Showing posts with label emotional labour. Show all posts
Showing posts with label emotional labour. Show all posts

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The notion of prayer is weird

Within a paradigm where there is a deity who is capable of answering your prayers but does not always choose to do so, the very notion of praying doesn't make sense.

A deity, being omniscient, would already know what you want, and how badly you want it, and the arguments for giving it to you, regardless of whether you go through the motions of praying. The only scenario in which praying would make a difference is if the deity is not just, and is so insecure in its own divinity that it wants its ego stroked by people getting down on their knees and begging. But shouldn't any remotely competent deity be above that sort of thing?


As I was writing this, I found myself wondering if there's some correlation between capacity for religion and capacity for emotional labour.  Religion (or, at least, the subset of religion to which I have been exposed) requires not just having certain feelings, but  performing those feelings, often publicly. (Or, if not truly publicly, then at least so it can be seen by your family or your religious community or your religious leadership.)  I wonder if being able to and willing to do that that might correlate with being able to and willing to perform emotional labour?

I don't think it would be outright cause and effect (in my case, I have far more desire to perform emotional labour than to perform religion, but far less ability), but nevertheless I do wonder if it correlates.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Emotional labour braindump

I've recently been reading this epic MetaFilter thread about emotional labour, and it's been very educational and made me realize quite a number of things, some of which I'm braindumping here and others of which will need to be their own posts.

The thread uses a very broad definition of emotional labour, and I find that broad definition useful so I'm using it too. Things that are perhaps on the periphery of the scope of emotional labour (like housework) are actually things that I have the same relationship with as I do with things that are universally agreed upon as emotional labour, so if it's in my blog post, it counts!

- I am terrible at emotional labour and, at the same time, I greatly value it in others. My absolute relationship fantasy is someone who would take care of 100% of the emotional labour in the relationship. I'd gladly do literally everything else in exchange for emotional labour. But, obviously, that would never work out. Even if it could work as an emotional dynamic, someone who is that giving and awesome could do way better than me.

- The specific way in that I'm bad at emotional labour is that I don't see the opportunities. My brain just doesn't make the necessary connections. I'm the person sitting at the table not realizing people have started clearing the table until it's too late for me to help. At a family gathering where everyone but me was helping clean up, I could see that I should be doing something helpful, but didn't see what to do. So, being the mature and competent adult I am, I asked my mother. She stopped what she was doing, looked around, and told me to put empty pop cans in the recycling and empty disposable cups in the garbage. I literally did not see that a task that needs doing is putting the garbage in the garbage!

- I want to be better at emotional labour because it's something I want to be able to do for people I care about. (And I'm becoming increasingly convinced that my poor emotional labour skills are the reason why I'm unmarriageable.) But when I try to do it proactively, I just end up doing things that aren't helpful and are probably intrusive or disruptive and people are staring at me like WTF are you doing?  Best case, they say thank you to close the matter but don't actually mean it.

- However, the fact that I'm terrible at emotional labour also means I don't get stuck doing it for people I don't care about. I don't get sucked into keeping up appearances or organizing office social events or playing cruise director or who knows what else because I simply can't see what might hypothetically need to be done, the same way I couldn't see the garbage that needed to be put in the garbage.

- I've been wondering over the years why I don't really end up with users or emotional vampires in my life, and I think this might be why - I literally can't give them what they need!

- One of the kinds of emotional labour described in the thread that I actually do is sending greeting cards. But I don't do it for the right reasons. I don't do it because the recipients will appreciate it - I can't tell whether or not they actually appreciate it. I do it because it's the sort of thing I appreciate - I love getting mail! I'm doing unto others, but, as I've mentioned before, my Do Unto Others often doesn't work. I can't figure out how to do the actual emotional labour, so I'm doing a simulacrum of it.

- This also made me realize that emotional labour is one of the reasons why I'm So Done with people who are politically incompatible. It's a combination of the labour I have to do and the labour that they're failing to do. When they start advocating for policies that hurt people, I have to decide whether to speak up (and make the conversation less pleasant) or let it slide (and leave them with the impression that their position is objectively okay and that I think their position is okay). I have to read whether they are a person who can be swayed with information or whether they'll just take that as an invitation to argue. And I have to do the work of changing the subject to something that would be pleasant for everyone to talk about, despite the politically incompatible person's efforts to stay on their chosen topic. And this is because they're not doing the work of finding and sticking to topics that everyone would enjoy discussing. There are people who don't think politics should make a difference in social interactions and would say that you shouldn't let politics stand in the way getting to know someone who could be an awesome person, but I already have plenty of awesome people in my life who don't require that work.

- Most of what I dislike about being single is the absence of a certain individual, not the absence of a theoretical partner. But the one exception is I dislike not having a default person. When I need a person, I have to ask around and find someone who is willing to go out of their way for me. My people are awesome so I've never not found a person (and I'd say about 80% of the time the first person I ask says yes), but I still have to ask. Can you walk with me to the subway and let me text you when I get home? (Whereas if I had a partner they would be coming home with me.) Can you come over here whenever you have a moment and help me move the thing I can't lift myself? (Whereas if I had a partner, I'd just ask them the grab the other end of this.) Can you buy me that one thing I need for my phobias but can't buy myself because of my phobias? (Whereas if I had a partner, I'd just add it to the shopping list next time they're doing errands.)  I always have to ask.  So, as I read about emotional labour, I realize that maybe I wouldn't have to ask when I need a person if I knew how to be a person well enough to do the emotional labour so my partner wouldn't have to ask.

But, despite this realization, I can't just fake it like I did with Entitlement, because the whole problem is I don't see the things that need doing.

However, despite all that, emotional labour is not something I want to learn to so do I can make people like me. It's something I want to learn to to for people who already like me for the person I already am.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The emotional labour aspect of self-care

I've been reading this glorious MetaFilter thread about Emotional Labour, and I have many many thoughts about it. I should probably start with my general braindump, but first, a small realization that occurred to me while reading this particular story:
My paradigmatic example of emotional labor was, earlier this year we went to a family wedding out of town, with two day of travel each way and where I was in the wedding so my husband was going to have the 3- and 5-year-old kids for basically three straight days, in a strange city, in a hotel, while attending a panoply of family events all over the city.

So I spent quite a bit of time putting together an actual itinerary (which I don't usually do), which turned out to be six pages long, with all the hotels and event locations and times, and travel distances and times, and likely lunch locations, and parks to stop at in the middle of long driving days so the kids could run around; and then for the in-the-city days, which museums were close enough to walk to, were most likely of interest, opened when, and cost what; where the nearest McDonald's or similar was to each in case the kids refused to eat other food; what parks were nearby in case they were up at 6 a.m. and raising hell; which family members were available during various times in case he needed backup and their phone numbers; what public transit to take where; backup plans and alternatives ... on and on. I made a google map of the locations and loaded it into his phone, printed out the itinerary with maps and also sent it to his e-mail so he could direct-click on museum links.

My husband's looking at the hard copy, paging through, and said, "This is ... thorough."

I burst out, "This is what it's like inside my head ALL THE TIME."

Obviously, taking care of myself is nowhere remotely near as much work or as complex as taking care of two small children in a strange city. But reading this story made me realize that working from home is saving me the equivalent labour of my own self-care.

When I worked in the office, I had to think about what time I needed to get up in time to do yoga in time to drink coffee in time to have a bowel movement in time to have a shower in time to eat breakfast in time to put on makeup in time to make sure my hair is dry in time to get dressed in time to get out the door in time to get onto the subway in time to get to work.  Working at home, I just have to think about waking up in time to turn on my computer at the start of my scheduled workday.

When I worked in the office, I had to think about clothes that were warm enough for the cold morning walk to the subway but wouldn't make me get too sweaty in the subway even if I didn't take my coat off, and would work in my chilly cubicle but also in the overheated mall if I went for errands at lunch but also could work if I went outdoors at lunch, and would also serve me well on the way home for whatever the weather was expected to be in the evening.  Working at home, the vast majority of days I just have to come up with something that will serve me well outdoors for no more than half an hour while I run a single errand. And if it isn't optimal, I'm just a few minutes away from home.

When I worked in the office, I had to anticipate how much of my makeup would disintegrate during the day and carry the necessary touch-up supplies in my purse. I had to anticipate whether my healing eczema would get itchy during the day and, if so, put my hydrocortisone cream in my purse. I had to anticipate whether today's combination of weather and shoes and how much I would have to walk would result in blisters and, if so, put the necessary supplies in my purse. I had to anticipate if my thighs would chafe and, if so, put the necessary supplies in my purse.  (And, in response to the question of why I didn't just keep them in my desk, they keep discontinuing the products that work best for me so I often don't have the option of owning two copies.)  Working at home, I have literally everything I own right here waiting for me whenever I need it.
When I worked in the office, I had to think about which errands needed to be done, if they were best done near the office or near home, and if they were best done at lunch or after work. I had to think about how much I could comfortably carry and whether stuff needed to be refrigerated and what the operating hours of different stores are and what my priorities are if various limitations made it impossible to do everything I needed to do today. Working at home, I can quite easily take multiple trips if necessary or step out for 10 minutes in the middle of my work day if I run out of something. Most often the only planning I need to do is make sure I remember to go to the market on market day.

When I worked in the office, I had to eat something for breakfast that would keep me comfortable and focused until it was time to eat something for lunch that would keep me comfortable and focused until it was time to eat something for dinner. Working at home, I eat whatever I want whenever I feel the need.

Some people reading this are thinking "So what? Most people do this all the time every single day."  Yes, I know. I did it every single day for 10 years. It was basically an extra hour of work I had to put in just to go to work. And now that I don't have to do it, I find life is much easier and I have much more mental energy to focus both on my work and on other aspsects of life.