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.