Hypersensitivity to Criticism

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Recently my therapist and I have been talking about and working on my hypersensitivity to criticism. I have always had some hypersensitivity to any kind of criticism or rebuke. As a kid, I was the one you could make cry by looking at me wrong or even gently scolding me. I still tear up over things like that, even though I wish I didn’t.

This inability to deal constructively with any kind of feeling of failure has haunted me throughout my adult life, especially in the work world. I think this fear of not living up to expectations is partly why I struggle with immense anxiety around any kind of authority figure (bosses, teachers, doctors, police, etc.) Many times this anxiety is so strong that I am almost struck dumb (probably a type of selective mutism), such as when I have had to go for job reviews or any other kind of personal evaluation.

I have noticed though that my hypersensitivity to criticism focuses mainly on 5 areas. If I am criticized on something outside of these 5 topics, I am likely to be able to shake it off better or not let it bother me in the first place. Here are the subjects I am referring to:

  1. My art or writing. I am extremely sensitive to any criticism about my art and writing. However, I think this one is fairly normal for creative types. We all put a bit of our heart and soul into the things we create, in a sense they are our “babies” and we gave birth to them. This does create problems for me when it comes to having the confidence to share my art and writing publicly, especially in person.
  2. My looks and weight. I have always felt that I was rather plain or average-looking, so I have a bit of an achilles heel here. I was bullied quite a bit in middle school when I gained some weight after my dad died, and although I lost the weight a couple years later, those mean words about being “fat” have stuck with me. I have always relied on my intelligence, not my looks, to get me anywhere. I am proud of that fact, but sometimes I wish I felt more confident about the way I look.
  3. Any accusation of laziness or incompetence. I think the laziness thing bothers me because my mom would accuse me of that all the time. “Lazy”, “good for nothing”, “useless”…words like that stick with you. As for the incompetence, it doesn’t even have to be someone else that says something. If I feel even slightly incompetent (at anything) within myself it is enough to send me into a meltdown, probably a result of my perfectionism.
  4. Any perceived insult to my intelligence. As I said before, I have always relied on my intelligence to get through life, so if that is questioned or doubted, I feel worthless.
  5. Any insinuation implying that I am childish/immature or a crybaby. I have a lot of “childlike” qualities, as do many with Aspergers syndrome, and those can be endearing, but when people turn it into a bad thing and accuse me of childishness or immaturity, I feel misunderstood and hurt. I am extremely sensitive in some ways, but I hate the term “crybaby”.

So, what do you guys think? Do you share any of these insecurities? Are you also hypersensitive to criticism in these areas or others?

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Life Update: Weekend Trip, Nerdy Interests, Depression Lifting

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This weekend I am going out of town with my husband to celebrate our 15th anniversary, but I wanted to write a short post first just to let you all know how I’m doing. Fortunately, my depression has let up a little bit, and I think having this weekend to look forward to has helped. Everyone just needs to get away now and then and do something different.

I have been highly into toy collecting and comic books again lately, which I’m sure you have noticed if you follow my Instagram or watch my nerdy YouTube channel. Whenever I am able to lose myself in special interests like these, it also greatly helps my depression and anxiety. I suppose that is the Aspie side of me kicking in. I can always tell when my depression is hitting its worst because one of the first things that happens is that I lose all interest in the things I normally love…which is especially hard to deal with when you have Asperger’s and your obsessive interests are so much a part of your life and coping skills.

As far as art goes, I’ve still been into doing mostly sticker collages (like the one pictured above) and other kid-inspired art. I know many people think art is “bad” if it looks “childish”, but I have always aspired to be as creative as children naturally are. Saying that my art looks like something a child did is actually a roundabout compliment to me lol. If interested, you can see my recent art on my above mentioned Instagram account.

Tonight I am hopefully going to visit the comic book store and then play some trivia at a local Italian restaurant with some other nerdy types from a local meetup group. Then it is off on our trip!