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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Feeling Insecure and Confused

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The dollies and my bunny say hello! The baby doll in the panda suit is a new addition to my collection, but sadly, he has some issues (floppy, loose head) and I may have to return him and get another one. The outfit that the bunny is wearing I got at a thrift store for less than a buck! Good deals! I also got some more vintage puzzles that I’m sure I will be sharing images of soon!

Ok, now with the cuteness aside, I’ve had a rough few days. A lot of mood swings, anxiety, and depression. I’ve also been feeling insecure and sometimes like I don’t even know who I really am. I wonder if that is why I try so hard to figure out what conditions I actually have and what is wrong with me…because I need an outside force (be it a doctor or diagnosis) to TELL me who I am. I know this kind of feeling is normal when you are a teenager and just figuring out who you are, but I’m 35 freakin’ years old! Shouldn’t I know by now?

I even find myself questioning my blogging efforts. I wonder if anyone really likes the stuff I am into (particularly the toys and puzzles and stuff like that), or am I just boring everyone? But if I talked about nothing on the blog but my mental and physical problems, wouldn’t that get boring in itself? See, I am doing far too much overthinking and that always leads to picking out flaws and beating myself up. It wouldn’t matter WHAT I did on here, I would feel like it isn’t worthwhile sometimes and like I am a burden to others.

I know in my heart, that these feelings of inadequacy are not something that anyone else can clear away for me. It wouldn’t matter how much praise or reassurance I received from others as long as I am still doubting myself inside. I guess at least I recognize that. I appreciate all you guys sticking with me through all the ups and downs. Having a place to open up like this makes a huge difference.