Self-Discipline and the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)
Highly sensitive people (HSPs) often have a love/hate relationship with structure. Especially in our relationship with time. We love the freedom of doing what we want, when we want. But most of us have come to the realization that not having any structure actually prevents us from making consistent and sustainable progress towards the things we truly care about.
For example, if we care about our health, but only exercise when we feel like it - it's not difficult to see how challenging it will be to become fit.
You've probably heard of the saying, "What we water, grows." I believe we must create "safe containers" of time, energy and attention for anything we wish to grow or develop in our lives. This could be anything from creating a business to cultivating a better relationship with a loved one.
We can't just "hope" that things will get better over time. We must have the capacity to show up (consistently) for our life projects and relationships, even during times when it isn't necessarily easy, convenient or fun.
I recently got a lot of plants as part of a complete home office makeover (shoutout to my friend Eunice). In the past, I had studied Chinese medicine, and my teacher would often encourage me to get plants because he believed they could help develop sensitivity and "listening" skills to better understand patient needs.
Sure enough, I've had to learn what each plant needs, from the amount of water and light it receives, to addressing issues such as spider mites and nitrogen deficiency.
The point is, if I didn't carve out the time, energy and attention to care for these plants, they would all be dead by now :)
And the same goes for anything that we genuinely care about in our lives. We can't expect to have a good relationship with our kids, if we rarely spend any quality time with them. We can't expect to get good at playing a musical instrument, if we only practice once a week.
There's a saying, "energy flows where attention goes." And so we must create and protect these "safe containers" of time, energy and attention. If some aspect of our life is not growing in a way that we would like, it's pretty safe to assume we are not maintaining the integrity of our "safe containers." Energy never lies.
As highly sensitive people, learning to manage our energy is a big part of our journey and path towards embodiment. It is key in creating a life that we feel is worth living, and it's absolutely necessary in order for us to be able to make conscious choices as far as where we wish to direct our time, energy and attention - so that we don't fall victim to overwhelm, anxiety and burnout.
SELF-DISCIPLINE is a critical part of managing energy as a highly sensitive person. For much of my life, I really resisted the idea of self-discipline. It felt so stifling and oppressive. I just wanted to be free!
But what I've come to learn is that self-discipline is needed for me to access an even greater level of freedom. True freedom isn't about doing what I want, when I want. True freedom is about being empowered to make choices. Choices that allow me to create a meaningful and fulfilling life.
And this is particularly important for us, as highly sensitive people. The world we live in is not always kind to HSPs. We often must create our own path in order to be our authentic selves and thrive.
So with this freedom comes the need to be able to set boundaries for ourselves. For example, if I want to become healthier by eating healthier, I must choose not to succumb to the convenience of eating fast food every day. Merely having the intention to eat healthier is not the same as eating healthier.
Similarly, I wouldn't be able to learn to play the piano just by reading books or watching YouTube videos. I still need to practice. And that requires that I create and maintain boundaries for myself so that it can happen regularly.
I encourage you to take a step back and take an honest look at your life. What's going well? Name them. How are you showing up for these areas?
And then take a look at what's not going well. Name them. These will probably be areas of your life where you feel like you're not living up to your potential.
And then ask yourself, "Am I creating "safe containers" for these areas so that they can grow and flourish?"
If the answer is "no," I invite you to examine whether these areas are actually important to you or not. Take your time. Be honest with yourself. We often make rash decisions when we're feeling overwhelmed or burnt out.
But if you determine that they are important to you - then I encourage you to come up with a plan to give them the love and care they are yearning for. Just like how plants need sunlight and water, your goals and what's important to you need time, energy and attention in order to actualize and become reality. This is key to living a fulfilling and intentional life.