re: sadness as a commodity

Something else… One of the little dialogues S (I use her nickname when we are getting along) and I have been having over the last couple weeks deal with how I respond to her crying. I have been hard pressed to find a way to deal with it when we are talking about something and she starts crying. (It happens sometimes when we are discussing relationship issues.) My first impulse is always just to stop talking about it or to try and change what I am talking about to make it more comforting to her.

That pattern lies at the heart of why I was getting so frustrated before. I believed that I was a heartless dick and whenever she would cry when I would talk about things it reinforced that. I eventually stopped talking and tried to just change myself. I would just think “you just have to be more loving. Just be more open and more caring.”

Her position, and I think it is right, is that even if she gets upset it is important to be truthful and to maintain dialogue. A habit that I am seeing more frequently is that when I get to a point that I don’t know how to deal with a situation anymore one of my first reactions is to give up. To say “I just can’t/don’t want to do this right now.” She will start crying, but it has not been her that breaks dialogue.

Something that we were talking about last night is that she is much more comfortable expressing (and more importantly dealing with) sorrow than I am. Similarly, I am more comfortable expressing and receiving anger than she is. We can both do both, but the depth that we do it to varies and our comfort levels dealing with it coming in varies.

This reminded me of a passage from Fire In the Belly which I am going to summarize since I don’t have the book with me:

“If you have a man (or woman) who has been conditioned to experience aggressiveness as their primary motivation then their most easily expressed emotion will be anger. If you have a woman (or man) who has been conditioned to experience submissiveness as their primary motivation then their most easily expressed emotion will be sadness.”

I wondered about that when I first read it. The connection between aggression and anger seems pretty clear since anger is probably the most aggressive emotion. The connection between submissiveness and sadness seemed a little more tenuous. My question I asked the house last night was if not sadness then what? S suggested fear. I think that I might actually agree with sadness. Anyone else have an idea?

I’m going to post some more from Keen in a bit. He is a Jungian and deals with archetypes and shadow. I thought that might be interesting to some people.


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