|Do you think people are aware of their own emotional needs and habits all the time? What about artists and writers? Are they more aware than other people?
Okay, this is going to get convoluted. No, I don’t think that people are always aware of their own emotional needs and habits. I see this when I see people engage in self destructive behaviors—not because they want to destroy themselves (although that’s possibly an unconscious desire) but because they aren’t aware of what their emotional needs are. It’s like the girl who keeps on dating bad boys because that’s who she’s attracted to—so much so that when a nice guy comes along, she refuses to even look at him because he doesn’t treat her the way she expects to be treated and so it obviously isn’t love (not realizing perhaps that she would do better to go for that quiet love than a love that is defined by continual emotional hurt).
The point is, that yes, we mess up. We think we want one thing and our habits push us towards something and we really need something—and sometimes those three things fight against each other until we are left with emotional messes, which are frustrating to try to clean up.
Writers and artists are complicated. We’re natural observers. We see other people’s emotional messes (and then we take them and turn them into our art—it’s easier to create story around an emotional mess than stability—which is why most families in fiction are dysfunctional to some extent). But, just because we see things and write things and know our characters, it doesn’t mean that we’re able to turn that discerning eye onto our own lives. It’s much easier to see someone else’s emotional knots than to turn the microscope inward and figure out what makes our own lives tick.
So, no, people are not aware all the time about their emotional needs and habits. Writers and artists tend to be self aware, however, even they are not aware of their emotional needs and habits if we’re going to include the defining phrase “all the time” in the question. And I don’t know if we’re more aware than other people.
The problem is, it’s hard to do that comparison without climbing into someone else’s head.
Which reminds me of a complicated fact (aphorism? Actually, I’m not sure where I heard this, so it may not be entirely factual): Psychologists have come up with (several) series of questions to determine whether a person is clinically insane. On at least one of those tests, they noticed a problem. Some of their control subjects, genius level, stable control subjects, tested higher than they should on the insanity spectrum. The reason? How does a genius honestly answer: Do you see things that other people don’t? Or an artist? Or a writer? Or someone who is off his meds or on hallucinogenic drugs . . .