Wednesday, December 30, 2009


A number of individuals take time at the end of each year to decide what they would like to accomplish in the upcoming one. I can't say that I typically do this with intent. I usually go about it with a vague idea of what I would like to change and work on it in a rather unstructured, big-picture manner. As the end of this year comes to a close and the next one comes upon us, I'm doing something a little different. Rather than coming up with a list of the so-called "improvements" I would like to undertake, I'm compiling a list of the current year's moments, actions and discoveries that have brought me to who I am at this point in time.

In order to look towards where we want to go, we first need to take time to examine where we've been. There are times when we seek out a piece of our past that we were fond of and discover that it has become our present. These epiphanies sneak in between the nostalgic reminiscing and the fondness of remembrance, coming over us in a rush of realization that sometimes we do indeed become our former inspirations. We can suddenly realize that the lyrics to a song we used to love perfectly describe the way our present situation has come to be. The previous version of our self related to it only through association, but we now fully realize its true meaning because we are living those lyrics verbatim. A fabricated character we used to adore can re-manifest pieces of their personality within us. A past influence can reappear down the road, showing us that our authentic self was known before we awoke to it.

Whenever epiphanies occur, they make us see what we either couldn't or chose not to. They often make us come to a screeching halt, give us the courage to take an unpredictable risk, or just simply realize that we have exactly what we need. Here are my favorite epiphanies of 2009:

Allowing yourself to be who you are is more important than trying to become who you think you want to be.

It is never too late to start walking towards an old dream.

It is okay if not everyone understands you or likes you. What matters is that you understand and like yourself.

You have the right to stand up for yourself and your perspectives.

Never apologize for being who you are.

There are never failures. There are just times when we need to be forced to take the road to our true destiny.

With some situations (and people), the best alternative is to let go and move on rather than digging in your heels and attempting to save the world.

The freedom to take time for yourself, your loved ones, your passions and creating meaning for others is more valuable than any amount of money you'll make.

Intuition should never be overruled by what appears to be safe and practical.

Never allow someone else's opinion to define who you are, influence your self worth or cause you to choose something you wouldn't otherwise.

Reinventing yourself is a part of progress and should be embraced.

Choose to spend your time and energy on what you have the power to change. Allow yourself to accept what you cannot.

Chances should always be taken and what's currently in the shadows should always be brought into the light.

"Can't" should be erased from your mindset.

Endings are beginnings in disguise.

Love has the power to overcome boundaries and never extinguishes its flame.

Talents are the gifts that you allow yourself to express.

The intangible is more profound than what can be explained.

What wasn't meant to be lost always returns.

Life is meant to be danced with.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Effects of Negative Energy and Overstimulation

Growing up, I often found myself overwhelmed with a swirl of emotions that stirred inside me. My younger version never gave a second thought as to whether those emotions were actually hers. She simply assumed that they were. Feeling the intensity was the easy part; figuring out how to handle those emotions was quite another story.

Spinning out of control on the inside is the closest description I can come up with to communicate what it feels like. You think you might be going crazy, that you're about to burst from the pressure of having to control yourself, and that it would somehow be better if you could self-destruct. The act of being destructive is a way of attempting to eradicate your present existence and its obligations. It's an escape mechanism that yearns to wipe the slate clean by extinguishing what we currently know, with no consideration for what we might consider to be valuable.

What I didn't know then was that having the trait of sensitivity means that you literally absorb the energy of what's around you. You instantly feel it so deeply that you become that energy. This "becoming" occurs not only in the moment of interaction, but long after the moment of absorbtion. The assumption, therefore, is that you are those feelings. When that energy is positive or inspirational, it can carry you into new worlds full of imagination, sunshine filled rainbows, vicarious experiences and childlike dreams full of possibilities.

The other side of transcension, of course, is that not all energy is positive. The nature of humanity includes inconsideration, jealousy, sabotage, closed-mindedness, intolerance, lies, cheating, pain, suffering, narcissim, and the pursuit of self-indulgent illusions. Sensitives can find themselves absorbing energy's darker side more readily, as we often feel the need to fix any problems we encounter. Negative energy also finds itself radiating from the fast-paced approach of today's world. Being exposed to the "let's get it done yesterday," "can't we do that better" philosophy is a source of demoralizing frustration for sensitives.

As a result, sensitives find themselves wondering if they're good enough, why they can't seem to catch their breath, why they're so irritated for no reason, and why they're running to a bathroom stall or some other reclusive place to let the tears start falling. There's also the standby of wanting to crawl into bed and sleep rather than be awake because our dreams seem more inviting than reality.

When I was an undergrad student, one of my roommates and best friends from high school, would comment on how she thought I would purposely avoid situations that involved groups of people because I was afraid of being around others. She was only half right. Many times I would decline invitations to go out with groups of friends, attend parties and gatherings not because I didn't want to connect and interact, but because I found them overstimulating and a source of mental exhaustion. The energy that I had to muster up to be "on" during my long days filled with classes and two part-time jobs was enough. When I was free of these obligations, I needed "me time," literally, to recoup. When it came time to socialize, I preferred one on one conversations, preferably in quieter settings, where I could actually listen, focus and have time and space to formulate what I wished to verbalize. Of course, trying to explain this to a non-HSP is at times daunting, if not fruitless.

Exploring the research on sensitivity has taught me that while I may still be absorbing all this energy around me, I can turn off my "I'm taking this personally" switch. You can still feel the sting, yet choose to realize that you have nothing to do with what those external forces are communicating. There's no reason to automatically go on a guilt trip, feel responsible for the world's problems, run away, or continue to watch your inner dynamite's fuse explode. There are times when sensitives will continue to do these things, but why not take a moment within these situations to let yourself breathe?

Once you stop to turn off the emotions for a brief second and call out the analytical advisor within, you'll begin to realize that there will always be people and situations that are better left to their own devices. They may not understand you or even want to. They may simply need someone to listen as some things in life require more than a band-aid. Remember that the world's negative energy and overstimulation aren't going away. What's important is that you understand yourself, know what you want and do it, regardless of what others may want you to do. And that negative energy and overstimulation? Smile as you make the decision to walk towards the world of sunshine filled rainbows.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Thing About Muses

Writers rely on more than just their own collection of thoughts, experiences and individual souls when they create. We also rely on outside inspiration that can come in a variety of forms. These sources of outside inspiration can be people, songs, films, fictional characters, memories of lucid dreams, nature, whispers from consciousness and countless other possibilities.

The thing about muses is that they don't RSVP or announce their appearance. No, muses prefer to ride in on the breeze of serendipity. You don't know when they're going to sprinkle their stardust into your fingertips. You may very well be taken in by their presence, but not realize they have seduced you into a dance until the last note is written.

The good muses, the ones who become pivotal to our creations, even our existence, return to us at least once or twice. Some of them, we discover, never really left us. The illusion that they left in the first place can leave us feeling empty, frustrated, disillusioned, and spinning in a circle of unfulfillment. We then go about looking for some sort of enchantment, a substitute, an imitation. The problem is you can't control inspiration. It comes when you least expect it.

Muses are, by their very nature, "sneaks." They're disguised, they're shadows that we don't always see, they're contained in things or faces we already think we know. They suddenly appear in moments of reflection or while we're exploring what we assumed was a new discovery.

Muses usually get what they want. A little narcissism doesn't elude them. The wrath for not complying with their wishes is typically abandonment. The jestering ones come back later, taunting us with the "I told you so's." Those of the more benevolent variety wait until you are ready for their message, softly reappearing as a whispered reminder. The ones who in time we realize are but extensions of our own souls, come whenever we call them.

These types of muses are the ones that reside within us. They're never gone, but merely silent observers when we're too busy to appreciate their wisdom, their hope and their magic. They communicate with us in ways we never thought possible. We meet them in dreams, sharing experiences that only time reveals were indeed mutual. We've known them from the beginning, somehow inexplicably. We feel their presence even when their physical form, if they happen to have one, is not before us. Their energy is recognizable only by faith and intuition. It is a familiarity that sweeps its comfort into the depths of where we think we begin as a separate being. It is a hypnotic submission which overcomes our ability to question why. We are simply in a form of obsessive attraction that owes neither an explanation or a resolution.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Change and the HSP

Sometimes we know in our hearts that we need to make changes in our lives, but we ignore the signs and the signals. There are many reasons for ignoring them the first, second, and for some of us, perhaps the sixth time around. The signal starts out soft, like a whisper. If we don't listen, the next time that signal gets stronger until it hits us over the head, sometimes literally. The signal that we finally listen to, especially for those of us who are notoriously stubborn, is the one that leaves us with no other choice. Change or no longer exist. Change because what you were trying so hard to hold onto is now gone anyway. Change because if you don't, you'll lose what's really important.

My mom has always commented on how I have a hard time with change. I'll admit, I don't do it well. I am, after all, the child that was born a month after her due date, and that was only after the doctors finally decided to induce labor. I guess I had gotten comfortable nestled there inside my mother's womb and didn't really see any reason to make an entrance into this world. In a way, the delay of my birth set the tone for the way I have found myself dealing with change throughout my life. Call it avoidance, complacency, indecisiveness, stubborness or noncompliance. Whatever the term or definition, I have often tried to find some way to delay change or run in the opposite direction from it. I mostly do this in my mind, but eventually my unwillingness to go along with the actions that whatever the change requires surfaces.

Apparently, having difficulty dealing with change is something that the majority of HSPs find themselves struggling with. I would suspect this is because, as a group, we are more cautious. We're the ones that look before we leap, at least twice or as many times as it takes before we feel somewhat comfortable. We also don't like the unknown, which is what change encompasses. If we can't be certain of how something will turn out, down to every little detail along the way, we hesitate. This is a natural part of who we are as HSPs. It is what an "advisor" does, taking the time to gather all the details, examine them thoroughly, examine them again, debate with oneself, and wrestle over which path would be best and why before making a recommendation.

Change is one of the backdrops of existence. Change is one of those areas that we could stand to learn a thing or two from our non-HSP counterparts. Change is the arena where we should allow our intuition to guide us more. What I've relearned over the past four years is that our intuition usually already knows the answer. We can make all the "pros" and "cons" lists that we want, wrestle between what the heart wants and what the mind says is best, ask others for their input, and then recheck those lists to make sure we didn't overlook any detail. In the end though, we still need to make a choice over which way to go, what change to make, when and how we will do it or play the "wait and see" game by doing nothing at all.

Too often we choose that "wait and see" game. We end up missing an opportunity. We find ourselves wondering years later why our dreams are still concepts rather than actualities. We find ourselves in situations, jobs or relationships that our gut told us not to pursue, but we did it anyway because our mind concluded it was the safest choice. Change requires action, courage, a willingness to trust our instinct and not ask twenty questions until that action is no longer necessary.

HSPs go about change the same way a caterpillar metamorphisizes into a butterfly. It's a slower process that requires incubation, hibernation and a trust of instinctive nature. The end result is the ability to make the leap from one distinguishable form to another. The change is so profound that an untrained observer would not be able to recognize the correlation between the two. We are almost unrecognizable because our growth has changed us into a new form with a brand new set of abilities, reflections and possibilities. The caterpillar doesn't question why it has to spin its cocoon. It simply knows what it has to do and does it, knowing that the end result will be worth the effort. HSPs would be cheating themselves and greater society of the outward reflection of their inner beauty if they didn't allow themselves to do the same.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

HSPs and Intimacy

Intimacy and relationships are a touchy subject for highly sensitives. After all, it's one of our main achilles heels. Inside we're already at the finish line, riding through on our white horse or throwing down the rope from the tower's window. On the outside it's often a combination of the mixed signals of hesitant caution and irrefutable lightbeam reflections intertwined with soft whispers of affection.

The bridge between what can be and what is can often be a wobbly one for us, filled with many moments of taking "two steps forward and two steps back." This has certainly been my personal experience, with all types and levels. This also includes the relationship one has with oneself. To me, this is the foundation, the starting point. In order to get to know someone else, you have to know and accept your own self fairly well before you can connect. The irony in this is that we also get to know ourselves through others.

Making the decision to embark on any relationship requires a leap of faith. It involves slowly unveiling what's hidden behind the walls that we have unintentionally built. HSPs often go about this process more tentatively than others, which can be a challenge when you're involved with someone who is not highly sensitive. There are often two different sets of expectations, polar opposite perspectives, as well as different communication styles involved in the "HSP with non-HSP" relationship dynamic.

I've had the joy and challenge of experiencing this dynamic for almost ten years now (yes, we're one of those "we've redefined marriage" couples, but not in a negative sense). My personal dynamic is further complicated by the fact that I'm an introvert and he's an extravert and we're currently trying to "manage" this partnership between two states. Somehow, though, we've managed to survive our differences and our intermittent geographical distance. I'd like to think that the HSP traits of loyalty and attentiveness have something to do with that, but I can't give myself all the credit. Despite our differences, his capacity for understanding and realizing my need for independence is not a "brush-off" have also gone a long way.

Differences, especially stark ones, can often be viewed as obstacles to making a genuine and enduring connection. Yet, I've found that those differences can also be the very thing that keeps a relationship going and makes it worthwhile. It's an opportunity to develop a new perspective, teach each other a few things and complement each other as a "team."

It's critical to realize that differences and the inevitable conflict that can come from them is not always something to turn away from. Conflict doesn't mean that the relationship is not successful, that it's suddenly over and that your partner can't possibly understand you. Conflict is an opportunity to help those that have a different view of the world catch a glimpse of ours. While it may be something that HSPs are not comfortable with, learning to navigate it can be an invaluable lesson in learning that the "all or nothing" philosophy we often take isn't what a partnership is about.

A partnership is a process of rediscovering yourself through someone else's eyes while simultaneoulsy helping them do the same. It's about finding out what works, what doesn't work, and what you truly want. It's about mutual sacrifices that enable you both to receive something more important than what you gave up. It's a trying, fun and magical journey that HSPs shouldn't let their tentative nature stop them from taking; even if it involves a little rule breaking here and there.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Everyday Lessons from the Universe

For those of you who were in doubt, I have returned to the somewhat "saner" side of my brain for a moment or two. Please enjoy these random thoughts.

There is something to be said of patience. It is a somewhat elusive virtue that quite a few find themselves struggling to embody. We all want the next moment, to hurry through the present because the future holds something better.

Last evening I had the joy of waiting in a line, not once mind you, but twice, at my local Wal-Mart Supercenter. This lovely situation came about because I was in a hurry to get home from work for the day. I didn't want to stop to purchase a money order while driving back to my local distribution center, where I had to finalize my day's paperwork and transmit my day's sales activity to corporate. I was impatient to get a long Monday out of the way and get started on my homework for the evening.

For some reason I had forgotten to get a few essentials, such as toothpaste, on my routine bi-weekly shopping trip. Why I figured I could pop into a Wal-Mart Supercenter on a Monday evening at 6 pm, pick up the few items I missed and purchase my money order in a flash, I'll never know. As a former "associate" of this lovely retail establishment, who used to help manage the front end and witnessed the second shift crowds, I should have known better. Amazing what the 30 something version does not recall from her late teens/early 20's.

So, there I was, barely able to keep my eyes open after my usual 12+ hour workday, any traces of make-up long since faded from my face, and feet aching from having to stand yet again. This was my second time in line, as I had made the mistake of thinking the customer service desk, instead of the money center, could actually print that darn piece of paper that I had to obtain that day, according to corporate policy. The law of attraction was sure in play as my initial impatience magnified itself in this new situation. There must have been at least ten people in line ahead of me and there was only one employee behind the counter. I realized that my irritation and impatience were in danger of crossing over into an exhausted meltdown.

I looked around at those in front of me, while seeming to impassively listen to the young lady behind me complain about her boyfriend and the fact that she had no food in the apartment she had just moved into. Funny how being an anonymous observer allows you the chance to learn a thing or two about humanity, remind you of your not so distant past or give you the inspiration for your next story.

I began to focus on the employee behind the counter, as I reminded myself that I couldn't change the situation. Continuing to feel frustrated wasn't going to do me any favors, so it was best to let go and experience the present moment for what it was. The employee was a younger female, most likely an undergrad student at one of the local colleges here in town. I could see that she was somewhat overwhelmed underneath her determined and focused demeanor. After all, she had to take care of an ever growing line of impatient customers who either wanted money, had to send money or turn money into another form of payment. She probably had a long day like myself, filled with multiple classes and a job that paid just enough to allow her to pay a few bills and survive off the cheapest food money can buy. She probably had a pile of homework waiting for her at home and she didn't know how or when it would get done.

It wasn't too long ago that I was that girl, juggling two part time jobs, a full undergrad classload and the beginnings of adult responsibility. It was a time in my life that I was overwhelmed, overextended, yet still hopeful that something bigger than life existed out there. It was a time that I don't miss much, but that I wished I had been more patient with and not in such a hurry to get over. It was a period in my life that I should have taken more time to be a child, "smell the roses" and appreciate for what it was.

By the time I reached the front counter, the impatience that I had felt had dissipated. The situation had forced me to "slow down", look around, use sensitivity to transcend myself back in time for a reminder of what's really important, and to extend kindness, appreciation and understanding towards someone trying to do a demanding, yet undervalued job.

Impatience robs you from seeing the gifts of everyday life and the opportunities to make small differences in the lives of others. It's a stressful and insensitive road that doesn't get you where you want to go any faster than its relaxed and carefree alternative. It stops you from realizing that you should savor where you are along existence's path; it's the only time you'll get to discover and explore its worth.