12 Ways To Develop A Thick Skin

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Are you tired of how the words and actions of others affect you?

Do you find that others’ words strike daggers through your heart?

Perhaps you’re not as resilient as you’d like to be or you find managing emotional obstacles to be challenging.

Maybe you’re easily triggered or find it hard to process constructive feedback. Do you find yourself reacting emotionally when you’re faced with a certain tone of voice or particular words?

The solution to all these obstacles is to develop a thick skin. Becoming a thick-skinned person has many benefits. It can be a valuable tool to better your mental health, improve your relationships, and learn how to take constructive criticism.

People with thick skin aren’t often bothered by the words or actions of others. Their thick skin offers them a shield that enhances their ability to remain calm, non-judgemental, and unoffended.

Their ability to bounce back from challenging times is admirable. Because they don’t often take things personally, they can be more optimistic and hopeful about life and situations, even if they’re with people who don’t reflect that themselves.

However, you might not be sure how to develop a thick skin. Lucky for you, I’m sharing twelve ways to do just that. You’ll be able to use my tangible tips to start forming a thicker skin and reap the benefits of having it.

Be sure to read until the end to take in all the tips.

1. Find your why in life (your purpose).

Finding your purpose in life may seem daunting, but it can significantly improve your overall quality of life, happiness, and even health. Though it can be challenging, it is enormously beneficial and can serve as a life map.

Finding your purpose gives you direction even when you’re feeling lost. Whatever curveballs life tosses at you, your purpose will help you dodge them or even recover from them.

Purpose gives you stability, courage, and direction. It acts like the delicate needle of a compass, always guiding you toward your desires, dreams, and goals. Finding your purpose is a journey all on its own, but it will give your life meaning. It will make handling life’s obstacles a little bit easier and contributes to improved physical and mental health.

Finding your purpose will help to keep you focused and less invested in what others think or say. It’s a guaranteed way to bring meaning to every one of your decisions and increase your satisfaction with life.

While your purpose can change throughout life, a few things remain the same. Your purpose is a blend of your interests and things that bring you joy. You might find it in your career, hobbies, or daily activities. It can be a big idea, such as helping people, or something more specific, like writing a novel.

Your purpose is what gets you up on even the dreariest of days, lights your spark, and gives you the fire you need to keep going.

Once you find your purpose, you’ll notice that things bother you less. You’ll notice that other people’s actions and words don’t impact you like they do now, and you’ll feel more in control of your life.

Quick tips for finding your purpose in life:

  • Work toward developing a growth mindset. Be open to learning and embracing change rather than working against it.
  • Embrace challenges and view them as an opportunity to learn.
  • Start a gratitude practice.
  • Find, create, or join a community.
  • Give back to the community, church, school, or another cause that is meaningful to you.
  • Allow yourself to dream and wonder.
  • Identify and then explore each of your passions.

When you find your purpose in life, your days will have more meaning. You’ll be able to respond to constructive criticism better and be open to experiencing more joy.

Finding your purpose in life is a gentle but effective way to develop a thick skin. It will help you understand what’s most important to you in life so you can take what other people say with a pinch of salt.

2. Increase your self-awareness.

Self-awareness is a bit of a “buzz” word. It’s trendy right now but, nonetheless, it’s a very helpful tool to develop a thick skin.

Self-awareness relates to how well you understand how your actions, words, and emotions align with your inner values and morals. It encompasses clearly understanding oneself and why you do what you do or feel what you feel.

Increasing your self-awareness can help you understand why you might be reacting to others’ actions or words and help you develop a thicker skin. Self-awareness will help you gain perspective and compassion and can even improve relationships.

With self-awareness, you can question why you feel what you feel and what to do about it. Therefore, when someone’s actions or words evoke an intense feeling in you, rather than reacting, you’ll turn inward and process it objectively.

Some self-awareness activities include:

  • Start a daily journaling practice and practice self-reflection. Explore your feelings, circumstances, values, and daily life through writing.
  • Incorporate mindfulness into your life. Practice being present, aware, and in the moment.
  • Get out of your comfort zone. Growth happens through change. Nothing changes if nothing changes, so if you want to increase your self-awareness, then you must welcome change. Try new things, embrace new experiences, and sit with yourself for a moment to fully grasp your feelings.
  • Be open to feedback. Most times, people aren’t saying things to hurt you; increasing your self-awareness will help you understand that. Being open to feedback can make you a better person and a better listener. It can even improve your relationships, employment, and so much more. Accept feedback and apply changes where you deem them necessary. Listening to feedback doesn’t mean that you’re wrong but rather that you’re open. You’re open to possibility, change, and growth.

3. Practice self-acceptance.

Self-acceptance is the unconditional act of allowing yourself to be exactly how you are and where you are while avoiding vilifying your past transgressions, actions, words, and behaviors. It’s allowing yourself to be as you are without judgment or explanations.

It’s important to practice self-acceptance to develop a thick skin because it allows you to exist as you are and where you are while also avoiding judgment. As children grow up and mature, we can only accept who we are to the level that our parental figures did.

So, people who grew up in a loving household where they were constantly reminded of their importance and significance have an easier time practicing self-acceptance

As children, we follow our parental figures lead, looking to them to teach us what is right. If we don’t feel accepted as a child, then there’s a good possibility that we won’t have a solid level of self-acceptance as adults. If you can practice self-acceptance, then the actions and words of others will not affect you as much or at all.

The connection between self-acceptance and overall happiness and satisfaction in life is solid. People who practice self-acceptance and pardon themselves for past transgressions generally have a higher level of happiness and lead more meaningful lives. Likewise, when they receive criticism, they’re better able to take what is constructive and throw away what they don’t like without self-sabotaging.

How to practice self-acceptance as an adult?

  • Forgive yourself for your past deeds and cultivate an awareness that you did the best you could with what you knew and what you were given.
  • Develop self-compassion.
  • Acknowledge your strengths.
  • Reframe your negative self-talk.
  • Work toward gaining perspective on situations to avoid taking things as a personal attack and automatically going into defensive mode.

4. Remember that people aren’t against you.

Does it feel like the world is against you? That people are out to get you? It might be challenging to keep at the forefront of your mind, but most times, this simply isn’t true.

When you receive criticism, it’s usually not because the person doesn’t like you. When we internalize the criticism, we transform it into something personal, and it becomes an attack on us.

Begin to develop the thinking that others aren’t against you. When others share something, going into defensive mode is not necessary. Once you start to believe that others aren’t the enemy, you can process their actions and words with more compassion and empathy.

5. Change your inner dialogue.

Your inner dialogue is the voice inside your head. Having a lot of negative self-talk or a negative inner dialogue can largely impact how you feel about yourself and what you do. Self-talk can build or break self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-acceptance while putting a tremendous focus on either pessimism or optimism.

A negative inner dialogue can prevent a person from reaching their full potential and feeling true happiness. A positive inner dialogue can inspire, motivate and help you in far more ways than I could list here.

Your inner dialogue is powerful and casts control over much of who you are. You’re likely to believe your thoughts, and when they’re negative, they can be difficult or impossible to recover from.

Benefits of positive self-talk:

  • Improves self-esteem
  • Reduces symptoms of mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression
  • Helps you feel like you’re in charge of your life
  • Motivates you
  • Makes you better able to manage life’s obstacles
  • Improves stress management skills

Tips to change negative self-talk:

  • Make an effort to become more conscious and aware of your inner dialogue.
  • Challenge negative thoughts by asking for proof and reasoning.
  • Redirect negative thoughts with something positive.
  • Reframe the negative self-talk into something constructive and helpful.

When you’re inner dialogue stops being self-sabotaging, you can take in others’ actions and words and compartmentalize a little easier. Things that others say won’t bother you as much, and slowly, over time, you’ll develop a thicker skin. When you receive constructive criticism, upsetting news, or an insult, your inner dialogue will be better trained to know what to do with it.

6. Quiet the noise in your life.

Life is packed with noise. You’ll hear chaos anywhere you look, which can significantly impact your entire being. When you declutter your physical space and mind, you’ll notice and feel the power of silence. It can help you understand perspective, feel less agitated, and process external influences more meaningfully.

Looking for the quiet can help you understand who you are at the very core of your being and how you relate to others and the world. It can strengthen your connections with others and help you in ways you didn’t know were possible. You may be wondering how this can help you develop thick skin, and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s not obvious how one thing can affect many things.

When you focus on quieting the noise in your life, you’ll consume less from external factors and focus more on your internal being. This alone will help you develop a thick skin and allow you to focus more on yourself than on others’ actions and words.

It will make you less uncomfortable when receiving criticism and more inclined to turn inward and process things more effectively and with less judgment. You’ll be able to take what is said to you and decide whether or not it serves you.

7. Practice putting things into perspective.

Sometimes you get quite undone by a comment someone makes, an action that someone takes, or an upsetting event. Life is constantly throwing curveballs at us, and it can be challenging to understand how to dodge them. This can bring on further stress and anxiety symptoms, worsen a person’s mental health, and lead to feeling insulted more easily.

To develop a thicker skin, you must practice putting things into perspective. This will benefit you and the people surrounding you. It will help you become a better listener and more equipped to handle life. You’ll find that once you start putting things into perspective, you’ll take things less personally.

How to put things into perspective:

  • Picture how you might feel about an obstacle, transgression, or event in the future. Ask yourself if you’ll still feel this way in a week, month, or year. A reminder here is to be gentle while you do this. This is not meant to invalidate your current feelings but is more of a practice that will help you thicken your skin.
  • Many times our emotional selves react quicker than our mental selves can control. Before you know it, we’re internalizing what was meant to be constructive criticism as insults and injury. Ask yourself questions to help guide your perspective and thicken your skin.
  • Brainstorm other perspectives. Using a pen and paper, write down potential obstacles and then take some time to ponder other perspectives. For example, was your friend giving you a little pointer, but perhaps you took it personally? Was the comment meant to be malicious? Consider the situation and write things down to help you discover unique perspectives so you can strengthen your ability to handle constructive criticism and emotional distress.
  • Label your feelings. Practice giving a name to what you are feeling and then ask why. For example, “I am feeling upset that my boss suggested this. I think I’m upset because I feel like they’re saying I’m not very good at my job.”
  • Reframe the feeling. Once you label your feeling, allow yourself to reframe it and ponder other conclusions. Was your boss trying to help you? You may have taken it more personally than it was intended. Try to poke holes in it and arrive at a new conclusion.
  • Allow yourself time to process. You don’t need to rush to a conclusion, but sit with it. Ponder and allow your mind to wonder. This is a great way to develop a broader perspective and work on thickening your skin.

8. Accept and embrace positivity.

The power of positive thinking is undeniable. It helps with stress management and carries enormous health benefits. Though it takes practice and consistency, it is worth putting in the work to form this healthy habit.

Positive thinking might seem like a simple “glass half full” type of thinking, but it actually does take some effort, change, and persistence. However, the benefits greatly make it worthwhile.

When you begin to see things from a brighter angle, you’ll be able to increase your resilience. You’ll be better equipped to handle emotional obstacles, constructive criticism, and any other type of feedback.

When you can look at things with a positive flair on a habitual basis, you’ll notice that your relationships become stronger, you become a better listener, and your health and wellness improve.

How to develop positive thinking:

  • Smile more often.
  • Look for joy in daily living.
  • Laugh every day.
  • Start a gratitude practice and work on reframing negative thoughts into things to be grateful for. For example, rather than being upset that your boss asked you to work late, you’re grateful that you have steady employment that allows you to provide for yourself and your family.
  • Focus on your abilities and things that you can control. For example, you can’t control what others say, do, or feel. But what you can control is your reaction to it and how you allow it to affect you.

9. Put self-care at the top of your priority list.

Self-care needs to be prioritized to develop a thick skin. What is the relation? You’ll be more bothered by others’ actions and words when you’re not at your best.

When you’re taking care of yourself, and you are in tune with your own needs and desires, you’ll be less likely to put significant emphasis on others. In turn, you’ll be better able to understand the perspectives of others and respond to constructive criticism more openly.

A solid self-care routine will care for all parts of yourself. These include your physical, psychological, spiritual, and emotional well-being. It emphasizes taking care of your entire person, which will impact you in many ways. Self-care can be absolutely transformational, from improved health, decreased negative emotions, and overall happiness to better satisfaction at work and more meaningful relationships.

Self-care ideas to try:

  • Connect with loved ones.
  • Walking outside in nature.
  • Social media detox.
  • Practice gratitude.
  • Turn your phone off.

10. Build your self-confidence.

Self-confidence is the feeling that you can trust yourself and your abilities. People with a high level of self-confidence respond better to emotional obstacles and criticism. High self-confidence is needed if you’re looking to develop a thicker skin.

Self-confidence is how you feel about your ability to complete a task. You might be confident in some areas, not in others, or in general. Self-confidence is an essential tool for developing a thick skin. It helps you understand that you’re in charge of your reactions but can’t control others’ thoughts or feelings.

Self-confidence is vital to understand as it relates to nearly every avenue of life. A high level of self-confidence makes a person more motivated, resilient, brave, and self-assured. It means that you’ll be able to handle life’s obstacles more optimally and change your attitude surrounding failure and trying new things.

Self-confidence helps a person see things in a different light. Failures become learning opportunities, feedback transforms into improved skills, and other people’s comments and actions roll off your back like nothing.

How to build your self-confidence:

  • Make a list of your best qualities and things you’re good at.
  • Avoid people pleasing.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others.
  • Surround yourself with positivity.
  • Break out of your comfort zone and start to explore new experiences.

11. Focus on yourself.

In a world constantly pulling at us in 80 million ways, it can be challenging to sort through the noise, chaos, and information. When you lack a strong sense of self, you’ll be more prone to reactive behaviors and less able to roll with the punches.

Rather than focusing on others’ actions and words, focus on yourself and your life. Step up and start uncovering your desires, wants, and dreams. Then you can cultivate a plan to pursue them. Become so invested in yourself that you don’t hear the noise anymore. Tune out the chaos and dive into loving yourself. Focus on what you want, how you feel, and what you can do to live a joyful life.

Don’t put energy into processing other people’s actions, but when you feel an emotion, label it and ask why. Why are you feeling personally attacked? Is it because you’re a tad insecure about that particular thing? Are there things you can shift to improve those areas of your life?

You’re the driver of your life, and you’ll only be as successful as you make yourself. It’s essential to realize your true power and step into the spotlight so you can live your best life.

When you bring a solid focus to yourself, you’ll start noticing that the actions and words of others don’t bother you as much. You’ll develop a thick skin and be able to handle life’s obstacles as well as the hard times.

12. Understand your emotional triggers.

Is there something specific that really gets under your skin? Does your mood shift when you’re around a particular person? Spend time unwrapping what triggers your emotional responses and start answering the why.

For example, why are you feeling personally offended? Chances are that people aren’t trying to hurt you or cause you emotional distress. What they say or do, though, can be a trigger for you. Once you understand your emotional triggers, you can create a toolbox to help yourself maneuver through obstacles.

After using your personal toolbox and caring for yourself when you’re triggered, you’ll start to notice that fewer things bother you. Less of life’s transgressions are being internalized; instead, you’re using self-care routines and various personal tools to counteract the adverse effects of them.

The takeaway.

Developing a thick skin can be a tremendously impactful tool that translates into all areas of your life. Once you develop a thicker skin, you’ll notice improved mental health, relationships, and overall satisfaction in life. Thick skin can stop you from internalizing what others feel or say—their words can roll right off your back. It allows you the grace to avoid being hurt or deferred by external factors.

Developing thick skin takes persistence, effort, and consistency. You need to grow it little by little. Slowly, your self-confidence improves, you’re more in control of your life, you’ve gained perspective, and you’ve developed a solid self-care routine.

These things may sound like a lot, but they are baby steps. Their effects compound to create a snowball effect, and before you even know it, you’ll have the thickest skin you’ve ever had and lead a life where you’ve never been happier.