Friday, 1 February 2013

Emotional riddle

I'm not an overly emotional person. I don't rant and rave. I don't collapse in floods of tears. I don't throw things. I don't hurl torrents of abuse. I'm never sure if that's because I'm not prone to over-reacting or because I'm repressing my emotions.

I see people steaming with anger, bitterness, hostility and violence over some perceived insult, festering away for hours with righteous indignation. In the same situation I would probably just dismiss the remark as a bit mean and nasty and then carry on with what I was doing. No rip-roaring emotional avalanche, just a hint of puzzlement and chagrin.

I see people stricken with grief over some appalling tragedy halfway across the world and I think, yes, how awful, a bomb explosion, an earthquake, a mass shooting. But while I sympathise with the hapless victims, I wonder how people can be so overwhelmed by emotion for complete strangers as opposed to their own loved ones. Can they really be that devastated?

Though I have to say that boiling rage is my typical reaction to any kind of deliberate brutality or sadism, be it in Belfast or thousands of miles away. Especially violence against women. So maybe that vicarious grief is as genuine as my vicarious anger.

Then again, I see people consumed by disappointment over a ruined dress or a disastrous holiday, sunk in gloom and recrimination as if their life has collapsed. Their distress seems out of all proportion to what happened. Sure, I would be disappointed too, but I wouldn't be knocked for six by it. I'd just be a bit miffed and wanting to stop it happening again.

Am I lacking some basic emotional reflexes? Some essential human sensitivity? Or am I just too sanguine and philosophical to get worked up into a blistering lather over things that simply don't deserve it? Am I a cold fish or a cool cookie?

19 comments:

Rummuser said...

You are you. I don't see any reason for you to wonder about being a cold fish or cool cookie or whatever. I like the way you are, as I am sure you like the way you are!

I am not like you. http://rummuser.com/?p=9527

I am not better or worse than you are. I am who I am.

John Gray said...

Takes all sorts........
And by saying that
All is fit with the world....
( said by a man who loves an emotional romp)

Nick said...

Ramana: Well, I'm glad you like the way I am! Just glad, you understand. I shall refrain from being cock-a-hoop, in flights of ecstasy or dancing a jig.

John: Yes, I'd noticed you like an emotional romp, and very amusing they are when they occur! It takes all sorts as you say.

Wisewebwoman said...

You doth analyze too much methinks, Nick.

Be you.

I be me.

XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: I know, compulsive self-analysis, an old old habit! And worrying too much about what other people think. Another old old habit.

Grannymar said...

At the end of the day what other people think does not matter, try to live in the moment, and be content.

PS: I like the Nick I know.

speccy said...

I think you seem very grounded and sane. A voice of reason in an unreasonable world :) (I may be an overinvolved weepy sort at times...)

Nick said...

Grannymar: I do tend to live in the moment, but contentment is an elusive goal. I'm glad you like what you know of me!

Speccy: Thank you! Despite what the cynics say, I do think being reasonable is generally more productive than wild outbursts of emotion. But then again, being overinvolved and weepy can sometimes be very cathartic.

kylie said...

the word "emotion" has the same root as "motivate" so bearing that in mind i think the rule of thumb would be that we would hope we could become emotional enough to inspire action where we have the power to effect change and in situations where we have no power we are probably wasting energy.
having said that, the actions we can take over any given situation are varied, many times we have the opportunity to write a letter, donate money or similar actions which wont change everything overnight but might contribute. In this situation, if people display emotion but refuse to act in any way, i regard the emotion as hollow and the person as blowing wind out of a dark place

Nick said...

Kylie: That's a good point about emotion being motivating. Yes, it's better when emotion leads to some practical action and isn't just a self-expressive outburst. Though even "hollow" emotion can have a sort of cleansing function if nothing else.

Macy said...

It's all about keeping a sense of proportion Nick.
I've got a lot better at that recently since my heart attack.
Seriously.

Nick said...

Macy: I agree, a sense of proportion is needed. Which is what I've always been good at. But sometimes I wonder if my habitual unflappability is a bit odd.

Eryl said...

Are you really telling us, Nick, that when you ruin a dress you can just carry on in your usual cheery way? What about when you break a nail, or you can't get your hair to sit properly, surely you must shed some tears, you can't be that cold?

Anonymous said...

Nick, you are not a 'cold fish' and you are not 'a cool cookie'.

Judging by the people you appear to consort with you must be one of the script writers on the set of 'Eastenders' - in short: A drama queen.

U

Nick said...

Eryl: Ooh, I must admit, breaking a nail is always a major crisis. I can't do ANYTHING until I've fixed it. My self-confidence is RUINED until my hands look right again. Just the thought of it brings me out in a sweat....

Ursula: Hmmm, maybe I AM a bit of a drama queen. Maybe I'm not quite the cool, calm kitty I imagine myself to be....

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

I think you're a cool cookie.

I'm a little bit like you in that I don't understand the devastating grief over disasters that happen on the other side of the world, bearing in mind we have our own home-grown on-going tragedies and yes, we don't know those people personally. It's entirely natural and normal to be more emotionally engaged with those you know personally. I also can't get worked up about broken cars, spoiled clothes or holiday disappointments - sure I'll be upset, but for a very brief time and then it's time to move on and forget it.

I think we all have our triggers. The fact that you boil with rage over cruelty and brutality certainly shows your emotions are in good working order - and I envy you your coolness for the rest.

Nick said...

Jay: Good to know my emotions are in good working order! Yes, I'm not one to seethe with emotion over anything and everything, only very personal things and only over my loved ones.

Val said...

I'm with Rummy - you're you. But I understand the thoughts about it.

Nick said...

Val: Well, there seems to be a general opinion that I'm fine as I am and I don't need to worry that I might be emotionally repressed....