An episode opens with a woman crying her eyes out with an older woman (probably a mother), a younger girl (a sister maybe) in the scene. As the woman sobs with a slow dramatic background score, the two other ladies rave about the many sacrifices the crying girl has made to save the family; although it is exaggerated to the extent of making it sound like the girl just stopped a giant meteor from hitting the earth. A kid (the crying woman’s child) runs in with a ball in his hands and throws at the crying girl, making her burst with rage and lash out her misery on the poor kid. Yes, as we all know and have at least once painfully endured, it’s a scene from an Indian Soap opera. Although most of it is absolutely laughable, there is a deep underlying theme that is good food for thought.
Now, let us try to understand the typical Soap opera protagonist… She is wronged by the whole world, nobody understands her, nobody supports her, she cries everyday for various reasons, and to sum it all, she deserves much more than the life she is now leading. She is a victim; hence even if she makes a mistake by taking out her anger on an innocent child, the Soaps justify her actions. This is what psychologists call a “mal-adaptive” behavior. When we think of ourselves as a victim, we think of ourselves as being passive, oppressed, we believe that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. We will eventually feel helpless and unhappy. And we are not always good to be around when we are unhappy. We will feel irritated more often, we will lash out our frustration on people around us and we will always need something, a new gadget, a bigger house, a better job or a kinder boss to be happy. And even if we do get it, we won’t be satisfied. We will become victims of our own crimes.
The exact opposite of this reaction, the positive “adaptive” response to an unjust situation starts with acceptance. Nothing is now going to change the fact that we were wronged intentionally or accidentally. But we do have the power to act on it; when possible, we can change circumstances, when we cannot, we can change our perspectives or ourselves. We can accept that even by not doing anything in a problem, we are still making a choice to be inactive. We may not be the Masters of the universe but we can accept that we are the Masters of our life and happiness. We will be our own heroes.
I have, like everybody else I know, have faced problems in life. I have cried my eyes out when I saw problems as a kid, as an adult I learnt to stop crying and start pretending. Pretending that the fairy land of happily ever after exists, where all’s well, there’s loads of money, nobody fights and you get everything you desire. I saw some people smile a little too often, people who had a lot of money and people who were “settled” and thought they were already citizens of the fairy land. And my desire to go there increased. But the first time I saw one of my Colleagues, someone who in several occasions intentionally hurt me, cry, something in me just broke. I never thought that everybody had problems no matter how small or big. They all knew suffering, guilt, pain… After that it seemed like I got a fresh set of eyes. Everytime I saw someone who took me for granted, who was unethical or immoral, I knew that I am only seeing one side of them.. And everytime I saw someone smiling, happy, I saw either a mask that covered sorrow or the courage to choose happiness over misery.
I promised myself that I will never think of myself as a victim.. I promised myself that I’ll always choose happiness.
I have kept my promise so far 🙂 And I hope to never break it…