Monday, July 16, 2012

it's NOT fine.

If someone is acting funny but they say "everything's fine," everything is NOT fine.
However, it could be:
  • Everything is not fine but they wish it was.
  • Everything is not fine but they're not comfortable talking about it right then.
  • Everything is not fine but it will be fine soon enough.
  • Everything is not fine but they haven't exactly put their finger on what's wrong and so talking about it feels premature.
  • Everything is not fine but it doesn't really have to do with you.
Stonewalling (which one of Dr. Gottman's four horsemen of the apocalypse), is when people shut down, when they don't want to talk about what's not fine. But if you think about it, there's a reason. It's usually because talking about it doesn't feel safe.

Why wouldn't it feel safe? Well, maybe there's a worry that the other person's reaction will be unpleasant -- maybe they'll be angry or hurt or cry or some other reaction that doesn't totally feel comfortable. Or maybe that's happened so often in the past that it's just a natural reflex now, almost unconscious.
"95% of a person’s emotional reaction is to their history and 5% is to the event that triggered it." Al Turtle
They say it takes about 20 minutes for the adrenaline that is released when in an alert, guarded state to clear out of the body once the trigger goes away.

It's good not internalize this; that doesn't do either person any good. If a friend shut down, I might be like "oh bubbie, what'sa matter?" And be all extra nurturing. That feels much nicer, eh?


  1. I do that but I wouldn't call it stonewalling. Stonewalling sounds like you're intentionally putting up a wall to keep someone out or to push them away. I withdraw a bit and WON'T talk about something when my emotions are going nuts, whether it's anger or pain, because I can't think straight when I'm like that and because no productive conversation will be had when emotions are crazy. I need time to figure out why I'm feeling the way I'm feeling or what I want to say. As for other people...who knows?

  2. There's also asking "Is everything not fine, but you don't want to talk about it?"
    I appreciate when my girl says that.
    And that she leaves me alone when I say that.