Your Questions, Answered (Part 2)
Given recent events, I thought I'd take some time again to answer more of the questions you've been posting on my blog, rather than trying to be original. The questions have been edited for brevity and clarity; they can be read in their entirety on the Your Biggest Questions pages on the blog. Many of the questions are about valuing our sensitivity.
On June 16, 2006, Pauline asked: "How do I survive in a world where my sensitivity does not seem to be understood or valued? I feel constantly hurt and misunderstood."
I find that our culture does not generally value high sensitivity. However, the key is learning to shift your perspective from an outward focus to an inner one. When you learn to understand and appreciate your sensitivity so deeply that you have no doubts about its value, I suspect you will find fewer incidences in the world of invalidation. I also believe that in order to shift the cultural bias against high sensitivity, it will start with us claiming our power, truth, and strength. See more on this subject in my subsequent answers to other readers.
On May 24, 2006, Barbara asked: "In 'The Highly Sensitive Person,' Dr. Elaine Aron says we 'may have to overcome a certain lack of focus. If your creativity and intuition give you a million ideas, at some point, early, you will have to let most of them go, and you will have to make all kinds of difficult decisions.' The 'difficult decisions' are what I avoid. I am 60 years old and have learned to cope with the downside of sensitivity, but would like to enjoy the value of it. I firmly believe I need to learn the value of it in my bones. I have been a certified life coach for about five years, but with a client base that would be unsustainable without other income. I love the coaching and want more clients, but am pretty stuck about the reality of a viable business and, of course, marketing aspects."
In your note I see you asking three questions:
1) How can I cope with having a million ideas?
2) How can I value being highly sensitive?
3) How can I deal with marketing as a highly sensitive person?
First, like you, I also have a million ideas. And sometimes my visions get ahead of me. The way I focus my efforts is to encourage myself to choose my projects in support of my current vision. In other words, although I've had lots of ideas for other business ventures, I choose to focus my efforts in the realm of high sensitivity where I'm already established. I also keep lists of my ideas for the future, and I rely on two things to help me choose: 1) My intuition and my energy pulls me in my next best direction, and 2) I choose what to work on "next." That perspective gives me the freedom and space to know that I will get to the other projects later on, one thing at a time.
Second, about valuing being highly sensitive, I encourage you to take a look at my articles, "What's So Great About Being Highly Sensitive, Anyway?" and "Sensitive Souls Have the SPICE of Life." These two articles point to some of the valuable gifts that come along with the trait of high sensitivity. I believe that as we begin to develop, use, and appreciate these gifts, life flows much more easily. And once that happens, it's hard not to value it.
Third, regarding marketing and business, I want to encourage you to consider joining the Sensitive Professionals Network. I am striving to create a place where people can come together and receive support, guidance, ideas, and information about creating viable businesses. I'll be sharing articles there about what's worked for me, and inviting members to do the same. I would also encourage you to focus on marketing efforts you enjoy. For me that's writing, developing web-based information and support, and teaching small classes.
On June 16, 2006, Nemo asked: "It is hard to know what my talents are. As an HSP, my talents are not the usual. I am not decisive, a hard-worker (able to work overtime), a team player (prefer to work alone), or have a neat desk. So what are my talents, my offerings to the world of work? The few talents that I do have -- e.g. patience, conscientiousness, etc. -- I don’t feel really count, because they come easily and naturally to an HSP. So how do I learn to value these [talents] instead of dismissing them?"
I see two aspects to your question -- one is about your own innate talents and the other is about the talents that come along with being an HSP. Regardless, you mention that they come naturally and so you don't value them. First, I want to encourage you to explore the same articles I mentioned to Barbara, above. Second, it's easy to forget how amazing we each are when we are so accustomed to ourselves. A big part of what I do as a coach is help people reconnect to how truly magnificent they are. I would encourage you to carefully explore your talents -- make a list of them and objectively think about what makes them valuable, as if you were considering them from an outsider's perspective. I suspect this will help you find another way of looking at your talents. If you'd like some questions to get you started thinking about your innate talents, take a look at my article on "Finding Your Unique Niche" from June 2006.