Your Emotions, the More You Protect, the More Fragile? - Huxiu.com#
First, the fallacy of the fragile identity: any harm will only make you more fragile; second, the fallacy of emotional reasoning: always believe in your feelings; third, the fallacy of "us vs them": life is a battle between good and evil. ⤴️ ^ba1ea0a9
Any harm will make you more fragile; it's just nonsense. Anything that can't kill you will make you stronger.
Related to the fallacy of emotional reasoning is the concept of "microaggressions". Microaggressions refer to those subtle or hidden acts of aggression, such as "simple and casual verbal or environmental insults that occur in everyday life, whether intentional or unintentional." As the book states, once the concept of "unintentional" contempt is included in the concept of microaggressions, defining contempt based solely on the listener's feelings will encourage the listener to interpret others with the greatest malice. From this perspective, even if the speaker is innocent, the listener will still be particularly concerned. For example, when someone says, "This is a country full of opportunities," the listener may completely understand it as a mockery: am I a loser who has wasted all opportunities? Another example is when someone says, "This job should be given to the most qualified person," isn't this a blatant denial of my abilities and a blow to my confidence? ⤴️ ^48902e28
This is about what is happening in society now, where any neutral action or attitude has become discrimination in the eyes of some people or even in society.
First, always face challenges; second, free yourself from cognitive distortions; third, understand others more kindly and discover the complexities of real life. ⤴️ ^46d7d882
Your Emotions, the More You Protect, the More Fragile?#
This article explores the phenomenon of individuals becoming more fragile as they protect their emotions, as well as the education and social concepts that contribute to this phenomenon. The author points out that excessive protection and attention to individual emotional security actually cultivate a fragile soul. The article also mentions three widely spread misconceptions, including the fallacy of the fragile identity, the fallacy of emotional reasoning, and the fallacy of "us vs them".
• The article reveals the phenomenon of individuals becoming increasingly sensitive to external stimuli through the resonance caused by the online drama "Angry Life".
• The author points out that excessive protection and attention to individual emotional security actually cultivate a fragile soul.
• The article mentions three widely spread misconceptions, including the fallacy of the fragile identity, the fallacy of emotional reasoning, and the fallacy of "us vs them".
The online drama "Angry Life" produced by A24 at the beginning of this year sparked a wave of discussions online. Many people expressed that this is exactly portraying their mental state. The story starts with a simple incident of road rage between two strangers on their way home from shopping. However, this small matter in daily life is not easily resolved. Both protagonists deeply feel offended, and the incident escalates, eventually leading to a disastrous farce.
This seemingly absurd story resonated deeply with many viewers. Often, in the midst of exhausting work and life, even a small matter can make us lose control. In addition to empathizing with the male and female protagonists in "Angry Life", there are many phenomena in real life that prove that we are becoming increasingly sensitive to external stimuli. For example, people have started to get used to explaining themselves and avoiding offending others when surfing the internet and leaving comments. Moreover, on many social platforms, more and more people are using anonymous IDs like "momo" in an attempt to avoid being seen and offended.
It is a positive phenomenon for society to be more tolerant of individuals' sensitivity, but for individuals, the increasing fear of being "offended" may also reflect a lack of personal security in today's society. Philosopher Norbert Bolz pointed out sharply regarding this phenomenon, "High sensitivity means that a person suffers more and more pain, even though this pain is groundless."
Professor Zhou Lian from Renmin University of China's School of Philosophy also discussed related issues in his work "The Possibility of Justice" and tried to find answers with us about the present.
Why the More You Protect, the More Fragile
Recently, I accompanied my daughter to play badminton and deeply felt that it requires skill. Every shot needs to be just right, and the attitude must be positive. Encouragement and affirmation should be given at any time, such as "Good shot!" or "Great job!" Every time, I would hate myself for being "useless" while recalling the line from the movie "Whiplash" by J.K. Simmons: "There are no two words more harmful than 'good job'."
"Whiplash" with J.K. Simmons on the right
Simmons plays a devilish conductor who often verbally abuses his students during rehearsals in order to bring out their maximum potential, even at the cost of shattering their last bit of self-esteem. As a teacher and parent, I strongly oppose this high-pressure educational approach. However, on the other hand, I always feel that this line has some truth to it. Young people long for recognition from "important others," which brings them a sense of security and confidence. However, if recognition comes too easily, it may backfire because "excessive protection" cultivates a "spoiled soul."
Why does the more you protect, the more fragile you become? What kind of education leads to the cognitive distortions of children? These were the initial questions raised by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff in their book "The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure". Haidt is an American psychologist whom I particularly admire. His first two books, "The Happiness Hypothesis" and "The Righteous Mind," start from small things and focus on the big picture, using a large amount of empirical data and cases to examine broader social and political issues from the perspective of moral psychology. This book is no exception. Although it seems to explore the fragile psychology of the Internet generation, it actually analyzes the resistance culture on American campuses and the escalating political polarization.
It is worth mentioning that the original title of this book is "The Coddling of the American Mind," and the Chinese translation deleted the word "American," perhaps implying that this is a common problem worldwide. Of course, we must not be misled by the term "spoiled." Whether in the United States or in China, today's children are no longer the legendary "little emperors." From childhood to adulthood, they bear tremendous pressure, and most children do not have an easy and carefree childhood.
Precisely because of this, in the eyes of Haidt and Lukianoff, the problem lies first with parents, teachers, and school administrators. They fall into unconscious fallacies in the education process, causing young people to develop distorted thinking and become fragile, anxious, and more easily hurt. Specifically, there are three widely spread misconceptions: ==first, the fallacy of the fragile identity: any harm will only make you more fragile; second, the fallacy of emotional reasoning: always believe in your feelings; third, the fallacy of "us vs them": life is a battle between good and evil.==
Taking the fallacy of the fragile identity as an example, although everyone knows that "a flower in a greenhouse" is a derogatory term, parents often forget this common sense. As soon as the child is out of sight and protection, they cannot help but start to imagine the worst possibilities, even if reason tells them that the probability of something bad happening is extremely low. The author believes that it is this "good intention" to protect children and the "fallacy" of exaggerating the danger coefficient that leads to the fragility of children's psychology.
The Expansion of the Concept of "Safety"
A more serious problem is that in the past half-century, the concept of "safety" has quietly undergone "conceptual infiltration," expanding from "physical safety" to "emotional safety." The author points out that in the late 20th century in the United States, safety usually referred to physical safety, requiring cars to be equipped with child car seats and removing all potential sources of accidents.
However, after entering the 21st century, the connotation and extension of safety have expanded from the physical to the emotional. In 2014, Oberlin College issued guidelines to its faculty and staff, requiring professors to use gender pronouns that the student identifies with when communicating with them, otherwise it would "damage or even endanger the student's safety in the classroom."
Obviously, inappropriate conceptual infiltration has occurred here, and the school has mistakenly equated safety with emotions, further turning the subjective experience of the victim into a key criterion for assessing trauma. Although these measures help protect the dignity of minority and vulnerable groups, on the other hand, they inappropriately reinforce the victim mentality.
==Related to the fallacy of emotional reasoning is the concept of "microaggressions". Microaggressions refer to those subtle or hidden acts of aggression, such as "simple and casual verbal or environmental insults that occur in everyday life, whether intentional or unintentional." As the book states, once the concept of "unintentional" contempt is included in the concept of microaggressions, defining contempt based solely on the listener's feelings will encourage the listener to interpret others with the greatest malice. From this perspective, even if the speaker is innocent, the listener will still be particularly concerned. For example, when someone says, "This is a country full of opportunities," the listener may completely understand it as a mockery: am I a loser who has wasted all opportunities? Another example is when someone says, "This job should be given to the most qualified person," isn't this a blatant denial of my abilities and a blow to my confidence?==
American political scientist Mark Lilla gave a similar example: "The dialogue in the classroom used to be like this: My idea is A, and here are my arguments. Now it has changed to this: Speaking as A, your idea B offends me." Obviously, the former dialogue mode focuses on reason and logic, persuading each other and understanding each other through better arguments. The latter dialogue mode uses identity as a criterion and focuses on emotional harm and offense. When physical harm transforms into emotional offense, and when the speaker's subjective intention gives way to the listener's psychological impact, it will lead to the "resentful self-protection" psychological pattern mentioned in the book.
Surveys show that in 2017, 58% of American college students believed that "to fit into the college community, it is important for me not to be exposed to ideas that offend or challenge my own beliefs." Haidt and Lukianoff are deeply concerned about this. They believe that some students are highly inflammable and explosive, often resisting certain speakers' viewpoints or publicly humiliating them, "and if the reasons are really spoken out, it is because of some trivial matters that they believe have not taken care of their fragile souls—thus hurting the students who are calling for attention or even harming the groups represented by these students."
The Boundary of Violence
The vocabulary of "conceptual infiltration" also includes "violence" in addition to "safety". Haidt and Lukianoff point out that in a culture of safety that has not yet arrived, the term "violence" referred to physical violence, but now it is used to refer to all offensive speech. "Regardless of any words or actions, as long as someone interprets them as 'having a negative impact on vulnerable members of the community,' regardless of their original intention, they can be called 'hate speech'." According to the logic of "words are violence," hate speech is violence, so the most appropriate response is to respond with violence.
Once the fallacy of "us vs them" is implanted in the mind, it will be encoded into the cognitive schema that "life is a battle between good and evil". The 2020 U.S. presidential election has caused many friends to sever ties. Believers continue to believe in the election results, while non-believers continue to disbelieve, ultimately due to this cognitive fallacy. Hannah Gray, former president of the University of Chicago, once pointed out, "Education, in its true sense, is not about making students feel comfortable; it is about teaching students how to think." I particularly agree with this view because offending students in terms of ideas and thoughts rather than pleasing them is the proper way of university education.
What should we do when a "spoiled soul" becomes a "closed mind"? In response to the three cognitive fallacies mentioned earlier, Haidt and Lukianoff propose three psychological principles: ==first, always face challenges; second, free yourself from cognitive distortions; third, understand others more kindly and discover the complexities of real life.==
Some people may say that these principles are not profound and lack practicality. What practical help do they actually provide? In response to this, my answer is that common sense is the truths that people know but often overlook. Psychologists help us understand these cognitive blind spots and misconceptions, but they are not prophets or witch doctors who can provide instant remedies. All changes cannot happen overnight, especially psychological disorders caused by cognitive distortions. They can only be gradually improved through daily efforts.
Perhaps to answer the above question, the author includes a "Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Guide" at the end of this book, listing 17 categories of distorted thinking, including self-centeredness, making a mountain out of a molehill, overgeneralization, binary opposition, assumption, self-blame, and blaming others. Among them, blaming others is defined as follows: "Regard others as the source of your negative emotions and refuse to take responsibility for changing yourself. 'I feel so bad now, it's all their fault' or 'my parents caused all my problems'." Yesterday, while playing basketball, my daughter asked me a soul-searching question: "Why can't you catch the balls I serve, but I can catch the balls you serve?" I paused for a moment and told her, "That's because the balls you serve are bad, and the balls I serve are good."
"Be the fire that longs for the wind."