Tuesday, December 16, 2014

HSPs and Resuming Abandoned Projects: HSP Notes Lives Again!

As human beings-- whether we're Highly Sensitive, or not-- we remain constant "works in progress."

Long term readers have probably noticed that "not much has been happening" on these pages, for quite a while. It's true. There's a long song-and-dance routine I could share with you to explain that, but the short version has two very simple parts:

Part one, I simply got "tired and bored with myself," when it came to writing, and so I stopped. In a sense, I followed my own advice to not keep doing things simply because "we're in the habit" and "other people expect us to."

Part two, I found myself mired down in a longer period in my existence where I seemed to feel perpetually overstimulated by the basic "demands of life."

Writing is basically a "diversion" for me, and one that has never paid for the light bill, rent or groceries. As such, it's a "luxury" in my life. When things are financially "tight" (as they have been for a couple of years, now) such diversions get cut from my personal "HSP energy budget." If it doesn't "pay the rent," it pretty much gets the ax.

That said, it isn't that I haven't had anything to "say," when it comes to "life as an HSP," but here's the fundamental shizzy: Just jotting down some quick ideas and insights in a "flow-of-consciousness" manner takes me less than 30 minutes. I type pretty fast, so the bones of a 1000-1500-word article easily flows out within a reasonable time frame. So what's the problem?

Taking that 1500-word article, fine tuning it, polishing it up, carefully considering it, adding pretty pictures and ruminating on (aka "processing deeply") whether or not it truly is "fit for public consumption" takes me hours, if not days to complete. And so, the underlying story is not that I have felt too exhausted "to write," but I have felt too exhausted "to publish." Because there's a huge difference between simply "writing" and actually "publishing," even when it comes to a simple blog like this.

Now, maybe that sounds mystifying, so I'll expand a bit. One of the fairly common attributes of being an HSP is a sort of "elevated sense of conscientiousness." On the whole, that's a good thing. The "problem" with it can be that it's also the breeding ground for a sort of perfectionism that can keep us stuck-- in my case, not wanting to just "throw things out there" when I didn't feel were "good enough." Maybe that's just a personal philosophy for living: If something is worth doing, it's worth doing well.

Short version: I've been writing, just not publishing.

Anyway, this morning I found myself trying to answer the 427th email asking me if "I had stopped blogging" and if I "no longer wrote about HSPs."

As I said, the truth of the matter is that I never stopped writing, I just stopped publishing. As I write these words, I have 50-some half-baked posts/articles sitting in my "drafts" folder, waiting to be "set free." Actually, most of them are about 90% written. As I looked at them-- before answering the email-- I came face to face with one of my "demons" that has always plagued me, especially in work contexts: The eternal "inner conflict" between "hating busy-work" (which includes prepping, editing and fine-tuning writing for publication) and "being intolerant of imperfection" (And "imperfection" is what happens when I don't take time to do the busy work.)

This tendency has haunted me across many aspects of life... I'm OK with doing the "creative work" and can be extremely prolific, but my "drive" to "bring it to market" (so to speak) is almost non-existent.

All this "churning of thoughts" came about because I have been working on an article (I also write for the "Consciousness and Metaphysics" press) about "not having enough time" to do the things we want to. My own lament is that I "don't have time to write." Well, that's actually a lie. I have plenty of "time to write." I just lack the inclination (and time) to "create finished work." And because of my perfectionistic tendencies, I refuse to let anyone (clients, editors, customers) have "half-assed garbage," even if they would be perfectly content with it. I have to be content with it.

But that's not even the whole truth. As HSPs one dilemma we often face is that the things we most want to do are not income producing, and we end up in a struggle to find balance between our "idealism" and "functional reality." Sure, I want to write, but I can't afford to write.

Anyway, the holidays are almost here, and the days have gotten very short, and I am spending less time outside... meaning that I (technically speaking) have more time to be in front of the computer-- aside from just purely working. Hereunder, taking on the somewhat daunting prospect of finishing and "releasing" the 40-something "mostly written" posts and articles currently sitting in the "drafts" folder here at HSP Notes.

I did have to ask myself the question "why bother?"

Why not just delete them all and "start from here?"

Consideration number one: I never set forth to try to write "self-help" or "advice" or general insight articles for HSPs. When I started this blog, it was just a place for me to keep my own musings about what life was like, when you are an HS male living in Texas-- as I was, back in 2002. Frankly I was both surprised-- and slightly amused-- when I started to get "readers." Almost 13 years later, I'm now surprised by how many of these "random musings" have been read by 10,000 or more people. That's both startling... and a little scary.

Getting back to "why bother," I feel that part of my Calling has always been to "share information." Not in a "connect 'A' to 'B'" sort of sense, but in simply sharing something that made my walk through life easier... and maybe someone else's life could become easier as a result of reading and thinking "I could do that!" That's really my only ulterior motive, here... and that's as true now as it has ever been.

Consideration number two: I have never liked "unfinished business." It hangs over me like a dark "psychic cloud." Hence the idea of just deleting everything from the "drafts" folder seems just "wrong." After all, those insights and thoughts did happen, right? And they might be useful. Besides, deleting them feels like an even greater "loss" of time than taking/making the time to finish them. On top of which I'll be the first to admit that I am a bit lazy, and odds are I'd start writing some of the same things I've already written... and that's just a waste of effort!

"So why so many ruminations on this?" you might be thinking.

In part, getting back to the roots of this blog: It was here for me to explore my thought processes and "think out loud" about life as a Highly Sensitive Person. And that's precisely what you're witnessing me do... share my thought process. We all have our way of learning... some learn best by have something that looks mostly like an "instruction manual." Others-- I count myself among them-- learn best through "experiencing through someone else's experience."

And truth be known? "Ruminating" and "processing deeply" (and sometimes "overthinking things!") is part of what we HSPs DO, in life. And I'm no different.

So, "stay tuned" for a series of "the lost articles" to come to light, in the course of the next few weeks!

In the meantime, here's the "question(s) of the week:" Do you tend to deliberately STOP projects when they become "too much" for you, or are you more likely to quietly "let them slide?" And when you decide to resume them, do you just "start where you left off" or do you tend to put a lot of effort into "getting organized" and trying to resume from a place where things are as smooth and "complete" feeling as when you stopped? Leave a comment! Start a discussion!

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6 comments:

  1. Glad to see you are planning on posting again. Your articles have benefited me and refer others when I find someone who wants strait forward information about being an HSP.

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  2. Hi Peter,

    Thank you for your thoughtful blog post. I have also felt the way you do about those hobbies that are fun but don't pay necessarily the bills and yes, I’m a reformed perfectionist and think anything that is attached to my name needs to reflect the very best I can give. But, I’ve come to realize there is only so much of me, as a HSP, that can go around and if I don’t feel like photographing my current art or craft project and then writing and editing it, I just won’t. Hardly anyone reads or comments on it anymore…bla, bla, bla. Then, I’ll get inspired to share my work and do so.

    So, I’ve tried not to saddle the blog as a “have-to” but as a “want-to” and have shortened my long-winded posts and cut down the number of photos uploaded. I am also trying to space them out, doing a bunch when I feel like it and when I have time. Trying to post daily, weekly, or even monthly falls short of my goals, but so what? We do the best we can, don’t we? Thank you for all your efforts to keep HSP Interest Groups going—that’s a lot of work, generating interest in HSPs must be like herding cats! I appreciate all your efforts over the many years. Cheers to you! Take some time during the holidays to just relax and be good to yourself. Some of us can be harder on ourselves than anyone else. [There! That only took several minutes of re-reading and editing. :-)]

    Gina

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  3. Hi Peter:

    Your writings are like a comforting balm to my HSP soul. In so many ways you seem like a close relative who writes from the same perspective and origination point. I don't know quite what I mean by “origination point” yet those two words describe the essence of what I am trying to convey.
    It is like somebody coming from the same tribe of origin that even speaks our particular dialect.
    I so relate to this: “Getting back to "why bother," I feel that part of my Calling has always been to "share information." Not in a "connect 'A' to 'B'" sort of sense, but in simply sharing something that made my walk through life easier... and maybe someone else's life could become easier as a result of reading and thinking "I could do that!" That's really my only ulterior motive, here... and that's as true now as it has ever been.”
    Since the HSP trait has only been named and written about since the late 90's, I believe we are the “trailblazers” for the HSP's that aren't realized as of yet as well as those to be born. Hopefully younger people can benefit by your sharing of experiences along with other HSP authors that write about their experiences. I too am an sharer of information as much needed information is often kept back by those in the “know” who apparently feel that only their own interests count and screw helping the other guy. I think this paramount for HSP's to share info/experience as so much is at stake by their not knowing who they are, how their physiology works, and that they aren't flawed among many other things. Further, there is something so sacred about this process that the reward of knowing that you may have spared another the pain and hardship is reward enough. Perhaps this too is an aspect of the cooperative mindset that HSP's predominantly have. You also said in relation to this; “Others-- I count myself among them-- learn best through "experiencing through someone else's experience." I don't know if this is important or not yet experiencing someone else's experience is like learning via resonance some how.
    You asked us to answer a question. I have both stopped doing things when they got too much as well as letting them slide, depending on the circumstances. If I choose to pick them up again, I generally try to get as organized as I can before hand as well as more complete than when I let them slide. Hopefully when I chose to pick something up again, life will be smoother and I will be more ready and prepared in a number of ways than I was before to resume the dropped project. I also think that if we are too frazzled by life or overstimulated, it is wise to drop things that you can for the time being until life smooths itself out and we've had the chance to regain ourselves. Hope this helps. Best wishes for the holidays and New Year!

    Regards,
    Cindy H.

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  4. Yes, I would agree with pretty much all of this post, as it applies to me. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Just came across your blog when I was researching HSP because I am an HSP too and am slowly learning about it right now, trying to figure out why exactly I AM the way that I am (and why everyone else around me is so different from me).
    What you are writing is so true and so ME, it is kind of scary (as I am just learning about it) especially this:

    "Maybe that's just a personal philosophy for living: If something is worth doing, it's worth doing well."
    This philosophy often leads to me not starting at all because I know I won't have enough time or energy to do it right and I know it will frustrate me so I don't even bother.

    Irene

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  6. I can not generate enough substance to my brain without the right food, so I can only handle what either limits the completion or limits the creative drive, I can't do hack my existence to maintain this chaos my brain does not work as it does but I can not afford to eat what balances my mind.

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