Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rational thinking versus emotional thinking

We all have people who can get under our skin or know how to push the right buttons to set us off. It can get to our emotions, causing us upset, maybe even triggering episodes of self-harm behaviors. For me, one of them is my father. I've talked about it before, but here's just another example of it.

On Saturday, I had returned his phone call from earlier in the day. We talked about the Olympics and other general things going on in our lives. I got on the topic of talking about this one dog at the kennel. I was telling him how I felt really sad for her. This dog is old--probably 12-13 years old, has several medical issues, has a huge tumor which is benign on her lower abdomen that affects her gait, smells (probably infection and the "sick" dog odor), and has horrible mats since her owners do not brush her. I know her quality of life cannot be great since she is merely existing. However, the owners continue to let her live this way.

For many of us, we don't like to see animals suffer and will try to prevent that. I no doubt did the best I could while she was at the kennel to make sure she was comfortable (cut out many of her mats) and took good care of her. It's always hard when there is a case like this, because I really do worry about the dog dying on my watch. The owners were aware that this could possibly happen and we have them sign something ahead of time for liability purposes. It's only been very few times it has ever happened, but when it did, these dogs were elderly and in poor health.

I told my dad about all this, and how I wish I could say something to the owners, but that in my position, it was really not right. I'm not a good friend of the owners nor did they ask me for my opinion, I'm just a caretaker for their dogs. He couldn't understand this. He said how someone needed to stand up for the dog since she can't talk herself. He then accused me of saying it was all about money, and that I really didn't care. He was disappointed that I was not going to say anything to the owners other than how she did at the kennel. He suggested I talk to the owners about at least brushing this dog. I told him that this isn't a new issue, they've been clients for over 6 years now, and they just never brush their dogs. Then, he said how they should be banned from the kennel. Umm hello, if we banned every client who did not brush their dog, well, that would be more than half our clients, seriously. It's not something people think about unless they have a dog that needs to be groomed, their dog is massively "blowing coat," shedding, or their is something wrong with their fur or skin.

The thing is that the owners know she is ill. I know their vet has told her she is on her last legs. I'm sure they have a hard time letting go, only thinking with their emotions and probably hope that she will just pass away in her sleep. These issues are hard for everyone, and everyone is affected.

At the end of the conversation, my dad and I "agreed to disagree." He changed the subject to something else, but the tension remained, and we wound up quickly ending the phone call. Right after, I talked to one of my friends. She's met my dad and knows how he is. Something she said however was really important. She said, "do you see how your dad is only acting by his emotions?" I knew this logically, but just hadn't quite put it together since I was still wrapped up in my own emotions.

This may be just a simple reminder, but it's really important for me. When I was in the throes of the eating disorder, this type of conversation would have thrown me into a full fledged b/p episode, leaving myself probably even more upset than when it had happened. Then, I'd just "punish" myself for even disagreeing and having the argument with him, especially since I avoid confrontation at all costs. I essentially allowed these disagreements and fights to put me over the edge. I allowed them to affect me instead of looking at things rationally.

There's no doubt that there are times and places to think both rationally and emotionally. Some of us have a tendency to only think either rationally or emotionally, and we have to learn to be able to balance the two types of thoughts. For me, whenever I'm making tough decisions, my emotions get in the way. I know the elements of the decision which are logical in nature but often have a hard time choosing that over what my emotions are. My good friend reminds me that sometimes I need to eliminate the emotions and just look at the bare minimum. It's not an easy feat, but the more I am able to let myself do this, the better equipped I am at handling the situation.

Although this disagreement is tough (I hate disappointing people), I'm letting it go. I spoke to my mom briefly about it today, and apparently my dad had already discussed the conversation with her, just going on and on about it. Fine, he can do that, but I know I acted professionally and appropriately and did not let my emotions cloud my rationality.

Confidence is hard for me, but in this particular case, I'm confident I made the right decision.


Deb said...

I think you did too.

Tiptoe said...

Deba, thanks for the reassurance. :-)

brie said...

Hey. This was a great post for me to read today...it's very true, and I can tell you have a lot of wisdom. I'm very proud of you for not letting it trigger any self-harm behaviors. It's expected, because you're human, that this convo would effect you - but the fact you were able to think about it rationally, and not just emotionally, is awesome. Way to go. :)

Tiptoe said...

Brie, thanks for the support. I'm glad the post helped you. Thinking rationally and emotionally is hard. It's such a balance to find the two and when and where is the right time. I hope you too can conquer this.

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