It’s not about the Spoon!

Are you sure this argument is actually about the spoon?

So recently, I’ve been going insane and turning into a yelling crazy woman at people I love. There has been a little voice in the back of my head telling me I’m being unreasonable, demanding and bitchy. Unfortunately, that voice of reason wasn’t loud enough to stop the emotional explosion resulting from a buildup of many things.

Interestingly, a friend told me of a metaphor another psychologist buddy of ours has for just these kinds of situations. This metaphor was dubbed “It’s not about the spoon”.

A couple are doing chores in the kitchen. The woman is trying to fill the dishwasher and accidentally drops a spoon on the floor. Because she is busy and tired she asks her partner to help her by picking up the spoon.

The man is doing something else and because the spoon is closer to her than him he says, “Why can’t you pick up the spoon? It’s near you and it’s just a spoon.”.

Even though this is a reasonable response, the woman explodes and starts yelling at him. He tells her she is being irrational but that only makes her angrier. He picks up the spoon to try to make her happy, but she only seems to get angrier.

The thing to remember is that she isn’t actually angry about him not picking up the spoon. She is angry because she is tired from work, had a bad conversation with a friend, had an argument with her mum, and is worrying about everything she has to do the next day.

Sometimes, the argument isn’t about the spoon. It’s about something completely different.

This story really resonated with me since this scenario is extremely common. More often than not arguments are not actually about what the woman (or man) is getting upset about, particularly if the topic being argued about is trivial. Usually, the thing that the person is actually upset about is something completely different.


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