Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Man or Monster?

One aspect that people generally dislike about me is that I can seem cold and unfeeling in certain situations. I take heat from friends who assume that I don't care about things that illicit strong emotional responses from them. I'm sometimes viewed as dark, emotionless, and indifferent.
As with my previous entry about people thinking that I'm gay, the conclusions that people reach about me are based on assumption rather than fact. I am NOT wired without the ability to feel or to care...that is far from the truth. In fact, the few people on this orb who have taken the time to really get to know and understand me would certainly vouch that I am one of the kindest most caring people they know. The reason I seem to others to be so cold and without feeling is due to the fact that I've learned to control my emotional responses.

While I was in college getting my (thus far) useless degree in psychology, I took a required course on the theoretical approaches to therapy. The course was a Reader's Digest introduction to many approaches from psychoanalytical to humanistic and many in between. While the course was hardly in-depth, there was one approach which which I immediately felt a connection. Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT). In short, REBT's philosophy is that people, in response to event, construct their emotional and behavioural responses through their thoughts and beliefs about said event. In other words, how a person interprets an event influences how they feel and behave. REBT suggests that our thoughts influence our emotional and behavioural responses. Simple enough.
I was pleasantly surprised when we learned about Albert Ellis and his REBT because I had lived my teenage and adult life adhering to the principles of the theory without having ever learned about it. I had actually believed the claims of those around me that I was a cold, unfeeling person until that point. When I learned about REBT, I discovered that wasn't the case at all. I was just a much more cognitive person than most.

Anyway, I shared about REBT in this entry so people can get a better understanding of how I think and why my emotional and behavioural responses may seem muted or absent. I'm not without the ability to feel, or to express those emotions. I just keep my emotions under tighter control. Most people are driven emotionally and tend to let their emotions take the forefront in certain circumstances. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that and many would say that is a defining characteristic of what it is to be human. However, I'm a very logical person and cognitively driven. I think before I feel and as a result my responses are almost always stable and low-key...they may even appear to be absent to those who do not know me.

Being a cognitively driven person has its pluses. I almost always keep a cool head in a crisis. I very rarely become genuinely upset with people and I have absolutely no need to conjure drama. I also rarely seriously ruminate about things which I cannot control. 
I admit that being this way has its disadvantages as well...developing strong bonds with other people is difficult for me. Romantic love, for example, is a tough emotion for me to let out of the proverbial gates, because logic often holds little stake in love. Crying is rare for me as well because, in my mind, crying isn't a productive behaviour. And true forgiveness is something I am extremely hard-pressed to afford a person.

I do not want my reader to assume that I think that all other people in my life are emotional wrecks while I'm in complete control. That's not what I'm saying at all. I am merely saying that, in comparison with others I've met in my life, I'm quite a bit more logical and cognitively based. So please, if you're reading this and feel insulted or hurt by what I've said, that's probably just because you're emotionally driven...thank you for helping to prove my point.

On an unrelated note...boobies are cool! Pass it on.

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