Saturday, April 12, 2014

Being an HSP Writer

Putting myself out there hasn’t been easy for me. When I started this blog, I was scared of criticism, scared of making mistakes. One of my weaknesses is over-thinking, so I tried to control the future with my mind. 

But after I decided to just do it and see what happens, I have sometimes easily and sometimes, just about hobbled through writing this blog.

As a writer, the constant tension has been between my nature, which is very reserved, and the fact that I write from a very personal space. This tension paralyzed me in the past. What’s different this time is that I realize that I need to hold this tension inside and use it to refine how I express myself in my writing.

As an HSP, I care about how my writing affects the people in my life and their privacy. Every personal experience is not grist for the mill. Before I started this blog, I consciously decided that I wouldn’t write about close family and friends. I have mostly kept to that promise, except that I have written about my husband quite a bit (hopefully in the positive light that he deserves).

One thing that I have learnt from this constant push and pull as well as a few mistakes is that the best test for deciding whether to write about something personal is this: Does it take more courage to write about it or to say it out loud in my own life? Writing is not a space to confront what we should confront personally. And yet, there are certain personal truths that we need to say out loud.

If you are an HSP writer, it is important to learn to discriminate between these two. You won’t find writing pleasurable if you find that it’s creating disharmony in your life. But you will not find it useful if you hold back from saying the truths that give your writing meaning.  

Sometimes, even when these truths involve just us, we often hesitate to say them. For me, hanging in the background is the specter of that age-old Indian refrain: What will people think? When I wrote about washing dishes here at home in America, it felt like a minor risk. Washing dishes is lowly work in India. When I wrote about not wanting to sing the Ganesh aarti (prayer), a prayer that countless Indians know by heart, I felt like I was doing something wrong. Even though I knew that a prayer that says that God can confer the gift of a son (not a daughter) to a so-called “barren” woman is crafted by mere human beings, not God. 

The voices in my head said: “Keep quiet. Be obedient.” Keeping quiet and being good felt like the same thing. Maybe as you write, the voices in your head will scream in a similar way. But if we were to go behind these voices, strip them down, we see that what they are really saying is: Shame on you for airing the skeletons in the closet. We would have liked you better if you had kept quiet.

Yes, they probably would have liked us better. But when we keep quiet and implicitly agree, we start forgetting what we truly believe in. Exercising our voice is about preserving our own integrity, instead of bleeding into someone else’s values.

Once you begin your own journey as an HSP writer, you will find that you have many more such questions and tensions to be resolved. One of my other questions was: “What if I write something today, and then I stop believing it later on?” How could I be consistent? And then, I found my answer in a quote by Mahatma Gandhi in which he says that in his search for the truth, he was free to change his mind anytime. He didn’t aim for consistency in his search. This comforted me. I was asking the wrong question. I could write from my present understanding. I didn’t have to preserve outer appearances.  

This was an important question for me to answer. As HSPs, we become suspended when we feel that we don’t have the right answers. We are loathe to make mistakes, and when we are scared or doubtful, we are likely to freeze. So, whatever questions you have, it is important that you take the time to address them, and move forward knowing that you can find answers to any other questions that may come up in the future. 

I am just at the beginning of my journey. New doubts, new fears keep on coming up. I have to remind myself that what feels overwhelming today will get easier as I learn to tackle it. As sensitive people, we can over-exaggerate the feelings of overwhelm by focusing on our fears. The key is to shift the focus to the present, to just do the next small thing. Gradually, it brings us to a place where we have greater mastery and increased confidence to do bigger things. 


  1. Isaiah 54 ---New King James Version (NKJV)-- A Perpetual Covenant of Peace

    “Sing, O barren,
    You who have not borne!
    Break forth into singing, and cry aloud,
    You who have not labored with child!
    For more are the children of the desolate
    Than the children of the married woman,” says the Lord.
    2 “Enlarge the place of your tent,
    And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings;
    Do not spare;
    Lengthen your cords,
    And strengthen your stakes.
    3 For you shall expand to the right and to the left,
    And your descendants will inherit the nations,
    And make the desolate cities inhabited.

    4 “Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed;
    Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame;
    For you will forget the shame of your youth,
    And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.
    5 For your Maker is your husband,
    The Lord of hosts is His name;
    And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;
    He is called the God of the whole earth.
    6 For the Lord has called you
    Like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit,
    Like a youthful wife when you were refused,”
    Says your God.
    7 “For a mere moment I have forsaken you,
    But with great mercies I will gather you.
    8 With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment;
    But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,”
    Says the Lord, your Redeemer.

    9 “For this is like the waters of Noah to Me;
    For as I have sworn
    That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth,
    So have I sworn
    That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.
    10 For the mountains shall depart
    And the hills be removed,
    But My kindness shall not depart from you,
    Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,”
    Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

    11 “O you afflicted one,
    Tossed with tempest, and not comforted,
    Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems,
    And lay your foundations with sapphires.
    12 I will make your pinnacles of rubies,
    Your gates of crystal,
    And all your walls of precious stones.
    13 All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
    And great shall be the peace of your children.
    14 In righteousness you shall be established;
    You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
    And from terror, for it shall not come near you.
    15 Indeed they shall surely assemble, but not because of Me.
    Whoever assembles against you shall fall for your sake.

    16 “Behold, I have created the blacksmith
    Who blows the coals in the fire,
    Who brings forth an instrument for his work;
    And I have created the spoiler to destroy.
    17 No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
    And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
    You shall condemn.
    This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
    And their righteousness is from Me,”

    Just felt like sharing this.... From the book of prophet Isaiah!!!

  2. Just a question... think about it it....
    Is it even good to be good??? bad to be bad ?? who or what are you obidient to ???

    Think of this--- Elaine Aaron defines you as an HSPs... its her research which she claims to be path breaking... right ??--- you are obidient (or chose) to be obidient to her... by reading her books/blogs et al.. right ???

    Just a few fundamental questions for you to probe on... right answers --- are they found from a feeling??? is it independent of what you feel?? are feelings real???...[ independent of moods..]..... whats your point of reference???-- dont be scared of doubts/ fears...||| Having said that dont be scared of finding the answer to your doubts and fears..

    The above chapter[Isaiah 54] was one of the verses from in my church a few years back !![:)... and the barren women .. is me .. ]