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I was talking with a friend the other day about his struggles with substance abuse and he told me about his recent realization.

He said he was very sensitive growing up.

  • When kids would poke fun with him or tease him, he would cry uncontrollably.

  • When he would get bad grades, he would scream and throw a tantrum.

As he got older, while the ways he would lash out change a bit, he still was very sensitive.

  • If something negative happened at work, it would ruin his day.

  • When he asked a girl out on a date and she said no, he would isolate from people.

He admitted that he took things too seriously, but had just accepted that he was sensitive.

To cope with his sensitivity, he would drink and abuse drugs.

Cocaine. Adderall. Weed. Alcohol. Pills.

Anything he could get his hands on.

If you know anything from my posts, it’s that things generally turn

pretty bad when drugs and alcohol become coping mechanisms.

The same was true for my friend.

He started to lie to friends, cheat at work, steal from family. He was untrustworthy. He was unable to deal with the normal hang-ups of life.

He was convinced his sensitivity was the cause. He thought…if only he wasn’t so sensitive.

Then something happened:

Things finally got bad enough to where he was forced to get into recovery.

I didn’t meet him until after he became sober, and now we are back to the beginning of the story.

What was his recent realization?

He thought his problem was being sensitive.

He thought he was just born that way.

Then my friend said something to me that was really powerful:

“Phillip, for the longest time, I thought I was sensitive. Just too sensitive. But the truth is: I’m not sensitive. I am self-centered.”


  • He was focused on the way that the world SHOULD be.

  • He was concerned with how people SHOULD treat him.

  • He was so obsessed with having situations go exactly how he EXPECTED them to turn out…

Then when they wouldn’t go exactly as he wanted, he would shut down.

He admitted he was only concerned about himself; no one else. The only thing that mattered was how he felt. He never took time to ask about other people. He never cared what was going on in someone else’s life. It was only about him.

  • He was entitled

  • He was a victim.

  • He had been wronged.

  • He thought he was just sensitive, but he discovered he was self-centered.

I asked him what changed? How does he approach life differently now?

For him, the answer is all about service to others.

For him, the answer is not being so caught up in his own life and what he wants

For him, the answer is showing up powerfully for others.

I am so proud for my friend.

He is doing well. He has some solid sobriety behind him. He is serving other people on a consistent basis. He is getting outside of a world that revolves around him.

Whenever he feels triggered to ‘feel sensitive’, he stops and asks himself, “What is really going on here? Why do I feel that way?”

And then he finds a way to identify the moments he is being self-centered.

It was really empowering and uplifting for me to hear his story.

I hope you get something from it too.

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