I am 39 years old, single and a mother of one. I’ve started to realise that I can be overly sensitive at times, getting bitter and twisted over some seemingly harmless remarks. I’m always questioning if I’m smart enough, look good or even if my shape is right. I often overreact to the things people say, however well meant. I take things personally even in business which makes me always anxious and afraid to try new experiences or meet new people. I thought I would get over it as I matured but it seems to be getting worse. Please help me.
What the readers say:
Anita, sometimes our emotions lead us astray. Sensitivity is an innate characteristic not a learned trait. As an individual, it’s time you learn how to toughen up and bury your emotions. Practice self-awareness and challenge your emotions. Kindly, take things positively then you shall grow wholesomely in this life.
Rev Willis Atoyo?
Anita, what you are going through is normal at your age and status. You can easily take offense from very petty and minor issues. Why are all these happening? You have pending and unresolved issues from the past. You always try to relate any current happening to your unresolved issues. Be categorical and realistic with yourself. Do not force the people around you to behave and talk about what you want. Experience is the best teacher and you don’t have to learn personally, some lessons are learnt from our neighbors’ mistakes. Accept the fact that, at your age, you are a single parent. Allow yourself into the dating scene. Do not have hard and tough principles when it is not necessary. Do not try to internalise everything you hear. Certain things when internalised, hurt and remind us of our fears and/or predicaments. Make yourself available and avoid self-blame. You will like the results.
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You are dealing with symptoms of something which could be deeper. Your reaction is a manifestation of frustration, which you somehow project on your immediate environment. This is the reason you believe that no one and nothing around you is what they seem and communicate. You can manage this by being honest with yourself and giving all your environment another chance. For once, just take kindly what they say and experience the difference. Alternatively, see a professional counselor.
Feeling inadequate and anxious is normal. We all experience this at various points in our lives. This feeling helps us to work towards improving ourselves. It is this feeling that pushes us to prepare for an exam, meetings and presentations. It is the reason we seek to improve on ourselves and our various skills. So it is not entirely a bad thing.
However, this becomes a problem when it begins to paralyse and almost incapacitate us. That is where you are now and this could be traced back to your early years. Children go about their lives unaware of their weakness and limitations until something happens to interrupt that kind of belief. Then they get conscious of what they cannot do or have.
The interruption may not necessarily be a bad experience; it could include incidents such as relocation, change of school or even change of a nanny. If any of these or other disruptive events such as loss of a parent or bullying happen and children are not supported through it, it has a way of affecting them even later in life.
You see, children are not able to interpret and differentiate between what is happening around them and themselves. They think they are the reason why things have changed or happened the way they did. This can be a root of anxiety in adulthood. Then, as an adult, one becomes so critical of self as you have become.
Find reasons to applaud yourself. It is not a mean fete to raise a family single-handedly. I also consider businesswomen bold. You have loads of great things happening in you and around you. Quit self condemnation. Stop and celebrate you. Give yourself a pat on the back. Take moments to affirm you. Keep company of people who celebrate and see good in you. Gradually, you will see the fear and anxieties fade away.
Hilda Boke Mahare has a background in counselling psychology