We cannot control the way others perceive us. We can continue to keep ours hearts open, even when we have been rebuffed, undervalued, or scorned. By open, I do not mean unguarded, because that we do at our emotional peril.
I can sit with self-reflection upon where exactly my heart sits, at the moment when I choose to act. Is it in a place of anger, hurt or frustration, or in a place of acceptance and calm determination? The anger, hurt and frustration are not ME; they are the paces I must go through to progress to the other side of a problem. I must feel all of them, reconcile myself to why I feel them, and then let them go. They do not define me, and never have.
Letting them go, does not mean I forget. It means I am smarter, more discerning. The next time I interact with the person or persons who made me feel unappreciated or misunderstood, I will not relinquish my trust and full confidence in them as a matter of blind, polite course. I will not have positive expectations for our next interaction. If that positivity should nevertheless emerge, it will be a welcome surprise.
Sensitive people experience a multitude of perceived microagressions in any given day. If we were to feel bruised by every one of them, we would be paralyzed. I know this because I have been rendered motionless by hurt, and watched my children experience the same. Those for whom isolation and loneliness are old friends, are undeniably lucky. We can, when coping at our best, calibrate our reactions according to the level of experience we have with a given individual or group. We do not have to be bitter, we just need to be realistic about on whom we can depend.
If I could give one sage pearl to the softhearted, it would be, to save your kindheartedness for those most in need of it, and for those who have proven their character to you through the lens of real adversity. Fair weather friends are just that. They may be capable of more, but you will only learn the strength of their metal when it is sorely tested.
Give freely of yourself, but do not have expectations of certain, reciprocal returns. Such magnanimity is not giving, but rather our exploitation of an attachment. If you want something in return, you had better demand it in advance. Anything short of that is attempted manipulation.
Of course, the joy lies in those who support you and share their own vulnerabilities, for no other reason than to respect and hear you. Remember, there are always more of such joyous ones lurking around the next corner. Do not cover your eyes or your hopes, and in so doing, miss them.
To miss them is to dishonor your well-earned scars.