Posted by Joanna Rubini on

There is no oversensitivity. We have stories that lead to our thoughts that lead to our beliefs that lead to our feelings. When we are easily wounded, our story might be that other people have power over us. Or that other people's opinion or judgment of us trumps our own opinion of ourselves. Or that a constructive comment  means we are inherently flawed and therefore...worthless and unlovable. 

I liken the experience of having hurt feelings to being an injured animal that lashes out in defense of its hurt self, because it wants nothing to get close enough to see its inadequacy and woundedness. We almost render ourselves unlovable with our defensiveness. And behind that behavior is the story of our unworthiness. We seem to believe that a cruel statement by another actually is the truth about us. That we are flawed, bad, incompetent...scum, beneath all consideration. Sometimes we become so attached to our interpretations of others' seeming criticisms that we want to scuttle away and hide in our caves, hide our flawed selves and lick our wounds. The sun does usually come out again, but lurking underneath is a measure of guardedness and resentment towards those we have perceived to have hurt us, waiting to be triggered and brought to the surface of our behavior again.

What I think is the truth under all of this is a lack of awareness of our own self perception. When we are vulnerable to having our feelings hurt, we are usually being shown that lurking inside the dank shameful unworthy cave with us, is our own poor self perception. It is soooo quiet and subtle, that we think its coming from other people. Sometimes I'll find myself in a depressed mood all morning and have no idea of the source, except that outwardly it seems like everyone and everything is aligned to hurt me that day. But later on when I take a walk away from noise and data overload, I finally hear the doubting critical voice inside my head.

Sometimes the voice is whispering that I'm too lazy, sometimes too impatient, too thoughtless, too fat, too old, too ugly, too anxious, too nervous, too unable, too scattered... No wonder I was miserable all day with so many too's and so many failings. This is so easy to correct if we simply allow ourselves the divine gift of comfort. Even when we've made mistakes that seem insurmountable and unforgiveable. 

So when we are easily hurt by others, it serves us to recognize our own responsibility in how we feel - and most often we are the biggest perpetrators. To help myself out of the muck and mire of gloom, I dialog with this nasty critical voice once I notice it,. "Hey, that hurts my feelings, would you please be more kind? Hey, that hurts my feelings, why are you saying those things? Hey, that hurts my feelings, your criticism is not welcome here...it is not mine...it is not true!" Beginning a conversation with that inner critic allows us to soften into self understanding, self compassion and finally self correction. When I say self correction I mean starting with correcting our self judgmental condemning beliefs. Why do some of us even have beliefs that we are not enough or not worthy?  It's as if we think policing ourselves in the unforgiving rigid way that we do will ensure something: that we are safe? that we will get to heaven? that others won't hurt us or surprise us with criticism because we are already fully aware of how awful we are. 

But oh my, if we spend our lives with this weighted demon upon our shoulders, we're shackled with suffering our entire lives. Which means: we've not helped ourselves one iota. Nada! We'll just be tossing ourselves into a dungeon for a life of self degradation, constantly jostled by the moods and behaviors of others as they innocently reflect our own sneaky self criticism. 

Ready? Let's get out of this loop and off of the poop train :o) The gentle Tara Brach writes that we can whisper to ourselves "please, don't believe these thoughts". Call it a mantra, a meditation, an intention, a prayer. There are infinite ways to save ourselves from ourselves. "May I find a way to forgive myself. May I find a way to love myself. May a find a way to be gentle and compassionate with myself..." We alone are our own greatest assets and advocates. We are the only ones guaranteed to never leave us, to always be there. Our power to decide how to treat ourselves is quite earth shatteringly monumental. Even if we've grown up with the programming of self loathing, etc, with can consciously decide to change, to offer our prayers and intentions to change our beliefs and behaviors and thus we crack open the window of illumination.

I love me and you too <3


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