Thursday, April 19, 2007

Am I unusual?

If I'm free to choose my activities without coercion, I happily apply myself 100% and learn a lot from everything I do.

If coercion is applied - even gentle persuasion or well-meaning trickery - I'll become suspicious and resentful and, although I may submit to undertaking the activity in question, it becomes increasingly unlikely that I will be open to learning much from it.

If I am openly bribed or blackmailed to do something I immediately start looking for an escape route. If I can't see a way out I will focus my energies on learning how to beat the system (of rewards and punishments) rather than happily applying myself to learning from the activity in question.

If I am locked in a room, 'forced' into doing something and given no other choice, I will be angry, upset and will close my mind completely to the activity on offer. If this happened to me every day for years without rescue, I'd probably become increasingly resentful towards the world in general. I would actively seek to avoid the activity in question at every possible opportunity.

Is this how most people would react in those circumstances, or am I unusual?


Blogger Merry said...

Lol, i dunno - i'm perfectly capable of being resentful and unco-operative about things i want and need to do, like adding stock to my shop... and as for the VAT man... don't start me! ;)

11:10 am, April 19, 2007  
Blogger these boots said...

"Am I unusual?"

not as far as I'm concerned, or not for that reason anyway! .. lol. All that stuff applies to me too, and it gets *really* complicated when family are involved!

12:14 pm, April 19, 2007  
Blogger these boots said...

your 4th paragraph reminds me of something I've heard about on the radio ... only vague memories but it was an exercise or workshop to do with racism, and people were categorised, told to do stuff etc. etc. depending on their eye colour. People with blue eyes were treated worse and talked to in derogatory terms. Many adults reacted almost aggressively to it (as one would!), but in fact imo we expect young people to put up with this kind of stuff (I don't mean the racism, I mean the attitude) all too often.

12:20 pm, April 19, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Merry, I think the VAT man is classed as coercion ;-)

L you mean A Class Divided - you cn watch the video from that link I think. Very educational!

And grrr I can't access this page on Opera today!

12:39 pm, April 19, 2007  
Blogger Tibetan Star said...

Thanks for that link - gotta watch it now!

1:56 pm, April 19, 2007  
Blogger Sue said...

I relate somewhat to this. But if I had no external pressure whatsoever - no family, no need to earn money, nobody else to please in any way - I'd just curl up in a corner and read light fiction all day. Or play games online. I simply wouldn't apply myself to anything unless there was at least some external reason for doing so. I love having days to myself, but I don't even bother to cook - i just eat peanut butter sandwiches and fruit. Which is fine for a day or two but not long-term.

I did much better at school, too, when there were clearly defined assignments - I never got on with open-ended projects, or things we could complete in our own time. And although I wanted to learn the piano and ballet, and loved the classes, I simply couldn't persuade myself to practise. My parents were very laid-back and non-coercive, and didn't mind at all... and I wished they HAD pushed me, at least slightly. Or set me a timetable, or something. I kind of regret it now.

I can't stand being forced to do something, or pressurised, or given bad hints. But I'm much better at doing things that other people want me to than summoning up my own motivation. And I work far better to loose deadlines than 'just whenever'.

I think it depends on the personality of the individual, very much. I'm a champion procrastinator, and basically extremely lazy. Yet I LIKE doing things for other people (sometimes, anyway).

2:33 pm, April 19, 2007  
Blogger these boots said...

I find with my work that when I have deadlines (imposed by things other than just myself) I meet them, sometimes overcoming lots of stress to meet them. But after I've met them, I have a few days, or even a few weeks, of not feeling motivated to do *anything* (apart from the curling up and reading fiction or playing computer games like you mentioned, sue lol). But eventually, and without fail, I get inspired enough and self-motivated enough to get on with the next project ... without a deadline. Without the completely 'off' time, I get stale very quickly, and lose interest in my work, and dream about giving it all up to be a stay at home mum. Eventually, if the deadlines keep up over a very prolonged period, I get ill from stress. Obviously I'm lucky enough to have work that enables me to do this ... but its a really noticable pattern.

2:56 pm, April 19, 2007  
Blogger Louise said...

That is me too - described perfectly.
I think some people are like this but there are others that would tow the line. I've always been a rebel to any authority though ;o)

2:57 pm, April 19, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Paula, no problem. It's a great movie isn't it? if a little distressing. I haven't watched it from that link though - hope it works ok.

Ooh Sue, that's useful to know! What would the best way have been for your parents to help to motivate you? If they'd have offered to motivate you, would you have accepted? Or is it something they'd have had to impose without giving you a choice? Mine imposed it and I regret that! I guess it's important to try to work out what kind of child you've got and treat them accordingly. *Off to worriedly ask teens if they want motivating.* ;-)

Lucy yes, that's how I am with deadlines too. I can do it, but the corresponding slump makes it hardly worthwhile. I get just as much done without them.

Lou, that's no surprise! But did it occur to you there were people who might want some coercion? Sue has definitely made me think!

4:38 pm, April 19, 2007  
Blogger Allie said...

Just recently we've had discussion around things that the kids SAY they want to do but then don't get round to doing. Then they get upset and frustrated with themselves.

We do then agree to remind them about the things they had planned to do. But though I don't mind reminding people that they said they wanted to practice the drums (for example!) I don't ever want to nag.

Sometimes a reminder is useful - we lead such busy lives it's easy to forget things. But I think that repeated forgetfulness shows a lack of desire to actually do the thing. That is certainly true for me.

I accept being coerced into activities if it is part of a deal - like at work! That is how I stuck with a lot of academic study - I did it for the bit of paper. But, on the whole, I think there is way too much of that in life and we'd be better served finding the things we actually want to do!

6:56 pm, April 19, 2007  
Blogger mamadillo said...

I don't really know what I'm like when not coerced.

12:21 am, April 20, 2007  
Blogger 'EF' said...

I love being told what to do if I want to do it! I often ask Oak to boss me about a bit and I thrive on it.'s not a masochistic thing. But I've always been the one making the choices..even when I was a kid I had to be the one who 'knew what to do'. And as I bleat on about: my parents generation had these ideas about letting the kids roam free and did not try to control my life.

The main times when I wish they hadn't been so free is when I wanted to 'quit' stuff....and so they just went 'okay then'. I would have appreciated it more if they'd of dragged me kicking and screaming to a lot of the things I quit. They let me start stuff because I wanted to and then they let me quit cos I wanted to.

For years I remembered a particular teacher as a hateful cow cos she was always forcing me into stuff. The other day I was musing and I realised that I actually had a lot to be grateful to her that year I was with her she opened my mind up to some amazing, music, politics (even though they were not my own) maths, history. She was really pushy...Cruel even. But you know what? I don't mind now. I loved the softer teachers more.. but she introduced us to so much that I am glad for her memory now. I don't think it is as simple as not wanting to be coerced. Some of us need to be told and some of us don't. Oh crikey..I wish I had listened when Oak told me to go to bed an hour ago...eek!

12:34 am, April 20, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Some great answers there!

Allie yes, I might give just one reminder too, then let it go for the same reason you state. Do you ever find the children try to coerce you at all? Some of mine do, which makes me wonder if there's an alternating thing going on down the generations!

T that's such a shock to me! Maybe we're talking about a different definition of the word? I'm meaning coercion by other people, as in: "I want you to do that and I'm going to try to make you do it regardless of your wishes or preferences."

EF, you're like Sue then in this respect? I asked my teens if they'd ever wished I was a bit more coercive and of course they all said definitely not. I wonder how they'll feel when they're in their 30s though. But they have had chance to sample coercion as younger children, from my lovely 'children are lumps of clay to be molded' mother and from school also, and say they think freedom is the nicer of the two.

9:01 am, April 20, 2007  
Blogger Jay said...

You have described exactly how i reacted to school.I definately want to learn but it has to be something that truly interests me..i couldn't be coerced to do anything!I have found that my daughter says she wants to learn something & then needs a gentle reminder or she quickly looses motivation,if i don'r remind her however she then gets frustrated that she didn't stick with it.So i aim for a compromise but it usually ends up by seing how she feels on any given day.We muddle through & as long as she is happy thats all i need to know.

9:40 am, April 20, 2007  
Blogger Allie said...

I do get anxious sometimes that our kids don't 'have' to do anything but we 'have to' facilitate that state of affairs. Sometimes I do feel coerced into a bit more enforced socialisation than I would choose! And then there is the whole 'housework' thing. If they 'choose' to make a mess I end up 'choosing' to clear it up!

I think that the whole choice/coercion thing is necessarily complicated, because people are. There are grey areas in the middle where we don't even know why we have chosen to do something!

10:02 am, April 20, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

That's my benchmark too Jay. But I find my children never say they want to learn something - they just do it or don't do it, which has got me wondering why that is. Probably because it's how I am. It's difficult to help someone achieve their goals if they never express them though. But maybe they don't need the help if they're not asking for it. They do sometimes ask for help and they say they have no problems achieving their goals. They're certainly learning a lot.

Allie, I sometimes get coerced to the point of nagging or bullying here, which upsets me. As in: "Come downstairs because I want to be down there and I don't want to be on my own," repeatedly asked about 20x per minute until I stand my ground and say "NO, I'll come down when I'm ready!" This is not the teenagers LOL.

In fact the teens don't try to coerce me much. Certainly the boys don't at all, so maybe it's an age thing. Oh, except one of them has fears I might make decisions she doesn't like, so she tries to pre-empt them sometimes. I wonder how much of all coercion is based on fear. And yes, the domestics are definitely complicated. Probably worthy of their own blog post. I might manage that today!

10:28 am, April 20, 2007  
Blogger mamadillo said...

Hmm I think I mean that I've forgotten what it's like to do something solely because I want to, without any kind of time pressure (someone napping or out) or because it needs doing for some reason, or because I'm procrastinating, which is horrid because I know there's stuff I 'should' be doing, even though I don't generally do 'should.' Feeling really really free to do what I want to do. Just never happens any more. I do get to choose when I do the things that have to be done, within the time-pressure bounds mentioned before. Just don't think it's the same.

The thing is that when I'm relaxed about things and positive about the shoulds then I do get on with them better. Perhaps it's the coercion of insufficient or mistimed sleep that's my problem atm!

7:02 pm, April 22, 2007  
Blogger these boots said...

"Feeling really really free to do what I want to do. Just never happens any more."

Oooh yeah Trog, that's interesting. Can't remember the last time I felt that. Really can't. A bit sad really, when you stop and think.

That's a kind of passive coercion, d'you reck?

Is it the having kids (having young kids?) that makes the stuff that needs doing so relentless, do you think? Or a lifestyle thing? Is there anything we can *do* about it??

Just been reading the latest thread about housework, and I think what you've just said above, Trog, is the main cause of 'marital tensions' (not that it happens often) in this house. DH seems to be more immune to the time/space pressures, and more able to focus on his own stuff, while not seeing the chaos or hungry children around him. Whereas for me all that stuff comes first, and then there's not time to do 'my own stuff' (whatever that is these days) anymore.

There was an interesting quote t'other day on all that "who does more houswork" BBC stuff, where someone (a woman!) said that she thought, generally, women did more of the "emotional housework" (which she defined as the organising, planning, etc) while acknowledging that maybe the physical stuff is getting more evenly split. I think that rings true for me. I wonder if its more a man/woman thing, or not? My friends who live in 2 women households don't seem to feel this, apart from in one instance where one works and the other stays at home.

8:29 pm, April 22, 2007  

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