Thursday, January 15, 2009

HSPs and Taking Ownership of Our Own Stuff

I spent many years being moderator and "list owner" on a variety of listservs and online communities for HSPs.

I'm sad to say that one of the most common topics of conversation revolved around "how awful" everyone else in the world seemed to be, and how "nobody" paid attention to our needs, and on and on. To be perfectly honest, a great many HSP conversations were (and still are-- I remain involved in many of these communities) little more than a giant "pity party."

Whereas I am definitely an HSP, I periodically get accused of not being one, because I rattle people's cages... by pointing at the truth, rather than becoming part of an unhealthy "group enabling" that often occurs when a number of HSPs get together in central venue, whether that's online, or at a retreat. That (evidently!) makes me "not nice," and there's a common belief that HSPs are always "nice."

Well, here's a newsflash for you:

When you-- as an HSP-- start "demanding" that everyone else adapt their world to fit needs, how is that any different from the situation you're complaining about? That is, the situation where NON-HSPs are telling you that you're "yourtoo sensitive, and need to toughen up?"

My point here being that learning to manage our sensitivities and being "high functioning" in the world is not about getting other people and the environment to adapt to us, but about finding more suitable ways to function, ourselves. Rather than engage in "finger pointing" and "us vs. them" thinking, we must "take ownership of our own stuff."

For example, I had an HSP friend who'd get headaches from the flourescent lighting at her place of work. And so, she went off on a "crusade" to get the lighting in the office changed. Whereas that certainly may have showed "noble intent," she was met with a great deal of resistance, especially since the flourescents had been installed as part of an "energy consciousness" program. I asked her if she'd asked her manager if she could simply move to a different cubicle, OR be allowed to hang a "cover" of sorts over her existing space, to minimize the glare. It had never occurred to her that she could make changes to her own environment, she automatically went to work on the external environment.

"Owning our own stuff," as HSPs, is about first asking "What can I do for me?" before we start asking (and making demands) about "what can others do for me."

Please think about this, next time you face some kind of challenge to your sensitivity.

You may be reading these words and thinking "Wait. You're not supporting the HSP cause!" And I know one of the common complaints HSPs share is that "we always have to adapt" to other people's needs.

I am supporting the HSP cause.

Please pause to consider that when you start "making demands" of your surroundings, you may not really be "helping HSPs," even if it feels like you are. You may actually be reinforcing to the world that "HSPs are a bunch of spoiled brat premadonnas who can't fit in without special treatment."

And that doesn't really serve us very well.

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