In Your Language

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Embracing the tension

I'm talking about the inner friction we feel when we experience things in life that aren't so black and white. My psychology book refers to cognitive dissonance; when we're driven to do something that is out of character or out of line with our goals.

It's the clue that we are on the brink of being hypocrites. It should be that internal trigger that makes us wait a minute before we make an unwise move. Take a pre-preemptive strike on regret or remorse.

The other day, I felt that inner friction as I was trying to help my husband find a popular coffee store on our drive home from picking up my daughter. I could see that he was visibly tired, he wouldn't let me drive, and he said he wanted some of that coffee. But he also said that he would only go in if it were on the right side of the road. Of course, the only ones that I remembered were on the left side of the road. I felt he was being too picky, plus we still had school work to do and hopefully couple time later that night. I foresaw him being wrecked for the whole night. So I playfully said "Well, I guess you're too picky to get coffee then."

And then husband got quiet (angry). I didn't catch on for a few minutes. I said "Oh man, did I hurt your feelings?" Then I had to spend a few minutes backpedaling and patching up my error. I had no intention of hurting him at all. I wanted to help him and he wouldn't let me and I was led astray by that inner tension. I should have allowed him the space to choose tiredness. I used to do that a lot more earlier in our relationship.

My relief comes from the fact that at least with my daughter, she calls me on my vices. She does not elevate me to be perfect and I do my best to cop to my mistakes. I do have many moments that I intentionally say things to repair faults or to address the obvious. I don't think people should have incorrect understanding of me and at the same time I welcome them to speak the truth. (Why else do we think a high percentage of abuse and crimes don't get reported?) I hope when I clarify things, people will adjust their understanding of my words and actions. I don't care to censor people unless they misunderstood me... and that is the only area I feel qualified to speak into their life experience.

My husband righteously pointed out to me that I needed to give him emotional freedom to feel what he feels and to get through it in his time and only help if he asks. At the same time, it is healthy to have a loved one point out the positive as an option but not as an expectation. We need to accept each other and our emotional extensions of ourselves (outside of abuse). We need to accept each other's weighed words and not impose emotional or verbal censorship. We need to accept that we can feel the opposite things at the same time and it is completely O.K.

I don't think that our tension with these opposites are necessarily of evil origins, but more of our compulsion to make things more simple. I disagree when only one thought process is "accepted" and the rest are thrown out. What happened to "free speech", "freedom of press", "and freedom of censorship"? Did the people who were convinced the world was flat get lynched when they were found out to be wrong? When does solidarity get higher priority over being truth based or purely subjective? If I'm (or you're) only speaking about myself (or yourself), what business does anyone else have to speak about it at all?

I read an article on the groupthink theory as an explanation of the Challenger disaster in 1986. I think the fear of censorship, not voicing the same as others, was enough to lead to the unfortunate explosion. In that situation, don't you wish that person didn't feel censored or pressured- and had just presented his evaluation that there was a critical fault that should be fixed before liftoff.

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