Growing A Thicker Skin: The Audio Version (1st Try at audio on WordPress)
Note: The Transcript is below for those who prefer to read but, it may differ ever so slightly from the audio version.
“Grow a thicker skin,” my mother used to tell me so often that it became an embedded mantra that ran through my head over and over again. I never really knew what that phrase meant, at least, not in its purest form and, I certainly never felt that I needed to. Now though…I do understand what she meant and why. Recently, things in my life have been taking a rollercoaster approach with more downs than ups. Of course, we all know that once up, things have to come down and boy, have I come down.
Have you ever heard the sentiment that it’s easier to already be on the ground than to have to fall to it? It’s almost as though I’m preparing myself for yet another huge drop after losses in my life that keep happening. Why get up to get knocked down again? Isn’t it better and less of a fall to be laying on the ground than to be in the air, elated? In my case, it seemed that I was knocked over more than I was up in the air. It was as though a pin was always and ever waiting to burst my balloon and send me rocketing, without a parachute to the earth below.
It’s only been in recent months that I finally understood what “grow a thicker skin” truly meant and why my mother was saying it.
“Life is going to eat you alive,” she’d say with a shake of her head.
Frankly, it literally has eaten me alive. I was too trusting, too naive, too giving, too kind and far too empathetic for Life and today’s world. It’s been leading me down a path towards depression with its kicks, blows and what it deals out in less than ideal hands to its players. I literally needed to learn how to shape up or I’d be shipping out.
Reality has a way of biting you when you least expect it. The more you have your guard down, the more often it will bite you. Not that Life won’t have its chances to nip you anyway but, the more prepared you are by being a bit less giving and quite a bit harder, the less of a chunk it can take out of you.
None of us live in a bed of roses. All of us have problems, issues, are dealt cruddy hands and, every rose has its thorns but, the less naive that we are and the more we see the stark differences between our dream world and the real world, the better off we’ll be.
Here are a few hints and tips at how to thicken your skin as I am attempting to do for myself now.
- Realize that helping others in a noble, right and kind thing to do but, don’t make it your mission in Life to take over helping everyone else at the expense of taking care of self first and foremost. Put your own oxygen mask on first.
- No matter how hard you try or what you do, you’ve never going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Accept that as many, if not more people, will dislike you than like you. It’s part of being alive and a human being. We will all experience it in one way or another so, get used to it happening.
- Not everyone will share your point of view or like what you have to do or say. Learn to be ok with agreeing to disagree or perhaps, be distanced from some others. Don’t change your point of view to keep them in your life unless you realize that you were wrong. Your thoughts are every bit as valuable as the next person’s. Trust in you and let others go their way if they can’t agree to disagree on points that you may butt heads with.
- There are times to give of yourself but, there are more times when you need to give to yourself. There’s a difference. If you’re doing what you’re doing in the hopes that you’ll gain friends and keep people around you, it’s likely that you’re going to end up disappointed, walked on, used and abused. Other people will find you spineless, life-less and not respect you. It’s ironic how that all works that way and one would think it would be the opposite or have the opposite effect but, it somehow doesn’t. Learn who, when and how much to give to. There are those who deserve you to help them and there are those who will abuse that privilege.
- If you’re the type of person who is always there for others, realize that most others won’t be there for you when you need help. Sadly, doing for others doesn’t guarantee you help and company. Save some of your energy for your own care. That’s not being selfish or self-centred. It’s being wise.
- Don’t give your everything to anyone. Hold back a bit of yourself for you. If you’ve given away all of your time, energy, thought and efforts, people get your number quickly and will use it to their advantage. People who don’t know what you’re all about will have some doubt and you’re leaving room for the times when you cannot help them out or give them everything you’ve got.
- Do something once or twice and it’s a favour. Do it many times and it becomes not only expected from you but, your job. Try stopping when you absolutely cannot do what you usually do for them. Some may have some understanding and accept it but, like those who don’t and won’t do that, they will also get impatient when you can’t do it. Oftentimes, they will get angry at you or walk away to find others who will do their bidding for them.
- Expecting others to be understanding and loving is like expecting a lion not to be a lion. It’s wiser to hope that they will help you and be there for you but, not expect it. Even the most devoted of people in your life will disappoint you if you don’t look at them with this attitude. That’s not to say that anyone should expect people to be miserable and unwilling to aid someone else but, it’s to say that no one can count on others simply because they’ve done a lot for others. It doesn’t work that way, sadly.
- Lastly, those whom you’d think you should be able to trust and lean upon, may be the very people who leave your life in one way or another or who disappoint you the most. Learn to rely upon yourself first and foremost. If someone else does lend a hand or is there for you when you need help, bless them, thank them and realize that there is good in this world too but, don’t rely upon it.
From my little corner of life, growing a thicker skin means that one wakes up to the harshness and reality of Life and does so with less surprise because they are prepared for not-so-good things when they happen and do so without falling apart or feeling so hurt that they can’t function. Life is full of pitfalls, ups and downs. Take the downs as part of Life but, learn to get used to them because Heaven only knows, we can’t stop them.
There’s a thicker skin right there.
Be well. Love and Light,
Have a great day or evening.