“Knotty emotions”- 25 June 2017.

A society that believes in good behaviour may not allow expressions of negative emotions. But negative emotions outnumber positive emotions in our minds as we feel them at all times. We not only teach our children not to express negative emotions but also fail to teach them how to express them in a proper manner. Negative emotions are prohibited and denied expressions in most homes and in schools. Parents do not want to listen to any opposing opinions, do not want any voice of dissent from their children. They take offense if ‘youngsters’ speak up in front of them and take umbrage at putting their emotions on the table. ‘How dare you talk to me like that’, ‘how can you even think like that’, ‘after doing so much for you, you think of your parents in such a horrible way’. They want obedience and ‘good children’ who listen to them and follow their instructions. Parents should realise that negative emotions are real and they are as natural as hunger. Adults and children feel them all the time. Don’t spouses fight with each other to sort it out and clear their system? Children too need to sort out their emotions by being listened to without reacting and be allowed to vent their feelings whether negative or positive. Emotions need to be validated rather than denied, discarded and distorted in their meanings. Most parents will take the negative emotional expressions in a very personal sense and feel hurt. They then get angry in turn, not knowing how to handle the child’s expressions and start showing disbelief and discontent. It is true that for the parent it requires a huge sense of emotional maturity and understanding of psychological matters to listen and digest conflicting volatile emotions.

‘I do not feel like you are my mom’ cries the teenage girl. ‘I do not feel like you are my daughter’ shouted the mom back! The Mahabharata started! Instead if the mom had said coolly and patiently, ‘why are you angry with me, what have I done’? After giving her a good listening she could have given her side of the story which could have resolved the situation. Teenagers are a hot headed lot and need to be allowed to vent out in positive ways. We need to teach our children ways and means to vent out feelings and then to sit down for a dispassionate discussion. Have a talk on ways of ‘calming down emotions’, such as jogging, punching a bag, cycling, meditating, relaxing, talking to a friend and such things, and then follow it up with a discussion with the parents once the emotions are cooled off.

Ali hated himself and felt disgusted with himself. As a result he hated the world at many times and would not make friends. His bad experiences haunted him often and he could not dare to share them with his parents for fear of being reprimanded. His parents were strict and proper and had low tolerance of bad behaviour. He did not know but he had huge amounts of anger inside which he had turned onto himself and hated himself instead. He did not release it ever to the aggressor and nor share it with his guardians who remained ignorant about his plight.

Akhil was a frustrated young man as he had completed his graduation but was unsuccessful in landing himself a good job. He had always been a mediocre student and was chided and derided by his teachers, his parents as he always paled in front of his elder brother who was a brilliant young fellow. He remembered being constantly being compared to his brother in school as his seniors and peers bullied him about his inferiority. And now he had no job too – he was thoroughly disappointed with his life, and himself. He was angry, irritated as he faced hostile surroundings at home and in society. He often would fall sick and strangely refuse medical attention and advice. ‘Leave me alone, let me be sick, let me die, what’s my use of living’ were his refrains. He had muddled up his emotions and distorted them into a psychological disturbance for he felt no one understood him and his problems.

Megha was guilty as hell. She had allowed her family to harass and victimise her only child, her darling daughter, by her husband and her in-laws, who opposed her love and desire to marry a boy of another caste. She was not opposed to the alliance as her daughter’s happiness was important to her and she had met the boy whom she felt was a decent gentleman. But her voice had no value and she was not forceful enough to grant the support her daughter needed. The result was disastrous when the girl committed suicide one day without leaving a note. Megha’s guilt multiplied as she cursed herself and sank into a deep depression.

The story of an emotion is akin to a mysterious tale. An emotion needs to be traced back into history and taken down memory lane several years into the life of a person. The buried emotions need to be dug out from the ruins and ravages done by it and identified. When the emotions are suppressed out of consciousness, they have a way to getting, distorted, disfigured, contorted, disguised and converted into multiple emotions and become unrecognisable. The original emotion changes form and colour and becomes a new identity. To save them from becoming knotty it is imperative that we allow them to flow, express, breathe, and settle down smoothly as soon as possible.


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