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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.