WHY IS HAVING “THICK SKIN” SO IMPORTANT?
In my book WHEN HE’S A KEEPER (BUT YOU FEEL LIKE THROWING HIM AWAY) I introduce one of my favourite tips of all time – which is the importance of having thick skin.
Before I talk about how to develop thick skin I think it’s important to first define what I mean by this term.
By thick-skinned, I mean:
-People who are not easily offended
-People who have the ability to go with the flow and adapt to the challenges that pop up in life
-As well having the ability to bounce back from particularly difficult times.
To the contrary thin-skinned people are those who:
-Allow every unwelcome comment or situation to negatively impact their life.
-They are overly sensitive, especially to insults or criticisms, easily hurt and quick to take offence.
-They are like a bomb with a short fuse, waiting to explode at first tick.
I hate making generalizations that haven’t been substantiated but I’m guessing that people with thick-skin have a much easier time in life than people without it.
Being thick-skinned means you are tough enough to take the truth.
Consequently you have a more accurate sense of the world. It doesn’t hurt so much because you are brave enough to face the truth and accept it.
Alternatively those who are thin-skinned…well it doesn’t take much to set these delicate people off. If we were to play a game, I think I could get them seriously fuming in five minutes tops.
I want you to honestly think about this now. If you let yourself get affected by every negative piece of feedback or criticism that comes your way, you are creating unnecessary stress in your life.
So what if your partner or work colleague or friend doesn’t see things exactly the same way as you? So what if he or she decides not to take your fantastic piece of advice and wants to do things his or her own way?
Even if their way of doing things is so much more stupid or frustrating – the point is other people are allowed to make their own choices and mistakes, just like you are. It is their prerogative.
Of course some of us are going to be naturally over-sensitive about things.
That’s okay and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Lots of people who handle criticism poorly still manage to use it to their advantage.
For example, even if criticism hurts you, you might still see some truth in the remarks and use it to make appropriate changes to your behavior or situation, even though the criticism still deeply stings you.
The thicker your skin the easier it will be to persist when times are difficult. If you constantly try to shield yourself from negative information because it hurts too much you are potentially avoiding the truth. And why do that?
You may try to run from the truth but just like in the horror flicks it always ends up catching up with you. Remember this: a person can never, ever escape or hide from the truth.
The best way to tackle it is by facing the truth head on and facing it is so much easier to do when your skin is thick rather than thin.
Having thick skin can be hard at times because it isn’t about ignoring negative comments. It also includes:
-Having the ability to absorb and act on criticism that you sometimes believe is unfair or uncalled for.
-Having the ability to stay optimistic and hopeful even when others try and drag you down.
-Being willing to shut up and listen to the other person, without judging or interrupting them.
-Plus having the ability to evaluate and filter the comments which bother you and sorting through them all in order to make yourself feel better
Here are some tips to help you develop thicker skin:
-Think before reacting. If you receive a negative comment, could there be some truth to this statement? Honestly, did it hurt because it was little bit true?
-Try not to take everything personally. It isn’t always about you! Sometimes people say things that they don’t even really mean because they are tired, angry, hurt or feeling defensive themselves. Don’t get caught in their game – be the higher person.
-Understand that people are entitled to have their own opinion – they can think different things from you!
-Take everything with a grain of salt and learn to separate criticism from insult. For the record, an insult is when someone puts you down about something you can’t change whereas a criticism is usually about something you can improve.
-Acknowledge if you do have room for improvement and look at the bigger picture. Why not choose to take that criticism and use it to make some positive changes in your life?
-Stay positive and don’t hold a grudge. It is what it is. Learn from it and move on.
This ability to move on without retaining any negativity is the greatest power of thick skin.
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