When I overanalyze, I’m sorry

This bothers me: when people describe to me a problem they are having, I try either to analyze why the problem exists or to help them find a solution. Then I overhear someone else say the kind, compassionate things I should have said, and I kick myself up and down the stairs the rest of the day.

Really, I want to be kind and compassionate. I hunt for the right words to say and apologize when I don’t find them. No doubt part of my problem is a Mastermind (INT-J) personality which is automatically analytical and problem-solving even when other people do not want that kind of response. I want to be classy like John Steed, but always I end up as Mr. Spock instead.

The reason this bothers me is that, when I am being the analytical Mr. Spock, other people get the impression that I don’t care. Nothing could be further from the truth! I would not be analyzing their problem if I did not care. To me it seems like I am reaching out with a helping hand, but to them it feels as if I am building a wall between us.

Whenever this has happened, I feel disappointed in myself. Understand that, in my household when I was growing up, “disappointed” was a code word for strong disapproval. In some ways, hearing Mom or Dad say, “I’m disappointed with you” was a worse punishment than being spanked or sent to my room. So when I say that I am disappointed with myself, I really mean that I am very angry at myself.

At the same time, I am very sensitive to the people around me. If someone is having a bad day, my first reaction is to blame myself. The other person might be fighting off a cold, or getting over a morning argument with a spouse, or focusing attention on a project, but part of my brain is asking the rest of my brain, “What did I do that was wrong?” I’ve been like this as long as I can remember. As a result, I have learned to ignore that feeling, the same way I ignore the feeling that I’ve forgotten something important each and every time I leave the house.

This probably means that at times I miss a chance to apologize when I should apologize. Or I miss a chance to say a kind word to someone who needs a kind word, apart from the fact that their problem is not my fault. Failing to say the right thing, though, bothers me less than saying the wrong thing. I cannot seem to remember that generally people want sympathy and support more than they want solutions.

Some people say that this is a male/female divide in western culture. They say that women talk about their problems to receive emotional support, while men talk about their problems to find solutions. Therefore, when a man hears a problem described, he looks for a solution; when a woman hears a problem described, she offers emotional support. That description is simplistic, of course, although it may contain some elements of truth. In the end, though, it seems more like a stereotype than a helpful explanation.

But, there I go again. Even dealing with my own feelings, I am looking for explanations and solutions. I am asking how I can change myself so I can offer support and sympathy and not be the analytical Spock who doesn’t help at all. At this point, I am who I am, analytical mind and all.

J.

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2 thoughts on “When I overanalyze, I’m sorry

  1. WE ARE THE SAME PERSON. Love this post!

    INTJ? Yes.
    Mr. Spock? Yes.
    Analytical, but wanting to be kind and compassionate? Yes.
    “Disappointed” worse than a spanking? YES.

    You have been uniquely created this way for a reason. You are a blessing. You have strengths that others do not have. Could we both work on being more communicative with our kindness and compassion? Yes. But we are loved, just as we are, by those who count. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

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