WHY ICE - T WINS
LAW and ORDER: PSYCHOLOGY + THE FACT CHECK
There is something I cannot stop thinking about.
On Episode 27 of this podcast, my guest J’Amy Tarr tells a story about her dad and airports. The story, and her dad’s anxiety around travel and being on time became a piece of J’Amy’s character narrative. Like many of us, this behavioral response that didn't originate within her stuck around for years until her husband was like, why are you so freaked out about the airport?
What I have been thinking about since this episode is that as J’Amy recounts her Dad’s airport anxiety, she notes that to her family, the anxiety came off as anger and frustration. But in reality, it wasn’t anger at all, but worry. If you circle back on the episode you’ll hear us both kind of laugh at the thought of trying to understand and respond to another person’s behavior when the behavior can be totally incongruent from the emotion behind it. Worry looks like anger. Fear looks like aggression. Sensitivity looks like toughness.
What a fucking mess, right? It’s a miracle we can ever communicate with each other.
I keep asking myself, how do we solve this incongruency? Can we even solve this? There’s only 7 billion people on the planet. Surely we can connect the internal feelings to external behavior for all of us, right? OH MY GOD that’s hilarious.
When I started to think about this podcast wrapping up season 1. I had some ideas about congruency and certainty. What is known.
Let’s start with a question.
How often do you know an outcome? The outcome? Any possible outcome?
This was a question posed to me by my yoga teacher a handful of years ago. I was having a difficult time making a decision and she said, “well how often have you known the actual outcome of your choices ahead of time? I mean like really know? Been 100% certain? Ever?”
Not even once. I can guess, but I’ve never been certain of any outcome. Like with this podcast, to be honest, I have no idea where this thing is going. Where it will lead, will it even go anywhere? I often ask myself the question, why? If I don’t know then why the hell am I doing it? And I have come up with no better answer then, just because. That’s why.
And when I get lost in questions and uncertainty, I have learned through my work as a psychotherapist, to go to the videotape, or review the facts. Start there. Name it to claim it, keep it simple, look at the facts. I think guest Lisa Solomon would refer to this as an artist's documentation.
If you’ve ever watched Law + Order, specifically SVU, you know that Ice T plays this fact check role brilliantly. His character does a great job of reviewing the facts of the investigation. His lines often start like, “you mean to tell me,” or “so let me get this straight.” He’s providing a very necessary moment of reflection for us the viewer and also the other detectives. List what you know. See where that leads. And you know there’s not a case he hasn’t solved. His record, imaginary or not, is pretty stellar. He’s not a detective but he plays one on TV.
And I think that’s what we are doing here on JOY IS NOW. Well, except I’m not Ice T, that would be rad, and I’m actually a psychotherapist, not just playing one on TV. But these conversations. Investigations into emotion, where behavior originates, what emotions mean to us, in many ways these conversations are a review of the facts.
And that seems pretty cool. When it comes to emotion, we all have different facts. They start the same. The neural pathway, physiological response, but the magic of our history, the impact of our little culture of family and friends, deeply colors the result and our behavior.
And I think that’s the answer. Or at least an answer to what we do with the hilarious notion of the challenge. Over 7 billion people just trying to understand each other when many of us don’t really understand ourselves. Side note, this is why I love psychology. That's hilarious, right? I mean good luck with all that!
But the more conversations we have about psychology. Emotion, behavior, the more we might find that there are surprising similarities in our knowingness. The history, experience, trauma. How it colors our behavior. And it might be about understanding and appreciating this mix more than worrying so much about fully understanding each other. If congruency seems impossible, let’s spend time looking at the incongruency. I bet we find a lot of crossover.
And maybe that will help. Maybe it won’t but it will get us closer to being able to laugh about it. How psychology, human behavior governs all and most of the time we are just feeling our way through the dark. I guess the key is to find a group of people who you can be totally uncertain with.
Thanks so much for being here. In the dark. Together.
Listen to this episode of JOY IS NOW here.