Are You Hyper-Sensitive?
Is It Worth It?
Feeling offended and expressing outrage is now all the rage affecting every aspect of our lives. Short fuses and limited tolerance have their place of course when hurt is serious and damaging. But in my coaching practice, there’s an increasing hyper-sensitivity to perceived, and real slights that’s become the issue dominating relationships and causing unnecessary pain and confusion.
The emotional trip wires created by this heightened sensitivity are becoming increasingly hard to navigate. The last thing most of us want is to cause hurt (particularly to loved ones). However this plays right into the hands of those who understand the power of being deliberately offensive for their own ends. This can only be caused when we are quick to be offended. Politicians, for example, understand this only too well. The sting is instant and it’s a cheap way to make a splash or feel superior without any effort.
So, why are we so easy to offend? Rudeness, blame, bullying, condescension, discrimination and shaming trigger numerous negative feelings, from outrage and resentment to hurt and humiliation. Feeling unjustly treated or judged kicks off our primitive survival impulse, “how dare they?”
These overwhelming negative emotions render us powerless because they put us in the miserable situation of feeling at the mercy of other people. To retain our power we need to ask ourselves, why am I so vulnerable? What makes me so susceptible to the opinions of others?
Much of our sense of self-worth comes from when we were children. The first information we gather about ourselves is from the world around us. If our early experiences were negative, or perhaps conversely we were over-protected, it makes us more susceptible for we may be overly reliant on others to tell us who we are.
To get free of these negative patterns we need to strengthen our sense of who, and what, we are. So the next time you feel offended:
Give the person the benefit of the doubt – remember most of us do not want to cause harm.
Don’t take it personally – it usually has less to do with you and more to do with them.
Ask yourself am I making a mountain out of molehill?
Am I looking to be offended?
Did I, even accidentally, offend them first?
Is there a way I can receive the information constructively?
Removing ourselves from this negative cycle will improve the quality of our lives and our relationships by increasing trust, dialing down unnecessary drama and relieving tension. Think of it this way, less can get under your skin when your skin is less sensitive and the more comfortable and peaceful you will be.