Monday, November 7, 2011

A wish for boxes in my brain

Compartmentalization.  What a wonderful word.  Compartmentalization of thoughts and emotions.  Boxes in your brain.  I wish there was a pill I could take to increase my ability to compartmentalize.  It would be wonderful.

Compartmentalize (verb) - to separate into isolated categories.

Men are born with brains with a high ability to compartmentalize and a low ability to multitask.  I know I'm walking the edge of political correctness here, but let's just think biologically for now.  The male brain has a high ability to control emotions and a low relational orientation.  They have high project orientation and a high ability to "zone out" or act first and think about it later when in a stressful situation.

Women are born with brains that are highly empathetic and have a low ability to compartmentalize.  The female brain has a low ability to control emotions and high relational orientation.  Female brains have lower project orientation and a low ability to "zone out."  Women have a tendency to think first and act second, a more cautious response in a stressful situation.

These are generalized descriptions of male and female brain activity, there are always exceptions. 

I read an article by Rachel G. Baldino about understanding emotional compartmentalization.  She used the example from the Sept. 28, 2006 blog, Across the Great Divide, of the Monica Lewinski scandal during the Clinton administration.  She used the example of how President Clinton was able to continue to govern the country and continue in his marriage while this scandal swirled around his presidency.  President Clinton was able to continue in his day to day activities while the nation watched this scandal and impeachment unfold.  He was able to convince himself, if not the nation and the press, that what he had with Ms. Lewinski was neither sexual, nor did it have any effect on his performance as president of the United States.  I think this is a stunning example of how one can compartmentalize.

Ms. Baldino goes on to contrast Monica Lewinski's inability to compartmentalize her emotions, wearing all her emotions on her sleeve.  Linda Tripp is also discussed as a woman with the ability to compartmentalize her emotions by being duplicitous to Monica in her phone conversations.  Ms. Tripp was sympathetic and acted as a friend to Monica while simultaneously gathering (taping phone calls) information damaging to President Clinton.  I'm not sure if Ms. Tripp is an "emotional compartmentalizer" or just, what we women call, "two faced."

The point I found compelling was how President Clinton acted during this whole event.  I know if it was me I would have been a sick emotional wreck.  I would have been in bed, sick to my stomach.  In fact, I remember Mrs. Clinton lost a bit of weight during this ordeal.  She looked GREAT.

I don't know if I want to be able to completely compartmentalize my emotions and my life, but I sure wish I could do it better than I do it now.  My husband told me to "just stop thinking about it."  (whatever "it" is)  I wish I could do this.  I think my life would be so much easier if I could just store away the thoughts of my "terrible, horrible" mistake.  Or, if I could put the memory of the Great Confrontation (read, big crybaby session) I was forced to endure in a box and hide it away.  But, I'm a woman and this is not our natural disposition.  On the upside, I am GREAT at multitasking.  :)


  1. interesting in the context of the clinton affair and i can see this at play in reallife as i dont think you have to worry about the political correctness of facts...smiles.

  2. I feel terrible when I make a mistake and more related to other people. Sometimes, not always, I care about what other people think of me. So, making a "mistake" makes me worry and feel bad because I worry about what that person thinks of me and I want them to like me. (I put "mistake" in quotations because part of me thinks that there are no mistakes in this life.) Ok, but I realized that whenever I feel bad about something, sooner or later I end up feeling Ok about it. After a few days I feel ok. So now, I started practicing distracting myself during that period of feeling bad. Treating myself like if I'm distracting a child. Then the days go by and I don't feel so bad anymore. It's my own little system I created inside of my head. I don't like complaining to my husband too much because I don't want to be a downer with him. Instead I vent with my girlfriends. ha!That's what they get for being my friends! 

  3.  My husband is my best confidant.  His advice to me is invaluable.  I just wish I was able to carry out his advice more often.  I'm working on it.  :)


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