Sensitivity is a great virtue. Being sensitive to others is most important for our relationships. As social beings, we cannot afford to compromise on our sensitivity without compromising our relationships.
They say it’s a rough world out there. There are many different approaches that people take to put up with or deal with the challenges that come their way. Some of us become intimidated by those who are rougher and tougher and we back away and make room for them. Others do quite the opposite. They develop their own rough stance ensuring that they don’t get pushed over by others. Some of us are thin-skinned and too sensitive to handle certain situations and some of us develop a thick skin so that those situations won’t hurt us or bother us and permit us to hold our ground.
When I was in my teenage years and even into my early 20s I was very intimidated by other people. I would usually back off if anyone ever attacked me. I don’t mean a physical attack but any forms of intimidation usually worked to get me to back off. I did not have the inner strength courage or self-esteem to stand up to others who showed a stronger presence and were willing to bully and intimidate. At that time I understood that I had one of two choices. Either I become less sensitive by developing a thicker skin, learning not to care or be concerned about the things and people around me, simply care less. Or I remain sensitive and thin-skinned while knowing that I cannot step into certain arenas which were too rough for my thin-skinned personality. Honestly, I did not like either of these choices. Perhaps it was because I was dissatisfied with these two options that I didn’t relent and continued to pursue the proper approach. Here’s what I discovered.
Neither being thin-skinned nor thick-skinned is the proper way to deal with things. Let me use an example of a salesman. The salesman goes out to sell and for every sale he makes, he receives many rejections. Not only does he get rejected numerous times, some of the rejections are harsh, insensitive and insulting. How would you coach the salesman to remain effective despite the challenge of such an enormous amount of rejection? Some people will tell the salesman, “You have to develop a thick skin and so the comments won’t bother you. If they insult you, insult them right back. Show them that you can be just as nasty as they are.” Others may tell the salesman, “Get out of sales, it’s not for thin-skinned people like yourself. To be a salesman you need to be able to handle rejection without it affecting you. If you’re this bothered by the rejection you’re in the wrong line of work.” I would say that neither of these approaches is the proper way to coach this person. Either you’ll be teaching the salesman to lower themselves to the nasty person or you’ll be teaching him to run and avoid the problem.
So why are these two approaches so common? When we are sensitive, which is a beautiful virtue, we suddenly find ourselves vulnerable to many people who will take advantage of our sensitivity with their coarse and insensitive behavior. We suddenly find ourselves compromised. We end up feeling weak and vulnerable due to a virtuous characteristic. To spare ourselves of this vulnerability we often start behaving with the very same insensitive behaviors that we despise. To some extent it works. We become more thick-skinned, we put on a front, we avoid our feelings and we get hurt less. Others can’t seem to find a way to develop a thick skin and therefore they simply avoid people and circumstances that can capitalize on their vulnerability. Both of these approaches demonstrate a weak person. When I develop thick skin I am showing that I have no way of dealing with you while protecting my integrity and I feel compelled to desensitize myself. When I run away so that you can’t hurt me I am even more clearly demonstrating that I am too weak to deal with these uncomfortable circumstances.
There is a third approach which is a much better way. It is also the way to revealing our personal inner power. It will not only serve a salesperson much better, more importantly, it will serve the person themselves much better. Granted it’s not the easiest approach but like everything else in life, it will provide, by far, the greatest dividends. Sensitivity is a great virtue. Being sensitive to others is most important for our relationships. As social beings, we cannot afford to compromise on our sensitivity without compromising our relationships. Imagine if there was a way to remain sensitive while not being vulnerable to the coarseness and insensitivity of others. By learning not to run away and avoid the problem and at the same time not lowering yourself to the inappropriate behavior of the other. It’s by learning to stand in our place and not let the comments or insults of others affect us. When we learn to take full responsibility for our feelings, we suddenly experience the power and freedom of being in control of the way we feel. We suddenly experience that someone can say something hurtful to us and it doesn’t hurt us. The art of being able to interact with someone while staying beyond their periphery if needed is the ingredient that creates the person of true strength.
Suddenly we are not the effect of the behavior of the people around us. Rather we determine our inner emotional state. It’s always fascinating to also see how people quickly change the way they talk to us when they realize that their nastiness, insults or attempted forms of emotional manipulation have no impact on us. However, the question always remains, how do we learn to do this? Yes, ideally this would be fantastic but is it really a reasonable expectation? The answer is a resounding yes! It is absolutely a reasonable expectation. It is only a question of whether we truly desire to dedicate ourselves to changing the way we function so as to achieve this. Once we have a true desire to go through the effort in learning how to take full responsibility for our emotions, we need to have a path, a method that shows us how to change this.
I will actually be running a free webinar on this very subject in the next few months and if you’re interested in participating in this webinar please make sure that you are signed up to our email list. You can do so by simply going to www.beginningwithin.com and you will be from the first to know when this webinar is available.
So remember, don’t compromise your sensitivity. It’s what makes you beautiful, and remember that you are the one who gets to choose whether the comments that someone tells you will be hurtful or not.