If you are slow or extra careful when making decisions in general, have you tried making decisions about people?
When it comes to decision-making, we HSPs tend to go back and forth with the pros and cons, seeing situations from every possible angle before we come to the best decision that is people-centered, highly ethical, and purpose-driven.
It’s like we have this special magnifying glass that allows us to see and appreciate all the different perspectives. It can be super helpful, but it can also be overwhelming.
When we see others making decisions that differ vastly from our own, we can at least understand why, and often, we can appreciate the motive behind a different perspective.
Our empathy allows us to see how others perceive their views.
I recently saw this posted in a Facebook group, regarding standards:
“A flat standard for everyone neglects that people’s flaws are different. It takes more effort for one person to listen closely than another, or some must show a greater commitment to being prompt because it’s their tendency to do otherwise. Consider the effort as opposed to how far someone is from meeting a standard. Implementing relativity like this – developing relative, person-specific standards – will drive you to recognize when people are trying, even if they lack in certain areas.”
As a highly sensitive person, I couldn’t agree more. This kind of empathy has guided me my entire life, and I’m thankful to have been able to build several close friendships with people much different than me. To have friends who do things that I’d even consider wrong. It’s a rich way to live.
This is one of the strengths of being mighty sensitive.
BUT… there have been times when this strength has gotten me into trouble.
And here is where boundaries come in!
I’m learning all I can about boundaries these days. The principle of having healthy boundaries has truly been life-changing for me. Let me explain.
We can love and appreciate people right where they’re at – even if their standards are much different than our own. If you’re a mighty sensitive, you get this. You have a compassion for humanity that you can’t even really explain.
But if someone has a different standard that causes them to harm you – how do you deal with that?
I have defined a boundary for myself that says if I’m being repeatedly harmed by someone whom I’ve asked to stop, and they don’t stop, then I will not be in close relationship with them.
Seems like that should be a given, right?
Well for a lot of us, it’s not that easy. Especially when we have compassion for this person and can understand why they may (intentionally or unintentionally) harm us… due to something in their past, their personality, a mental health issue, whatever.
If you have a healthy boundary for yourself, for example, that says you will absolutely not get in a car with someone who has had more than two drinks – how easy is it for you to uphold that standard?
Have you ever – because you are so accepting of all people – compromised your own standards or boundaries, because you wanted to be loving and accepting of someone else, right where they’re at?
I have. (And I’m not proud of it.)
Here’s the thing. It’s okay. You can love that person right where they’re at WHILE saying (for example), “I’m sorry, but I’m going to drive myself or catch a ride with someone else.”
Holding your boundary for your own well-being does not mean that you don’t accept and love that person because of their different standards.
It just says that you are also going to maintain your own standards, where it affects you.
And sometimes this does mean letting go of a harmful relationship. Especially if you keep saying no to something that affects you, and because of a person’s different standards, they won’t accept your no. This is a crossing of your “no” boundary.
I have no problem loving people of all stripes and standards.
But if someone’s standards cause them to cross into my life and cause me harm, and I have asked them to stop and they won’t, I’m learning that it’s okay to let go of that friendship. It is not cruel.
It is actually the most loving thing we can do, not just for ourselves, but for the person who won’t accept our “no.” Because ending the relationship will stop enabling that person to cause you harm, and that is what is good for them, too. Love does what is best for the beloved.
Hopefully most of our “boundary enforcements” don’t have to end relationships, though. If your sweet neighbor is a junk collector, and you ask her to please keep her junk from spilling into your yard, she will probably sweetly say, “Oh! I’m sorry that old barrel rolled into your yard, knocked out your cat, and smashed all your flowers. I won’t let that happen again!”
And hopefully it won’t!
I want to encourage us all to kindly speak up about the barrels that roll into our yards. We are worth it. Even our cats and flowers are worth it. And our neighbor will probably respect us even more.
I think, for highly sensitive people, boundaries are much easier to define and employ for the sake of others who are being harmed… but much harder to do for ourselves.
But boundaries are imperative for great relationships! We can’t impose our standards on other people. Other people get to decide what they allow in their space. But we CAN decide what behaviors we will/won’t allow to cross into our own space.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
How clear are you with your own boundaries? Try writing down some absolutes for what you will and won’t accept in your own life. It will bring clarity and vision.
I am coming to understand how important boundaries are. And I really appreciate the reminder that this blog has been for me. I need to read and re-read. And I need to work on being far more consistent in my follow-through.