Monday, April 18, 2016

HSP Life: When Practicality must Override Idealism

We HSPs tend to be a rather idealistic bunch.

Sometimes, the pursuit of our idealistic flights of fancy seems to be the only thing that keeps us alive and going in a world that often seems harsh and not very idealistic. As such, it can be easy to neglect-- or even forget about-- the practical matters of daily life.

For example, for the past couple of weeks, I have really been wanting to spend more time writing and getting into several other projects I have had in the works... but the practical world has dictated that I put most of my effort into doing my taxes (Here in the US, our annual personal taxes must be filed by April 15th), and not doing those other things.

Sometimes we have to focus on things we don't want to do, merely to stay functional in the world.

Maybe that sounds "Duh! Obvious!" to most people, but I know from experience that I-- and many of my HSP peers-- easily fall into playing "the avoidance game" when it comes to dealing with things in "real life" that we don't really like. And-- quite often-- to our detriment.

The tendency to "avoid dealing with reality" can become a serious issue when we look at the longer term, especially in the context of trying to realize dreams we may have. For example, we may have a deep desire to create some kind of charitable or beneficial project but avoid ever "getting into it" because we don't want to deal with the up-front hassles of applying for licenses and permits and dealing with an assortment of boring things that are pretty much required, before we can get to do something we really want.

Some years back, I had the pleasure of spending some time with Dr. Barrie Jaeger, author of "Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person," and one of the things I learned from our conversations was that even the most joyful and perfect "Calling" in life will have its moments of dull boring drudgery... so if we sit around and always wait for the "ideal" situation in which everything is "perfect," we may well end up missing out completely on the things we really want to do.

Sometimes, dealing with "Practicalities" can be hard. Unlike my taxes-- which required about two weeks of my attention-- we may find ourselves in a situation where all our attention and energy, every single day, has to go into the simple act of doing what it takes to "keep the lights turned on." I have definitely been there, burned out and wondering if the dreams I wanted to pursue would ever become possible.

Patience becomes essential. Sometimes we have to be prepared to spend significant amounts of time "in the grind," in order to get to where we want to go. 

But don't give up! 

Figure out what small things you can do to take you towards where you want to go and then focus on those which still keeping up with the practical demands of life.

This may all have sounded rather bleak, but I assure you I did not intend it to. The point was merely to underline that ignoring the practical while in pursuit of our idealistic dreams can actually set us back, rather than take us forward.

In the end, it's all about balance!

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Random Musings on HSPs, Marketing, Social Media and Overstimulation

Sometimes it's the "little things" that bother us and can lead to HSP overstimulation. But what exactly ARE "little" things?

This morning, as I was wading through the daily deluge of email, there was an update from an HSP group I belong to on Google+ (It's a nice group, if you want to look at it). I expect many of us get these "so-and-so posted a new message to such-and-such a group" updates.

Anyway, because I am actually interested in HSP-related stuff, I clicked on the link... and got a "the content you are looking for is not available" message, and realized that the original post had been removed.

OK. Had it been spam? That didn't entirely make sense to me as the "so-and-so" person who'd shared the original post was somewhat known to me and is definitely not a spammer.

So I decided to poke around a bit to see if I could figure out what was going on.

Then I understood (I think). The original post had been an announcement of this person's new web site. Nothing wrong with that-- it was definitely "on topic" and relevant to HSPs and might be both useful and informative to those learning about our trait.

The real problem? The post had been an announcement of a web site that wasn't actually built or running yet, just "in the works." The splash page at the end of the link did nothing more than announce that "exciting content coming soon!" and then offered a popup form to ask for email addresses to "be notified of exciting new features."

Whether it's an "HSP cautiousness" thing or not, I now understood why the group owner had deleted the post. I, too, find it annoying to be be asked to support something that "isn't there." And if I am going to give someone my email address... I want to SEE what I am actually agreeing to, not just be offered some promise of future benefits.

As always, I had a lot of items in my email this morning. Whereas I had just experienced a "tiny incident," it made me consider how much time, energy and bandwidth we often waste on "empty information," especially in these days of every more complex social media.

Of course, it's easy to just take an all-or-nothing approach and shut ourselves off by saying "I'm just going block EVERYthing in order to keep my sanity!"

But is locking out all the noise of life really the best solution?

When I look at all the email I wade through, it is frequently overwhelming, and I sometimes wish we were back in simpler times with less information. On the other hand, I have to confess that there's lots of marvelous stuff I would never have learned about or experienced if I'd just applied a wholesale "nothing for me" approach.

For the Highly Sensitive Person, what really matters is finding balance, not shutting yourself off to all forms of external noise. And that means we do have to take the time to decide what is really meaningful and allowing those things in.

I still meet HSPs who fiercely state that they "don't do Facebook" with fiery determination... but ALL of Facebook isn't evil, per se. Like most things, there are good bits and bad bits. "Not doing social media" may eliminate that aspect of stimulation from your life, but is that necessarily ideal?

To that end, I am reminded of one of my Teachers of many moons ago-- I was attending a workshop, and the discussion somehow ended up on our social lives and connecting with people. A number of people commented that they felt like recluses and that "nothing ever happened" in their lives. The teacher then asked what they were doing to create a better social life. There was generally silence. In the end, he made the point that in life-- be it 3D social, or with managing social media, or with general experiences and adventures-- we can't expect much of anything if we are not willing to put ourselves "in harm's way," metaphorically speaking.

And so, in the end, I may complain a lot about information overload but ultimately I feel more informed, educated and balanced as a result of allowing my own version of "filtered noise" to reach me... because some of it really does turn out to be "gold nuggets."

How do YOU handle social media? And the endless stream of information we're subjected to? Have you found a good balance? Have you created "filters" that allows the useful, and lets the useless go? 

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