As an empath and an introvert, I’ve been told my whole life I’m too sensitive.
That I should have thicker skin.
That I should toughen up so that whenever I came across something toxic… the negative energy wouldn’t take a toll on me as it worked through my system.
And while there’s definitely value to that advice…
I now see my sensitivity as a strength.
For the work that I do, it’s a tremendous gift.
It helps me understand new industries quickly, put myself in the shoes of the audience I’m speaking to, and tell my clients’ brand stories effectively.
But as a creative like you, I also know that criticism is inevitable.
It can be hard for us to hear critics when we bring so much of who we are to the work we do.
Thankfully, after much trial and error, I’ve found there is a way to align your head and heart.
Here are a couple of ways we can tap into our sensitivity and use it to our advantage in business.
1 – Get Rid of the Word, “Should”.
“To wish you were someone else is to waste the person you are.” ~Sven Goran Eriksson
When we experience negativity from either criticism or our own Impostor Syndrome, we tend to tell ourselves how we “should” be feeling.
“You shouldn’t feel angry.”
“You shouldn’t be letting this get to you as much as it is.”
“You shouldn’t feel this sad over something so small.”
I realized that telling myself I shouldn’t be feeling a certain way wasn’t actually helping me.
In fact, by beating myself up over my feelings, I actually prolonged the negativity and found it harder to bounce back from. Which robbed me of positive energy that could’ve been directed elsewhere.
Now, I focus on accepting the reality of my reactions, thoughts, and feelings.
I let myself feel what I need to without assigning a “should”.
Instead of telling myself “I shouldn’t be feeling/thinking _____,” I take a step back and say “Okay, I’m feeling/thinking _____. I wonder why that’s happening now?”
Then, I use it as an opportunity for learning and growth.
2 – Consider the Source.
Has harsh criticism about your work ever made you feel like you’ve been punched in the gut? Well, the good news is it doesn’t have to knock you out.
The next time someone criticizes you, take a moment to consider the person who’s giving it.
Ask yourself, “Why might this person be upset? What’s the story behind why they’re saying what they’re saying?”
Force yourself to slow down, consider the source, and think about that person’s point of view. It can help you deal more effectively with criticism or negativity when it comes your way.
When I began this practice, I started to notice something.
It wasn’t necessarily about me… it was about them.
If a client was being extra difficult, it had more to do with their own insecurities in business.
If a troll felt the need to put me down, it had more to do with the fact they were miserable and lashing out because that made them feel better.
However, if the criticism came from someone I loved, admired and respected, I took time to consider it.
Not all criticism is bad. In fact, it can often be constructive.
All that criticism means is that someone else has an opinion on your work. It does not in any way take away from your intrinsic value as a person, or from the value of what you create.
Sometimes you’ll wanna listen to that feedback. Sometimes you won’t.
It’s your choice!
Sensitivity is Your Asset in Business and in Life
Rather than toughening up, I’m here to advocate SMARTENING up.
Finding ways to tackle challenges effectively by handling your emotions intelligently, without hardening your heart in the process.
I honestly believe my ability to feel things deeply is one of my greatest strengths.
It’s what allows me to do the work I do in the world. It’s what allows me to connect with others on a deeper level.
And it’s taken me a few years and ongoing practice to figure how to really leverage that gift. To tap into it as a superpower rather than making it my kryptonite.
My hope is that the lessons I’ve learned can help you, too.
Now it’s YOUR turn!
Are you a creative person and a sensitive soul?
What advice do you have for handling tough emotions without draining yourself in the process?
Leave me a COMMENT below, I’d love to hear your thoughts :).