Thursday, November 21, 2002

Coping and Direction of energy

As much as I have studied people and personality.... there is one thing that often seems to hold true-- people fall into one of two "categories:" People who "move towards" and people who "move away from."

Often these are off-setting variants of seemingly identical behavior. For example, it's the difference between "moving away from pain" and "moving towards pleasure." The end result ("goal") appears the same (or very similar), but the underlying philosophy to reach the end goal differs. Some of it, I believe, has to do with whether we are driven by our fears, or by our desires. Not that the two are mutually exclusive, by any means-- but it seems we have a dominant function.

Thus people also have different approaches to coping with the challenges that go with being an HSP. The ultimate goal is "coping with being an HSP"-- but to "get there" might mean some kind of "fix" for one person, and simple "self-acceptance" for another. Nothing wrong with either method, as far as I can see.....

In my own case, the approach has changed over time. And much of it seems related to my sense of self-esteem, or self-worth. The lower my self-esteem, the more I tend to "move away from" things I don't want, while when my self-esteem is high, I move directly towards those things I do want.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

HSPs, Relocation, and the Power of Place

An HSP "Virtual Friend" recently asked me if I had much experience with major relocations, and with choosing a place by "intuitive feel," just because it seemed right. The discussion was interesting, so I'd like to share some of it here.

I have more experience in this area than I care to think about-- I don't know precisely how many times I have moved, but I have lived in 10+ countries on three continents; as well as several places in Texas; AZ, OR and WA. My guess is that I have moved (from locally to internationally) 30-40 times in my 42 years. My "overall" account name here on Blogger was established under the moniker "GlobalNomad," which should tell you a thing or two.

If there is any "wisdom" I have gathered from this nomadic lifestyle, it is that there is a huge difference between going to a place because you want to, purely for the sake of the place itself, and going to a place for the sake of another person, or because you "have to" (i.e. job move, family emergency move). Personally, I see the chance to freely sit down and choose "the perfect place" as a great-- and quite rare-- opportunity, rather than something to be feared. That's not to imply that a cross country move might not overwhelm, by the way.

If you have no major commitments-- job, family, dating, marriage, business-- you are actually at an ideal crossroads to decide "Where would I really LIKE to live?" Very few people ever have this chance. It is still scary (especially for an HSP) to consider a major move across the country-- but if you're "unencumbered" (so to speak) you have eliminated a great deal of the inner turmoil and stress that often goes with leaving a place behind.

The task, then, becomes the challenge of taking "inventory" of yourself in terms of what makes you like (and DISlike) any specific geographic location. You have to figure out what makes you happy. Is it nature? Is it city culture? Is it a certain climate? The quality of education (obviously relevant, if you're a parent)? Cost of living? The arts? Do you like being near mountains, or the ocean? A certain lifestyle? Do you need public transit? Access to continuing education? Can you readily "replace" your current stress free job? Is your work experience specialized, requiring the presence of certain employers? There are any number of "if only I had this!" criteria that we build up in our minds, over the years-- and those would be what I would look at first.

Once you have a very clear idea of what is important to you-- then I'd suggest you start trying to match your desires to a place. Allow yourself plenty of time to figure out the pluses and minuses of different locations.... alas, I have heard too many sad stories on people who moved to a new city on a whim... because they had seen a cool program on the Travel Channel, or had visited once for a 5-day vacation... and used that as the only thing to go on. Also, be open to the idea that your current "home" may actually be the best location for you. However, if you're feeling restless and rootless, that's somewhat unlikely.

Ultimately, you have to go visit the place you're contemplating. Take your vacation there, but don't be a tourist. Go be a "local." Book yourself into an "extended stay hotel" with a kitchen. Make yourself go to the grocery, the bank and other stuff you do on a daily basis. Drive through neighborhoods to get a feel for them. Listen to your intuition. Does the place "feel" right, to you?

Listening to your inner wisdom is also important when it comes to your overall decision for moving-- at least in terms of trying to figure out the true nature of your "restlessness." If the desire to move is inspired by a feeling of wanting to "run away from being by myself," you may want to examine that, as well. And I'm not saying that it IS, by any means-- just understand your own motivations for wanting to move.

A change of location affords us a "clean slate" in some ways-- it's an opportunity to start again, in a place where nobody has any preconceived notions about who we are, and what we do. As such-- scary moments aside-- it can be very cathartic. Although I am "deeply HSP" in many respects, the idea of packing my stuff and moving cross country does not scare me... except as a concern about choosing the wrong place.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Work, Money and HSPs

There seems to be a trend (in terms of work) that plagues many HSP-- that of being "chronically underemployed." In the HSP Workbook, Elaine Aron mentions the fact that HSPs often gravitate towards fields/careers that are uncommonly poorly compensated-- such as art, writing, music, library science, etc. I know that I certainly fit into one of those categories (or several). Whenever I haven't labored in retail (well-compensated, I grant you, when I was a business owner), I have always "known" that I wanted to be a writer. Yet, I have never been able to earn much of a living wage from writing-- except when "selling out" to be a technical writer for hire.

At the same time, there is much "wisdom" out there, to the effect of "Do what you love, the money will follow." I am just wondering if we-- as HSPs-- have greater difficulty getting "the money to follow" than the rest of the world, given the particular kinds of things we "love?" And because we so often gravitate towards work that doesn't pay a whole lot-- we have very little to "fall back on" while trying to build up whatever vocation is our dream; our calling.

As an example, I used to run the aforementioned business-- which fit my personality very poorly. Lots of stress and anxiety, felt like a misfit, but I was very well paid. Now I am a writer, which I love. However, I have traded the stress of constant cacophony and "go! go! GO!" for the stress of not knowing how I'll pay for next month's rent. It is still stress.

My answer is increasingly becoming one that I notice other HSPs follow: Simplification. A smaller, less expensive lifestyle that is sustainable at the income level generated by whatever professions allow us to follow our bliss.

Saturday, November 02, 2002

Friends, Chaos and Detachment

The new telephone directory arrived a few days ago. Whenever it arrives, I have this old habit of going through and finding friends and acquaintances; looking for people I've lost touch with, and so forth. I noticed this year that everyone has "gone." Almost everyone, anyway.

And then I got to thinking about who these people were, and what kinds of relationships we had. And why they ended, so easily, just sliding away into a state of neglect. As a result of this little exercise in analysis, I also came to the very difficult (or uncomfortable) conclusion that-- in many cases-- I "owned" part of the problem.

I deluded myself that these people were "friends," but really... they were there because they could "get" something from me, a "feed" of sorts, and when that "feed" stopped, so did their interest. I realize that I tend to come across as someone who has "the answers" and others often operate under the perception that I have my life together. Which is simply not true-- but perceptions are often more important than facts.

I don't want this to sound harsh, and it certainly doesn't make it EASIER to cope with losing someone.... but it really isn't "friendship" when people are just interested in me because I am "useful" to them. In my case, that "use" has often been my ability to act as a "guide" or "ship's counselor." Sometimes the use has been more practical-- often in a monetary sense. I can't deny that friendship certainly involves the process of "helping" a friend, but when the friendship is defined by my giving help-- it quickly becomes usuary. And in looking at this stuff, I have also come to realize that I have personally grown in a direction that makes the original "connection" with those people less relevant than it used to be.

A "real" friend recently sent me this web page link:

http://www.coping.org/control/detach.htm

and I found it to be interestingly timely, mostly in the way it served as a reminder of many of the co-dependency issues I visited in therapy, many years ago. My travels through the online HSP Communities suggest that this is an issue that's relevent to many HSPs.

As an aside, coping.org is an enormous site with almost endless linked pages that allow you to meander and evaluate some of your own issues and struggles in life, and it also offers many (often "tough love" oriented, I grant you) solutions. Every underlined word is a link to yet another issue and level of "granularity." Many HSPs might find something useful there-- I know I certainly have.

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