mardi 1 décembre 2009

Overanalyse this!

« What’s the use of being overanalytical about everything ? What’s the use of being so emotional ? »
I must have heard this a million times in my life, and it is always a source of mingled irritation and amusement. I am very sensitive to people’s moods and behaviours. I don’t react to things because it’s useful-I just do. I like understanding the way people act. I like wondering what’s the link between a friend’s endless partying and the fact that her father has remarried. I like investigating mentally: why do I suddenly feel sad about something?

I’ll be the first to admit that this overanalytical behaviour is probably a secondary effect of my analysis. When you are getting over depression, you are taught to identify “triggers” that you can then work around. Say you are always depressed after listening to Malher symphonies (check) or after seeing a critical family member, you’ll avoid these triggers when particularly vulnerable.

Being overanalytical also has some social advantages for someone as shy as I am; I’ve become quite adept at predicting people’s reactions (once I know them a bit, obviously), and this avoids awkwardness. Would I be better off by just asking :”What’s wrong?” Often, yes. I’ve been trying actually to stop making projections and just ask when I’m not sure of why someone is angry/sad/perplexed. Being straightforward is also a time saver, since you avoid the endless handwringing of the overanalytical species.

But let me defend my kind: many “straightforward” people are not good at defining what ails them, or how they are affected by events, because they aren’t prone to overanalysis. They’ll just try to solve the problem. It’s much more difficult to solve a problem the source of which is unclear. Just as frequently as my less emotional friends have helped me muddle through a situation by asking clear questions and underlining my overreactions, I have been able to reciprocate by explaining the emotional undercurrents of an argument. As much as I sometimes wish I could be a hermit, we are a social species. We can’t rely on others to behave the way we would. Only our own reactions make sense to us. My sad habit of always wondering why, where and when has helped me be more respectful of people’s choices, especially when they go against my own reactions or beliefs.

This being said, it’s often a relief to me when I spend time with people who are blunt and to the purpose. They pull me out of my own head, and laugh at my interpretations of their behaviour. But in the end, little do they know that for all my histrionics, I am far more accepting of their idiosyncrasies than they could ever imagine.

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