Saturday, January 12, 2008
HSPs and the push-pull dilemma
Considering that I see myself as very much of an introvert (and the "I" in my Myers-Briggs INFJ is without question), it always surprises me a bit when people tell me this. When I dig around for an explanation, they point to my blogs and web sites, and the way I participate in events like the HSP Gatherings, and local HSP groups, and so forth.
It made me pause and reflect on the "push-pull" dilemma a lot of sensitives face. Most HSPs-- in their souls and essences-- are idealists with a strong drive to change the world and make life a better place, for all. The idea of "changing things," as well as the idea of connecting with their peers, appeals to them.
At the same time, most HSPs are introverts (70-75%) and many have issues with overstimulation from a lot of activity and interaction, if not with outright Social Anxiety. As such, being in the world can feel very daunting.
The above certainly the potential to set up some inner conflicts and paradoxes: We want to change the world, but to change the world we must get "out there" and "be seen," and "being seen" causes us to become overstimulated or anxious, so we instead end up "staying in," keeping all our grand ideas to ourselves, and gradually grow all depressed over not having changed the world.
Elaine Aron describes the plight of the HSS (High Sensation Seeker) HSP as being akin to driving with one foot on the brake and one foot on the gas-- there's a pull in opposite directions. An inner "I want to go, but I'm anxious about going" dynamic. The more I have learned about the trait, the more I believe there are elements of this dynamic that can be applied to all HSPs.
Of course, the whole idea of "Changing the World" can be a stumbling block, in and of itself. We can easily get stuck in what I call the "Cure-for-Cancer Syndrome." That is, we believe we must do something "important" in order for the world to benefit. Perhaps it's true that we tend to hear about "big" accomplishments-- however, the vast majority of change in the world occurs as a result of lots of people making lots of tiny changes that cumulatively have a huge effect on the greater good.
Getting back to the push-pull issue, the one thing we do have to do, in order to effectuate change in the world, is find ways in which we are willing to "be seen."
Now, my "being seen" may be quite different from your "being seen," but they have in common that we must find a way to get our ideas moved from "merely a concept inside our minds" to being "shared with others." This can be a considerable challenge for HSPs. Over the years I have met so many who have had wonderful things to contribute, but for whatever reasons (mostly relating to the fear of overstimulation and not wanting to be noticed by others) say "no, I can't do that" when asked to share with the world. Similarly, there are times when we have to "take our heart in our hands" and take that step required to get involved, in a local group, or going to self-improvement workshops, or attending an HSP Gathering.
If we don't, we run the risk of spending our lives eternally sitting on the fence, watching others live while we miss out.
TALK BACK: Are there things you "wish" you'd do, but feel held back because it would mean you were "seen?" Even small things, like contributing to an online forum, or starting a blog? Or larger things, like a social group you know you'd like, but can't bring yourself to go to? Or are you willingly and openly "out" there? If so, does this come naturally to you, or have you had to "train" yourself?
Please leave a comment!
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