This thick skin I keep hearing about? Help me get it!

  1. Hi friends.

    So all this long life I've been one of those "over-sensitive" folks. Every comment gets to me, TV shows and books make me cry. I've been told forever I need to get a thicker skin and be less sensitive. I always just say "well, I'm paaaaaaassionate!" but you know what? I'm over it. Lots of people (including a few on this board) have told me I'm going to need to toughen up before I go to nursing school. So, um, how do I do that, exactly? How do I get a thick skin without losing all my compassion and sensitivity? Has anyone "recovered" from hyper-emotality? Yes, I did make that word up just now.

    Love to all
    Eliza, aka "Sick o' Cryin' and Gettin' P****d Off All the Time"
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  2. 4 Comments

  3. by   shopgal
    I think that it's probably just your personality and there's nothing wrong with being sensative. I think that you'll develop a thicker skin as you go along in nursing, it kind-of comes with the territory. I've been in the field as a nurse and as an aide for 10 yrs and I still cry at sad situations, not in front of the pt of course, but I've been known to go to the med room from time to time. I think that your sensitivity will make you a better nurse, so try not to lose it all! You are who you are and you will develop "big shoulders," as my instructors told me, in time. Good luck to you!
  4. by   mattsmom81
    What helped me was to realize that it is not helpful to my patients if I become a quivering mass who cannot function...that is not a helping relationship.

    Seriously, we all are sensitive or we wouldn't WANT to be nurses. I am unable to work with sick kids because I always become that quivering mass. With adults I can focus on being helpful and encouraging, and be an effective professional nurse.

    I have cried with patients from time to time...it can be therapeutic for all involved. But if I were to remain that emotional everyday, every patient I would have to question my choice of workplace. It isn't healthy nor helpful.

    We need to develop and maintain some 'professional distance'. Your instructors will talk with you a lot about the professional relationship. You'll be OK once you work through it.
  5. by   SmilingBluEyes
    You don't have to "get mean" to have a thick skin. The key is self-respect. Respect yourself enough to know what you will and will not tolerate from others, and stick to your guns. Teach others how to treat you without being militant. THAT is what having a "thick skin" means to me. And mine is like alligator hide now. But that does NOT mean I don't cry at movies or when situations make me sad or emotional. Being able to be moved does NOT mean you are thin-skinned!

    Maybe you need to re-define in your mind what having a thick skin means. For me: It means looking out for your rights and always maintaining your dignity and self-respect.
  6. by   elizabells
    Quote from SmilingBluEyes
    You don't have to "get mean" to have a thick skin. The key is self-respect. Respect yourself enough to know what you will and will not tolerate from others, and stick to your guns. Teach others how to treat you without being militant. THAT is what having a "thick skin" means to me. And mine is like alligator hide now. But that does NOT mean I don't cry at movies or when situations make me sad or emotional. Being able to be moved does NOT mean you are thin-skinned!

    Maybe you need to re-define in your mind what having a thick skin means. For me: It means looking out for your rights and always maintaining your dignity and self-respect.
    Thank you all so much for your suggestions! I was worried I'd end up all cold, with some kind of wall around my heart, and I didn't want that. I think you're right about the self-respect thing, SBE. If I let people know I won't tolerate being spoken to in X way, then being spoken to in X way won't have the chance to bother me. :chuckle

    And must avoid maladaptive coping mechanisms at all costs! Keep eatin', keep it down, and thank the great whatever that I'll be too busy to party!

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