Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Giving Nature of HSPs

I believe many HSPs tend to have very giving and nurturing natures. This can be somewhat of a mixed blessing, as many HSPs I have met talk about the way they often end up "feeling used" by others. Personally, I like my giving nature, and I also like being around other HSPs for that exact same reason.

At the same time, I have also struggled considerably with the issues of "healthy boundaries" and "co-dependency." In the decade or so I have spent being "aware" of the HSP trait, I've noticed that these two issues are not uncommon among HSPs.

For me, the learning process has been one of understanding the difference between giving as "right action" (you simply help and give because it's what you want to do) and giving as a "transaction" (a sort of unhealthy "giving to get" dynamic), where you're expecting something back, as a result of what you have done. I've found that when I slip into attaching "expectations" to something I give, I invariably end up disappointed.

I used to give a lot to be "validated" as a "nice person;" here the "purpose" of my giving was clearly a desire to be "liked" and "accepted." I also used to give a lot because I was raised in an enviroment where "getting love" was contingent on what I could DO for people... I experienced no acceptance for "simply BE-ing me." Thus "giving" equated to receiving some form of "pseudo-love."

Of course, there's nothing wrong with wanting to be liked. But there'a also nothing wrong with being "selective" about what we give, and to whom. I've found a certain measure of inner peace as a result of "investing" my generosity in those who are genuinely appreciative of it, rather than people who are just looking for a (metaphorical) "free lunch."

Of course, it's not always easy to tell the difference, up front.... but I know I am never "obligated" to keep pouring water into a bucket that has a hole in it..... Ultimately, I have to ask myself how the relationship "feels." If the connection with another-- which could be a friend, colleague, lover, family member-- most leaves me feeling drained or exhausted, then an imbalance exists. I think of it as "1+1" adding up the less than 2. On the other hand, if I am giving, and I continue to feel energized and enriched, then a sort of "synergy" exists between me and the other person, in which "1+1" adds up to more than 2.

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