Are You Too Sensitive?
Find the Nearest Exit
When a comment stings you, breathe deeply several times, and then figure out
a way to excuse yourself from the conversation (even if that means you have to
make something up). Aron says this works because it incorporates the two main
principles of anger management: Focusing on your breath distracts you from the
initial surge of temper that follows a barb, and leaving the situation gives
you time to form an appropriate response. "Most of us make poor word
choices when our pulse goes above 100," says Aron. She's a big believer in
the 24-hour rule — waiting a full day before responding, if at all. "In
some cases, especially at work, revealing that a remark makes you feel
defensive can really hurt you, by making you seem insecure."
Look Who's Talking
Suppose a colleague implies that you're careless to let your 20-year-old
daughter go on a road trip with her friends. Before you take the remark to
heart, consider the source. How much does this person actually know about
raising kids? How well does she know you or your daughter? Is she an
over-parenter? "Then run the comment by someone who really knows what kind
of a mother you are," says Aron. "Maybe your critic has a point, and
you're reacting defensively because you agree with her. Or maybe she just
doesn't have a clue."
Just This Once, Don't Call a Friend
Researchers from the University of Missouri at Columbia tracked children and
adolescents who shared their hurt feelings with friends, and came to a
startling conclusion: The girls who "co-ruminated" the most had more
supportive friendships, but also greater levels of anxiety and depression.
"Excessive focus on problems probably makes them seem even bigger and
harder to resolve," says Amanda Rose, Ph.D., the lead author. "And it
likely gets in the way of finding positive, healthy distractions," such as
reading a good book or going for a walk.
Check Your Ego
Supersensitivity is sometimes the result of "it's all about me"
syndrome. I confess, this is sometimes my issue. When my neighbor doesn't wave
back, I automatically start a mental checklist: Did my dogs get loose
recently? Have my kids been blasting music? My close pals rib me about
this. "Get over yourself, Sarah," they'll say. "Everything can't be
your fault." Maybe my neighbor is simply lost in thought.