18 November, 2013

I guess I just like hating things

This isn't a for real post but my friend Bailee and I had a long conversation where a lot of it was about being compassionate and open toward people.  In the past year, Bailee has gotten really into approaching problems this way and I really like it in her, and theoretically, I want to be compassionate to people too, but in practice it can sometimes bother me when she suggests how I could deal with situations in a compassionate way.  In fact, I got so upset about some of her advice last week that I sent her an email saying "If other people's feelings matter so much that makes me want to die and that is a feeling too!!!" or something equally stellar.

When we had our conversation tonight, I kept thinking a lot about ideas and principles that are good sometimes but don't work in certain situations or if they are applied too liberally.

Somewhat similarly, I thought about the idea of supporting someone.  For example, I talked about the idea of a friend who has irrational fears and the first time he talks about them, it seems easy to just go through the fears and talk about them and try to calm him down and explain why they're not rational.  It's your instinct to do that and it feels good to try and help someone you care about.  Maybe at the time you would even feel committed to always helping your friend in this way.

But then I thought that you could get really tired of doing it because you want to talk about your problems or you just want to talk about a TV show or you just want to read a book and not be with your friend at all, and you're just bored and frustrated about going over your friend's irrational fears because you know they're irrational and you would much rather do something else and now it's starting to feel like you pretended you were someone you aren't because at one point, you really were happy to help.

And I also said that anyway it might be better for your friend if he talks himself through his fears independently instead of getting reassurance from you and that might be a way of dealing with the problem that yields more long-term improvement.


I talked about, "You need to get out of your comfort zone."  This is actually useful advice for someone and maybe everyone.  But it can be such bad and upsetting advice for some people to receive in certain situations.

For example, let's say someone has chronic pain and she is dragging herself around to go to work and basically do the things other people do until she is almost crying.  Not understanding this stuff, a coworker asks if she would like to go to a dance party and when she says no, the coworker says, "You need to get out of your comfort zone."

I guess this is how I feel sometimes when someone suggests that I should be more compassionate or think about other people's feelings more.  Sometimes I feel like there's such an extreme amount of pressure on me that I'm just going to drop dead without warning.  It's so hard for me to even appear to be doing the bare minimum of what other people do, but in addition to doing that, I have to apologize for not doing it as well as other people, look happy and comfortable, and be suitably ashamed of not having hobbies.  It creates a weird twisted feeling inside of me where it seems like there's no room to even experience one demand before I have to fulfill all the demands that totally contradict it.

When I'm feeling upset about something someone did and Bailee suggests that I should be more open to them or apologize for my failings, it just makes me really triggered and makes me feel like my ever approaching doom has scooted a lot closer.  But I actually feel like this can be good advice for a lot of people, and would even be good advice for me if I didn't think of it in a way that taps into all the stuff that upsets me so much.


I associate anti-ableism/disability stuff with being judgmental and I see that as a positive thing.  Culturally as a disabled person I am encouraged to see bad things done to me or other disabled people in terms of how bad our disabilities must have made the aggressor feel.  I felt this way for a long time but when I became more political I decided to start seeing life in a more black and white fashion and it was very relaxing.  It was bad to kill someone, be mean to someone, insult someone, bully someone, etc.  If you could logically explain why someone shouldn't be treated a certain way, then it was okay to say that it was bad to treat them that way.  It wasn't wrong to say these things were bad instead of thinking about the feelings of the aggressors.  It was okay to just be mad at the aggressors and say they were bad.

I think this is really powerful and basically correct but my attachment to it can sometimes mean that I get sad when I develop more complex ideas of things.  Like, if it's taken me a lot of effort to acknowledge that something someone did to me was bad and I'm relishing the fact that I've decided to start hating the person and thinking they're a jerk and not feeling guilty about it at all...then it can be pretty hard when I start getting to know other layers of the person or forgive them for what they did.  Sometimes I just want to give myself a hate break because I don't think being forgiving and open is going to make me feel as relaxed as hating someone who did something bad to me.

And those are my thoughts about this for now.


  1. The problem with telling someone to move out of their comfort zone is that it's often used on people who are already uncomfortable. It makes a lot more sense to use it with people who are bored and in a rut because they really have been playing it safe for too long.

  2. I'm a Bailee, too--that's where my moral compass points. But I understand where you're coming from. Suspending judgment and seeing things from the point of view of someone who hurt you is hard...for everyone I know. You have to be safe, and have your scars closed up, and have the mental and emotional energy to put into doing that. It's hard to do when you're triggered. If you can't do it right now, you can't do it. For what it's worth, I don't think you're a terrible person for telling her so.