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May 2011
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Ys [userpic]

Why is it that saying to someone, "Your angst makes no sense to me, please explain it?" will almost always be interpreted as "Your angst is WRONG and I hate you."?

I don't get it.

Edit: Just for the record...if you ever hear me saying that your feelings are wrong, we are miscommunicating. Tell me that's what you're getting so I can clear it up. I don't believe that feelings can be wrong. Actions can, but not feelings.

Current Mood: sadsad
Current Music: Someone else's hurt feelings

Can angst be explained?


Certainly I can explain the things that make me upset.

Maybe not always simply, but I can explain what's making me upset and why, and I can talk about it.

Maybe that's too much to expect of most people, though. I don't know.


I'm trying to think of how I could explain angst. I can usually explain upset feelings, or even sometimes not explain why but just explain that they are there, but I'm not sure angst isn't a different beast.


I'm using angst in a larger sense, here, then, as a sort of umbrella term.


So you really haven't ever been upset and not able to explain why?
Sometimes I don't even know why I'm upset - usually but not always - but half of my "usually"s can be chalked up to hormones... not sure if that's a valid explanation or not. Probably depends on who you ask.


I have been upset and unable to explain why, and it always drives me nuts until I can manage to put it into words...

Because you don't understand, so you must be against it.


Oh, and SAYING you don't understand is an attack, because you're rubbing eir nose in it.


Yes, exactly.

The frustrating catch-22 is that if no one is willing to talk about it, because everyone you try to talk to takes offense, then one cannot ever understand.

Bah. I'm such a misanthropist some days. How's that killing-with-your-mind thing coming?


Not nearly quickly enough.

*sighs* I know I'm not on your friends list or anything, but I just had to make a comment.... I felt the same way about the lj trolls thing, but when it comes to those posts, I've learned not to comment, even when I don't understand. Asking for explanation, or having an opinion that may even slightly be not totally what has been stated... well, it gets ugly. I don't comment anymore, it's not worth the stress to me, and I get upset and all. My SO has pleaded with me not to get into those types of conversations, because it gets me so upset that I can't understand, or that I don't hold that view. Anyway, I'm sorry that you got into that, I feel like sometimes people who think they have open minds really have the most closed ones. I also wanted to ask if I could "friend" you, since what I've read of yours in comments and entries is stuff that I like. Try not to take it too harsh, though... and if you start to understand it, let me know...


I don't mind if you comment, really, or if you friend me. (I actually don't feel that one should need permission to friend someone on LJ, given what it means.)

You're on my friends list in return now, and so can see my locked posts. Enjoy.

People are just silly. Many of them don't know how to communicate properly. Especially men.

It really gets on my nerves because I NEED to communicate in order to have a decent relationship of any kind with anyone. I want to understand. I want to help. But if the person is going to be stupid about it, there's no way I can do anything. It's frustrating!

I feel your pain..

Well, in many ways, asking people to explain why they feel a certain way IS an attack (though I can see that it's an inadverdant one), especially if you push and probe at it. Feelings are feelings. They just happen. Perhaps there are reasons for them but not everybody has a.) rational reasons for them, and the type of person prone to demanding explanations of feelings are unlikely to accept irrational reasons as valid
b.) the constant desire to do indepth detailed self-examination on command.

I remember a conversation we had once. As I remember it, it was about my perception that people are basically good. You wanted me to explain why I felt that way, and I ended up babbling about my mother for a while. I remember that you responded with, "Yes, your mother was good, but why does that make you think people are good?", and yes, I'm paraphrasing from memory here. And I got upset. I'd explained to you why I felt the way I did. It's not my job to convince you to feel the same way I do. If we speak a different language of heart and reason, that's just the way it is. Until you can understand the irrational heart side of things, there's no grounds upon which to build a translation primer.

Anyhow, the point is, when somebody tries to explain something personal to them and you continue to want more explanation, there's an intrinsic rejection there: they've done their best and you've said: not good enough. Yes, it's irrational. Tough luck. :-) That's the only kind of thing you can truly share with strangers in the dark.

You have to let go of looking for sense sometimes.


Until you can understand the irrational heart side of things, there's no grounds upon which to build a translation primer.

Yes, exactly! If I can't see what the irrational basis is, then how can I understand it?

I have no problem with irrational beliefs. I have a few of them myself. But if I'm having a disagreement with someone I respect, it's either because they have some piece of information I lack (and thus want), because I have some piece of information they lack (in which case I'll offer it, but don't mind if they turn it down), or because we have some differing axiom somewhere (in which case I'd like to know what it is). The only way I know to get into that and understand it at all is through words, which are an admittedly imperfect medium.

But I agree, most people take any sort of questioning as an attack. I'm just lamenting the fact. I can't understand someone's point of view if they aren't willing to try to explain it to me, and that often means getting at the root of their feeling so that I can understand it.

I don't really expect people to be able to do this, but I wish they could. I don't feel like it's possible for me to understand most people because of it, and that makes me sad.

And I got upset. I'd explained to you why I felt the way I did. It's not my job to convince you to feel the same way I do.

I wasn't asking you to convince me, I was saying, "I don't understand this thing." One possible answer is, "I don't know, I just feel that way." I'm actually okay with that answer, because that means that I've reached some sort of axiom, generally. (Or the person has gotten frustrated and is trying to tell me to fuck off politely, perhaps.)

When you got upset that time, I was disappointed because I felt like I'd lost an opportunity to understand more about someone I like and respect. I felt that way largely because you got upset -- had I felt like I'd just reached some sort of axiom, I'd have felt better about it, and felt less like some sort of monster for upsetting you.

Some of this is that there aren't any rules for discussion that everyone understands. I know my normal communication guidelines seem to be alien to the majority of the people I've ever communicated with, and I've had to learn other people's communications styles just to feel like maybe one tenth of what I meant got through.

I just wish there were a better way, dammit.


Well... she's gone:( It looks like she really did reach her limit.




It's a little easier from my side of things: it's like everything somebody says and does is a pixel and the more I interact with them, the more picture I see and the better I understand them. Analog rather than digital, maybe. But it's a lot less conscious work. I just skip along la la la la and then /whoa/ *click* something falls into place.

Well, it's a little more complicated than that and does, I guess, involve some work. But it's more about probabilities and potentialities and is almost always eventually followed up with 'wait and see'.

Unfortunately, it's not always something I can put into words...


Well, in many ways, asking people to explain why they feel a certain way IS an attack

It's certainly a challenge, but not always an attack.

But having one's beliefs challenged can certainly be an upsetting experience, so the result may be the same. Some beliefs are too much a part of the framework upon which we build our lives, and it can be harrowing to have them shaken or pried at and feel, at unready times, how the whole may shudder and shift.


It just happens too often that what some people think is a "challenge" very much is an attack-- if only because they fele entitled to "challenge" what they may or may not know anything about.

hugs gently

to know you is to love you

anyone who thinks you're putting them down isn't paying attention

soft kiss for your cheek

I'll probably get flamed for this, but...

I firmly believe that feelings can be wrong.

If the world was a perfect place and it was truly possible to have feelings that no one ever knew about and that consistently did not affect how you treated other people, then I probably wouldn't care what feelings other people hold. That wouldn't mean that if you asked me I wouldn't still say "Well, yes, I still do feel that feelings can be wrong, but since it doesn't affect me, I'm not going to push the issue."

But the world isn't a perfect place and I've known very, very few people whose feelings didn't affect their actions.

Case in point #1: my father evidently had a tremendous amount of difficulty coping with the stress in his life. He exhibited extreme hostility to me for much of my childhood. This included severe and frequent beatings, and even when I wasn't getting beaten, I was treated as a useless piece of human refuse. Now, these actions were clearly wrong, if you can accept my reportage as accurate -- but were the feelings that caused them wrong? I'd say "yes".

Dad somehow believed that I was the cause of his bad vibes and that if he beat the snot out of me on a regular basis he'd feel better. I seriously doubt that I came out of the womb so tainted with Original Sin that from the moment of my birth onwards his life was ruined.

Were his feelings of hatred and resentment toward me wrong? Yes.

If he had a hard time coping with work stress, or he found that four children was more kids than he was readily able to cope with as a parent, fine. I sympathize completely.

If he'd tried to understand the true cause of his turmoil and attempted to grow out of it by understanding it better, that would have been wonderful. But he didn't. He spent 18+ years telling me that I was the worst person alive. I kid you not. His hatred of me was simply wrong and I doubt it did one thing to make him feel one iota better.

Case in point #2: My wife, Carole, who might one day read this (she does get around, after all), likewise has a problem with invalid feelings. Carole is pathologically defensive. Her defensiveness is on the order of ten times the level of ordinary human defensiveness -- it's caused her no end of trouble throughout her life. Say anything to her that is the least bit critical, even if it's completely justified, and you are likely to get a look of extreme hatred and resentment back.

This has caused us a great deal of relationship difficulty over the years. She feels (and I am quoting her here) that any criticism at all is the same thing as saying she's the worst person in the world.

Such a feeling -- that if I criticize her, I am telling her that she's the worst person in the world -- on its face, makes no sense at all. If I say "Ouch, I wish you'd have looked before you turned around and walked right into me," I'm not saying she's the worst person in the world. Yet she often spends hours treating me with loathing and contempt, just for one yelped "Ouch..." and followup.

Do I wish Carole had a better handle on her feelings? Yes. Do I wish she didn't equate all criticism as an attempt to tear her down and destroy her? Yes. Do I understand that her hyper-defensiveness in all likelihood comes from a combination of the smotheringly overprotective upbringing she had from her mother and from the particular flavor of attention deficit disorder that she's been diagnosed with and which she is bit by bit trying to understand? Yes.

BUT, in that her defensiveness is so extreme that it's akin to a human immune system so out of whack that it goes into anaphylactic shock in the presence of peanuts or shellfish, do I feel that her feelings of defensiveness are "wrong"? You bet I do. A human feeling that is so out of control and so extreme as to mercilessly persecute someone for the slightest criticism is not "okay". It's out of whack, it's malfunctioning, and when it causes her feel hatred toward me when I've done nothing to her at all, it's wrong.

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

You have a good point and you put it quite well.

I have long been a member of the "if you do not understand or like the way you act, try to meditate and journal and think and so forth regarding it, and see if you can't figure out why you act that way" camp. Not that I've always succeeded in all this, but I think it has a lot of value as far as something to try, and I have learned things about myself over the years.

Examining oneself, one's feelings, and one's interpretations of those feelings is extremely difficult for Carole, sad to say. It's probably part of the whole defensiveness thing; she gets very depressed whenever she starts examining herself, whether or not she was inclined in that direction at the beginning. If I could help her see introspection as something nonnegative, it would probably help a lot, but I've never gotten very far on that score.

My father, on the other hand, will go to his grave in complete denial that he even was abusive, and I've long since given up trying to change him.

(no subject) - (Anonymous)


I do pretty much what you do, and I find the second approach SO. DAMN. FRUSTRATING.


I think both approaches require the ability to separate out rational thought from the emotion itself. For me, emotions affect my motivation and outlook. Sometimes when I'm crabby or angry, I don't WANT to feel better, because I'm crabby or angry.

Thinking about my own ability to connect two things that are not rationally connected, and feel strongly as a result, and how that's basically what the person's father above did... along with my own encounters with other sorts of irrationality in myself... there's no way to fix the irrational with the rational. You can't argue somebody into feeling a different way. You can provide new experiences that may change the way connections are drawn, and possibly even convince them to consciously work on reassociating the connections... but you can't argue somebody into sense. When my boyfriend and I fight and I'm being irrational and he gets upset because he doesn't know what to say to make things better, I try my best to remind him that often the best thing to say is just... hugging me.

I read a little paragraph on that exact thing somewhere recently, and now I'm annoyed with myself for not remembering where. They put it so well. I think it was some article about communicating with your children. 'Why' is apparently a non-listening word when it comes to feelings, and one should try for words that encourage the other to feel they are being listened to rather than interrogated. 'What makes you sad' being a marginally better choice than 'Why are you sad'. Or just something like 'You look sad today', combined with a listening attitude.

Hard to get a listening attitude across on the net, of course :)