Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Saying One Thing, But Meaning Another...

I have, for all of my life said one thing, while meaning another.  This doesn't really happen (so much) in writing as the process slows down both my thinking and my action making them more congruent.  Yet in any "time-bound" situation where I feel the pressure of needing to answer, especially if it is (perceived as) an emotionally charged question, I am likely to say the opposite of what I mean.

Those that know me, know I don't like to talk to people I don't know on the telephone. And, this is the reason why.  For example if I have to deal with a utility company, say phone, cable, electricity, I'm often frustrated, not believing that the other party hears me or even wants to know what I have to say.  I then open my mouth and strings of words and meanings come out, powered by my overpowered emotions and active imagination.  Usually this results in the situation becoming far worse than it needs to be.

It doesn't have to be a particularly emotionally packed situation though, it can be simply talking to someone who I don't know well, or at all.

I'm not sure, but I think this is related to our issues with Theory of Mind.  Although I've gone through a lot of training in self awareness, I still often am not able to describe my internal state accurately, especially when I am being asked to do so in the spur of the moment.  This isn't new news to me, even before I understood what Theory of Mind meant, I clearly understood that I was not able to describe my internal emotions well.

I often confuse for example; frustration, anger, sadness, joy, excitement...and can only describe them as "feeling."  When you read my finely articulated (so I am told) blog entries, this is through a long process of deep introspection.  I'm not able to just think and feel about something, sit down and write about it, it can sometimes take days, or even weeks for me to correctly identify the feelings I am experiencing.

I know that growing up, my parents, and educators and others around me would often react to what I said or did like it came out of left field.  Often though I am reacting/responding to something that happened long before  the present moment, so you would have no way to connect the two.  I understand how confusing that must be for others.

When Troya was still alive, we would have a discussion at 10 in the morning, and I would see her, say, at 3 in the afternoon and respond then how I should have responded in the morning.  By this time she would be completely disconnected from whatever we were sharing or talking about.  My dear soul sister though, she was a gem, because she innately understood what I was doing (apparently I did this a lot.)  She began to point it out to me on a regular basis (because it happened often), and only then did I understand that I had tremendous time lags in my processing of social and emotional data.

But this saying one thing and meaning another takes other forms...I may do something regret, and I may feel apologetic, yet I may answer you in a way that seems insulting or insensitive.  It may be that I am saying/repeating what I think you want to hear, not what I want to say.

If this all sounds confusing to you, then try to comprehend how confounding it is for those of us for whom this is our "normal" functioning.  Add to that that we cannot change it (easily, or at all), and you may begin to comprehend the stress, anxiety and frustration we feel whenever we communicate with people.

I know that I am always thinking "did I say the right thing", "did I say the wrong thing", "should I have said something differently" and in fear of how I will be responded to.

Sometimes, I have a clear intention of what it is I want to say (accurately) and STILL other words come out of my mouth, before I even have a chance to do anything about it.

I'm not so sure how coherent this post is to all of you, but I read something that triggered it, and felt like I needed to get it out.  If you require further clarification, by all means please leave a comment here or on Facebook, perhaps helping me to develop my thoughts more clearly.

Thanks for listening!

~Joseph

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