Boundary setting for sensitives and writers

For sensitive people, setting boundaries is one of the trickiest skills for us to master.

We’ve learned to have feelers out around us constantly, aware of everything and everyone, as a strategy to not be blindsided by challenging people in our lives. We’re porous, and open, and affected by other people’s energy, emotions, and even thoughts and feelings. Many of us have tendencies to be “fixers” — quickly responding to other people’s needs, wants, and problems — in part to relieve our own distress at having them being “needy” in our physical and energetic space. And we don’t miss much, because we’re constantly aware of what’s happening around us.

We also happen to be excellent at helping people process painful experiences. We can be deeply empathic and highly supportive during difficult times. We can put ourselves in other people’s shoes fairly easily (and our audience’s and characters’ shoes, if we are also creatives and writers). 

Setting boundaries, for people who are so accustomed to being open, can feel like a slap in someone else’s face — to us. Typically WE don’t like having boundaries set, because it feels like being pushed away, and many of us long for deep closeness, so we don’t like to set them for other people. At the beginning of setting boundaries, it CAN come off as harsh, because we’re not innately accustomed to it, so we often err on the side of overkill. It takes practice to even it out.

And the hard reality, though, is that until we learn to set proper boundaries, we are uncomfortably and inappropriately affected by other people, and often overly involved in their “business” too.

As sensitives with other things to do in the world besides just dealing with being highly sensitive (*grin*), like writing, or creating, or pursuing your own life dreams, you’ll want to set boundaries on multiple levels, so you can stay on track with your own path, and not get pulled off course by other people’s agendas, needs, wants, visions.

1. Set physical and practical boundaries.

If you’re working or living in a shared space (or even if others have access to your physical space), you’ll find yourself being affected by other people’s energy, intentions, and assumptions, unless you clearly establish the ground rules or boundaries for what’s okay and what’s not.

Usually this looks like establishing parameters around when and how you want to work or focus in an uninterrupted way, when and how you’re willing to be interrupted (or not), when and how you want alone time, how and when people are allowed to drop by, and more.

So, for example, in my house, my family knows that writing time is sacred. With some trial and error, we’ve established that when I’m writing, no one talks to me, no one interrupts me, no one asks me questions, and no one comes into the room (though as I type that I’m pretty sure my 5 year old son sneaked into my writing room yesterday to get something but since he didn’t bother me, I didn’t mind).

I do make an effort to keep my other work time corralled to daytime hours when my son and husband are away from the house (I work in a home office) but if they ARE home, we have rules there too. I close my doors and lock them. I come out at expected intervals — I let them know when I’ll be taking a break and when they can ask me questions. OF COURSE if there was an emergency they would interrupt me and I would be totally fine with that. But otherwise? No.

And yeah, it’s sometimes hard with a 5-year-old, but he’s learning. I also don’t expect him to stay away without help. If there’s not someone else home, I do my best not to schedule things during that time.

Similarly, on a practical level, I know when I’ll answer the phone and when I won’t. When I’ll check my email and when I won’t. Et cetera.

A lot of this has to do with communication, and a willingness to keep fine-tuning it over time. And yeah, it sometimes goes off the rails. But the point is to get it back on track as smoothly and seamlessly as possible.

2. Set mental and emotional boundaries.

But what happens when you find people invading your mental and emotional space? What happens when you can’t stop thinking about what your boss said, or your friend Tammy’s “emergency”?

I find this issue shows up in two primary ways: being overly involved with other people’s needs and being overly involved with other people’s opinions.

Other people’s needs

When it comes to other people’s needs, we have to remember not to allow ourselves to get “hooked” by other people, and to respond to them appropriately, in our own right time and space.

Part of this is learning to trust and respect that at the end of the day, other adults are responsible for their own needs, just like we are responsible for our own needs. We can lovingly and supportively say, “Yes, I’d be happy to help you. I’ll be available at X time to do that.”

We can also say, “No, I’m sorry, I wish I could help you, but I’m not available.”

And by the way, in case you’re wondering, it’s totally okay to not answer the phone or respond to messages or emails until it works for you. Sure, some things need a timely reply. But that doesn’t have to mean instantaneously.

Children of course are a different matter, because as adults we are responsible for meeting many of their needs. And we are also responsible for helping them learn to take care of themselves and respect other people’s needs and boundaries too.

I’m not going to pretend that I never get hooked by other people’s dramas. I sure do. But I do my best to disentangle myself as quickly as I possibly can.

I will also add here that family is always the trickiest when it comes to setting boundaries. Always. We have such deep-seated patterns when it comes to our family members, and it’s not easy to have distance and perspective on them, which by the way, is part of what boundary-setting both requires and creates.

Other people’s opinions

Another way issues show up with mental and emotional boundaries is when we are overly invested in other people’s opinions, wisdom, and advice. This is a tough one for me. It’s far too easy for me to turn to other people for input and not remember to turn inward to my own inner guidance for the answers I need.

Why on earth would we do this?

There’s actually a good reason.

Most sensitive people, from an early age, are told NOT to be the way we are. We learned to distrust ourselves, because even though we usually saw the truth of what was going on around us, when we spoke up about it, we were told not to. Not to say it, and not to even notice it. And since we were kids when that happened, and we equated our own survival and being loved with disowning a core part of ourselves, we learn to try not to be who we are.

So that incredibly valuable, deeply wise part of ourselves gets repressed, in order for us to survive.

The work here is about learning to look within for answers and developing our intuitive muscles to hone our sense of inner guidance.

At the same time, we will also want to consult with experts and authorities from time to time, but we absolutely have to remember that on the human level we are still equals. Even if the other person has more advanced information than we do, we can set a mental boundary that says, “And what do I think? What feels right to me?” Being self-referencing in that way and remembering not to give our power away to other people is extremely empowering for sensitive people.

And yeah, sometimes someone will say something that just nags at you and it’ll take a little while to process and release it. That’s okay, just don’t let it derail you. Use your energetic tools (see below) to disconnect and move on as efficiently as you can.

3. Set energetic boundaries.

At a third level, sensitives also benefit from learning to set energetic boundaries. Sometimes that’s the easiest place to start, because when we can shift other people’s energy away from us, we’re less affected by the actual “on the ground” things that are happening.

Energy skills are a way of working with the energy field around your body to clear out the crud you pick up from other people (ever feel like “PigPen” walking around out there in the world?) and filter what comes into your space. It’s a practice that centers around some simple visualization skills to get you into your body and shielded. Again, once you put those into place, you’ll find that the other inter-personal work gets a lot easier to accomplish because you won’t get hooked as easily other people.

One of my favorites is a trick I call the “Grocery Store Cure” (described in my Protection & Boundaries self-study class) to block the energy of the people standing overly close in line at the grocery store. It’s a subtle thing, but it makes a lovely difference in creating a sense of space and place for myself.

Where’s your focus area?

The bottom line is that boundary setting isn’t a skill that comes naturally to most sensitive types, and it takes deliberate attention and communication around what’s working and what’s not working so you can make some adjustments. It’s worth it in the long run because you’ll feel better and be more on track with your own life.

So take a quick inventory of these key areas: physical and practical, mental and emotional, and energetic, to see where you might need to focus your own fine-tuning. Let me know what you discover in the comments.

Warmly,

 Jenna

 

Sensitives, what’s most important to you?

I’d love to have your input on a survey that will help me develop articles, offerings, and services for sensitive souls. I’ve been receiving input from you about wanting “more for sensitives” so I’m checking to make sure I’m providing what you’re looking for.

Thanks for your interest!

You can take the survey here:

[polldaddy survey=”16DC16B517FAB63B” type=”button” title=”–>Click here to take the survey!<–” style=”inline” text_color=”006666″]

 

 

While you’re here, you might also be interested in the three for one Summer Sale I’m running right now — Thursday through Saturday, where you can get all three of my self-study energy skills classes for sensitive souls for the price of one. You can check out the sale here: https://calledtowrite.com/SummerSale

 

 

 

 

 

Stop your tomato fears from stopping you

When you’re venturing out into the world to be seen by an audience — into the spotlight — your fears of ridicule and judgment are apt to rise quite high.

It’s enough to keep you in perpetual procrastination mode, never quite finishing your book, website, screenplay, speech, or ________ so you can truly put yourself out there.

Change your underlying story

The path to the spotlight requires changing your underlying story about your “tomato fears” so you don’t feel held back by them.

Among the many tomato fears, like creative apathy, creative confusion, and creative blocks, you’ll likely face fears like these two:

The “It’s all been said before” syndrome

This comes up when you think you have nothing new to say, there’s nothing new under the sun, and hasn’t it all been said before?

These messages and questions will keep you quivering in silence unless you adopt a new mindset.

Try these ideas on for size:

  • Remember that YOUR audience is waiting to hear from you.
  • They may never “get” what it is that you’re here to share unless YOU share it.
  • Even if you’re sharing something that’s not “new,” your unique take on it may be exactly how they need to hear it to finally “get” it.

The “Who do you think you are” syndrome

This is fear rearing its ugly head in the form of, “You’re not special. Who do you think you are?”

Try this on instead:

  • Understand that this is your divine contract to deliver and take your ego out of the equation.
  • Recognize that interacting with your audience is a sacred exchange of energy. Treat it respectfully and reverently.

(These are excerpts from my Sensitives in the Spotlight class which will be available in my shop later this year as a self-study class.)

Change your questions, change your life

One of my favorite quotes from Tony Robbins is, “To change your life, you have to change the questions you ask yourself.”

Your philosophy and the questions you ask yourself about being in the spotlight and sharing your creative work profoundly shape your experience.

Change them, and change your life.

Your turn

I’d love to hear what you think! Your comments are always welcome.

Warmly,

 Jenna

Expand your Spotlight Comfort Zone
With practical and spiritual tools to help you get there
In a safe, sensitive-friendly 6-week study group

If you want to summon your courage and step into YOUR spotlight, join my upcoming Spotlight Study Group, where we’ll have a safe, sensitive-friendly, small, intimate coaching group to clear up the fears, doubts, old wounds, and other obstacles to claiming your place in front of your audience — where you belong.
 
Starts May 1. Early registration ends Sunday, April 15th. Details are here.
 
 
Questions? Email my team.
 

 

Coming Attractions

~> FRIDAY, April 13th, 2012. (Extended an extra day!) Last day to register for the next session of my Writer’s Circle session starting on April 16th. Sign up here.

~> April 19th, 2012. Last day to register for my next Life Purpose Breakthrough Group on May 17th. Only 3 spots remaining. These groups consistently sell out, so if you’d like to join me, reserve your spot ASAP. Register here.

~> April 19th, 2012. Teaching a live webinar for Writer’s Digest, “10 Practical Tips for More Consistent, Productive Writing.” Register here.

~> May 1st to June 5th. My new Spotlight Study Group for sensitives, artists and hermit types who are ready to take their call to the spotlight more seriously and clear up the obstacles getting in their way. Register by 4/15 and save $100. Details.

 

What I'm Up To

~> Ongoing. Writing in the ProSeries class at ScreenwritingU. Starting the marketing module today!

~> Sacred writing time. Early mornings and Fridays.

~> Now reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with my boy. I’m thinking I’m going to have to knock off after that for a while because they do take a turn toward the darker side and he’s still just a little one. We’ll see. I’m also thoroughly enjoying watching Downton Abbey and Enlightened. Great shows, both.

 

 

 

Are you a sensitive called to the spotlight?

Several weeks ago I wrote about the link between sensitivity and creativity.

I commented that the challenges of sensitivity and creativity seem to come primarily from the audience side of things, and that ironically, I frequently I analyze hands for creative, sensitive types who have “Spotlight” in their hands — it’s astonishing how common it is.

What I’ve noticed is that for some of us who are more introverted or sensitive and have a tendency to want to be a hermit, it doesn’t stop us from wanting to or feeling called to the public eye — even though it can feel terrifying…

For people who’ve made an art form out of avoiding over stimulation, it can feel like a downright contradiction in terms to be “called to the spotlight.”

Here are some of the common concerns I hear from clients and sensitive types called to the spotlight:

  1. Fearing criticism of what we have to offer.
  2. Feeling uncomfortable receiving praise.
  3. Thinking there is some “right way” to be visible — and we don’t know what it is.
  4. Trying to fit in with a certain image or public persona.
  5. Doubting the value of what we have to offer.
  6. A fear of having to perform and not measuring up.
  7. Being overwhelmed, drained or exhausted being in the public eye.
  8. Feeling like we won’t be able to handle what comes up.

For sensitive, introverted types, there are some surprising pieces of information that can help you feel more comfortable about being in the spotlight and understanding yourself, like:

  • Pitfalls empathic sensitives tend to fall into when engaging with others, especially an audience.
  • How an introvert’s brain works, which can make you feel intimidated about speaking in public.
  • Why sensitives may not perform well under pressure, and what we can do about it.
  • The hand analysis gift marking that points to being “in the spotlight” and how to identify it.
  • How to deal with “tomato fears” (the fear of having rotten tomatoes thrown at you) and other creative expression challenges.

On April 10th at 3 p.m. Pacific Time (4 Mountain, 5 Central, 6 Eastern, Midnight GMT), I’m leading a teleclass (a class held over the telephone) called Sensitives in the Spotlight: How Artists, Writers, Hermits & Introverts Can Navigate a Call to the Public Eye. The fee for the class is $39.

When you register, you’ll have an opportunity to submit your questions for the live session, so I’ll be sure to answer them for you.

$39

 Join me!

 

If you have questions about how the class works or any other logistical details, please post them in the comments section below and I’ll be sure to answer them.

If you have questions FOR the class about being in the spotlight, you’ll be given an opportunity to submit them immediately upon registration. And I can’t wait to see them.

 

FAQ

Q: When are you offering this class again?

A: This is a one-time offering. I expect to record this class and make it available in my shop, but I do not expect to offer it again live. That may change, but as of right now, this is it.

Q: How does a teleclass work?

A: A teleclass is a class held over a telephone conference line. You will have to pay normal long distance fees in order to participate. In this class, participants will be muted until the Q&A period at the end of the class. That portion of the class will not be made available in the shop.

Q: Do I have to have had my hand analyzed in order to participate in the class?

A: No. You do not need to have had your hands analyzed to participate in this class, though I will be referring to some gift markings and other hand analysis markings during the session. To be clear: Being called to the spotlight by your hand markings is only PART of the story here. You may FEEL called to the spotlight and benefit that way. You may also benefit in terms of learning about being more comfortable in other public experiences whether you are called to the spotlight or not.

Q: What does “Spotlight” mean from a hand analysis perspective?

A: “Spotlight” is a shortened version of the expression, “Creative Expression in the Spotlight” for someone with a Right Ring Finger life purpose, and for the term, “Fame and Fortune in the Arts” for someone with an Apollo Star gift marking. However, anyone who feels a “calling” to be in the public eye may feel called to the spotlight.

Q: How long will the class run? Will the recorded version be available to the participants as well? Will it include the Q&A?  Will there be any written info I can use to supplement the class?

A: The class will run approximately 45 to 60 minutes, not including the Q&A. The recording will definitely be included for people paying for the class now, including the Q&A portion of the class. At this point in time, I am planning to have a simple PDF I send in advance for people to follow along with, though I may also offer it online via a visual slideshow. 

Sensitivity 3.0

I’ve worked with highly sensitive souls since I started my coaching practice in 2002. As I evolve, and as we evolve as a tribe of sensitive people, I see more for us than I was able to see before.

I began with one model — let’s call it Sensitivity 2.0 — and now my approach has evolved to a new one — let’s call it Sensitivity 3.0.

Sensitivity 2.0

In the Sensitivity 2.0 model, my focus was on helping sensitives move from a place of struggling with being highly sensitive to thriving with it, essentially learning how to “deal” with being highly sensitive in a not-so-sensitive world.

This has been tremendously important work, in my humble opinion, because I’ve seen so many people move from being frustrated, embarrassed, and deeply unhappy with themselves to feeling uplifted and inspired by their own abilities and their own innate gifts.

My mission statement throughout that time was to “help people find a deep sense of inner rightness so that everything else would just drop away, and they would feel inspired to step forward and shine.”

In the end, much of my deepest work was and will continue to be about that deep sense of inner rightness.

And there’s more…

Sensitivity 3.0

In the new Sensitivity 3.0 model, I want to help you step your dreams up into the next level of their expression.

It’s time to say, “Okay, so we’re sensitive, now that we know how to manage that, what’s next?”

My new mission is to help you “upgrade” from the Sensitivity 2.0 model to Sensitivity 3.0, where not only are you thriving as a sensitive person, you are also getting your deep work into the world.

I want you to bring that powerful, deep art, message or movement you have out and share it with your audience, no matter what pain, ecstasy, doubt, joy, terror, or delicious dilemma you experience in the process.

The world’s deepest hunger is waiting to be fed by your deep gladness, to paraphrase theologian Frederick Buechner.

And I want to help you get there.

Your Turn

I’d love to hear from you about this subject:

  • How have you evolved with your sensitivity?
  • What’s next for you?
  • Where do you see us going as a “tribe”?

Jenna

 

Coming Attractions

~> August. Doing Creative Destiny Assessments with visionary creatives ready to claim their creative destiny. Interested? Email me here to request a session.

~> September 6th. Beta-testing my new writer’s accountability system with a select group. Want to participate? Email me here to request the details.

~> September 29th. My next Life Purpose Breakthrough ‘Big Vision’ Group. Details. Only 4 spots available.

 


~> Alternate MONDAYS. Right Brain Business Planning with my buddy Kris Carey.

~> FRIDAYS. Sacred writing days. The Do Not Disturb sign is up.

~> Vacationing with my family in August (at least part of it!).