If you’re like me, there are times in life when nothing seems to make sense. And maybe, like me, you stew and fret and figure and mull – all in an attempt to get the nonsense to make a teeny little bit of sense.
Because if you can understand it, you can make it fit into your general overview of How Life Works.
Psychologists call this your Sense Of Coherence, a phrase coined by Aaron Antonovsky in the late ’70s – “The extent to which one has a pervasive, enduring though dynamic feeling of confidence that one’s environment is predictable and that things will work out as well as can reasonably be expected.”
If you have a strong Sense of Coherence, you’re less likely to suffer from stress and can avoid all the resulting illnesses that arise from stress. You have a sense of well-being. Happiness. Joy, even. Making sense of stuff, then, is a really good thing.
But what about The Fizzie People? That’s no psychological term – that’s what I call people who have a disordered sense of coherence. Remember Fizzies? They were flavored tablets which you added to a glass of water to get a fruity-flavored, extremely bubbly drink. But the drink tasted weird, bubbled and bubbled, and ultimately generated a very largish burp. Which was hilarious in third grade. Not so funny now.
Fizzie People bubble and bubble, and leave a bad taste in other people’s mouths. They find even ordinary events overwhelming, baffling and puzzling, and often live chaotic, destructive, drama-filled lives.
There are a whole bunch of things that make no sense to me – people who abandon or hurt their children, people who hurt other people’s children, men who hate women, women who hate men, premeditated murder, knowingly allowing harm to happen – none of this computes in my noggin.
And I will admit that I have spent plenty of time trying to find a Sense of Coherence around things people do that are, generally, quite incoherent.
Until it occurred to me this week: the only way to understand something truly incoherent is to accept that it is, at its core, incoherent, and therefore only makes sense because it makes no sense.
OK, that sounds like a 3am bathtub conversation in the freshman dorm. Let me make it easier: If you keep saying, “This makes no sense! This is crazy!” then it’s probably crazy and will never make sense. So why invest any energy in trying to make any sense of it? Mulling, stewing, fretting and attempting to explain the inexplicable is a sure-fire way to destroy your own Sense of Coherence.
I’ve decided from now on to save myself the trouble. Paraphrasing the immortal words of The Talking Heads: I’m going to “Stop Trying To Make Sense.”
It’s unconditional, radical acceptance that not every problem in the world can be solved, and not every problem is mine to solve. Want to join me? Then let’s accept, and give a lot of space to, Fizzie People. They live incoherent lives, the poor dears, and they could use some specific professional psychological help to grow their sense of coherence and well-being. I said “professional” and “psychological” – which probably doesn’t mean you or me.
Save your energy. Understand what you understand. Be healthy. Be well. And keep the Fizzies at bay.