A Guitar Player Among Footballers!

Here is the story. There was a kid who was very fond of music and playing guitar. All his friends were football players. Whenever he and his friends used to hangout together, the topic would mostly be about football. They would discuss quarterback techniques, defence strategies, and other football related stuff. And this kid used to feel left out and lonely during these times. He wished he had a fellow music lover for company. Nevertheless the kid kept his interest in guitar going strong and would practise regularly.

With the friends always talking about football and how to be successful in it, what was initially loneliness in the kid gradually turned into an inferiority feeling. Perhaps guitar was not the way to success! Happiness became synonymous with success. If you are successful then you are naturally happy!

As the kid reached his teenage, he began to believe that a football player is a more successful person than a guitar player; but he couldn’t leave his passion for guitar. Then came the big phase of critical decision making – should I be a guitar player or should I be successful? The teenager decided to give up music for football and success. He joined his friends and started rigorous practise. Of course, he could not ace in that sport because his heart was not in it. So the inferiority complex grew deeper. Another mistake he made was comparing himself with his friends who were into the sport from childhood. Naturally they were better than him for they had years of experience and practise. But he failed to look at that, he just compared by age.

He became a mediocre player who was allowed to play because the team needed sufficient numbers. He began to fear that he would be chucked out of the team anytime a better player turns up. In a few years his friends made it to bigger teams and games. But his growth was limited. By now he was in his late twenties. And married.

The fear of being kicked out of the team became a constant source of anxiety and stress. Burden of responsibility of family took its toll too. He withdrew from his social interactions and spent time brooding, worrying, and secretly crying. Children became new additions to his family. And his fears grew proportionately. Self-esteem was as low as his blood pressure. He believed his fear of failure was the root cause.

In all these years, the guitar lay in a corner (for he hadn’t the heart to dump it) gathering dust. Occasionally it would be source of short-lived motivation for the man to change his life, to start afresh but, in his words, it was too late! The truth was that he had grown too comfortable with his life and circumstances. He did not have the guts to dig up old beliefs about success and happiness and change them. He was too afraid to step out of his comfort zone.

The passionate kid who loved music grew up into a fearful man who hated himself, his life and his job. His mistake: he let others define success and happiness for him.

Many of my clients say they have a fear of failure when it comes to their profession. I ask them, do you love what you are doing? What’s the point of learning stress management when the source of stress is still active! That’s like wearing raincoat inside your house just because your roof is leaking. Fix the roof!


Suggested Reading:

It’s too late now!

Social Aver’ages’

Comparing 5th Grader with a Post Graduate?

Picture Courtesy: Freedigitalphotos


Social Aver‘ages’ – Part 2

Once we realize Social Aver‘ages’ are just averages not benchmarks it is easy for us to get rid of our subconscious beliefs with some consistent effort.


Family Averages

If you haven’t read Part 1, read it here.

It is practically impossible for any single human to meet all Social Aver‘ages’. It is like striving to be a Common Man. None of us liked to be called a common man yet we all strive to meet average expectations of the society.

Some people may achieve professional success according to expectations but cannot meet that in family life. Some people have tremendous success in family but fail at personal aver’ages’. Each of us is unique.

Another important aspect to be aware of is that a social aver‘age’ is not a biological aver‘age’.  Socially the aver‘age’ of pairing and reproduction varies from culture to culture. However, a person is biologically ready to reproduce when he/she attains puberty which is roughly around ages 10 to 13. You must be worried if you do not attain puberty even by 18, not if you can’t get married by 30.

So the first step to getting rid of Social Aver‘ages’ from your subconscious is to understand Social Aver‘ages’ are all just averages not benchmarks. There is no harm in sticking to them but if we fail to achieve them it is okay too.

It is also important to understand that as long as we place emphasis on what our friends, relatives and neighbours talk about us, we cannot really shake Social Aver‘ages’ out of our heads. And as I said in the earlier post, more than others it is the critic within who needs to be silenced. It means we also need stop judging others based on Social Aver‘ages’.

Effort is the next logical step. Whenever you find you are comparing or criticising yourself or others on basis of the Social Aver‘ages’, stop and review your opinions. This can happen only if you are committed to change.

A Social Aver‘age’ is a deep rooted belief – at foundation level. So it will keep popping up consistently and your efforts need to be that consistent too. You keep doing this with persistence, you will soon find that your issues based on Social Aver‘ages’ coming down and you are able to live life with much more personal freedom.

Just keep the awareness going in your head and you are bound to change your core beliefs! Expect setbacks because they could happen. Read my blog on House of Cards Effect to know facts about how, because of a false assumption, we easily give up on resolving our problems.

Lastly, if you are a parent please stop pressurising your children on the basis of Social Aver‘ages’. We therapists get too many disappointed parents and discouraged youngsters.

Photo Courtesy: photostock @ freedigitalphotos.net

Social Aver’ages’ – Part 1

Socially we are programmed to confirm to certain aver’ages’. These Social Aver’ages’ can end up making our lives miserable because of the importance we place on them.

‘I will be 29 next month and I am still not married!’ a girl told me once in my consultation. She is not alone in this.

‘I am 31 and I do not know how to mingle with people properly,’ many guys told me with obvious pain written all over their faces.

‘Most of my colleagues are much younger than me. I feel ashamed I am just a Team Leader in my office,’ is another statement (more or less) I hear again and again.

‘My younger brother earns much more than me!’

Every culture has its aver‘ages’ – an unwritten social chart that dictates appropriate age for each important phase in life. These aver‘ages’ are embedded in our minds as a product of childhood programming and peer pressure. Yes, they are subconscious. And we try our best to adhere to it. I get a lot of clients who have issues merely because they do not fall into these aver‘ages’. They place so much of emphasis and importance that it is all they could think of day in and day out.

We fear so much what the world will say if we do not stick to these averages that we end up creating a severe critic within ourselves. Whether the world will look down upon us or not, the moment we fail any aver‘age’ this critic within will censure us endlessly. The result: We suffer from severe self-esteem issues. But that is just the beginning of our problems.

If our subconscious has an issue it cannot resolve, it will create a defence mechanism to hide that weakness from the world. The defence could be anger, withdrawal, arrogance, displacement of issue (where you start pointing out similar issues in others so they will become the butt of ridicule and you can hide behind the diversion), etc.

Over time, these defences themselves turn into issues merely because it had become a habit. Of course, simultaneously the stress being produced by the core issue within also manifests itself in various ways. The complexity of the issues grows so much that we even forget our core issue after sometime.

And it is all because of the importance we place on these aver‘ages’. Yes, the programming begins very early and is subconscious. But it does not mean that you cannot overcome it. Frankly, you don’t even need to rush to a therapist to address this issue. It just takes awareness, some effort, and persistence.

I will discuss more about what kind of awareness you need to carry and what effort is required in the next post.

Photo Courtesy: Salvatore Vuono at freedigitalphotos.net