Archive for May, 2011

May 29, 2011

The metapohors of introverted and extraverted energies

Could it be that the ebbing and flowing of the introvert and extravert’s so-called energies, the one’s need to resource in private silence and the other’s excitement at digging into a crowd of strangers, are the flip-side of their anxiety? The introvert loves to be alone, to wander through es thoughts and inner life, calming eself so far down that minute feelings and emotions begin to appear in their minuscule glory; however, e has little practice at groups, cannot solve the three-body-problem of social interaction, and quickly paniks in complicated social settings, es mind running in circles not figuring out how to behave, repeatedly stumbling down social dead-ends, which in turn generates negative emotions, anxiety and stress, causing his mind to stall and go blank. The extravert must live in groups, having always been more comfortable interacting with others, deciding together, erecting friendships and leaning on them at all times; as soon as e is alone, however, e paniks, too, for suddenly there is no one to ask or interact with, and es mind begins to spin on nothing, the constant influx of activity and communication having suddenly stopped, resulting in a loneliness and boredom that e has no practice dealing with and truly fears, which in turn oozes into sad and tiresome feelings, anxiety, stress and once more, a stalled mind.

So it would be anxiety that saps one’s energies, and the mere lack of it would correspond to the positive energies of one’s normal, habitual settings. So the introvert does not build up “energy” when alone, only to spend it at parties, but instead builds up negative emotions at parties, and falls back on es comfortable routine when alone. If such is the case, we can learn to not “lose energy” in “bad” situations, but instead learn to watch and counter the negative emotions as they arise.

This might be a mere question of metaphor, how the assumptions behind our pictures compell us to act in certain perhaps unecessary ways.  The energy metaphor assumes a fixed resource or repository which is inexorably depleted until replenished; it tells us we cannot change how our energies are spent, only when. The anxiety explanation, on the contrary, does not posit a positive and scarce constant of energy but rather a source of negative emotions, which, as many such states of the mind, can probably be controlled and mastered.

May 21, 2011

Two sisters’ secrets

Two sisters were best of friends and could spend hours late into the night discussing their loves, feelings and disappointments. Their young brother, however, would constantly eavesdrop through the door or window in order to embarass them later when dragging their secrets onto the dining table. So the two girls decided to invent a new, private language in which they could safely converse. At first, their new tongue had only a handful of words, and they couldn’t say much to one another, but over time and with effort the language grew and blossomed into something quite useful.  Soon they were safely discussing their deep inner lives once again for hours.

Either by chance or necessity, their private language turned out to be much more accurate than the English they had once used. In fact, they noticed that the more exactly one of them described a feeling or an emotion to the other, the more she too would begin to feel that same emotion. Their new sentences were so precise, and must have mirrored so closely the way the mind truly worked, that merely understanding them made them happen. A few words from one sister could turn the other’s crying into laughter or dispell an anxious mood entirely.

Without quite deciding to, both sisters began teaching not the whole language, but a few specific words and sentences to their little brother…

May 21, 2011

The old woman and her scroll

There once was an old woman with a very bad memory, and who from her youth had kept a detailed diary of everything she experienced. This was a curious sort of book: it unrolled like a scroll, to which she sewed new blank sheets every day before filling them with a flurry of words and arrows that inexorably advanced towards the right open edge, never bending backwards. She had moods, emotions, desires, ideas and thoughts pointing to one another, crossing paths, splitting and reuniting in a vast array of colors and sizes.

One day, as she was jotting down these movements of her mind, she got ahead of herself and started drawing out what she expected to come next. Soon, her scroll began to describe not only what lay in her mind’s immediate future, but also what she wanted to have lying ahead of her. Not surprizingly, the old woman’s well-trained mind dutifully complied, and switched to now following the paths that appeared on the map.