Tuesday, March 18, 2008


sorry away so long. horribly busy. i'll pretend you missed me.

here's something i was talking to a friend about recently. maybe i posted about it before, not sure.

i used to be very uncomfortable with/around strongly-expressed emotion -- joy, anger, lust, grief, whatever -- it made me feel nervous, and i liked things to be under control.

at this stage of my life, however, i've become different. i feel like those emotions (and others) are what make us alive -- they're what prove we're not a rock, or a tree, or emotionally/physically dead.

the ego has a lot of defense mechanisms to avoid feeling uncomfortable things like worry, fear, shame, uncertainty, sadness, etc.

what i used to do about being around strong emotion is what people do all the time, only i didn't realize it before:

when people expressed strong emotion, i believed that they shouldn't do that so much.

when X person does or says something, and we feel [uncomfortable feeling] in response, our immediate reaction is that X person shouldn't have said or done what they said/did.

so we invoke some social rule, or religious tenet, or "helpful suggestion", or whatever.

IOW, we put it back on them. they are a rude person. they should be more polite. they should tone it down. they should be more outgoing. they should be less outgoing. they should speak up more. they should learn better english. they shouldn't swear so much. they should get their teeth fixed. they should learn to drive. they should lose some weight. they should have invited us to the party. they shouldn't have invited *him* to the party. they shouldn't dress so sexy. they shouldn't ignore me.

they they they they should should should should...

but almost always, all that's really happening is WE FEEL a certain way. 90% of the time, others' actions only affect us in how we feel in response. seldom is anyone actually hurting us, or taking away our stuff, or hurting someone we love, etc. it's about us, not them. and we don't want to (or don't know how) to take ownership of that feeling and accept it and (if needful) do something about feeling that way.

how often have you said or thought "he/she should/shouldn't do X"? and i bet you have a solid reason behind why they should/shouldn't do whatever it is. but if your reason, your rule, is so valid and important that you feel the need to judge another person's life, why specifically them right now?

if X person should lose some weight, why aren't you commenting about the other 100,000,000 chubby people in the USA?

if so-and-so should learn to drive, or swear less, or dress less nerdy, why? i'll tell you: because it would make YOU more comfortable.

that, plus making ourselves feel better by comparison, is 90% of why we express opinions about other people.

or anyway, that's what i think.


At Fri Mar 21, 12:57:00 PM PDT, Blogger Erik said...

Obviously, I was tempted to say, "you're making me uncomfortable."

But that would be more flip than this post deserves. I believe that much of what you say regarding the motivation behind our observations and judgments of others is true. it's often less about them than us.

However, and this is a big however: one of my personal motivations for not lashing out with raw, beautiful human emotion at every opportunity is that ANYone can do that--it wouldn't make me special. As if the atmosphere of society is not noisy and unpleasant enough as is.

So while the onus is on me to determine how I react to what's around me, I don't see that as a strong enough argument to vomit my anger and unpleasantness all over, leaving others to clean it up.

Don't know if you're necessarily
advocating that, since it's really gross, but it seemed that way.

Plus: I checked your blog for 2 million days in a row (circa), didn't see anything, and then you sneak in 2 a row and wonder how we missed it. I thought I had the market cornered on twice-yearly posting frequency, but I guess not. ;-)

At Fri Mar 21, 01:09:00 PM PDT, Blogger Erik said...

p.s. yes, i know i should use a feed to keep up on the blogs i follow. but that takes away my excuse to surf. basically i'm not ready for that level of efficiency.

At Tue Mar 25, 10:16:00 PM PDT, Blogger anya said...

You should really post with more regularity. Like Erik says, we check for years on end and then bam! new posts and we're supposed to call the mayor. I think you would be a lot more comfortable if you had some sort of schedule. And, um, also, it's not me, it's you.


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