Is it Best to Develop a Harder Shell to Avoid the Pain of Life’s Knock Downs?


Lisa Alioto

05 August 2020 28 comments

Lets face it – quite often life can really throw some whoppers our way.  At times it seems that when one thing goes wrong, it starts a cycle of many things going wrong. Perhaps most painful is when we’ve opened ourselves up to someone or something only to be let down. In moments like this, we sometimes ask ourselves, should I have made myself that vulnerable?  Or should I have forgone the opportunity to avoid chancing a heartbreak or set-back?

Everyone has their own level of risk that they are willing to take. Some of us are great risk takers and are willing to put our heart on the line, knowing sometimes it will be broken. Others of us prefer to play it safe and avoid any potential heartbreak.  To minimize the chance of a painful encounter, while some will still take the risk, at the same time they have decided to develop a harder shell.  In essence become more invincible to the feeling that come with a potential setback.  What’s the pro’s and con’s of doing this?

Developing a Harder Shell

Many prefer to develop a harder shell or “thicker skin.”  This allows them to pursue their dreams and desires knowing that if there is a set-back, they are “shielded” from the pain to a greater degree.   This can help make them more fearless in the pursuit of their goals.  It can also motivate them to push forward in light of challenges.

On the flip side, I believe there is something to be said for feeling the pain of a set-back or heartbreak.  While definitely not something any of us wants to experience, when it happens it can really create some great life lessons.   If we don’t feel these setbacks, we may miss these lessons.

Keeping a Softer Shell

Many of us prefer to keep a soft shell.  To stay vulnerable to the pain that may come with the pursuit of our dreams in hopes of fully experiencing the situation – good or bad.   This can be a hard way to go about life – feeling every setback.  It can de-motivate us and cause us to think twice before pursuing another dream.

Alternatively, feeling the good, the bad, and the ugly, while not always pretty does have its upside.  What we feel, we learn from more deeply and it sticks with us longer.   While it’s not fun in the moment, it’s often something we will look back on with favor and as a lesson learned.

Harder Shell?  Soft Shell?

How do you prefer to live life?  Vulnerable to setbacks?  Or protected a bit more from them?


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28 thoughts on “Is it Best to Develop a Harder Shell to Avoid the Pain of Life’s Knock Downs?

  1. Having a hardshell or thick skin often means you’ve probably experienced a lot of bad things and you’ve grown this, not by choice, but as a response, and when that happens it can also have a knock on effect into other areas of your life

    1. Lisa Alioto

      Very true unwanted life – sometimes we develop it out of life experiences.

  2. I don’t think this is a matter of choice for most people. I think people are naturally either more guarded or develop a thicker shell through due to previous experiences, very few people develop one by choice x


    1. Lisa Alioto

      Interesting insights Sophie – that just may be the case for many!

  3. I have a semi-hard shell. It depends on the person I’m getting feedback from. It has definitely improved over the years!

    1. Lisa Alioto

      I think I”m the same way Jennifer! And it all does get easier the older you get 🙂

  4. I would say I have developed a harder shell over the years mostly from experiences and fear of being too vulnerable. Lovely post .

    1. Lisa Alioto

      Thank you Mary – glad you enjoyed the post!

  5. This post reminded me of the “Knight in Shiny Armor” story, so I totally vote for no shell at all!

    1. Lisa Alioto

      Very brave – love it Chris!

  6. I feel that I have a hard shell about a lot of things. This likely resulting from my history of trauma. But I think there is a lot of benefit in being vulnerable and feeling the pain. Great post.

    1. Lisa Alioto

      Thank you Hannah – i too think there’s a lot to be gained from being vulnerable, as hard as it can be at times.

  7. I have developed a harder shell as the years go by and experiencing much more. Thanks for sharing your insights.

    1. Lisa Alioto

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting Lina – please do check us out again!

  8. I think I have a softer shell. It’s not really by choice, it’s just kind of who I am!

    1. Lisa Alioto

      That is awesome Sarah – that takes a lot of courage and provides great rewards

  9. I would definetely prefer to have a hard shell though I am yet to develop it. Setbacks, especially if they are emotional, hurt me a lot. It takes a lot of courage then to gather my shattered self and start over again

    1. Lisa Alioto

      It really is a hard decision or sometimes we don’t have a decision what shell we will have in a given moment. All we can do is our best in the moment

  10. Through experience, I have learnt to develop a hard shell. Just in case of disappointments, I know what to fall back on. Whether you have a hard shell or soft shell, it is based on life experiences not by choice. I like this topic

    1. Lisa Alioto

      I’m glad you enjoyed the topic – thanks for sharing your insights!

  11. Thought-provoking article. After reading Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, I am a proponent of vulnerability.

    Walking around with a hard shell all day exhausts me because I’m using all my energy to act as though nothing hurts me. A softshell, on the other hand, energizes me. I am no longer burdened with wearing a facade.

    This doesn’t mean that I cry all the time or tell people exactly what’s on my mind any time, any place. It means I’m honest with myself about how I feel, and I respond from self-love and wisdom instead of fear and recklessness.

    Thank you for writing and sharing this!

    1. Lisa Alioto

      Loved your share Ebony – thank you so much for taking the time to add in your great insights!

  12. I think the level of maturity plays a role whether we are soft or hard shells.
    Also one’s personality says it too. At some point we were soft shells then developed to harder shells. Life is a learning process.

    1. Lisa Alioto

      Great insights Vinn – thanks for sharing!

  13. I found myself developing a harder shell, but we still need to realize that we are human.

    Nancy ✨

    1. Lisa Alioto

      Exactly Nancy – it’s a careful balancing act, really.

  14. Great article Lisa! I’ve been through a lot and all I can say is it will depend on the situation still for me. We can never know what happens if we try. I can be a hard shell and I can be a softshell and sometimes I would like to protect myself for feeling the pain. It all depends…

    1. Lisa Alioto

      It really does, doesn’t it April! Sometimes we need to protect ourselves from lives pains and other times it’s best to feel them and move past them.

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