Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Emotional Retardation... It's very real.

Before I get started with this post, I just want to say that I work with Developmentally Disabled kids. I am in no way making fun of anyone developmentally disabled. In fact, this post has nothing to do with any physical or cognitive conditions. However, if you are sensitive to the subject and are easily offended... you may want to sit this one out.

Now that that's out of the way. Today, boyz and girlz, I would like to discuss with you a  phenomenon I like to call 'Emotional Retardation". For the purposes of this post, I'm going to define Emotional Retardation (ER) as significantly impaired emotional functioning. Still don't know what I mean? Don't worry. You will once this post is over. We have all been affected, in some way or another, either by a someones inability to  constructively express emotions or their inability to feel emotions, period. (if you haven't, then you're probably the ER one in your circle). That's what I'm talking about here.... the people in your life that didn't get enough hugs or affection as a child and are now adults that have no idea how to deal with emotions.

Just like mental retardation, there are different levels or 'classes' of ER: Mild, Moderate, Severe, and Profound. Let's discuss...

A person of Mild Emotional Retardation is hard to identify. They seem to be very normal when you meet them. In fact, it's likely that the only people that realize they have a problem are their significant other or their best friend. These are, generally, very level headed people. That is, until they experience some type of hurt. Then, they viciously attack the people closest to them... ALWAYS and ONLY the people closest to them. This class of ER is more commonly seen in women. Take, for example, Ashley (all names have been changed to protect the handicapped). Ashley's 1st cousin, recently, died unexpectedly. (Sad... I know) Her best friend, Courtney, has been by Ashley's side through the whole process. One day, Courtney jokes with Ashley (as she always has) about Ashley's inability to work her high tech cell phone and... BOOM... like a time bomb, Ashley flips out telling Courtney that she should worry more about her failing relationship instead of Ashley's phone. Low blow, right? Yes. Is her issue really with Courtney? Of course not. But that's what these people do. That's what makes them so dangerous. You never see it coming and then.... POW!

Just like that, the damage is done.

The next level of ER is Moderate. These are the people that have no problem expressing negative emotions, like: anger, sadness, or frustration. However, the moment you tell them you love them, they freeze up on you like satellite tv in a tornado. I feel especially bad for these people. They normally know they have a problem, but they have no idea what to do about it. These people can rarely compliment people either. They normally can't say anything nice or heartfelt to someone without some kind of comic relief. In friendships, they tend to hurt their friends feelings by making jokes about their appearance when what they really mean to say is "You look nice today. I like your outfit." I know. It's confusing. In romantic relationships, their significant other says "I love you" and they joke it off saying something like 'Whatever' or 'That's so lame' when what they really want to say is 'I love you too. You're special to me.' You can identify these people by their inability to share a genuine emotional moment with ANYONE...EVER. These people are this way, more than likely, because they came from families that never express positive emotions. Most of the people closest to them accept it as such and move on.

People with Severe ER, are very special individuals. These are the people in your life that feel lots of emotions at once, but have no idea how to express them. This is more commonly seen among men. They show their love for you by what they do for you. They think you should know they love you because they wash your car or take you out all the time. They get really frustrated in relationships when their significant other says "I don't know how you feel about me" or "I don't know if you love me or not". These type of statements piss them off GREATLY. They think you should KNOW they love you because of all the things they do to make you happy. I'm telling you.... if you think your s/o is severely ER, say something like that to them and see how fast they flip out. These people are very hard to read. If they are upset with you...they probably won't tell you. If they are happy with you.... more than likely, they won't tell you that either. The only way to really get to know people like this is time. You have to spend lots of time with them to learn to read their emotions through their actions. Their friends and s/o generally find them to be very exhausting people to deal with.

Finally, let's talk about Profoundly ER people. They do not feel emotions and therefore, can not express them. These people are basically, numb. They have found a way to block any and all emotions. When you are happy, they can not be happy with you... they don't know how. When you are sad, they can not comfort you... they can't feel compassion. These are the most difficult of all the ER folks out there to deal with. Their friends and s/o feel emotions FOR them, which makes having any type of relationship with them tedious and draining, to say the least. These people claim to be very logical people. They use that word 'logic' a lot. The truth is... they couldn't feel emotion if it weighed 60lbs and fell on top of their heads. The sad part is, these people are not normally born this way. They, normally, have had some tragic thing happen to them that caused them so much pain that they refused, from that point on, to feel any emotions at all. It's unfortunate. It's virtually impossible to be in a relationship with a person like this. They can't tell you how they feel..... they don't know and then they make you feel ridiculous for having emotions yourself. Smh. Do yourself a favor and stay away from these people.

So ummmmmmmmmm.....  that's my take on Emotional Retardation. I want to know what you have to say about it. Do you know some people like this? How do you deal with them?...

The Importance of Staying Connected

If you’re anything like me, you often wish there were more hours in the day. If, only, I had a few more hours to work with, then I’d have time to return phone calls, hang out a little, or catch up with that friend I haven’t talked to in a while. Recently, though, I had to ask myself… Are there really not enough hours in the day, or am I just not managing the time I have very well? It’s easy to make time to do the things we need to do, but in doing those things, it’s, also, easy to back burner spending much needed time with friends.

We all get caught up in the “things” of life sometimes. Meetings, assignments, bills, ect… Being connected to all these things at once can be all consuming of our time, not to mention exhausting. Before you realize it, your personal relationships begin to suffer from a lack of attention. Because we are caught up in these things on a daily basis, we tend to assume that our friends are as well. At the very least, we expect them to understand why we don’t have time to hang out or have lengthy phone conversations like we used to. It’s easy to become so consumed with our own “things” that we forget the importance of staying connected to the relationships we have with the people we love.

Staying connected is important. When things in your life get to be overwhelming or difficult, the first thing the devil does is try to isolate you. He wants you to think that you are alone. He wants you to believe that nobody else has ever been where you are and, therefore, could not possibly understand what you are going through. The devil is a liar! Every friend in your life has been placed there strategically. Every person has a purpose. Staying connected to each person is essential, not just for you, but for them.

My Pastor often speaks to us about reaching beyond ourselves. So many times, we get so self-absorbed in the problems, trials, and obstacles we face at any given moment, that we become too busy to reach out to friends. I, personally, have been guilty of disconnecting because, in my mind, the only problems I have time to deal with are my own. This is the opposite of what God intended. God wants us to stay connected so that we can encourage each other. Reach beyond yourself to encourage a friend, I guarantee you that, in doing so, you will find yourself encouraged. Don’t be too busy to stay connected to your friends. Remember, you need them just as much as they need you.

Why Are They So Negative?

As Christians, we have all been taught about the power of speaking positive things. The Bible says “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21) This, basically, means that we will live what we speak. If we speak positive things over our lives, we will see positive results. On the contrary, if we speak negative things, we will see negative results in our daily lives. There are some of us who understand and believe this, and therefore, make a conscious decision to speak positive things into our own lives and the lives of the people around us on a daily basis. But there are some people who, for whatever reason, have chosen to do the opposite. These are people I like to call “nay sayers”. See, it doesn’t matter how good the idea is or how great things are going, a nay sayer will always say “nay”. It’s just what they do.

There are two problems with having to deal with a habitual nay sayer: 1) Constantly combating negative energy can be very draining to your spiritual man and 2) It is contagious and if you’re not careful, you’ll catch it without even realizing it. So, naturally, the easiest way to deal with a nay sayer is to stay as far away from them as possible. But what happens when the nay sayer is a friend? More than like likely, if this person is your friend, they have not always been this way, as most of us would not purposely befriend a person who constantly professes negative things. But now, it seems like every time you say something positive and uplifting, they come back with something negative and discouraging. You want to keep your friend, but you no longer want to feel drained and discouraged after talking to them.

The first thing you need to understand is that, they are, probably, not purposely trying to bring you down. The Bible says in Matthew 12: 34 that it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. So, they speak these things, not because they want to rain on your parade, but because they actually believe them. Therefore, in order to get them to stop focusing on and speaking negative things, you have to get them to stop believing those things. The second thing you have to understand is that, more than likely, they believe negative things because they perceive difficult situations in their lives as negative. This is a sign of weak faith, since we know that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

If we know that habitual nay saying comes from weakened faith and the Bible says “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters” (Romans 14: 1), then your job as a Christian, and as a friend is very simply to not engage. Instead of arguing or allowing your positive thoughts to be contaminated by negativity, back your words with the promises of God. No one can argue with that. Be strong in your faith. Be fully convinced that if God said it, he will perform it. In doing so, you disarm the enemy that seeks to discourage you. Continue to speak the promises of God over the life of your nay saying friend. Encourage them. Uplift them. Help them build their faith. Before you know it, they will begin speaking positive things too. After all, positive thinking can be contagious too.