MUSINGS AT MANSA
1. TO ENGAGE OR NOT TO ENGAGE.
“I have these memories coming back to me. I remember the words she said and the way she shouted at me. It seems fresh every time. The images and words keep coming back to trouble me. I start feeling angry and restless. I replay the events and imagine what all I could have said to her. There are so many things that I could have said, but then, I just could not. If only I could say those things and find my closure".
Me: Does it help you? This replaying the events and giving your answers back.
J: At times it does! But then it comes back.
Me: The past 6months have these thought, images and your response to them decreased in frequency or intensity?
J: Not much change…at times I feel it is only getting bad.
Me: I can understand your hurt and how you feel about the way the things unfolded. You have all the right reasons to feel sad, angry and dumped. But let’s look at a different story. Suppose you are traveling in your favorite car 🚗. At a signal a few stones suddenly hit the car breakingyour window glass and denting the car. How would you feel and respond.
J: I would be angry. I will stop the car and see who did it. I will make them pay for the damage.
Me: But what if you realize that across the road a few street kids are fighting and pelting stones at each other. They are continuing with their fight and as u look around a few more stones hurt people around who are trying to reason with them. Now what would you do?
J: I will inform the police and move out from there before I get hurt or my car is further damaged.
Me: But what about the damage?
J: After the police complaint I will probably get an insurance cover.
Me: How long will you keep on thinking about this?
J: But you cannot compare the two episodes.
Me: Agreed the events are different. But your first response is the same to both these. In one you engage and the other you choose not to. You realize that engaging with those boys would lead to more harm. You accept the damage to your car as minimal compared to what could have happened if you engaged. You also realized that the car can be repaired What I am trying to tell you is that even in the break up case, probably staying together would have led to much damage down the line. Also the engagement with those thoughts by giving your answers is not letting you move on. It keeps you tied and is hurting you. You always have the choice to accept the damage and choose not to engage. I always believe that an individual has the ability to choose his response in every situation. In this case you choose to not engage with these thoughts and images.
2.THE HARE AND THE TORTOISE.
“You are always there in the top 7 of your class, but when will you top the class?”
PN’s father made this comment as he was telling me of his academic difficulties. He was preparing for his 12th board and NEET exams. He too was primarily focused on his inability to remember everything that he had read, at the first attempt itself. As we were discussing about his expectations and study techniques, this off hand comment and his distress caught my attention.
Me: Have u heard about the story of the tortoise and the hare.
Both: Yes! Slow and steady wins the race, continued PN.
Father: In today’s competitive environment you can’t afford to lose pace.
Me: I agree that the environment is competitive. My point here is, is pace the only ability. P is right about the moral of the story, but there are a few more lessons here that I feel are more relevant.
Me: The race was about speed and yet the tortoise challenged the hare...why? Was it not clear enough that the hare the ability of speed?
P: Probably he was tired of the taunting or he was confident that the hare would be complacent.
Me: May be. And that’s what happened the hare was complacent after a point. But the focus is on the hares ability and attitude. What did he do right?
P: I think it was stupid to challenge for a race, but he was lucky that the hare was complacent
Me: I agree that the decision to challenge was rash or stupid. Yet! It was brave to be at the start point on the day of the race. He gave his best and was focused till the end. On the way when he saw the hare resting he did not slack down nor was he disheartened when the hare raced ahead of him and was not visible. He continued at his pace till he crossed the line.
P: U mean positive attitude, persistence and focus.
Me: I will just rephrase the positive attitude to say willingness to take on difficult and seemingly impossible things, giving it your best at your pace and staying focused till you achieve what you want. “The race was won not by speed, but by these other qualities. U need to have the right combination of skill and attitude to achieve the best outcome.”Turning to the father I continued, “by being in the top 7 his intelligence is already proved, but the other qualities are, what I think will now matter to optimise the outcome. If u can support him to finish it in his pace and help focus I think we can improve the outcome.”
3. The Way Ahead.
“How can I forget that he was about to leave me and our child? How can I trust him now? Does he even understand the damage he has done to me?”
Mrs. VS was agitated. Her husband, sitting beside her was also uneasy. They had been with me a couple of years before for marital counselling for reasons obvious from her statements. It is not uncommon to see the ghosts of the past resurface to torment the present.
Me: I can understand your anger and fear. You have all the right questions but can I know the background. It appeared that in a dispute her husband had taunted her about her sensibility. It was enough to trigger the debate. To be fair the husband’s communication was mostly about correcting her. As per him it was a causal statement. He too was feeling frustrated as every time he would point out something she would get back to the old episode and doubt his intentions. She would appreciate the efforts he had done over the past 3 years to improve the relationship and show his commitment. They both reaffirmed their willingness to stay together and work on bettering things. A lot of things to be sorted out in emotional transactions and insecurities. But to start we had to deal with the ghost.
Me:Madam, Can I request you to do a small activity
I asked her to stand facing the wall and walk backwards to the other end of the room without turning. As she attempted it she was slow and hesitant. At a point she stumbled across the center table and stopped asking me the purpose. Now at the other end I told her to look ahead and walk towards the opposite end. She did it swiftly and sat across.
Me: What did u realize?
Me: At times, things that we want to forget; we keep on looking at them. It makes the journey ahead slow and accident prone. What I want to say is, the past cannot be undone. It’s a dreadful milestone which stands prominent on your marital path. But if you keep on using it as a reference point we will never see the destination. What can be done is look ahead set the destination and walk ahead with a focus and clarity. Along the way then even if we have obstacles we will be able to navigate them effectively and reach our destination faster.
She pondered for a while and agreed that it made sense. We then decided to start afresh with deciding the destination.