How Emotional Games Harm Sensitive People

Do you avoid relationships because of emotional games? Do people think your sensitivity is just an emotional game?

If that is the case you are not alone.

Emotions And Social Games Are Not The Same

Many people are afraid of their emotions. They are afraid of how they will be treated because of them.

Emotions are feelings from your direct experience of life. That is why you are often hear that there are no right and wrong feelings. There aren’t.

Emotional games are just the opposite – they do not come from your direct experience. Emotional games come from a preconceived idea about life and reality. People often think that reality is painful, so to avoid it they create emotional games to fend off their ideas about who they are and what awful things might happen to them. Emotional games are also the basis of all forms of identity. The reason spiritual masters challenge our identities because they are a game – an attempt to turn something fluid into something fixed. It does not work.

How Emotional Games Harm The Sensitive

Sensitive people are aware of the shifting nature of everything around them. They have to be because their nervous systems pick up on all stimulus, which, of course, is constantly shifting and changing. When you are sensitive, you do not have the luxury of denial about the changing nature of reality.

Emotional games present sensitive people with several problems:

  • their awareness is often not welcomed by people around them who seek to maintain a defined view of life or maintain a fixed set of circumstances.
  • they feel the disconnect with reality and often do not know how to relate to people who operate from what is essentially an ideological view of life.
  • sensitive people with their more fluid connection with life, often do not have strong fixed identities which may make them seem weak to others when if fact they are very strong to be so in touch with nature.
  • highly sensitive people often feel left holding the emotional bag because they have to process not only their emotions but also the unaddressed emotions that ideological living leaves on the table.
  • emotional games clog relationships making it more difficult to relate and solve problems, which often turns relationships into a burden for highly sensitive people.
  • emotional games can consume so much of the relationship space that sensitive people can find intimacy more of a war zone than a rewarding experience and so often prefer to be alone.
  • the greater the emotional games the more likely a sensitive person is to find the relationship difficult and unrewarding.

Minimize Emotional Games

Highly sensitive people need to minimize the emotional games in their lives because:

  1. they are draining and counterproductive.
  2. they interfere with and harm their natural generosity and creativity.
  3. they increase the recovery time sensitive people need from other people.
  4. they often represent an abdication of involvement in the serious work and issues of life and therefore are disappointing to a sensitive person.

As an sensitive person, you are in a unique position to notice when the energy of another person is false or fixed. Your sensitive nervous system can be used to help you set stronger boundaries with those whose energy suggests that they will demand a relationship based on emotional games.

It is worth considering using your nervous system to create a litmus test or alert when energy around you is false. It will enable you to draw back from those situations and individuals who can drain or harm you.

So many sensitive people use their nervous systems to help others. How nice that we can use it to help ourselves as well!

About Maria Hill

Maria Hill is the founder of Sensitive Evolution. She is the author of The Emerging Sensitive: A Guide For Finding Your Place In The World. In addition, she has created the immersive Emerging Sensitive Program using cultural and personal development frameworks to help sensitive people master their sensitivity and turn it into the asset it can be. She also offers The Magic Of Joy program for quantum healing and the Emerging Sensitive Community focused on living in the world as a sensitive person and navigating the challenging cultural shifts of our times. She is a longtime meditator, reiki master, student of alternative health and Ayurveda. Maria is a Certified Theta Healer and certified in Spiral Dynamics. She is an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.


  1. Emmilia on March 9, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    What if you are married to someone with a false/fixed energy? I would prefer to stay in the relationship but at times it drains me and brings out my worst. Is there any advice to shield oneself from the effects of this and help the other without just walking away?

    • Maria Hill on March 9, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      Emmilia, I obviously do not know the situation so what I say may have limited value. Yes there are shielding techniques including creating a white light around you. However, over the long term, you may be fighting a battle to stay in this draining relationship because it takes a lot of energy to maintain a draining relationship. If you are able to summon that energy and still take care of your needs you may be OK. I would suggest that you learn every possible energy technique including reiki to take care of your energy.


  2. Ada on March 9, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    Maria, thank tou for this post. It hit home like nothing elsa Ive ever read about how HSPs relate to their surroundings. And never has this been to relevant in my life to address. Im at a crossroads in life, and this is really it.

    My only and big question is HOW?

    How do you trust your instincts whitout being neurotic? It a thin line sometimes.

    And how do you perform this self-protection practically? Ive read pages on end about how HSPs should embrace their special traits, but honestly thats old. Im fed up with it. Now Im actively looking for tools on how to handle this.

    • Maria Hill on March 9, 2016 at 4:30 pm

      Thanks, Ada. Stay tuned – we will be offering more about tools soon.


  3. Summer on February 26, 2018 at 10:26 am

    Hi Maria,

    This is exactly what I needed today. I think this could also be related to emotional abusers and controlling people in relationships. To them, it is a game. Playing with the HSP’s vulnerabilities is a big game to them that they will always win because the nature of HSPs is to sincerely care. Thank you for your words and timing once again!


    • Maria Hill on February 26, 2018 at 10:36 am

      Cool, Summer! I think you are right that many abusers create a game to control others. My hunch is that many abusers do not value sincerity. I am glad I could help you today.

      All the best,