Friday, April 15, 2011

Kuch na kaho

There are two kinds of people in the world - those who speak their mind, and those who mind what they speak.

Now I am not referring to the kind of speaking out we see on television, or at Jantar Mantar, a group discussion or even a school classroom. That kind of speech is about opinion, about response in a formal, public environment.

The speech I am talking about is the interaction between two people in a close, personal relationship. Could be father and son, husband and wife, girlfriend and boyfriend - you get the picture.

Each human being is unique and different, each has their own internal wiring - some of it genetic and some learned behavior. So there is no 'right' and 'wrong' here. But whether you speak, or don't speak - either way you are likely to have problems.

The person who speaks, generally does so out of anger. Something is bothering him or her, sochte hain chhodo rehne do, I will stay quiet. But the tension builds up inside and one day, it all bursts out like a volcano. A molten lava of words, thoughts and 'things I don't really mean but can't help saying' spill onto the tongue. Scorching the other party's mind and heart, sometimes irrevocably.

Things get even worse when the person you are speaking to is the 'silent' kind. Even as you are expressing your anger and just want some reassurance, or an apology or simply acknowledgement of your feelings, you find yourself speaking to a brick wall. Impenetrable and indifferent.

It makes you even more mad and well, you can imagine the vicious cycle this creates. A cycle that becomes a default pattern for interaction, and for frustration and despair.

Even a child will tell you that it's not nice to yell and shout and lose control. So, does that make the silent man or woman a saint? No, sir.

Human beings communicate many things with their silence. And also with their expressions. A person may not say anything, but contempt or indifference can clearly be felt by the way you look at someone, By choosing not to respond you are saying "I don't care what you say, what you feel - I have shut my mind, you can't affect me."

Another form of silent punishment is 'passive aggressive behavior'. Which means you fail to keep promises or fulfill responsibilities, yet don't actually refuse and hence keep the other person hanging.

It's that maddening deathzone between a 'no' and a 'yes'.

Suppose I ask you to go and buy some eggs and you don't really want to do it. Now instead of saying,"Can you go get the eggs today - I don't feel like getting out of my pajamas" you say you will go fetch, and then hang around doing nothing.

After 15 minutes I realise you are not going to move your butt. Depending on how stressed I get, we could see a minor, major or Mahabharat level argument break out.

Now the mature thing would be for me to keep cool and discuss this at another time. Explain that this is hurtful and unacceptable. But with trains to catch and deadlines to meet, maturity is about as common as an honest politician.

And so it goes, and so it goes… what is the solution you propose?

Expressing emotions in an unhealthy manner is mental pollution - it poisons the atmosphere. And creates rifts and chasms between hearts.

Not expressing your emotions is allowing them to eat you away inside. Cancer is said to be a manifestation of suppressed emotions.

I personally think the answer lies in working on yourself mentally - all the time. We are mostly in auto pilot mode, rushing from one 'thing to do' to the next.

Meditation, deep breathing, yoga, pranayam, reiki - these are some of the techniques one can use to calm the mind. The trick is to get into a routine and do it continuously. Every day. Just like you brush your teeth.

But all said and done it is bloody difficult! I have an ongoing personal struggle with anger management issues and I think I've made a bit of progress. But sometimes, a brain transplant seems like the only permanent solution.

If you have other - more practical ideas - please do share them!

Disqus for Youth Curry - Insight on Indian Youth