The Dangers of Doing Nothing: when going against your instincts can work in your favor

Ever thought of going to see a movie or attending a social event but found every excuse in the book not to go? Yeah me too. We HSP’s have a way of talking ourselves out of living life. We miss out on potentially great experiences when we convince ourselves that a date or concert will be too much on our senses to leave the house. We owe it to ourselves and those who love us to put ourselves out into the world – even when our inner selves start throwing tantrums about it.

Photo By Brook Dionato
Photo By Brook Dionato

If you’ve read Dr. Elain Aron’s book”The Highly Sensitive Person”, you’re familiar with this concept. But if not, we recommend that you purchase at your local brick and mortar or digital retail store and take a gander. Dr. Aron coined the term “Highly Sentitive Person” or “HSP” and explained that there are various types of attitudes we can develop in our approach to experiencing life due to factors such as inherent disposition, upbringing, and trauma.

“One can see why it is important that young HSPs (and older ones, too) stay out in the world, trying things rather than retreating. But their feelings about their caretakers have to be secure and their experiences have to be successful or their reasons not to approach will only be proved true.”

Excerpt From: Elaine Aron. “The Highly Sensitive Person.” Apple Books.

If you’re an HSP like me whose had poor experiences with family and friends in a variety of settings, you can have trouble overriding the instincts you’ve developed to shelter yourself from new and overstimulating events. Your inner self may, more often than not, try to convince you that the new experience will lead to more harm than good – even when you know you’d be in the company of people who generally treat you well. As you read this post, I’d like you to consider the following two ways that overriding your instincts can work in your favor and best interest:

You will learn more about your strengths, not just your weaknesses.

Diving into foreign territory wobbly-kneed and sweating may be just what you need to witness just how strong you are! I was invited to my first “Friend’s-giving” (Thankgiving friends’ appreciation potluck) gathering last November. I knew I wouldn’t recognize all of the faces in attendance, I’d have to try new foods I may not like as a courtesy, and I’d have to make random conversation with complete strangers that I may not connect with very easily or at all.

This sistuation basically had all the makings of one that would normally lead me to cancel last minute so as to swaddle myself in my favorite blanket and remain alone for the evening. But alas, I went against the instincts that told me the gathering would be too much, I’d be too awkward, and I was too sensitive to deal. And guess what! I had a great time!

By putting myself out there I learned that in addition to a sensitive and somewhat easlity overwhelmed inner self, I also have an inner commedian. I remebered that I have an inner foodie who loves comparing and sharing recipes. I learned that people admire my sense of style. Best of all, I felt pleased that I could be in my element beyond the optimally stimulating sanctuary of my own home. Do you have a similar situation you can recall where you ultimately flourished instead of sinking as your inner self warned you could?

Just like everyone else, there are new factoids we as HSP’s won’t learn about ourselves until we enter new situations or even familiar ones with new elements. We must work to remeber the strengths we discover that can guide us though each novel occurance.

You can learn to feel peaceful whilst being out of control.

Now, I don’t mean buz-cut-Britney out of control (so glad she bounced back!), but rather simply not aiming to dictate every element of a situation or it’s outcomes. Part of what I struggle with as and HSP is remembering that I don’t have to control the outcomes of every situation I enter. Not only that, but I don’t have to actively care about them either. My inner self, who needs more instantaneous reassurance that I’ll be okay, begs to differ.

One day I was mentally mapping out the pieces of my journey to law school. I got hung up on trying to plan out all at once in my head what would happen if I didn’t get into my first choice schools. Which state’s bar will I study for? What jobs would be available to me? Would I remain close enough to family? What if I have to leave my tribe (friends) behind? What would life look like if I suddenly lost control?? Is your heart rate speeding up too, or is it just me?

Then I remembered I could only do my part right now to get where I want to be in the future. No amount of mental mapping could put me in any more control of the outcomes when I haven’t even applied to schools yet! That said, entering into new situations is scary for everyone. We as HSP’s may view the world with our senses wide open, but that does not mean life will be harder for us if we don’t control every sensory input and every outcome in advance.

Be at peace knowing that you’re doing what you can while you can and have faith in yourself that you can survive the obstacles that have the potential to overload you if you let them. If you’re anything like me (which I’m sure you are since you’re reading this), realize that your inner self will become less hell-bent on making sense of chance the more you practice giving up imagninary control.

If you have any anecdotes or tips that may help a fellow HSP learn to override their instincts, we’d like to know more about them in the comments below! If this post has helped you conquer your super-sentive inner self even a little on your way to living a fuller, more exciting life, we’d like to see that too! Be sure to comment and subscribe, and remeber – sharing is caring 🙂

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