Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Half-Empty Glass

Today I had a revelation about the "glass-half-empty" folks (like me).  Seeing the glass as half-empty is looking for a reason to be unhappy, according to our critics.  But as I have tried to explain in this blog, looking for a reason to be unhappy is a result of a brain chemistry glitch.  Our neurotransmitters make us feel bad (erroneously) and in order to make sense of that bad feeling, we go looking for what could be causing it.  Why do I feel bad?  What is wrong in my world?  And since people can always find something wrong in their world if they look closely enough, the "cause" of the bad feeling can always be found.

This discovery, of course, is seen as a good thing by the sufferer, because once a problem's cause is determined, a solution can be sought and possibly found.  Half-full (HF) folks often criticize half-empty (HE) folks for their negative outlook: "You like to be unhappy," they say.  But though it seems that we like being unhappy, what we like, in fact, is finding the reason we're unhappy so we can do something to fix it.

My mother used to have an ingenious explanation for her bad brain chemistry attacks.  She called them her "feelings," and when she would experience one, she'd interpret it as a kind of telepathic message: someone she loved was in distress.  She would then call each of us and ask how we were. "I've had one of my feelings," she'd say. "Are you alright?" If nothing was wrong, she would try to find something, however minor, that would serve as distress so her bad feeling could be explained.  At times, I would find myself coming up with something so that she'd be appeased and stop worrying.  It wasn't until recently that I realized what her "feelings" were.  The other day, for the first time in a long time, she mentioned she'd had one of her "feelings." I tried to tell her it was just brain chemistry, but she didn't seem to like that explanation very much, preferring to see herself as special, I suppose, as endowed with extraordinary psychic abilities.  I can't say I blame her there.  Bad brain chemistry is viewed as a flaw, after all--a disability, an illness.  Having a poorly functioning brain marks you as defective.  It's not something people want to accept.

And therein lies the dilemma: convincing the "half-empty" people that they can feel better is difficult when they don't even want to accept that they have a problem, when they want to believe the way they see the world is realistic and the only right way to see things.

But I continue to work on changing that, one day at a time.

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