Our internal wiring of feeling redundant coupled with the feeling of being a victim of circumstances distorts the perception of self
February is a month of celebration. It is exciting to see how people, businesses and markets go crazy about the Valentine’s Day. I like watching how creatively the stores and restaurants decorate their interiors with red heart shaped balloons, red cushions, teddy bears and red roses. Love for sure seems to be in the air. So, I was eager to know about my husband’s plan for this special day.
As always, I was hopeful and asked him “what are we doing for Valentine’s day?” “What’s that?” came the reply. For a moment, I thought how can he be so naïve about this special day. He was the same person who had bought the entire stock of red roses from a florist to make me the ‘Rose Queen’ while at college, albeit many years back. My thought process was interrupted as he repeated his question, “what’s that?”
I felt stupid as though this was not the age to think about doing something special for our loved ones. Or maybe, with age we don’t look for reasons to express our love, perhaps for some of us Valentine’s Day is just another day in a year. With time and age our perception changes and to act ignorant is the safest way out. It almost seemed a futile attempt to explain it to him therefore, I thought of celebrating it with my friends.
I rang up one of my friends to know about her plans for the Valentine’s Day. She didn’t sound as excited as I had expected. The conversation between us made me feel that there was something more important than the red roses that she wanted to talk about.
She was not her usual cheerful self. I felt I was talking to a different person altogether. I was compelled to ask her if things were okay. The instant answer to my question was “oh, yes!” but I knew her “yes” had plenty of “no” written all over it.
I asked her again “Is everything ok?” Instead of answering my question she burst into tears. I had never seen her so helpless. Amidst her tears, she said “when I got married my parents advised me to make everyone happy at my new home, to take care of everyone and to place my family at the top of my priority list. But what they didn’t advise me was to first make myself happy and to take care of my wishes and aspirations too.”
She had been juggling between different roles; a wife, a mother, a daughter, and a daughter in law. But somehow, she felt she had lost herself in the crowd. Her own identity had faded away in the task of making others happy. Her world revolved around her family and her children. She wanted someone to listen to her and I simply did that. I just followed what the great listening legend Dr Ralph Nichols had once said “The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” It helped. She stopped crying after a while. We hung up when I was sure she was okay. But I was not.
The conversation left me numbed for some time. There are many of us like her who are so engrossed performing multifaceted roles that when we look at the mirror, we sometimes don’t like the person who is looking back at us. Our distorted image in the mirror makes us vulnerable to fall into the pool of depression, fall prey to victimhood or find ourselves on the verge of mental breakdown.
We consider ourselves unworthy of everything, and start questioning our abilities. We complain, we disagree and we feel unhappy. We sense some invisible hands holding us back and we believe that our responsibilities have chained us eternally but, what we fail to realize is that those invisible hands are nobody else’s. It’s our own hands. Sometimes we bury the thought of nudging ourselves away from our comfort zone with varied excuses.
These excuses are nothing but a veil of the ‘fear’ that we have deep within us. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of unworthiness and fear to tread on a new path are some of the most common fears which impedes our personal growth.
We tend to accept the life the way it is. Our internal wiring of feeling redundant coupled with the feeling of being a victim of circumstances distorts the perception of self.
This is the point in our life when we need a spark plug to ignite the same enthusiasm and self-esteem we once had. For many of us, life comes to a standstill when our motivation starts to dwindle. This phase in life is experienced by everyone but the achievers are the ones who consistently wrestle with their delusion of mediocrity. This is how we move towards uncovering the genius within us, reminding who we really are and reinventing ourselves.
The journey of discovering a new ‘you’ begins when we celebrate who we are and how wonderfully imperfect we are. When we accept the imperfections within us, we open the door to a vast landscape of opportunities to progress towards excellence.
So, let’s start this beautiful journey by celebrating this Valentine’s Day with ‘Self’. Each one of us is equally important as everyone else in this world. We need to start doing things which will make us happy, be around people who inspire us and engage in pursuits which add value to our life. These will be the baby steps towards what could be a long and arduous journey, but in the end, when we look at the mirror we will start liking the person who looks back at us.
As the longest-serving first lady of the United States of America, Eleanor Roosevelt, had once said, “no one can make you feel inferior without your own consent.”