Rhinos and elephants have a thick skin, but it’s highly sensitive to insects and sunlight. They feel every insect bite and constantly coat themselves in extra layers of mud for protection. That’s physically and mentally exhausting.
Better to be the African Spiny Mouse. It has thin skin it can jettison and regenerate when attacked.
Telling someone not to take things personally (or have a ‘thick skin’) is about as useful as telling someone not to get wet when it’s raining.
There’s no such thing as a ‘thick skin‘ in psychology. You can’t stop a hurtful comment between your eyes and your limbic system. The moment you read a comment your emotions kick in. But you have agency in how you respond. The healthier your self-esteem, the healthier you process the comment.
Community professionals don’t need a ‘thick skin‘, they need a healthier self-esteem. If you’re feeling emotionally drained, suffering from burnout, it’s likely a self-esteem problem. You’re taking the hits too hard.
You’re not alone, you’re just one of the few that recognises it. You can consciously work to improve your self-esteem. Many years ago, this book changed my life. It might change yours too.