Friday, August 18, 2006

Moving and Life Changes

Normally, I don't write too much about my personal life on these pages. It wasn't ever really my intention to make this a "personal blog," except to the extent that my own experiences are somehow helpful in an "HSP Context." I do have several other blogs that approach my life from a more "personal" angle-- but that's not my point, here.

I am moving.

Actually, I have been moving for a very long time.

I came to Texas in 1981 to go to college, and have ended up living here for 25 years. "By accident." That may sound absurd, but I really do feel like a quarter-century of my life has passed by as little more than "a coincidence."

Maybe "coincidence" isn't exactly the right word. I think the "coincidental" feeling of my existence here is more the result of never having given serious thought to "place" as part of my personal formula for contentment.

As human beings-- whether we're HSPs, or not-- I think it's something we tend to do. It seems to be popular societal more that "we create happiness wherever we are." There are lots of "experts" and motivational teachers who tell us that we just need to learn how to be "happy with what we have." Whereas I do understand the underlying intent behind this philosphy, I believe it also has a "shadow side." That shadow is that we are at risk of getting lulled into the relative comfort of "not reaching for more."

It's ironic, in a way, how we can be encouraged to "reach for our dreams" and in the same breath be told that those same dreams are "just wishful thinking" based on some false notion that "the grass is greener" somewhere (or somehow) else.

I am moving, because I want "greener pastures." And I have been "moving" for a long time-- more than a decade, to be precise. I am putting together some thoughts about the deeper implications of moving, and what it perhaps means to "move for the right reasons." Hopefully I will find some time, between packing boxes and feeling overwhelmed by the whole thing, to get to the bottom of that idea.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

HSPs and Forgiveness

Forgiveness is something I have struggled with fully understanding, over the years.

What does it mean? What does it mean to ME? When is it authentic and releasing, and when is it just like the infamous "solicited apology" in disguise? When is it healthy, when is it not?

In the world of the tolerant and empathic (such as HSPs tend to be), I think there's an unhealthy tendency towards "over-forgiveness," often born out of low self-esteem. We "forgive" people a million sins, not because we truly forgive their transgressions, but because we fear we'll be rejected and abandoned if we don't. Or we have persuaded ourselves that our empathy "demands" that we forgive people, no matter what.

In my opinion, that's hardly an emotionally "healthy" response. But it is one I have seen a lot. I observe HSPs squeeze themselves through the eye of a needle with words like "I forgive him/her because he/she can't help... (fill in awful behavior of your choice here)."

When someone "transgresses" against us, it usually means that some kind of boundary has been overstepped. There may be a one-time event, or a pattern of behavior leading to the broken boundary. Either way, it is a natural human response to feel anger or range... and it's my observation that forgiveness serves to "release" those feelings. Is the inner anger and rage truly released, when we automicaticall "forgive" everything, without a second thought? Or are we actually "selling out," and telling ourselves a fairy tale designed mostly to feed our self-identities as "gracious and sensitive people?"

For me, the struggle has been in closing the "gap" (my perception) between truly forgiving someone, and accepting that I can "forgive" and still "not like" something.

I may forgive my neighbor-- who's elderly-- for letting his dogs poop on my lawn because he can't control them... but offering said forgiveness doesn't automatically imply that I am "required" to either like or embrace the dogs pooping on my lawn. Even while forgiving both my neighbor and his dogs-- I can still put up a fence to keep the wretched things out.

One of my Teachers once said that in our efforts to be compassionate and open minded, we must also take care not to slip too far in the direction of a sort of "spiritual idiocy" that renders us victims of our own tolerance. There is nothing "noble" in forgiving a bully for bullying us because "he had a hard childhood" and then allowing him to continue to bully us because "he can't help it." In a sense, that is no less toxic than holding a grudge and not forgiving. It's merely a "different extreme." And, in BOTH extremes, we run the risk of "losing ourselves" and losing our authentic voice.

So what does "forgiveness" really mean?

I can only speak to my personal impressions. To me, forgiveness is about an "opening" of sorts. It's a "release;" what I am letting go of is the power I am allowing a person, idea, paradigm or situation to hold over me, because I am still holding onto "what happened."

In forgiving "Bob The Bully," I release the power his past negative words and acts hold over me... while not necessarily feeling any obligation to suddenly "like" Bob. Bob is still a bully, and he's completely unwelcome to bring his toxicity near me, even though I have forgiven the past.

Although it's unlikely that Bob will even be aware that he did anything warranting forgiveness, he might whine and claim that I haven't really "forgiven" him, since I don't want to hang out with him anymore. That's his prerogative. But at least I feel a measure of peace, in releasing Bob's "hold" over me. And I think forgiveness is ultimately more about appeasing our feelings, than someone else's.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Thoughts on and HSPs and "Overreacting"

I recently observed a discussion among HSPs, on the topic of "overreacting." Do we, in fact "overreact" in response to stimuli? Do we exaggerate the seriousness of an event or experience, when it happens, as a result of our more attuned nervous systems?

I have always felt that communication is really a small miracle.

As we wander through life, we run into so many problems because of miscommunication. Most often (and most confusing) trouble arises when we actually genuinely "hear" what someone is saying, but we filter the intended meaning through our individual lenses of perception. We might "hear" that someone is hurting, but we give them an aspirin when what they wanted was a hug.

I contend that one person's exaggeration is another's normal. What IS overreacting, anyway? If I find myself standing near a wasp's nest, I almost panic and have to get out of there. People look at me with puzzled expressions and say "Get a grip! They are just bugs!" But my reality is that I am extremely allegic to the stings and will end up in the hospital, if stung. Am I still "overreacting?" Or is it a "proportional response," given my particular sensitivities? Or is the underlying Truth that everyone responded appropriately to the situation?

I think we do ourselves a disservice when we try to clamp too narrow definitions on stuff like "how we should react" in a specific situation. As HSPs, we observe and perceive more deeply, and since most HSPs are also intuitive/empathic, we also respond to "things unseen" by most people. Yet, for us they are very real. I feel that sensitivity and the appearance of overracting (in the perception of non-HSPs, especially) are quite consistent... and thus neither something to feel concerned about, nor something to apologize for. We see the metaphorical 18-wheeler bearing down on us before others, and so our immediate "let's get out of the way" response is seen as "hysterical" by those who don't perceive the speeding truck till it's right in their face.

That doesn't make us wrong, merely different.

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