MC does subconscious analysis

Topic Summary:
I’m going to write about self-reflection of my subconscious here.

To have a self-contained topic for discussing my subconscious, my intuitions, my emotions. I think keeping this in one place will help me look at the bigger picture and look for patterns.

I also don’t like talking about this stuff in the topics of others (unless I think my subconscious is right and there’s something relevant to the other topic), so I prefer to have a separate place to talk about it.

I’ll sometimes do post-mortems of my others posts here too. Suggestions of posts to analyse are welcome.

CF Relevance:
Getting better at subconscious thinking, explaining intuition, and improving automations so I learn better from my mistakes and discuss better.

I had some subconscious resistance to posting on CF for the past week (and a little bit I think in the preceding week, but not enough to be noticeably prominent or problematic).

I think there were three main parts behind my resistance.

Part 1: Overload

One was being a bit overloaded. I was working on a programming project all of last week and put 70+ hours in to it. I’ve done this sort of thing a lot, but I don’t think I’ve done it in a self-aware way before. So I’m still coming to understand just how much impact this has on me. Roughly speaking, after spending a week like that I seem to take about 3-4 days in burnout, and roughly seem to have about 50% (or maybe even less) capacity for complex thinking for those days.
I don’t think this a bad thing as such, I can get a lot done in a super focused way and I enjoy it. But I’m trying to be more self-aware of the impact so I can more effectively plan around it. There may also be ways I’m doing it that make the burnout more impactful than it needs to be.

I don’t know exactly what those 3-4 days are about. I have some guesses of what could be happening.

  • My subconscious is processing the intense work I did, making connections, spotting errors, and so on. Sometimes this comes into my conscious (those moments where I have a realisation suddenly that I did something wrong and there’s a better way I could have done that thing).
  • My subconscious is “unloading” the work, clearing it from memory or moving it to long-term memory or something like that. Maybe something equivalent to defragmenting.
  • There were some subconscious wants/needs that I had suppressed with being busy. Such as things I wanted to do or chores that I skipped because I didn’t want to get distracted. These end up stuck in the backgrounding for the week, and occasionally resurface to my conscious thoughts. I think doing this (leaving a task unfinished even though I do want to do it) has a non-zero impact, maybe as something that takes up a small amount of short-term memory/conscious thought.

I expect this issue to recur in this topic, I know I’ve mentioned overloading myself before elsewhere. I’m going to label this my Overload conflict.

Part 2: Writing about intuition

I’ve been mentioning subconscious thoughts and conflicts on and off for a few weeks now. Not thoughts I necessarily agreed with, but just going through my understanding of my subconscious and sometimes how I argued with it and disagreed with it. Some specific occasions recently were more in the “stuff I disagreed with” category and I was a bit uncomfortably in hindsight looking at the way I had brought them up.

This part is what prompted me to start this topic. Unless I actually agree with my intuitions I don’t think it’s good to reply to someone else’s post with them because it’s a largely irrelevant tangent. So for that sort of post analysing my intuition, I’m going to use this thread. I’ll typically quote the original topic that I had the intuitive response to (so the OP will get a notification about it and can comment if they want to) but it wont start so many largely-irrelevant tangents in other topics.

I think this is a short-term conflict that came up from doing something in an experimental way, I don’t think this is part of some deeper pattern. But it would be better to identify and solve this kind of conflict more quickly. This took over a week to make sense of.

Part 3: Tribalism

There’s another deeper subconscious issue at work. One that I think is a significant part of the work I have to do on myself. There’s some part of me that doesn’t want to acknowledge this which makes it a little bit more difficult to write about as I’m frequently having internal conflicts (including during this sentence).

Roughly speaking, there’s a significant part of me that thinks in tribalistic terms and is trying to be recognised and approved of, and trying to avoid being outcast. It’s motivated by fear, trying to find a “safe space” to “be itself” (which roughly equates to “not be criticised”). This causes distracting emotional responses, anxiety, and confusion when communicating with people. When this comes up I can be pretty dysfunctional with people (though in forum discussion it’s largely manageable). I can’t really predict when it will be a problem or what context is required, hopefully by analysing it in this topic I’ll understand it better.

More specifically, some part of me is constantly on the lookout for rejection/dismissal, and starts massively overthinking situations where that might be the case or looking for cues that it might be the case. When it finds something it can construe as rejection, it wants to bail (i.e. quit and never come back). There’s a lot of defensiveness that comes up around it.

Rejection is of course possible on CF (or other discussion groups) too. There are rules, there are expected ways of doing things, there are individuals who perhaps have ways they want things to be done too. There are people who exist that, even if not part of the organisers, may try to pressure or manipulate the organisers (I don’t consider this realistic on CF in particular).

This rejection-sensitive part of me isn’t looking for explicit rules, it’s looking for unstated rules. Things people are being silent about. It expects people to have unstated rules or standards which, if broken, they will violently (or at least aggressively) attempt to enforce. A significant part of my subconscious really dislikes all people.

(while writing this post, this part of me is very active and is coming up with all sorts of ways that the act of posting this will result in rejection/dismissal/harassment, my answer to it is: this is basically a jerk-test, so far there has been no reason to expect everyone on CF to be a bunch of jerks that will turn into a nasty mob, and if they are really a bunch of jerks then it’s better that I find out for sure)

I only started learning about philosophy about 10 years ago, so I think it’s basically the preceding rest of my life that is the root of the conflict. There’s a lot of my previous subconscious thought that conflicts with my current explicit philosophical ideas. It may take a long time to resolve this set of conflicts. I’m going to call this my Tribalism conflict.

I’ve tagged my main two persistent issues: the Overload conflict and the Tribalism conflict. I don’t know of a better way of working on these beside continuing to write and think about them, and connect in new ideas I’m learning to answer them. I expect they will both come up a lot in this topic.

Why do you think your subconscious dislikes people? How do you feel when you consciously analyze how you feel about particular people?

Sometimes I think about people as a collections of ideas, stories, experiences, and perspectives. When I’m in that frame, I don’t think so much about whether I like the person or not. I’m most interested in whether I can learn something from them. Do you ever take a similar perspective? What is the significance, for you, of liking or disliking people?

Broadly speaking, childhood trauma and very bad experiences with people for many years.

Generally this doesn’t engage my subconscious dislike of people in a way that I’m aware of. I don’t think it engages very often with things I’m doing consciously.

When it does, I think approximately one of these two things happens:

  • My subconscious dislike finds small things to overthink, and sometimes I come to unreasonably negative conclusions about people.
  • I get a sense of relief, like a relief from pain. I think because some part of my subconscious dislike finds an instance when it’s wrong and maybe it doesn’t need to be so defensive for a while.

Basically yes that is my perspective. “Like” or “dislike” is a summary of other stuff. I like people who are thoughtful, rational, interesting, generous, and other things because there is personal gain for me to interact with them.
And dislike is a summary of things like someone is hostile, wilfully irrational, avoids reality, self-absorbed.

People vary, there’ll normally be things I like and dislike about most people. Saying I like them or dislike them is an approximate total saying “this person is worth the effort of interacting with” or not, taking into account the benefit of the things I like and the cost of dealing with the things I dislike.

So I like you, and most of the people who post on CF.

You clearly self-identify with your conscious mind. You don’t recognize that your subconscious is also you – in fact it’s most of you. When you other your subconscious, it gets in the way of analysis.

When you disagree with stuff, that isn’t a largely irrelevant tangent. You’re delegitimizing and dismissing parts of yourself (rather than e.g. analyzing). This is contrary to CF’s ideas about resolving conflicts of ideas and viewing both conscious and subconscious ideas as your ideas.

You (your conscious mind) often think your subconscious is wrong (which is a conclusion you assume before resolving the disagreement via rational, conclusive debate), and you want to hide and disown lots of your subconscious. You’re uncomfortable presenting yourself as the kind of person you actually are. You don’t want to take responsibility for large parts of you.

MC does subconscious analysis

Contrary to the title and your framing, this topic is about your resistance to doing subconscious analysis, your disagreement with CF’s perspective (but with no quotes of CF material and explicit criticisms), and your dismissive, othering attitude to your subconscious.

You also repeatedly downplay problems. That’s also a way of avoiding analysis.

I disagree. I don’t attempt to evade ownership of my subconscious thoughts. I don’t try to claim they’re someone else or that they’re not my responsibility.

I think you’ve badly misunderstood me here. I don’t think you paid attention to what I said.

I said “Unless I actually agree with my intuitions” and I don’t think you integrated that into your response. This is very important context that you seem to have dropped. I am not in any way denying ownership of my intuitions.

I’m saying I’m not going to criticise someone else unless I have a criticism that I do not have internal conflicts about. That’s not to say I wont go back to them later after I’ve analysed my intuition and worked out if I agree or disagree with it. I just want to do the work of analysing it first and resolving my internal conflicts without posting in someone else’s topic. I think it’s a respectful way of using a forum, as doing this analysis in someone else’s topic can be confusing to the OP and other readers. I don’t generally want to criticise someone unless I’m first unconflicted about it.

I agree that I often think my subconscious is wrong. I’ve previously admitted to that and mentioned one of my methods to rectify it in a conversation with you.

I’ve shown that I’m self-aware that I treat it badly and shown that I’m actively working to communicate with it better. It’s something that I may be very bad at currently, but I think you’re also very badly misunderstanding me with these claims.

I’m uncomfortable with who I am. I have a lot of internal conflicts that I have not resolved. I don’t know how to present myself as the kind of person I actually am.

I have resistance to doing subconscious analysis. This seems like a typical problem to have when trying to do subconscious analysis. I don’t think this is contrary to my framing. I don’t think I’ve hidden that I have resistance to it as I’ve talked about my difficulty in communicating well with my subconscious.

I don’t think I can usefully guess about what disagreement you think I have with CF’s perspective. I don’t know what you mean by that and don’t know where to start. It may be in an area of CF that I have no knowledge of at all.

The subject of not taking ownership of my intuitions is a frequently repeated point in your post. I may be writing about them in a way that is confusing, which may be why you have drawn that conclusion. I think it is not uncommon for people to evade ownership of the ideas they have which they dislike, you may have assumed that I’m doing it for that reason.

Is there another way to write about intuitions that you would not interpret as me othering my intuition or denying ownership of them? I can’t think of one. I think it’s important to be clear when I’m talking about intuitions which I have conflict with and I don’t fully understand that I’m uncertain or ambivalent, and that it’s not the whole of me drawing that conclusion but part of me. If I don’t have conflicts with an intuition I don’t think I would reference them at all; I’d just say what I think without added qualifiers.

When you were replying, did you read the quotes I included in my post, not just my words?

Did you notice any signs that you might be tilted, defensive or hostile?

Just yes or no answers are fine.


Yes. Defensive. I started writing something about it during my previous post, then after reviewing your post I reconsidered and deleted it. I decided you had made some bad assumptions rather than my first impression (which I think is mistaken) that there was some sort of wilful negative interpretation.

Let’s take another look. You said:

I’ve been mentioning subconscious thoughts and conflicts on and off for a few weeks now. Not thoughts I necessarily agreed with, but just going through my understanding of my subconscious and sometimes how I argued with it and disagreed with it.

I think we agree that your conscious mind argued with and disagreed with your subconscious mind about some issues (and vice versa).

The way you present that is that “I” (you) argued and disagreed with your subconscious mind and its thoughts. You’re connecting your identity (your “I”) with your conscious mind.

You don’t just say that two parts of you disagreed. You present one part as your “I” and one as not your “I”.

Similarly, when you say “my understanding of my subconscious”, what does the first “my” mean? “My” is the possessive form of “I”. You’re saying that your I/identity has an understanding of your subconscious. What is the thing that has an understanding of your subconscious, which you identify with? Your conscious mind.


I assumed the context (“mentioning subconscious thoughts”) was implied so avoided restating it entirely. Perhaps I should have said “my understanding of those subconscious thoughts” not “my understanding of my subconscious”, referring to the subconscious thoughts I’ve hypothetically been trying to understand rather than the whole of my subconscious.

I don’t think this kind of internal conflict is entirely a matter of my entire conscious vs. my entire subconscious. I think I use my subconscious in analysing my subconscious too.

So it was “I” (the parts of me that disagree with a subconscious thought, including my conscious thoughts) opposed to a part of my subconscious (which has the specific thoughts I’m analysing, or are supporting those thoughts).

I use “I” because it’s much easier to write that than “my conscious and all my other subconscious thoughts beside those I disagree with”. I see how it could be read as evading responsibility for the subconscious thoughts I consciously disagree with, though I’m not sure if it’s a reasonable reading. I do not agree that I meant to evade responsibility. I was trying to emphasise the specific idea I had disagreements with, not the mind (or part of a mind) that contains it.

Perhaps when trying to write out my analysis of subconscious thoughts I should say something like “I am conflicted about X” instead of “I disagree with X”. I think it would leave less room for misunderstanding.

It’s important that I work out how to express these intuitions and subconscious thoughts explicitly in a way that is clear, if only for my own ability to read back later and look for patterns or changes in my thinking. I’m finding this discussion useful.

BTW you seem to have quoted (the second quote of me) by copy-pasting rather than using Discourse’s quote button. If you use the quote button it includes a link to the original post and makes it easy to see the context by expanding the quote. I don’t think it’s a good idea to use copy-pasting when you’ve got the better Discourse quote system.

(not part of the discussion with anon83)

I’ve been thinking about my Overload conflict for the last few days and I think I’ve come to understand it a bit better.

This week I was working on a project that I had gotten stuck and a bit confused on. It was taking a lot of thought trying to pick apart a lot of details, lay it out.

My current thinking about this is I was carrying a significant “mental load” while I was processing this. I think this is a fairly common eventuality when I work on projects. Part of the load is I was working on a project that’s pretty different to other ones I’ve made before.

I haven’t posted on CF for four days before today (or five days, for anything with a lot of thought). I was having a lot of anxiety about visiting and reading on the forum and was staying away while I worked that out. My understanding of the anxiety now is that I have a high expectation of there being a high “mental load” when I come here, that fairly often there’ll be something that I want to think about a lot and spend a lot of time on. Sometimes visiting this forum might call for substantial tangents and research to explore for me to be satisfied.

I think this is a substantial improvement in my understanding of anxiety. Once I worked this out I found my anxiety about my anxiety (things like worrying about there being something wrong with me) was diminished, so I think I’m internally consistent about this.

I don’t think four or five days is a problematic time to stop being active unless I’ve explicitly promised otherwise. But I don’t want to end up anxiously avoiding CF for much longer than that.

I think if I do have a lot of anxiety that results in wanting to avoid CF for longer than that, it would be a good idea to visit and write about it in this topic. If I do this I think I should write a footnote indicating that I’m mentally overloaded and will struggle to engage with long/complex replies until I’ve settled it.

(side note: I’ve been recently using Jira (task tracking), Confluence (project planning), and Miro (whiteboarding) - they’re pretty handy and were a big part of disentangling my project confusion, they’re free to use for the core functionality for small teams)

My Overload conflict has been in play for the last few days. I got very burned out on a games jam project two days before the project was due and I still had a significant amount of work to do on it. I ended up dropping some project goals to reduce the workload so I could finish it to an acceptable level with what enthusiasm I could muster.

In addition to the last two days of the project for which I was burned out and still working on it I had another three days where I wasn’t able to motivate myself to do anything remotely challenging. So I didn’t read, study, learn, exercise or eat well. I failed to meet my weekly life choices project goal here on CF. So the price I paid for working on the project as intensely as I did (for the first eight days of it) was five days of mental burnout and not progressing any of my goals. I don’t think this is an acceptable price to pay.

I think there are three main problems behind this result: project scope, burnout detection and burnout recovery.

Project scope is the problem I think I have the most control over. Overplanning is a problem I’ve worked on a lot and one of the benefits of the games jams I take part in is practising planning for fairly small projects. I previously have started games jams (or at least spent the first day of a games jam) planning the parts of the game and goals, and splitting goals into primary goals that need to be done for the game to function and secondary goals which are nice extra features or depth to have but the game can function without.

An extra step I plan to start adding to these games jams is making a time commitment estimate. One part of this is making an estimate of how many hours or days each goal/feature of the project will take to implement. I’m not confident that I can estimate this accurately at the moment so I will conservatively over-estimate the time required. Another part of the time commitment estimate is deciding how much time I’m willing to spend each day as previously I’ve often spent 10+ hours a day on them, which I’m sure is a big contributor to burnout. I think aiming for 5 hours a day (leaving time for studying, self-care and other things I might neglect when working too much) is reasonable. The last part of the time commitment estimate is leaving 20-30% “buffer time” at the end (e.g. 2 days out of a 7 day games jam) and planning to complete all primary goals with that time to spare, so if the primary goals do overrun I expect to have enough time extra or if I complete the primary goals on time or early I can use the buffer time to complete secondary goals.

Summary of planned project planning improvements to reduce burnout risk:

  • Conservatively over-estimate the number of hours each project goal will take.
  • Plan to spend no more than 5 hours a day on a project (based on my current other commitments.)
  • Allow 20-30% of the project time as “buffer time”; plan all primary goals to be completed with this time to spare.

(n.b. “buffer time” is a reference to concepts in Elliot’s Overreach Summary article)

Some subconscious issues I’ve been processing recently:

Processing confusion and anxiety

I’ve been very anxious since Elliot pointed out that I misquoted. I’ve slept poorly and had anxious dreams about making more mistakes and misquoting again. I think this indicates some deeper subconscious process at work. I think it relates to my Tribalism conflict and there’s some sort of fear of being cast out or rejected for things that I don’t understand. Discovering my misquoting mistake has made me doubt that I understand quoting correctly (on a subconscious level) and I’m concerned that I will do it again, so that lack of self-understanding makes the rule against misquoting kind of scary. The fear of being cast out is also real - I’m sure that Elliot will ban me from posting if I keep misquoting. In summary, because I’m confused about my quoting competence I’m scared that I will mess up so badly I get banned.

But even being banned isn’t the end of the world. Elliot isn’t some irrational tribal chief; tribalist thinking is not relevant here. He’s a smart rational person that has good standards. If I do make so many quoting mistakes that I get banned I would still be able to go away and work on that on my own and then attempt to persuade him that I’ve fixed the problem and if I succeed I may be allowed back. It may take a lot of time. If I truly do turn out to be that confused and bad at quoting it makes sense that I don’t try to fix it in a way that causes a lot of problems for others (i.e. by doing it on CF and misleading people with repeated misquotes.)

Thinking about misquoting

Misquoting is completely unacceptable on this site and this is good. I think people are generally very very very sloppy with quoting and misquoting is a form of lying. This is actually useful to take seriously as it’s a relatively easily-identified form of lying compared to many forms of lying that are insidious and evasive, so I think anyone who wants to pursue being more honest should take it very seriously. Since I started being active here I’ve consciously taken it seriously, but I made a bunch of big mistakes anyway. I think maybe subconsciously I wasn’t taking it seriously enough, or maybe had some subconscious ideas about quoting which were misguided (learned from typical bad quoting conventions) or maybe both.

Thanks to Elliot’s criticism I think (and hope) that my subconscious mistakes have been identified. I’m going to pay more conscious attention to my quoting until I’m confident that my subconscious can handle it well. I think expressing my thoughts in this section helps my conscious and subconscious be more in tune.


Related I think to my Tribalism conflict I’ve noticed that approval-seeking has come into my conscious thoughts. There’s some part of me that is disappointed when I don’t get approval for things I write. I think this is bad; just like I need to learn to judge my quoting ability and my grammar on my own I need to judge for myself if my ideas are good.

I think this is related to being habitually confused to some degree. Because often on some level that maybe I don’t even consciously notice I’m confused, I often don’t know how to judge if something I’ve done is right or wrong. So some part of me wants someone else to answer that for me so I can stop being confused. This is dependent thinking that relies on other people to take responsibility. This is both irrational (other people can make mistakes too) and immoral (only I am responsible for my success or failure.)

I think continuing to exercise being decisive is the best thing I can do to solve the root cause of this problem. My mini-project studying Peikoff’s grammar course which I will fail if I write final answers that I am confused about is one such exercise. I think also my Overload conflict contributes to my underlying confusion, so continuing to work on that with better project planning and time management will also help.