Emotional Toil

Well, I finished Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence, and had mixed feelings about it. Some of it I agreed with, some of it made me uneasy. Parts of it were uncomfortable reading… descriptions of the hurtful rows couples can have makes you curl up in a ball. It’s not just couples, of course; you can have these painful clashes with anybody whose good opinion you value.

I haven’t had any huge arguments lately, or ruined friendships (that I’m aware of), though the other night I didn’t understand something Mum was trying to say till she blew up and stamped about and threw things. I thought we were having a chummy evening in, so it was a shock. What did I do? Turned out she was asking me to stop playing with the cats, as it was distracting her from the TV. I thought she was saying other things, and kept right on…

It sounds both funny and stupid, but it made me feel quite ill. It reminded me of something on TV about a deaf Dalmatian dog; it couldn’t hear warning growls from other dogs and would keep right on… and got attacked. It haunted me at the time, and I couldn’t help remembering it.

I did some stamping and door-slamming myself (retreating upstairs to watch my own TV), and didn’t forgive Mum for two or three hours.

The book said you can get blazingly angry about something all in an instant, but if you stop and think about it, you realize there’s an underlying emotion such as hurt or fear. People get angry because they feel threatened in some way. I didn’t have to think about it very much, I knew about it already. It came before the anger.

The treatment meted out by other people to their friends and partners is not pleasant reading. It makes me want to reach through the pages and shake some of them till their teeth rattle.

It’s purely opinion, but I was dubious about some things in the book. I giggled when reading about a study of one particular group of patients. Some received therapy along with their treatment; others did not. The ones receiving therapy left the hospital an average of two days earlier than the rest. I said to Mum “do you suppose they were trying to escape?”
“I’m quite sure of it,” she said.

I imagine I would have been one of the schoolchildren hinted at (further along) who consider mediation and therapy at school to be an invasion of privacy. Ironic… here I write to the whole world what I’m thinking, but clam up when therapists/consultants/whoever are talking nicely to me in a quiet room. I even clammed up when the university tutors were trying to discuss my thoughts about things I’d read, which was completely missing the point of having tutors… but that’s by the way.

There was a bit about timid cats catching smaller mice than their more courageous brethren; I took issue with that use of the word ‘courageous’. It’s supposed to mean you’re scared but go for it anyway; not that you weren’t particularly scared and waded joyfully in. Mum said it showed a basic misunderstanding of cat behaviour.

Finally I finished the book and handed it over to her in case she wanted to read it, and she dropped it in the bin. “You’re supposed to make up your own mind about it,” I protested, and she said “I have… I’ve had bits of it read to me!”

Finally she relented and pulled it out again, but I don’t care what she does with it. I’ve begun reading Cat on the Edge by Shirley Rousseau Murphy and it’s wonderful. I already see the hero cat (Joe Grey) as being my own Sharky, though Sharky wasn’t ugly and grey with half a tail. It reminds me how I would go off my chump when he (or any of the cats) disappeared. I could just imagine him doing some of those things… but I won’t give away any more, except to say that the pretty girl cat (Dulcie) reminds me strongly of Delilah. Nobody could be cross with her for any reason.

Am taking it to bed, along with cuddly moose, cuddly mouse etc.

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3 responses

  1. I used to thrive on rows (drama queen?)

    But now that I’m older, I’m much better at walking away or keeping quiet and finding the solution inside myself.

    Mind you – I still have some way to go.

  2. shussmallworld | Reply

    Chick and I were observing how uncomfortable Snowy gets around any fussing or loud noises; just this afternoon we watched a ‘kid’ movie with lot of battling fantastic creatures — which she enjoyed except when there was shouting, etc. We have to keep an eye out as she would rather leave the room and forego the movie than endure the fight.

    And I am always startled when something I’ve done or not done, said or not said, pushes a button on Chick’s fireworks, and I can’t convince her of my innocence. I never know what it is that is my crime, but that doesn’t save me from a good row.

    I think it just happens to us, that lightning, that friction in the air.

  3. Hi Kaz, anger’s both seductive and hard to handle. I was thinking about how it arises through feeling threatened or attacked in some way… even if we handle it carefully and sort things out peaceably, we’re still having to wrestle with the way we felt. Life is not a bowl of cherries (unless we have no feelings about anything at all).

    Hi Shu, TV can overdo the shouting and yelling… I don’t know if you have ever seen Phone Booth… you might want to avoid it! I found it too much, and that was just the start of it, as I didn’t last. I’ve seen the Alien films from beginning to end, but they’re mostly about people creeping silently through peaceful corridors…

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