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Women's Health

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Are You Too Sensitive?

Meditate, Don't Ruminate

Researchers from San Diego State University and the University of California at San Diego found that mindfulness meditation, which has been shown to treat stress, anxiety, and depression, is especially good at helping brooders stop replaying a hurtful remark over and over. I tried this strategy the other night after a heated spat with my 16-year-old. She had yelled, "You're so sensitive, Mom! It makes it hard to tell you things." Despite just writing an entire story on the subject, I shouted back, "That's not true at all!" Feeling hurt, I slunk into the bedroom, dusted off an old meditation CD, and listened to the soothing music and gentle bells. Sure enough, after 15 minutes, I had regained enough composure to snicker at myself. I went back to the living room, tossed a pillow at her, and said, smiling, "OK, maybe I am a little sensitive."

Sing Your Own Praises

Make a list of your strong suits. The more conscious you are of them, the less likely you'll be to crumble when criticized. "Sensitive people often make the mistake of taking an insult as a criticism of their entire personality instead of just one tiny aspect of it," says Aron. When I drove to my next carpool pickup, I road tested this technique. I thought to myself, I regret that I mixed up the dates last time — I wish I hadn't wasted that father's time. On the other hand, I'm pretty competent as a mother, wife, and wage earner. I compost. I vote. I floss. And I have to say, my Christmas decorations look pretty darn good this year. I felt better in seconds.

Choose Your Words Wisely

Keep these comebacks in your arsenal, for when you can't resist responding to a zinger.

"Excuse me?" Asking someone to repeat a thoughtless comment is a graceful way to make them think twice about what they just said — and may help you catch their meaning in case it's you who misunderstood.

"I wonder why you would say that." This toned-down version of "What the heck was that supposed to mean?" challenges the person to reflect on his motives.

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