Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sticks and Stones

...I was curious, so I looked up the definition of “thick-skin”.  Here is what I found:    

Thick- Skinned, adjective
a. Not easily hurt by criticism, insult, etc.
b. Callous, unfeeling, hardhearted, etc.
c. Largely unaffected by the needs and feelings of other people;

For good measure, I looked up the definition of “thin-skin”.  I found the following:

Thin-Skinned, adjective
a. Easily offended by criticism, rebuffs

…Most of us, when we are honest with ourselves, must admit that we fall somewhere in between these two definitions.  Most of us are not entirely thin- or thick-skinned.  And personally, I think that is the best way to be.  Who wants to be considered callous, unfeeling, and insensitive?  Conversely, who wants to be considered a baby?  No one.  Most of us would like to be sensitive and empathic enough to be emotionally available to ourselves and others.  To open our hearts to those that we care about, even if that means we're vulnerable at times.  Similarly, most of us would also like to have a strong enough sense of self to know what comments or actions to take to heart, and what we are better off ignoring.

So why then, would someone call me thin-skinned as if it were such a bad thing?  Why are we told to toughen up, or pretend not to be hurt by someone when we really are?  Why do we often act as if we don’t care?  That we are unreachable by the words and actions of others? How confusing this is.  We are told to be tough, so we act tough, but then we are also expected not to hurt the feelings of others.  Yet, if we are all as tough as the act we put on, why does it even matter if people are terrible to us?

It matters because we really all are sensitive beings.  Because sometimes we do get hurt, whether we are comfortable admitting it or not.  Because we also care about the feelings of others and do not wish undue harm upon them. 

So, the next time someone calls me thin-skinned, I won't be taken back, whether they hurt me or not.  I will decide what I will take personally, and what I will not.  And I will not be afraid to admit that I have feelings.  That I am not above being hurt by others.  I will remind myself that it is a privilege and an honor when I open my heart to another, and that it takes courage and strength to do so freely.  And if that privilege is taken advantage of, then I have the choice to take that privilege away.  

My wish for you today, my sensitive and caring birds, is that you have the softness of heart to be emotionally available with others.  That you are strong enough to also be vulnerable.  And too, it is my wish for you that you are self-assured and secure enough to also stand up for yourself and know what is worth taking personally and what is not.  It is my wish for you that you are able to find this intricate balance so that you may love and be loved by others and do so with confidence, resilience, and consideration.



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