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28 Jul 2011

Emotional Self-defense for Sensitive People (Pt 5): Intimidation

This entry is part 5 of 9 in the series Emotional Self-defense for Sensitive People

One aspect of sensitivity that I find challenging to explain to sensitive people is their natural intimidation of other people.

As we saw in Part II about the unconscious, emotions are churning outside of our unawareness. This includes emotions related to our defense mechanisms that are frequently triggered when we meet people very different from us. However, on the surface we will often just rationalize these feelings as, “I don’t like that person because . . .”

Emotions, especially intense emotions, trigger defense mechanisms because they are very unpredictable. These emotions are the source of strong passions that move us to tackle situations when the odds are against us.

Since sensitive people often have many emotions, especially intense ones, flowing through them, it can be intimidating or, at minimum, frustrating to work with them. It’s intimidating because they are likely aware of something that we aren’t. It’s frustrating because simple man-made creations like logic, numbers, rationale and reasons can’t alter the innate nature of emotions.

For sensitive people, this means working covertly with the rest of us. Sharing some of their emotions with us can be awkward, humiliating and even dangerous because often they can’t be quantified, reasoned, proven or even verbalized. Since we aren’t aware of the emotions running through all of us on an unconscious level like they are, sensitive people will find working with us similar to a sighted person working with blind folks. How do they explain what they see to us? Moreover, once we even sense they can see things we can’t, our defense mechanism kicks in.

Thus, sensitive people need to be aware of their intimidating nature and of the fact that they are talking to very blind people from a situational awareness perspective.


Series Navigation<< Emotional Self-defense for Sensitive People (Pt 4): TalentEmotional Self-defense for Sensitive People (Pt 6): Defeatism & Courage >>

7 Responses

  1. April

    Whoa. Big stuff here! As an HSP, I forget that others can’t sense or feel emotions or energies as I sometimes can. Thank you for reminding me of this and for helping me see my gifts in another light!

  2. Again A good And Regular Observation post.
    This post is very important from My Prospective as it reminds the first Night-out party With my New College Friends And I remember One my friend was so sensitive but we were on our mood And we were always forcing to dance at some level he was irritated with us. hahahahahahah but it’s a fact..!!

  3. mia

    Dear Mike, thank you so much for posting the above. It has helped immensely to explain in layman terms why when asked whether I think an individual is attractive I always consider ‘in what way’ and hesitate to answer; and cautious to ‘judge’.I see ‘internal beauty’ of an individual and why I am always right about a person’s character within the first few minutes of meeting them – even when it takes years for their true character to manifest itself (and it does!). It also explains why some people immediately turn away from me (or worse, become quite aggressive) – they must see the horror in my face when I ‘sense’ their insincerity; yet these people come across as ‘normal’. I’ll be reading your other articles to seek further self awareness. Your article on sociopath vs psychopath, well, it seems my current workplace are filled with these – it was a shock to recognise this as it is a major player in the international charity sector.Your insight is incredible.

    1. Mike Lehr

      Thank you, Mia, for the compliment. This entire series has received a response far greater than I had imagined it would. These points have helped several clients. One finally told me I should post them on my blog. I did. She was right. Please share and encourage others to visit, read and comment on this. We don’t speak about this in our everyday work lives. People such as yourself are very similar to seismometers. They’re sensitive enough to warn of rumblings in the earth well before we consciously feel them. Many times we don’t even feel them, yet that does not mean such rumblings are not impacting the earth or ourselves. Yes, it can be quite intimidating and frightening when people sense there’s a seismometer in the group. Please consider subscribing to the blog. You help me much by doing so and help yourself at the same time. Enjoy your day, Mia. Thank you for visiting, commenting and complimenting. ~Mike

  4. Kudos for bringing forth another ‘elephant in the room’ topic that gets ignored–meaning emotion and feelings. I’m translating ‘sensitive’ here to mean one who is intuitive and can consciously access their feelings and is aware of others subtle behaviors/feelings…not someone who is out of control emotionally. (Can have different connotations). Truth is, if we are human we have emotion and feelings. The question is, are we self-aware enough to proactively manage them? There is no such thing as ‘checking them at the door’ no matter how we try to convince ourselves of this myth. It would be more courageous (yes, one can have fear and do it anyway…which takes courage) and self-masterful (notice I didn’t say ‘easy’) to learn how to understand and use them to our advantage instead of giving our power away to unconsciously letting our feelings control us and create the stress, anxiety and dis-ease we see all around us in our world. It’s tough to learn empathy when you can’t even understand how you feel yourself. This is a part of the leadership challenge today. You bring out several points that are good, can’t address them all. So here’s one as you mention:

    “Since we aren’t aware of the emotions running through all of us on an unconscious level like they are, sensitive people will find working with us similar to a sighted person working with blind folks.”

    I get it. I used to be a ‘blind folk’ after learning how to deeply repress my emotion and feelings as a physician, it’s part of the conditioning/education process. And, I can directly attest to the damage this did to my body, mind and relationships. Fortunately, I overcame my terror to feel and frankly, I’m less ’emotional’ – much, much less fear, worry or comparing myself to others. More confident and self-reliant in creating my self-image/capability. Equanimity tends to be my general state of mind, better decision making, less likely to be judgmental, impatient…on and on. The trick has been ‘making friends with feelings’ and respecting them as much as I do my intellect. Of course it’s a continuous process. Then you can tame those, ‘wild horses.’ After all we were given two brain hemispheres for good reason; two hemispheres really are better than one. 🙂

    1. Mike Lehr

      Thank you for leaving your insights and personal experiences, Valencia. Yes, you are right. You can can translate sensitive as emotions and feelings. Sensitive people are very much like seismometers. They can feel very differences in the emotional climate of other people and groups. Whereas we won’t feel most vibrations in the earth, a seismometer will. Most people are not seismometers so they miss many of the emotional currents running through others and groups.

      You’re right about checking emotions at the door. That is impractical. For those who are less sensitive it’s easy. They don’t have the emotions and feelings piling up that sensitive people do. If you don’t have things piling up in your house, you don’t need to worry about doing anything with them. What you say is key about “learning how to understand and use them to our advantage” rather than let them tap our basic self-defense mechanisms or have us repress them because logic, social mores, education, group dynamics and upbringing dictate it.

      In short, our reasoning brain should not dictate how we feel. It should be challenged to figure out how to tap what we emote and feel to grow and protect us.

      Thank you for visiting, Valencia!

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