Tuesday, March 18, 2003

HSPs and trouble with Bullies

I often look for the "common threads" that arise, when I read the 1000's of notes and message board posts from HSPs over the past five years or so. It seems to be a sad truth that HSPs have more problems with bullies and abusers, than the world at large. Whereas the natural inclination (at least to someone who's not an HSP) might be to say "That's because you're not assertive," it seems to more often hold true that HSPs simply have a more "trusting" nature than most.

It has taken me a great many years, and a lot of personal exploration to finally understand-- and reasonably deal with-- the bullies, manipulators and otherwise toxic people who cross my path. "Toxic" might seem like a strong word to some/many, but honestly-- if these are people who have the ability to make another person feel bad about themselves, what are they, if not toxic?

Ultimately, it is not anyone's "job" or "duty" to be what someone else thinks they should be. If someone doesn't like me "as is," then it's not anybody's fault, but merely a reflection of the fact that we are not compatible as friends, cohorts, partners, lovers, spouses, or whatever. I am reminded of a quote by Thomas Merton:

"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them."

I think the same can be said of pretty much any relationship-- and often what needs examining is not the people, but the dynamic involved in the relationship. Not, of course, that we always have a choice in who we are spending time with-- as in co-workers. But we do have a choice of what we do with our own time. Alas, sometimes it can take a very long time before you figure out that the person you are married to/living with has a toxic personality. On top of which, what feels "toxic" to you, might not feel toxic to someone else. But we do have a right to choose.

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