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Friday, 4 November 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 4: To Brood or Not to Brood...

He: Why do you have to go? What’s the need? It’s not the done thing in our family.

She 1: Why are you so stubborn? It’s not as if I’m going alone. It’s not the done thing because you’re the one who’s always saying no!

She 2 (desperately to She 1, with tears in her eyes and a shaky voice): Why can’t you just leave it alone and listen to what he says? Why must you argue so much for such a small thing?

What’s the scenario that comes to mind when you read this dialogue? Most likely you’ll say

“He” – father

“She 1” – daughter

“She 2” – mother

You’re mostly right…except for “She 2.” Not mother…younger daughter. Younger than the older one by 11 years. Me, to be precise.

As I ponder over what to write today, a statement from a friend’s email coalesces with two seemingly different topics. I follow this train of thought and suddenly, this buried memory of my teenage years dredges itself up.

The people I live with tell me I analyze too much. Wait – “analyze” is my word; they say “brood.” My friend’s email echoes those sentiments. And I realize this is the answer to another friend’s question, asking to know what is it that’s bad in me which I absolutely love. (Sorry to disappoint you Smitha – I know this isn’t exactly what you had in mind, but it’ll have to suffice for now)

That teenage incident was a typical example of how I’d respond to situations of conflict. Keep my mouth shut – check. Not think about it – check. Not talk about it – bigger check. Pretend it doesn’t exist – check. Convince myself it doesn’t matter – check. Sacrifice something I like – check. I’d do all I humanly could to avoid facing conflict.

This carried over well into my young adult years. I had this beatific concept that I would never ever go to bed on a discordant note. Whatever the problem, I had to make it better by apologizing as if it was all entirely my fault. Even when it wasn’t. Because avoiding those “low” feelings that result from conflict was more important to me than dealing with it.

Over time, I began to realize that things you brush under the carpet don’t disappear. They gather mildew, they start rotting and emit a horrible stench until one day, you’re forced to confront a mess that’s much, much bigger than the small mass you initially hid with your misplaced apologies.

That’s when I began analyzing stuff. Apportioning blame where it is due whether it is to myself or someone else. Waiting to think things through from all possible angles without rushing in to apologize. And not hesitating to apologize when I found I was the errant one. Talking about stuff. Looking at the minutiae of my own actions to find out if there’s something I could have done differently, looking at the other’s actions to understand where it comes from. Then deciding whether I need to modify my interactions or just empathize, accept and get on with it. Learning lessons from the incident to avoid making the same mistake again.

For, there’s a difference between solving a problem and learning problem-solving skills.

When I have a difficult situation, of course I need to get across it. But unless I use that situation to learn some generic techniques to cope, the next difficulty will find me floundering again, going through the same heartbreak, repeating the same mindless cycle.


People think I brood. In that sense it is a bad thing. But I don’t brood in the sense of worry. I analyze things. And that’s why I love that about me. Although the process is a painful one, I learn. I improve. I understand where people are coming from. And that helps me look at them – and myself – with less criticism and more love.
NaBloPoMo November 2016

2 comments:

  1. The Sanskrit Word for I is Aham. Aham also is a sanskrit word meaning Ego. People never do anything that is self-effacing unless in love or unless they are crazy (Both are same!). Self awareness should help to eliminate the Aham. Not fuel it. Just a thought.

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    Replies
    1. Of course, you're right in saying the ultimate goal is to eliminate the Aham. Self-awareness is becoming more aware of oneself and by this definition, it can only fuel the aham, not eliminate it. Self-awareness is at a psychological level. Elimination of Aham is at spiritual level. The journey is from being unaware to being self-aware to losing one's identity in the Divine through an elimination of the Aham.

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