Do you sometimes take the easy way out?

We all do.

Have you ever wondered why that is? Have you ever wondered what to do about it?

Why Do We Take The Easy Way Out

So here’s the deal.

We humans all like pleasure. There is nothing wrong with that. We also need to be safe.

When we take the easy way out, it is usually to feel good or to be safe.

That’s it.

When we are taking the easy way out, it means that we are usually harming ourselves in a sometimes not so obvious way order to get the feeling or the safety we are seeking.

The example of someone who has a bad experience and then gets drunk to get rid of a “bad” feeling is a classic example of this.

But taking the easy way out does not necessarily have to be this obvious.

When Feeling Good Is Taking The Easy Way Out

There is nothing wrong with feeling good or being safe. There are some important positives to both.

Feeling good, for instance, can come when we are doing good work. Safety is an important requirement for progress and well-being.

However, both feeling good and seeking safety have a downside. If we are seeking solutions outside of ourselves we can be shortchanging ourselves. The issue is what we are trying to change and why. Are we acting out of fear or because we are supporting our best self?

We live in a world that operates to a large extent on rewards and punishments as a way to obtain cooperation. We will be confronted by this system whether we want to or not just by being alive.

For highly sensitive people, dealing with the challenge around the rewards and punishments we are offered can be daunting because they were not designed for us. One of the observable differences between HSPs and non-HSPs is how sensitive people have a more internal locus of control whereas non-HSPs are more apt to seek cultural rewards. Keep in mind that this is not meant to be a sweeping generalization but the observation that sensitive people are less culturally oriented.

This reality complicates how sensitive people relate, what causes them to feel good and how they interact with the cultural rewards structure.

When HSPs Take The Easy Way Out

Even if we are not seeking a lot of external rewards, sensitive people may still take the easy way out sometimes. We are human after all, and life is hard.

Some days, we are like everyone else, we just don’t feel like doing what we need to do. Like exercise. That’s obvious.

What is not so obvious is that sensitivity complicates the question of taking the easy way our especially in our social and work relationships.

We need more rest and more frequent rest, so we may feel that we are copping out when we are only taking care of ourselves.

We may overextend ourselves in order to do our jobs to pay our bills which may cause us to neglect ourselves because we are exhausted.

It may seem that no matter what we do we feel that we are taking the easy way out somehow. And we may be perceived that way by others which doesn’t help.

Furthermore, since we may observe what others do not, we often experience a lot of inner conflict and self-doubt around when to take action and when not to. This is part of the challenge of being sensitive and why sensitive people tend to come across as risk averse when they are not able to process what they are perceiving in a timely way.

The Conflict Between Survival And Excellence

For highly sensitive people, excellence can be more attractive than survival as a motivation. Excellence is less adversarial.

However, the world we live in is more survival-oriented.

Many of the rewards and punishments in our culture target survival goals. They often require an aggressiveness that runs contrary to the nature of highly sensitive people. Our gentler natures make it appear that we are abdicating our responsibility to others when we are able to contribute in ways that are undervalued.

A survival oriented world often treats people as resources to be used to serve survival. HSPs do not do well in survival schemes. We tend to be slower and more conscientious. War is not our thing and often seems like taking the easy way out anyway.

As a result, not only do we not respond to the external rewards we are surrounded by but we are also unlikely to perform when we need to be highly aggressive rather than highly conscientious.

Coming To Terms With It

We HSPs have to come to terms with our different natures and a cultural system that often will not reward us. The way to do that is to create a way of life that is designed to meet our needs and talents.

We need to take up the challenge of finding work that provides us with satisfaction, enough rest, and enough financial support.

We need to recognize our greater need for health care and make sure that we get what we need.

We need to make sure we are around people who support our well being rather than drag us down.

When we do these things, we will have found a way to be in the world that lets us function well and contribute constructively so that we can take comfort in and know that we did not take the easy way out.

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 of "sensory processing yoga" using frameworks to help sensitive people master their sensitivity and turn it into the asset it can be. She also offers the Emerging Sensitive Movie Club focused on movies and discussions about 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 also an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.


  1. Elizabeth Scala on May 10, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Taking the easy way out, an interesting concept. “Easy” can be subjective as my easy is different than another person’s who is still different than the next. What I strive to do (and am successful and not) is do what is best for me. If I am tired, I need rest. I put off exercise until the next day. And then I try to do the exercise the next day. There is no point in forcing myself through it as it will be counter productive and unhealthy for me. I had an interesting week- ups and downs. Felt sad and then great. Felt scared and then joyful. Felt worried and then peaceful. What I enjoy is that, in my past, I would have covered up these “bad” feelings and surpressed them. Now- instead- I actually embrace them and allow them and feel them. I feel them so that they can be released and let go of. Is this the easy way out? Not to me, but it sure does work better than pushing feelings away. Have a healthy day!

    • Maria on May 11, 2013 at 8:50 am

      Hi Elizabeth,

      You are so right about easy being subjective. I think it is also not always easy to figure out what is and is not taking the easy way out because there are so many different standards for behavior that make it hard to figure out. Pople with macho standards will have different ideas than people who do not.

      I like your idea of simply engaging. I think that is probably the best and most complete way of engaging with life.

      All the best,