The Condition We Call Being Human

human condition.jpg

If the reaction is disproportionate to the situation, something else is going on.  

When was the last time you reacted negatively to something? And you got angry. When was the last time you got really, really angry?  

Do you remember why?

If you do, was that reaction of anger proportional to the situation?

Yes it was, okay. I’m skeptical, but okay.

Think of a time that it wasn’t. If you can’t, and you think your reactions are always proportional to the situations you’re in… you’re wrong… but keep reading.

This week, for my blog I didn’t have something specific to write about. I started to think about some personal issues I have. Confidence, attachment, life… you know… the condition we call being human. 

I started to write. And I kept writing. Four pages later, I had no direction for my thoughts, and hadn’t said half of what I wanted to.

I decided to break it down. Shorter posts. Small ideas. Something to build on. Talk about tools I’ve used to make my life better. Share things I’ve realized that make my life worse.

This is the first one.

 This one is about the idea that kind of started my journey of introspection… or at least a starting point to explain that journey.


If the reaction is disproportionate to the situation, something else is going on.  

Remember that old IKEA commercial about the sad lamp on the sidewalk? And the guy breaks into the sad lamp montage and says “Many of you feel bad for this lamp. That is because you crazy. It has no feelings and the new one is much better.”

We all remember? Good… I’ll come back to that.

I am, admittedly, a very strange human. One of the many, many oddities, is my uncanny ability to get emotionally attached to inanimate objects.

 For example, paper.

I have a very distinct memory of myself as a child, bawling my eyes out because I had to throw away some construction paper that wasn’t used properly. I say ‘wasn’t used properly’, because there was some kind of squiggle on one side that made the page unusable for a new craft. As if the lack of colour, faded from age, didn’t make it unusable anyways.

Bawling… over paper… I think I was 12.

My reaction, deep deep sorrow, and the situation, throwing away paper, were not proportional.

Something else was going on.

No doubt, one can draw a straight line from my general issue of attachment and resistance to change, to my mother dying a month before my seventh birthday. And sure, that’s the simple answer. But when a reaction so disproportionate is happening again and again, and in different situations, the root cause deserves a closer look.

I have been in and out of therapy my whole life. It started with youth grief counselling after my mother died, and went on and off from there. It wasn’t until after my first professional season in Germany, when I thought I was done with ball, that I wanted to go regularly.

I don’t know why I get so angry, I said to my therapist. I don’t know why I get so angry about little things. I don’t want to be this angry anymore.  

If the reaction is disproportionate to the situation, something else is going on.

I went to therapy to learn why I kept reacting in anger. I had been doing it my entire life. Specific instances were addressed, but I was never got to the heart of the issue.

I still haven’t. Not really. I mean, now I know what the issue is, sort of…

But knowing what it is and changing how you feel about it are two very different things. I suppose I’ll just have to keep working at it. Keep getting to know myself, my reactions, my reasons.

We all get to know ourselves in phases. The lucky ones do anyways… the unlucky ones are stuck creating negative patterns that slowly change their lives, relationships and interactions, and not for the better.

I am a lucky one.

 I had parents who made it okay to ask for help with invisible injuries. I had therapists who listened and who gave me words to live by. I learned that, like anything else, the more I do something, the better I get at it. Getting to know myself has been no different.

The IKEA guy was wrong. Feeling sorry for the lamp wasn’t crazy. Neither was crying over paper. But having those reactions, so disproportionate to the situations, and not thinking that maybe, just maybe there was something else going on…  

That really would be crazy.  

HannaH Sunley-Paisley