Since I was a child, I’ve experienced what is commonly called a shut down. Basically this means I stop talking, get completely quiet and I look completely emotionless. Behind the scenes, in my mind, there is a lot going on. I am generally trying to work through something that requires my complete and total focus.
Things that might cause a shut down
- Problem solving
- Being Insulted
The fifth one there is actually a big one. If I’m insulted I almost instantly shut down. Now shut does can lead to a few results. With the other four, I can generally get over them fairly easy with some coping mechanisms I’ve developed over the years. Number one is a bit hard to deal with but removing myself from the situation, even for a few minutes, seems to work fairly well.
Number five though is another story.
When I am insulted my mind rushes and I am faced with several choices,
- Vacate, it’s not worth getting worked up over.
- Emotional outburst, often ending with their feelings hurt worse than mine ever were.
- Turning my emotions completely off.
The third choice there is, I believe, a holdover from all the bullying that I went through as a child. My mind developed a defense system where I can completely turn my emotions off towards a person or a group. If this happens, that person is more or less dead to me. Eventually I have to deal with the pain of this type of shut down but that can be months or even years into the future.
I’ve had friends who were fairly close to me, one day they said something that really bothered me, or did something to me in an insulting or mean fashion. I turn off the emotions and then I don’t care if I ever see that person again. Maybe years down the road I’ll remember them but rarely do I feel bad for a friendship ending in this fashion.
For example: My ex used to scream and throw things at me. Usually this would lead to me having a meltdown lasting several days. Eventually, this occurred so frequently that I simply shut off my emotional response to her. We stopped talking and eventually got divorced. A shut down helped lead me away from an abusive relationship.
People might find my shut downs odd but they have helped me in numerous ways throughout life. The peace that can be found in a completely emotionless experience is therapeutic in a way. Helps me sort or what needs sorting.
Do you experience anything along these lines? I wonder how prevalent this is as a coping mechanism. Let me know in the comments below,