6 Ways Highly Sensitive People Can Stop Taking Things So Personally

How To Stop Taking Things Personally When You're A Highly Sensitive Person (Or 'HSP')
Love, Self

Sensitivity can be a powerful personality trait. Highly sensitive people, for instance, tend to be highly adaptable.

A highly sensitive person, also referred to as an 'HSP', can quickly sense the mood of those around them and adapt to the situation. HSPs are also very self-aware. They know exactly how they feel at any given point in time.

Still, every powerful personality trait can carry liabilities if it is overused, and sensitivity is no exception. Highly sensitive people can become easily wounded and often take things others say or do too personally.

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So in order to protect yourself from the downsides of your highly sensitive nature, while still embracing your innate sensitivity, learning how to shift your focus is key.

Here are 6 ways a highly sensitive person (HSP) can stop taking things so personally.

1. Don't assume it's about you

HSPs can be easily wounded — and hence less resilient to the normal bumps of life — when they focus too much on their inner state.

If you are a highly sensitive person, it helps to remember that you aren’t the center of their universe, so the moods of those around you most likely have nothing to do with you.

If your first thought when your best friend is grumpy is, "What did I do?", then stop. Just stop. Chances are you are jumping to a faulty conclusion and it's something else entirely.

2. Don't think people are just reacting to you

Consider that the grumpy person's reactions are theirs. Their moods may have little or nothing to do with you. In fact, they say more about the other person than they say about you.

You might never know what is going on in the mind of another, but there’s an easy way to find out: Tune into your highly sensitive personality and share an observation of what you're seeing. Then, ask them if they'd like to share what's bothering them. It'll help ease your doubts.

3. Give people a chance to explain before jumping to conclusions

Around moody people, HSPs might be tempted to ask, “Did I do something to upset you?”

But instead of assuming the blame, your only use of “I” should be as part of an observation, like, “I noticed you seem a little impatient/upset/off today.”

Then stop. Let them fill in the blank if they want to. If they don't want to talk, however, don't assume it's because they're angry at you. They might just not want to talk.

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4. Redirect your attention from your own feelings to the person you sense is upset

If the other person talks, it’s time to focus your attention on the other person — this is probably exactly what they need.

Listening intently creates connection. It satisfies a deep need to be heard and understood. In our loud world where people are all jockeying to get in their say, the presence of a focused listener can be an uplifting relief.

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And as an HSP, you'll likely get where they're coming from and be able to empathize better than most.

5. Learn to be an effective listener

When it’s time for the follow-up question, don’t put the attention back on yourself. Keep the focus on the other person and ask a question that gets them to say more about their answer.

For example, you could say, "That’s interesting. How did you come to hold that belief?" Or, "What led you to that conclusion?" Then, reflect back the values or assumptions you hear.

You can even put yourself in their shoes, by saying, “I can’t imagine being in that situation. What was it like to experience that?”

6. Use your sensitivity to really help

Trust that the other person will remember your graciousness. Unless the person is a narcissist, they'll remember the time and care you gave to them. And as an HSP, it gives you something in return, too.

Instead of being self-absorbed or thin-skinned, turn your focus away from your own hurt feelings and give your attention to someone else. The paradoxical impact helps you put your own worries in perspective and minimizes the bruises that come from living a full life.

RELATED: 19 Reasons Being A Highly Sensitive Person Is A Wonderful Thing

Anne Hamming is a life coach who teaches men and women empowering coping tools that help them overcome challenges and have brighter futures.