Three Truths and One Wish

1. I am working to stay open, but I get overwhelmed. I’m a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), “a person having the innate trait of high sensory processing sensitivity.” This means that my starting point is raw and tender, no skin, every nerve exposed. What is a normal situation to someone else feels to me like I’ve shown up naked while everyone else holds a knife and yells. Everything seems too bright, too loud, too sharp. Add to that my practice of attempting to remain open no matter what, connected to reality just as it is, and you’ve got a pretty complicated situation.

2. I’m trying to figure out how to have boundaries, how to stay open but somehow protect myself, what it would mean to avoid practicing “idiot compassion” or what I might call “idiot openness.” In Buddhism, “idiot compassion” is essentially enabling, what Pema Chödrön describes as “the general tendency to give people what they want because you can’t bear to see them suffering.” She says,

When you get clear on this kind of thing, setting good boundaries and so forth, you know that if someone is violent, for instance, and is being violent towards you — to use that as the example — it’s not the compassionate thing to keep allowing that to happen, allowing someone to keep being able to feed their violence and their aggression. So of course, they’re going to freak out and be extremely upset. And it will be quite difficult for you to go through the process of actually leaving the situation. But that’s the compassionate thing to do.

3. I’m learning new ways to soothe and protect myself, without numbing out, shutting down, freaking out and running away, or staying and allowing myself to be wounded. It’s complicated and confusing. I make mistakes, get it wrong, but I’m trying, making an effort. As Andrew Boyd said,

Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.

One Wish: That in this life which is such a mix of so much suffering and confusion and aggression, but also so much love and comfort and wisdom, we find a way to be “strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.”

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