Friday, June 24, 2011

Coping mechanisms

How do you cope with difficulties in life? Turns out Kenzo and I are very different,  and we realized our differences by creating this analogy:

Imagine you have to put your feet in a bucket of very very cold ice water. How would you deal with it?

One way is to yell "Oh my god, it's so cold!", scream and swear, take it at face value and bear the pain until it's over. This is Kenzo's way.

Another way is to try and convince yourself that "It's not so bad, it won't last so long, and hey, maybe it'll even improve my circulation". This is my way of coping.

Our difference here has caused many misunderstandings.

Consider that these two ways of coping are incompatible.

If Kenzo starts to say "oh my god, this is so horrible!", then my optimism starts to crumble, and my coping mechanism breaks.

If I start to say "it's really not so bad, we can't complain because look at the starving kids in Africa", then Kenzo won't be able to complain freely, keeping it inside until he explodes.

Neither is ideal.

Right now, we're immigrants in a foreign country. Every day is about coping. Making friends is hard, cultures are different, work ethic and methods are foreign, opportunities are harder to come by, learning is more difficult due to the language barrier.

How we deal with it is highly personal, influenced by how were raised or maybe even linked to our home countries. Sometimes I tell Kenzo his compatriots "like to complain", and he retorts that  Americans are "unrealistically optimistic" :)


I don't think either ideology is better than the other. But knowing that there is a difference is a huge step.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

sad to see that the comments above are sort of uncivilized.

now on the post, it is interesting to see that how two of you (or at least you) can spot this difference of handling difficult situation -- by means of honest/objective expression (kenzo) or positive thinking (you). The fact you can spot this and try to communicate it to kenzo could somehow help to adjust some expectations when the thing happens.

samkhan13 said...

Very insightful indeed. I do this very same analysis as a part of my phd research. Here is a video talking about recent findings in human cognition which might give you ideas about how come we are the way we are. And by all means, all of us are quite optimistic even if we exhibit deep-end neuroticism.