Four Simple Words For Thicker Skin

For even the most sensitive of us.

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I’ve always been super-sensitive. Just one unkind word used to cause me to crumble in a heap of tears. When I hear a little kid crying in a store, I almost cry myself. My whole life, I acutely spotted changes in people’s tones and moods and then worried they might direct those changes at me.

You might think that being sensitive is a good thing, and in some ways you’re right. Sensitive people are empathetic and loyal and good listeners. The downside is that when other people find out that you are sensitive, they sometimes try to step on you and keep you down. They find strength in what they presume is your weakness. They know you aren’t likely to stand up to them, so they get worse over time and they pick at your self-esteem until it no longer exists.


I used to be a big fan of disappearing. Whenever a friend or family member was hurtful and unkind, I’d just delete them from my life. I was too afraid of confrontation to speak up. All I knew was that the person made me feel bad about myself all the time. Maybe it’s not the best solution, but it helped in the short term.

My whole outlook changed one day while scrolling through Facebook. I spotted a meme that I stopped and looked at for several minutes. It was simple and only consisted of four words:


Let whoever think whatever.

It’s been my motto ever since. Those four words made me realize that I didn’t have to worry anymore about what people were going to say or do or if they talked behind my back. The freedom of those four words was incredible and life-changing because I’d been living the opposite way.

I didn’t even know there was another way to live.

It almost seemed impossible. Could I just not care about other people and their drama and their cruel and controlling ways? Could I not have my heart broken just because somebody took a shot at me? Did it really matter if somebody secretly hated me and pretended they didn’t?

Then I realized that if someone acted like that, it probably had very little to do with me. They were stuck in their own drama loop instead.


RELATED: I Am Not What Others Think Of Me: My Journey To Acceptance

It took me a long time and lots of therapy to realize that not everyone was going to like me. I could have been the nicest person in the world, but somebody somewhere wouldn’t like my personality or my jokes, or the way I laugh. Even then, I’m sure they didn’t spend too much time thinking about me.

People are more concerned with themselves and how they see the world.

Before I saw those words, I used to keep all my friends even if they weren’t healthy for me. I’m selective these days about the people in my circle. None of them wish me harm, and I never have to worry about them being mean. The circle only includes a few people, which is fine with me.


RELATED: How To Finally Stop Caring About What Other People Think, According To The 'People Displeaser'

These days, I don’t clam up when somebody hurts me, but I also don’t yell back at them. Instead, I put what they said in the "vault" in my heart. If the vault gets too full of cheap shots, insults, and generally unpleasant encounters, then I know the person is not part of my circle. I keep them at a distance and move on. I don’t want to say bad things that I don’t mean along with them. It’s not my style.

Whenever somebody is mean or tries to judge me, I try not to say anything at the moment. Instead, I let their words hang in the air and the silence. My hope is that they’ll realize how unkind they are being and stop. That takes some self-awareness, though, which seems in short supply these days.

RELATED: The Simple Brain Trick For Dealing With Mean People


I remember running home and crying one school day when some kids teased me for my pants being too short. I really thought those kids hated me because of my pants. The truth was they were just joking that day. Although it was mean to tease me, they quickly moved on to the next joke. I’m aware now that people do this to feel better about themselves.

Life with my new motto brings me peace, which I’ve never really experienced before. Let people say or think what they want. I know I’m happy and content. Nobody gets to take that away from me.

I’ll continue to let them think whatever, but I’m the one who knows the truth.


RELATED: 22 Signs You (Or The Person You Love) Are A Highly Sensitive Person

Glenna Gill is a writer and blogger from Charlotte, North Carolina. Her articles have been featured in Scary Mommy and P.S. I Love You. When I Was Lost is her first full-length book, a memoir of love, loss, and hope.