I do not think of myself as an emotional person, I definitely don’t wear them on my sleeve, but today I realized that I don’t have thick skin at all. What people say and think about me matters, and I think that is a good thing. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t pander to the whim of every critic, but I am passionate about helping people. So if someone comes after my character, profession, or beliefs, I take it personally. Perhaps this would make me a poor politician, yet on the other hand, I think we all could learn to thin out our skin a little bit.
I am not suggesting that we wallow in self-pity if someone says something mean or untrue about us, but the fact that it bothers you is a good thing. It means you care and you’re open and receptive to the thoughts and feelings of others, even if they are hard to hear. You see, if you just outright ignore what others think about you, it may be easier to handle lies, slander, or misperceptions, but you will also lose out on hearing hard truths that perhaps you needed to hear to grow and learn as an individual or leader.
The reality is that if hurtful things don’t hurt you, that means that you have grown cold, sinister, apathetic, or all three. This is a much worse way to live than having to overcome some hurt feelings from time to time. If you can be hurt, you can still care, so don’t feel like you always have to put on the brave face, and don’t buy into the lie that you need to grow thicker skin. No, be proud of the fact that you can care and empathize, and yes, even hurt. After all, these are the things that make us human.