurtful when someone does something that hurts you; after all, you put so much effort into considering their feelings, and they don’t seem to return the favor. A lot of this hurt comes from resentment because you do so many things for others you don’t actually want to do. You can combat this by not doing those things—set boundaries and stick to them. Say “no” more; there is nothing wrong with setting boundaries.
If you are struggling with your emotions, you might find that cognitive behavioral therapy helps. At New Transitions Counseling Center, we can help residents of Palatine with a variety of mental health issues, including hypersensitivity. Contact us to schedule an appointment.