It’s clear we cannot please everyone. Regardless of what we say or do some people will simply be prejudiced toward us without even giving us the benefit of the doubt. And while it might be true that they’re projecting their own pain onto us, their harsh words and criticisms sting all the same. Developing thick skin allows us not to be taken out by their contempt.
Naturally, positive words of affirmation encourage us to keep showing up and offering our strength. And criticisms tend to have the opposite effect, even when well meaning. For instance, we’re more likely to remember the one thing someone doesn’t like about us rather than the five things that they do.
And this seems even truer when criticisms become contempt and personal attacks on our character even before giving us a chance.
It’s one thing to have an honest disagreement with each other – to make a good faith effort to understand but in the end realize we don’t share common ground or a direction forward. And it is another thing completely to be condemned without first even being understood.
And this is when we need our thick skin.
Thick skin is not pretending we’re not hurt. If you cut us we will bleed. But in toughing our skin we’re not easily offended by the contempt and hatred of others. It still stings, but it doesn’t take us out.
Of course, we can still check in with our trusted others to see if these criticisms are warranted. Developing thick skin doesn’t mean we become insensitive to our areas of growth. But it is carefully discerning whose opinions we take to heart.
And we can free ourselves from those whose hate for us is more about their own story than about us.
To be sure, we only frustrate ourselves and become ineffective when we let their unwarranted criticism take us out.
The world will not always be kind to you or give you a fair chance. Learn to develop a thick skin and carry on.