You are a fresher; I am a Final Year Student,
You are new entrant; I have slogged for 20 years to be here
We studied under the street lights; you are getting things easy
You don’t belong to my state/ my country/ my religion/ my caste
You don’t know how things work.
Have you experienced the “versus” battle as I have?
Rich Vs Poor
Sister in law Vs Mother in law
English Vs vernaculars
Citizens Vs Immigrants
A political party Vs Another
Why do we always have to struggle to fit into a group or a tribe and fight a battle against the other? Even if it’s a lexical cold war.
I am talking here of groups that are psychological. We may not really be part of a group physically, all the times, but have made our affiliations in our minds. The groups we are a part of keep increasing in numbers and are a mix of professional and personal groups. For eg. Generation Z, Ardent Reader, Fitness enthusiast, Working mothers, etc.
While you read this article; I would like you to pen down which groups do you think you are a part of psychologically. The groups are generally inspired by geography, our life cycles, our hobbies, our professions and many more.
When I did this exercise, I realized I had made myself a part of 25-30 different groups, unawares! And through various actions I do and statements I make, I endorse my groups and unconsciously become a part of another.
When at most of the times, these affiliates define us; influence our opinions, determine what we say, watch, read, hear, how we dress or how we react. They shape us and make us what we are and what we will be; but sometimes, some of them take control of us; and make us do say/ do things we otherwise would not have said/ done. There is absolutely no harm in having these groups; everyone has them; unless, we are able to harness its positives for self or for others. I would want to write more on the seemingly the troublemakers.
These could be of two types:
1. The affiliates/ groups may be undesirable (eg. Procrastinator, support of unethical stuff)
2. Positive affiliations can make us act negative sometimes (eg. Highly experienced boss troubling a junior/ keeping him from promotion)
Both pose equal threat.
The groups become a part of us and we gradually shift from enjoying this group membership to the stage of associating our identity with this group and then to protecting our identity. Protecting doesn’t come easy. It comes with practicing it frequently and sometimes fighting to justify it. It comes from distinguishing yourself from others – sometimes positively and sometimes negatively.
Negativity crops in when we try to falsely pacify the identity ego that gets created and denigrate others and here’s born a soldier for the “Versus” battle. The crucial point is where we tend to damage ourselves and / or others. We should be able to take stock of our behaviours and try to analyse if it was the group representation speaking or it was you.
Overpowering affiliations deny ourselves the right to a holistic approach sometimes, take us far away from inclusiveness, draws a line between our near and dear ones in personal life and our peers and co workers at work. It restricts us the view from another lens, enjoy the membership of both the opposing parties and hence deprive us of abundance of perspectives.
Differentiating or separating yourself from your affiliates might be tricky at times because they so become a part of your personality.
Why should we periodically do this synthesis?
1. To figure out what thoughts, opinions , affiliates you are slipping into
2. To consciously determine what would affect your mind and hence affect your words and action
3. To become aware of oneself to avoid prejudices, conflict and staunch self-governing view points
How do we do this?
1. Journaling is a powerful technique and you could not write a diary necessarily, but use your phones, laptops or anything else that would help you record your findings.
At the end of the day,
· Think of two important discussions/ encounters / situations and your actions in them.
· Ask yourself what are they influenced by?
· Are you happy with them and if not, what would you change and how.
2. Monitor your actions and statements and consider having a self talk
3. Team up with a buddy at work and home to give you unbiased feedback on your behaviour