beeckerA 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.