Being Sensitive Is NORMAL

Are you often told that you’re too sensitive? Do you get told to “just ignore” bullies and passive-aggressive people? Do you have trouble accepting criticism unless it’s kindly presented? Do you have a LONG list of books, movies, and television shows you can’t watch, because they upset you? If so, you may be a highly sensitive person (HSP), just like me.

And Penney is a highly sensitive dog. We have had to work to accept that “feature” of her.

Many HSPs already know all about this, having read The Highly Sensitive Person book (and its many friends). I wrote about it a bit last year when sensitivity was causing me some issues, in a post called You’re TOO Sensitive. So yeah, I’ve heard that before.

I’m such a sensitive flower, humble but lovable!

But, if you are among the majority of humans who don’t have the HSP trait, you may not realize this is a normal way for people to be. It’s also not necessarily a negative trait! There are many wonderful things about being highly sensitive.

Not a Sensitive Person? Read This!

Before you tell a friend or family member to get over it or change the way they experience the world and people around them, consider this information, and maybe you’ll be able to accept people like us just the way we are:

  • Around 15-20% of people are Highly Sensitive Persons. That’s a LOT of people, not just a few kooks.
  • People are born with the HSP trait; they can’t make it go away.
  • HSPs tend to have good imaginations and creativity. That’s handy!
  • They are often empathetic and can understand what’s going on with others. They can help people in groups get along better.
  • Not all HSPs are introverts. 30% are extroverts! (Reluctantly, I think that’s me.)
  • HSPs make GREAT leaders. They tend to prefer the “servant leadership” model rather than the hierarchically focused kind, and all kinds of people respond well to quiet leadership.

See, there’s a lot of good in people like me. We spend all our lives developing ways to cope with our more “tough” friends and colleagues, trying to moderate our strong reactions to violence and personal digs, being social as much as we can, etc. Maybe those of us who are not HSPs can “just ignore” the things about us that bug them! Hmm. What an idea.

Or, maybe we can all learn to accept our differences. Kindness never hurts, and bullying is never right. We also have to be able to accept criticism in order to grow and become better people. If we hurt someone’s feelings, we can apologize. And if we are easily hurt, we can explain that we understand it’s often not intentional. Meet in the middle? Why not!

Don’t worry, I like you all just the way you are. Variety is what makes us humans interesting, to me. Let me know if you found the information here to be useful!

More Information

Here are some signs you might be an HSP, from Elaine Aron’s really helpful HSP website:

  • Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
  • Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
  • Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
  • Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
  • Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
  • Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
  • Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
  • When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?

Balancing Your Dreams with Their Dreams

Yow, there are a lot of ways today’s post can go, because I’ve been busy trying to come up with ways to be safe, treat others well, meet my own needs, and meet the needs of others. That’s a lot, combined with concerns about work and world events. But, most of us are in the same situation, I have a feeling.

Two recent influences in my life have combined to remind me to not forget what I want out of life. My reading on the Enneagram, while confusing in some ways, has brought a lot of clarity in others. (While you are only supposed to be ONE type in that system, I keep seeing parts of three in the more shadowy aspects of me, which could explain why I’m internally confused.) In the past few weeks, I’ve needed to make important decisions, and I keep running into the Type 9 proclivity to place the highest priority over creating a peaceful environment, which causes me to not advocate for my own perspective as hard as I could.

I hope this meme I made helps me realize I’m fine like I am. Even with my unhelpful aspects.

And, when someone close to me asked me what my fondest dreams for the future were, nothing came up. What the heck? I was taken aback. I realized that I basically wanted to support my spouse’s dreams, and hope some things I enjoy would come along as part of that.

Well, yuck! So, I began to wonder if this was a pattern (it was – ask my why I am in Texas, why I am where I am now, etc.). Now, I’ve had a good life, and am not whining about this state of affairs. I just genuinely got curious as to what the heck my own dreams were or are?

I realized that I have met two of my life goals. One is that I always wanted a house in the trees in a place I felt like I belonged, like when I was a child. My Austin house meets that need, so no wonder I fought to long and hard for it and want to keep it in all its total impracticality (especially right now).

It’s the Austin house (Bobcat Lair) showing lovely dark rain clouds. A house in the trees where I feel safe.

The other, as I have mentioned before, is that I always wanted to share my life with horses. I was drawn to them as soon as I met one as a child. Now that I have Apache and Fiona in my life, I won’t desert them, even if Apache has foot problems and Fiona doesn’t do any work (such animals are not popular on ranches, I have learned).

Hooray for the equines. And the chicken (on water bucket).

So, see, I HAVE managed to keep my dreams going while still supporting Lee’s (just one example, not picking on him – he’s a good guy with good dreams).

Apache Newsbreak

Trixie was here yesterday to check on Apache after his recent setback, and to do some other work on our little herd. His feet look remarkably good for a horse dealing with his challenges. There was just one little area of redness, which could have been a stone bruise.

The outside of his feet look good. The inside did, too, but I didn’t want to get that close, due to ye olde virus precautions.

I reckon he might have hurt himself a bit on rocks when he was pitching all those fits and not wanting to go anywhere. He also seemed to be favoring one of his shoulders, which could have happened when he was bouncing around on uneven ground. Now I wonder if his feet were already hurting then? Hindsight…

I always liked his stripey feet, even if light feet are more trouble. OOPS. I had to crop his happy “member” out of the picture. It’s a GP-rated blog.

Anyway, she’ll be back in another 4 weeks to see how things are going. Fiona also got a trim. She grows very long toe areas. All fixed now.

I always really enjoy these long times with my equine friends, and they seem to, as well. A great deal of mutual admiration is expressed.

Back to Balancing

I don’t think I want to change who I am and put my needs ahead of others or cause more of a ruckus than I already do. I am who I am. But, I think working to balance my own needs and goals with those of my family and others in my circle is a reasonable and attainable goal. Sticking up for myself and saying no to things that make me feel unsafe or anxious doesn’t mean I don’t care. I expect others to take care of themselves and THEN take care of others (like with airplane oxygen masks…remember planes?). I can do that for myself and it will be just fine.

Well, apparently today’s blog post was supposed to be a pep talk to me about myself. What a surprise (not a surprise at all.) But, I know I’m not alone in wanting a balance between my own needs and the needs of people I love. I’m not alone in getting so involved in someone else’s dreams that I lose my own.

I’m not all lost, I have my center and my spotted emotional support buddy.

All we can do is keep moving forward. I’ll find a way to meet my own needs while still supporting my inner circle. Both are important.

Is this balance easy for you, or hard for you? I think it really depends on our inner wiring, but who knows?

Quick Enneagram Update

As I talked about recently, I have been looking into the Enneagram to see what insights it could give me into how I could function better as a person and interact with others.

Two of the types came close to describing me, 2 (helper) and 9 (peacemaker). I eventually decided I was a 9 after realizing how strongly my urge to keep peace around me had affected my life (not always positively).

I broke down and spent the twelve dollars to take the official test, the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI). That test identifies how your responses to a series of questions match each type. I found the results interesting:

Enneagram Type Score
Type 2, The Helper 28
Type 9, The Peacemaker 24
Type 4, The Individualist 18
Type 7, The Enthusiast 17
Type 5, The Investigator 14
Type 6, The Loyalist 13
Type 3, The Achiever 12
Type 1, The Reformer 10
Type 8, The Challenger 8

The two I’d self identified were the two highest, by far. The results commentary said: “Your primary Enneagram personality type is most likely the highest of these scores, and almost certainly among the highest two or three.”

I’m still going with 9, but with a lot of 2. I don’t know if the standard version “allows” being mixed with two types, but, there ya go, I gotta be me. The two types on either side of you are supposed to be your “wings” to draw from. Note that those were the two least identified with me (and 8 is my spouse’s type, oh my).

Reflecting on how Type 2 people tend to want to rescue others, form large groups of friends, and focus on helping, I do see that I have been that way, but more in the past. It may be that I am moving from Type 2 to Type 9 as I get older. A lot of the things Type 2 people do are just not me, while pretty much everything in Type 9 hits home with a bang.

Just knowing how I tend to react to things has helped me explain how I am to others, and has already made communication easier in my family. So, I’m grateful for that. If you want to take the test yourself, here’s the link.

Books

Anyway, I read a couple more of the most recent books on the Enneagram, so I may as well tell you what I thought of them.

The cover of The Honest Enneagram, by Sarajane Case.
Another blogger writes a book.

The Honest Enneagram, by Sarajane Case, is an introductory level book that uses “normal” language to help people understand how to apply knowledge of their type to their lives. It didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, but you sure get the idea that Sarajane is a kind person who wants to help everyone be their best. I gave the book to Kathleen to look over and share with Chris, because it’s a nice intro. It’s also a really pretty book.

If you know your type, this is interesting for sure.

The other book I got was The Enneagram for Relationships: Transform Your Connections with Friends, Family, Colleagues, and in Love, by Ashton Whitmoyer-Ober. Ashton is another person who just oozes concern for people. I am getting a bit more new information out of this one, especially about others (like my son and spouse). It’s really helpful, because this book gives you ideas for how to let people you love know you care for them, and how to best communicate with them. That’s useful information. I got some good ideas for how to communicate with a lot of people I know, at work, as friends, and as family members. I will use this one as a reference for a long time, I’m sure.

Both these books are available on Kindle for not much money at all, so check them out if you’re interested. I have one more book to read, then I’ll move on, since I may have found a new spiritual path!

What’s been bringing YOU insight? Are you using this time of being close to home to look inside yourself like I have been doing?

Are We OK? Okay? Heading Down a Path to Okay-hood

It’s fascinating when things happen in different parts of your life that coalesce into one collection of insights. Right now it’s been “okay-hood” and how to cope when advice overwhelms me.

One area in which this happens for me is the issues I’d been having with Apache and his sudden backsliding in behavior. I’ve appreciated all the advice I’ve gotten from a variety of sources, very much. At first I started to get worried that I’d upset people if I didn’t do THEIR idea. Then, upon further reflection, I realized that I know the horse and he knows me. I know our abilities. I can take what I’ve heard and learned, and incorporate it in a way that works for us. And if it doesn’t work out, I’ll try another thing. It’s okay!

Equine Okay-hood

For example, I decided I didn’t want to use the bit for the foreseeable future with Apache, but was willing to listen to input from Chris and Sara about other options than the halter. Sara gave me this rather sad-looking side-pull bridle (one that does not use a bit, but combines nose pressure with reins attached at the sides of the mouth) and I said I’d give it a try.

Before: a sad side-pull bridle

First I had to clean it up. That was really fun, because the dang thing turned out to be a completely different color than it was when all covered with mildew and ickiness. Saddle soap is a great thing!

Continue reading “Are We OK? Okay? Heading Down a Path to Okay-hood”