Easy Doesn’t Equal Right

I was sitting in the train, watching someone across the aisle from me struggle to wrangle their electric scooter under their seat. This person had a stainless steel insulated mug with what appeared to be a warm muddied liquid inside. She placed it in the walkway, but I saw immediatly that the butt of her scooter would shortly bump into the cup with any further scooter-scuffling. So, to avoid a muddy train, I scooped up her mug and held it dutifully until the scooter sorting finished.

“Thank you” She said.

Me, wanting to assure her that it was really no inconvenience at all, that she shouldn’t have to worry about returning any favors, that it was just the right thing to do, I replied “No problem”

My brain has a strong people-pleaser mode network; its often the default way I handle social situations. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. But, I do think that its important to be aware of the consequences of how we tend to handle things. This became apparent during a conversation with family members.

Family Dynamics

I will try to find the right words to explain the dynamic here, but my lack of professional psycology training may lead me use incorrect vocabulary, so allow me to start with a blank slate. My family is comprised of mostly emotionally low personalities. By low emotion I dont mean non-feeling I mean behaviors common to people not as empathetic, like speaking before thinking, teasing (in good faith), avoiding confrontation, making positive assumptions of others. However, there are a few emotionally high personalities (I married one, love you ;) ), with behaviors like deeply feeling, not assuming the best intention, thinking before speaking. These aren’t necessarily hard lines, and no one is entirely one or the other. Also, I did not illustrate all of the differences, but hopefully enough just to see the big picture. I mostly just want to draw the distinction when it comes to the easy going ethic.

Akuna Matada Gas Lighting

With much of the family exhibiting an air of ease and light-heartedness, it became clear to me that saying “No Worries” can invalidate the very real feelings and reactions of the emotionally high people in the group. For example, I could say something meant in jest, a light jab of some flaw we all recognize. In an emotionally high personality however, this can seem like an attack. Everyone laughs, but for the teased person, their internal defense systems are blairing to elevate to DEFCON 1 and fire up the shield generators. On seeing that I have made a mistake, I quickly reverse gears and attempt to extinguish the fire. I reassure the emotionally high person that there isnt any problem to worry about, it was just a tease. This, can inadvertendly tell this wonderful human being that the feelings they are having are unecessary and wrong. I coined this interaction Akuna Matada Gas Lighting, it means no worries, the feelings you have aren’t real (goes with the tune even).

I intend this post mostly for myself, in self reflection and puting my thoughts to words I feel like the things I learn become more concrete. But, if it helps anyone like myself take a deeper introspective look, then thats hopefully good too!