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The Social Inhibition Mechanism of the Pretty Fucked Up...

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Horrible Social Inhibition Mechanism problems for the Pretty Fucked Up....

Your Social Inhibition Mechanism will cause you horrible problems in two kinds of situations - when it works and when it doesn't work.

When your Social Inhibition Mechanism is working more or less the way nature intended, it acts as the natural enemy of your Selfish Brain. Your Selfish Brain is the part of You responsible for realizing the things your Social Inhibition Mechanism won't let you do make sense or are potentially rewarding or to your possible personal advantage. Telling off your boss would be an example of something that could fit all three of these criteria. And your Selfish Brain may sometimes actively encourage You to tell someone important or powerful exactly what you think.

Your Social Brain is the part of You responsible for realizing that we are not talking about making sense here - we are talking about Other People and the behavior of Other People frequently makes no fucking sense whatsoever - at least not as far as you can see. Your Social Brain wants to protect you from the ghastly things Other People can do to you when they get all weirded out. And it doesn't want you to fuck yourself up with trivial considerations such as logic or pleasure. The Social Inhibition Mechanism is the Social Brain's enforcer - the mechanism it uses to beat the shit out of the Selfish Brain when it gets rowdy. Sort of like a bouncer.

So what the Social Inhibition Mechanism does it place its big, burly minions at a bunch of doors where your Selfish Brain might be able to get out of you and start affecting your behavior. Such as your mouth. The Selfish Brain's minions are smaller and speedier, sort of like younger brothers of the Social Brain's older, bigger, more responsible brothers.

So the Selfish Brain youngsters go racing toward the door when they spot an opportunity to do something exciting, like punch your boss. And then the Social Inhibition bouncers sprint a couple of feet to the door they are guarding and plant themselves there and try to trip the Selfish Brain kids. And the two sides start wrestling and quarreling and shouting curses at each other and punching and so on until one side or the other wins. It's a fistfight! This can actually take a long time as you may have experienced if you've ever wavered about something you want to do but figure you shouldn't. If both sides are feeling particularly vigorous and feisty, you may actually feel yourself getting bruised by the intensity of the Inner Conflict.

When the Social Inhibition Mechanism wins, it will often feel like the bane of your existence. It will inhibit you right, left, and center, and sometimes this will feel like a goddamn horrible problem.

For example, let's say you spot someone very attractive of your favorite sex at a party. If your Sex Brain is currently active, frequently your Selfish Brain will get excited and leap forward in an attempt to make you go talk to the Incredibly Attractive Other Person in the hopes of getting them to fall in love with you and have mad, delirious glorious wonderful sex with you.

However, your Social Brain, on the basis of experience and observation, will conclude that you are hurtling toward a Rejection Opportunity. And in Social terms, Rejection is Bad! Bad. Bad Rejection Bad. So it will send the Social Inhibition Mechanism lunging toward the door to trip you up.

And there you will be, having taken a few steps in the Incredibly Attractive Other Person's direction, but now standing there like a fool, completely fucking paralyzed with fear. You will not be able to move or think of a goddamn thing to say to this Incredibly Attractive Other Person. Your mouth will be dry and your heart will be pounding weakly and you will be completely incapacitated.

And then your Social Brain will often gently turn you around and steer you in the direction of someone you actually already know and start your gums flapping as a distraction to prevent you from plunging into the Rejection Opportunity. So you will be standing there telling someone 'That girl over there is really cute.' or 'That guy over there is really cute.' And - 'I wish I could go talk to her but she'd probably just hate me.' or 'God, I'd like to meet him but he'd probably think I'm such a dweeb' And on and on. This is why you goddamn fucking hate your Social Inhibition Mechanism sometimes. It just wants to fucking ruin your life!

I can't tell you how many times people ask the webmistress as their Frequently Asked Question - why can't I fucking do this socially assertive thing or that socially assertive thing or not care what other people think or do or be this or that or the other. And the answer is - Your Social Fucking Inhibition Mechanism doesn't want you to! It loves you and wants to protect you and it's scared fucking shitless of Other People because it has been around since the dawn of humanity and it has noticed that the motherfuckers can be really fucking scary and mean. You can work with your own personal bouncer to make it a little less menacing but honest to fucking God its heart is in the right place even if its tactics can be brutal sometimes. That's why, that's why. You're not defective, you're not different, you're not lacking in courage or confidence, you're not a wuss, you're not hopeless, you just have a Social Inhibition Mechanism that you want to have a chat with and develop a little more comfortable working relationship with. It's your friend. Really. It is. I swear.

As we'll see in our next horrible example - When Good Social Inhibition Mechanisms Go Bad!

Sometimes your Social Inhibition Mechanism won't work. It's tired or it's had a little too much to drink...(As proven by science, alcohol reduces the ability of Social Inhibition Mechanism to function. Alcohol makes it take the night off, put on its party hat and start dancing around on the table in its underwear belting out Hava Nageilah at the top of its lungs. This can be endearing, it can be ugly, and it can be dangerous. It's a very good thing to let your Social Inhibition Mechanism take some time off for R&R, but when it's on vacation, you're not protected!)

To continue with our story. So your Social Inhibition Mechanism is snoozing or your Selfish Brain is feeling particulary peppy and scoots right by the guards and all of a sudden YOU HAVE DONE SOMETHING INCREDIBLY STUPID. This happens. Virtually everyone can remember some really really stupid, bad, terrible things they've said or done that hurt someone and you didn't even mean to or you just did something so embarrassing and the memory - even if it happened when you were 8, is just burned into your heart and soul. Because it's so fucking painful. Nature has provided this incredible pain of embarrassment and bad feeling and guilt to remind both you and your Social Inhibition Mechanism of the importance of its responsibilities.

Sometimes you do something bad, like kick this girl you don't like in the guts when you are 9, and then it bursts her spleen and she nearly dies and she's all horribly messed up for a long time and everybody looks at you as if you were worse than Hitler and you are responsible and it's all because your Social Inhibition Mechanism hadn't bulked up enough to stop the pleasurable Kicking Impulse at the door before it got out.

Or sometimes you just say something accidentally and you realize the impact when you see the person's face and you can't ever take it back no matter how you try and now everything is ruined and you have lost a friend forever. Or you have fucked up a relationship with a stupid selfish betrayal and now you have lost a lover and you can't ever get that love back no matter how hard you try. Or you just do something stupid, just stupid by accident, and it blows something for you and you can't ever get it back, you just blew it. And now it's gone, whatever could have been.

And all because your Social Inhibition Mechanism didn't work. You hate it when it doesn't work! You hate it, you hate it! You are sunk without that puppy. It's a complicated world out there and you need that sucker to give you those few precious extra seconds to think before you do something you can't fix. And the Social Inhibition Mechanism is right about itself - it's not a good thing because it makes sense. It's a good thing because it's scared of what can go wrong and it wants to make you safe.

Final Bonus Tip: So if your Social Inhibition Mechanism has been giving you a hard time - here's your chance to make a fresh start with it. Take it on a walk and introduce yourself. Say to it - 'you know, you and I have been neighbors for a long time but I think maybe we have not understood each other so well. I think you have been trying to do me some favors that maybe I haven't appreciated so well, but I think you may not have realized exactly what I need. Take this business of meeting Attractive People of My Favorite Sex, for example. That's a good thing for me, not something I want to totally avoid. I appreciate the Protective Dating Advice, and the concern for my ego and so on, but it's not so much about always avoiding rejection as it is about...well...scoring. We need some wins as well as some 'didn't play due to nausea' items on the scorecard. Maybe if you could concentrate your efforts on preventing me from being cruel, or thoughtless or callous or idiotic or self-deluded instead of just preventing me from speaking at all - we could both benefit.

Your Social Inhibition Mechanism will listen to you seriously and respectfully and consider what you have said and the overall effect on your feelings it is having. And then it will decide you are probably wrong and don't really want it to change at all. So it will go back to being uptight on your behalf. And then gradually you will realize it was not really meant to shut up - you were just meant not to listen to it so hard. And gradually you will figure out how to carry on a pleasantly sarcastic sibling-like conversation with it, even while you are winging your way toward that Incredibly Attractive Other Person.

It will say - oh great, she's gorgeous and you look like Woody Allen from one of those funnier, uglier movies. What's up with your hair anyway? You do realize she'll probably hate you and you shouldn't say anything to her, right? You do realize this is an excellent time for a double espresso jolt of nervousness and fear, right? And you will reply - 'thanks for the extra shot of confidence, pal. And yes, I'm nervous, but that just makes me sharper and wittier I like to think. And listen, if you can figure out what to do about my hair, i'm all for it. But in the meantime, you are just a natural Social Inhibition feeling and I'm ignoring you. She's probably very nice.'

And your Social Inhibition Mechanism will say 'I didn't say she wasn't nice. I just said don't blow it. She's probably very nice and I don't want you to blow it. Oh and smooth down the hair at least for chrissake's so you don't injure her with it. It's sticking up like the Eiffel Tower. There, now you look fine. Well no, you don't, but you'll do. Now remember - be polite.' And you will be smoothing down your hair as you walk and life will go on and so on. And it will be giving you unsolicited advice even as you carry on an actual conversation with someone you are attracted to and you will be shaking it off and conferring with it and things will work out fine, even if it always is a little nerve-wracking dealing with Other People when something's at stake.

And after awhile, it will all become Capra-corn sentimental as you bond with your Social Inhibition Mechanism and the two of you will occasionally go to a bar together and sing songs like 'You've Got A Friend in Me' to each other. It all sounds pretty horrible, I know, but you will enjoy it.

Just another happy ending, courtesy of the pretty fucked up website.


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