Yes, the Chinese have built their emotions into an objective existence. The Chinese do not agree with the individualism of the West. It is only based on a specific natural existence. The Chinese tend to outsmart the spirit from a specific body, so we can also detach from the emotions. That’s why we don’t use “emotional” vocabulary to express, because they are just abstract things as words, we don’t think that “self” can be replaced by these things.
Interesting cultural observations, reflecting ideas of the individual in society in the two cultures. But, I think it overgeneralizes: within cultures in individuals there is surely a great deal of variation? And the loving examples the author gave are not unlike those expressed by American mothers; its not only verbal affirmation; in fact that is not so common as a variety of physical expressions of love, I think.
I have to wonder if, rather than focusing on an Asian inclination to describe physical sensations rather than emotional ones, we should not also consider the affects of unhealthy cultural and religion-based influence in European-Americans which drive us to disconnect from the body in favor of intellectualizing experiences instead.
Thank you for a very insightful piece Shayla.
I found it funny the way you wrote about devouring entire guavas in front of your mother. Surely you could have shared them with her to make sure she didn’t go without?
The act of the mother letting the child eat the entire guava is a very typical Chinese example of showing love. The act of the child eating the entire guava is not only receiving that love but returning the love. In Chinese culture, giving by the elder is to the children is how love is demonstrated. The child must accept and in this case eat the entire guava to show their acceptance of the parents love. There is a Chinese concept not mentioned in this article called “Face” and it’s about maintaining “Face” against all odds. In the case of the guava, the parent wants the child to eat it, because they are showing their love. If the child tries to share it, it is like a partial rejection of the physical fruit offering which is somehow translated into a partial rejection of their offer of love, because that’s how they are communicating their love in the first instance. When that type of “rejection” occurs it’s known as “losing face” when you visit China and are offered something, you must always accept, otherwise it’s considered that you are rejecting their friendship/love/business etc. For example a business deal with a traditional Chinese businessman could fall flat if you reject his offers of a cigarette and alcohol because he feels a sense of “lose of face” or another way to put it , he feels you don’t value him equally in return, and as such is a sense of rejection, so to “save face” he may retreat from the business deal with some general unrelated explanation. Leaving you wondering what went wrong. Chinese culture is highly influenced by the concept of “Face” and it ties into how Chinese people attend to others. Often you can see this in Chinese New year with the exchange of Red Packets known in Chinese as Hóngbāo which are envelopes of cash, and the giving of these. Pride is taken in being able to give the most in a family or friends circle. It’s not about showing off how much your received but rather how much you gave. Often Chinese will give you something unexpectedly as a friend or foreigner to show their appreciation and they will insist they you do not need to pay or return the favor. If you insist it then becomes a form of rejection of their giving. So the eating of the entire guava by the child is the acceptance of the motherly love and showing that they love their mother in return. For the mother to watch the child devour the entire guava is pure joy for the mother. On another level of you think about it, it’s like a mother providing life and nourishment to their child, who is the most important to them. To go without as the mother, and watch is a wholesome and selfless act of giving and they are deriving joy from that act.
From time to time, we found interesting different ways of emotional expression in people. This article helps us to summarise it. Despite our backgrounds, we should live with a combination of mentality and physique. It is important to maintain the body-mind equilibrium.
Excellent article! And especially appreciated that the studies you referenced were easily accessible and accurately hyperlinked – a small but important hallmark of good science writing :)
POTS is a real disorder that can easily cause anxiety. Don’t fall into a trap of thinking that EVERYTHING Is somatasisation (correct spelling in my country btw grammar nazis).
Insightful article. Having experienced both POTS and the implications of the benefit of love, plus Chinese culture I would say this. The article is highly observant in nature. Love increases circulation and in fact, can raise our blood pressure as we may know! When you have POTS, this is from my knowledge due to a lack of response in the integrity of the walls of blood vessels…ie an actual collagen deficiency.
Salt, of course, raises the blood pressure but does not change the state of the strength of the vessels to “pump’ fluid back and forth so to speak. When a person with POTS stands up, from my experience anxiety increases. My own observation is that there is an adrenaline response a few seconds preceding a feeling of faintness. This adrenaline as we all know is for the fight and flight purpose, (not for simply standing up in the shower in the morning)!
POTS is a seriously real condition. It is often associated with those who are very physically flexible in nature for the same reason. None of this is rocket science. It is fascinating that Western medicine is highly aware of the lack of venous integrity but do not recommend a method to increase collagen. Such lack of integrity can also lead to aneurysm.. again lack of integrity of the vessel wall. So those with this condition have to seek a high state of philosophical interest. to keep the circulation ‘up’. Cannot indulge in many things due to this very real physical situation. Personally, I find long-term high dose vitamin C and zinc to have significantly reversed some of this. But has to be taken daily. If you look at cell mitochondria, use Co Q10.. this can be of similar experience to a focused meditation on love. Sitting martial art mind practice can do the same. Heaven help you if you are surrounded by nonlove in your environment. As this resultant improvement in energy cannot be sustained. Again the structure of the walls of the blood vessels is key and organic. People with POTS are often the most daily hard at it people and ironically tremendously strong, even if they do not look so.
Love will increase our circulation. It has occurred to me at times that the body is very clever. If there is such a lack of integrity in the vessels walls and hyper-flexibility if you like. Can you imagine what would happen if the pressure was raised too high, before, the strength of the walls of the vessels were improved? Aneurysm! Clever body. Nothing to do with the mind per se. However. I would like to see those with high blood pressure, without arterial disease, perhaps also sent to seek philosophically and mind assistance. Not just given pills for an easy fix. There is a distinct judgement in the negative to those when pharmacy has not yet produced a drug to assist the issue seek assistance. Sometimes things are hidden in plain sight. POTS being one of them. This article makes one thing clear though. We are perhaps all in control of our own destiny.
Very nice article–understanding and subtle. Very enlightening. Were I still teaching, it would be mandatory reading.
Very interesting article that is very close to my heart. I was born to a Chinese father and a Caucasian mother at a time when that was a very rare occurance. I was raised in Hawaii among my Chinese father’s large extended family so that is the culture I identify with the most. Your article is an insightful discussion of the cultural differences that I observed growing up and sheds some light on my own behaviors!
thank you for such an insightful and uplifting discussion….resonating with many of my observations and clinical experiences
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