The Snowflake Generation ( aka, millennials) is on its way out of the social-media spotlight. The next generation? Already its own meme. Still, there’s obviously a lot of comedic-value in making fun of Snowflakes. Friday nights I tune in to a well-known Boomer comedian. I notice that he just can’t seem to move on from skewering the hyper-sensitive and trigger-prone. But I’ve got news for Bill – and for all the Snowflakes he seeks to shame almost weekly. We all have the potential for Snowflake tendencies, even if we can’t or won’t admit that to ourselves and to others.
Certain situations have always been super-upsetting for me. Seeing, or even just hearing violence of any kind. Cruelty to a child or an animal. Even if I wasn’t on the receiving end of someone’s outburst, I felt my body recoil. When I was really young, it was pretty normal for me to burst into hysterical tears when faced with these triggers. (Coping with mean people)
As I’ve grown older, I learned to mask my emotions. I had to. I worked in an industry that often put me in close contact with horrific child abuse and neglect situations. I did my “job” to help the child. But I had to sideline any snowflake-tendencies. A court of law; a doctor; a psychiatrist was not going to listen to me if I had a breakdown during a deposition.
After a while, emotional control became my default setting. And I had zero-tolerance for people who lacked it. My social circle included a lot of first-responders: anti-snowflakes in the extreme. But, largely through these contacts I soon learned how damaging holding-it-all-in can be. Life-threatening, in fact.
As individuals and as generations, we adapt to external circumstances “Adapt, or perish” is, after all, pretty much the human condition. But, earlier in my career, I tended to over-adapt to what triggered me emotionally by shutting-down any snowflake-type response. The ultimate’ kicker’? I still reacted inside. Faking, Not Really Feeling, Inner Strength
Unless there is some kind of serious pathology, we all react to what we know is going to be hurtful if we let it in.
The Greatest Generation and Boomers were masters (and mistresses) of emotional control. They had to be, in the midst of major world-drama. The generations that followed have gradually loosened their grips on both ‘feeling’ and ‘reacting’…. despite the fact that world-drama has been pretty intense. Changing our Emotional DNA
It’s easy to make comparisons, those of us who are older. It’s easy to point fingers at Snowflakes, declaring that nothing they’re living through is That Bad. It’s also easy to dismiss how truly huge the whole Well-Being industry has become. A central theme? How to Heal by over-coming fears and limiting beliefs. Step One, acknowledge feelings as legit and healthy.
So What if not everyone’s reactions seem appropriate one hundred percent of the time? I’m here to admit that trying to control, — acting like I’m in control of — negative emotion is not helpful. Especially over time. I may look like the surface of a calm lake, but the emotion is still there, wanting to rise and let loose. If I truly act on what’s good for me, I’ll bravely let it do just that. And I won’t judge others by how they choose to deal.