Mental Health Mondays

Hoping Against Hope

On the auspicious day of the official FIFA world cup qualifier draw, we were hit with some bad news. Goal.com which is literally the mouthpiece of IMG Reliance and FSDL made a post speculating the exit of Bengaluru FC from their home ground of Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru. It was a jolt! This had been our home since 2016 when we bid adieu to the smaller and astroturf-ed Bangalore Football Stadium since the number of fans had outgrown the 8000 seater.

Without going into details, lets understand that the news is not new that the Athletics Association of the Karnataka and Bengaluru FC have been fighting a turf battle in the Kanteerava. Now Kanteerava is a multipurpose stadium – most stadiums in India are. Hence the athletes of different track and field sports need the stadium to practice. When Bengaluru FC or BFC for cuteness, has a game coming up, it takes over the pitch for 2 to 3 days. This obviously creates problems for the athletes of other sports and hence the tiff. There has recently been a court order by the High Court of Karnataka that the stadium needs to be used only for athletics purpose and BFC needs to make way.

I just couldn’t believe it. Many couldn’t believe it. Staunch BFC supporters and fans were in disbelief and then in denial that we could actually lose our home. Many went on to create social media petitions and tried to spam or slander with FSDL, IMG reliance and even AIFF.

But inside, there was a hope that things will be fine and we will find a way through this. We will still play at our home ground. But what’s the reason behind this mad hope? Well nothing. The case as it stands doesn’t allow us to play in the Kanteerava stadium and the case will come up next for hearing only in October, by when our season would’ve already started. So why this hope? Why this belief of things are going to be good? I looked it up.

Apparently there is something called the Delusion of Reprieve. It was first found in Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E Frankl.

The condemned man, immediately before his execution, gets the illusion that he might be reprieved at the very last minute.

Source

Basically, Mad hope.

This struck me hard. Not the meaning of Delusion of Reprieve but the fact that it happens so frequently in our lives. The earliest of examples I can think of from my life is when we first moved to the suburbs. There were only 2 buses to our house and it took a full hour to make the round trip. We would wait at the school bus stop waiting for the bus. It would get late, real late and we would know the bus isn’t coming this hour, but yet we would stand there and turn up at every sound of a heavy vehicle.

It also happens on a bad day at poker. It happens to everyone that you’re just dealt with bad hands. You check, bet low and fold time and again, and yet you continue to play. Hoping, and earnestly believing that the next hand is going to be good.

The easiest example that everyone will be able to relate is school. Don’t we all remember the days when hoped against hope that a certain teacher wouldn’t turn up at school? they wouldn’t check the homework books? just before reaching school had the feeling that there would be a board saying its a holiday?

Today it happened again, even though we have a court order against us, and on us for quite some time so that it has actually sunk in, we still harbor a secret hope. Hope that at the last moment some miracle man would save us, some miracle from god would bend the rules for us.

The trickiest part of the this effect is actually defining it. Because in the bare sense, delusion of reprieve is nothing but hope. And isn’t hope a good thing? a virtue to possess? Yes it is, and the trick lies in understanding when Hope turns into the delusion of reprieve. I’m not gonna try to define the line of distinction as its a changing line based on context and relevance. It is different for all of us, but what’s important and the actual objective of this post is to realize there exists a place to which we can descend into, where hope becomes insanity. So the next time you are locked in a box, ask yourself, is this hope tingling under my skin or is it the insane delusion of reprieve leading me to the fool’s paradise?

~*~

Negative Affirmations

Affirmations are positive thoughts and self confidence boosting coping mechanisms. In the second half of the 20th century many a motivational speaker made his buck using this technique. Spiritual gurus and wellness practitioners also preached about affirmations.

I am a good blogger

People want to read my blog

I will motivate people

Sorry for the tasteless examples, but this is how positive affirmations look like. If you were a pre teen in the 90s you would remember the episode of the power puff girls where Buttercup starts to think she’s a good crime fighter because of her green blanket which she uses to practice her affirmations – end of the episode showed she was a good crime fighter with or without the affirmations.

Now let’s not get into a debate on whether affirmations are real or have any real effect on us. This post is about something grey called Negative Affirmations. What does it mean?

Negative affirmation isn’t really a word – atleast not yet. We haven’t recognized and labelled it as we so love to do these days, but all of us have seen, experienced and practiced this. The simplest and most common example of this is I told you so.

I told you so

What is this sadistic line that we love so much? Most of us are waiting for our turn to say I told you so. We relish it, the feel of rubbing it in. Why do we do this?

Let’s take a simple example to visualize it. When I got back from the hospital after I was sick for a couple of days, I wanted to go straight up to my room. But my aunt wanted me sit in the living room for a while and then go up. I didn’t listen to her and went up. Naturally I was a little exhausted and started coughing vigorously. Her first reaction – I told you so. I couldn’t react, I knew I was wrong but I couldn’t say anything. I just lay on the bed breathing deeply.

Would she leave it at that? Noooo. She kept saying it again and again you should’ve stayed down, I told you you should’ve. See what happened.

I didn’t know what to say. Actually I didn’t say anything. Did she want me to say sorry? Did she just want to hear me say yes you were right?

It happens many times in our lives, when someone makes a mistake, we hold no restraint in letting them know they’ve made a mistake. In cases like our example the mistake cannot be undone, I couldn’t go down and sit in the living room to please her could I?

Her constant harping of my mistake doesn’t help make the situation any better, the only thing it does is make me feel worse. Is that what she wanted?

Many times when people do this – pull the I told you so for too long, I ask them, what are you trying to do? Make me feel worse for longer? Their response is: no but if I don’t say it you will repeat the mistakes. It’s more of a rationalization on their part – they have no way of knowing I will repeat the mistake.

Long back I had read in a Paulo Coelho book that our words are generally meant to convince ourselves more than it is to convince others. So in I told you so perhaps the Negative Affirm-er is trying to convince himself that he has it in him to know or do the right thing?

And who are these people who say I told you so? The ones that can’t actually get their word out in the first place and hence wait to say I told you so? OK maybe that’s a little harsh but the point is, Negative Affirmations – saying I told you so, or harping about the mistakes that can’t be undone are completely unnecessary and the people who do that you are actually trying to prove to themselves that their worth something and doesn’t really have to do much with you.

There’s no need to harbor any prejudice, they are not sadists who want to point out your mistakes. They’re just trying to get better, strangely using Negative Affirmations on you.

Its sad, talk to them about this.

~*~

Sensitivity

This Mental Health Monday, lets just look at something simple. The simple act being sensitive. Ofcourse, no one really means to be mean, we’re just not mindful enough, not sensitive enough.

Now these words in the picture to the right are usually used as adjectives. They are urban slangs basically, and a part of our everyday urban vocab. But that’s not right, is it? how many times have you heard yourself say ‘Just because everyone does it, it doesn’t become right’ ?  Let’s stop this. Mental illnesses are no joke and everyone knows that.

Let’s not talk small of it. Let’s not say I don’t mean offense or talk small of those affected. Let us not say it’s just an expression or its just the way we talk and get away with it. It’s not easy changing the world and its even harder changing oneself. Let us accept that if we as a people want to create a society with better mental health then we need to make these changes to our lives, everyone’s lives.

~*~

Brotherhood of Motherhood

I always thought I might turn into a good parent as I love animals. Or let’s say Pets in general. Why do people love pets? And is there a difference between the way we love our pets and we love our children?

Children are innocent and so are Pets, they can’t think for themselves and need to be looked after. Until recently I thought this was closely corelated. My world was opened by the book I’m currently reading.

Apparently Infantilizing is a thing. The dictionary defines infantilizing as:

Treat (someone) as a child or in a way which denies their maturity in age or experience.

We as people tend to infantilize other people around us. Generally, our children, and in cases people who are heavily prone to doing this, we may do this to everyone around us; family, friends, colleagues or even strangers. Infantilizing not only stunts the growth of the people around us and eventually makes them prone to developing Dependent Personality Disorder and other Passive personality disorders, but it also means the native who indulges in infantilizing has a necessity to keep the people around infantilized.

Meaning, the native wants the people around him or her to be as helpless and depended as infants are. Loving pets is infantilizing. When it comes to human babies, we want our children to grow up, first learn to look after themselves then learn to lead their own lives and eventually start their own family. We don’t envision all this for our pets, do we? We do look for mates for breeding and we do tend to grow the lineage or pedigree of our pet, but one important thing is that we don’t know what the pet is thinking. Hence all our actions towards the pet is basically a reflection of how we feel.

People who have cats as pets would know this better as they resemble human children more in behavior. Dogs remain infants as they are always up for a game and always ready to spread the joy. Cats would sit on their furry rear and may even claw or purr at you if they are not in the mood. Some dogs could also turn unruly, and we generally set it off at this point.

Another interesting point I learnt was the only thing we expect of our pets is obedience. This we can’t expect in human relations. And expecting or maintaining high degree of obedience would only lead to infantilization and hence the end for growth. If a pet is bad, you could send it off or abandon it, but you can’t do that to real children can you? Well atleast not always. There are cases where parents have beaten their children to death, killed cranky babies and suffocated crying infants. This is not because the child was bad – it was because the native couldn’t control the baby.

QED ~

1. Don’t think you’re ready to handle babies just because you like pets.

2. People who don’t like pets may make good parents after all.

~*~