Tag Archives: diagnosis

Turning The Other Cheek

On the side of all my unpredictable, unstable, and inconsistent creative work that I do, I work part-time in retail, selling luxury goods. I am the newest addition to our sales team. Out of everyone there, I probably make the most mistakes.

For a lot of my co-workers, their job is their life. For them, there are no other options. Many of them carry out their job in a very aggressive manner. I, on the other hand, am so relaxed as I work and it really is apparent. I work there because I enjoy it. If this part-time job does not work out, I know I can just move onto another one that I enjoy.

Few weeks ago, our store had our annual holiday party. Everyone was in a good mood and looking beautiful in their fancy clothes. But as the night progressed and more alcohol was being consumed, some of my co-workers loosened up a bit too much. One of them felt it was the opportune time to say to me, “Daniel, you are a real fuck up to the team!… You just don’t care enough… If you even dare to tell our manager about this conversation, I’m gonna kill you…”

Heart in Eye

Of course it hurt to hear all of this, especially when I have only had good intentions for others at my workplace. I felt misunderstood. My emotional sensitivity also intensified the hurt that I was feeling.

The old-me would have resorted to the use of my psychological strategies to escape my present difficult emotions. Having learned from my past the ineffectiveness of this response, I did something drastically different. I allowed myself to just feel the pain without judging whether the feeling was “good” or “bad,” whether my co-worker’s behaviour was “good” or “bad,” or whether my co-worker was a “good” or “bad” person. I resisted my impulse to investigate why such words were spoken and what had to be done to “fix” the problem. I lived in the present moment, even though that moment was not so pleasant. I also meditated on positive truths about who I am as a person. By doing all of this, I was able to keep myself calm and allow my difficult emotions to fully make its way in and out of my system while centering my identity. After giving myself all the time that I needed to grieve over the experience, I forgave her. In no time, I was feeling much better.

Then came the time to think about what to do next. The old-me would have immediately, without hesitation, confronted my co-worker. I have so much confidence in my communication skills and my mind’s ability to rapidly organize the thoughts and ideas in my head that there are not too many types of people, social situations, or sensitive topics that I feel threatened by when words must be used. In the past, I would tactfully expose the crimes of my wrongdoers and draw out their emotions of guilt to get them to stop doing the things that bother me. This practice worked out for me very nicely for many years.

For the first time, however, I realized that this kind of confrontation was actually my mechanism of control. Underneath it all, I simply feared getting hurt again. Rather than going back to my old ways, I took a chance and resisted this form of control. I kept my heart and mind open to be inspired with a better course of action. In prayer, I asked my God that I believe in, “I am pretty sure my way will achieve the outcome that I want, but is there something else You would rather have me do instead?”

Shortly after, I had a “vision” of my co-worker’s life growing up (religious or not, “psychic”-like experiences are not so abnormal in the lives of a lot of highly sensitive people). I saw (with my spiritual eyes, of course) her growing up, making mistakes, and people being very hard on her. I saw a whole string of hurtful words being spoken onto her and crushing her. I saw her desperately trying to build her self-worth through perfectionism. Her lack of grace on others when they made mistakes stemmed from the lack of grace she received growing up. I sensed the many areas of brokenness within her and just knew what she needed to hear for emotional healing to take place.

On my next day at work, I wrote her a Christmas card that included a Starbucks gift card. I wrote something along these lines (the original was much longer, of course – I just don’t remember all the things that I wrote, word for word):

“I didn’t know the extent of all the frustration and damage you experienced as a result of all my mistakes. I’m sorry. I did not mean to make you feel that I did not care. The truth is, I do care about you and appreciate you as a person very much. You are an amazing, delightful, beautiful woman with a good heart… [specific examples…] I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. ~ Daniel”

After reading my card, she came to me, thanked me, and gave me a big hug.

I am not sharing all of this to boast to the rest of the world “Hey, look at me, I’m such a saint!” No. I share all of this to inspire others to try it out when people behave in nasty, hurtful ways.

One of the questions I get asked very frequently from my blog readers is, “Hey, I’m pretty sure my husband/wife has OCPD and it’s driving me insane. How should I break the news to him/her?” This entire blogpost is my answer: I do not think that it is so necessary to “break the news” to anyone. Rather than pointing out people’s faults, weaknesses, and crimes, I think it is much better to love one another and see people’s attacks as clues to their inner brokenness.

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The Loneliness of the Gifted and Genius

NOTE: I use the words “gifted” and “genius” in the place of “extremely sensitive” and “so extremely sensitive that there are not too many of them in this world.” I believe these definitions work better than the results of IQ tests because there is much more to these people than their intellectual overexcitability.

“It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.”
– Albert Einstein

Being born into the one percent of the population that is extremely sensitive not only comes with many great advantages, but also many challenging difficulties.

One of the most challenging difficulties experienced by gifted individuals and geniuses is loneliness.

A Beautiful Mind

[ Russell Crowe as John Forbes Nash in “A Beautiful Mind” ]

Psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski identified five areas of “overexcitabilities” in gifted individuals. We experience both the “bright side” and the “dark side” of these overexcitabilities:

Overexcitability

Bright Side

Dark Side

Psychomotor • Extremely active
• Surplus of energy
• Workaholism
• Defining ourselves by what we DO, not by who we are
• Difficulty sitting still, relaxing, sleeping
Sensual • Heightened awareness of all five senses • Constant physical discomfort
• Seeing, hearing disturbing things (not seen, heard by others)
Intellectual • Extremely smart
• Love of knowledge and learning
• Thoughts, logic, reasoning that hardly anyone understands
• Workaholic mind
• Existential depression
Imaginational • Extremely imaginative
• Vivid dreams
• Imagining disturbing events (not imagined by others)
• Fear of the unknown
Emotional • Great depth of emotions
• Concern for others, empathy
• Intense emotions that hardly anyone understands
• Depression
• Fear of our own intense emotions

Just like everyone else, we go through hard times. Just like everyone else, we experience painful thoughts and feelings. And just like everyone else, we would like to have someone who would listen to us, understand us, validate our experiences, and care for the things we care about.

Sadly, while the rest of the world gets this kind of understanding and care from their loved ones, many gifted people and geniuses are famished in this area. When we struggle with our “dark side,” the rest of the world tells us that we are wrong to see, think, and feel what we see, think, and feel. The rest of the world tells us that we are being too extreme, too dramatic, and too crazy. The rest of the world sees us as being disordered and labels us with ADHD, OCD, OCPD, schizophrenia, etc. By the way, before you go on accepting any diagnosis, be sure to read this first. The rest of the world leaves us to “professionals” who put us on medication that kills our “bright side” along with our “dark side” so that we become more “normal,” more like everyone else. In order to avoid the pain that comes with being misunderstood and outcasted by others, so many of us have trained ourselves to be “normal” on the outside while still experiencing our unsharable intense thoughts and feelings inside. We are accepted by others on the condition that we continue to pretend to be people we are not.

This loneliness is the root cause of the painful depression experienced by many gifted individuals and geniuses. Well-meaning friends and family members who think they understand this kind of depression then advise us to just be more optimistic – but how does a roof over my head or my many talents address the issue of how incredibly lonely I feel?

Many gifted individuals and geniuses then choose to distract themselves from their loneliness with an obsessive, all-consuming pursuit of excellence. But no matter how big of a dent we create in the universe, no matter how excellently we perform, our loneliness still exists and it kills us inside. Those of us who are not distracted enough are at a very high risk of committing suicide.

SO WHAT NOW?

HOW TO HELP YOUR GIFTED/GENIUS FRIEND FEEL LESS LONELY (OTHERS):
Resist judging your friend’s experience. Rather than thinking that your friend is wrong or crazy, be open to the idea that your friend is just “different.” Even if you cannot relate to your friend’s experience, still try to show that you care. If you do not have the right words (if you are less sensitive than your gifted/genius friend, you probably do not have the right words), use physical touch. A caring hug can make your friend feel much less lonely.

HOW TO ADDRESS YOUR LONELINESS (GIFTED INDIVIDUALS/GENIUSES):
First of all, acknowledge your loneliness and recognize the pointlessness of living an exhausting life of moving from one distraction to another. Put an end to your distractions and forms of false intimacy. Face your loneliness once and for all. Stop agreeing with the thoughts in your head about how no one understands you. Work hard at reversing those thoughts. If no one around you is able to give you the sense of intimacy that you long for because of their lack of sensitivity toward your differences, find a professional therapist who is trained to give you that sense of intimacy through the patient-therapist relationship. For me, what eliminated my loneliness was choosing to believe in an omniscient God who not only knows all the things that I think and feel, but also cares about all the things that I think and feel.

This message was approved and shared by American Mensa (the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world)

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