Sunday, February 12, 2012

Warm Fuzzies and Cold Pricklies

Recently, due to some interesting family interactions, I was reminded of some conversations I had with my psychologist father. Even though he has been gone for over 14 years, his shared knowledge about psychology has lingered with me. One of the insights he shared with me was concerning what psychologists call "warm fuzzies and "cold pricklies." He defined warm fuzzies as things people say or do that are kind, uplifting, thoughtful. The impact of such interactions creates a "warm fuzzy" feeling. Examples include things like acts of kindness, sincere complements, thinking of others first, etc.

Cold pricklies are when someone says or does something that makes you feel bad. It includes destructive comments or behavior. Cold pricklies are often demeaning and always erodes a person's sense of self worth. Hence, it produces a "cold prickly" feeling in its intended victim. Warm fuzzies and cold pricklies boil down to how we communicate with others both verbally and non verbally.

Dad went on to explain that some people operate exclusively on the "warm fuzzy" level. These people are uplifting to be around and associate with. They are not constantly tripping over their egos, their ego allows others to shine, nor do they have to be the center of attention all the time. They are patient and tolerant of others.

Then there were those who operate on both levels . They communicate using both warm fuzzies and cold prickelies, often they camouflage cold prickelies as warm fuzzies. In other words, they use warm fuzzies to blanket the oncoming cold prickelies. They appear to be nice but aren't really. Here is one example of how it works:

Let's say a little six year old girl works very hard on a handcrafted valentine card for her father. It takes her at least an hour to make, a long time for a six year old. Finally she is done with her valentine and tries to present it to her father, but she can't because her father is taking a nap. The door to his room is locked so she politely knocks on it which wakes up her father. He is irritated at being woke up and tells his daughter to go away and stop bothering him. She stands rejected outside the door. This father just gave his daughter a cold prickly. He has interacted with his daughter peering though the lens of his own selfish desires. Obviously this type of behavior is caustic. Cold pricklies can be intentional or unintentional, often they are ractionary, but not always.

Dad worked at the Nebo school district until he died unexpectedly from complications of luekemia. His work took in children from ages five to eighteen. As a counselor for three schools, he worked with hundreds of troubled students. Often he confided that the children would be fine if they didn't have to go home. He told me that in reality it wasn't the children who needed a good spanking, it was their parents. Children just acted out the behavior they were taught, and were allowed to be indulged in, at home. Sadly, the majority of troubled children came from good Mormon families.

Dad...where are you when we need you?


Aubrey said...

Once as a child I stepped on an ant hill as while one ant bite was annoying the accumulation of about 50 ants was overwhelming.
Cold Prickles and be as overwhelming as 50 ant bites or as devastating as a poodle sized tarantula.
Be careful of the people around you.

Ashley Brinn said...

What a sweet girl to spend all that time making a card for her Daddy. She is a gem for certain. I hope someday he understands that fully.

Ashley Brinn said...

P.S. Mom you should check out my blog sometime: