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16 Jun 2011

Emotional Self-defense for Sensitive People (Pt 2): The Unconscious

This entry is part 2 of 9 in the series Emotional Self-defense for Sensitive People

It’s difficult to defend yourself emotionally as a sensitive person without understanding the unconscious. People interpret their worlds on two levels: conscious and unconscious; however, the boundary between the two varies individually.

A purely conscious version of this is situational awareness. At any point in time for any given situation, any two people will vary in the degree to which they are aware of their surroundings especially when they must focus on something. It’s a crucial quality for fighter pilots who must focus on a target while maintaining awareness of their surroundings.

Thus, if people can have varying degrees of conscious awareness, it follows that the interplay between the unconscious and conscious will vary too. The diagram accompanying this post shows the difference between a certain emotion affecting an average person and a sensitive person.

In this situation, the average person isn’t consciously aware of the emotion; however, the sensitive person is. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean the sensitive person will know why the emotion is there, but he will feel something. On the other hand, just because the average person isn’t aware of the emotion doesn’t mean he won’t be affected by it. It will appear as a rationale for thinking, doing or saying something and tell us much about his emotional state and personality. This holds true regardless of whether he’s aware of this.

Consequently, sensitive people are more in tune with people and situations’ emotional aspects. That’s why many of them can quickly assess the mood of a group without even talking to anyone. The problem is that they often let themselves be convinced their feelings are nonsense. Unfortunately, this is analogous to a group of blind people convincing a seer that he’s hallucinating when he sees colors.



Series Navigation<< Emotional Self-defense for Sensitive People (Pt 1): AwarenessEmotional Self-defense for Sensitive People (Pt 3): Self-Awareness >>

6 Responses

  1. I like the diagram! Took me decades to figure this out, just from life experience mostly, both also I found the book HSP (highly sensitive person) helpful.

    Good stuff!

    { twitter = @danenow }

    1. Thank you for the compliment on the diagram, Dane. I appreciate it! I have found it a good schematic to explain what’s going on. We need to remember that some people are more consciously aware of what’s going on around them than others are. ~Mike

    1. Thank you, Lynne. I’m pleased you like the diagram. I like your question; it would make an excellent continuation of this series. I’ll push my original Part III back to put your question in its place. I plan to publish your question and my response to it in my Thursday, June 30th post. In the meantime, my short answer is this: Generally, I have found that it’s not unusual for sensitive people to feel as though they aren’t as sensitive as they would like to be.

  2. Shakil

    Is being sensitive and touchy about issues that concern an individual a good thing? Should he/she be vocal about it to his/her superiors or team?

    1. Mike Lehr

      As a general guide, yes. The problem is that not all people or business cultures appreciate them. They can be taken the wrong way. How we communicate them deserves consideration. Then there are legal ramifications too. If such issues deal with various forms of harassment, then there is a legal basis for raising them (at least here in the United States there is). Thank you for your question, Shakil. I apologize for the delay as I’ve been out of town on family matters.

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