Embrace Your Inner Troublemaker!

Maria HillEmotional And Mental Health, Personal Development, Stress6 Comments

Being a troublemaker is not something we necessarily associate with highly sensitive people, those gentle souls who are loath to hurt others.

The label, troublemaker, is not something that we usually generate for ourselves either. It is usually conferred by others when they encounter something uncomfortable in themselves courtesy of another person.

Have you ever been called a troublemaker or treated like one?

Highly Sensitive And A Troublemaker?

Highly sensitive people are usually very conscientious, cautious, perceptive and empathetic.

Highly sensitive people often see what others cannot because they operate from an atypical perceptual reality. When people think differently, many assume that is is an ideological difference that is being expressed. In the case of HSPs, however, what is being expressed is a biological difference.

Highly sensitive people have nervous systems that absorb all the stimulus and energy around them. Their nervous systems are like sponges, which makes them uncomfortable and other people as well. Highly sensitive people notice when someone is uncomfortable, sad or angry no matter how much someone attempts to hide their feelings. They notice when something is not working very well, differences in perception and reality, mistakes of judgment and an other energetic event.

Highly sensitive people necessarily have values that support their sensitive natures including kindness and fairness. They are able to see the pitfalls in a competitive social structure and are unlikely to support the destructive aspects of it.

People who do not understand the highly sensitive nature may feel uncomfortable around HSPs and even think of them as troublemakers.

Characteristics Of Troublemakers

Why would anyone be labeled a troublemaker? Aren’t we all in this together?

The label suggests that there is something to protect against. It suggests that the group is dependent on the existence of certain behaviors, beliefs and ideas to sustain it. It also suggests that we each of us have the job of protecting the group, that protecting the group is one price of membership.

Troublemaker is a social label. Who gets the label?

Troublemaker is a social label. Who gets the label?

  • people who belong to another social group
  • people who look different
  • people with different customs and social habits

Those are just superficial reasons for labeling someone a troublemaker or potential problem.

There are deeper ones:

  • people who think differently
  • people with different values
  • someone kind and empathetic in a culture that is not
  • someone who notices disconnects
  • someone who notices that which is overlooked, devalued and deferred
  • someone who notices imbalances and inequities
  • someone who notices a need for change

When Awareness Is A Liability

When we are young we take in everything around us. We may not understand it, but we take it in nonetheless. In particular we take in what is supported and what is not. We usually then adopt the supported behaviors and reject unsupported ones. This is how we survive. In fact we have to. When people wonder why prejudice survives this is why: each generation learns the accepted attitudes of their social group and rejects the unaccepted ones including the prejudices towards different kinds of people.

For highly sensitive people, the situation is not so easy. Our perceptual system is different so we cannot help but think and feel differently. We will also notice that our perceptions are often not supported and that will leave us with a quandary about what to do and think. It may increase self-doubt, cause depression and leave us feeling lonely. We will feel our conflict with our social group and not know what to do:

  • Do we speak our truth?
  • Do we say nothing when we know something is wrong?
  • How can we live in our authenticity when we are so at odds with others around us?

When we go along with the group we may compromise our integrity. When we live our truth we may be labeled a troublemaker.

It requires a lot of learning to know when to speak and when not to, how to support healthy change without being alienating, and how to b respectful and also disagree.

These are important challenges for highly sensitive people whose wisdom the world needs and needs to be able to accept. We may be labeled troublemakers sometimes but we are far from it.

Duality And The Mastery Of The Exquisite

Maria HillCreativity, Emotional And Mental Health0 Comments

Everyday We have to choose whether to feed our good side or our evil side. Choose wisely. #YinYang #GoodVsEvil #Duality #conscience.Source: Flickr

Duality is something that many of us embrace as a way to develop perceptual sophistication.

You know…
…love vs. hate…
…light vs. dark…
…yin vs. yang…
…good vs. bad…
…masculine vs. feminine…

It’s a start!

Duality Can Be Like Fool’s Gold

Discovering duality can be exciting. It is a way to start to grapple with the world.

We can see differences and we have a way to think about them.

We have a way to make sense of what we see and feel.

We are in control!

Too many people treat duality as the last word on reality when it is really just the tip of the iceberg. It is not the last word in our quest for perceptual honesty and truth. It is only the beginning.

Duality Is A Window

Duality is like a window. It is a way to begin to understand differences.

But differences are not fixed. They exist in relation to other characteristics and contexts.

So duality is not a way to understand something concrete. It is how we begin to understand factors that are always changing.

Duality gives us an opening to learn about and understand the energy of differences.

It lets us be with differences so that we can begin to understand their value.

Light is not just one value, and dark is not just one value. Each offer us many rich variations and different levels of opacity, intensity, and subtlety.

When we engage with dualities we can begin to see what we miss.

Holding The Tension Of Dualities

The creative process provides us with a tension between what we want and where we are currently.

When we hold the tension between the two, possibilities then show themselves to us.

The same is true with dualities.

When we hold light and dark together in our attention, then they start to evolve. They move together, they dialogue, they may argue. They beome active.

Meeting The Exquisite

Holding dualities creates a movement to the middle.

It allows something to emerge. That something is a place that works, where the two elements are not just in balance but where they are the most effective, where they bring out the best in each other.

Holding the tension of dualities helps you find a sweet spot between them. It is a tool to help you hold the tension in conflicts and let solutions find you.

Finding solutions and where dualities are able to meet and work together reveals a sweet spot: a place where you an feel something fall into place.

It’s a place which feels right, a place where everything feels in sync.

When you find it, it feels like you have bumped into something exquisite. It is better than harmony and it is better than compromise.

It is the sweet spot, the exquisite feeling that comes from dualities coming together in the right way for the right reasons.

It is one of the best feelings in the world.

 

Do You Suffer From Emergency Mind?

Maria HillEmotional And Mental Health, Personal Development, Stress4 Comments

Do You Suffer From Emergency Mind? - Sensitive Evolution Blog

Emergency (Photo credit: Tax Credits)

When we afraid everything around us looms large and chaotic.

Lately though it seems that fear has become the norm and we are living in a perpetual state of emergency.

Perhaps it has always been this way but I am noticing something else at work that needs questioning.

Emergencies Are Not Innocent

Emergencies have become a way of life for many of us.

Notice our entertainment. They are mostly about emergencies. Whether depicting our health care system, focusing on national security, or relationships, many of our movies and television entertainments are based on the idea that life is an emergency.

Of course, we have some emergencies – some of the time.

However, I think we need to ask why emergencies have become the norm for our lives. It seems to me that we have been suffering from emergency creep for a long time, and now emergencies have reached a critical mass to the point that we may not recognize life without them.

Emergencies are not innocent. They take huge amounts of energy and resources. When they occur, they replace any other priorities. A continual state of emergency is a great way to control the social and even political agenda of a family, community and society.

The Consequences Of Emergencies

When an emergency is over we are often poorer for it.

If we have a hospital emergency we certainly understand the enormity of the bill, even if paid by our insurer.

When we have major storms, it is obvious how much damage is done to the physical plant of a community but also how disruptive of the ives of the people affected it is.

It takes no imagination to grasp the horrendous losses created by wars.

Occasional major emergencies create small disruptions.

Large and continuous emergencies do much more:

  • they make it impossible to plan. What is the point of planning anything if those plans will be destroyed by the next emergency.
  • they create a situation where people lose planning and life creating skills.
  • they consume resources that would be allocated differently without the emergency. Sometime they even take basic necessities. When you are taking care of an emergency, you may need to neglect rest and healthy food. If you do so as part of an emergency lifestyle, then you will end up sick and become an emergency yourself.
  • as people who have studied evolutional psychology will tell you, war stops all growth. So if you want to keep a people down, start a war or other major emergency. They keep people from thinking beyond surviving for the day – day in and day out..
  • they consume everything around them. The giant sucking sound that we have been hearing for a long time is the sound of emergencies taking over our lives.

Emergencies And Highly Sensitive People

Emergencies can be particularly damaging for highly sensitive people. Not only are they intense and overstimulating situations, but they are exceptionally harmful as a lifestyle.

Highly sensitive people are unlikely to make emergencies their chosen way of life because:

  • the continual adrenaline rush is very damaging to us.
  • we already suffer from stress. Emergencies are stressful situations on steroids.
  • it feels like a superficial way of living
  • emergencies do not bring out the best in us.
  • stress is so debilitating that we will not be able to work in a constant state of emergency
  • they do not use our best attributes: our intuition, insights, wisdom and creativity.
  • we cannot sustain them.
  • we do not want to sustain them

It is unfortunate the degree to which emergencies dominate our lives.

Highly sensitive people cannot afford the effects of continual crises. They are damaging in too many ways.

HSP’s are wise to notice emergency creep and work to minimize it in their lives.

Starved For Passion? Top 10 Passion Killers For The Highly Sensitive Person

Kate StefansEmotional And Mental Health, Personal Development6 Comments

Many say that the opposite of love is fear. I believe that the opposite of love is apathy.

In an apathetic or indifferent state, passion flat lines and numbness reigns supreme. A once technicolor life fades to black and white and well, what’s the point?

If I were brutally honest with myself, I would say that wallowing in apathy is an activity that has become habitual. I tend to drop into indifference when I am subconsciously starving myself with what I call passion killers. Simply going through the motions of life is excruciating not because its painful, it aches because it does not feel like anything at all.

 It’s not enough to invite passion back in. Been there, tried that.

Recovering Passion From Passion Killers

Passion killers are like weeds that take over our lives. If we want more passion in our lives, we must remove these so-called passion killers. Chances are, you may not even know that they exist. I didn’t. They hide deep in our subconscious minds and if you are a highly sensitive person such as myself, your predisposition to these passion killers may be higher than most.

The top 10 passion killers (in no particular order), are as follows:

  1. Indecisiveness Kills Passion – I am starting with indecisiveness because as highly sensitive people we tend to be vastly irresolute, and for good reason. Sensing life on a deep level allows for a more robust vantage point making choosing anything a challenge. We often have to own and  grieve the choice we do not go with which can prevent us from moving forward with any decision at all. But here’s the thing, when we do not choose, we do not get the opportunity to stand fully behind something. We live in this wishy-washy, spiritless land of letting others choose for us. We never get to discover what make our hearts race or what makes the hair stand up on the backs of our neck. We must choose something, anything; passion will follow.

  1. Competing Priorities Kill Passion – On the heels of indecisiveness comes vying priorities. We HSPs have the gift of experiencing energy on a subtle level enabling us to dream big and often. This is precisely where many of us get stuck, in dreaming mode. It means we start 10 projects and finish none of them. It’s good to dream, but not so good to be a dreamer who lacks direction and supplementary priorities. Giving part of our attention to several things at one time is a sure way to leak passion out like a sieve. Choose one priority and go all the way into it. If you are not sure what takes precedence, get quiet. Meditation or journaling are excellent yet simple ways to prioritize.

  1. No Vision Kills Passion – Having no vision crushes passion the same way having too many does. If you were ever asked what you wanted to do in life and experienced crippling shame that screamed, “I don’t know”, chances are you are familiar with this lack of vision. No vision can be correlated to an intensified outward focus. As sensitives, our heightened depth of processing allows us to be incredibly plugged in to the external world whether we want to or not. For this reason, our wants and desires tend to morph into the wants and desires of others. Of course there is no passion in this place because those wants and desires are not our own. Honing a vision begins with turning inward.  We must start asking ourselves what it is we truly want and go after it. If you aren’t sure what you want, there is no shame in that. The first step to discovering what we truly want is lurking right around the corner from what we don’t. Start there.

  1. Halfway Kills Passion – Being halfway is comparable to standing on the periphery of life.  It looks like not letting ourselves speak up fully. It comes across as  hiding, avoiding, playing out addictive tendencies and saying we are going to do something and not doing it. As someone who avoided most of her days as an emotional eater, I know firsthand how easy it is to give into cravings and hole up. I know what it feels like to be the committer who can’t commit. In a word, awful. It is so necessary that we hold ourselves accountable.  Fully showing up requires that we set goals for ourselves and more importantly, follow through. Goals give us a purpose and we NEED purpose. Making goals that are more about what we want to accomplish and less about when seems to be most effective for sensitive types. Time restraint squashes creativity , the natural home of passion.

  1. Inactivity Kills Passion – The inactivity I speak of here is not that of rest or relaxation rather it is inactivity born from fear or resistance; the analysis paralysis type of inactivity. Author Steven Pressfield writes, “Most of us have two lives: the life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.” I have found that many highly sensitive people let the strong sensation that accompanies resistance halt them in their tracks. That resistance is what paralyzes us and keeps us running to food (or whatever your addiction of choice may be). Moving through the resistance requires that we expand our tolerance for its sensation; and it’s just that, a sensation in the body. Allowing for greater sensation permits us to show up in a greater way should, and when we choose. My guess is that if you are reading this now, your desire to show up is bigger than the resistance that has been holding you back.

  1. Planning Kills Passion – This is a bit of a double-edged sword. There is a time and a place for planning. When we are in a weakened state, rigid planning is what nurses us back to vitality and allows for more flexibility down the road. You can see how this plays out for someone struggling with an illness, addiction, difficult life circumstance or major transition. Staunch care, steady regimens, and consistent routines are necessary in these scenarios. It’s when we cling onto excessive planning outside of these situations or beyond their expiration date where we fall into trouble. Our lives become too small for the limitlessness that we are. There is no room for passion to grow inside of the rights/wrongs, do’s/don’ts, and shoulds that are dictated by our plans. Let go. Let life flow in and bring with it the passion you have been searching for.

  1. Isolation Kills Passion – Apathy affects us especially during extended periods of isolation.  For HSPs this can be a loaded subject. We require solitude to digest all that we sense; yet too much solitude will throw us straight into apathy. As someone who spent much of her life isolated, I can tell you that I am still healing the parts of me that so desperately craved connection. As human beings we need to be listened to, heard and validated. When we retreat from the world because we feel too much or because connecting feels over stimulating, we begin to wither. We get lost in our minds and life becomes lackluster. Put yourself out there even though it feels frightening. Vulnerability is the birthplace for inspiration, passion, and love; all of which are found inside of connection.

  1. Perfection Kills Passion – Because highly sensitive people are processing things deeply (literally on a cellular level), we can easily see where we/others fall short.  When this becomes the measurement device for how we live our life and how others live their lives, it becomes incredibly painful. Maybe you have had the experience of being called “picky” when looking for a significant other? Or perhaps you have lost friends because they have behaved in a way that has gone against your principles? Or maybe you are someone who stands in the mirror each morning picking apart everything from your wrinkles to your stretch marks to your cellulite. I speak from personal experience in each one of these scenarios and I can tell you that exercising abrasive judgment and extreme perfectionism is a surefire way to keep passion at bay. Relaxing into our humanness is the only way to rediscover desire and it requires that we relax our gaze.

  1. Excessive Control Kills Passion – A heightened illusion of control is necessary for sensitive souls.Because we experience an uncensored version of life, there is an overwhelming need to temper its intensity. Our emotions often feel bigger than we are so we minimize them by eating over them, analyzing them, or going numb in some regard. It is in the minimizing that passion gradually disappears and life fades to black and white. Until we can welcome the vastness of our experiences to flow through us, life will continue to feel empty. Know that you are bigger than your emotions and much larger than the sensations and cravings that overwhelm you. Leaning into the enormity of all that we are will quickly create space for desire to return.

  1. Clutter kills passion – Literal as well as figurative clutter is a passion killer. Our external surroundings are definitely a reflection of our internal state. If you we are living and working in a mess, there will be no room for passion to come up. Think about it…if you have a messy closet full of things you don’t like, don’t fit, and don’t want to wear, how are you going to be enthusiastic about getting dressed in the morning? The same goes for a messy mind. If there are a thousand unchartered thoughts running around unaccounted for, how is there going to be space for true desires and inspiration to come through? Simplify your bedroom, your kitchen, your closet, and your bathroom. And by all means, meditate so that you can move beyond the thoughts that do not matter and give the thoughts that do a home. Write them down and add them to your list of goals. There is no such thing as oversimplification when it comes to rediscovering passion.

Highly sensitive people have so many ways in which they can contribute. It is unfortunate when their lives are cluttered by weeds of bad habits killing off our passionate capacity for living. It does not have to be this way. We can clear out those weeds to allow our natural passion and creativity . We are worth it!

 

A Reexamination Of Comfort Zones And Creativity

Maria HillCreativity, Emotional And Mental Health5 Comments

Being in one’s comfort zone or not seems to be a marker of all sorts of wonderful traits including creativity and progressiveness. I can even be a path to success and wealth!

I consider myself a creative person. However, I find many ideas about comfort zones, and getting out of them, to have very little to do with creativity and creating a good life for yourself.

Since I perceive quality of life something that we can and need to create for ourselves, I think that reevaluating comfort zones is a necessary step before it is possible to actually improve your life.

Distorting Comfort Zones

Current ideas of comfort zones, in particular getting out of one’s comfort zone, are very much tied to the growth model of economic progress. Getting out of one’s comfort zone appears to have become somewhat of a cultural ideal and I think that is problematic. Being uncomfortable is not necessarily better than being comfortable. It is important to be able to know when to step out of comfort zones and when not to.

Here are some reasons, a society might value having people move out of their comfort zones:

  • if our comfort zone is “bad”, we will seek continuous self-improvement. Although there is nothing wrong with learning, it is better when it is for healthy reasons rather than to live up to a cultural ideal,
  • we buy and consume more, in particular more than we need. If living in a smaller house and having fewer possessions makes sense for us, it will be demeaned in a consumption based economic system. “Enough” is just a synonym for your comfort zone.
  • it can be thought of as supporting the hypermasculine culture of Western civilization with its emphasis on markets, competition, conquest, and expansion. Nurturing and sustaining activities are mostly devalued. One example of the mindset occurs with those people who assert that they will rest when they are dead, as if rest is a waste of time.
  • if we are out of our comfort zones, we may not be true to ourselves. For example, we are out of our comfort zone when we pretend to be happy when we are not. If we do this often enough we lose access to and recognition of our real feelings and true selves.
  • if we go along with getting out of our comfort zone as a cultural model, we may not be able to identify our real values and aspirations.
  • there is more to comfort zones than the demands of a hyper consuming society.
  • getting out of one’s comfort zone is not about becoming extreme in sports or any other endeavor.
  • getting out of one’s comfort zone implies that what is natural may not be good. Should we be rude because being cordial is in our comfort zone?
  • dissing comfort zones suggests that the ordinary is not good enough. Actually the ordinary is magnificent if we can stop long enough to see it.

Getting out of one’s comfort zone can be as mindless as any other idea.

Reframing Comfort Zones

One way to get out of the trap of comfort zones is to reframe what you are doing because frankly your comfort zone is really not all that important an idea to wrap your life around. It certainly should not be a reason for doing anything.

If you make yourself present to where you are, what you want or need to do and the steps to accomplish what you need to do, how do comfort zones enter into that?

Do you need to get out of your comfort zone when brushing your teeth. Perhaps standing on your head while brushing would be out of your comfort zone, but would it be worthwhile to do so?

Perhaps you should consider sleeping standing up because that would be out of your comfort zone.

A Better Use Of Comfort And Discomfort

All absolutes are problematic, because there aren’t any. Absolutes are an illusion. So turning anything into an absolute as a guide for living life is a mistake. That includes “getting out of your comfort zone” if you use it as a measure of whether or not what you are doing is a good idea.

It is far better to use comfort to determine when something is working or not. We use it as a tool for learning and living in a healthier way.

We HSPs have the ability because we are so intuitive, creative and in touch with our feelings to notice comfort and discomfort as a way to make life work better – not as an absolute but as a tool for compassionate living.

That is really the value of discomfort and comfort and one of the wonderful ways HSPs can add a lot of value and magic to the world.

Humility And Creativity

Maria HillCreativity, Emotional And Mental Health3 Comments

Humility And Creativity - Sensitive Evolution Blog

Marlith-Flickr

Creativity and creative people are often revered especially in the arts.

Unfortunately, we often put creative people on pedestals when creativity is natural to all of us.

If we realize how important humility is to the creative process we might find that being creative is something that is available to all of us.

How Creativity And Humility Are Related

The minute you step into your creativity you are also stepping into your humility – which is actually quite wonderful when you think about it.

Creativity is a very different way of living because it is a different way of engaging with life.  It’s a process which includes

  • trial and error
  • curiosity about what we do not understand
  • openness to the many ways life can manifest.

Creativity is a natural part of us that is activated by our curiosity and sense of wonder. When we wonder, we become open to that which we do not know.

Humility has an important place in our creativity because it helps us be receptive to new information and ideas. Humility helps us wonder about how something might be different.

Creativity works best when we are open to options – not when we have the door of possibility closed. We can be more effective when we do not operate from simple, fixed answers or demands for “output” or productivity. The creative process has a life and pace of its own. We do better when we are humble enough to be in tune with its natural pace.

Creativity is evolutional and in sync with the constant evolution of people and the universe. It is about the learning and growing. When we recognize that, we can see that creativity requires that we are relaxed about it. We are going to make mistakes because we are supposed to.

The Humble Baby Steps Of Creativity

When we are in our creativity we participate in the incremental nature of life moving forward in baby steps. Those baby steps which we take with the rest of the human race become our connection with others as well as our past. The universe and the human race is a giant work in progress.

Once we realize that all we have to do is become a part of that progress, we are then free to give our best to what we do without concern for outcomes. When we become one with the ongoing invention of the universe we again move into our humility because we are not doing it alone, we have had the help of centuries of human effort and an intelligent universe.

The Challenge To Let Go Of Outcomes

One of our difficulties in letting go of outcomes is that we live in a world that measures us. We are measured on outcomes and often only outcomes.  As a result, our ability to survive can be dependent on those measurements and we can be reluctant to let go of them. To simply let go and humbly give our all to whatever is in front of us can seem dangerous.

Outcome based measurements are measurements of “productivity” or output. They are not really measurements of our creativity. So if we are creative we can be at odds with our culture if we pursue creative goals rather than quantifiable output goals. It may seem like splitting hairs, but when you are “producing” you are a cog in a wheel. When you are creating you are engaged differently, collaborating as an equal with the universe around you. Creativity engages all of our skills and abilities from both an equal and a humble place. It is a magnificent arrangement!

When you align with the creative universe you are a friend to our ongoing evolution which means to all people and creatures.  With the intention of highest possible well being for all – a humble intention – you are freer to give your all to your work and let go of outcomes.

The creative way is a humble way and a generous way. It may be hard to do but it is worth embracing since it really is the way of the universe and the way to our greatest fulfillment.