*curtsies* you seem like a 'take no shit' person so I beg you, how do I stop being so sensitive? Today my Drs secretary kept laughing at me and made me feel stupid/crazy and I cried for 30 minutes curled up in a ball. The smallest thing sets me off.
*Curtsies* So, this is something I actually really struggle with in other people. My mother and one of my close friends from college are both extremely sensitive. I’m really not; I tend to bounce back quickly from fights and slights and get on with the day, and I don’t know why that’s easier for me to do than it is for someone else. (Probably because I’m selfish and I don’t like being mad about anything for any longer than I have to, truth told.) But the biggest things I struggle with in communicating with super-sensitive people are that (1) they take everything personally and (2) they can’t let anything go. Some of the things people have taken personal offense to absolutely astound me, like mentioning to my mom that I had a really horribly long wait at the doctor’s office (which she perceived as somehow aimed at her because she had recommended the place). Another friend once burst into tears, walked out of a restaurant where all our friends were hanging out because I wanted to know what to do with a bunch of stuff she’d left at my house (which she perceived as being a criticism that she hadn’t cleaned up after herself; it wasn’t, I just genuinely wanted to know what to do with her stuff).
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m emotionally obtuse and could have said something in a hurtful way without meaning to, but I also think it’s a bit dangerous to always assume that what another person does is done deliberately to hurt you. Because what I’ve found in these kind of situations is that nine times out of ten it’s actually just a misunderstanding, where intent and impact don’t align. So. Maybe it would be good to step back and try to ask yourself whether the secretary is actually laughing at you, or if maybe there was just something funny about the situation, or if maybe she was just trying to be friendly, or if maybe she was nervous and that was why she laughed. Human behavior happens for a lot of different reasons and assuming that it’s always meant to do you some kind of harm is a hard way to live. The best take-no-shit advice I can offer here (because that is what you asked for) is that next time something like this happens, stop and ask these questions before you get upset:
- Is this really about me or am I making it about me?
- Am I possibly overreacting?
- Is there a way to clarify the situation?
That last one is really key. I can’t tell you how many fights could be avoided if people just stopped and said, “Wait, what did you mean by that?” But here’s the other key component: If the other person says, “Oh no, I wasn’t laughing at you at all,” you have to actually take them at their word. Give them the benefit of the doubt, because if you don’t you’re going to spend a lot of time weeping about insults that never actually happened, and they will have no idea what they’ve done wrong (and will feel terrible without knowing why). Communication is key.
Hope this helps.