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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5763
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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How can I develop a thicker skin?

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How can I develop a thicker skin? I don't want to be cold hearted, but I at least want the ability to handle life's disappointmens/upsets, and sarcastic/playful banter without feeling anger, resentment, and a broken heart.

Thank you for your request. I am working on your answer and will get right back to you. Kate

Handling life's disappointments and pain can be difficult. It is natural to respond by feeling hurt and upset. The reason why that occurs is because you are a feeling person. Anyone who is in touch with their feelings will experience the sting of pain when they are made fun of or hurt in another way. By reacting with pain, your feelings are telling you that what you are hearing or seeing is wrong and that you should either get out of the situation or seek more help with it. For example, if your spouse cheats on you, the pain you feel tells you that something is wrong emotionally with your spouse and that you need to respond in a way that protects you.


The only way to almost completely block out someone hurting you is to put up an emotional defense so you can block some of the pain from others. This would involve telling yourself that either you are angry at everyone or just don't care what anyone does. The people that do seem to brush off hurts and pain from others developed their defenses in response to being hurt so many times they had little choice but to put a shell around themselves. But by doing this, they live without being able to be vulnerable with anyone because they can't trust anyone. So they trade being aware of their feelings and in touch with others for being behind a wall.


A better way to deal with those that hurt you is to be more in touch with your feelings. Acknowledging that you are hurt and taking care of yourself as a result makes you a better person and more healthy emotionally. You can do this by finding ways to express your feelings when you do feel hurt and by surrounding yourself with support so you have others to turn to when you feel bad. It is ok to cry or feel angry when you are hurt. These are healthy responses. Talk to others who do support you. It goes a long way to help you heal if you have someone who is there for you.


Also, work on ways to improve your self esteem. Often when you struggle with self esteem, any comment by someone else can feel like a knife going through you. It serves to confirm what you thought of yourself before- that something is wrong with you. But by improving your self esteem, you can see others for who they are when they try to hurt you. Therefore you will have the strength to leave the situation and block them out because what they say and do will not ring true with you. Instead it will show you how damaged they are as people to be able to hurt you in the first place.


I hope this has helped you,


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX very helpful, actually. I'm especially leaning towards your last point about self-esteem. It's something I've always struggled with, which may be why I have a difficult time deciphering whether I'm being overly sensitive or if I have a valid reason to be offended or hurt.

I'm very aware of and in touch with my emotions, possibly to a fault. And because of this I analyze my thoughts/feelings/reactions, and believe I have some sort of psychological disorder. Is it possible to feel this emotional/be this reactive and not have a disorder?

There is nothing wrong with analyzing your thoughts and reactions. But if you do feel as if you do it too much (you can't get anything done because of it for example), then you may need to talk to a therapist. It's hard to say without seeing you face to face what might be going on, but it is worth an evaluation to determine if there is an issue. Otherwise, you probably are just a feeling person and there is nothing wrong with that.

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