If you grew up with a parent who acted like a dictator and didn’t let you express your opinions freely, then five things happen:
Parents (especially Indian parents) are afraid of their children discovering self-love. Teaching your children self-love is in a way giving up your power and authority. If they don’t love themselves then they will forever try to please others. This desire to please can be used for manipulation (which is quite rampant in Indian culture). If children start loving themselves then they will start saying “no” and it is a sin to say “no” to your parents. If children start loving themselves, then they will start questioning traditions. They might start creating art without worrying about the imperfections. They might start saying no to abuse which is quite common in Indian culture. For many Indian parents, parenting is about power, not love.
Until the last few months, I believed in changing myself instead of trying to change others. It is a nice philosophy but I now realize that it has a lot of limitations. This philosophy makes you responsible but you end up blaming yourself for something you are not responsible for. I now realize that the problem is much more complex and that the philosophy is pretty dangerous. If you were raped or sexually abused, you will end up blaming your clothing or your behavior! If you face sexism at your workplace, you will end up doubting your talent.This attitude will also affect your mental health. Hence, it is important to question others’ behavior when it is necessary. There’s nothing wrong in expecting others to change (at least when it comes to social issues). As long as this expectation doesn’t harm us (and as long as the expectation is not unfair), we should push for change.
Indian parents want their children to respect and follow them. But what if the father and the mother have different points of view? Then the child has to follow the father…Because he is the superior one.
Indian parents believe that they are Gods and expect their children to worship them and take care of them. But when their son marries a woman, they expect her to leave her parents.
Indian parents will say things like, “You must compromise. You cannot always get what you want.” But when it comes to finding a groom/bride they are hell bent on matching planets, stars, caste and what not!
In short, Indian parents can tweak the rules as per their convenience.
I came up with four questions to help me decide who got to read my work when it was in its most vulnerable stages:Do I trust this person’s taste and judgment?Does this person understand what I’m trying to create here?Does this person genuinely want me to succeed?Is this person capable of delivering the truth to me in a sensitive and compassionate manner?
If I could not answer yes to all four questions, then I would not let that person read my stories. And the fourth question was the most important—because here is what I learned (the hard way) about readers and editors who offered me a “brutally honest” critique of my writing: They were always more brutal than honest.
After watching ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’, I started thinking about why people are so attracted to abusive personalities. If we look around, we will see that almost each one of us is dying to impress someone who has mistreated us in one way or the other. Why do we seek approval from abusive people? The fact that a person like Donald Trump is in the race for presidency proves that people are vulnerable to gaslighting.
I have laughed at dwarfs, transgenders, gays, lesbians, prostitutes, people from lower economic class, people who cannot speak English and dark-skinned people in the past because I wanted to fit in. And when some of my friends or loved ones did the same, I thought, “They are nice to me and people around me, so why all the fuss? Sure, they look down upon the waiter, but how will it affect their loved ones? How will it affect me?” However, people who think that any human being/group is worthless or is inferior to them, will, in all likelihood, treat us in the same way.
It’s tough to say “no” to people. What makes it even more tougher is when the other person is nice/has done nice things for you. Sometimes, this ‘niceness’ makes us vulnerable to manipulation or abuse. One example is the concept of ‘friendzone’. Some men believe that just because they are nice to women, the ladies owe them sex.
It’s of course important to remember the nice things that people have done for us and if possible, we must try to repay them. But the problem occurs when people alternate between good and abusive behaviour. Of course, no human being can be always nice but when it comes to manipulation, niceness becomes a strategy for abuse.
It’s important to remember that ‘good deeds’ of the past cannot be used to justify abuse in the present. Even if a person has *genuinely* done something nice for you, it doesn’t mean he/she will use it to do bad things.
There are people who do mean things and say they are doing it for your good or for society’s good or for God or whoever. These people are arrogant enough to believe that they know what’s good for you. But the point here is that even if they are correct, they don’t have the right to abuse you. For example: your parents might have told you that that the man you love is an asshole. They may be right but in case you marry him and he is indeed a jerk, then you parents shouldn’t use it to shame you or look down on you. This is an important point, which Dr. Robin Stern talks about in her book on gaslighting (see my previous posts).
In ‘Freedom Writers’, Hillary Swank, who plays the inspiring teacher Erin Gruwell says that real revolutions happen inside the classroom. Such quotes are often shared on September 5 but most of us underestimate a teacher has on children.
Parents are the first strangers that a child meets after she arrives on this planet. Parents are more powerful than the child and what they do with this power has a massive impact on the child’s ideas of power and vulnerability. After parents and some relatives, the teacher is probably the person with the most power. This relationship is significant because the child is now moving outside and encountering strangers and power. These two factors rule our decisions, don’t they? For e.g. We are afraid of what politicians (strangers) will do (power) to our country. We either feel safe or insecure in the world and a lot of it has got to do with how strangers with power behaved with us when we were kids. If these people abused their power, then we will have problems in forming relationships because each relationship begins with two (or more) strangers.
If the teacher manages to empower his students then the kids will grow up with confidence, self-respect and compassion. The world will be an imperfect place where you learn and get better. If the teacher uses his power for ego trips then the child grows up feeling insecure…she will be afraid of other people’s power. This creates the desire to be more powerful than others but the obsession with power itself makes you powerless
I always equated worrying with caring. The more worried you are about someone, the more you care about the person, right? But there seems to be a thin line beyond which worry becomes self-serving.
If someone you know is in pain or in danger then it is natural for us to worry. A person in pain or in danger is obviously in a powerless situation. By excessively worrying about the person, aren’t you adding to the feeling of powerlessness? Also, there is another problem here. A person in pain already has a lot of burden. If you start excessively worrying about the person to the point that you are no longer in control of your thoughts, then aren’t you actually putting more burden on him? The last thing you want to do is make him feel guilty or sorry for sharing his worries with you. The last thing you want is him to worry about YOUR worry about his worry…but this is exactly what happens!
Sometimes, excessive worry turns into manipulation. We start believing that the only thing we have to do to help people is worry and ruminate about their problems, endlessly. But sometimes thinking is not enough. Sometimes, we need to take some action and to do that, we have to have some control on our thoughts and emotions. In other words, (sometimes) we have to worry a little less if we really love someone.