Over the years, life throws some serious BS our way, and it can be difficult to deal with. That’s why it’s so important to develop a thick skin — it’s like a Teflon coating that will allow bad stuff to bounce right off rather than soaking in and ruining you. Obviously, it’s not quite so simple in theory. You’re a human being with feelings, and it’s totally normal to be affected by things. That being said, having a little more resilience and being able to take things in your stride rather than being easily derailed by the most minor inconveniences will serve you well in life. Here’s how to do it.
1. Understand that it’s rarely personal.
Most of the time, when things happen in life, it’s not about you. You didn’t do anything wrong, you are good enough, etc. Sometimes bad stuff happens to good people — it’s just the luck of the draw. Whether you missed out on a job you were desperate for to another candidate, your landlord decides not to renew your lease because they want to move into your apartment, or you’re late for work because your car breaks down, these things aren’t personal attacks. Appreciate the randomness of the universe and stop taking it personally. (Note that sometimes people are jerks to you and it IS personal, but it’s still not about you — it’s a them problem.)
2. Separate your self-worth from your career, your income, etc.
If you equate your worthiness with how well you’re doing at work, how much money is in your bank account, or any other ultimately meaningless metric, it’s no wonder you lose your mind anytime those things start slipping or experience a minor blip. You are not your job, your car, the clothes you wear, etc. Your sense of self-worth has to come from within. You have to have a solid grasp on your inherent goodness in order to develop a thick skin. Once you start backing yourself, it’s hard to let anything tear you down.
3. Don’t avoid confrontation.
Most people don’t like getting in arguments or disagreeing with people, but confrontation is a normal and even a healthy part of life. Sometimes a bit of good-spirited debate is what’s needed, and if you find yourself resorting to people-pleasing measures or always saying yes to avoid getting into it with people, it’s time to stop. If you want to develop a thick skin, you’re going to have to have it out with people sometimes. If someone does something to annoy you or that you think is wrong, call them out on it! So what if they get mad? As my mom used to tell me all the time, they’ll get glad again. The more you experience other people’s negative emotions, the less they’ll affect you over time.
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5. Set a time limit on your moping.
As I said above, you’re a human being with feelings and they’re absolutely valid. That being said, it’s no wonder you’re a sensitive snowflake if all you do is sit around feeling sorry for yourself and playing the victim. Let yourself be disappointed, hurt, angry, etc. when something bad happens, and then cut yourself off cold turkey. Put on your big girl/boy/person pants and be like, “Right, let’s get on with it, then.” When you learn to regulate your emotions in this way and avoid wallowing in unnecessary self-pity, you build a lot of strength of character that will become obvious not just to you, but to everyone around you too.
6. Accept that you don’t have to be liked by everyone.
Not only does it not matter if everyone likes you, it’s literally impossible. You don’t like everyone you meet, do you? It’s not really fair to expect to be everyone else’s cup of tea, either. That doesn’t mean you’re unlikable as a person — it just means they’re not your people. Recognizing this will help you develop a thick skin because, as mentioned above, you’ll stop taking everything so personally. Not gelling with someone else’s personality isn’t a statement about either of you — it just is what it is.
7. Try to get a bit of perspective.
While it’s really annoying when someone tries to write you off as being “too sensitive” for having a legitimate reaction to a situation, it’s true that sometimes we do take things to heart when it’s really not that deep. When a situation really upsets you but no one else seems to think it’s a big deal, sure, it’s possible you’re being gaslit
8. Post something online.
This is a weird one, but hear me out. If you need to develop a thick skin, there’s no better way to do so than by posting something online where the public can respond. Whether it’s a YouTube video, a social media post, or even a question on Reddit, keyboard warriors will come out in droves with something to say, and a lot of it won’t be positive. You soon realize that these people don’t know you and are literally just bored with nothing better to do. Their words are meaningless and really shouldn’t affect you. It’s kind of laughable, actually.
9. Let go of perfection.
You’re always going to get down on yourself for achieving anything less than perfection if you’re actually convinced that perfection exists. That’s why it’s so important to be realistic. You can be great at things, but “perfect” isn’t a thing — and it’s certainly not objective, either. Embrace where you are now and get excited about where you’re going. If you do, you’ll be just fine.