This discussion about controlling emotions compares two different women’s reactions to the same event.
First Woman’s Reaction: Take a Picture
When photographer Hannah Price moved from Colorado to Philadelphia, she began to experience something new to her – catcalls from men on the street. After several catcalling episodes, she decided to take action. She would either snap a photo of the man immediately; or she would talk with him about the incident, and then ask if she could make his portrait. Ms Price created a project called “City of Brotherly Love” from these photographs.
Ms Price states her project is not meant to be an aggressive rebuttal to the individuals in the photos. It is, she states, “just a way of trying to understand it. It was way for me to just deal with it on another level besides avoiding it. Sometimes it’s easier to … just respond….. you just start talking to people, you find out more about them than your initial [impression].”
To see the complete 17-photo collection, see the NPR blog post of Code Switch by Kat Chow.
Second Woman’s Reaction: Send a Message
Brooklyn artist Tatiana Fazlalizadeh’s response to her experiences in Brooklyn is very different from Ms. Price’s response with the photography project. She created posters with direct negative messages to the catcallers and posted them around her neighborhood. Ms Fazlalizadeh states she can’t walk down her street without getting catcalled or harassed. “It happens almost daily to me where I get frustrated or annoyed or upset by something that someone has said to me or done to me outside on the street.”
Why the Difference?
Why does one woman feel okay to take photos and even have a conversation about the experience, and another woman feel anger and frustration? Our individual responses to catcalls are a result of our thoughts about the experience. If we think: “wow, someone thinks I’m cute.”, “I still have it”, or “this is going to be a good day”, our response may be: happiness, a big smile, a skip in our step, better posture.
If we think: “that reminds me of my abusive former boyfriend”, “will he try to come after me?”, “they must think I am promiscuous”, our response may be: fear, increased heart rate, hunched posture, a frown, anger.
Kat Chow, A Photographer Turns Her Lens On Men Who Catcall, October 17, 2013.
Related articles across the web
Active Minds, an organization dedicated to spreading suicide awareness on college campuses, kicked off its tour of Send Silence Packing on September 10, 2013. The tour is an exhibit of 1100 backpacks that represent the 1100 college students who die by suicide every year. More details of the tour can be found here.
- Half of Us (www.halfofus.com)
- Beyond OCD: Overcoming OCD-The College Student’s Guide (www.beyondocd.org)
- NAMI’s Networking Site for Young Adults with Mental Illness (www.strengthofus.org)
- APA’s College Mental Health Page (www.healthyminds.org)
- The Jed Foundation (www.jedfoundation.org)
- Screening for Mental Health, Inc: College Response (www.mentalhealthscreening.org/college/)
- People Prevent Suicide (http://www.peoplepreventsuicide.org/)
- Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program (www.yellowribbon.org)
- American College Health Association (www.acha.org)
- Campus Health and Safety (www.campushealthandsafety.org)
- Reach Out (www.reachout.com)
The Center for Greater Good at Berkeley has found that creating a Positive School Climate is so important because it:
“decreases absenteeism, suspensions, substance abuse, and bullying, and increases students’ academic achievement, motivation to learn, and psychological well-being. It can even mitigate the negative effects of self-criticism and socioeconomic status on academic success. In addition, working in this kind of climate lessens teacher burnout while increasing retention. All really good stuff!”
While meeting their criteria for having a Positive School Climate can be challenging, small steps can be made relatively easily. School counselors may want to consider the Behind Your Back exercise with student groups, faculty groups, and maybe even parents.
Here’s to happy, healthy, students, teachers, and administrators in the coming academic year!
Author Psychotherapist Pamela Milam shares inspirational thoughts on viewing others from a place of greater emotional generosity.
I know someone who had a series of different jobs: clerk, cook, waitress, courier, even construction worker. She told me that she once had a stint as a roofer. She worked every day with the same guy, a blue-collar philosopher who used to take breaks sitting on the roof eating his sandwich and telling her stories: “People think they’re alone, that no one can see them, but up here I can’t help but see people living their lives—in their living rooms, bedrooms, backyards. The world’s a different place to me because of that.”
He felt a warmth and grace toward the people living in those houses, cooking barbecue, pushing swings for children, vacuuming rugs, fighting with spouses, clicking away on laptops, cooking spaghetti, or reading books by windows. He saw them in private moments and tried his best to honor that privacy. I might see, for instance, a client who is a tough businesswoman, but in fact is anxiety-ridden and worried about her young son’s autism diagnosis.
It struck me later that, as a therapist, my view can be similar. We are the roofers of the soul, seeing into hearts and minds and getting a look into the private lives and relationships of people who otherwise might seem like just “the guy in the next cubicle” or “that jogger I see every Saturday on the trail” or “the unassuming neighbor down the block.”
I might see, for instance, a client who is a tough businesswoman, but in fact is anxiety-ridden and worried about her young son’s autism diagnosis. Many of her colleagues write her off as being brusque and cold, but that’s nowhere near the truth. Or I meet the olive-skinned young model who radiates a golden beauty, but discover that he is wracked with self-doubt. I encounter the narcissist who admits that he feels empty in spite of his résumé of accomplishments, or the pregnant teen who pretends to look forward to motherhood but confesses that she’s terrified.
It’s helpful to get a different view, looking into their lives and seeing them, really seeing them live life: struggling, failing, succeeding, and managing to get through it all somehow.
Getting a new perspective—simply paying attention—helps me break free from assumptions or stale beliefs about neighbors, friends, colleagues, and even strangers.There’s a freedom that comes from getting an alternate view. The more you really notice other people, the less likely you are to write them off or pigeonhole them. Getting a new perspective—simply paying attention—helps me break free from assumptions or stale beliefs about neighbors, friends, colleagues, and even strangers.
For me, it’s important not to get locked into a mindset, one of judgment or negativity or willful oblivion. The key to unlocking my mind is the very same key to building good relationships: noticing people, taking my time, imagining how they might feel, making an effort to do no harm, and trying to do good when I can.
If I find myself taking a knee-jerk attitude toward a person or summing someone up based on one or two obvious traits, it’s a sure bet that I’m missing something that I might understand more clearly from a place of greater emotional generosity. I try to remember that I’m always free to take a fresh look. I’m the roofer casting a graceful look into their hidden lives.
– See more at: http://www.rewireme.com/explorations/a-view-from-the-roof/#comment-3827
Newest studies on memory. How sure are you of your memories? Could you actually be remembering later events?
YOUR MEMORY IS LIKE THE TELEPHONE GAME
Each time you recall an event, your brain distorts it
September 19, 2012 | by Marla Paul
CHICAGO — Remember the telephone game where people take turns whispering a message into the ear of the next person in line? By the time the last person speaks it out loud, the message has radically changed. It’s been altered with each retelling.
Turns out your memory is a lot like the telephone game, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study.
Every time you remember an event from the past, your brain networks change in ways that can alter the later recall of the event. Thus, the next time you remember it, you might recall not the original event but what you remembered the previous time. The Northwestern study is the first to show this.
“A memory is not simply an image produced by time traveling back to the original event — it can be an image that is somewhat distorted because of the prior times you remembered it,” said Donna Bridge, a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and lead author of the paper on the study recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience. “Your memory of an event can grow less precise even to the point of being totally false with each retrieval.”
Bridge did the research while she was a doctoral student in lab of Ken Paller, a professor of psychology at Northwestern in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.
The findings have implications for witnesses giving testimony in criminal trials, Bridge noted.
“Maybe a witness remembers something fairly accurately the first time because his memories aren’t that distorted,” she said. “After that it keeps going downhill.”
The published study reports on Bridge’s work with 12 participants, but she has run several variations of the study with a total of 70 people. “Every single person has shown this effect,” she said. “It’s really huge.”
“When someone tells me they are sure they remember exactly the way something happened, I just laugh,” Bridge said.
The reason for the distortion, Bridge said, is the fact that human memories are always adapting.
“Memories aren’t static,” she noted. “If you remember something in the context of a new environment and time, or if you are even in a different mood, your memories might integrate the new information.”
For the study, people were asked to recall the location of objects on a grid in three sessions over three consecutive days. On the first day during a two-hour session, participants learned a series of 180 unique object-location associations on a computer screen. The next day in session two, participants were given a recall test in which they viewed a subset of those objects individually in a central location on the grid and were asked to move them to their original location. Then the following day in session three, participants returned for a final recall test.
The results showed improved recall accuracy on the final test for objects that were tested on day two compared to those not tested on day two. However, people never recalled exactly the right location. Most importantly, in session three they tended to place the object closer to the incorrect location they recalled during day two rather than the correct location from day one.
“Our findings show that incorrect recollection of the object’s location on day two influenced how people remembered the object’s location on day three,” Bridge explained. “Retrieving the memory didn’t simply reinforce the original association. Rather, it altered memory storage to reinforce the location that was recalled at session two.”
Bridge’s findings also were supported when she measured participants’ neural signals –the electrical activity of the brain — during session two. She wanted to see if the neural signals during session two predicted anything about how people remembered the object’s location during session three.
The results revealed a particular electrical signal when people were recalling an object location during session two. This signal was greater when — the next day — the object was placed close to that location recalled during session two. When the electrical signal was weaker, recall of the object location was likely to be less distorted.
“The strong signal seems to indicate that a new memory was being laid down,” Bridge said, “and the new memory caused a bias to make the same mistake again.”
“This study shows how memories normally change over time, sometimes becoming distorted,” Paller noted. “When you think back to an event that happened to you long ago — say your first day at school — you actually may be recalling information you retrieved about that event at some later time, not the original event.”
– See more at: http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2012/09/your-memory-is-like-the-telephone-game.html#sthash.jP3p8MP0.dpuf
The research was supported by National Science Foundation grant BCS1025697 and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health grant T32 NS047987.