Sometimes we miss the forest for the trees.
As a highly sensitive person, you probably notice all sorts of little things that other people miss. Your intuition and processing of all the subtleties is your sixth sense.
I pick up on the energy of a person instantly. I remember the concepts we talked about and how the conversation felt. I remember the heart of the person and their underlying desires. The little nuances that tell me why they are destined for greatness in the world. (The important stuff, right?!)
But later, if I’m asked what color shirt that person was wearing? Most of the time I have no recollection.
“Did the guy you were talking to have facial hair?” I dunno… did he? Who cares… I can tell you what his intentions were and the perspective he’s coming from. Do you want to hear about that??
I’m embarrassed to admit that sometimes… I use my GPS locally, just so I won’t miss my turns! I often don’t remember landmarks, and if I’m in conversation or deep in thought, there’s a high probability I will be taking the long way to my destination.
As HSPs, we have a rich and lively inner world. We can be so much in our heads, perhaps analyzing the beautiful, intricate details of the veins on a little leaf… and forget we are standing in the middle of a huge, dark and dangerous forest.
Indeed, there are times when what we miss can leave us in a vulnerable position.
Sometimes this plays out in relationships. Have you ever been so enamored with a person and their essence and swept up by the amazing feeling you have around them – that even when you notice red flags and developing patterns of harm, you just excuse them?
Maybe they completely neglect you when out with other friends. Or maybe they occasionally lie to you. Or don’t follow through on agreements. But you throw your intuition out the window and tell yourself it’s not a big deal, because you’ve seen their sweet side, their potential as an amazing human being. And that’s what God sees!
Seeing others’ potential can make us excellent forgivers. But it doesn’t not help us to have healthy boundaries.
It’s a tough thing when hurtful behaviors become a pattern in a relationship. We are perplexed and don’t know what to do, because everything we do is for the good of this person who is amazing and incredible and really has so much potential. We’ve seen it!
Sometimes it can be difficult for HSPs to take care of ourselves when we walk around with our “special glasses” on. Our “special glasses” give us the perspective to see the best parts of even the most destructive people. And we tend to make relational decisions based on that perspective, often downplaying our own feelings and needs.
Not everyone was born with a pair of these glasses, and it’s a true gift in many ways.
But sometimes we need to step back and take the glasses off and look at the big picture, for our own well-being. Especially those of use who are Christians. God calls us to be good stewards of ourselves.
People will try to tell you that the answer to these problematic patterns is better communication. And you will say, “Of course! Because my person has potential. We can fix this with better communication!”
I hope that is true, but if for some reason you find that it’s not getting fixed?
Well, I’m here to tell you that communication does NOT solve all problems in all relationships. You may find yourself in circular conversations, bewildered at how a person just plain refuses to understand why something hurt you. Maybe your amazing-potential person will “play dumb”… leading you to believe that they can’t understand, when the truth is they just won’t.
At this point, ask yourself if the person graduated high school… got decent grades… holds a job. If those things are true, you may have been taken advantage of… or fooled.
“The fool tries to adjust the truth so he does not have to adjust to it. You probably know this experience. It is the gnawing feeling that you get when you have the same conversation with someone about the same issue over and over, and slowly sink into the frustration and despair of hope deferred. You wish that the person would hear what you are saying, as your intent is not to persecute but to solve a problem so that something will work or that your relationship will get better. But you get nowhere and mostly feel stuck. You try over and over, and yet nothing ever happens.
“This brings us to the strategic issue: Whereas talking about a problem to a responsible, wise person helps, talking about a problem with a fool does not help at all. Therefore, further talking about problems is not the answer.
“So stop talking about the problem. It’s time to change the conversation from trying to get them to change to talking about the fact no change is happening, and that is the problem.”
As Obi-Wan Kenobi wisely asked, “Who’s more foolish – the fool, or the fool who follows him?”
There are a few relationships I now look back on and think, I was so foolish. And when I meet new people, I sometimes still accept a deceptive masquerade because I’m so enchanted by their good qualities. But I’m getting quicker to take my special glasses off and acknowledge hurtful patterns in my relationships – and acknowledge that there are people with extremely high potential who just have no desire to grow or change. I’m learning to accept the idea of “unsafe relationships.”
A fool isn’t necessarily stupid. He can have a lot of great qualities. He just, unfortunately, chooses to make poor choices. So being in a genuine, trusting relationship with one, I have found, is nearly impossible.
I think it’s important to remember that every person has a choice as to whether they will walk out their God-given potential. Just because we can see what others can’t, doesn’t mean they will make that choice. Be an encourager, but guard your heart.
Don’t miss this simple but difficult truth: Your own potential is just as valuable.