Thomas, recovering in the hospital with a femoral neck fracture, is still a happy person. His best friend lives in the tropics and no longer needs to work – but is always grumpy.
Several good friends have suggested to Jane that she seek therapeutic help, but she says that ‘it isn’t that bad!’ Her neighbor on the other hand, takes coaching or counseling sessions whenever she has the feeling that she wants to improve her situation, but can’t get ahead.
Everybody has different tolerance levels, compensation capabilities and expectations of life. Some people seem to have an ‘elephant skin’ and are able to take a lot of hammerings. The impression of being able to take anything, however, can be because the person simply has fewer expectations of life. If he or she has to deal with relationship issues or other difficulties, they are still doing okay, because they never ever expected anything better in their lives!
Other people in turn are thinner-skinned, sensitive and seriously suffer even from relatively low stresses, conflicts and obstacles in their lives. Maybe they just have higher expectations of happiness and don’t just simply put up with every difficulty and move on as if nothing had happened.
From a psychological point of view, these approaches to our lives are coined very early in our childhood. A child growing up under difficult conditions will usually expect the same during the rest of their life and be trained to rather push them aside than to face them. Children who are raised in a stable and supportive environment, however, measure their experiences in later life based on their happy childhood and will most likely be willing to work on improving their situation, because they learned that a better way of life is indeed possible.
And how would you describe your character? Are you ‘thin-skinned’ or ‘thick-skinned’? Do you hold high standards for your life and how you want to use your time, or are you satisfied if you make it through the day without too many scrapes? And last but not least: do you want to change something about your life – or is it good enough?
Richard L. Fellner is a trained counselor and psychotherapist. He is head of the Counseling Center Pattaya in Soi Khopai and offers consultations in English and German languages (after making appointments at 0854 370 470).