I used to pride myself on being sensitive. The problem was I was easily hurt by the things other people said to me. I lived in a chronic state of pain which lead to a lifetime of unhappiness and low self-esteem. But the alternative (being cold and aloof) was less appealing so I resigned myself to a life of sorrow. But as I got older and more comfortable with myself, the criticisms and negative comments of others became less problematic for me. I realized that words have no power other than what I assign to them. The word stupid for example does not evoke any particular emotion unless I take personal offense to being called stupid.
If you are easily offended by what others say, consider working on building a healthier sense of self, one which allows you to listen to both positive and negative comments directed at you. There is much that can be learned from the unattractive remarks we hear about ourselves. After all, which one of us would not benefit from correcting some of our imperfections? Here are a few more tips:
1. Don’t take personal offense to what is being said. Their truth is more opinion than fact.
2. Listen objectively to their comments. Like a mirror, people reflect back to us what they see that we may not be aware of. This can prove to be of great benefit to us.
3. Pay attention to your internal reaction. What does it reveal about you? Are you too sensitive, insecure, opinionated, close-minded? Work on improving these.
4. Did you misunderstand or misinterpret what the other party said? Ask for clarification.
5. If they are deliberately being rude or hurtful address your concerns and set boundaries. Then forgive them for their poor behavior and let go of the hurt.
If you are the one uttering hurtful words, take into consideration the following suggestions:
1. Before beginning, consider your motives. Are they honorable? If not, do not proceed until they are.
2. Speak the truth and temper it with compassion and sensitivity.
3. Carefully choose your words making sure to consider all possible methods of expressing yourself.
4. Imagine how the other party is interpreting what you are saying. Put yourself in their shoes.
5. Remember that it is what you say as well as how you say it. Choose polite honesty over brutal honesty every time. You’re efforts will be greatly appreciated and you will earn the respect of all parties.
Words don’t have to hurt. It is the individual who gives them power. Choose your words carefully for once spoken they can never be silenced.
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