Mom, it’s best to declare yourself early.
This was what my friend’s child said when she came down to breakfast decked out in a very unique outfit on her very first day of attending middle school. She'd decided that showing her true colors right from the start would be the best way to honor herself.
This was years ago and I’m still applauding her courageous mindset to show up as her authentic self in middle school—one of the toughest arenas we'll ever face in our lives.
I have never been able to declare myself early.
I think and muddle and hem and haw and consider things from every angle and wonder what people will think… and then I take an action that is so much smaller than what I want to because it allows me to stay under the radar a little longer.
At least that’s what I used to do.
The last year and a half of newsletters have been me declaring my authentic self every week—pressing SEND when it feels like the most foolish and vulnerable thing I could do—and living to tell the tale.
Sometimes it seems to me like the riskiest way of running a business, but showing up as my real self is exactly what I ask my clients to do, and so I hold myself to nothing less.
Since you’re here I’m guessing you resonate with being a Sensitive Introvert. See if you identify with this conundrum I’m about to unpack. Many of us experience this without really getting why we're stuck. Maybe having words for it will help illuminate what’s going on in your own life.
If you’re here because someone you’re close to is an HSP, I welcome you. Sensitives often feel alone and misunderstood. Increasing your knowledge of how our minds and hearts work will likely deepen your relationship.
Back to sharing yourself authentically.
Sensitive Introverts tend to be deeply empathic: you feel things hard and notice all the small injustices and hurts of the world. You feel it in your heart, sometimes in your body, and at times it just makes you weep. (As a child I cried oceans about slavery and the Holocaust. It pained me physically and emotionally that humans had done such things to other humans.)
In other words, you’d like to fix it all.
Adopt every lonely shelter animal, eradicate poverty, hunger, and every other kind of suffering, save the planet, and make everything beautiful. Am I right?
In your heart you have an enormous desire to make an impact.
(When I was a child and thought about career paths, interior design and photography were two things that I considered. I rejected them because in my mind they didn’t “help people enough”. This was my 13-year-old thinking on how I was meant to make an impact and for me that meant direct person to person support. You may have had similar thoughts about how you're meant to serve.)
There are three places here where you can run into roadblocks.
First, one of the traits of being an HSP is that you hold yourself to intensely high standards. Your expectations leave no room for being uncertain of how to proceed or results that are anything less than perfect. That’s a hard road to follow, right? But there’s more.
You also likely have low self-worth. If this isn’t you, I’m so happy for you. But the reality, both from the research published on HSPs and what I’ve seen in my clients, is that most of us put ourselves last, don’t speak our desires, and feel we shouldn’t ask for more than what’s handed out.
The quandary this sets up is that you expect yourself to make a big difference in the world, to ease some of the suffering in whatever way you feel called and to do it well and without mistakes AND you don’t want to make a big show of things, stand out, be vulnerable, make people listen to your dreams, or help you go after them.
This duality, unfortunately, often leads to a kind of guilty paralysis.
Second in the roadblocks I’ve seen and experienced, is not wanting to declare yourself. There’s huge internal pressure to be the person you came here to be, but the fear of showing your real deep true authentic heart to the world by stating your path is too terrifying to allow you to make a move.
You might even be hiding behind “I just don’t really know what I want to do.” To me this is code for:
"Deep down in my soul there’s a little voice that has an idea, but I can’t fathom ever telling anybody this, so I’m going to ignore it, deny it, quiet it and hope it goes away or turns into something easier.”
How do I know? I’ve been there more than once. And every time I decide to declare myself it gets a little easier, but I hid behind “I don’t really know who I want to be when I grow up” for many decades.
Fortunately, now I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing and my mission to help women and girls to love themselves and declare their deepest dreams is my ever-evolving daily work.
The third roadblock is that when we ignore our needs we can’t function as our best selves and I’ll talk about that in the next newsletter.
I hope this information is resonating with you and helping you to understand your innate temperament. Here's to you!
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