A comment on the blog today asked, “How can I be less sensitive to things?”
It might not be possible to be less sensitive, but you can change your reactions to things.
I’d like to share a tactic that has helped me.
Try to “catch” yourself when you find yourself obsessing or getting worked up over something. See if you can acknowledge that it’s happening.
Let’s say your boss says something critical to you. Or you run into an old friend and you say something awkward and then keep thinking about it all day.
You find yourself getting worked up. What did your boss mean? Is he mad at you? What if your old friend was offended hurt/by what you said? And you obsess over it….All. Damn. Day.
Here’s what I try to do.
When I find my worry growing and spiraling out of control, I try to realize that it’s happening.
Then I might stop myself and say to myself, “Whoa, hold on. Maybe this isn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be. Maybe I’m over-thinking this because I tend to do that sometimes.”
Then I think, “What’s the worst that could come out of this situation? Is it really worth putting myself through all this worry?”
So what if my boss said something critical? Maybe he’s having a bad day. Or maybe I did make a mistake–but he’ll get over it. We all make mistakes sometimes. He’s not going to fire me over it.
And if I said something accidentally mean/awkward to an old friend? What’s the worst that could happen? Maybe it wasn’t so bad. They’ll get over it. There’s nothing I can do about it now.
So that’s it. I know this isn’t the perfect solution, but it has helped me.
It’s a strange thing to doubt your own natural responses, thoughts, and feelings, isn’t it? Your reactions to the world are how you deal with…well, everything. If I can’t trust my own reactions, then what can I trust?
Our perceptions are still valid and good, they are simply–perhaps–more intense than most other people are used to. It helps to acknowledge that–and save our intense reactions for times when it is more appropriate and useful. Like a superpower.
This is the way I try to deal with things. I feel Im getting better at handling things, it’s very helpful but still difficult. I never realised I had such a hard time with taking things personally. I practice similar to what you described to try and also help me tell the difference between something someone else does that I NEED to be upset by, and when it is just “me” and me over-reacting.
Sometimes it can get quite hard though depending on who you’re interacting with. There’s some personalities where it’s very hard to tell if the person is upset with you or not.
Exactly my strategy as well – the more I have done this exercise the less deep I got into those thoughts…
Go on with your blogs telling short HSP stories – nice 🙂
I am SOO relived to know there are others like me…. I get so emotional and upset over the littlest things. The method you mentioned is what I use too. I tend to have no problem catching myself, but still have a lot of difficulties trying to shake it off most days. 🙁
I’m with you Emily, I feel like you’re in my head! One of my biggest things is worrying obsessively if I don’t hear from my sister or friends (whom extremely close to) I immediately obsess that I’ve said or done something to upset them! Logically I know it’s the case, I am going to try these techniques mentioned on this post.
my post should have said “logically NOT the case”
I have been using a similar method, but actually never thought about approaching it from the idea of the worst possible outcome, as I always just tried to realize that I am obsessing and then tried to re-direct my focus to something else. I get a lot of anxiety attacks at work and this approach helped me a lot already, thank you so much!
Yes shame/guilt spirals here too
What I’ve done is asking myself “if you could be the imaginary version of yourself in the real world, how would you react to this, and how would you choose to feel about it?” and that has helped a LOT!