Monday, September 15, 2008

Solving Or Ruminating: A False Dichotomy

I wrote this post recently, about what I learned from guys, and one of the thing I listed was

"Just get on with it."

I explained that it's not always necessary to understand, or even contemplate, the ins-and-outs of something that is troubling you. Often, I said, if you just let time pass, go to sleep, don't worry too much, it'll just feel OK.

It's not that problems solve themselves; it's just that 1) a lot of situations are not improved by reflection, because there is nothing really to be gained by it, and 2) when there is something to be gained by it, it's just as likely to be something you realize in 20 years, not 20 minutes.

I feel this idea is basically supported by recent research, summarized in a recent New York Times article, which concludes that among teenage girls, some kinds of "co-rumination" can actually make a person feel worse. Sometimes, it's just depressing to hear about others being depressed about the same things you are; sometimes, it seems rehashing the various issues leads to new and puzzling differences between friends.

Talking things out: not always for the best.

As I understand it, this conclusion sort of side-steps both the stereotype of girls being "empathizers" and the one of guys being "fixers." In the research reported, both empathizing and fixing could be bad.

Which supports my own conclusion: sometimes, you just gotta let it go.

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