Taking things personally can be a personal strength. It’s all in how you look at it.
They whispered and talked quietly. I could see them looking at me out of the corners of their eyes. I felt like I was watching a drug deal go down, but no this was no drug deal.
It was cold, but not illegal.
The episode was nothing more than a steak deal. Two couples were hovering over a refrigerated unit eyeing the steaks and watching to see if someone else would come near the steak that we wanted.
How is it that we can be so territorial about things that we do not own?
Take driving: I like to think that I own my the 500 feet or so in front of my car. If someone comes into my personal driving space, I become annoyed, as if they are infringing on my driving territory. Yea, I get it, that’s not realistic.
But we all do it. We can all take things a little too personally.
Psychologists call this trait Hypersensitivity. I don’t like the term, because it feels a little too personal.
Why do we become hypersensitive?
Before we dive into the topic, I want to say from the start that some over reactions are healthy and even wise. Life can teach us the importance of a little over reaction. It is good and healthy to over react to an assertive sales person. Sometimes life goes better with a bit of spice.
I have a neighbor whose dog does a running drop kick at the window every time I walk by. And honestly, sometimes I purposely go even slower by his house, making quick movements just to get the dog to go a little more crazy.
If you are a dog lover, sorry. But ask yourself: do you really like a hypersensitive dog?
Don’t take it personally, but are you hypersensitive?
No, you won’t admit it? Okay, I’ll go on record: I can be too sensitive sometimes. I’ve tried Sensodyne – the toothpaste for sensitive teeth, but it doesn’t help. Still got the sensitive personality features.
I suspect that you and I become hypersensitive because of several different reasons: past trauma, an overactive mind, experience with rejection, personality type, reestablishing boundaries, or a little too much focus on external factors for our happiness. Whatever your reason, if you are hypersensitive, it can be uncomfortable.
How does hypersensitivity effect you?
Hypersensitivity can feel like a person is always on guard, on the watch. Glances can be misinterpreted. You find yourself over reacting and then your mind gets going. Then your mind can play tricks on you and you find yourself jumping to conclusions. Before you know it, your emotions are moving faster than the Space Shuttle.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can train yourself to slow down.
What can we do about our hypersensitivity?
Some people will tell you to become more thick skinned, but I think that is stupid. I think thin skinned is better – because life should move you. If you are sensitive, count that as a strength. You are not sensitive, you have ninja reflexes. Would you rather be a ninja or a cave man? Personally, I choose door “A.”
The important thing is exercising some discernment. It’s never fun being dragged down by a little event that happens.
Below are eight tips for the emotional ninja:
1.Celebrate yourself. You are an emotional ninja. You are aware of emotional nuances. This can be a huge help to your work, your relationships and your level of wisdom. Many cultures see this strength as a spiritual gift or as a form of spiritual strength.
2.Listen to your sensitivity – maybe your gut is telling you to cut yourself off from someone who is toxic?
3.Reality test – journalling can help with this, so can volunteering. It is refreshing to consider other people’s needs and how you can serve them.
4.Take a breath – By closing your eyes and just breathing has been shown to restore your brains oxygen level. You will think clearer and as you calm down, you will think more creatively.
5.Go for a walk and think – this will help you to get some space between your reactions and yourself. A change of scenery can strengthen other parts of your reflective abilities.
6.Get a friend – telling a trusted friend can go a long way to helping you to be less reactive.
7.Do some jumping jacks, rather than jumping to conclusions. Exercise can really help. Jumping to conclusions is never helpful, trust me. It may be better to just ask for clarification rather than jump to conclusions. Clarification can be one of the best positive mental health strategies that you and I can use.
8.Talk to yourself – identify statements that seem to trigger you and think about the beliefs behind them. It could be that you fear rejection, suspect a person’s mixed motives, or want to protect yourself. Reminding yourself that you can be on alert but also calm can help. Link with important beliefs like your spirituality or sense of home and
For other resources on hypersensitivity, see Psychology Today and Health Central.
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Keep it Real
Photo by Brian Moriarity