My friend Gina called one night saying she was throwing together a game night at her house asked if I wanted to come. It was 8.30pm on a Saturday. I sat at home contently watching a movie by myself and planning to be undisturbed for the night.
At first I was a little shocked because I usually don’t get impromptu calls to “party.” My friends know that I’m a bit of a plan-things-in-advance stickler, but as I reflected on going in my relaxed state of mind, I thought, “This movie can wait. You love games, go play!” So after a bit of a pause, I accepted the invitation, and drove over.
I got to Gina’s around 9pm, and I realized that I was the first to arrive. She told most of her friends were at other parties and were coming a bit later. Gina was in the kitchen, putting together quite an appetizer spread and her husband was selecting the music and singing.
I felt surprised, as they explained to me how they had just been watching a baseball game in the early evening with friends and attended a baby shower in the morning. How did she have the energy to do all these social functions and then have an impromptu party at her house? Biotemperament theory will help explain this difference.
In Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy (RODBT) biotemperament matters. That means that both genetics and biology influence the way we that we see the world, and how we respond to stimuli like social events. For overcontrolled (OC) individuals, who are biotemperamentally more threat sensitive and less reward sensitive, a task that may feel fun and exciting to undercontrolled (UC) person, may feel scary or exhausting to the OC.
As a OC person, my natural struggle is to activate my safety system in my brain where I feel relaxed and ready to socialize rather than to see all the bear traps waiting to close down on me at party. Saying yes to an unexpected event like this was easier for me, because I was in my safety system (watching a movie, relaxed at home), when the new event was posed. Also I love to play games and am actually quite competitive, so with my safety system activated, I can easily move to my reward system and experience was many UC’s experience naturally – fun!!
Having friends that are uncontrolled can help an overcontrolled person learn to appreciate one’s safety and reward systems. It can also remind OC’s to laugh, express positive emotions more, and try new things. So if you are OC, go make yourself a UC friend, even if he or she seems like an alien at first. They will be easy to spot through the big smile on their faces, giggles and previously unexplainable boundless amounts of energy.