Civilized Wars

Whenever we face a difficult problem, or a difficult person, we often think of trying to resolve it by force. This is natural, for biologically, much of our being is common with animals. Yet, the society that we have created for ourselves does not appreciate the use of force.

In fact, civilized society prohibits the use of force. You cannot slap your boss, your professor, your colleague. For as soon as we use force, we lose our moral high ground. Our complaint against them may be justified a thousand times, but the slightest use of force on our part, immediately puts us in the wrong.

The people who prey on us, also know this pretty well. They know their limits, but they also keep pushing these boundaries each day. They are often like hungry dogs, sniffing for the slightest weakness, observing, measuring you each day. They are looking for a weakness, in fact, as many weaknesses as they can find. They are cataloging you. And you know this too. Often, they make it obvious that they are doing this. To show off their arrogance, their power.

This fact, of being preyed upon, and yet being able to do nothing about it, causes a paralysis in most people’s thinking. Often, they are unable to think beyond force, and strength. This is but natural. The predator knows this too. And he destroys your mental peace. And the more your mental peace is destroyed, the less clearly you can think. And the easier a prey you become.

huntinghyenaafricaeating
The hyena is not a very strong animal, yet is known to hunt animals much bigger than itself. It does so by working in packs, and by being persistent, by slowly wearing its prey down, by only chasing it for a long time, but not attacking it front on, until it is tired.

But…

Is that all there is to it? Are we just supposed to sit there and take it? Are we just supposed to smile cheerfully, even at abuse? Just keep our calm, when being put down again and again, for no reason? Just be silent, even as our whole being is being raped, in a sense?

Why does this happen?

The first part to building a solution for problems is to understand why we get into situations in the first place.

On deep thought, and honest introspection, we shall realize that it is invariably, we ourselves, who have given this power to the other person. And we do this is many different ways:

  1. Trying to over-achieve. We may want something, that even we, ourselves, know deep in our hearts, is something beyond our ability at the moment. For instance, a promotion, or an advanced degree. Instead of accepting defeat, we try to control the gatekeepers of the thing we desire. Thus, people start sleeping with their professors. Or taking abuse from their bosses.
  2. Feeling Weak. Most organizations do have systems in place to help us achieve our goals. For instance, universities often provide free internet access, and access to thousands of books and journals. By reading these, we too can become strong. But if we always feel weak, and look around for help, that’s the cue for the predators to enter.
  3. Unwilling to Work. Some people are just unwilling to work, and looking for an easy way. Before long, they realize that instead of ensnaring others in their trap, they are the ones who got ensnared. For the predator has been in the system longer than you. The help you seek, comes at a price.
  4. A sense of entitlement. Some people may have a sense of entitlement. They feel the world owes them something – and that they should get it. If you start to throw your weight around, start taking favors left, right and center – know fully well, that you will also have to pay them all back one day. And that paying back, can quickly take the form of exploitation.

The underlying theme in all this is that the world owes you nothing. If you do not, cannot, or will not, get what you want by your own effort, your own hard work, the world will take advantage of you. Nobody helps anyone in this world. And if they do, they will extract a price for it. And that price may be something you may not like to do.

What do about it?

There are several ways to extricate oneself from such problems. But for any solution to effective, one has to calm one’s mind first, think things through. To act rashly is not going to be of much use.

  1. Calm your mind. I absolutely cannot stress this enough. If you let your mental peace be disturbed by all the bullshit you have to take, then you have let yourself lose already. If its getting hard to do, try to pick up a hobby, say, yoga, or dancing, or reading. But calm your mind first.
  2. Use your hobby as a weapon. When I say calm your mind, I do not absolutely mean for you to become a vegetable. Rather, your hobby should allow you to go from day to day. So that, at the end of each day, you have an hour or two, completely to yourself. In other words, you try to forget the nonsense you have to take during hobby time, and then, later, you have a calm mind to plot your escape from this situation.
  3. Plan worst case scenarios. Sometimes, the current situation, even though being distasteful for plenty of reasons, may be such, that we do not want to fall from there. This often happens because we are too scared to think of what will happen if we fail. So we adopt a very short term horizon. Instead, I urge you think about failure. Think about it again, and again, and again. If you think about it, instead of just being scared of it, you will slowly feel the fear passing away. You will be able to think about even failure rationally, instead of just feeling a meaningless, shapeless fear.

    attaching-the-pro-to-jib
    You say you will fall 200 feet if I drop you from this tower? Now tell me, what you can do to reduce that to 190 feet, 180 feet…
  4. Improve upon your worst case.  Once you can think of your worst case rationally, think of how you can improve upon it. Say, if you exit now, you will find a job tossing hamburgers at McDonald’s. Tell me, what you can today so that instead of tossing burgers, you can become a supervisor at McDonald’s instead. And start working on it.
  5. Build Confidence. As you will continue to improve your worst case scenario, you will realize you are more confident, and less scared of falling, for now you only fall lesser.
  6. Be Stealthy. This is very important. There is no need to tell the world what you are upto. Seriously, are you an idiot? You say you are trying to get away from hyenas, and then you tell the same hyenas what your plan of escape is? What the hell are you smoking man? Start living a parallel life, where your night job is to improve yourself.
  7. Think laterally. Sometimes we just get stuck in a rut, but it is entirely possible we may have talents and abilities we are unaware of. Or that the strengths that we do have, may be useful in a different arena of which we are unaware. Try to explore. Use google. Enter keywords related to your skills, see what comes up. Try to join job boards like Ziprecruiter.com, Indeed.com, or Monster.com. Try to enter skills you have. See what comes up.
  8. Try to improve the skills you do have. You may have skill A, but looking around, you realize that without the complementary skill B, you are not worth much. Start thinking how you can acquire it. Online Classes are one option. Buying a book and starting off on your own is another.
  9. Don’t care what the world thinks of you. The world will no doubt call you a coward for quitting. Screw them. The world did not come to rescue when you were in trouble. At that very instant, they lost all their right to get involved in your life.
  10. Don’t get stuck on something. If something does not work out, be prepared to chuck it. This includes your current day job. If you find good opportunities in a totally different field, take it, and forget about everything else. Your mental health is most important. And living with hyenas is not going to help.
  11. Be fearless. Take a risk. Life is for living, not for taking shit from somebody.

At the end of the day, just remember – you are worth something. In all the eons since this Universe has existed, there has been no one quite like you. And there will be none quite like you again, either. Don’t let the world convince you otherwise.

You came here for a purpose. Find it.

Take a Risk!

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