Thursday, April 11, 2013

Feelings and the Real World

Men who use the phrase "calm down."
I read an article last night titled "The Worst Thing a Man Can Say to a Woman."  It's just two words,
apparently.  Can anyone take a guess?

"Calm down."

When I read that, I immediately understood.  I was married once, so I know how uttering the words "calm down," can throw any discussion into a tailspin.  At least, that's what the author wants us to think.

I'm sorry ladies (if, indeed any women actually do read this blog), but you're about to get a smackdown.  Let's consider something for just one moment.  My immediate reaction was to think that by saying "calm down," I have, in effect, escalated a situation that could have otherwise ended constructively.  But this begs the question: why the hell do we men say"calm down," in the first place if the discussion was going well?

The answer is this, ladies: you flipped out, and we're trying to get back into the realm of the rational.  Oh I know, somehow by saying "calm down," we are dismissing your feelings and essentially telling you that your feelings aren't valid.  If you weren't so worked up to begin with, then you would see that we are not trying to invalidate your feelings.  All we're saying is that in polite society, nothing ever gets solved by losing our minds and getting worked up over something.

It's totally okay to feel incredibly passionate about something.  It is well within your right as a human being to get super pissed off, indignant, upset, or whatever you want to call it.  But what is not okay is to believe that somehow your feelings grant you permission to be unreasonable and completely lose your composure.  Ladies, do you know what happens when men fly off the handle at each other and refuse to back down?  Someone gets punched or worse.

Men instinctively resort to "calm down," because in a man's world, getting out of hand can carry some serious consequences.  Aside from the fact that trying to de-escalate a situation is beneficial to the physical health and safety of everyone involved, it's an indicator of a person who is able to engage in civil interaction.

So knowing that not flipping your shit is a good thing, and it is indicative of a sound, rational mind not prone to flights of impulsivity, why do you think that just because you're a chick you get a pass to act however the hell you want?  Do you think that simply because we (hopefully) won't knock you out means that you can just let loose?

Well, American society tells you precisely that.  But I'm hear to tell you that you, and American society, are completely full of shit.

I work with people with disabilities.  About a month ago, I was working with a client of mine.  She has some serious barriers.  She is literally psychotic and bipolar, and she suffers from PTSD, mood disorder, and she has some cognitive impairments.  One day, she told me that she heard some people talking in the lunch room at her workplace about someone's bra being too small.  She believed, in her heart of hearts, that they were talking about her.

Nothing I told her could convince her that they weren't talking about her.  What made matters more frustrating is that she is aware that her psychosis spawns feelings of extreme paranoia.  But whenever I told her "it's all in your head," she got upset.  Why?  For the same reason every woman gives:

"I feel like you're invalidating my feelings."  Well you know what?  Yes.  I was invalidating her feelings.  Why?  Because her feelings did not match the real world.

Granted, she's literally crazy*, but just because you may not be diagnosed with some form of psychosis doesn't mean that every feeling you have is justified, and therefore grants you carte blanche to act as crazy as you want to act.

I hate to get scientific, but feelings are merely chemical reactions that occur in the brain as a result of particular stimuli--or sometimes, they're purely the result of your brain chemistry and how it functions regardless of stimuli.  Sometimes your feelings match the real world and are justified.  For example, if your man tells you that you're fat, you're likely to feel extremely hurt and upset.  You would be right to express that because he was disrespectful in the first place.

But getting all upset and feeling like your man doesn't love you simply because he never buys you flowers randomly?  That does not match reality (most of the time).  Instead of flipping your shit and making him feel like a giant douche for not reading your mind, how about you talk to him about it?  How about you, dare I say, ask for his opinion?

Imagine if a world leader ruled his nation based off of his feelings--every whim that came to his head.  You know what you end up with?

News flash: your feelings, although real, are not always valid, and they do not always match the reality that exists outside of your skull.

Ladies, in many ways, the world is a logical, rational place.  There is randomness, but science has taught us that reason does exist.  Men try to understand that--they try to understand reality.  Yes, we have feelings, but we approach them logically.  You should give it a try sometime.

*My client listened to my suggestions about medication compliance, and now she functions fairly well.


FreeThinke said...

Well, Jack, George Bernard Shaw and Alan Jay Lerner said it all for you a good many years ago. Are you familiar with this?

Why can't a woman be more like a man?
Men are so honest, so thoroughly square;
Eternally noble, historic'ly fair;
Who, when you win, will always give your back a pat.
Well, why can't a woman be like that?
Why does ev'ryone do what the others do?
Can't a woman learn to use her head?
Why do they do ev'rything their mothers do?
Why don't they grow up- well, like their father instead?
Why can't a woman take after a man?
Men are so pleasant, so easy to please;
Whenever you are with them, you're always at ease.
Would you be slighted if I didn't speak for hours?

Of course not!

Would you be livid if I had a drink or two?


Would you be wounded if I never sent you flowers?


Well, why can't a woman be like you?
One man in a million may shout a bit.
Now and then there's one with slight defects;
One, perhaps, whose truthfulness you doubt a bit.
But by and large we are a marvelous sex!
Why can't a woman take after like a man?
Cause men are so friendly, good natured and kind.
A better companion you never will find.
If I were hours late for dinner, would you bellow?

Of course not!

If I forgot your silly birthday, would you fuss?


Would you complain if I took out another fellow?


Well, why can't a woman be like us?

[To Mrs. Pearce, the housekeeper]

Mrs. Pearce, you're a woman...
Why can't a woman be more like a man?
Men are so decent, such regular chaps.
Ready to help you through any mishaps.
Ready to buck you up whenever you are glum.
Why can't a woman be a chum?
Why is thinking something women never do?
Why is logic never even tried?
Straight'ning up their hair is all they ever do.
Why don't they straighten up the mess that's inside?
Why can't a woman behave like a man?
If I was a woman who'd been to a ball,
Been hailed as a princess by one and by all;
Would I start weeping like a bathtub overflowing?
And carry on as if my home were in a tree?
Would I run off and never tell me where I'm going?
Why can't a woman be like me?

It's best to look upon The Battle of the Sexes with a good deal of humor. If not, the whole thing will eventually drive you stark raving mad. 'Tis futile to try to impose logic on a phenomenon that has no capacity for it.

Anonymous said...

Smokin some truth eh Jackie?

Sounds about right, my experience tells me though that people are becoming more irrational in general. People just go through life with no good reason to kick back and contemplate the wonder of it all.

Seriously I blame our societal tendency towards comfort. I have often spoken about Hedonism and its role in undermining our species, but it's really my opinion that it is leading us down the wrong path.

When I owned a business with employees, they often wondered why I didn't pay them more money. I basically said, how long would it take by yourself on your own to create 100 dollars of value. I really got no response other than "well you must just be raking money in"... no I wasn't. That was the point. I had spent 10's of thousands of dollars to make 10's of thousands of dollars. You can't decouple value with time and expect it to line up, much like you are saying you can't just look at feelings and emotions and expect them to ALWAYS be right, or even be valid, when you compare it to reality.

Try to build something, I don't care how small, try to build a miniature house out of toothpicks or somesuch. Take that time and effort it took, and now apply that to a city like Columbus. How long working by yourself would it take you to build Columbus. Sounds insane doesn't it? Seriously consider it though, and then realize that is one city out of hundreds.

Thinking this way has given me insight into how people as individuals fit into the big picture.