Monday, June 13, 2016

Emotional range, capacity and fatigue

Listening to "The Revolving Door of Life" by Alexander McCall Smith, I heard a main character say to his wife that his shop assistant would be SO excited to hear what just happened.  I could tell that the man stored up some feeling of joy which he could release when his assistant exulted.  I think that maybe men do this often, ask women to feel emotions for them.  

Researchers and theorists have recently accumulated data that implies to them that our self-discipline or willpower can be temporarily tired out, fatigued, like a muscle that needs to be rested.  I think my emotional engine similarly has limits as to what it can feel and how intensely it can feel for how long in a given period of time.  I recently attended the last sermon a local pastor gave before going off to a new position.  It was clear that the congregation liked her, loved her and that she felt the same way about them.  One person after another expressed deep feelings and admiration for her.  I could feel the emotions they were expressing at first but after a while, I could tell that my emotions were getting exhausted.  My age might have something to do with my capacity but I suspect my gender is more determinative.  

I have been reading "Man's Guide to Women" by the famous marriage scientist John Gottman, his wife, and others about how men and women operate.  He reports an experiment where group of men and women are taking a test or something and the psychologist arranges for a loud gunshot to go off.  The sudden menacing noise made the women scared but it made the men angry.  Some of them expressed a desire to "get even" with the experimenter.  It is well-known that men have a capacity to fight and often a desire to fight to go along with it.  Men can convert many emotions and challenges into anger and fighting arousal quite rapidly.  

The same book describes women's use of emotions as a tool for feeling closer to others.

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