Self Sacrifice Can Make You Sick

Self sacrifice is very hard to escape.

It is so conditioned into us that whether you are an HSP or non-HSP doesn’t matter. You are subject to the expectation.

Self sacrifice carried to an extreme will make you sick, emotionally and physically.

Why is self-sacrifice such a problem?

Self-Sacrifice Solves A Lot Of Problems

Self sacrifice solves so many problems:

  • if there are scarce resources, self-sacrifice ensures that there is “enough”
  • if someone is abusive, expecting self-sacrifice from victims “erases” a problem and injustice
  • if life is unfair, it is because self-sacrifice is your “lot” in life
  • if the system does not work, self-sacrifice enables us to avoid dealing with the problem
  • expectations of self-sacrifice ensure that social inequities remain in place by allocating support only to some
  • expectations of self-sacrifice maintain unequal relationships and relationships that are one-way streets. They maintain power imbalances and the status quo.

How Self-Sacrifice Affects An Individual

Self sacrifice feels devastating to the individual who experiences it. It is more than feeling like you are less than others. It is a way of appropriating the life force of one individual for the benefit of others.

For highly sensitive people for whom emotional vampires are a danger, a life of self-sacrifice can be even crueler since you are being both emotionally and usually physically exploited without any hope for reciprocity and care.

People stuck in self-denying situations often feel angry depleted and robbed of their lives.

They are right!

Self Sacrifice Destroys Relationships

Self sacrifice is culturally conditioned. That means it is expected and is often the basis of social and familial approval.

When such an arrangement is socially supported, change becomes more difficult, because the social support for change is not there. Generally, some people benefit from the arrangement and therefore will not want to end it.

A sacrificing arrangement takes away the power from the person who is sacrificing because it is in the nature of the relationships to deny the validity of any claims from the individual who is being used. That is why many people who have been in self-sacrificing situations will feel rage and powerlessness at the same time: two uncomfortable emotions and even more hurtful together.

An unequal self-sacrificing relationship is set by expectation and social custom, therefore, it is not always possible to negotiate a better arrangement, and if improvements are possible they are often hard won and hard maintained.

Without appearing too gloomy, it is important, to be honest about the deep difficulties faced by those individuals and groups whose lives have been damaged by individual, group and systemic exploitation. When you grasp and feel the intractability of racism and sexism, you can have some compassion for those recovering from those forms of discrimination.

Self-sacrifice may be physically and emotionally devastating to the victim, but it is also spiritually damaging, even more so for the perpetrator than the victim, although both are harmed, nonetheless.

Changing Your Life

Changing your life to one of healthy living and wellbeing is very challenging. It is important to treat oneself with respect during the difficult process of change.

People who seek more equal and more respectful relationships are often considered troublemakers, and misanthropes by those who gain from the inequity.

We see this resistance to change all over as our world gradually evolves to one where individuals share the world more fully. As desirable as equality is, it takes time to make a transition to an equality based life and can take a long time depending on the support that you have and receive.

As individuals recovering from racism can attest, the road to full acceptance can be a long one.

There are steps you can take to make the process easier:

  1. assess your skills and resources
  2. develop skills so that you can survive in the world
  3. determine what your basic necessities are and get them met s that you need as little as possible during the process of creating a self-respecting life for yourself.
  4. find support among people who share your desire and vision for a better way of life
  5. expect the process of change to take time
  6. honor yourself for making the journey

Developing a self-respecting life is a hero’s journey. Those who undertake it deserve compassion and respect.

What Time Pressure Costs Us

How do you feel about the time pressure of this impatient world we live in?

Personally, I hate it, yet I often feel that slow is “wrong”.

Slow means getting run off the road by someone faster.

Slow means “missing the boat” because you can only miss it by being slow.

The fast pace of our society has a life of its own. It feels like “reality” and when we drop out of the high speed movement of our economic culture it can seem like a form of death.

But if you look at it another way, our fast paced system can feel like a form of death as well.

It seems like a catch-22.

What Time Pressure Costs Us

When you have to work fast, in my experience you also have to focus. Focus is great, but under conditions of pressure, that focus becomes narrowed to whatever will enable us to create a quick result and move on to the next action or decision.

Essentially the demand for speed forces us to be short-sighted.

There is a paradox in this: being short-sighted and fast forces us to make a lot of changes, but it also forces us to seek solutions that are “accessible”, that in effect, keep us where we are, that are not really innovative or difficult. So the project that takes longer, the relationship that requires cultivation – these things often do not happen.

What does happen is actions, decision, and people that fit our time constraints but not necessarily our needs. This is one of the reasons we feel we are in a rat race or running fast on a treadmill going nowhere. Time pressure forces us into choices that keep us stuck.

The Bigger Loss

Time pressure costs us more than we realize. While we are getting through the day, the kinds of connections, moments and observations that come with engaging with each moment often elude us. We are too busy.

There are many big consequences of time pressure:

  • we live in our heads. We make decisions based on what is expedient. Our bodies and hearts do not get a voice in what we are doing. The system, after all, has its prerogatives and its demands which must be honored.
  • we lose the mind-body connection which is an important foundation of living and also of our health. Everything in our lives and experience is processed in our minds AND bodies. There is no escape. So when we live in our heads, we do not process all of our feelings through our bodies and become stuck and sick. Our bodies feel dragged down and we feel that we are dragging them along with us rather than living fully from them.
  • we are unable to really connect. Do you ever wonder why ideology is so entrenched? When people live in their heads and go too fast, they do not have time for human connection. So they relate from political ideas or entertainments or recreational activities but not usually to each other.
  • we lose our creativity. A fast time-based system particularly a mechanistic one prefers continuity and consistency to creativity. Novelty and some innovation that serves the system are allowed but not the full-bodied creativity of an awake human being.
  • we lose our part and place in the universe. We are creative human beings. So when we cannot rock the boat by being creative then we lose our basic nature to a cultural and economic construct.
  • we lose our common ground because we are each of us competing cogs in a machine rather than collaborating co-creators of our world, a way of thinking that honors us better.

Letting Go Of Time Pressure

Letting go of time pressure is hard to do. Slowing down can seem like a luxury.

However, particularly for highly sensitive people it is a necessity because it is the only way we can give rein to our creative natures. It is also the only way we can minimize the stress that comes from being highly sensitive and taking in all of the stimulus that we take in.

So embrace the eternal present! Luxuriate in it and honor your creative talents for the benefit of all.

HSP Toolbox: Daily Journaling

Highly sensitive people tend to be empathic by nature, but focusing on the wants and needs of others can sometimes result in self-neglect. Unexpressed thoughts or feelings can lead to stress, anxiety, and poor health. However, expressing yourself does not mean you have to confide in another person. The simple act of writing on paper gives you an outlet for your inner life and protects you from reactions or criticisms that a person might have. Journaling might seem like a daunting task, but if you keep your expectations low, you can create a safe place for honesty.

Daily Journaling

You do not have to be a great writer or have nice penmanship to benefit from this activity. You just need to be honest with and compassionate toward yourself.

  1. Necessary tools: a notebook and a pen. I encourage you to write, not to type. You could do this activity with a word processor on your computer, but the act of writing by hand discourages self-criticism and impulsive editing.
  2. Write two pages in long hand, front and back. The ominous tick of a timer can interrupt the flow of your thoughts onto the page. By setting a goal to write until you’ve filled up two pages, you’re free to take as much or as little time as you need.
  3. Do not censor or editYour inner critic will want to scratch out a poorly worded sentence. Your mind is not subject to readership.
  4. Be honest. Your inner empath will refrain from saying what you really feel (i.e. “My neighbor is so rude for blasting the music at 2 AM.”). No one will see these pages but you. You can’t afford to lie to yourself.
  5. Keep writing. Even if you have nothing to write about, then write: “I have nothing to write about.” Keep the physical act of writing going no matter how pointless it seems.
  6. Do it daily. Committing to daily journaling is for your wellbeing. You do it daily because you deserve to be honest with yourself daily. You deserve to say exactly what’s on your heart and mind. You deserve to put yourself first for two pages a day.
  7. Be mindful. Over time, you will notice subtle changes in your self-awareness and mood. Take note of the themes in your writing and how your issues resolve through pen and paper.

You can combine this activity with a breathing meditation to create a healthy ritual to start or end your day.

Separating Ambition And Greed

Ambition and greed are often thought of as the same thing.

They are not easy concepts for highly sensitive people and can be a source of pain and unhappiness.

Greed does Not Work For Highly Sensitive People

Greed does not work as a life strategy for most highly sensitive people. Part of the reason is physical because it requires a lot of energy directed toward personal gain. Another reason is our natures. We see the dehumanizing side of greed and the destruction of animals and natural resources that is required to sustain greediness. A third reason is that it is our nature to reflect before we act.

We take in so much information that we have a high need to process what we take in and understand it before we leap to conclusions or take action. It helps us to be in integrity with ourselves. Our natures and natural processing style slows us down which means that we cannot do greed very well.

The Effect Of Structural Greed On Highly Sensitive People

Structural greed which is what capitalism is has a significant social effect. Whenever a culture structures itself to achieve an objective it then elevates the values that support it. When a culture is oriented toward making money, then greed becomes a positive value in the culture. Those who manifest the desired value advance in the culture and those who do not fall behind at least in economic terms.

That would not be so bad if social safety nets existed.  Unfortunately, in greed-based societies, they often do not, which means that you either participate in the money-focused structure or you struggle to survive. Many highly sensitive people struggle to survive.

Greed Energy Is Different From Ambition Energy

Greed and ambition are very different energies. Greedy energy is built on fear of not having enough or being enough. Greed is a grabby energy and has a competitive social view. Greed is short sighted. It seek to maximize short term pleasure. Greed energy is hoarding since you can never be certain about survival in a competitive world. Greed is a lonely world view. Each person under its spell is essentially on his/her own.

Ambition is a very different energy. Ambition is for something or someone. Ambition requires some kind of improvement because all ambition seeks some kind of benefit. You cannot be short sighted and be successfully ambitious because ambition requires a long term effort to become fulfilled. As a result, ambition develops a different set of abilities.

The Benefits Of Embracing Ambition

Ambition is a way for us to release our natural positivity into the world. It is a way to take our place and to serve the evolution of the world. Where greed is primarily grabby, to be ambitious we need to take stock of ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses to identify our unique potential contribution to the world.

Ambition requires that we develop ourselves and work at turning our raw potential into something that becomes useful to ourselves and others. It requires sustained effort and commitment in a particular direction over time. Ambition is an enhancing energy. It creates something new and therefore is a part of our evolution. Greed is depleting. Ambition adds.

Ambition For HSPs

Ambition can be embraced by highly sensitive people. Naturally we have to choose to direct it in a way that works with our values, however, it is a wonderful way for us to work with all the insights we gain from being highly sensitive and direct them in a way that offers something new and beneficial to the world.

Ambition in health, the arts, and other humanistically oriented disciplines lets us work slowly to develop our ideas and lets us be who we are. As numerous researchers have found, it takes a long time to become good at anything. 10,000 hours, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers, and discussed in this recent article in the New Yorker, is a requirement to realize significant ambitions.

The more complex our world the greater our need for people who are ambitious enough to tackle subjects that require ambitious commitments of time and energy. Being ambitious is a great way for highly sensitive people to put their natural depth to work and also a great way to turn our ruminating into something positive. Ambition is not about greed; it is about serving the larger good. As a result, it is perfectly suited to the highly sensitive among us.

Those Pesky Boundaries

Fuzzy boundaries?

Boundaries are one of the biggest challenges facing highly sensitive people.

They can be a source of aggravation and unhappiness.

There are many reason why boundary issues are a problem for us, some having to do with us and others having to do with the world.

It would help if we could get a handle on them.

Why Boundary Issues Are Different For Highly Sensitive People

Boundaries are personal and impersonal.

When we stop eating because we are full, we are responding to a natural boundary.

When we are on time for an appointment we are respecting a social boundary.

When we stop our car at a stop sign we are responding to a societal boundary.

Those boundaries are fairly easy to deal with.

Then there are the others.

These are values and identity boundaries that create all sorts of problems.

An identity boundary would be the one on same sex marriage that is being challenged and overturned.

A values boundary would be one about war, or greed. Values boundaries show up in the priorities we set.

Setting boundaries is different for HSPs. Highly sensitive people often have humanitarian and compassionate values that conflict with the world around them. Their physical needs are greater and therefore they will have situational challenges in setting boundaries.

So what can we do about this?

Step 1: Know Yourself And Your Needs As A Highly Sensitive Person

This first step in creating boundaries is to make some time to consider your needs and ideas.

You need to create a way to confidently handle boundary issues. When you have that map in your mind, you will be able to handle conflict in a way that works for you and hopefully the other person, whether they are highly sensitive or not.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. what are my most cherished and essential values? Being clear about your values helps you identify good choices which is important for HSPs. Values are the core of your boundary strategy and what you most need to honor.
  2. what are my most important priorities, including the priorities you have to have because you are highly sensitive? It is easier to respond effectively to others, when you are respecting your most important priorities.
  3. what is non-negotiable for me? Non-negotiable items are related to your values or conditions in your life like your health. For highly sensitive people, their need for frequent breaks to manage stress is critical.
  4. what can I be flexible about?  This can be a difficult question for HSPs. When we are too flexible we run the risk of wearing ourselves out.
  5. how do I typically handle trade-offs? Do they usually work for me or not? There is nothing wrong with making sacrifices, but if they are too frequent they can leave you feeling resentful and burned out.

When considering how you want to handle boundary issues, think about all aspects of your life and your needs. Then consider your environment to create the most workable solutions for yourself and others.

Step 2: Plan Strategies For Difficult Situations

We all have challenging boundary situations.  When you are highly sensitive your different values can make boundary issues more uncomfortable. However, you can help yourself a lot if you do your homework and some planning. Here are some planning considerations:

  1. identify the boundary situations that are most difficult for you.
  2. notice when you feel you have no ground to stand on during a conflict. Is it because your values are different? Is it because you feel disrespected? Do you have trouble with someone else’s sense of entitlement?
  3. notice when empathy is a problem for you.
  4. when you start to feel manipulated? Is it when someone is unhappy? or complaining? Is it when someone makes decisions for you? or has expectations that are never discussed or explicitly agreed to? Does someone take your things without asking? Notice when you are being treated dismissively.
  5. when you are uncomfortable taking action? Is it when someone is very sarcastic, dismissive, or contemptuous? Who do you have a hard time challenging?
  6. do you have challenging situations that lend themselves to a direct one-on-one approach or perhaps more indirect strategy where you need to have a group on your side to effect change.
  7. identify when you need to treat yourself as important as everyone else and may not.

Step 3: Develop Your Strategy

As a general rule, most people want good relationships as much as you do. Most people are not looking for unnecessary conflicts.

If you respect others and their concerns, they will likely do the same. Therefore when you are willing to listen to the another person, it is common courtesy that do the same, and you are entitled to expect the same in return.

It also helps to be in a constructive frame of mind. When you ask questions of the other person you can then offer suggestions, alternatives or even substitutes for what is being asked of you.

If I were to create a formula for a boundary setting process it would be:

  1. establish a positive intent. “I love how my blouse looks on you…”
  2. state a concern.  “That blouse was a gift and is important to me.”
  3. ask questions if necessary. “We need to figure out a holiday schedule.  What is your situation and do you have any ideas?”
  4. ask for what you need in a way that respects the other person.  “I like to help when I can but I need for you to ask if you want to borrow my things.”
  5. get agreement. ” Does that work for you?”

Successful problem solving is a combination of respect and creativity.  When you combine both, your chances of a positive outcome increase.

Step 4: The Tough Cases For Highly Sensitive People

When you have a difficult or stubborn situation, it can help to come up with way to change the existing dynamic. This can be challenging for highly sensitive people because we are often seeking results that are not the norm.

Here are some possibilities:

  1. change the other person’s perception of your value. Most HSPs are devalued so you may need to develop some skill in promoting your interesting ideas.
  2. change the social dynamic. Sometime you can ignore someone who is being difficult. In some situations you may need to insist that someone become more reasonable.You can also use humor to loosen people up when they have dug in their heels. Laughter works wonders.
  3. you may need to throw in the towel. Perhaps you have heard the story about the villagers who caught a monkey by putting peanuts inside a coconut shell. The monkey found and grabbed the peanuts in the shell. He wanted to hold onto the peanuts but could not run away from the villagers at the same time. All he had to do was let go and he would have escaped. Sometime letting go is best. It creates space for new ideas to develop and head to cool.

Step 6: The Key To Boundary Happiness

I believe that the key to boundaries and good relationships lies in being in a constructive frame of mind. When the people around feel valued and appreciated, they will be in a positive frame of mind when working with you.

It also helps to have a sense of humor and to be creative.

Highly sensitive people can have a tough time with boundaries. Our empathy can make us too helpful, and stress and fatigue can overtake us easily. We have to take our natures into account but we also can be afraid that we will then be rejected. Sometimes we have to stick our toe in the water a little at a time to find arrangements that work for us.

When you are willing to do so, you are not just taking from others, but you are enabling yourself to be at your best which is a way of giving to others. Hopefully thinking that way will make the risk seem worth it.



Duality And The Mastery Of The Exquisite


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 a 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 the tension of 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?

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.

Easy Steps On How To Keep Perfectionism From Running Your Life

Do you ever feel up a tree because you are imperfect in a world that wants perfection? Have you ever wondered why many people around you want and expect perfection Does perfectionism drag you down? Does it feel like a constant unhappy nag? Most of us feel that way some if not all of the time. It is a serious subject with serious consequences that deserves serious consideration.

What Is Perfectionism?

Perfectionism is a way of thinking and a way of living. It is the idea of living up to very high standards or ideals.  There is nothing wrong with having ideals, but they are always unattainable.

Ideals actually have a fatal flaw. They are static ideas in a world is constantly changing. That means that they demand to be met irrespective of current conditions. Impossible ideals about strength, fame, money, youth and beauty drive many people – even to their own destruction.

Ideals are a way to beat ourselves and each other up and under these circumstances, the ideals are more important that the person striving for them. The ideals become an end unto themselves and striving for them can be harmful to the individual. Often we believe that we need to be perfect to survive and if we received that message when we were young it may have been real for us.

Where Does Perfectionism Come From?

The idea that we can be perfect and live perfectly is an old and persistent idea.

Our early ancestors with their limited knowledge ascribed reasons to things that they did not understand. Often when events occurred that were undesirable or tragic, the reason was felt to be a flaw in ourselves. Even natural events acquired a human cause and sacrifices were made to prevent natural disasters.

Although the human race has survived, the idea of perfectionism has not died out in spite of our improved knowledge about cause and effect.

My hunch is that today’s perfectionism comes from an old idea in the child that by being perfect, he or she can gain a parent’s love or improve the chances of survival. This idea is promoted by parents, religious and social structures and an economic system that uses our hurt feelings about not being perfect enough to manipulate us into buying what we don’t want to need in order to be accepted.

Why Perfectionism Is Cruel

How perfectionism is played out on the human stage is cruel. It is cruel because it punishes us for something beyond our control. All humans are imperfect. We cannot not be human. We cannot know it all.  We cannot have all skills.  We cannot anticipate everything. And no one else can either.

It pits one against another in some kind of beauty or performance contest that has little value or necessity. We are human beings not human performers, so treating another as a performer is dehumanizing.

How To Get A Handle On Perfectionism

Perfectionism is life destroying. It takes us say from life with impossible demands. It destroys our spirits with its ridiculous expectations.

I have noticed that perfectionists tend to demand an ideal without considering what meeting the ideal will require in time, energy and resources. Under those circumstances, failure is virtually guaranteed. It actually creates an illusion of failure. It is important to realize an essential component of perfectionism is the expectation of an ideal situation as a constant. Perfectionism is essentially unresponsive to life and living because it is inflexible.

The best way to get a handle on perfectionism is to recognize that it is an escape from life. Life has many events, situations, different challenges and types of people. Perfectionism denies that reality. A perfectionist demands that all of life relate to him/her on his or her perfectionistic terms. The perfectionist is a taker and does not relate to life.

If you want to get rid of perfectionism in your life, you first need to

  1. be able to identify it. Look for rigidity, impossibly high standards and unrealistic expectations.
  2. identify where it exists in your life
  3. notice how much perfectionism exists in you, your family and friends, your type of work and work environment.
  4. notice when someone implies that you are at risk for being less than perfect.

Now you can see the scope of the perfectionism in your life and start to work on it. Here are a couple of ideas:

  • start setting limits on unreasonable expectations. Start to say that you need more of (time, resources, skills, help etc.) to get a job done.
  • start putting your health first. Health needs to trump any ideals.
  • evaluate your relationships to see which serve you, which need change and which are damaging. Take appropriate action.
  • if you have children make sure they see the good in themselves and that it is enough. It will inoculate them against perfectionism.
  • notice all the good in yourself. It will keep you from being susceptible to the unrealistic demands of perfectionists.
  • think of idealism as a waste of life.  In what ways does it take you away from the best uses of your time and energy for yourself and others.

This should get you started.  I would suggest journalling as a way to help you heal from and change the role that perfectionism plays in your life.

Above all, cherish your brief time on this planet.

The Importance Of Fatigue

Listen to your fatigue.

Exhaustion is an important message from our bodies, emotions, and spirits. Western thinking and cultural practices treat fatigue, at best, as an inconvenience. Such thinking is a mistake and particularly problematic for highly sensitive people.

What Fatigue Does For Us

All living things need renewal to be healthy.  If we do not make time for renewal, we are depleting and ultimately destroying ourselves by ignoring a natural part of the life cycle.

Unfortunately, we humans have been operating this way with ourselves and the environment for a long time as if people and the environment are simply part of a larger factory system. One of the consequences is the growing numbers of sick people on the planet.

Highly sensitive people are fortunate to be holistic, not linear or mechanistic thinkers. But HSP’s need to protect themselves from the linear, mechanistically organized world of production capitalism which is destructive for their health.

On a personal level, most of us can cope with a certain amount of fatigue and not feel too debilitated.  We may not be at our best, but on occasion, that may be an acceptable compromise. However, how we handle that short-term fatigue can have serious impacts.

Most short term solutions for fatigue are nothing more than one form of stimulant or another:

  • stimulants like coffee and sugar snacks throw the body further off balance, and create a temporary boost while depleting us later. It’s a kind of deficit spending for the body.
  • working harder is another often used approach. Many people have to work long hours that are not really suited to their natures. One Ayurvedic doctor told me that working six hours a day was considered far superior for health and more natural for us than our current culture of long hours and 24/7 availability.
  • distraction can help us pump ourselves up. Loud music and entertainment can create a high of sorts but it is mentally induced, not actually restful and may negatively affect the nervous systems of highly sensitive people.
  • food is a frequent choice for helping with fatigue and actually a rational one since food supports our health and ability to function. Unfortunately, one of the challenges extremely busy people have is that much of our food supply is processed and full of all sorts of chemicals as well as corn syrup and other ingredients that increase weight and act as stimulants to the body. Fatigue can therefore contribute to weight issues. Processed food also increases the clogging of our bodies that Ayurveda calls “ama”, the creator of imbalance and disease.

Fatigue is important information that needs to be listened to. From a process point of view, it can provide valuable information about how to manage ourselves and our work that can support long-term effectiveness. It can help us learn how to pace ourselves. All of the unhealthy ways we have of handling fatigue in the short term affect our perseverance and staying power in the long term, because they take a weakened state of being tired fatigue, and make it worse.  Over a long period of time, inevitable chronic problems will develop.

Ayurveda takes a different approach to healing exhaustion – it recommends strategies based on the type of fatigue: mental, emotional or physical. MAPI, the premier US site for Ayurveda has a great article on Wiping Away Fatigue and offers some tips and case histories of how some individuals were able to recover from fatigue.

Highly sensitive people have an additional problem in that their sensitivity and conscientiousness will add to their work burden and make them more easily tired. An HSP with stress or other disorders will have even greater chances of becoming tired easily. By taking poor fatigue handling strategies off the table and working with the body’s nature, HSP’s start to level the playing field on fatigue management.

Because of their sensitivity, highly sensitive people have a chance to let fatigue become a wonderful early warning sign for them to protect their health and enable them to be at their best.

To learn more about your body type or dosha:

I Love My Cat’s Life

I adore my cat and how she lives.

I have often wondered why the way we live is so different. So many people think animals are not as smart as we are but I remain unconvinced.

I see the soul in her eyes, the living being that is no different. My cat takes life in stride. Why is that so hard for us?

Taking Life In Stride: A Piece Of Cake For A Cat

Many sages talk about the importance of just being. Being is the state when you are in the moment without a need to make something out of it, prove anything, or be anybody. Being is a state of oneness with the universal life force. It’s a state of is-ness.

My cat is good at being. With being comes a total lack of self doubt, that I as an HSP love. She doesn’t have to be somebody and she knows that this world is hers as much as mine. There is no question in her mind about her right to be here.

My Cat Has Status

In all honesty, my cat has status. She has a ridiculous number of pet beds around the house that she cycles through to select her favorite spot of the moment. She climbs under the covers at night and has the first choice of where to sleep. She has my lap to climb onto when she wants some reiki energy.

Kelly tells time: when I should get up and when I should go to bed.

Keeping On

Kelly has only one working eye and a poorly healed broken pelvis, so we go for walks with her in her harness and coat. She doesn’t love it, but we make it work. We got her as a companion for our cat Socrates who has since passed away. She came with her health issues since she had been dumped after a serious accident. And we are lucky to have her.

Kelly is very dainty and girlie, the only girlie cat I have ever had. Socrates was definitely a macho man.

Every day we go outside several times. We start at 5:30AM when we go outside to say hello to nature. Kelly  sniffs around the garden to check out who may have visited our turf during the night. We feed some of the feral cats that live in the woods who now come to greet us when we come out of the house. One of them, a large black and white female cat especially loves Kelly, and runs over to her and loves on her. Kelly is not always thrilled. We have nicknamed Kelly, the Celebrity of the Backyard, and the other cats her Paparazzi.

At Home

She doesn’t need money and things, so there are no transactions going on. She meets her needs, and enjoys the day.

What else is there?I admire the way she lives each moment with no drama. Like all animals she can be afraid, but she doesn’t seem to have a lot of anxiety. There is no adversarial relationship between the world and Kelly.

She is at home. In being so at home, she teaches me to be the same.

She is a treasure to me.

I am very grateful to have her to teach me how to live.