The Problem With Presenting A Gruff Exterior To The World

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The problem with presenting a gruff exterior to the world is that you give people permission to treat you with less sensitivity than they normally would since they take it for granted that you can handle it, that you aren’t negatively affected by the types of words and actions most of us find to be deeply hurtful.

The sad irony is that you are a very sensitive person. Your gruff exterior is a proof of your sensitivity not its negation. You developed that gruff exterior precisely to protect yourself from painful past consequences of having shown your soft emotional underbelly to the world. Your emotions were trampled on one two many times and, consciously or unconsciously, you decided you weren’t going to play the game anymore, you weren’t going to show any weakness, any vulnerability. you were going to be tough and uncaring.

But behind that wall you’re as sensitive as you ever were. What you always yearned for and still do yearn for is the type of human connections where you’re treated gently, where you can let yourself be yourself without risk of trauma or ridicule. And so your life solution from childhood has backed you into an untenable corner in adulthood where your false front provokes undue insensitive behavior from others, provokes the very thing that’s most aversive to you.

The change has to start with you, with your recognition that you are an emotionally sensitive person and that the only reason you and those around you haven’t really seen this fact is that you’ve been wearing your emotional armor for so long now that you all take it to be your emotional skin not something protecting your emotional skin.

In childhood or adolescence, when you first put on that emotional armor to protect yourself, you were basically helpless in the face of the events that occasioned your life strategy. You were helpless in the face of abuse, abandonment, or other traumas. But you’re not helpless now. And as long as you keep giving people permission to treat you insensitively through your own gruff, supposedly uncaring exterior they will keep treating you insensitively and you’ll keep suffering in silence.