Thanks. Giving. No matter what country or language, it is interesting how these two words are often interchangeable. It just happens to be Thanksgiving here in the U.S. This holiday signifies a time to be grateful for all that we have. Yet, too often, it seems we HSPs can either find ourselves “giving too much” or neglecting to realize just how much we do have to be grateful for.
Let’s start with the “giving too much.” This usually involves our often unconscious willingness to allow others to take advantage of our ability to see the big picture and how events and circumstances can impact those involved. Because of our tendency to be aware of subtleties in our environment, and our desire to be conscientious, we can sometimes find ourselves doing too much. We can become the ones attending to all the details. We can be the ones aware of the subtle interactions between others. We can become aware of how the ‘feel’ of a room or environment can add or distract to the overall atmosphere we would most like to create. Because we are good at “seeing the world as it should be,” and not necessarily as it is, it is easy for our giving to deplete us.
For example, I have these old cloth napkins that belonged to my now deceased mother. I love these napkins. I love the feeling of closeness that envelopes me as I bring them out of storage and incorporate them into our holidays. But…they need ironing ! Who really cares about these napkins except me? Who is going to iron them except me? Is it fair of me to expect someone else to iron them?
Or, maybe I am giving too much. Maybe I am expecting to much. Maybe I am giving in to an “idealized version” of what I think is important. This is, of course, for me to decide.
A recent conversation with a client also revealed our HSP tendency to ‘”give too much.” This client was struggling with the fact that someone in her family was going through a very difficult time. She could sense this person’s struggle, anxiety and unhappiness. Her question to me was: “How can I help her?” We both got a good laugh at the answer to my question to her which was: “Well… first of all … has she asked for your help?” Silence. Then a hearty laugh, filled with a sense of relief as she replied: “Well, no, she hasn’t.” “Why didn’t I think of that?” she asked?
As HSPs it is our responsibility to take care of ourselves first. Yes, we can and do pick up on the energies of others, and often this includes the various challenges others are going through. But, unless we are specifically asked for help, it is not our job to “fix” the situations of others, or to try and “make them happy” or to “make it better for them.” It is our job to be aware of the anxiety in OURSELVES and work to self-nurture and soothe that — not try and decrease it in others. This very spiritual client decided to pray for help in showing up filled with love, light, acceptance and empathy for this struggling family member. She decided to strive for the ability to stay present with this person, and share her years of wisdom, but only if asked. She decided to strive to stay centered within her own sense of love for this person, and not take on the anxiety that does not belong to her.
Is the glass half full or half empty? I’m a firm believer that gratitude is the perfect antidote to a glass that is perceived as half empty. I can choose to be grateful for the never-ending love of my Mother, which often brings tears to my eyes as I gently iron and fold her napkins. I can choose to be grateful for my sons, even though their individual lives take them away from the nucleus of my heart strings. I can choose to be grateful that I have been able to create an “inner sanctuary” where I can retreat to be replenished and energized. This energy allows me to choose which activities I will participate in and which ones I will decline. This energy allows me to be grateful to
find time to iron my Mother’s napkins.
What about you? What are you choosing to spend your precious time and energy on? As Cheryl Richardson, so wisely says:
“The only person stealing your time and energy is you. Every choice you make takes a little piece of your life. Give yourself permission to be picky.”
The motto of the HSP Gathering Retreats seems so apropos for the holiday season:
“Focus on Needs, Not Approval.” And…
“Trust the process, always asking: ‘What is there for me to learn in this moment?”
My learning moments always seem to revolve around these questions I ask myself: “Can I be ‘okay’ with things just as they are, even if they are not my ‘idealized’ version of how I wish things were?” “Can I find the beauty in the now and focus on what I am grateful for?” “Can I change what I can, and let the rest go?”
I love the work of Melody Beattie. From her book, The Language of Letting Go, she shares:
“…I used to spend so much time reacting and responding to everyone else that my life had no direction. Other people’s lives, problems and wants set the course or my life. Once I realized it was okay for me to think about and identify what I wanted, remarkable things began to take place in my life.”
And, finally, my favorite quote about gratitude comes from Melody Beattie:
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude make sense of our past, brings peace for today and create a vision for tomorrow. “
Wishing you many blessings this holiday season: A Merry Christmas, A Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Winter Solstice. Have I forgotten anything?
With love and gratitude,