We commonly use the phrase “thick-skinned” to describe the ability to shrug off insult and insulate ourselves from criticism. We say things like “You need to have thick skin to make it as …[insert profession here: creative, athlete, entrepreneur, etc.].”
I agree completely but I have a very different definition.
Those who might describe themselves as thick-skinned have an ability to completely close off from criticism and critique. This isn’t thick skin but impenetrable armor. We need a measured dose of well-aimed and well-meaning criticism to realize our true potential. Shutting this out completely hampers our development.
Worse, those who shut out criticism readily welcome praise. Rather than demonstrating a similar discernment or rejection for the positive opinions of others, they readily accept any and all praise. Believing all praise is far more detrimental than believing all descent. What many describe as thick-skinned actually means creating an inflated and fragile ego by locking out all criticism and feeding delusional self-talk with only words of affirmation.
Thick-skinned means to guard, but not isolate, your self-worth from the world. Skin is a barrier, yes, but not an impermeable one. Thick skin allows only the most meaningful words to pass through. Words offered with compassion and love. Words from those closest to us or those that understand our journey. Words that seek to offer guidance and contribute to our growth. Remarks with little to offer - cheap tear-downs and meaningless praise from those who do not understand you - never make it beyond the surface.
Being thick-skinned means to let your ego be self-generated, fed by self-love and merit, only allowing a slow-drip of well-founded feedback (both critical and uplifting) to direct your growth.