Masking Our Sensitivity

file000567791886
file0002089463067

Source: Morguefiles

It’s two days before Halloween as my wife and I head to our favorite Italian restaurant in the city.  Entering the foyer of the restaurant, I notice a message written on the chalkboard listing the night’s specials. In addition to mussels with plenty of garlic and Venetian zuppa de peoci soup, a psychic is also on the menu tonight. “This should be good”, I tell my wife as we walk through the dimly lit dining room to a booth along the far wall.

I had recognized the psychic’s name written on the chalkboard; a local woman named Carol well known in the area for her accurate readings on a local radio show. Our antipasto has just been served as the nights entertainment begins. Sitting on a stool in the front of the room, I notice as Carol politely refuses an appetizer brought over by the owner stating that she doesn’t eat before reading for people. Noticing the owner’s surprise she explains that the food will make her sleepy and affect her energy. It was an awkward moment; the food in this restaurant was some of the best in the area and I don’t think the owner ever had one of his dishes refused especially when he decides to serve it to her personally. But she stayed true to herself; not letting social pressures distract her from the job at hand. Taking note of her behavior, I was pleased to see her actions embrace her identity.

Our main course was served as Carol began to walk around the room, stopping at each table. Since we were sitting over by a far wall, we had pretty well finished our meal by the time she arrived. Talking to my wife first, she addressed some health and career concerns my wife had before turning to me and studying my face for a moment. “You do some really good work with people” she commented; “But in public, you keep that side of yourself so hidden; why is that?” Still studying my face, she raised her eyebrows urging me to say something. There wasn’t much I could say; the fact that she knew that I always kept my intuitive sensitivity hidden around strangers without having ever met me was a testament to her psychic sensitivity. Perhaps, in response to my startled expression, she gave me kind smile and moved on to the next table. Watching her walk away, I knew without a doubt that she had just shown me how I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin.

Being Comfortable In Your Own Skin

For Highly Sensitive People, it is very easy for us to feel the emotions and unspoken attitudes of those around us.  During our interactions with others, if our sensitivity prompts a negative reaction from them, we are painfully aware of it. And, if over time this pattern repeats on an ongoing basis, we can become very hesitant to show our sensitivity at all.

In my own life, as a child raised in household where I was taught that men didn’t cry or show much emotion, I could feel my father’s disapproval whenever I got too emotional. There was always that unspoken judgment hanging in the air between us. Being that I could sense the emotions of the people around me very easily, this mindset created a conflict with my sensitivity when I was growing up. Funerals were especially difficult where I would feel overwhelmed by the mourner’s emotional energy circulating within the room. Taught that crying in public was taboo, I would fight my sensitivity to keep my emotions in check.

Now sitting in a restaurant many years later, I found it ironic that right around Halloween when it is tradition to don a mask in order to elicit a specific response from those around you, I realized that I had been following that pattern most of my life; hiding my sensitivity behind a mask of acceptable social behavior.

Learning To Accept Out Sensitivity

To be comfortable in our own skin means we have to be accepting and nurturing to the gifts our sensitivity bestows us in the face of a culture where being Highly Sensitive or intuitive may not generate a favorable response. The key here is to stay focused on our values; following our values keeps us authentic which in turn allows us to acknowledge, and work with the gift of our sensitivity.

Living A Meaningful Life

In his Extraordinary Living Program, author Stephen Cope points out that in order to live a meaningful life requires we not only work with our gift but acknowledge the sacrifice which often accompanies it. For Highly Sensitive People, working with the gift of our sensitivity may require us to sacrifice the emotional need to fit in by not attracting unwanted attention. I find it interesting that Cope also states that most gifts are borne from a background of suffering at some level. Like myself, the majority of highly sensitive people I have met raised in dysfunctional family’s dealing with alcoholism or addiction issues also battle the “Don’t ask / Don’t tell”  syndrome of putting up a false front  in order to not attract attention to your family. Learned at an early age, we blend into our environments like a chameleon in order to avoid the predatory eye of judgment.

The Gift And Its Sacrifice

For the Highly Sensitive it’s not always easy. Recently, I spent an afternoon hiking with a friend who was grieving the death of a family member. Although I didn’t feel it at the time, the energy of her shared grief affected me on an emotional and physical level. Days later feeling moody and morose, I decided to take an early morning jog alone along the Mohawk River rather than meet up later that morning with my running partners Linda and Shelley. I simply did not have the energy to pretend that everything was OK with me and didn’t want my mood to bring them down.

However, in response to my text declining participation in our usual Sunday run along the river, I was surprised when both texted me back stating they would be on their way shortly and would meet me by my car. Shelley was the first to arrive. A highly sensitive person herself, as she got out of the car she immediately sensed my emotional state. As I spoke about my hike with our mutual friend earlier that week and its effect on my emotions, I saw her eyes tear up a bit as she went to hug me. My stammered apology wasn’t necessary. Shelley knew of  my sensitivity and saw it hiding behind the mask of  self reliance I was trying to present.  “You need us right now” was all she would say.

FacebookGoogle+LinkedInPinterestShare/Bookmark

How The Creative Process Helps Highly Sensitive People

Source: < a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pikous/4462303296/">pikous - Flickr

Many people think the creative process is some sort of magical inspirational event.

Actually the creative process is a wonderful process of engagement.

It can be enormously helpful for sensitives who want more control over their lives.

What Is The Creative Process?

The creative process is simply a process that lets us create something that did not exist before we created it.

If you research the creative process you will find many different answers about what the creative process is and how many steps there are in creating.

Most people believe that the creative process starts with an idea.

Not so fast, according to creativity expert, Robert Fritz, who has written The Path Of Least Resistance and Creating Your Own Life.

Mr. Fritz, a composer and film maker, consults with many organizations on the creative process.

He identifies the start of the creative process as the time when you decide on something that you want to create. You might have an idea for world peace, for instance, but that does not neessarily mean that you want to create world peace.

Once you know what you want, then you have to discover your current situation before you can begin to develop the steps you need to bring what you want into being. If you want to write a symphony and do not know what the scale is, then you have to educate yourself before you can begin. Your skills are an important factor in what you want to create.

So many people who want to create something become bogged down and give up. Often it is because they do not fully engage with their desire and where they are in order to determine how to proceed. Then they bump into limitations that deter them and give up. It is better to embrace the reality of a learning curve and resource limitations so that you can deal with them effectively.

The Creative Process Can Keep You Grounded

When you know what you want to do and where you are at the current moment, then you are always in touch with reality, which gives you more control over your life.

It not only helps you to focus on your next steps but also keeps you out of pie in the sky daydreaming that gets you nowhere and can even cause you to become depressed.

The creative process is a great tool to keepvyou moving forward.

It keeps you focused on where you are and the next step you need to take. one of the beauties of it is that you do not need anyone else’s approval or permission to create whatever you want.

The Special Advantage Of The Creative Process For HSPs

Highly sensitive people often have difficulty maintaining control over their own lives, because they have different priorities from non-HSPs which means that they often have little say over work and social agendas because highly sensitive people are usually outnumbered. Therefore in work and social situations we often get preempted which is very uncomfortable.

However, HSPs are often creative. In embracing the creative process we can start to regain control over our agenda.

The creative process is about setting your own agenda and following it through to completion. When you take back your life using the creative process you start to create freedom for yourself not only by choosing what you want but by becoming so in tune with what is needed to make your goals happen that you start to use that skill in all areas of your life.

You acquire an understanding of what is necessary and what is possible, that no one can take away from you. It helps you in managing not only your time but also your boundaries.

The Creative Process Creates Empowerment

Rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty to make something happen is a wonderful way to grow, learn and get control over your own life. Making something happen provides you with knowledge based on experience. It enables you to notice when the demands and expectations of others are inappropriate. It puts you in charge of what is possible and makes it easier not to be subject to the whims of others.

HSPs have too often found it difficult to protect their boundaries and well-being because their values and priorities are different. However, without enough experience and knowledge, HSPs have no way of defending themselves.

The creative process provides highly sensitive people with a way to their own authority so that they do not have to be subject to the authority of others as much.

It is therefore a wonderful way for the highly sensitive to create a meaningful and healthy life for themselves.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Inner Peace Improves Creativity

Inner Peace Improves Creativity - HSP Health Blog

Inner peace improves creativity.

Based on my experience as a creative person, inner peace takes us to a different place that improves our ability to come up with fresh ideas.

Brainstorming Is Not Creativity

I have nothing against brainstorming – either by yourself or with others. But here’s the thing: brainstorming is often about what we already know.

When we get together with others we each take what we know and pool it with everyone else’s knowledge and come up with an idea or strategy. This is great up to a point and in increasingly complex institutional environments can be very useful – after all there is too much for any one person to know.

When we brainstorm we mostly rehash what we know. Unfortunately it is usually linear, left brained activity meant to enhance the status quo..

Brainstorming, then, can be limited in what it considers as potential ideas. It may be limited to what exists and what others will accept.

So is it creativity?

What Is Creativity?

According to one online dictionary, creativity is

1.the state or quality of being creative

2.the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.

3.the process by which one utilizes creativeability: Extensive reading stimulated his creativity.

What is key in the definition is the word, imagination. Imagination is a right brained activity. It claims the connections that we cannot make any other way. It offers us the unknown for our progress in solving  problem or developing something new.

Is Imagination Endangered?

Left brained mental processes have dominated human culture in the West for centuries. They are an outgrowth of the scientific method which is evidence based and relies on the material world.

Imagination is elusive. It is energy based and connected to the universal field, the source of all intelligence in the universe.

Science developed as an antidote to superstition. It does not respect  the spiritual, psychic and energetic realms, although that is beginning to change a little. The discredited realms  of modern life are also the home of the imagination, which we find cute and interesting in children not adults.

The Universal Field And Creativity

The universal field is an important support of human life. It is the emptiness and silence of oneness where those wild ideas of the imagination come from. It is therefore a great resource for our creative endeavors.

Here’s the rub.

You cannot force it.

You have to be open to it.

Creative ideas require that we are receptive to them or they cannot make their way to us because we have closed ourselves off to them. Receptivity is a feminine quality and one that is discredited in modern culture. Therefore many are often not receptive to new ideas and it is not just an individual problem it is also a societal problem.

Those who are in touch with their imaginations, their creativity and the universal field may find themselves isolated and have difficulty communicating their ideas and gaining acceptance for them. How many people are really open to and in touch with the universal field?

Inner Peace And Creativity

Creative challenges aside, the universal field is our source for creative support. Interestingly, we learn to move into its stillness through meditation. Yes, the same meditation that helps us find inner peace.  Meditation helps us let go of the petty difficulties of everyday life. It helps us become more comfortable with silence than the drama of everyday life.

In doing so, we quiet the mental chatter that distracts us from our creative source and allow ourselves to receive new information. We open ourselves to new possibilities simply by being open to the universal silence. Meditation helps us find inner peace and in doing so also helps us find and embrace our creative potential.

Why Thinking Can Get You In Trouble

I

Yup, thinking can get you in trouble.

Often we think when we are worried about something or trying to figure out something we do not understand.

We can go around in circles, and expend a lot of energy without getting anywhere.

We can improve our thinking if we understand better how to use our brains.

How We Use Our Brains

Usually we use our brains in response to a threat – when we see or notice something that is different, is moving, or something we have to be afraid of. Our brains are most often simply a part of our defenses.

When we are worried about something, when we are trying to resolve issues related to the past, when we are anticipating the future, we are using our brains defensively.

We usually respond to the perceived threat by seeking information from our own brain’s database of experience, researching outside of ourselves – accessing other’s brains, or by using our imagination.

Can We Use Our Brains Better?

None of this is bad or wrong.

Every morning I put out food for the feral cats that live nearby.  Over time, they have come for food enough times that the grass has developed some pathways, that they now seek as a way to reach the food.

Our brains are like that too. When our lives are mostly a succession of threats that we are handling, our brains develop pathways and then other brain potentials are neglected. We then stunt our growth and are unable to develop our brain’s creativity.

Why? Because creativity is mostly constructive rather than reactive.  When we are reacting we are surrendering our creativity more often than not. (Of course we can approach threats in a creative way.)

Why Is Creativity Different?

The simplest way to describe the difference between creativity and threat response is to consider how each uses our imagination.

The imagination is a powerful aspect of our brain functioning. How well it functions and how well it is able to support our well-being is important. If our imagination has been directed toward fear, that is a pathway in our brain that will automatically arise when we are contemplating a task – especially a new one. When our imagination has habitually been directed to imagining something positive, that is where it will naturally go.

These are both brain habits which means that our natural tendency may not reflect reality or it may. It is important to be aware of your brain’s conditioned tendency so that you can question it and make the best choices for yourself.

So the next time you do something, try to notice the direction your brain takes.  Repeat the exercise and if you can journal about it.  You may notice a pattern that has caused you some difficulty and which by being aware of it, you can change.

Sometimes it is wise to be afraid and other times it is wiser to be optimistic.  It is even better when we can feel confident that we are able to respond appropriately to whatever is going on with us or our lives.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Why HSPs Need To Reclaim The Creative Process

Why HSPs Need The Creative Process

Most people think the creative process is just about coming up with ideas.

Our culture separates ideas from making things, but treats even the process of generating ideas as something to be manufactured. As a result, our relationship to our creativity is affected by our cultural model.

Manufacturing is not a natural HSP energy and can cause a feeling of disconnection in highly sensitive people who are more creative and holistic.

One way highly sensitive people can embrace their natural energies and creativity is by reclaiming the creative process.

How Culture Can Affect The Creative Process

The Industrial Age brought with it a huge change in how things are made. Machines became the go-to resource for making the things we use in our lives.

At the time it was a great idea, because machines were able to produce in large quantities and therefore meet large unmet needs of the human population. The Industrial Age, through the combination of carbon energy sources and new engineering skills, was a dream come true as a way to make life finally livable.

There was a cost, however. We started delegating the making of things, and we humans became administrators, strategists and accumulators.

We stopped making as individuals and lost the skills that go with that.

When we changed we also began to see creativity differently. Manufacturing became the dominant activity for us and we translated the manufacturing process into every aspect of human life.

We manufactured goods, lifestyles, identities, legacies, memes and cultural myths, and, of course, ideas.

Ideas and the making of what an idea proposed became distinct realms governed by different people, systems  and authorities.

Creativity And The Creative Process Suffers

Creativity never dies – it is a natural and fundamental part of life. However, it has suffered under materialism.

Conformity to materialistic ideals was an expectation of the age. How else do you pay for all those factories, buildings and other products?

Although our standard of living improved, to get there, creativity was discouraged in schools and elsewhere. It left creative people feeling starved for a place in the world.

Art and art making were relegated to the sidelines and creative people treated as flakes. Serious people were materialistic achievers not creatives.

Nothing and no one escapes the age they live in and art was as affected by the materialistic age as were all other spheres of life.

Art adapted in some ways. Art making became art production.

Art adopted the language of the age and some artists even achieved stardom.

The Split

Nowadays we think of creativity as the manufacture of ideas.

Creativity is just something else we produce like widgets. It is an activity when it needs to be a way of being.

When you learn about Ayurveda, the holistic health system, you discover that all aspects of nature are intelligent. Therefore, all aspects of nature are part of the ongoing creation we call life.

In the materialistic age we have been dominated by the idea that the mind and brain are where intelligence resides. The rest of us is just plumbing. The reason this is important is because the mind over matter idea objectifies everything. There really is no creativity. There is only the manipulation of what exists.

Materialism, however, is not an accurate picture of the world. Whether your point of view is spiritual, creative or holistic healing, life and creativity are not just about what we see.

The world is not divided into material and not material, mind and matter, responsible people and creatives.

Why HSPs Need To Reclaim The Whole Creative Process

The current age has made life difficult for highly sensitive people for many reasons.

One of those reasons is living with and trying to survive in a culture whose energy is inimical to them.

The cultural model is a compartmentalized one, and HSPs are holistic people.

Embracing all aspects of the creative process: the idea, the process of making the idea real and releasing it to the world, means that you now have a way of engaging that your nature can support.

You are no longer at odds with yourself in order to survive.

That is a great place for HSPs to be, because so often our being different is a barrier to our development and progress.

Embracing the creative process puts your life back under your control.

It may feel strange but eventually it will feel great.

Enhanced by Zemanta

You Can’t Escape The Wild And Why You Don’t Want To

We have been conditioned to think that the wild of nature is a dangerous place.

Perhaps in some ways it is.

However, the wild is also a fantastic place.

The wild is where the magic happens.

There Is No Certainty

Certainty does not exist. We create it in our minds but it is our creation.

We nurture certainty, demand stability and in the end are usually sorely disappointed.

All of our attempts to secure our lives usually do not work.

Many sages have said as much over the centuries, but that does not prevent us from trying.

Why Stability Is A Poor Goal

Stability and order have been a desire and goal of humans for thousands of years.

We have been seeking “shangri-la” like conditions of security from our earliest beginnings.

When you think of the effort and resources put into these desires you would think that we would have been successful by  now.

The fact that we are not is worth considering and asking why?

Living For The End

When we seek stability and order we are living from a number of ideas that may not be helpful:

  • we treat stability and order as ends to be achieved as if they are reasonable and realistic goals.
  • we assume that stability is a more desirable goal than whatever alternative we envisage.
  • we assume that stability and order are achievable.
  • we assume that our will, for stability and order, is more important and greater a factor than anything else.
  • we assume that natural processes are our enemy and must be controlled.

Order and stability, the way we humans have constructed them, are contrary to natural processes. The reality is that nature and natural processes do not care about our desire for order. It is our job to respect them, not their job to cater to our demands.

An excellent example of this is in an article recently on climate change where the author made the point that climate change is about physics. Physics is physics and does not answer to our demands or assumptions.

Nature has always provided us with clues on how to live. To really live in harmony with our world we have to give up the desire for order and the domination of nature and others.

Why?

Because life is a dynamic process. It is not linear, it is not logical, it is a never ending series of ever changing dynamics.

So far we have be unable to accept reality.

Why Order Is Destructive

Order makes demands on our resources and time. It also requires a lot of maintenance.

Anytime we spend our time supporting a structure that is out of touch with reality, we essentially become weaker. We support systems that consume us rather than protect us.

But order can be systematized and nature cannot. As much as we try to dominate it, we are only kidding ourselves.

By walling ourselves off we loss our strength and our resilience.

Unfortunately there is an additional cost to our demand for order and stability: we lose ourselves.

Order And The Loss Of Self

Systematized cultures can be very complex. They can seem very demanding as a result and often are.

However, the demands are the kinds of needs that spring from the system itself, which is often antithetical to nature. In other words, they are not demands that spring for an dynamic living organism. They are demands that spring for a static structure.

The result is that our attention gets directed to noticing “something wrong” or out-of-place. We no longer focus on understanding and working with natural processes. Our energy is directed to maintaining a fixed system that attempts to control any surprises and changes.

Our attention gets corrupted and so we lose our resilience and other  adaptive skills that derive from living in tune with the dynamics of nature.

We lose our connection with that which supports our life and begin to treat it like an enemy.

Losing the wild makes us mechanical, fearful, negative, and self-protective rather than creative.

We hate our vulnerability so much that we end up lsing what is precious about ourselves.

It is no wonder that we are often feel that something is missing.

The Gift Of The Wild

The wild of nature offers us many gifts.

It teaches us to bend with changes in weather, learn to find the good in different circumstances, when to give and when not to.

The wild is intelligence in action – which is what we are also.

The wild is necessary for our development, our strength and resilience.

I think it is precious and worth becoming acquainted with, cherishing and loving, in ourselves and the natural world around us.

It takes a dynamic world to create a strong person. In a way you could say that the dynamics of the wild world of nature reflects our own needs for development.

So instead of seeing it as an enemy, we could see it as a gift and be grateful.

 

No Need To Rush: The Special Gift Of Slow

The Special Gift Of Slow - HSP Health Blog

No Need To Rush - HSP Health Blog

I have always been expected to operate at lightening speed.

And it has never worked for me.

I need to process…and process…and process…

I LOVE to process.

It is my idea of a good time!

What’s The Rush!

I have never understood the need to rush. In my experience the easiest way to have problems is to rush.

However from a very young age, I have noticed that people around me were aways in a rush for something. A rush to judgment, to get something, be somewhere or do something.

I always felt “wrong” because it always seemed so silly to me.

It also seemed to me that something terribly important was missing.

Is Anybody Home?

I felt alone in all of the rushing. Rushing felt so escapist, and I did not understand what everyone was trying to escape? I felt stupid for not really wanting to join in.

Escaping was not compelling to me. It did not attract me and still doesn’t.

All of the rushing and escaping feels sad.

It feels like we are afraid to take a chance.

It feels like we are here but no one is home.

Speed Can Be Dangerous

In school we are rewarded for getting answers not for asking questions. So often we continue that pattern in our daily lives.

Not to have an answer os a failing, a way of losing a competitive battle for survival, a risk we are afraid of.

But answers are not necessarily simple and they can only evolve by engaging with a set of circumstances or conditions. It is through that process that answers come.

When we fail to honor the process of engagement and deliberation we are plagued with the kind of ideological substitute for problem solving that plagues our society right now. We have packaged answers that fail to solve anything while the real problems seeking our attention remain ignored.

And so we run around each one of us with our bandaids unable to really solve our problems.

No wonder so many people feel frustrated and depressed.

They have every reason to.

Slow Is About Respect

When you approach anything in a slow careful manner you are paying a very basic kind of respect. You are paying attention to people, place and things. You are paying attention to process. You pay attention to current reality as a starting point for moving forward. You give everything the attention it deserves.

Slow is about paying attention. Fast is about escaping.

That is true both in our work and in our relationships.

I am sure how you have experienced the awful feeling when someone rushes you because they do not want to be bothered.

I am sure you have also experienced what it is like when someone takes the time to talk with you.

The rushed experience closes you down; the slower, more thoughtful interaction opens you up.

Does The World Belong To The Takers?

When people rush as their primary way of relating, all interactions become superficial and transactional. Speed does not really allow for anything else.

So when we slow down, we open the door to more give and take which is a more satisfactory arrangement for everyone, in reality. We also honor each other and the value in each other when we slow down. We honor each person’s uniqueness, gifts and limits as part of the whole.

We can then give ourselves the opportunity to be with what is instead of aways demanding that everyone be something else to meet our demands and requirements.

Life Is Not Just A Shopping Trip

Too often we relate to each other as consumers looking for something pleasurable from others.

Pleasure is great but seeking or demanding it as a constant in our lives keeps us in the role of shoppers rather than creators. As a result we miss out on ourselves as much as everyone else.

Slowing down gives us not only our time back, but also our friendship and respect.

It gives a more natural place in the universe. It lets us be both more humble and more creative at the same time.

Slow is a gentle place.

Slow lets us open up more.

It frees us from our demands and lets us join into the world rather than bearing down on it oppressively with our need for continual self-indulgence.

Slow lets us be human and humane.

Slow gives us a much needed beak and everyone else, too.

It is worth embracing.

What Happened To Play?

What happened to play?

Did you make mud pies when you were a child?

Perhaps you spent time in a playground, or a sandbox.

Did you build castles in the sand?

What happened to the joyful spirit of play in your life?

Enter Insecurity

I was raised in a conservative environment so conditioning started at a young age.

I am not good about being indoctrinated so I noticed when anyone tried.

To this day, I notice.

However, the force feeding of fear and insecurity has an effect whether you like it or not.

It causes sadness, pain and loneliness. And insecurity.

I experienced all of those things.

The fear world causes us to pull back and stop fulling engaging with life.

When that happens a part of us dies a little bit at a time.

Who Gets Hurt?

Children are known to be sensitive to the hurt in others. Many comfort those around them who are in pain.

They are not, however, sophisticated in understanding the source of that pain.

How many of us are taught that if we are not obedient and quiet, we are a source of pain to others?

How many of us are taught that when we  are joyful we are hurting others?

How many of us are taught that happiness is something we earn?

How many of us are taught that curiosity is bad?

How many of us are taught that our creative, fully alive spirit is too much?

How many of us are taught that the more alive we are, the more of a burden we are?

No Room For Play

Play is how we learn.

Play is how we become strong.

So when we slowly close the door on play, we disempower ourselves and others.

Play is the basis of trial and error and give and take.

Play helps us to be open to possibility and to the good wherever we find it.

Playing with others helps us learn to trust them even if they are very different from us.

Play: The Path To Empowerment

Play lets us be more process oriented so that we are less focused on outcomes and more focused on our engagement in the trial and error process of creating

Play lets us work through a problem, so we learn how to do it.

When we engage in play we learn when to move forward and when not to. We learn to act, reflect on our actions and make adjustments. We learn what works and what does not and we acquire our own skills and knowledge independent of any one else.

Children used to go outside to play all the time. It was important to do so because it gave you direct access to your experience and eventually helped you develop skill and wisdom. You did not require the validation of anyone else. Directness develops power.

That appears to have changed and now young people have structured activities that are usually supervised and controlled.

Are they are better off?

Coming Into Our Own

We all need to find and take our place in the world. To do so we need to find our strengths and that occurs through play.

Play enables us to take calculated risks and teaches us how to handle our successes and failures.

Play makes failure a normal part of life. How many of us have a healthy attitude toward failure?

In the interest of safety and security we may have given up our resilience and spirits and I am not sure that we have made the right bargain.

Play helps us become who we were meant to become.

It helps is come into our own.

Which is why it is so important.

Breaking The Failure Taboo

Failure is something that many of us if not all of us have been taught to be afraid of.

Unfortunately, failure is a big subject and perceptions about failure are not necessarily innocent.

Fear of failure causes so many people to hide and makes them afraid to be themselves. What a loss!

Why Failure Is Such A Big Subject

Failure has been a big subject throughout human history.

If you take a look at ancient myths and stories many of them are as much about failure as about bravery.

In early human societies, failure was dangerous. Failure was life threatening and the consequences were often death. Even community games required or resulted in human sacrifice. The Mesoamerican Ballgame of early Aztec societies was one example, but there are many others.

Failure was particularly problematic for early humans, because they had very little knowledge about the actual causes and effects of events in their lives. You could say that life was a guessing game but a serious one.

The Seriousness Of Failure Stuck

There was certainly plenty to be afraid of in early human societies.

War, disease, weather, lack of resources were all factors that made life seem fragile. However, it seems that we often made the problem worse with superstitious rule making and worship of gods and ancestors. Although they were forms of self protection, they were practices that led to some serious scapegoating. I would have been afraid to be alive then myself.

People who were different were definitely targets of superstition and to some degree are still today. Perhaps because the uncertainty of survival resources, like food and water as well as continual war made demands on each society extreme.

The Fear Of Scapegoating

What constitutes success and failure have been and are still culturally prescribed. Your occupation, performance and family status are three ways in which we are often judged. We have also inherited our fears about not measuring up.

The serious need to ensure our survival as a species has come at a serious cost. We have so limited what we call acceptable behavior that we often to not realize how much we have cut ourselves off from our natural abilities and talents.

In addition, the serious treatment of and consequences for failure, real or not, right or not, has stuck in our mental programming. To this day, we humans do not handle failure well.

The fear of scapegoating is a serious inhibitor of our social, professional and creative behavior. In many cases we not be aware of it as an inherited fear. It is there under the surface and deep inside us if we look and reflect on it.

Failure And Creativity

Failure is such a big deal that human creativity has been controlled and thwarted for thousands of years in the attempt to create some stability and certainty in human societies. As justified as the desire for stability is, the universe – all parts of it – is essentially creative.

I am always amazed by animals who take the uncertainty of life in stride and find a way to enjoy the good they find. They do not fight life as we often do.

When we fight our natural creativity, we are fighting life and ourselves. At the end of the day, that cannot be rewarding or an enjoyable way to live life.

We all know of individuals or have ourselves experienced the blame that gets put on people for something they did not do or over which they had no control.We all know how wrong it is and how lousy it feels to be scapegoated. Do we, however, pay too high a price to avoid that fate?

What Is Failure?

It is worth considering what failure is. Failure has been associated with vulnerability and uncertainty for thousands of years.

But that is not really what it is.

Much effort has been made in the past 50 years to recognize the degree to which our lives are dominated by the stories we tell ourselves and others about life. These stories often relate to our vulnerability – self created and culturally created. Often these stories shut down our creativity.

By embracing the colorful but potentially “dangerous” aspect of ourselves we can open ourselves up to our creativity and take responsibility for it.Creativity is not irresponsibility.  It may actually be irresponsible not to embrace our full creativity.

I am all for some comfort in life. However, we need to realize that security is a story we tell ourselves just like any other. When we rigidly put safety first we not only deny reality which never works, but also sacrifice quality of life and joy for stability.

Is that really the trade-off we want to be making?

What Time Pressure Costs Us

What Time Pressure Costs Us - HSP Health

patience © by rosmary

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.