A Total Lack of Insight!
A lady was telling me this week about the latest series of Love Island and she said “they have no insight you know. They don’t recognise when someone is upset”. “That’s interesting”, I said “because it’s our generation that’s taught them that”. The contestants are all in their twenties apparently so that means that people of my generation are partly responsible for that lack of insight as their parents. Possibly. What’s that about?! Is it that as a society generally we’ve stopped taking notice of how people are, because we’re so wrapped up in ourselves and are too busy looking at our phones and assorted devices? Or is it that somehow this generation of twenty-somethings have been taught to be self-centred and less aware of the feelings of others? In a time of increased self-awareness and emotional intelligence how can confidence levels be dropping through the floor, with people struggling to make eye contact, communicate in person and speak confidently on the phone? Is a total lack of insight going to reverse all the progress we’ve made and make people feel even lonelier than they do now?
Avoiding Face-to-Face Communication
I appreciate I’ve made some huge generalisations in that first paragraph and not all twenty-somethings are self-centred but there does seem to be a trend towards people generally struggling to communicate in more old-fashioned ways. I can’t quite believe I’ve defined a face-to-face conversation as old-fashioned but that does seem to be how the world is evolving. Isn’t that terrifying? A colleague of mine told me that her teenage daughter has a great work ethic and has taken on some waitressing work. She deals really well with the customers but she won’t talk to people on the phone. Ironically, she’s probably welded to her phone most of the time when she’s not at work! What’s that about?! Are we losing the capability to communicate in person? Will the chatbots have taken over by 2050?!
We’re Going The Wrong Way!
Humans have evolved to have a level of empathy with each other, to make attempts to understand why someone may be feeling as they are. In the last century we struggled to find the right language to do that to best effect but in this century we have all the right tools. We have much greater emotional intelligence about the impact of giving kindness and support to others, to tell people that we love them and give someone a hug when they’re feeling down. So why is a lack of insight into people’s emotions, and an attempt to understand and support someone who’s having a difficult time, now sending us in the other flippin direction of all the progress that’s been made?! Oh. My. Goodness ☹
Emotional First Aid
I watched a TEDx talk recently (How to Practice Emotional First Aid – Guy Winch) which identified the disparity between how we care for our physical and mental, or psychological health. It’s an 18 minute talk and well worth the watch I think, and thank you to Lindsay for signposting me to it 😊 Guy Winch talks about the need for us to:
- Pay attention to emotional pain such as loneliness, failure and rejection
- Think about how our minds deal with failure
- Stop emotional bleeding – fight feelings of helplessness and take control
- Protect our self-esteem
- Battle negative thinking and rumination
Fearful of Our Emotions
Guy says that if we do all of those things we can “heal our psychological wounds, build emotional resilience and thrive”. The first step to insight is having an insight into our own emotions and behaviours but if we’re afraid of them, we won’t look to explore them. And if we don’t do that, we won’t be an example for anyone else to do that either. Our preference for talking in the third person, which seems to have become hugely prevalent in the last 20 years is a great way to avoid a connection with our emotions, particularly if they’re quite negative. People describe themselves and say things like, “you feel upset and overwhelmed”. No! “I feel and upset and overwhelmed!”. The only person who gets to talk in the third person in my book is the Queen! And possibly Prince Charles! 😉 If we speak in the first person, we own our feelings and that gives us an insight into them.
Had a Good Day Dear?
When we arrive home and someone asks how our day has been, we might say “it was difficult to be honest. Some customers were frustrated because of delivery delays and they spent a good while complaining about that. I was sort of stuck in the middle because I couldn’t make a difference to when the delivery was coming out so it was frustrating for them and me”. By identifying how that felt and why, the person has an insight into how they feel at the end of the day. And because it makes sense to feel like that after dealing with a frustrating situation, they can release their feelings of frustration into the ether. They have been acknowledged and dealt with.
If they return home and say the day was fine when it wasn’t, where do those emotions go? In my experience they won’t dissolve like a vitamin C pill inside of us, they will fester. And what can be a small thing on day one can be a stress-related illness by day thirty. Headaches and indigestion, for instance can be the first signs of stress-related illness and if you don’t acknowledge your frustrations, disappointments, anxieties and downright outrage, and release those emotions into the ether, they will fester inside you. They will not magically float away unfortunately.
I Don’t Want To Burden Anyone
By having an insight into your own emotions and expressing their impact effectively, you can be a great role model to others. To show that emotional honesty has a value; in helping people to understand who you are and to show that you are actively supporting your own health and wellbeing. Why do we protect people from the truth? I understand that if someone has a lot going on themselves, you might not want to burden them with your troubles but when I’m struggling, I’d really rather talk about what’s going on with someone else to be honest. I don’t take other people’s problems as a burden. I like to think that I might be able to help and I definitely know the value of a problem shared. I would be hurt and upset if I thought a loved one was struggling with something and didn’t feel able to tell me about it, however much I might be struggling at the time.
I’ve experienced periods of depression over the years and in those times I’d rather talk about anything other than what’s happening in my own head because I’m completely bored of it. I’m bored of the obsessive analysis and over-thinking, so will very much welcome talk of other things. Somebody else’s troubles are not always a burden, they can be a welcome distraction too. And if you talk to me on day one, you won’t be a burden anyway, you’ll be telling me about your day in a constructive and proactive way. If you wait until day thirty, it might feel a bit more like a burden possibly.
Release Into The Ether!
We all do it, we all bottle things up but not acknowledging the emotional and psychological impact of a day doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It just means you don’t want re-connect with those emotions again which is understandable. But if you get rid of them by reflecting on your day and acknowledging the things that were difficult about it, you can reduce the burden on yourself and others. And that’s great for your mental, physical and emotional health 😊 It also means you can be a fabulous role model to others. Win-win. So don’t pretend it’s not happening because it won’t magically go away. Your resilience and coping mechanisms will be far superior, and because you get used to releasing the smaller, day-to-day stuff, you’ll deal much more effectively with something big when it comes along. Manage something on someone’s behalf and you take away their immediate problem. Teach them insight and how to acknowledge their emotions and you build their resilience and ability to cope for a lifetime. I know one which I’d prefer 😊
Take good care please, be insightful with yourself and others, and have a great day.
Best wishes, Karen