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?

FacebookGoogle+LinkedInPinterestShare/Bookmark

The Value Of Mistakes

Mistakes are a no-no, even a taboo.

That is unfortunate because they are very important and necessary.

Without mistakes you cannot be in touch with and claim your own power.

Embracing mistakes is a important if you want to come into your own as an HSP.

The Hidden Benefit Of Mistakes

According to Robert Fritz, author of the Path of Least Resistance and Creating, the creative process can be divided into three large phases:

  1. the idea or germination
  2. the development of the idea from concept to completion
  3. releasing the result

Although we can make mistakes at any time and step of the process, mistakes are most valuable when we are in the development phase.

Mistakes are an important part of the trial and error process that lets us engage with an idea and reality.

They tell us when something is not working so that we can consider what to change.

It is through mistakes not only that we learn, but also that we develop mastery over a subject.

Mistakes are our path to our power and effectiveness in the world.

How Mistakes Can Seem Like A Bad Idea

Mistakes can seem like a bad idea, particularly to highly sensitive people.

We do not like the negative feedback and we feel terrible when we have done harm to others.

Our natural gifts can make it difficult for us to want to take any chances. Since we are often misperceived and misunderstood and our insights dismissed, it can seem as if we are taking big risks whenever we move forward.

The Baggage Of Mistakes

There are many misconceptions about mistakes that can create problems for us:

  • mistakes are a matter of life and death. For early humans, mistakes may indeed have been a matter of life and death. However, those days are long gone and we can lighten up about mistakes. Most mistakes may create some inconvenience and even some loss but are rarely life threatening.
  • mistakes are a sign of stupidity. Mistakes have been equated with lower intelligence as far back as I can remember. However, mistakes are inevitable when we are venturing to create something new, or learn a new skill.
  • mistakes are a sign of weakness. Making mistakes can actually be a sign of strength since it takes courage to be willing to learn something new.
  • mistakes are a sign of bad character. What an old saw this is! Character assassination is a favorite method of attacking people who take risks. Mistakes are not a sign of bad character. They are a sign of a learning process under way.
  • mistakes are a sign we do not care. Making mistakes, if we are trying to learn can be a sign of great caring. Sticking your neck out to learn takes courage which is usually a sign of caring.

Embracing Intelligent Risk Taking

The easiest way to move forward in life, embrace your personal growth and learn is to embrace intelligent risk taking.

Not all risk taking is equal. You can make unnecessary mistakes by taking on to much at once, always flying by the seat of your pants,  flying blind without conducting any research and generally making a mess.

Or you can take a wiser approach.

A Process For Intelligent Risk Taking

In order to take intelligent risks, you have to have in your mind a process that can make risk taking an important and valuable part of what you are doing. You need to create a process that you have confidence in.

Here is one that is a start:

  1. identify what you want to do.
  2. break it down into steps. This prevents you from getting in over your head and makes it easier to identify where you want to make corrections and why.
  3. research what is needed to do what you want to do. Understanding the skills, tools and other requirements will make it easier for you to take an intelligent risk.
  4. obtain whatever resources you need. D not skimp on time, materials, education or any other resource you need.
  5. pause to evaluate your progress frequently. It will help you avoid the most egregious and costly errors.
  6. once you are comfortable with your preparation, engage wholeheartedly in accomplishing what you want.

Often the difference between effective and ineffective risk taking is a matter of preparation.

Benefiting From Taking Risks

Highly sensitive people are extremely conscientious and caring people. Often the result, however, is that HSPs back away from taking risks when they d not have to.

Taking intelligent risks and using their conscientiousness and caring to embrace intelligent risk taking can make a big difference not only in being successful but also enjoying growing a learning.

HSPs have much to offer, so when we take risks, everyone often benefits.

It is worth sticking our toes in the water. We may find that it is warm and inviting.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Special Value Of The Outsider

The Value Of The Outsider

Source: Morguefiles

Outsiders have been shunned by many societies for a long time. They have a special value for their cultures that is often unrecognized and overlooked.

Outsiders are the guardians of authenticity.

Outsiders And Authenticity

Outsiders live on the edge in a way which provides them with a particular vantage point on life. They tend to have one foot in the conventional world and one foot outside of it. They stay in the world in order to earn a living but are usually not part of the striving energy of the culture. They are usually interesting people.

Outsiders live at the intersection of form and space but their hearts are in space; the place where all creativity and authenticity are possible. There is a reason for this.

Much of human life is sculpted by the social and economic structures that have been created by prior generations and they serve us in many ways. As much as they provide us with support to make life work, they are usually rigid. So they have the downside of being inflexible and not responsive to the needs of an ever changing world.

Inevitably they become burdensome and restrictive. When social structures are unrelentingly inflexible, they invite rebellion and sometimes revolution.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Outsiders have the ability to be the eyes for much needed adaptability and flexibility for existing social structures.

What The Outsider Sees

The outsider notices the disconnects, the holes, the places where existing social and economic structure does not meet the present. In essence it notices when culture is out of step with reality or the truth. Another way of looking at it is that societal structures tend not to have their feet on the ground much the way the head of a corporation does not have the experience of the people in the field or the factory. They tend to be too removed often intentionally so.

Outsiders are interested in discovering what is true as part of their path. It is not a rigid ideological idea of truth. You know – TRUTH.

When outsiders seek the truth they are interested in what is real. What is real is never fixed which is the opposite of the fixed cultural structures that we live with. What is real is ever changing, as is the breath and what we breathe in and out. Each moment is a specific place with its own conditions, constraints and requirements. Societal structures do not deal well with them and as a result often fail. Outsiders are often curious about what is happening and why from their unique vantage point. This makes them great detectives as well as observers. They then can provide the rest of the world with their observations to the benefit of all. They have the potential to help fixed structures be more flexible and responsive to ever changing conditions.

HSPs As Valuable Outsiders

Highly sensitive people usually think of themselves as outsiders. They also, by virtue of their natures, have a lot of insight about what is going on around them. They have the ability because of their nuanced perceptions to notice the disconnects, gaps and other ways in which existing structures fail to meet reality in an appropriate way.

Nuance is the home of highly sensitive people. You can only notice it if you are open to it. By virtue of their open nervous systems, highly sensitive people have a special window on the every changing nature or reality. They have the potential to offer this precious knowledge to the world.

It’s just a matter of connecting the worlds of HSPs and non-HSPs, outsider and insiders.

The Special Challenge Of The Outsider

To be an outsider is not an easy task. It is a special role that has great potential for personal transformation.

Who Is The Outsider?

The outsider is the person who departs their existing cultural home for a new unknown destination.

People do not become outsiders accidentally. It is a path that is deliberately chosen because it is necessary, important and valuable:

  • stage of life – the transition from adolescence to adulthood is one
  • issues within the culture that makes life their untenable
  • life changes like divorce that cause a person to leave a social system.
  • the search for the soul’s purpose

The outsider is the person who brings a fresh perspective to others, a new way of proceeding, valuing, or synthesizing information.

The outsider’s journey is the beginning of the process of transformation. It starts with an awareness that something is not right or that something needs to change. According to the book, Dharma Types by Simon Tony Chokoisky:

Anything that requires radical re-thinking, leaps of imagination, and creative synthesis of many elements is the Outsider’s purview. Ruled by the Space Element, there is no ‘where’ Outsiders cannot travel, just as there is no experience they cannot have. From the highest of the high to the lowest of the low, Outsiders trek the terrains of the wild and the inner spaces of the soul,reaching to depths and heights that no one else dares to follow. Laws and morals hold little power to obstruct their need for experience, and Outsiders are most creative in their interpretation of social strictures. As a result, they can just as easily fall into depravity, as soar to the heights of purity: such is the razor’s edge that defines the Outsider’s path. However, just as it is easy to fall off track, it is also simple for Outsiders to get back on, for they are never far removed from Redemption, though it may not seem that way to them. Examples of criminals-turned-saints abound in sacred literature, illustrating the Outsider’s roller-coaster journey from truth to error… and back again.

What Simon Chokoisky is talking about is that outsiders rethink the rules and what is considered conventional thinking. They are questioners and seekers of truth and in doing so can investigate anything and make many mistakes. Being outsider carries the pitfalls of openness.

HSPs As The Outsider

Highly sensitive people are outsiders just because of their difference and because they are in the minority. Does that make them outsiders in spirit? Are we the adventurous outsider that Simon Chokoisky talks about?

HSPs in some ways are reluctant adventurers. Our nervous systems take in everything and we cannot escape that. Our sensitivity also means that we cannot escape consequences. It causes us usually to be cautious and conscientious because when you take in everything you cannot be in denial.

When you take in and process everything around you you develop the ability to look at the world from multiple perspectives. Highly sensitive people are very much outsiders in that they are the integrators and synthesizers of the human race reworking and reweaving the human story into one that seems more authentic to them. The range afforded the highly sensitive person is offset by the values that come from having an empathetic nature. Thank goodness! It will cause us to reweave the human experience into one that is healthier and more compassionate.

We humans are creative people. However, creativity is not always constructive. HSPs have the chance to make creativity something positive by applying their empathetic values to the open experience of the outsider in a way that serves us all well.

Why Conformity Is The Norm

Have you ever thought one thing and done another? Have you ever changed your mind when in a group that had different ideas?

I know I have and it made me feel like a wimp.

Being an HSP means that my positions are not the norm, and I am always seeking ways to bridge the difference. Often that cannot be done and I feel bad when that is the case.

I am an introvert but I still care about people and relationships. So where does the need to conform against our best instincts come from?

Our Brains Help Us Cop Out

According to an article in Spero Forum, researcher Vasily Klucharev of Erasmus University in the Netherlands, conducted a study which demonstrated that

“when people hold an opinion differing from others in a group, their brains produce an error signal.”

“If you make an error, if means that something [wrong is going on]. And, whenever we experience an error, it means this error signal pushes us to change behavior,” Klucharev said. “And, we see it looks like we quite automatically produce this signal when our opinion is quite different from other people.”

“The researcher examined two brain areas,” said Klucharev. “The first, a zone of the brain popularly called the ‘oops area,’  becomes extra active signaling an error; while the ‘reward area”‘is less active, making people think they made a mistake.”

This explains why people are likely to conform and why in doing so they are responding to what their brain is telling them even if their instincts or “better nature” tells them something else.

This research tells us a lot.  It explains why:

  • people act against their better judgment
  • people are afraid of differences
  • people are afraid of what they perceive to be dangerous mindsets
  • people are more afraid of being different that the pain of giving up their authenticity.

Conformity’s Survival Value

Conformity has been necessary for us to survive. The human race would not have developed without the willingness of individuals to sacrifice their differences to create cultures that supported their survival need. You can say therefore that conformity has served our survival.

Our brains have developed in a way that supports our survival as well. As a result it has supported our conforming to group norms because groups have been the basis of an individual’s survival. Children know only too well how they must conform if they are to survive since they are unable to survive on their own.

The Down Side Of Conformity

This research also suggests that we can have difficulty when our brain’s error signals conflict with a need for change. Our brains may fight our intentions even when they serve our best interests. We may then suffer from ambivalence and procrastination.

Sometimes when we do not understand what is going on, we will feel bad about ourselves when in fact there is nothing wrong with us. Our brain is supporting our survival among others whether those others are right or not. Our group is our group.

Can We Become Mindful About Conformity?

It is not helpful to fight our brain’s attempts to protect us, not is it helpful to fight necessary change. Therefore we need to become extremely mindful about what we allow group norms to become because there are serious consequences if those norms are destructive.

Whatever group norms we choose need to be considered temporary to allow for changing circumstances. When group norms can become flexible as needed then our brain’s desire to protect us will not fight our needs for change.

Is that too much to ask for?

For More Information:

Can You Identify These 5 Different Types of Loyalty in Your Life Or Our World?

The Emergence Of The Outsiders

The Outsider - HSP Health Blog

Source: Morguefiles

From the beginning of time there have been outsiders.

Who Are Outsiders?

 

Outsiders are different from everyone else in some way. They are a special group of people who have developed skills and often different cultural models and ideas that put them in a different place compared to the other people around them. If Einstein had been born thousands of years ago into a tribe he would have been an outsider because of his more developed intellectual capabilities.

For a long time now, people have been working on stretching themselves and growing. As a result, many have outgrown the cultural institutions of their societies. This is why we have more and more outsiders and the cause of the clashes between entrenched power and the emerging increasingly empowered masses.

What Are Outsiders Like?

Human development is a process of growing in skill, compassion and authenticity. Outsiders naturally see themselves differently from others which reflects their journey on their particular path to authenticity. This is how outsiders see themselves:

  • They hate constricting social, religious, and moral institutions, and feel it is their right to speak and act out against them.
  • They also feel justified in flouting an unjust law and not conforming to artificial regulations.
  • They are physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually different from others, and because of this find it hard to fit in.
  • They can see through people’s b——t, and that makes them want to run away from society.
  • Sometimes they resent ‘normal’ people, who were born with opportunities that they don’t have.
  • They would rather overthrow the status quo to allow fresh growth, than try to patch things up piece by piece.
  • They respect an authority that allows them to be who they are, and understand the gifts they have to offer.
  • Sometimes they think no one really understands them, and no one ever will. They love freedom, and need to feel independent and free most of all.
  • Although they can fit into many crowds, they never really feel a part of any of them.
  • They wear many hats but none of them defines them.
  • People may see them as secretive or mysterious, but they are just the way they are– different.
  • By fate or choice, they am attracted to foreign lands, cultures, religions, and values, and have embraced some of these.
  • They have talents and abilities that are not always recognized, and it can be hard to make a living if they do not compromise with society.
  • Their ambitions are somewhat unique, and they have a quirky way of seeing the world.
  • Sometimes they feel lost— they don’t know what their true purpose is, but when they look at others they are reminded what it is not: they can’t conform to somebody else’s lifestyle just for the sake of security, even though they may have not found their own.

Being an outsider is a common experience of highly sensitive people.

Outsiders As Cultural Entrepreneurs

Outsiders are some of the most important people in society. I think of them as cultural entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs see what others miss, what might be and try to make it happen. Entrepreneurship is commonly associated with business but it does not have to be. There are different kinds of outsiders. Some totally shun society like Greta Garbo, others integrate and innovate so that you can hardly know that they are outsiders. Richard Branson comes to mind.

A book I have read recently compares outsiders to the skin of the body: it covers and contains the body but is also outside unlike the heart, brain and liver. People who are outsiders are often multifunctional, and able to see multiple points of view. They are flexible and open and therefore not dogmatic and rigid. People who are outsiders have “space” for the variety in life of people, beings and things. By virtue of their natures they make space for the new to emerge.

The outsider develops when society fails. They see through institutions that would yoke them to a particular ideology or way of life. Outsiders love their freedom.

Nothing new comes into existence without the outsider. There is no innovation or revolution without the outsider’s instigation. Anything that requires radical re-thinking, leaps of imagination, and creative synthesis of many elements is the outsider’s purview. Ruled by the openness of space, there is no ‘where’ outsiders cannot travel, just as there is no experience they cannot have. From the highest of the highs to the lowest of the lows, outsiders trek the terrains of the wild and the inner spaces of the soul.

Outsiders are brave people. If they are highly sensitive they are especially brave since being highly sensitive is a challenging path in and of itself. Being an HSP outsider is something to admire and applaud in ourselves, because it is how we bring our unique and valuable richness to the world.

NOTE:

Famous outsiders include Brigitte Bardot, Richard Branson, Tim Burton, Albert Camus, George Carlin, Salvador Dali, Johnny Depp, Greta Garbo, Jimi Hendrix, Martin Luther King Jr., Osho/ Rajneesh.

Exerpts from The Dharma Types: Secrets of the 5 Ancient Castes That Will Transform Your Life by Simon Tony Chokoisky.

Can You Be Fierce And Sensitive?

Source: morguefile

Source: morguefile

As a sensitive person do you ever feel fierce inside and think that those feelings are inconsistent with being sensitive?

Do those fierce feelings conflict with the empathetic part of you?

What Does it Mean To Be Fierce?

Fierceness is very natural. It occurs in nature all of the time. All you have to do is watch animals and they are fierce as naturally as they are relaxed. They act fiercely as easily as they eat and sleep.

In contemporary society we do not see a lot of fierceness. We see aggression, we seek passion, but we do not talk about fierceness very much. So why all the confusion?

Aggression Vs. Fierceness

So often I hear people talk about fierceness and aggression as if they are the same thing. That does not resonate with me. I think they are different.

To me, aggression and fierceness are not the same thing because they come from different places. Aggression comes from ideas about life. It comes from the shoulds, coulds, woulds, oughts and other ways of defining life that really have nothing to do with life. Aggression comes from our desire for security – inner or outer. It results in nasty inner dialogues and mind games that drive us crazy. People sometimes act on the basis that the ideas are valid and therefore become aggressive in defending these ideas. All sorts of problems then ensue – some of them very expensive involving military hardware.

Aggression develops when we create a mental or cultural structure and then try to defend it. I think that inevitably where there is aggression there is a structure of some sort lurking whether it is a social role, identity structure, the dialogue of historical narrative, caste systems and the like.

As a result,  aggression comes from the head.

What Is Fierceness?

What is fierceness and how is it different?

Fierceness comes from the heart. Fierceness is the protective love of a mother bear from her cub.  It shows up in whatever love we feel for our world and the creatures in it. It is not a small distinction – the difference between aggression and fierceness. Fierceness is important because our fierce heart-based love is the basis of good work, charity to one another, making good choices and the search for wisdom. It is the part of us that seeks to be a part of the good in the world and add to it. It is also the source of our passion.

Aggression is protective of the status quo. It has a preconceived agenda. It will seek order over health and wholeness. Aggression is at odds with the heart’s needs.

Fierce And Sensitive

To be both fierce and sensitive is not as incompatible as they may sound. Many HSPs, myself included, often have fierce feelings. They may seem incompatible with our sensitive and empathetic natures but I don’t think they are. I think, however, that they can be hard to handle because we feel so many things so deeply.

Personally I think that fierceness comes from a gentle place so it is very compatible with being sensitive. Even natural. I think it is worth embracing our fierceness. It is a sign that we are alive and awake, as painful as that may be sometimes. Natural fierceness arises from being present not from being threatened; being present is the only way to access our natural loving natures.

One of the ways you can tell the different between fierceness and aggression is to ask if the feeling coming from defending a structure of affirming life. Then you know what is really going on. Fierceness in serving life tells us when structures need to change, when they have become destructive or outlived their usefulness. We are right now seeing a rise in the fierceness of the global population in response to real threats to environmental sustainability. It is fierceness to embrace the need for greater sustainability; it is aggression to defend the status quo.

So embrace your fierceness mindfully. It is a life supporting force that is worth cherishing and very compatible with being sensitive.

 

Rocking The Boat: An Important Life Skill

Do you want to rock the boat?

Make abstract art!

Abstract art does many things but it is best at rocking the boat and causing us to see things in a new way.

Rocking the boat is an important life skill, and one that highly sensitive people should embrace.

Mindless Activity

Currently we are besieged by change.

Given the endless activity of novelty and new “trends” you would think that we allow and accept rocking the boat.

In reality, we are probably not that open and accepting.

Mindless activity is not change.

Mindless activity can stop change because it invites shallow activity. Mindless activity is activity for activities sake; it is not purposeful and well thought out.

Another way to limit change is by creating chaos. Evolutionary psychology points out that the easiest way to stop growth and development is to have a war – which is a form of aggressive chaos.  Chaos is limiting because each moment is divorced from the next so that sustained activity becomes impossible. Under chaos, time and continuity are under siege; in war people are, too.

The Serious Business Of Rocking The Boat

When you are serious about anything, you have to invest time and energy. Serious intention requires a lot of thinking, experimentation, testing of the waters, mistakes and creativity.

Serious intention means you have to slow down enough to make the necessary investment in what you are trying to accomplish.

Working fast reduces investments of time and energy which creates shallow results. One way to keep people from rocking the boat is to have them fixate on a lot of ever changing novelty. It keeps people busy and creates illusions of change. The phrase, “The more things change, the more they say the same,” applies to this scenario.

To make serious lasting change, then, requires a considerable amount of sustained effort. It has to be well thought out because that is the requirement of serious commitment.

Rocking the boat is not the same thing as being challenging or provocative. It is relatively easy to be provocative but not easy to take an idea from conception to reality. That is hard work!

When we rockthe boat we are changing ourselves and developing strength. In doing so we are changing relationships and power structures.

Not everyone welcomes this.

Rocking The Boat May Mean A Fight

HSPs are natural albeit often inadvertent boat rockers.

Being compassionate and empathetic are two reasons. Being creative and energy aware are others. Our very natures, being different from non-HSPs, cause us to create conflict just by being ourselves.

But it takes more than creating conflict to rock the boat or tip it over.

Seriously rocking the boat takes sustained work and focus, something that HSPs may not be good at because of our strained nervous systems.

Serious boat rocking also may mean a fight although I mean fight in the sense of constructive engagement.

To create any lasting change the old and new engage in a struggle over the merits of their positions and the necessity for change, the comfort of the old and the dangers of complacency, the skills that we know and the ones we have yet to learn.

It is only in the struggle that the merits can be known, and strengths and weaknesses assessed.

HSPs are good at grappling with the merits but not with the fight. We may be good grapplers but we often do it in private because our grappling may not be welcome.

We may also avoid fights because they often seem like a smoke screen used to obscure the necessity of change. Fights often seem to be more like resistance to change so we may resist the fight.

HSPs Can Become Great Advocates For Change

Rocking the boat should not be thought of as a reckless activity. You could make the case that the best people to rock the boat and create change are empathetic HSPs.

However, we also have to be willing to fight. Fighting does not have to be fighting against, which is often how we think of it. Fighting can be the activity of bringing our hearts to a conflict.

Bringing our hearts, sensitivity, creativity and seriousness to change gives HSPs the potential to be great agents of change.

We need change and we need HSPs to embrace it and become part of leading it.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Separating Ambition And Greed

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

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

Greed does Not Work For Highly Sensitive People

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

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

The Effect Of Structural Greed On Highly Sensitive People

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

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

Greed Energy Is Different From Ambition Energy

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

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

The Benefits Of Embracing Ambition

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

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

Ambition For HSPs

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

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

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

Are You Suffering From Cultural Depression?

Cultural Depression - HSP Heath Blog

Shopping! © by antwerpenR

I see a lot of depression around me.

Perhaps you do, too.

But it is a strange kind of depression the kind of depression that comes when everything around us seems wrong.

Depression And Culture

What I am seeing is a fairly complex depression that comes from a number of sources – like an octopus messing with our inner well-being. I am calling it cultural depression.

Culture and psychological well being are closely related. If a culture does not support the well-being of its members, then numerous emotional and psychological conditions can be expected. According to Time Magazine, one in five Americans are taking medication for mental health issues. That number does not take into account the numbers of people medicating themselves in other ways.

Depression And How We Value Ourselves

We humans have an important need: the need to like and be happy with ourselves.

Our ability to do that is aided or harmed by our culture through rewards and punishments, approval and disapproval, being included or excluded. How that is handled is very important and can make or break a society.

We humans also have a need to be a part of and contribute to the culture that sustains us, and we also want to be proud of it. We need to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror at night and know that we did our best, made our contribution and had something to do with the  good in our world.

What happens when that contribution is marginalized? limited? controlled? and diminished?

What happens when we are treated as commodities? treated as burdens? made demands of without having our own needs met?

What happens when our ability to solve our on problems is taken away? our skills are undeveloped? our talents unwanted?

What happens when we are nothing more than cogs in a wheel rather that the important creative force in our lives? How many can say that their real self is truly valued?

Cultural Depression And How We Define Ourselves

Because we grow up in a particular cultural context, we learn to define ourselves in terms of the culture we live in. Question the culture and you discover quickly how much culture and identity are intertwined. Want to abandon a culture? You will soon discover how much you depend on it.

Of course we can practice detachment and that is healthy. However, it is equally valid to assert that a culture needs to serve its members and needs to have a healthy purpose and healthy practices. Which means that it needs to support the health and self-actualization of its citizens.

How Cultural Depression Feels

I am mostly interested in how it affects us on the inside, which impacts our ability to function and live well. Our highly mechanized economic system has an affect on how we feel. Many people have some of all of these feelings:

  • we are incidental. Most of our living comes from  a “system”.  What is not systematized? We have systematized food production, all sorts of goods production and distribution, and the education and economic system.  It is operated by humans working machines. We are largely incidental and feel it.
  • we are displays. We are able to display the results of all of this systematization: through the clothes we wear, cars we drive and houses we live in. We are all mannequins in this store called Earth.
  • we are dependent. We cannot usually leave this system because when we go to school, we learn the skills necessary to survive in it, not without it. So we have become dependent on it which can make us feel insecure. Are we living our lives or just passing through on a conveyor belt from birth to death?

A highly mechanized and systematized winner-take-all economic system like our current version of capitalism leave a lot of people feeling depressed and unhappy. And that is a reasonable response to a difficult situation. Often it feels uncomfortable because

  • it seems relentless –  the activity and production. It’s a system that seems afraid to stop.
  • of the hustling: hustle to work, to feel good, to smile no matter what. The forced and expected validation of a system that we have to support to survive.
  • then comes the fear:
    • the fear of not being included or dropping out.
    • the fear of the judgment of others should you not measure up
    • the fear as one famous critic said, “of being irrelevant.” Being irrelevant is often seen as a failure and the end of your livelihood.
  • then the exhaustion, because no matter how hard you try, it is very difficult to get to a place where you can rest. In essence the odds are stacked against you. It’s not just a rat race, it is a rat trap.

Our culture has supported our growth in some important ways, however, the growth that is supported is very limited and confined to the  direct needs of that economic system. So if you decide to define yourself beyond the economic system, you may find yourself out on a limb.

What started innocently as a way to improve the material well-being of the human race has now become an albatross around our necks – a shallow and relentlessly materialistic model that has turned human beings into commodities like everything else.

Unfortunately this system needs for us to be dependent on it so that it can survive – a dependency that causes us to feel vulnerable when something goes wrong. Then we have to take notice of how many of our basic needs are met by products transported to us from elsewhere. We are living with a societal structure that has so many points of failure that we are all excessively vulnerable. That does not feel good.

What Can We Do About Cultural Depression?

Our current system is mature and entrenched. It is unlikely to respond to individual needs and concerns in a meaningful way. That is asking more than it can do. But we do not have to leave it at that. We can start to get rid of cultural depression by taking our lives back by:

  • taking our bodies back from processed and fast food, soft drinks and snack foods.
  • take our minds back from packaged entertainment that offers a negative view of people and the world.
  • take our livelihoods back by  investing in skills that help us and others to become healthy.
  • investing in local sources of food and other necessities so that we are less vulnerable to supply disruptions in other places.
  • investing in our local community so that it becomes the life supporting and sustaining place it can be.

We do not have to be victims of cultural depression.  Everyone has natural creativity which can be used to make life more enjoyable. sustainable and satisfying.

It means living on a human scale and just requires a leap of faith.