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-   -   Developing a thicker skin (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4072)

FitChick 10-26-2010 08:09 AM

Developing a thicker skin
I have never taken criticism well so I have developed a very antagonistic nature and when provoked/criticised I generally bite back,I can't seem to 'breathe' and let it go ie think before I react/speak. My partners ex girlfriend(who he has a child with) and I have never got on but somehow until recently we kept it amicable. However due to our history,a nasty confrontation inevitably ensued after she 'commented' on our relationship and it upset all of us. I know he needs to get along with her for the sake of their daughter but I felt she invaded our space so I reacted..badly.
I get wounded by peoples comments easily(family and friends) and even the odd thing my partner asks of me to do with his ex wife and children,and even though its not a criticism I take it as one and retreat into my shell,which is exactly what happened after the recent altercation. I then became defensive(angry) and extremely anxious.
I understand part of this is a protective mechanism but if I am to grow as a person,I need to learn to let my anger dissipate before I react,but I don't know how to do that....

Any suggestions from you folks?

MariusdeRomanus 10-26-2010 08:15 AM

I had a problem with anger recently, and occasionally I react in the same way to criticism of even the gentlest kind. Any technique to dealing with it will be very difficult to master, there's no easy way to go about it. Do you give any kind of advice/criticism to other people? Maybe it would be easier to slow down on reaction, to stop yourself and think about it in the moment-- even if it means you have to have no immediate response or to look awkward.

Hope this helps. :)

Breathesgirl 10-26-2010 08:40 AM

Close your eyes & count backward from ten to zero. You're not 'looking' at the problem because your eyes are closed & your mind isn't concentrating on it as it's focusing on the next number.

Variation: with closed eyes say ten random numbers slowly. Counting is such a rote thing that you might still be able to think about the problem.

Whenever possible I tend to just totally remove myself from the situation until I have my temper under control. If removing myself isn't an option I tell the person that I'm upset/angry & need a chance to cool off before we discuss it further. Some people know how to leave it alone, others will worry it (& you) to death until you finally do blow. Those who won't leave me alone until I cool off deserve what they get of my temper & I tell them I'm not responsible for the bodies left in my wake if they won't leave me alone about it.

clairegoad 10-26-2010 12:00 PM

I tend to snap back, and then regret when I see that I have hurt the other person.

Recently, I was reprimanded for "little digs" to my ex-bf.

I thought the comment was positive. ("I'm glad Bar has convinced you that birthdays are important to people.") History... in 20 years, I don't think I've gotten a single birthday card/dinner/acknowledgement. (not completely true... I'm sure at some point I announced "today is my birthday." and he said, "Happy Birthday." ) He spent her birthday with her, bought her furniture, dinner and ... well... probably more..

He thought that comment was rather...umm... mean.

Sometimes what we say, even when we've carefully chosen the words... it offends/irks/annoys the listener.

Sorry for the ramble... just starting my second cup of coffee..

SNeacail 10-26-2010 05:41 PM


Originally Posted by clairegoad (Post 50385)
I thought the comment was positive. ("I'm glad Bar has convinced you that birthdays are important to people.")

It was a negative comment with a dig about his past behavior toward you and birthdays (I'm still learning about these type of comments also). Instead maybe "I hope she appreciated the effort you put in toward her making her birthday nice."

River 10-26-2010 06:13 PM


Originally Posted by FitChick (Post 50376)
I have never taken criticism well so I have developed a very antagonistic nature and when provoked/criticised I generally bite back,
I can't seem to 'breathe' and let it go ie think before I react/speak.


Your post has a number of clues suggesting that you have some self-esteem difficulty. It appears to me that this is at the root of your reactions as well as your pattern of "never taken criticism well". You are probably hurt by criticism because it reflects your own negative appraisal of yourself. Usually, such negative self evaluations are learned within parent-child relationships when we were children. We "internalize" the negative, critical parental voices which often come in variations on the theme, "You're not good enough".

A very good start toward changing these internal messages (internal self-talk) is to begin by noticing that they are there to begin with, and to understand how they came to be there. When we do this we begin to see that the messages are just that: habitual thoughts in our head, and are not ultimately what is true about ourselves. I'd also recommend practicing mindfulness mediation. Jack Kornfield has a very good introductory book on how to meditate. It's a thin little thing .... I'll return to post the title.

It's titled Meditation for Beginners.:


I figure even folks who have meditated for years can benefit from this book. Jack is one of my favorite people.

redpepper 10-26-2010 08:42 PM

Oh how I can relate Fitchick. I am VERY emotionally fragile and make my self very vulnerable for someone who is like that. I have been and do practice deciding what is my stuff and there stuff when provoked. This seems to really help. Most of the time it isn't my stuff at all that has provoked me and someone elses. I am learning and understanding the world in terms of this and find it easier and easier to let it go. Mono has helped me a lot with that, as has this forum. I have also learned that the computer can be turned off and it all goes away until I want to bring it back. I owe no one my time on here and especially if they are only here to provoke and criticize. Real like isn't like that unfortunately, but I am finding ways to escape. Having my own room is helping to no end with that. my own sanctuary until I gather myself.

FitChick 10-27-2010 10:12 AM

River,you are right,I do have some self esteem issues relating to my childhood and ongoing relationship with my father. He has exactly the same personality but is more volatile and explosive. I spoke to my partner about it tonight and he said 95% of the time I have good self esteem but occasionally I have what he termed 'meltdowns' over things I don't have control over and can't solve immediately. I have started doing some grounding and body awareness exercises again that I learnt in my anxiety disorder treatment and after a couple of sessions I'm gaining back my centre,but I know I must work at it long term.
RP,I'm so glad you said that about the computer,I need to learn to do that..log off,switch off and go get some fresh air or do some exercise. And yes I am also asserting my space more,I need lots of 'time out' but also need to use it more productively and not ruminate.

GroundedSpirit 10-27-2010 01:59 PM

Hey Fitchick,

Have you by change read any of don Miguel Ruiz's material ? (Author of the 4 Agreements - maybe his most well known book).
He also did a nice little book called The Mastery of Love that I think might be very helpful to you in understanding the root of anger.
And I think that's the key (like so many other things). Once we truly have some understanding of the how and why of things, it often puts them in a whole different perspective. And more under our control.


FitChick 10-28-2010 03:12 AM

Thanks GS,I'll look those up :)

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