“Are you a good judge of other people’s happiness? Tell us about a time you were spot on despite external hints to the contrary (or, alternatively, about a time you were dead wrong).”
Today’s prompt is all about how good I am at judging other people.
In short, I am terrible at judging how people are feeling. I’m not really sure why. Maybe it’s because I have the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone (Bonus points for the person who tells me the librarian that said that.) or maybe if I ever truly empathised with someone I couldn’t claim ignorance about it and would have to do something. Who’s to say?
The point is I have always had great difficulty seeing the below the surface of people. Over the course of time, I’ve gone from completely clueless (as I guess most people are at the start)to following what is little more than a checklist of things to look out for. in fact when trying to discern how someone is feeling, my mind goes through a list of basic statements like the following…
- Are they crying? = Sad
- Are they smiling? = Happy
- When asked “If they are ok”, do they say “Yes” = Fine
- When asked “If they are ok”, do they say “Yes, I’m fine” = Not Fine
- Are they shouting or being violent towards me = Angry
This was how the mental list started, and when you’re just learning about human relationships this is a safe method to use. When you’re eight years old, you don’t need to know the intricacies of how jealousy or dissatisfaction can manifest. It’s enough to just update this list when you discover something new.
The trouble is, I am still using this list method at the age of 34. Except it is now no longer a brief list of the top points used to quickly determine the most obvious of emotions, but now a sprawling and lengthy directory thicker than the complete collection of Agatha Christie Stories published in 2009. My emotional book is now so vast in size that it is impossible to use within a reasonable space of time such as someone making a comment or asking you a question.
Maybe my difficulty with judging emotions is that I don’t actually use any judgment. I simply run down my tremendous process flow of emotional criteria to logically eliminate any emotions it can’t be and therefore arrive at the right one.
This would be a perfect method, if I was a super-computer that could function far quicker than I can but it’s not the case. Yet even if I could somehow get rid of this mental manual, wouldn’t I regress back to the emotional level of a child?
It’s possible of course, that my judgment is completely fine and it is just my neurotic imperative to over-analyse everything.
I’m interested to know what you think?
- Facial Expressions Aren’t As Universal As Scientists Have Thought (popsci.com)
- Judging Books (maasmith.com)
- 403. How to Stop Living in Defense Mode (marlenvargasdelrazo.wordpress.com)
- 11 Reminders of How to be a More Open Person. (elephantjournal.com)
- Mindfulness connected to emotional well- being (tricitypsychology.com)
- 4 Tips for Becoming Emotionally Resilient (psychcentral.com)
- On Judging Ourselves And Feeling Painful Emotions (blogs.psychcentral.com)