When I was a child and later on a teenager, I would start crying for literally anything that wasn’t going my way. My dad raised his voice? I would cry. Somebody criticised me – even just a little bit? I would cry. In fact, I have this shameful memory of me hiding behind the bed as a child and crying because my grandmother had told me that my drawing of a chair was good, but not perfect. As I grew up, I quickly understood that I needed to stop being so sensitive, because it wasn’t the kind of person I wanted to be. But easier said than done: I was a shy, weak and sensitive introvert.
More than a decade later, I feel like I have finally managed to shake free from the shackles of sensitivity – enabling me to react in pretty much the same way most people would. In this article, I’ll give you one simple way to stop being sensitive, along with a few other tips that have really helped me growing up.
Experience, The Best Remedy
I said it would be simple, not easy! I could give you a whole bunch of tips – which I will, but at the end of the day, the one thing that made all the difference was experience. Good old blood, sweat and tears! It’s the best way to train your emotional muscle called sensitivity.
Just like a bone that would heal itself and become stronger after exercising, the more you will get hurt and the more you will become resilient. No matter what it is that makes you weak in the knees, keep moving forward.
It’s that simple: if you’re afraid of rejection, then go get rejected. The first time might not be pleasant, but I can guarantee you that the 100th time will feel very differently! One of my initial reactions to sensitivity was to try to avoid any potential threat – hence keeping away from discomfort. But I didn’t notice until much later that what I was really keeping away from was growth. Avoiding discomfort will only highlight it, which isn’t what we want.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO STOP BEING SENSITIVE?
As much as I’d like to give you a clear-cut answer, it really depends on you and your past experiences. In my case, it took a few years of hurt and sadness before I could finally assert myself and stop overreacting all the time. I still carry some sort of imperfection – which I will address below – but I’ve greatly improved. Just keep in mind that you’re in a long-term game – so don’t give up after a few days. The more you’ll experience pain, and the more you’ll grow out of sensitivity.
Here are a few distinctions that can help you moving towards your goal:
DON’T HIDE FROM YOUR FEARS
When I was overly sensitive, a big concern of mine was criticism – which I avoided at all costs.
Sure enough, it translated to my behaviour and so here I was doing my best to avoid being in a situation where I would feel uncomfortable. But by doing so, what I was truly doing was preventing the growth from happening. How can you expect to swim without swimming, or build a muscle without working out? I understand what it feels like not to want to be emotionally hurt – but in a world that can sometimes be excessively harsh, it’s only a short-term solution.
IMPROVEMENT, NOT PERFECTION
A study suggests that 20% of the population is genetically pre-disposed to empathy and sensitivity. Taking this into account, it would seem vain to fight against the way we’ve been biologically wired. And while this is certainly true to some extent, it doesn’t mean that you should give up.
Perfection – in this case “most people” in regards to sensitivity and developing thick skin – might not be attainable, but improvement sure is. Even though getting completely rid of this sensitivity might prove to be difficult, becoming less sensitive is absolutely doable. I’ve been working at it for a while now, and I still can’t seem to eradicate it. At times, it will appear out of nowhere. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing – as long as it’s not in excess, sensitivity isn’t a problem in itself. It can be a precious quality, especially when it come to interactions with people or animals.
Setting reasonable expectations is key. Instead of aiming for perfection, being less sensitive could be just the goal you and I need to pursue.
A FEW OTHER TIPS TO STOP BEING SENSITIVE
Although I consider the simplest way to being less sensitive to purposely put yourself in uncomfortable situations, let’s go over a few tips that have helped me to develop thicker skin.
Keep in mind that there is no shortcut, instant, magic solution. Just like any challenge, breaking through will take some time and effort.
HAVE THE RIGHT MINDSET
Mindset is and has always been the key component in any area of life. It’s what is going to manifest the result you desire. Many people mistakenly believe that because it’s not tangible, it doesn’t have any effect whatsoever. But 80% of success always comes down to the mindset, and only 20% to the mechanics.
The first thing you need to realize mindset-wise is that what you truly desire is to develop a new skill: being less sensitive. Just like any skill, it will take a long time – sometimes years. And you will probably fail trying, break down and feel frustrated in the process but that’s completely OK.
Success never comes without failure. In fact, embracing pain and frustration is also a key step before succeeding. Pain shouldn’t be your enemy, it should be your friend. As long as you keep fighting against it, you will suffer and beat yourself up. Instead, realise that each time you get hurt, you’re actually evolving.
I have noticed one very interesting quality in successful people: they enjoy failure, because it means growth to them. These people understand on both a logical and emotional level that the more they fail, the more they grow. And so they feel excited, they want to fail more! Once you adopt that mindset, everything will change for you.
EMBRACE THAT SIDE OF YOURS
If stopping to be sensitive is one of your goals, then chances are that you think being sensitive has become a burden. And while it may be true to some extent, you need to be careful that this desire to change stemming from pain doesn’t turn into self-hatred. That’s when embracing this side of yours become key. Understanding that it’s a part of who you are and being grateful for it doesn’t mean being complacent and giving up; it means that you should cherish it and cultivate it to become a better version of yourself.
Let it express itself when it wants to get out. Don’t suffocate it, because it will come back tenfold.
I have had many times in my life being disgusted with myself for not being a certain way, but this turned out to be the real challenge: those negative feelings prevent us from making a change because of the mindset component.
This one may seem unusual, but what I truly mean by that is introspective meditation: looking into yourself and your past experiences. Do you have any trauma that might have caused this sensitivity of yours to develop even further?
When doing this exercise, I could see that one particular experience in my life had marked me and prevented me from dealing with sensitivity effectively. Memory works in a quite interesting way: information alone takes some effort to be remembered – for some people more than others.
However, information associated with emotion greatly facilitate memory functions. In other words, painful events that you can remember about your sensitivity could tell you its cause.
HAVE AN IDEAL
Role models can be a great way to stop being sensitive. They remind us of the kind of person we want to be, and give us the strength and inspiration we need to surpass ourselves. Unfortunately, human beings have the tendency to let go of their ideals as they age – probably due to cultural reasons – but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Ask any children who they will want become as they grow up and most of them will tell you the most absurd things. When I was a child, I felt strongly about Spider-Man – so much so that I would sleep in my Spider-Man suit. As I became older, I also found myself stopping to dream. But fortunately, I came to realize it and could get the inspiration that I needed once again – I’m keeping my usual pajamas, though.
Whether you’re inspired by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Selena Gomez, Barack Obama, Homer Simpson or Batman doesn’t matter. Having an ideal that can remind us of who we want to become can greatly help us in our journey of becoming a better person.
FIND PEOPLE ON A SIMILAR PATH
Life becomes so much easier when we realise that we aren’t alone. No matter what challenge you’re going through, somebody else is living it at the exact same time. And others have successfully dealt with it. Hanging out with somebody sharing your experiences is good for a number of reasons.
First, it gives you the ability to share you struggles with somebody who understands you, which is what we’re all looking for deep down. Second, you can mutually encourage each other and provide the necessary emotional support to keep going on your journey. Finally, you will be less likely to hate yourself because you’ll realize you aren’t alone in this. It has nothing to do with you, because other people are facing the same issue.
There are so many tips that I could share with you but while I believe it can benefit you greatly nonetheless, I also believe that they should only be supplementary ways of dealing with this problem. Remember? The best thing that you could do to stop being sensitive is to actually go out there and develop thick skin as you experience more things.
Ultimately, it may not be possible to completely eradicate sensitivity from our lives, but do we truly want to in the first place? Sensitivity can become an asset and build quick bridges when interacting with other people. In any case, we have the power to cultivate this side of ours so that it doesn’t prevent us from living the life of our dreams.