A sensitive boy

I was what my mother called “a sensitive boy,” meaning that I got my feelings hurt way too easily. What I can tell you about being “sensitive” is that it doesn’t work worth a damn to go through life feeling slighted. This is why I gave it up. I no longer take much of anything personally. Even if it’s meant personally, I don’t judge an attack or a rejection as being a statement about me but simply as another person’s choice at a particular time in his or her life. If I can see how I unnecessarily contributed to any bad feelings, I will apologize without hesitation because honor requires it, and I do love honor because if a person has honor, most other virtues will follow. However, I don’t beat my breast in agony, and I don’t berate anyone. I also don’t give up on important friendships, and will, unless forbidden, continue to reach out from time to time for years after an important person has left my life. Not feeling hurt and needy has taken the stinger out of rejection, making this easy. It’s the former friends who never speak to one another again who are the walking wounded.

I have also found wisdom in allowing relationships to ebb and flow rather than being elated during the flow periods and interpreting the ebb periods as rejection. I would say to you that you don't know what's really going on with other people, so when they seem to be pulling away from you, let them go. They will either come back or they won't, and you can no more control the seasons of their lives than you can control the seasons of the year, although you can make a fool of yourself if you try. In all situations, remember your dignity because that alone is of far more value to you than any friend you will ever have. Even if you could persuade a thousand people to love you, you would be no less alone inside your head, so make yourself into someone whose company you cherish.

I stopped being “a sensitive boy” once I completely gave up the notion that other people have things to offer me that I need desperately but lack within myself. When I understood at the 100% level that my hurt feelings always had and evermore would be much ado about nothing and that no possible benefit ever did or ever could accrue from them, I found giving them up to be a profound pleasure. I won’t pretend to know how I might feel if Peggy should leave me after 42 years, but I’m quite sure that no one else can throw me off balance, and I really don’t think she can. It’s a marvelous way to live. It’s the difference between being sad at times versus being angry and despondent your whole life long over one relationship or another. 

I have just summarized in three paragraphs wisdom that took me several decades and considerable agony to learn, yet I don’t know if anyone else is capable of learning it in any way other than I did. If you're "sensitive," like I was, you've got a lot of hurt to look forward to, and you might as well at least try to cut it short by doing what now seems impossible, that is finding the ability to feel complete within yourself. This comes through remembering that you are ultimately alone, and that no one can save you. All the strength for living that you have at your disposal is already within you, and the only way for you to be saved is to develop it by thinking rationally about who you are and about who other people are in relation to you. Don't mistake them for being more than they are, and don't mistake yourself for being less than you are. Once you cast off your expectations of others, the feeling you will get is like going from black and white to color. Everything that was murky becomes obvious. You will wonder how it was even possible that you failed for all those years to see just how rich you are within yourself. At your deepest level, you deserve your fullest respect, and when you're at that level, being reviled or rejected is scarcely deserving of notice.