Monday, October 28, 2013

Too Many Worthy Causes-- Not Enough Money!

The holidays are coming up.

What that means-- at least some of what that means-- is that there will soon be an increasing stream of "worthy causes" coming our way.

So many of them really are "worthy." I often wish I could give to all of them... it almost makes me feel guilty that I have to "choose," and the very process of having to make a choice in this context can make me feel quite overwhelmed.

Part of me also feels "judgmental." After all, who am I to say that an organization that rescues kittens is more "worthy" than an organization that sends food to people in Sudan?

And yet, I have a hard enough time being able to afford my own groceries, so I can't just give away everything to every appeal that comes my way.

Of course, that's just part of the issue.

Because people out there perceive that I "know people," I am often approached and asked if I will help promote (or endorse) a worthy cause.

Again, the choices can be difficult. What do we put our energy behind? I tend to be extremely discerning about what I "put my name on." It's not that I don't like what I am presented with, it's more a case of not wanting to overwhelm people with every worthy cause under the sun.

I suppose that's part of consideration for others... empathy, perhaps? I know I get overwhelmed by the many choices, so I don't feel like it would be right to overwhelm other people with a ton of choices.

I am also hesitant to come across too much as "begging for money," no matter how worthy a cause may be. Perhaps that makes me a lousy marketer-- so be it. But it makes me uncomfortable. I'm already part of a couple of non-profit organizations that are "in the family" and it's hard enough to ask for donations on their behalf!

So what's the purpose of this whole post?

Well, I do have a "hidden motive" for bringing up money and giving.

I get quite a bit of email from the global HSP "community," asking if I'll write about various subjects as they relate to living as an HSP. One that often comes up-- and which I have studiously avoided taking on-- is money, finances and HSP's relationships with these.

Of course-- traditionally speaking-- "money" is one of "those subjects" we are taught to avoid, as part of good manners (along with religion, sex, politics and child rearing). And yet, it seems like an important topic for HSPs... perhaps because a lot of conventional financial wisdom doesn't apply to the Highly Sensitive Person. How so?

Well, after almost 17 years of studying this trait of ours, it's quite clear that HSPs don't measure "success" as other people do. For one, we are more concerned with being Human BE-ings than Human HAVE-ings or Human DO-ings... and yet, we still have to function within a world where the grocery expects money when we check out. We also face the issue (which Elaine Aron also alludes to in her books) of "underemployment," meaning that we are often in professions where we don't make a lot of money... so saving is difficult.

For the moment, though, I am going to just keep the ideas percolating while I try to figure out where to allocate my limited charitable giving budget.

If you DO have specific questions about HSPs and finances, do write in... or leave a comment... and I'll certainly enter your feedback into the mix.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

HSPs and Healing: What we Support and Believe in

Recently, I've been reading about HSPs and values... and what it means to walk our talk, even though it may be a difficult path to stay true to ourselves, in the face of a world that often wants to diminish or invalidate anyone who calls themselves "sensitive."

In this case, I am not just referring to personal values like "do not steal" or "do not hurt someone," but staying true to ourselves in the sense of honestly pursuing our interests and passions (and not hiding them!) even though it seems like almost nobody else seems even remotely aware of-- or interested in-- those interests.

It seems to me that one of the things that often cause us to abandon our truth is the tendency to compare our choices with things and people outside ourselves. We compare ourselves to others, or to ideals, or even to societal stereotypes and our genuine preferences suddenly seem so far away from the norm that we start to question ourselves.

Metaphorically speaking, it's like everyone else's favorite foods are things like "steak" or "ice cream" or "garlic bread" and our favorite food is the slivered dried root of some plant nobody has ever heard of. And whereas that is our genuine and authentic preference, we might start saying that our favorite food is "ice cream" just so we won't feel quite so alienated from those around us, and to perhaps avoid awkward blank stares and potential eyerolls.

As a writer, I tend to write for fairly esoteric specialty fields. Suffice it to say that writing articles about HSPs and life as a highly sensitive person is the most mainstream writing I do. Most of my other writing goes to niche hobby fields where the entire potential global audience might number fewer than 10,000 people. For example, I write about collecting sea glass. I also write about labyrinths and I write about stamp collecting. One topic/interest I write about has a potential global audience of perhaps no more than 200-300 people.

At times, I have felt pressured-- and this is pressure I largely have put on myself-- to write more mainstream things, in service of feeling more like I fit in. But writing reviews of smartphones, or travel guides to Cancun is not my truth and I would be abandoning my essential values if I were to choose to choose that path. But it's tempting-- in a not very healthy way-- because people seem excited when I tell them I am a writer, but then seem disappointed when I share what I write about.

The "staying true" dilemma can have other wrinkles, as well. From time to time, I have considered writing more mainstream articles because I wrestle with the issue of money: Do I write something "normal" and get paid for it, or do I write "my truth" and remain uncompensated because such writing may have spiritual value or practical value, but no commercial value? Which path must I take?

It is a common issue among HSPs that we struggle to feel good about ourselves if we don't live authentic lives yet-- for many of us-- true authenticity involves a substantial element of "being different." As such, authenticity can be a double-edged sword because we feel good for being authentic, but less good because that authenticity is sometimes-- or often-- met with skepticism and resistance.

Even if the words are not spoken directly, the feedback we get from the world sometimes contains a hidden subtext of "Oh, I'd sort of hoped you were doing something more normal."

Ouch.

Many HSPs-- whether we openly acknowledge it, or not-- carry around an assortment of "wounds" we're trying to heal. These wounds often are some variation on the theme of feeling marginalized because of who we are.

My experience has been that standing up for our true selves, our true beliefs and the ideas and projects we truly believe in can offer tremendous healing when it comes to past hurts, even if our choices are-- perhaps-- not always welcomed in the greater sense of the term. Stated simply, the healing benefits of true authenticity outweigh the negatives of occasionally feeling like we're terribly misunderstood.

Some folks bring up the issue of self-esteem in this context... and it took me many years to understand that the core of self-esteem is the word "self." Certainly, we can't help by be influenced by the world around us... but it is SELF-esteem, not "what others think of me esteem" we're needing to develop. That was a difficult lesson for me, and I believe it is difficult for most HSPs.

In the end, though, we must stay true to what we support and believe in, if we truly wish to heal. That much needed self-esteem comes when we embrace the Inner Knowing that WE are doing "the right thing," regardless of what everyone else thinks.

So the Question of the Week becomes this: Do you stay true to what you believe in? Do you openly support the "causes" that matter to you, or do you hide them, in service of "not sticking out?" For starters, are you open about being an HSP? If "no," why are you hiding?

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