Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;
Cats don’t like me. Dogs don’t warm up to me. Babies cry when I pick them up. I’ve never had a relationship and I’m beginning to think that it is because I just put people off.
When someone asks me “How are you?” I don’t know what to say because I am generally feeling a complex set of emotions and I don’t know how to consolidate them into a simple answer. What should be casual encounters turn into embarrassing awkward moments.
I’m not trying to be difficult… I just feel as if I am from a different planet. Everyone around me seems so simple, energetic and at ease. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just jump into the social world that surrounds me, like everyone else?
To help answer this one I will contrast it with another question:
Dear Dr. Brilliant cliché,
One of the secretaries at work reminds me of my 7 year old. She has no filter. What would be another someone’s deepest darkest secret she just blurts out. She never shuts up and it’s always TMI (to much information). I know her heart is in the right place but she is really off-putting. Everyone tries to avoid her but she seems to take no notice. Is she from another planet?
Dear Lucas and WT,
These are different versions of the same coin: misplaced empathy. This is a form of language disorder.
Lucas really has no idea what others are thinking but his imagination is such that he thinks the reflections in his head are real data. On the others hand, WT’s secretary has no reflection of others in her head whatsoever; it is all in her mouth. But both are convinced that other people think as they do. Neither of them has accurate empathy or what others would call common sense.
They both have deficiencies in language skills and issues involving poor input. They lack the ability to listen to others accurately and thus cannot be there in the moment. Lucas also has some expressive or output inhibition. He can’t formulate his thoughts enough to reach out to others. Both are out of sync with other people and their environment.
There are both medications and therapy to improve either person’s ability to be on the same page as everyone else. For, as Lucas suggested, if your communications are out of sync with other people’s it certainly does seem like you are from a different planet: planet Annoying.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny thinks that being out of sync is a phenomena with more possible causes than a deficiency in language skills Some people perceive the world in a very different manner. When they are capable of turning these perceptions into real, tangible things, we call them artists and great thinkers. When they just get lost in their own heads, we call them neurotic.
There are other rational reasons too- war veterans often feel out of sync when they return home from the front lines. A young girl raised in a white suburbia by a nanny would feel out of sync if planted in the middle of crack neighborhood in the slums.
Being out of sync means you don’t know the rules and you can’t speak the language. You can’t feel the flow and you can’t get a grasp.
But I’ll let you in on a little secret- not all of those people who seem so comfortable and easy ARE comfortable and easy. Many of them are acting. It’s all part of our normal social conditioning.
When we engage in social exchanges, we are all acting to a certain extent. Certainly no one would speak the same to a group of nuns as they would to a bunch of kids who were messing with their car.
A suggestion to Lucas- the next time someone asks you how you are, try saying “Fine. How are you?” That’s all that is necessary. Pay attention to the aliens around you and study their habits; learn their ways. It’s what you would do if you visited another planet. That’s how we all learn.
And a suggestion to WT- I think you guys aren’t being honest with blabber mouth. Your avoidance tactics are doing zilch. Stop being such a coward and TELL this woman that she is making you uncomfortable. You’d be surprised at how effective the truth can be.