Monthly Archives: September 2012

Creativity

Highly sensitive people are naturally creative because of their inborn imaginational overexcitability. Not all highly sensitive people, however, use their gift to its full potential. Many of them have learned to suppress their creativity because of fear.

Highly sensitive people with anxiety (obsessives) need to overcome their fears in order to unlock the full potential of their creativity.

When was the last time you picked up a pencil and drew something for somebody else for no other reason than simply because you can? My guess is that, for most of you, the last time you did this was when you were a child.

As children, we had so much freedom to explore our creativity. We had little to no concept of right or wrong, correct or incorrect, normal or abnormal to confine our imagination. We were proud of our work and excited to share it with others.

Somewhere along the way, however, we got the idea that our work was not good enough. We learned about being right, correct, and normal. For all our work that failed to meet these standards, we lost pride in them and lost our excitement in sharing them with others.

Although there are so many great ideas floating around in the imagination of highly sensitive people, very few of these ideas get a chance to make its way outside of the mind when there is fear. The two fears that kill creativity the most are the fear of making mistakes and the fear of rejection.

Many of the world’s most creative people have had to battle painfully against their fears. Just look at the fashion industry: so many of the most successful designers are openly gay. Do you think they battled against fear? Of course they did! In a world that is still slowly learning to accept and celebrate the differences in people, “coming out of the closet” can result in extremely painful rejection, even from loved ones. When one finally chooses, as many people within the gay community have, to be oneself regardless of whether or not he or she will be accepted, he or she unlocks the full potential of his or her creativity!

SO WHAT NOW?

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR CREATIVITY:
Be like a child again. Take your chances and do something creative everyday. If you are a photographer, participate in “Project 365” (taking a picture everyday). Create your own 365 day project in whatever area you want you improve your creativity. If you are a composer, try to compose a new song everyday. If you are a writer, try to blog everyday. But in order to unlock the full potential of your creativity, you are going to have to face your deepest fears and accept your entire self.

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Race and the Obsessive Personality: Jews and Koreans

Are some ethnic groups more anxious than others? I definitely think so. Imagine for a second that each country is a school student and our world is a big locker room. Some students are assigned lockers that are surrounded by the lockers of bullies while other students are fortunate enough to have lockers that are far away from any danger. Who do you think would go to school every day with a higher level of anxiety?

The obsessive personality is more likely to show up in people groups whose ancestors once shared an overwhelming experience that caused their entire race to lose their sense of security.

Jews and Koreans had a very rough past. Both were once under the rule of big bullies who told them that they are inferior. Both suffered through war, poverty, slavery, ethnic cleansing, cultural genocide, and human experimentation. During these horrific times, they lost much of their sense of security and developed the idea that the world we live in is a very unpredictable, dangerous place.

Sadly, this fear continued on even after all the bullying came to an end. Survivors could not all of a sudden let go of all their defense mechanisms. They continued living in “survival mode,” overreacting to inconsequential mishaps and overemphasizing safety and stability.

To make matters worse, they raised their children to look at the world in the inaccurate way that they do. These anxious parents bred a new generation of smart, but very self-conflicted survivors who would also one day pass their fear down to their own children. The cycle then repeats generation after generation.

What also makes Jews and Koreans similar is their shared method of escape from pain. Although there are many different ways to escape pain (none of which I recommend), both people groups promote work as the most effective method of escape. Workaholism is consequently one of the biggest problems within the Jewish and Korean community.

[ “Work sets you free” slogan on the entrance of Nazi concentration camp in Dachau, Germany ]

Below is a dialogue illustrating how many Jewish and Korean parents teach their children to escape their pain through work:

Jewish and Korean Parents

Perfect Parents

CHILD: Mom/dad, I am experiencing pain and I don’t know what to do.

MOM/DAD: Your pain is nothing compared to what I went through. You have it so easy. You’re just not working hard enough. You need to work harder.

CHILD: Mom/dad, I am experiencing pain and I don’t know what to do.

MOM/DAD: Aww. I’m sorry, child. Come here and let me hug you. *hug* Pain is a normal part of life. Don’t try to avoid it. Just experience it and let it pass. Don’t worry. You’re going to be just fine.

All of this is pure speculation on my part. I have just grown up all my life with Korean people and I happen to notice the anxiety in so many of us. I have also felt oddly so connected to Jewish people by our many similarities. Jewish people also seem to agree that they are an anxious bunch. OCD is so common within their community that it is even jokingly nicknamed “the Jewish disease.”

Anxious ethnic groups have a lot of similarities in the way that they function. Here is a list of some of the things you might find within anxious ethnic groups:

  • parents who worry too much about their children
  • controlling and over-involved parents
  • grandparents that are impossible to impress, like “Yiayia” <- watch this funny 30 second commercial of an unimpressed Greek grandmother :D
  • high standards for health and education
  • competitiveness
  • strong work-ethic, workaholism
  • inability to relax
  • inability to feel satisfied, perfectionism
  • smart use of resources
  • success in business, but inflexible business partners
  • stress

SO WHAT NOW?

HOW TO BREAK GENERATIONAL FEAR:
Fear is contagious. So before you have children, put an end to your fears by facing them. When you finally have children, be calm around them. Be the secure caretaker that you never had as a child. Teach your children that the world is not a dangerous place.

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Compulsions and Addictions

All human beings function better when they are given just the right amount of stimulation. When they are under-stimulated, people tend to create more stimulation for themselves. When they are over-stimulated, people tend to withdraw. For highly sensitive people, under-stimulation and over-stimulation occur more frequently and intensely than they do for others. Although it is perfectly normal to correct these feelings of discomfort in moderation, highly sensitive people with obsessive personalities tend to take their correction methods to unhealthy extremes that can turn voluntary correction methods into involuntary addictions.

Highly sensitive people with obsessive personalities (not limited to OCPD) should be more mindful about correcting their feelings of discomfort in moderation in order to prevent the development of unpleasant compulsions and addictions.

Stress is a very common feeling of discomfort experienced by highly sensitive people. In attempt to correct this feeling of discomfort, a lot of sensitive people withdraw from the overwhelming world.

When a person decides to crawl into his comfortable bed and go to sleep in response to stress, his brain records the action. If the stress returns at another time in the future and the exact same behaviour is repeated, his brain makes an even stronger association between the stress and the act of going to bed. After much repetition, the association becomes so strong that going to bed becomes an automatic response to stress. The person may then find that, whenever stress comes his way, all of a sudden he feels so incredibly sleepy and disinterested in social interaction that the only thing he wants to do is go to bed.

People who have developed unhealthy compulsions such as this one must create new neural pathways in their brain or access other, less frequently used pathways. They must resist the urge to repeat their unwanted behaviours and try to practice healthier correction methods instead.

People with obsessive personalities tend to have an extensive list of not-so-good compulsions and addictions. Here are some of the common ones:

  • Facial tics, twitching, leg shaking, stretching, knuckle cracking, etc.
  • Doubt, overchecking
  • Isolation, oversleeping, lethargy
  • Depression, complaining, negativity
  • Self-deprecation, guilt, shame
  • Escapism, daydreaming, suicidal thinking
  • Workaholism
  • Intellectualization, overthinking
  • Overeating, eating too little
  • Impractical spending (time and money)
  • Sex, drugs, alcohol

As you can see from the list above, people can even become addicted to feeling certain emotions.

SO WHAT NOW?

HOW TO BREAK COMPULSIONS AND ADDICTIONS (OBSESSIVES):
Understand that it is normal to experience discomfort. Ups and downs are just normal parts of a healthy human life. When these feelings of discomfort come your way, do not be afraid to experience them. Instead of trying to correct or avoid it, feel the discomfort and give it the time it needs to pass. For psychomotor compulsions like facial tics and leg shaking, seat yourself in a comfortable position with your eyes closed and try to feel the discomfort in your body without correcting it. The intensity of your urge to repeat your compulsions and addictions will decrease as you give in to them less frequently.

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