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C12P17 – Nobody would Listen

C12P17 – Nobody would Listen published on 1 Comment on C12P17 – Nobody would Listen

This family has a serious problem with cliffs.

I was feeling a lot like Zhiro last week. My anxiety kept getting larger and larger, fear and doubt and despair becoming an overwhelming mass that sat in my stomach like I’d eaten something poisonous that needed to be expelled. Yet every time I tried, I’d be stopped by well-meaning friends who wanted to fix the problem with advice. Advice that only made things worse, because I was already feeling overwhelmed and incompetent, so not only was I failing to do what I knew I needed to do, but then I felt I was ALSO failing at the things THEY wanted me to do. And the feelings in my stomach grew worse. It happened with everyone. Cory, my closest friends, and even my therapist. They were all trying to help, but few recognized, including myself, that such an approach was actually adding to the problem.

It wasn’t until I read an article that talked about how stress manifests in different Myers Briggs Typologies that I realized what I really needed. I showed this to Cory (who found it eerily accurate for his typology as well) and we were finally able to talk in a way that helped the tension ease.

What was the solution? Well, I am an INFJ. The piece of the article for my type that really jumped out at me was, “Let them express their thoughts and feelings. Understand that they may be irrational. Don’t judge them.”

I realized that, sometimes, I need to be given the space to be a completely Irrational Person. At the time, I know that the words that are coming out of me are completely irrational. It’s not that my Logical Mind can’t hear and evaluate those thoughts. It knows. It’s highly aware. In fact, it’s deeply embarrassed that I would say such things and absolutely MORTIFIED that it can’t get me to stop. Nor can it wrest control back so that it can talk instead. Because when I’m really stressed, that Logical Mind gets stomped down by overwhelming FEELS and it doesn’t get to run the show anymore.

The reason advice only adds to this stress is that the Logical Mind starts shouting, (to nobody, locked in my head) “I KNOW! Don’t you think I’ve TOLD HER THAT?? What do you think I am, STUPID? Well, SHE might be STUPID. I guest that means we MUST be STUPID. Otherwise the Self would be listening to ME right now BUT SHE ISN’T.”

I think the reason everyone is so quick to jump in with advice is because the piece of me that is talking SOUNDS like it’s a rational mind. It isn’t. It’s a wounded animal that’s learned how to talk human. If a dog was howling and whining and scratching you wouldn’t say to the dog, “Hey, I think it’s time we talk about your business plan.” Yet that’s what people do with my wounded, emotional, Irrational Mind, because that mind learned a long time ago that if it uses WORDS then at least people will notice it. And being noticed is better than being in pain alone, right?

So what I need is for people to listen to the EMOTION of that wounded animal seriously…but not to take any of the words it says with any degree of seriousness. For people to let me be a little bit insane, but not to think that represents me ALL the time. To view my madness, but not judge me mad. Just…mad-for-the-moment. So I can get the emotions out, and they don’t sit in my stomach any more.

And the best part? That Irrational Brain has a positive quality that gets to come out when it’s given some space. It’s where my sense of humor lives. The irrational mind has a deep appreciation for the absurd. So where the Logical Mind feels shame and guilt and anger at all the crazy emotional thoughts, the Irrational Brain, once it’s no longer being poisoned by trying to contain all of those feelings, can look at those melodramatic statements that felt so true a second ago and say, “Actually…that’s kinda hilarious. Also, let’s pretend to be a T-Rex for a moment. RAWWR MY ARMS ARE SO SHORT! THEY ARE MADE FOR HUUUUUGS!”

Freeing up that Irrational Brain to play and run around and laugh and see the world for a silly place where things don’t really matter as much as they might sometimes seem is a wonderful thing. If the Logical Mind is in charge all the time, it would like that part of me to sit quietly in the corner and not move or speak or do anything really, can’t you just behave? Why do you have to make this so difficult for me? Do you like torturing me, is that it? Is it?

And the Irrational Brain points out that this is a remarkably ludicrous and illogical line of thinking for somebody that claims to be Logical, but OH MAN does the Logical Mind NOT APPRECIATE THAT.

The Irrational Brain needs a playground. It needs somebody to just listen and nod and understand that even though these feelings might SEEM like the end of the world RIGHT NOW that everything will probably be okay in a few minutes if we just let those feelings come out. The Logical Mind wants very much to be seen as an adult, but the Irrational Brain is a child, and that’s actually a valuable thing. It doesn’t need to be turned into a “cold-blooded vulcan.” It just needs some space to breathe and not be told to “grow up” when it does.

Do you have a Logical Mind and an Irrational Brain, or do you experience things differently? How would you describe your experience? What value have you found in aspects that might at first seem to only have draw-backs?

1 Comment

Children visit this site. Moderate your language accordingly.

I read that article too and found it very interesting and helpful. I am a logical minded introvert most of the time, so when I get stressed out, I do have a part of me that knows what I should do to not get stressed out (aka: regulate my meals, get sleep at the appropriate times, etc.). The problem is that the emotional side is too stressed to do it, and adds tons of worries. Then the reaction I get from most people either downplay my stress (saying it will pass, you never get more than you can handle, or other sayings) or offer advice. Both of these make me feel stupid, as one makes it seem like I can’t even handle something that I should be handling, while the other I already know what I should do, so telling me to do it doesn’t help, much like with you.
It does make me very hesitant to talk to people about it, since I haven’t found a good person to talk to about my stress. Even doctors tend to be bad, and due to my bad experiences and my avoiding confrontation combined with my shyness and not wanting to feel like I have no reason to feel the way I do, I HATE going to doctors and talking about how I feel. It makes it pretty complicated to get anything done since I am trying to work on my master’s degree while having very stressful things happen to my family. I get behind on my work and with most people, rather than seeing if I am alright and helping me take a break to get a breath to relax, they ask why I haven’t finished something yet. It gets to the point where even thinking about a task becomes stressful. Throughout the whole time during this, the logical part of my mind is sitting there thinking everyone is being stupid, including myself.
I do think it is unfortunate in our society how we push people to repress emotions, and act as if anyone who can’t is incompetent. Ignoring emotions tends to make them worse and have them build up, whether it is fear, sadness, pain, anger or something else. And while some people can “push” through emotions for things like phobias, that doesn’t mean that everyone can, or should. Nor does it mean that the emotions should control the person, but allowing them to act out their course, and acknowledging them and where they came from helps maintain control over the situation. Of course, knowing that myself and being able to have my emotions in public, where people, including friends, get very upset if I get mad over something, or dismiss me if I am stressed or sad, are two different things. For all that people love my honesty when I am giving advice and for other reasons, they hate it when it comes to my own emotions.
I am glad that you have a supportive person in Cory.

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