How many times have you reinvented yourself so you would fit into whatever circumstance you found yourself in – reshaped your body, your brain, moved, changed your wardrobe or hairstyle, went to the gym, joined a group, got married…? Regular living requires flexibility and some bending and twisting, but have you allowed the expectations of others to overrule your deepest desires or what you felt was right for you? Do you put others first most of the time and let yourself down? If so, how’s it working for you?
Those with strong gut instincts and good boundaries likely proceed through life more or less as planned, a little adversity here and there, but nothing to sideline for long, nothing they can’t handle. They’re flexible and able to fit in while maintaining a strong sense of self. These folks have discovered their self worth, have a plan and know how to stick by it. They have the courage to speak up, make changes, and to draw a line around their own well-being first. They found their fit. To them I say Bravo! You are inspiring and ahead of the pack.
The rest of us are doing our best with what we came here to learn, and what our own particular gifts and challenges are. Early on much of how we made choices was based on our upbringing and where we happened to grow up. Then as a young adult real life challenged our belief systems, and set us on a mission to discover who the heck we are. Many of us were not in alignment with ourselves when we chose a course of study, a job, or a spouse, and this didn’t always work out.
I would like to give love and respect here to all those with differences – race – disability – health challenges – mental illness – non-traditional gender preference – more… you rely on luck and mercy to survive and thrive. To you I say Bravo! You are inspiring soldiers on the front line, challenging the norm with your own blood.
Outside of extraordinary circumstances, what if you’ve tried everything you know and still cannot manage to find a way to be happy and prosperous, to flow with all the good life offers? For you seekers who believe there has to be more to life, as I do, the next time you get a nudge or an impulse, follow it and find the message. I wrote a post a bit ago called What’s it all about Alfie, describing the angst I felt as a young girl desperate to figure out where or if I might ever, fit in.
A friend advised that once you start looking for answers, there’s no going back. With that sage advice, I picked up where I left off forty years earlier, but this time with some life experience to fuel the work.
Since then, each moment of clarity has been worth the time and effort, and feeds the next inquiry in an almost addictive way. As each nugget builds on previous revelations, I’ve become more and more calm and at peace, and I’m pretty happy with the person I uncovered.
The expansion felt miraculous at times and I needed to take a break to process. During one of these breaks I discovered writing as one of my great passions. This means the floors don’t always get washed in a timely manner, but what the heck!
Don’t worry about where to start. Just ask Google a question about something in your life that is out of whack. Notice impulses and follow them. It won’t take long before you’re all in, and your gut instincts will never set you astray. The important thing is just to start.
Where did I begin? By chance, about 15 years ago, I caught a radio interview with Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). My gut burned with knowing as she spoke, and before long her book landed in my mailbox. I’m a firm believer that the right information comes at the right time, when we’re ready to hear it.
The HSP quiz confirmed I have all the traits except one – I can tolerate coffee (thank goodness!). Knowing I’m an uber HSP helped me to understand I was not crazy or stupid, and showed me the positives of this challenging trait. I had no idea why, as an intelligent, well educated person from a happy upbringing, I continued to struggle.
The internet became my chief resource. There’s so much information available now about HSP’s, and not just adults. I urge all parents and teachers of sensitive children to understand how it presents in kids. There are so many strategies for raising an emotionally secure and happy child.
There is also a group for Highly Sensitive Entrepreneurs to support those in private enterprise, or who might be reluctant to give it a go.
Along the way I also discovered to my surprise that about 30% of HSP’s can also be extroverts.
An HSP gathers information from their surroundings without realizing, and at a much higher rate than regular folks. We simply have more neuro receptors. Sometimes too much goes in too fast and it’s easy to become overwhelmed. It also explains why HSP’s might know something without knowing how. This is where knowledge and self awareness are critical for HSP’s in managing their special gift.
HSP’s are 15-20% of the population. If you are not one, it is likely you know someone who is, someone who melts down from time to time and doesn’t know why. You might be mystified that a seemingly “normal” event would trigger such a strong emotional response in another. It’s really an invisible disability until the HSP figures it out and can better fit in. Understanding is the way to better choices and allows the gifts to shine. An emotionally balanced HSP is an incredibly valuable leader, team member, parent, and friend.
The next tool I used to achieve insight into my particular character was the MBTI – Myers Briggs Type Indicator. The questionnaire revealed I am an INFJ – Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judger – just 3% of the population. There are 16 different personality combinations, 8 introverted and 8 extroverted. This was another huge piece of the mystery of me. Being an oddball explained all the confusion I created for myself and others until I figured it out.
My INFJ-ness continues to explain my reactions to life events, particularly if I should venture into a situation with which I am not aligned. I’m much better at managing this now. Being aware has helped me find my fit.
Finally, a big game changer came just a couple of years ago when a friend introduced me to Non-Violent Communication. created by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, a psychiatrist from California. He has several YouTube videos which walked me through the principles, so logical and easy to apply. My communication style became much more effective, both at work and socially and anxiety notched down considerably.
Books, seminars, conversations, workshops, trial and error, all have kept me looking for the next pearl of personal wisdom. I especially enjoy sharing my experience with others online and in small groups of like minded souls. As well, understanding myself better has taken confusion and upset, for the most part, out of my relationships.
Thanks to everyone who has put up with my shenanigans and stood by, as bit by bit I became a more functioning and purposeful human being. It’s not easy to live with an unaware HSP/INFJ, and I understand that now too.
If you aren’t happy with something in your life, you have the power to change. Do yourself a favor and dig in. There’s no time to waste in toleration and much to be gained by striding bravely into the muck.
I’m happy now to say Bravo! to my own brave spirit.I inspired myself and it sure is working out. Being an oddball is ok with me. The fit is brilliant and I wish the same for you.
Be well, and thanks for reading along. If you would like to leave a comment, please scroll to the bottom.