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Can you be too practical?

Defining Practical

Is there such a thing as being too practical?  Practicality has it’s purpose that I can agree on, but sometimes being too practical can seem insensitive.  So what is a practical person to do?  Particularly when faced with issues that require a proper response?  Let us delve deeper into this.

 First let us define Practical -

1.  concerned with matters of fact: concerned with actual facts and experience, not theory 

2.  useful: sensible or useful, and likely to be effective 

3. good at solving problems: good at managing matters and dealing with problems and difficulties
Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Dealing with the Practical person

When confronted with a practical person and having a discussion you will need to have some facts at hand to be able to ‘back up’ what it is you are saying.  You will certainly want even a tad bit of factual information with which to present your argument.  If it is all theory, it had better be a darned good theory.  If you don’t have anything in your arsenal, you may end up in an argument.

The practical person can easily solve problems when confronted with them, such as technical difficulties.  If it’s something they can’t fix themselves they realize they have to call in a Professional.  Managing money is relatively easy for the practical person, they have X amount to work with and the bills are X amount, this is how much will be left over.  If the bills outweigh the income, they know they have to work more to earn more. 

Usually the practical person does well on the job, the work they perform is very well done, and is recognized by the Boss.  Being practical can get you advancement in the work force.  Sounds great doesn’t it?  Makes you want to take classes on being practical.

My Dad

My Dad is a practical person and I love him dearly, he is also a great conversationalist. We’ve spent hours upon hours having discussions at the dinner table. It used to irritate my Mom because we’d talk all through her doing dishes. I would give him my theory and then he would give me some backlash if I didn’t have my ducks in order when presenting my argument. It has helped me immensely when I’ve written, given directions or raising my children. I have always felt I needed to have a reason for giving instructions, and try to give them in the best possible way. At times it seems as though I give too much detail, but I know there can never be question, and I try not to leave anything unanswered.

Here is the hard part, in regards to my Dad. When something sad happens, one of the first comments is always “Well, it’s for the best.” My Dad is very practical when it comes to death. I am getting there as I age, as I think everyone comes to grips with as they get older. Having lost several people in my life that I was close to, I’ve had to deal with it. My Dad used to think I couldn’t handle death because I cried. I had to explain to him, it’s not that I can’t handle it, I will just miss them.

Some of his comments

When my Grandma passed his response was “She went in her sleep, she didn’t suffer”. That’s all well and good, but I would still miss her. When my Grandpa passed it was “He lived a good long life, and it was time to go”. I know he loved these two people, they were very important people in his life. They were my Mother’s parents and had been very dear to them. My Grandpa became a surrogate father to him since he lost his when he was around 30. When my Mother passed I know this was hard on him, yet he still had the presence of mind to say “She is no longer in pain now”. He didn’t even consider his own inner pain, though I know it was there.

When I had to have my dog Princess be put down, he was very practical about it. He told me “It is time, she has lived a good long life, it‘s for the best.“ He took her for me because I couldn’t do it myself. It seemed that he was insensitive to my feelings, but having known him I realize he just sees things differently. He grieves internally, never showing his feelings. I think I’ve only seen him cry two maybe three times in my life.

He doesn’t handle my tears well, I think it makes him feel helpless. He is such a strong man, both internally as well as externally.

Yet another loss

Yesterday our family suffered another loss, and knowing my Dad as I do, he replied to the news very practically.  This is difficult for my Step-Mom, she is very nice and sensitive to the needs of others.  The loss of life, any life is sad.  

A great grand baby has passed and is now in the hands of God.  Her parents will always feel her loss, as well as other family members.  This was the child of my Step-Mom's Grandson, one whom she is particularly close.  Things happen, for which we have no answers.   Even though I don’t know them personally, I can empathize with their pain.   Madison was born with a heart defect, and lived only a few short hours before the Lord took her.  The possibility of this happening was known before she was born, that does not make it any easier to accept.  This will take time for them to begin to heal, I pray that they can over come their loss.

Bite your Tongue

For those of you who are ‘practical’ the best thing to do in a situation like this is to bite your tongue, as hard as it is.  The time may come when the ones closest to the one lost may say “It was for the best”, but it is not for you to decide when.  They deserve to grieve and will do so whether you want it or not.  To make things easier for them to accept and not be angry with you at the same time, please for your sake and well as their own, if you can’t just say “I’m sorry for your loss”, then say nothing and be strong for the ones who need you. 


Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on June 15, 2011:

Why be cruel? There is no point in that either. Being diplomatic is being kind. No one says you have to like everyone, I don't believe everyone expects to be liked. I know I certainly don't.

"If they are of no use to me"... is that what people are to you? Something to be used like a pair of socks? Has no stranger (someone you don't know so you obviously can't like) spoken with kindness to you, maybe done a kind deed like hold the door open for you? I don't know you but I care that you could be so cynical.

My Mom had a rule of thumb that she helped me live by, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

Thanks for stopping by and posting your point of view! It's been interesting for me to ponder.

SS on June 14, 2011:

"To make things easier for them to accept and not be angry with you at the same time, please for your sake and well as their own, if you can’t just say “I’m sorry for your loss”"

Why should I be so diplomatic if they are of no use to me and I don't like them at all either?

Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on September 12, 2010:

Thank you taking the time to comment in such a way that others can see the 'practical' side. I too am very calm and controlled in situations, and you are right to some, it seems as thought you are without care.

When one of my son's decided that he had caused me enough grief and thought he might try to commit suicide, I remained very calm, very cool and very collected. So much so that the ambulance people thought there was something wrong with me. It wasn't until he was at the hospital and everyone took over that I 'lost my cool' and broke down. I felt that I needed to be strong for him.

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I certainly appreciate you reading and commenting!

Lisa HW from Massachusetts on September 12, 2010:

I think it's important for people to just understand that everyone handles things differently. When my mother was dying, and later died (and when some other deaths occurred in my life at one time or another), someone would have probably thought I was being "too collected" or "too cool" for someone dealing with losing her mother. I had to be "calm and cool" because I had to be strong for other people (like my kids and my mother's other grandchildren). I was ten years old when my father's father died, and I didn't understand why his brother cried hard at the funeral, and my father didn't cry at all. When I grew up and had kids of my own, and lost my own parents, I then understood. When you believe you have to be strong for other people (because you know that you have always been the one they look to for a "reading" on "how bad things are or aren't", you find some, one, thought to keep repeating to yourself and anyone else that it at least, in some ways, a little comforting; and you stay way from all the "less cool" thoughts/words that you know are going "get you and everyone else going".

I think when men do that people say, "Oh, men learn that they aren't supposed to cry; and they need to learn that they should feel free to cry." As a woman, when I've done it, I have no idea what people have thought about it. I suspect they didn't understand it.

The thing is, though, that when you're able to get through those times, knowing you held it together when the last thing your kids or anyone else needed you to do was fall apart and make it so much harder for them (because "someone as strong as you fell apart" when you know you have at least some "power" to keep the "crowd" just that little bit less a "big, group, wailing, shaking, sob, fest because people who were already upset and crying now have it "confirmed" that things are even worse than they realized in their world), it can help you feel more empowered and stronger in the knowledge that no matter how awful losing someone has been, you managed to do that one thing that you think is so important, which is to "be a leader" at a time when the people who look to you most need you to be.

People who have enough control (or just the awareness that they need to be that leader, which often can give someone the control they need) not to cry in front of everyone else; usually, I think, do their major crying and blubbering and feeling like they're going to lose their mind from grief; in private. For someone like me (and maybe someone like your father), it's not really about being as "practical" as it may appear to be. It can, instead, be a matter of hanging onto the the few things one has in a time of so little control and so much overwhelming sadness; and those things are the knowledge that we live up to our role as leaders to younger or less strong family members, the belief that crying is a very private thing and something some people prefer not to do around other people, the self-respect of knowing we are strong, and the dignity of preserving that self-respect by acting according to what feels right for us - and not what seems wrong to other people.

For me, no matter who ever died or whatever was lost; there was only one time when I couldn't hold it together in front of friends and family; and that was when my 20-month old nephew died. It was too big and too horrible and too wrong to be able to control my own emotions; but when I couldn't, I didn't care that I couldn't either. It was "fine", as far as I was concerned. Then again, when my children were around, I could control myself because I knew I needed to.

If anyone read a lot of what I write they'd think I'm about as "free with emotions" as anyone could be. That's because I won't talk or write about how I feel/felt until years and years after the issue has turned from being an emotional one into being an "intellectual" one, all processed and "filed away in proper mental files".

In spite of all I've said about being "calm and cool" in times when others are not, I have far more empathy and compassion than is necessarily great for me. Somehow, I guess, it's easier to feel someone else's sadness (or at least imagine it) than to allow ourselves to express our own, when our own is so overwhelming, and we know that we're in one of those few-times-in-a-life-times situations when failing to live up to what we believe we need to do/be for our families would mean failing at those few, big, important, times when no failing them (or us) was most important. For someone like me, being "true to myself" is doing what feels right for me (not doing what seems hard to understand to some other people). By being the person I've always been at those times, I HAVE been true to myself.

We can't ever really know for sure what someone is doing, or means, when s/he says, "It's for the best," but I think at least sometimes s/he isn't implying that s/he is determining what's worthy of grieving and what isn't. I think, at least sometimes, a person may be sharing with you the only thought s/he has that s/he finds at all one to hang onto. Maybe saying, "I'm sorry for your loss," and nothing else, implies that the loss is only yours. Maybe sometimes, the person who says "it's for the best" is actually, in his own way, feeling the loss too; or at least trying to indicate that s/he doesn't see the loss as "only yours".

(Sorry for the length of this comment; but I thought sharing some views "from another side" of things might add to the discussion here.)

epigramman on September 11, 2010:

....yes and that's a nice feeling isn't it - to be allowed to be open and free - and true to ourselves!!!!

We are all unique individuals in our own way ....

Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on September 11, 2010:

Oh I am very glad I found this site. It lets me be me.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

epigramman on September 11, 2010:

...well a practical thing to do would be to do explore your hubs with awe and anticipation and then say to yourself - gee I'm glad I came here!

Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on September 11, 2010:

You know I was thinking about that the other day. Of how Eve messed it up for all of us! But then I thought of the joys that only women get to know, and it made it all better! Men have their joys that only they know too!

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Dave Mathews from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA on September 11, 2010:

It's amazing the excuses we provide for women as they go through life, and the ups and downs they face like mood swings and PPD., after pregnancy. Teen years till about Fourty we give them the excuse of PMS., after that Menopause. See what happens because Eve screwed up in the Garden of Eden. One mistake by one woman and all are cursed.

Brother Dave.

Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on September 10, 2010:

My husband practical? No way! It's my Dad who is practical, my husband is an idiot.. oops did I say that out loud? Must be the Terminal Menopause kicking in.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Dave Mathews from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA on September 10, 2010:

Sweetsusieg: You have a husband so I know he's probably practicle. If you can deal with him then others should be a breeze. All it takes is practice.


Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on September 10, 2010:

Yes, When it comes to a crisis, I am very good, as is my Dad. That is one of the good things about being practical. Really, being practical is good in all areas but the one, the seeming to have no empathy or compassion.

Thanks for reading and commenting

Merlin Fraser from Cotswold Hills on September 10, 2010:

In response to your question the answer is Yes we can be too practical at times. I know I am, probably most of the time and I know how annoying it is to many of my friends.

Practical people tend to be too logical, too open and sometimes far too honest when answering a question.

I've been accused of having little or no feelings nor emotions of any kind, which hurts but of course we practical people don't show it.

You have to stick to your guns, practical people are needed, when the going gets tough they are the ones pushing themselves through the crowd who are screaming OMG Somebody should do something !

Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on September 09, 2010:

Wow, I didn't even think like that when I was writing it. Now that you mention it and I went back over it, I did didn't I? Thank you.

Lori J Latimer from Central Oregon on September 09, 2010:

Very nice Hub! You couldn't have presented your 'back-up' any more respectfully! Bless you and yourn in this time of Loss...

Sweetsusieg (author) from Michigan on September 09, 2010:

Thank you. I was thinking of my Step-Mom when I wrote it. She called me yesterday and I didn't know what to say. So I tried to say it in a Hub.

Thank you for reading and commenting.

Aya Katz from The Ozarks on September 09, 2010:

SweetSusieG, this is very good advice. I wholeheartedly agree.

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