Being sensitive is good – but don’t go over the top
There is surely nobody in the whole world who can say they haven't taken a comment or throwaway remark to heart at some point or another – perhaps you were having a bad day, or maybe you took something a friend or colleague said out of context.
However, if you often find yourself getting offended or even upset about these things – or endlessly turning over a situation in your mind – then you could well be over-sensitive. And in the long term, this could be seriously threatening your wellbeing and even your whole outlook on life.
In an article for WorldWideHealth.com, expert psychologist and life coach Alice Muir explained one way in which this manifests is that sensitive people can find it hard to make snap decisions for fear of upsetting other people, which means they're likely to get stressed out about even minor, very small things.
There's never really been a worse time to be over-sensitive either, as people affected are probably more likely to get their feelings hurt these days because we are encouraged to say what we think all the time on portals such as social media sites.
For example, anonymous bloggers on the internet can now directly comment on the actions and musings of other people, while reality TV programmes and tabloid newspaper positively thrive on putting people down – Daily Mail 'sidebar of shame', anyone?
However, while you may not be able to avoid being judged or having comments made about you sometimes, changing the way you react to the situations that spring up around you may make a real difference – it could stop you from feeling affronted all the time and allow you to let things go, which is only a good thing for your soul and spirit.
The Personal Development Suite's Leslie Smith advises that it's essential to realise that being sensitive isn't a bad thing per se. After all, what's bad about having more empathy with others and being viewed as a good friend and listener? You're also likely to be particularly observant and creative as a sensitive soul.
Recognising this will permit you to view yourself in a better light and raise self-esteem, she said. Eventually, thinking more positively should naturally reduce your over-sensitivity because you're not automatically assuming people are seeing your less positive qualities.
If you can't let things go and feel you must react to something (or maybe someone) that has hurt you, then Sarah Mahoney recommends giving yourself time to think carefully about it first. She suggests literally walking away from the situation if possible, which will let you take a more objective viewpoint.
When you return to your problem, you may not feel like saying anything. However, if you still do, always make sure that you ask the person who has upset (if it is a person) you to clarify what they said to start with, as you may have got the wrong end of the stick, she pointed out.
Don't forget that this could also make the person rethink what they said too, which could have the positive knock-on effect of making them a little more sensitive about other people and less harsh.
"Asking someone to repeat a thoughtless comment is a graceful way to make them think twice," Sarah remarked.
However, in the nicest possible way, it's also a good idea to remember that not everything is always about you! For example, you might have thought that a good friend blanked you in the shops yesterday. But have you stopped to think about why this might have been? What motivation would they have to ignore you? Could he or she not have been preoccupied by someone in her family falling ill, or worried about a bill that has arrived that has thrown her finances into disarray?
Remember that assuming other people are thinking negatively about you can also be a sign that you're letting your own ego get out of hand, so feel free to take it into check now and again and put yourself in other people's shoes.
And whatever you do, remember that spending too much time chewing the cud, so to speak, isn't healthy for anyone.
"Excessive focus on problems probably makes them seem even bigger and harder to resolve. And it likely gets in the way of finding positive, healthy distractions," psychology expert from the University of Missouri Amanda Rose, told Good Housekeeping magazines.
So the next time you feel your feelings are getting hurt or you're getting prickly over something trivial, try these key steps:
1. Walk away or remove yourself from the situation
2. Think it over – sensibly though! Don't ruminate
3. Ask for clarification or double-check your facts
4. Try a little empathy – people don't always mean what they say if they're having a bad day
5. Be kind to yourself and remember your strengths
6. Give yourself a firm talking-to sometimes if you know you're being silly.
Consider your sensitivity objectively and you may find a whole host of situations aren't as serious as you thought. You may also benefit from talking to one of our expert life coaches at PsychicsOnline if you want a second opinion on anything or you can feel your thoughts spiraling unhealthily.