Friday, February 03, 2012
HSPs, Boundaries, Feeling Good, and Finding Balance
What motivates your choices?
There are lots of things we choose to do, in life. Often we are motivated to do things because they make us feel good. Of course, sometimes we're also motivated to do things because they are "good for us." Although it doesn't always hold true, we can at least hope that these two overlap, most of the time.
Many HSPs are very "compliant" by nature. Confrontation either frightens us, or we are "OK" with confrontation but still avoid it because it feels terribly overstimulating and we end up feeling "out of sorts" for days and hours after the actual confrontational event happened.
However, unless we are willing to stand up for ourselves-- and how we feel about a situation-- our personal boundaries tend to get overstepped or even completely ignored. It's no secret that setting healthy personal boundaries can be very challenging for HSPs. That said, we really cannot assume (and, unfortunately, many HSPs do) that the rest of the world will somehow "intuit" our needs, the way we might be able to, about them. Life just doesn't work that way!
I have met many HSPs for whom simply stating their opinion and "taking a stance" on something they believe in (especially if it seems counter to "popular" or "majority" viewpoints) feels like "fighting" or "being difficult" in a way they find very unpleasant.
Even... if they clearly have the best idea in a group, meeting, family gathering, or whatever.
It can become a bit of a paradox, because asserting ourselves "doesn't feel good," but being ignored also "doesn't feel good."
Sadly, many HSPs choose to circumvent the issue altogether by isolating themselves, instead. They conclude that the world "is too painful" and choose to avoid contact, altogether. On some level, that choice might (at least in the short term) "feel good," but on a greater scale, it's hardly "good for us." I can't even begin to estimate how many hundreds of HSPs I've encountered (usually in online forums) over the past 15 years who have gone down this path only to become deeply depressed because they feel "all alone in the world."
Suppressing our true nature because we are fearful of the consequences of "being our TRUE selves" can be very damaging to us; to our self-esteem.
HSPs have a lot to offer the world, but the world will not benefit if we don't bring those gifts to the world.
As I write these words, I'm reminded of this (quite famous) Dr. Seuss quote:
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind."
We can learn from that, and guide ourselves to better choices. When we share-- especially in a group setting-- some people are going to think our ideas are marvelous! Those are the people we should aline ourselves with, because they get where we're coming from. We must attempt to focus our attention on the fact that "Bob LOVED my idea!" rather than feeling crestfallen because "Sue didn't like my idea."
That does take a bit of practice-- many of us have "trained" ourselves to dwell on what is "wrong," rather than celebrate what is "right."
Something else we must remember is that in most cases, we're not obliged to do things that make us feel bad. Saying "no" to spending the day at a noisy theme park with a group of colleagues from work (which will make us feel overstimulated and stressed) is a much healthier choice than compliantly saying "yes" and having a day we hate. Sure we will encounter exceptions where we are "obligated" to participate in something we don't like, but those are generally few and far between. Establishing a healthy boundary and saying no to things that genuinely feel bad is not the same thing as "isolating."
Finally, we must remind ourselves that "NO is a complete sentence."
When our neighbor asks "Are you coming to my noisy cousin's surprise birthday party at Noise World tomorrow?" it's OK to simply say "No, I'm sorry, I won't be attending" without concocting 500 excuses and reasons for why we won't be attending. If pressed by the person asking, we need say no more than "Sorry, it just won't work out for me."
You'll feel much better when you do.
Talk Back! Pause to consider what motivates your choices. How good (or bad) are you at setting boundaries? Do you do things that "feel bad," or are "bad for you," because you fear not going with the flow? Do you sometimes choose to not do things that feel good, for fear of being judged, for your choices? Consider how you set boundaries. Do you isolate yourself, as a way of setting "boundaries," or do you feel free to state your opinion? Does saying "no" to someone feel like a confrontation? Leave a comment and share your experiences!
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