Why HSPs Have Trouble With Controlling People

If you are alive, you have met controlling people.

Controlling people can drive anyone crazy, but If you are a highly sensitive person, you may find the effect of controlling very difficult to live with.

Controlling people can certainly have that effect on me.

Controlling people will probably not understand why their behavior is problematic for you, the HSP.

Each HSP, however, needs to understand that controlling people can be very bad for their health.

Why Do People Control?

Most people only want to be happy. Many believe that controlling themselves and others is a method to achieve the desired result of happiness.

Some of the reasons people try to control others include:

  • they have low amounts of trust possible because of negative experiences
  • they think they are more competent
  • they have deep-seated prejudices about right and wrong
  • they have been taught fear
  • they perceive themselves as better and/or more “normal” than others 

Controlling people sometimes assume that others want and need what they want and need. Although we all have needs and desires in common, over-generalizing about other people is a mistake that controlling people often make.

Controlling people often treat others as an extension of their needs and desires. In extreme cases, the person is narcissistic in demanding that they be catered to.

So one reason that controlling people control is to get their needs met.

The Hidden Agenda Of Controlling People

It is fairly easy to recognize that controlling people are trying to get their needs met as we have discussed.

Controlling behavior also has a social function: to maintain their comfort level which they do by enforcing social norms and conforming behavior.

One thing I have noticed about controlling people is that they often have a wall around them. You can detect it in interacting with them. They are often guarded and measured.because deep down they are afraid. Protecting themselves from that fear can be their hidden agenda.

So if there is a conflict between a controlling person’s comfort zone and another person, the comfort zone will likely win out.

The Comfort Zone Dilemna

The controlling comfort zones of other people can be hard for the highly sensitive person to handle for several reasons:

  • we are naturally loathed to hurt others. We can feel bad when we upset someone’s comfort zone when we had no intention of doing harm. Such negative reactions over time can cause us to pull back, and doubt ourselves. We can see ourselves in an unnecessarily negative light.
  • we are sensitive to nuances which means that what we perceive to be a constructive course of action may interfere with someone else’s comfort zone. We can take on and internalize the conflict blaming ourselves and as a result cause ourselves a lot of emotional pain.
  • we are naturally creative which means our strategies may be way out of the box for our colleagues and friends. We can have a lot of difficulties navigating our creative differences with others.
  • we can be very farsighted in a shortsighted world. Our long sightedness may step on the comfort zone of people who seek short term rewards.

All of the wonderful qualities of highly sensitive people can make their relationships difficult because an HSPs talents can often lead to unwelcome change.

So what to do about this?

Letting Possibilities Guide Us

Handling fear – our fear or the fear of others  – is an important skill to master.

When we are dealing with controlling people, we can use our natural empathy to help others reduce their fear:

  • we can demonstrate the benefits of an action
  • we can offer proof
  • we can demonstrate that there is nothing to lose and everything to gain if that is the case
  • e can take the risks out of the closet, put them on the table and create a positive perception about how they can be handled.

Sometimes we can make the case for  moving out of our comfort zones. When the possibilities are attractive enough and the risks well handled, successful forward movement is possible.

What about those situations when you are not able to create enthusiasm for new possibilities?

Let Compassion Be Your Guide

There are many situations where an individual or an group is not interested in change and you have to honor their decision. Sometimes when an individual is controlling in favor of their comfort zone, they are respecting their own limits, and that is a healthy decision to make.

I think it is dangerous to assume what someone else needs or should do. Many of us require healing. The demands of healing may preclude creative activities. Or perhaps an individual simply has too much on their plate. That happens frequently as well.

It is important to honor where someone is and treat it with respect even if you do not agree and think they are wrong. You cannot force change and you might be doing harm in pushing too much. Very controlling people may have made a decision in favor of a less creative lifestyle in order to respect their personal needs.

Whenever we encourage a controlling person to let go of fear and try something new, we need to be promoting joy and wellness. We need to be supporting the agenda of our higher selves and the higher self of the other person. That may mean that we need to back off.

Highly sensitive people are lucky that their natural empathy can help them find compassionate relationship choices that can help a controlling person feel heard and loved. That is a great way to reduce fear, and helps others engage more with life.

What is a great gift to offer others!

The Gift Of Compassion From Sensitive People

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t always handle doctor’s office visits well especially with procedures involving unexpected pain. All too often, there is a sudden cold sweat followed by nausea and lightheadedness signaling I’m getting ready to faint. For the Highly Sensitive, fainting can be our ingrained response to the invasiveness of  modern medicine followed by the emotional recognition of what is actually happening to our bodies. Dramatic as it may seem, I need to avert my eyes when receiving injections lest I find myself requiring smelling salts in the aftermath.

Giving And Receiving Compassion

There is a bright spot in these experiences; whenever my face turns that pasty shade of gray during a procedure, I’m deeply touched by the compassion shown by the nurses who come to my aid. In the face of an environment where people are often at their physical and sometimes emotional worst, nursing is the profession where I encounter the highest number of Highly Sensitive people in the workplace. Perhaps everything is as it should be; our inherent capacity to feel another’s person’s distress brings with it the compassion generated from experiencing that pain first hand.

Always a remembered gift to those receiving it, compassion isn’t something which can be faked. You have it to give or you don’t. While for the Highly Sensitive extending compassion may feel like a second nature, understanding the gift of receiving it sometimes requires a bit more work.

Manny’s Compassion

Some years ago I attended a workshop hosted by author Manny Twofeathers. Manny was standing by the front door of the bookstore as I pulled into the parking lot by the front of the building. He had stepped outside to clear his head after giving intuitive readings for clients most of the afternoon. I was glad to see him again. During a lecture he had presented  few weeks earlier  regarding his experiences with the Sundance Ceremony outlined in his book My Road to the Sundance, he had shown me how to tie a prayer flag for a friend  diagnosed with breast cancer. Taking it with him when he left, Manny mentioned it would be taken to a sacred spot where he would pray for her. That was Manny; in his role as an Elder he extended compassion towards people through actions reflecting  his deep spiritual faith.

At the bookstore that evening,  Manny was hosting a divination workshop based on his latest book; Stone People Medicine. After a brief introduction where he explained the role and use of the stones and cards used in the divination process, Manny had us sit at a circular table. He sat next to me on my left. Handing me the cards and the stones, he told me to read for the woman sitting on my right in order to answer questions she had about her life. His actions startled me, I had expected that he would show us the process by reading for us. Due to my sensitivity I didn’t always like to be in the spotlight especially in front of  a group of strangers. Studying his face for a brief moment, I tried to get a read on his thoughts, but his eyes were hidden behind the deep wrinkles of his face. While I had often done one on one intuitive work for friends, I had never “read” for someone I didn’t know and the thought of it made me  uncomfortable.

Honoring The Gift Of Compassion

Manny watched silently as I consulted the stones and cards to answer the woman’s question. His only  response, when I was done was to ask her if her question had been fully answered. Thinking I was finished, I tried to hand the cards and stones back to him but he wouldn’t take them. Instead, he told me to read for the person sitting next to her. Regardless of my discomfort, the process continued. Manny directed me to read for every person at the table; finally finishing with the owner of the bookstore who was sitting next to Manny. Her reading was the hardest of all;  the divination predicted very dry times ahead, leaving me with a vision of such desolation it almost brought me to tears.

Manny continued the process by having some of the other people sitting at the table read for others.But, I had been the only one chosen to read for all. Although curious about why  he had chosen me to read for everyone, I knew it would be very disrespectful to ask an Elder about his actions. I could feel there was a bigger picture at play here and  for that I was grateful.

After the workshop had ended, I went over to Manny to thank him. Accepting my thanks, he looked me in the eye and said that my visions were very strong. That was his only comment about the workshop. One thing about the Highly Sensitive, we know instantly when someone is not being honest with us. I didn’t get that feeling as he spoke although I had a hard time believing it. In hindsight, the workshop was a turning point in my life and his words would be a source of comfort. Through those words, I began to see myself and my spiritual path in a different light; I knew I didn’t need to hide the intuitive aspect of myself from strangers for fear of ridicule or criticism.

After the workshop, I never saw Manny again. He became ill and died in a Tuscon, Arizona VA Hospital during June of the following year. In my bedroom is one of the dream catchers Manny made and sold while on the road. Due to my strong belief  in the power of our dreams I had purchased it from the owner of the bookstore not too long after the workshop. Hanging above the headboard,  it is a beautiful reminder  of our conversation. Ever silent it protects us from the images contained within the shadow side of our dreams as my  wife and  I travel the terrain of the dreamscape.

Stepping Into The Gift Of Compassion

A few weeks ago while standing in my den, I felt a strong urge to read  My Road to the Sundance over  again. Later that evening, I broke out in goosebumps when reading his words on page 65. Summarizing his insights from an experience where he felt unworthy when asked to pray for a woman Elder after one of the first Sundance Ceremonies, he wrote; ” We believe that sometimes the creator sends a helper to teach us. If she was a helper, I think her mission was to show me I was now ready to help people. In helping her, it gave me confidence in my ability to help others.” 

For the Highly Sensitive, compassion appears in many forms. We don’t always recognize it when it appears. But, the end result is always the same; we are supported through what is experienced as a mental or physical challenge. I hadn’t seen the compassion in Manny’s actions during the workshop because I was too engaged in the energy of my fears. But I saw it then and his compassion is what I’ll always remember about him.

Manny always admonished us to give something back to the world as a gesture of thanks whenever we receive anything in our lives. The law of Karma, as recognized in the ancient spiritual traditions of India reminds us that every choice made creates the landscape of our daily journeys. Both work hand in hand. For the Highly Sensitive, perhaps our naturally compassionate actions is a way of giving back to the world a taste of the  gift we have been given; a way of returning our capacity to feel deeply, to those who need it most.

7 Steps To Access Intuitive Feelings For Balanced Living

There were nine of us sitting in a circle on the floor of the bookstore that day as I began my intuition workshop. Whenever I teach people about intuitive feelings, our journey together always begins the same question:

“Tell me something”, I asked them, “how many of you feel your too sensitive and that this sensitivity hinders your life?”. Every hand in the room raised up, a few more tentatively than others.  I could see flashes of emotion cross their faces as the internal struggle between what our society defines as weakness and what their hearts were telling them began; it was that age old struggle between the head and the heart, one that highly sensitive people know all too well.

“So what you are telling me, is that my dog’s ability to hear sounds at a great distance or smell something I’m cooking in the kitchen while they are outside of the house is a weakness? “

Intuitive Feelings And Spirituality

Pushing further, I posed another question; “How many of you feel a strong urge to work with the spiritual aspects of your life, perhaps through a desire to help others but aren’t quite sure how to accomplish this in a way which is personally meaningful? Remember, that on some level we seek guidance through our spirituality; what happens if we can’t manifest that spiritual guidance with our daily actions? In other words, does your life reflect the core beliefs of your spirituality?”

I wasn’t referencing religion here; instead, y goal was to increase awareness of their spiritual values because our deepest values always originate from the heart. A trait I notice in highly sensitive people is a deep connection with their spirituality; a connection with the divine which speaks to the heart rather than the mind.

With a one last question, I pushed my point deeper; “Is your heart telling you of an imbalance between the aspects of your daily life and spiritual life? Not necessarily in words, but in a gut feeling, perhaps one felt in a dream or in moments of quiet? Maybe, you are here, sitting in this workshop, because it is time to blur the boundary between the two.” The room had gotten very quiet as my questions were contemplated. People’s moods have a tendency drop a bit whenever I ask these questions during a workshop. There’s a certain sadness felt when an imbalance between the head and the heart is illuminated.

Giving them a few minutes to be alone with their thoughts, I thought back to a time some years ago when I met a dear friend for coffee. I had spent the entire conversation lamenting the conflict between my head and my heart. My heart was calling me to work with people while my head was asking me what qualifications I had to do so. Being that I had no college degree or any sort of formal training, I could not see myself in any kind of position to teach.

Intuitive Feelings And Knowledge

Returning to the present, I continued on; “Remember that sensitivity I asked you about a few minutes ago? What if I told you sensitivity was a gift that could be used to achieve balance in your life? If you think about it, from a young age we are always taught to look to people more knowledgeable than ourselves for answers. In doing so, we stop listening to the intuitive feelings of our heart. Seeking knowledge from others who are farther down the path of life isn’t necessarily a mistake, however for highly sensitive people the mistake is made in only seeking knowledge through that path.

What your heart has been trying to tell you all these years is that there is another path; one that is internal and one that is aligned with your sensitivity. What you may consider a weakness is actually your greatest strength because sensitivity will lead you to intuitive feelings.  And intuition, will lead you to balance.”

For highly sensitive people, sensitivity is often felt through emotion which can distract us if we get wrapped up in it. Intuitive feelings on the other hand, are much more subtle. Briefly felt in the gut, speaking in a quiet voice, it defines what is meaningful in our lives; a way of knowing without knowing how we know. That day in the coffee shop, my friend  who also was a highly sensitive person, challenged my viewpoint regarding my lack of formal education by pointing out sensitivity was something which could not be taught and was key to working with people. Without it she said, we were simply going through the motions.

In learning to listen to, and work with your intuition, you need to view everything in your life as energy. Highly sensitive people already have a natural gift for feeling the energy of the environment and emotions of the people around them. By taking it one step further and using your intuition to gauge how this energy is affects you, allows you to make better decisions in the areas of mind, body and spirit. The easiest way to access intuition is by “checking in” and seeing what your gut is telling you. Concentrate on the area just behind your belly button for any physical reactions which may be followed by a quick non-judgmental thought or image in your mind.

Exercises For Accessing Intuition

As the workshop continued I outlined an easy way to work with our intuition on a daily basis by outlining what I call the “Seven Steps to Intuition” which allows us to use intuition on a daily basis, one for each day:

  • Monday – Making decisions; check in each time you are faced with a decision. In which direction are your gut feelings steering you?
  • Tuesday – Relationships; check in and see how your body is reacting to the energy of the people around you. Do they energize or drain you?
  • Wednesday- Health and Well Being; check in and see how your body is reacting to the choices you have made for optimal health.
  • Thursday – Diet; wait half an hour after you eat and then check in. How is your body and mind reacting to the foods you ate? Food has the potential to affect us as strongly as the medicines we take.
  • Friday – Quieting the Voice of Opinion; sit quietly for 5 minutes and observe your thoughts. Are they constantly passing judgment on the world around you? That judgment is the voice of ego or the strict parent in our lives. Check in and ask your intuition if these judgments are necessary in your life.
  • Saturday – The Art of Listening; as you converse with someone, check in and see what your intuition is telling you. Is the person being truthful or trying to manipulate you? This can be a very effective tool during business meetings with new clients or vendors.
  • Sunday – Listening to the Voice of Your Dreams; as you wake up in the morning, check in and see what your emotions are telling you. Often in our dreams, feelings from our subconscious come to light. While you may not remember a dream from the previous night, the feelings you wake up with are good indicator of what your subconscious was chewing on while you slept.

As you repeat the process throughout the week, you will find listening to your intuitive feelings becomes second nature. Over time, you will start “checking in” with your environment on a regular basis without having to consciously think about it. Remember that working with intuitive feelings is a process backwards from traditional learning; you don’t need to read the book first.

It’s been many years since that workshop at the bookstore. But in moments of quiet, I often think back to that conversation in the coffee shop. My friend had been right; it wasn’t a framed diploma or workshop certificate hanging on the wall which qualified me to teach people. Instead, it was the gift of my sensitivity guided by the quiet voice of intuition. These days, I teach through shared experience and in looking back, I realize nothing has really changed; I’m still as sensitive as I ever was. Instead, it is simply a matter of perception which creates the balance of my journey.

4 Ways To Stop Absorbing Other People’s Energies

Learning to stop absorbing other people’s energies could be the biggest challenge facing highly sensitive people and empaths. We easily feel what other people feel, whether it is a family member, the grocery store clerk, a co-worker, or a stranger. Going through our day to day life requires a certain awareness in order to distinguish between our feelings and others. This ability to recognize what we are taking on allows us to make a conscious choice about what to do next. Though we gain a lot from this unique ability, we often pay a hefty price for it. We can feel controlled by this trait and allow it to influence where we go and who we see. But there is another way to live. We can learn to thrive in the world with this special gift, we just need the right tools.

Tools To Stop Absorbing Other People’s Energies

  1. Get Grounded – this is the most important thing we can do in the morning, or anytime.  It’s no secret highly sensitive people have trouble staying grounded because we feel everything so intensely and live in our heads. But grounding ourselves is the first step to take if we don’t want to carry around other’s emotions and energies as if they were our own. In 5 minutes or less, you can do the following;
    • Visualize roots growing out of the bottom of the feet, reaching deep into the ground. Picture this until the feet feel weighed down.
    • Run cool water on the wrists, or bring the wrists together, one on top of the other, with the hands going in opposite directions. Hold for 5 minutes. Take    a shower or bath. 
    • Spend 5 minutes meditating, focusing on deep inhalations and exhalations.
    • Say the word OM, drawing out the word slowly and repeat it for 5 minutes. Feel the vibration of the word in the body.
    • Sit on or touch the earth/ground. Walk on the ground in bare feet. Hug a tree.
  2. Visualize – visualization is very effective for keeping other people’s energy separate from our own. To do this we can visualize ourselves in a personal box. This box has four walls surrounding us, with a lid on top of our head. This box is designed for positive energies to enter, but repels energies we don’t want. People can’t tell we put it there. We still sense what others are feeling and thinking, however, once we have recognized their energies it stays with them. The energy does not become entangled in ours and it does not stay in our box.
  3. Clear – this is highly useful after we have absorbed unwanted energy. While alone and in a quiet place, we start to swipe away the energy surrounding the body. We cup the hands and start above our head. Using both hands, we cut through the energy in a quick, swiping action, pushing it away. Our hands are clearing our head area, then move down to the neck, chest, abdomen and so on. Continue all the way down to the feet. When we are done, we picture ourselves in a white bubble. We have effectively cleared stored energy from other people out of our personal area.
  4. Do The Work – this step is more complex than the others but cannot be ignored. We take on other people’s emotions, thoughts, and sensations easily but have we ever stopped and questioned why? There is a tendency for us to be unconsciously attracted to helping and healing others. One way we do this is by adsorbing other people’s toxic energy and letting them feed off of our higher vibrations. Whether we are aware or not, we are getting something out of this transaction. This is where we need to do some inner work. We must examine our core beliefs and honestly question ourselves about what the pay off is. Who would we be without this trait? What could we do with our lives? How do we feel when we help to heal others? How do we help heal ourselves? How do we feel about boundaries? Does worthiness play a role? These are all questions we can explore while doing our inner work. When we uncover outdated hidden beliefs, we can let them go and replace them with new ones. How about this one;

“I am worthy of a happy life, filled with thoughts, emotions, and sensations that I choose.”

By using these four powerful techniques to stop absorbing unwanted energy, we are free to focus on other things. We can use our new found energy to accomplish the dreams and goals we set out for ourselves. We are free to move through the world in a new, empowering way. A way that allows us to use this unique gift to our benefit, and to the benefit of the world.

How An Empathetic Nature Can Block Creativity

We HSPs are famous for our empathetic nature. We are also often creative. Often we are also creatively blocked.

Is there a relationship? Can our empathetic nature get in the way of creativity and block it?

Empathy Is Precious

I personally treasure empathy. Not just for its humanitarian value, but because it is also a great tool for discovery. Empathy is a great way to learn about the world. It enables you to look at anything from another point of view.

It also helps you with all the information that your nervous system takes in. Being empathetic helps you relate to the energy of each piece of information and if it is a multifaceted energy, you can engage all of it. It also lets you into the complexity and nuance of anything. You are able to perceive the dynamics and structure of anything around you.

Empathetic listening is a holistic window to the world and so offers HSPs the potential for a special kind of wisdom that only insight can offer.

The Price Of Being Empathetic

Empathy can cause us to feel like we are drowning in information. It can feel like we are being overwhelmed with so many factors and considerations that it can be hard for us to move forward.

Many HSPs, myself included, like to process every input conscientiously before making decisions and taking action. Hurting someone else is anathema to many HSPs; the pain is too unbearable. As a result, our awareness can become a huge burden. Our sense of responsibility may far outweigh our actual or real role or responsibility. Our skills may not necessarily be up to the information we take in.

All of this, of course, forces us to try to come up with ways to handle the overwhelming information, but nonetheless, it is a huge processing and interactive burden. And it slows us down.

Empathetic Capacity Affects Our Creativity

Empathy affects our creativity because it increases the options and possibilities that we see.


  • helps us see beyond the object to the being.
  • causes us to embrace the other and to naturally care.
  • prevents us from taking actions that would harm because we can become immobilized that way.
  • lets our options and choices become animated and alive through our energetic experience.
  • helps us see paths and directions can so numerous that we sometimes cannot choose.not from laziness or wishy-washiness but from our own conscientiousness.

The empathetic nature is something that non-HSPs often will not likely understand.

We have a right brained empathy, rather than a left-brained approach. It is not object oriented. It is being oriented and that makes all the difference.

Empathic Nature And Creative Choices

Empathy affects the choices we make. Like other HSPs, I certainly try to make empathetic choices.

Our empathetic nature can lead us to better choices or to weaker ones. They cause us to use our creativity to serve the greater good, or have it used to serve someone else’s self-interest.

When we allow our empathy to be abused, we cannot use our creativity well and we hurt ourselves. Codependency can result in the misuse of our creative talents and that is never good. HSPs have to watch for those who are victim narcissists, complainers and passive aggressive individuals who use our empathy to serve their purposes.

Empathy can have a tremendously positive impact on our decisions and choices.  We let it inform us about when it has been used well, because when that happens we make choices that have the feeling of rightness or of a great fit that gives us a good feeling about what we are doing.

It is up to us to make sure our empathy serves our creativity well and is used in a positive way.

It is such a shame when empathy and/or creativity is squandered because both our empathy and creativity are precious.

The world needs more of both.

Transitioning To A Heart Based World

We are in transition to a heart based world. The changes we are going through may seem imperceptible, but that are happening.

What does it mean to be transitioning to a heart centered world? What is it like to live in a heart centered world? What changes can we expect?

The End Of The Eighties Mantra

I remember in the 1980’s there was a saying that was very popular. It was “don’t leave anything on the table.” The idea was, of course, to grab as much as you could for yourself.

It is easy to condemn it because it is an awful attitude. It has created a country without safety nets and strong communities through greedy behavior when people need some security in their lives.

Of course it was more than that. Greed fits in nicely with ideas about American exceptionalism and puritanical ideas about work and morality. Greed can also feed our desire to feel productive and being busy “producing” can bring a kind of high.

Greed avoids the disdain for those who were poor, or who weren’t greedy.

The End Of An Era

All of the productivity and greed has run its course and landed us in hot water as we deal with all the collateral damage to our environment: human, animal and vegetable. And then there are the systemic issues.

Now we have to change and we are doing that. New movements have spread around the world on human rights, animal rights and protection of the environment.

Some wise thinkers have presaged this age by offering Conscious Capitalism as an antidote. It’s a start but may not be enough.

Fixing The Deeper Problem

There is a deeper problem at work. We have been living in a mind-centered human world. That means that we have believed and acted as if all factors in our world can be controlled and modified by using our minds. Our minds have been used to take care of our appetites which we have valued above all else. Interestingly, our mind have been so overused that the heads of newborns have been increasing over time.

However, the mind is reductionistic and analytical which means that it is not holistic – at least the linear left-sided brain is not – and that is the side of the brain that has been dominant. It reduces everything to its parts.

It also considers limits to be something that will inevitably bend to its will. We are finding out that there are limits to that way of thinking.

Why We Must Transition To A Heart Based World

Thinking of life as just a way to satisfy our appetites is a very limited way of thinking, and reduces our lives to materialistic ends. It is also destructive since our appetites can be limitless and we can do much harm in order to satisfy them.

Forcing people into materialistic lifestyles to survive may fatten some wallets but does little to enrich the world.

In order to create a world that is more sustainable, we have to become heart rather than mind-centered. We have to use our hearts to set limits to our appetites for our benefit, the benefit of our world and all of its life forms.

We really do not have an alternative, and certainly not a better one.

It’s Already Happening

Already we can see evidence of the change occurring:

  • the refusal to continue to allow animal abuse is one of the biggest movements leading the way to a more humane world. Perhaps it is because we can more easily agree that our animal friends deserve our compassion and love. In agreeing on this subject we are agreeing to compassion as a primary human and societal value. it is an important step.
  • the challenging of attitudes and behaviors toward women including rape cultures and sexual and economic exploitation. When we challenge the exploitation of one person, we challenge the exploitation of all. The welfare of women, one half of the world’s population, has been disregarded and devalued even as we have supported the improved living conditions of other groups. Sexism may be the last ism to go, but as it does a tremendous burden of pain and ill feeling will begin to lift as well.
  • the small house movement is growing. Our considerable building and engineering skills are being used to create wonderful livable homes that people can realistically afford without enslaving themselves to an economic system.
  • the internet is opening up education to billions of people so that knowledge is available to all. No longer will information be used as a way to disempower people.
  • In addition the education and personal development efforts of the past 50 years has made so many people strong, that now the people are ready for self government and are challenging top down, hierarchical governing systems. Expect government to become more organic and web-like in its structure.
  • the alternative health movements are picking up steam as more and more people are fed up with worrying about whether or not health care costs will bankrupt them.
  • the slow movement is working to reinvigorate local economies with local food and investment.
  • the commons movement is seeking to create a structure that will protect all that we share: earth, oceans, air and fresh water.

With all of the negative news it is sometimes hard to see how far we have come when we see how far we still have to go.

A New Way Of Life Awaits Us

We are going to be living very differently. The global economy will go. It will be replaced by local and regional economies designed to be resilient and self sustaining, We will be needing some global governance in order to protect all forms of life and all of our resources.

We will spend more time taking care of life’s necessities and the care of our environments and all the creatures they support. Life will be more grounded; we will be reconnected with our environments.

We will become very resource smart to learn to live well on fewer resources. Our time will become ours, not the banks and we will all be happier for it.

Many large institutions will fail as the age of small takes hold. But we need to clean house so in some ways the changes will also be a relief. We can no longer afford institutions that drain us rather than serve us.

I think we will rediscover the joy and beauty of our world, and that is a welcome development.

I am looking forward to a heart centered world. I am looking forward to a more human way of life. I am looking forward to people putting more friendship into our way of living. I think we will all be happier and sleep better.

Is Criticism Getting You Down? 7 Ways To Minimize Its Harm


Does it ever seem relentless? The complaining? The criticism? The attacking? Do you ever feel like throwing your hands up in despair? Do you ever feel like giving up? To be honest, there have been times when I have felt that way.

Well, I am here to tell you: DON’T DESPAIR!

I am here to tell you a secret about criticism from the complainers, the critics and the attackers. They do not want you to know that deep down inside: they are scared.

Scared of what?

It could be

  • looking bad
  • being cheated
  • looking stupid
  • being excluded
  • making a mistake
  • feeling their own vulnerability
  • or anything else that might be a reason to feel bad.

Let’s face it we all can find reasons to feel bad. In fact, people probably feel bad more often than not and that is not a great way to live.

The HSP Advantage With Criticism

You as a highly sensitive person have an advantage: the advantage of empathy.

Granted it can be hard to feel empathetic when dealing with criticism.  So here are some ways to change to conversation to one that is more accommodating to you:

  1. sometimes empathy works.  People will displace their anger from one event onto someone else.  So if a close friend’s boss was nasty and they could not afford to stand up to that person, your friend might take it out on you.  When this happens, your insight can help you offer empathy for a bad day.
  2. sometimes you can point out something that someone does not know. Being able to offer a reason for something that makes neither one of you the villain or the victim is a wonderful strategy for defusing negativity. Providing new information can help the other person to see that you have their best interests at heart.
  3. sometimes distance is a good idea.  The chronic complainer and self-pitier can be very draining. Suggesting a helpful resource may be the best you can do. However, when the individual does not pursue a solution, you may have to let go.
  4. sometimes a complainer needs to be challenged.  Perhaps you are aware of a very negative outcome if you did what the complainer wants.  It can be a good idea to challenge their intended result.  ” Are you saying you would want —- to happen?”
  5. sometimes people complain because they are really afraid to try something different. Pointing out success stories can help with this kind of fear.
  6. sometime people criticize because they are disappointed with themselves. It is a form of undermining and it is important not to get sucked into this kind of negativity. You can offer encouragement, notice the good in the individual but you cannot overcome someone else’s negativity.  They have to do that for themselves.
  7. sometimes when people are afraid of looking bad or making a mistake, a humanizing story of your own foibles makes them feel better.  Or perhaps they just need additional information to feel secure.

Sometimes, however, you have to take care of yourself first, by taking time to take a deep breath when someone’s criticism is difficult and you have to deal with them.

A general approach for handling negativity is to be compassionate without becoming a victim by getting sucked into someone else’s negativity. We all have disappointments and discouragement in our lives.  If we can lift each other up, that is generally a better course than adding to the negativity.

There is an abundance of fear in the world.  Whenever you reduce fear even a little, you make the world a better place. And doing your best with the unhappiness of others is something to feel good about.

How Tolerance Makes Us Smarter


I was reading an article recently that discussed how many people want what they want but have little curiosity about how what they want is created. Although that is a huge generalization, it made we wonder about some of the costs to ourselves of our fast, highly mechanized society.

The High Cost Of Machines

I think it is degrading to treat people as just consumers like children waiting for candy every day. It marginalizes us and keeps us dependent. This dependency suggests that we have lost our ability to take care of our needs. Perhaps we have. We have machines that take care of many mundane tasks to that we do not have to. We have schools that prepare us to live primarily as consumers. We are now used to the “freedom” to go to the store when we need something.

Should the status quo change do we have schools that teach us how to survive and thrive on our own? What do we do that requires patience, perseverance and resilience? Are we are so reliant on machines that we have surrendered important part of our personal development?

The Benefit Of Mundane Tasks

Mundane tasks are wonderful for our development. Whether it is cleaning our house, tackling some routine maintenance, weeding a garden or cooking a meal, these daily tasks help us engage in productive ways with our lives. They teach us to pay attention, to stick with the task even if it is not particularly enjoyable, to handle the minor mistakes that we make, and to participate in the process of getting something done. It feels good to engage in our own lives.

Mundane tasks also do something else – they teach us tolerance.

They teach us to tolerate the unpleasant, the boring, the mistakes, the inconvenience the surprises and disappointments.

The Gifts Of Tolerance

What gifts does tolerance bring us?


  • enables us to become strong through struggle. An obvious example is how a bird hatches from its egg after a struggle to break out. Only when its strength is adequate does it emerge. We have to tolerate our weakness as we grow strong, the weakness of other people in our lives and challenges that comes with strength. We also have to tolerate that what may be a strength today may be a weakness tomorrow as we and the world change.
  • helps us become wise. We are each a jumble of desires, impulses and energies that we need to learn how to channel wisely. We have to tolerate our mistakes and disappointments in order to learn how to make wise decisions. We have to tolerate false starts, blind alleys, and wrong directions to learn how to make our way in the world.
  • enables us to see into the heart of a situation or another person. It is our own tolerance for our struggles that enables us to look kindly on other people and their challenges. It is our tolerance for ambiguity that lets us be with our thoughts and feelings as difficult as they can be sometimes to be fully aware of the present reality of a person or situation.
  • guides us through the trial and error process of learning. We cannot know in advance. Too often I hear the expression that someone “should have known…”. Nonsense! We are not omniscient. Where the demand or expectation comes from I do not know. As a species we are often intolerant of the not knowing of things. However, if I look out into nature, I do not see a tree worried about not knowing. It just is a tree and that is fine. Do you see birds scratching their heads because they do not know?  They don’t; they get on with the business of being a bird. We have to tolerate our not knowing and when we do it becomes easier to persevere.

Tolerance has an open heart to reality. It does not have a list of demands. It is a gentle way of being in the world.

Tolerance lets us be vulnerable and in a state of wonder. When we surrender to our not knowing we let more of the world in, can learn from the rest of the universe and in doing so become wiser.

We have become deskilled and had our wings clipped by a mechanized society. We can become intolerant because we are so used to having so much available to us. If we allow that to occur, we are losing important parts of ourselves. It is unfortunate that in trying to lift ourselves up we may have created our impoverishment.

What Accountability Can Miss

I think that accountability misses a lot. For so long it has been touted as important.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am all for responsibility. My question is: why, if we are so into accountability, do we live in a world that is such a mess? Even the most developed countries have a problem.

It suggests that we need to take a look. Perhaps our ideas about accountability are too limited.

What Is Accountability?

According to Wikipedia, accountability is:

  • answerability
  • blameworthiness
  • liability
  • the expectation of account-giving.

That sounds about right. We are answerable for meeting our assumed obligations to ourselves and others. Obligations are an implied contract and based on assumptions about our expectations.

This is where accountability can be problematic. What do we do when expectations are incorrect? even wildly off-base?

When Expectations Are Off-Base

Expectations are a very big deal. In fact if I were to survey the human landscape of problems, expectations would be at the top of my list of causes of human problems. Look at our environmental problems right now. Many people still think that they can expect our natural resources to provide for us without fail into perpetuity. That is a mistake of expectations that is having tragic consequences.

However, people who are working for companies who base their livelihoods on such assumptions are still “accountable” for whatever production quotas or other measurements that keep them employed. So here is a situation where accountability is a problem, in fact there are multiple accountabilities at play.

This means that accountability is not simple and should not be treated as a simple way to assign responsibility or blame.

Accountability Is Often Tactical

Accountability is often intended to protect what exists. It is designed to take care of existing relationships, existing organizational structures, existing wants and needs of a particular cultural system. It is what we expect from subordinates following assigned tasks. It is what is expected of us as subordinates. Some creativity may be necessary to achieve an objective but the objective itself is usually created elsewhere by someone else with more power and authority. This kind of accountability does not engage our full humanness and ability.

It is tactical execution.

Accountability is enlarged when we include strategic thinking since we now also consider the unknown and changing conditions as factors in our decision making and planning. So when actions take these factors into account, those actions are more honestly responsible than others.

We can do our best to be accountable, but in reality much is beyond our control and knowledge. Therefore we cannot expect perfect accountability from ourselves or others.

Accountability and Healing

I think that one of the best places for accountability is in our need to heal from emotional wounds. Such healing is everyone’s job. We are each of us responsible for our behavior. We have an obligation to own our early circumstances and the impact they have had on our lives and ability to function.

This is where we can have a wonderful impact on our own lives and others because the healing work we do is under our control. We can set our own goals, write in our journals, notice our pain and the pain of others. We can listen to the social energy around us and evaluate our contribution to it. We can listen to others talk about their challenges and see ourselves in their struggles. We can notice when something does not work and try to understand it. We can see when a connection is missed, an interaction denied, a kindness withheld.

We can observe the hope and despair around us. We can acknowledge the fragility in ourselves and others. We can respect our needs and notice how many are unmet.

Creating Real Accountability

Our inner healing is the best place for us to develop true responsibility. All the laws in the world cannot touch our capacity to notice, act, lift up and soothe ourselves and each other. All the speeches and lecture given by leaders and teachers are no match for our intention. Nothing inspires us more than experience and nothing destroys inspiration more than experience.

Our healing journey is a journey to creating a new and different experience. When we make the journey we are in fact also making a journey toward greater accountability, the accountability that comes from being present. That is where accountability starts: in being present.

When we heal ourselves, that is the gift we give to the world. It is a wonderful gift to give.

Are You A Pink Tutu Person?

A funny thing happened one day – I fell in love with a pink tutu.

Actually, I really fell in love with a couple, their story and the healing effects of a pink tutu.

I hope you will too.

Who Knew, Pink Tutu?

In 2003 Bob Carey put on a pink tutu and took pictures. His images became a blessing to him and to others. Why? Because his wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer and he was seeking to support her healing.

Cancer is tough as is any serious illness. His wife, Linda, was diagnosed with cancer in the early 2000s and recovered only to be rediagnosed in 2006. Obviously, her journey is a difficult one. Bob donned the tutus to cheer her up and help her heal. She would share her tutu photos with other cancer patients and they would all have a lightening laugh. Lightness can be very difficult to achieve when you have a serious illness but is also very healing. It brings fresh energy into the body which can release stuckness and stagnant energy. That release can facilitate healing.

Bob and Linda and their story are beautifully documented in this video. The images are a hoot!

Bob’s work has been published and is the foundation for the Carey Foundation and the Pink Tutu Project for Cancer awareness. You can visit here.

Happy Valentine’s Day!