Compartmentalization. Who’s best at it?

A recent conversation with a friend brought up an interesting subject. One which could have potentially been debated. However, as our conversation progressed, it became clearer to me that this may be an area that a segment of our population can become better at. Or, as my friend likes to say “Or not”. I’m referring to the topic of compartmentalizing information in our brains.

Of course, everyone has the ability to place information into categories in their minds, but there appear to be certain categories which men might to be better at this. Yes, this could be a generalization statement, but I’m specifically referring to relationships. Both personal and professional ones.

For more than 20 years, I have seen first-hand how men are seemingly able to separate their thoughts and feelings associated with relationships. In other words, they appear to be able to not be constrained by what most women do in terms of how we view relationships. We tend to co-mingle our thoughts and actions, instead of having a definitive line of demarcation between the two. Having a clear line of demarcation can make thinking about a relationship type much simpler, and there may be some advantages to being able to do this. One of them is being able to control our emotions.

There is an art form to being able to at least visibly control our outward emotions in the presence of others, and men have been taught and work on honing this skill their entire lives. For example, when men are young, they likely heard that it’s not cool for them to cry. Luckily, I believe this sentiment is changing, but there are decades of men who grew up hearing this, and who internalized this information. My personal feeling is that this is a shame, as we should all be able to freely express our emotions without fear of being judged by our expression of them.

My one example illustrates how much influence a statement can have in someone’s life. So, imagine if this wasn’t something which was expressed, and men did not have to be subjected to this type of thinking? Would it change the way they interact? Would it allow them to feel more able to express how they truly feel about their relationships? More importantly, would it change the way they either feel the need or have their minds rewired to not think they have to compartmentalize their thinking about their personal and professional relationships?

I don’t have answers to my questions, but it gives us something to think about, and whether in fact it is an advantage to be able to compartmentalize our thoughts and feelings. The example of relationships is only one of many areas’ men have seemingly mastered the art of compartmentalization. However, has this really given them any clear advantages because of this? Perhaps, but realistically I will never know the answer to this, and I’m comfortable with the way my female brain operates and co-mingles relationship information. Although, I’m certain there are women who would like to know what it feels like to do this. In other words, easily turn on or off feelings for other people. Or, to be completely neutral towards some.

If I were to imagine what it would be like to compartmentalize my relationships, I can draw upon hundreds of conversations about this topic to do so. I can also provide suggestions on how to attempt to do this. Although, I’m not offering any guarantees for success, only some insight into how to go about this. You can decide if this would be an advantage or not.

  • Ask yourself if you are truly capable of separating your emotional feelings from your non-emotional feelings when dealing with others? Can you find a neutral mental place of being able to interact with this individual?   
  • Will you be able to move on and not dwell on the positive or negative emotions from the relationship at any point during it?
  • Do you believe you can refrain from having continuous conversations with others about the history or interactions about the relationship?
  • Consider what your re-direct will be when you begin to either focus too much, or get into a cycle of constant circling back to dissect your thinking about an action, or something that was said.
  • Factor in the advantages of remaining in a state of maintaining distinct lines of demarcation for your current relationship definition.

This isn’t the type of topic I typically write about, but I challenged myself to consider how I would express my thoughts about it based on the conversation I had with a friend. I’ll let you ponder whether my conversation was with a male, female or a professional or personal relationship.

TAGS: #Relationships #Compartmentalizing #Compartmentalization #Communication #Leadership #Business #Professional #Advice #Emotions

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