Saturday, February 01, 2003

HSPs and the problem of "Soft Boundaries"

HSPs often seem to have issues with poor personal boundaries. Whether that's a result of the trait, itself, or not being taught the right skills in childhood I don't know. I hear many HSPs struggle with it, and I have certainly been through my own struggle.

I believe "boundaries" can be a place where people-- and especially we HSPs and people of a helpful compassionate nature-- easily can end up in "razor's edge" situations. Where does "supportive" end, and "healthy boundaries" begin? I had to learn boundaries from the ground up (At great expense, my therapist thanks me!) because I was raised in a family where having boundaries of any sort was viewed as "inconsiderate."

One of the things I had to learn in setting boundaries was not merely to be willing to clearly state my needs, but also to not "overlay" myself on other people. I had to learn how to be "sorry" without being "causally responsible." Indeed, I was sorry when my girlfriend hit her shin on the park bench-- but I was also not responsible for it. I didn't put the bench down in her way, and I didn't force her to go to the park, against her will. In fact, I was 3 miles away. Although until I was about 32, I made myself responsible for EVERYthing-- maybe I "could" have "made her" not go to the park, had I "known" that there was going to be a bench. As HSPs, and empaths, I think it's easy to take on the troubles of the world-- but there's a big difference between being "supportive of" and "responsible for" someone else's distress. A "boundary" we must learn, as part of not getting overwhelmed. I continue to struggle with it.....

The other thing I had to learn, was how to use the word "no." Again, my childhood/youth model was that saying "no" to someone's request was both self-centered and rude. When I was a young adult, this turned me into an unhealthy person who could only say "no" as part of a final explosion of pent-up rage and frustration. It took me a very long time to learn that "no" is better used as a tool to not reach the "point of explosion," in the first place. Corny as it might sound, I had to practice saying "no" to myself, in the mirror. Eventually I did learn to pose the internal question "Do I want to do this, or am I just feeling obligated?" The biggest problem with not being able to say "no" is that you quickly lose your humanity-- you end up becoming a "human DOING," rather than a "human BEING."

For me, the most difficult thing hasn't really been learning to say "no," or developing healthy boundaries. I has been dealing with the environmental effect of change-- how to deal with other people's reactions. After all, you have friends/acquaintances who are used to a particular paradigm for your behavior-- and suddenly you become like a "different person." Very confusing. And it also has a way of "flushing out" and bringing into question (usuary) relationships that were originally formed on a less than healthy basis.

1 comment:

  1. (Laughing hysterically) See previous comment on Vulcan mind meld.

    ReplyDelete

What's YOUR opinion and experience? Please leave a comment (Please note that comments are moderated to keep spam out).

The HSP Notes Bookstore is now open! 100's of books (and HSP friendly products) individually chosen for their “HSP Relevance,” all recommended by HSPs, for HSPs. Click on the "HSP Bookstore" tab (above) to see what's on offer!