Hello, lovely reader! How are you? Yeah, I think I’m coming down with something too. Do you want some Lemsip?
Last night was the Empty Photo Theatre performance Date Night, and I would like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to everyone who came, was in it or has listened to me wittering about it recently. Also, thank you to everyone who has contacted me to say nice things about it. You are far too kind.
For absolutely no good reason, today I am thinking about our instinctive responses to stressful situations. In physical terms, the fight or flight response is pretty fascinating: did you know, for example, that under stress our digestion and immune systems shut down to allow more energy for emergency functions? Me neither. I’m so glad that we’ve evolved to be able to deal with a sabre-toothed tiger. Our bodies are weird and wonderful.
Our brains are weird and wonderful too, but in a different way: our emotional instincts tend to mirror our physical ones, and when an emotionally or just cognitively stressful situation occurs, we tend to either confront it or flee screaming in terror (metaphorically, of course. In reality we tend to smile politely and change the topic of conversation). Most people would respond very differently depending on different situations: for example, the person who would calmly walk away from a bicker with their friend might pull a machete on their partner in the event of infidelity.
Having said that, there are some people who tend to respond pretty much the same way to most things, and we know about this because we have terms for them. For instance, the people who would usually favour a flight response to emotional problems are referred to as “emotionally unavailable”. (I love that phrase. It makes it sound like we’re doing a nativity play, and the emotionally unavailable people are the innkeepers shouting “NO ROOM AT THE INN, I DON’T LIKE TO FEEL THINGS!” before slamming the door on an awkward conversation.) Bizarrely, people who would rather fight in response to emotional issues tend to be drawn to those who would not, and the consequences are usually frustrating and confusing. I know lots of outspoken, heart-on-sleeve kind of people (myself included) who are attracted to fairly stiff-upper-lip types, and that has yet to end well for any of us.
Weirdly, I think that that’s probably for the best. People who would run away from confrontation need the argumentative types, and people who are easily upset need to spend time with those who are slightly less fragile. No one has yet worked out a sure fire method of dealing with emotional stress, so we need to try to learn from each other. If we balance out fight and flight we usually end up with a flail, and although that doesn’t sound very effective, at least you won’t be doing it alone.
Have a supreme Thursday.