Don’t let other people tell you what you want. Pat Riley
Our upbringing and family values lay a high premium on respecting the views and wishes of elders and well wishers. While decency and etiquette’s demands we extend such courtesies, it is just as important to know where one must draw the line. Very often we are not just advised by well meaning people but even subtly cajoled, pressurized and occasionally blackmailed into pursuing what others perceive as being right for us. Choice of subjects to take while in college, the method and style of study, the long term career you need to pursue, are all areas in which a person can easily be unduly influenced.
One of the main casualties in this ‘I will tell you what to do or I know best what suits you’ syndrome is the surrendering of our independence and a deep hurt and prejudice we carry when our views are not heard, let alone it being accepted. The suppression of our passion and interest is something we take a long term to come to grips with. There is also the danger of one being manipulated by vested interests e.g. a doctor couple running a successful practice forcing the children to follow in their footsteps to continue the legacy. Emotional blackmail is a favorite tool for imposing ones will on others. Take the case of an inter caste love affair; both sides will try and dissuade their respective ‘subject’ to back off from the alliance under numerous pretext some of it by running down the other party but mostly appealing to the hurt for the family and its honor or focusing on the emotional distress for the parents and the siblings.
Now that we have observed the way people try to unduly influence you, we need to focus on how to retain our sense of independence and establish our own identity. To begin with we must respond to suggestions with politeness and courtesy and the then firmly refute the arguments logically and passionately. This is of course easier said than done, but nevertheless it is the best option open. All this presupposes that we know what we want. The biggest problem for many is that we are aware of what we don’t want but are not at all clear about what we want. Ask any MBA graduate and he / she will say that they want a good job but they cannot clearly define what they mean by a good job. One must also realize that while we all have our passions we need to do a reality check about the feasibility and practicality of attaining our passion. If we need to take additional steps like learning something specialized or undergoing appropriate training we need to get going in that direction at the earliest.
Learning the fine art of decision making is the ultimate weapon to thwart any attempts at being influenced by anyone. This involves having clarity of purpose, strategic vision, self confidence and the ability to take risks.
Remember: If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything
- Make your own resolution not to use your mobile phone for anything other than receiving calls for the entire week. You will not make calls nor respond to incoming SMS nor send out SMS nor use the other features like games, GPS, internet etc available on your mobile. Find out how frequently you broke your own rules and how you rationalize it.
- You have promised your parents that you will be doing an important carpentry job (which you have postponed a number of times already) during the weekend. Your best friend calls up saying that he/ she has free tickets for a very popular rock concert during the same weekend. Your girlfriend/ boyfriend says that you are invited by his /her for a party organized for the Golden Jubilee of his/her parents wedding anniversary. On what basis will you decide which option to take? You can choose only one option.
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