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Help! How do I stop being highly sensitive?

Relationships
 I am gradually becoming more anxious around people (Photo: iStock)

Hi Chris,

I have always been a bit sensitive, worrying over every trivial remark and sensing criticism and judgment everywhere. And I think I am getting worse so that it is starting to colour my whole life.

I am gradually becoming more and more anxious around people and that is stopping me from making new friends. Am I stuck with this or is it possible to change it?

Over-Sensitive

Chris says,

Hi, Over-Sensitive!

You’re right, you probably are emotionally sensitive. Though that is not all bad news as it means you are good at empathising with other people. But it can paralyse you with worry over the possibility of criticism or rejection.

So if someone makes a remark that is troubling you, always ask what exactly they mean. Often, you will find they did not intend to be critical at all. And if you rarely try to start new relationships because you think you will be rejected, you can learn to overcome your anxieties.

Make lots of approaches to other people, and tell yourself each time that it is just practice, and does not count. That is exactly what it is! Because practice is the key to overcoming this kind of anxiety. So each time you meet someone new, imagine a successful outcome, smile, and just go for it.

You will improve your chances if you make your approaches low-key and casual, and let the relationship develop slowly. Are you getting encouraging smiles and nods? Does it feel like they are enjoying the conversation? If someone seems to be enjoying your company, then any invitations you extend will probably be received well.

All the best,

Chris

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