Sunday, August 24, 2008

HSPs and Choosing Positive Energy

Many Highly Sensitive Persons-- or so it seems-- struggle with their friendships and relationships, often feeling like there's an "imbalance of energy" going on. In many cases, our natural inclination is to be somewhat passive and compliant, and so we attribute the fact that certain (or many) people leave us exhausted to "being highly sensitive."

This isn't always the healthiest approach to the challenges being an HSP and interacting with people. Truth is, a lot of the time the "exhaustion" we feel after an interaction is less about us, than it is about the other person. At the very least, we owe it to ourselves to be cognizant of the fact that we shouldn't automatically "assume responsibility" for the difficulties we experience with other people.

Whereas it may be true that disproportionately many HSPs have had "difficult" or abusive childhoods and/or relationships, and may have certain issues with codependency, I'm not really going to get into that. This post is more about self-awareness NOW, and how we need to look more closely at the people in our lives and recognize the relationships that give us energy, and those to take energy.

This "sorting" can be fairly simply done, merely by looking at how we feel about the prospect of spending time with someone we know. If we genuinely look forward to a contact with someone, odds are they are a "positive energy source." Of course, it's not always that obvious.

Maybe we know someone we always really look forward to seeing, and have a good time with, but end up exhausted at the end. But what is that particular exhaustion about? If' we're merely overstimulated because we always "do so much" with that person, they are not necessarily a "negative energy source." In such a case, it may truly be just a matter of our sensitive nature getting "too much of a good thing."

However, when we think about contact with a person, and are filled with resignation, hesitance, dread, discomfort, anxiety, nervousness or fear... odds are we've got someone who's a "negative energy sink" in our lives. In those cases, it usually pays to heed our intuition, because it's easy to rationalize our dis-ease as "just being too sensitive." And sometimes we can make very "reasonable" arguments with ourselves.

Maybe we rationalize that this person who always leaves us feeling drained is "going through hard times," and that he/she is justified in complaining about every single thing in their life. But if we dig a little deeper, we may be able to realize that this person has been "going through hard times" for 15 years, and we're just "in the habit" of putting up with their negative energy. Remember, someone who is constantly complaining about how bad they feel, or how hard their life is is... indirectly... "demanding" our empathy, and thereby tends to drain our energies.

When looking at our friendships and relationships, it also bears mentioning that even though we may have this idea that "HSPs are nice people," many HSPs can be "energy drainers" as well.

It's one thing to be "highly sensitive," but there are also people out there-- HSPs-- who could more appropriately be described as "highly touchy people." We tend to "cut them a lot of slack" because they are HSPs like ourselves, yet we also find ourselves feeling drained after being around them. Typically, we spend our time with them feeling like we're having to "walk on eggshells," and nothing we ever say seems to be "exactly right." Often, they seem to have very specific agendas for the "right" and "wrong" in their lives... right down to often "scripting" they howwant and need us to respond to their situations. The way we feel almost "forced" to respond in a particular way-- and NOT our "natural" way-- actually comes close to being a subtle form of bullying or emotional abuse.

Be very wary of language like "If you really cared, you'd find a way to change your schedule to have lunch with me."

People who engage in such behavior-- in spite of their possible insistences that they "want things to get better-- are often actually getting their needs served by remaining stuck; able to bully and manipulate others into validating their stuckness, and thereby avoiding the painful issues they need to address before they have any hope of moving on.

As HSPs, we sometimes need to pause and "take inventory" of the people in our lives. Sometimes this can be difficult, challenging and unpleasant, because we occasionally find ourselves face-to-face with the reality that the biggest drains of negative energy is someone very close to us, like a spouse or immediate family member. However, what ultimately helps us feel more alive and capable with our sensitivities is to direct our attention and energy onlt towards those things and people who GIVE us positive energy, while minimizing and/or avoiding those people or things that DRAIN us, with their negative energies.

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Talk Back! When is the last time you took "inventory" of the people in your life? Are you aware of who is a "positive energy giver" and who is a "negative energy taker?" Are you aware of how each kind of person makes you feel? Are there people in your life you know are "energy sinks," but you have been avoiding facing the challenge of ending the relationship? How do you think you would feel, withOUT that person in your life? What, in particular, is holding you back, from addressing the situation? Leave a comment!

1 comment:

  1. Someone recently indirectly cut me out of their life due partially to me being perceived as a negative energy drainer (although those words werern't used). It was very hurtful to be on the receiving end of that. However after months of feeling hurt and angry, I have finally forgiven that person and moved past it. When I finally (inwardly) took responsibility for my actions, I have become filled with much more positive energy. Strange how life is!

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