Part 2 Examples of Giving Away Your Power
Sujata was struggling with depression and low self esteem. She could not concentrate on the simplest tasks like cleaning the house and shopping. She had no discipline – getting up late, not doing anything the whole day, no self control. Her mother managed her house, supervised the house help, did the shopping, even cooked for her. Initially, her mother’s intention was to help, but over a period of time, the situation made her feel superior to Sujata who she thought couldn’t do anything. She began to dominate her, telling her what to do, criticizing her, sometimes even treating her with contempt. Without realizing, Sujata had given away her power to her mother.
In a joint family, allowing others to pull your strings is a common occurrence. Although smart and talented, Praful, the youngest of three brothers, was never taken seriously in his childhood. He was considered the baby of the family. What he wore, said or did was always decided for him by his parents or brothers. This domination continued in his teens and adulthood. Now, married and a father of two, Praful finds it very difficult to oppose his ‘elders’ in all matters pertaining to their joint business, house or in decisions concerning his wife and children. No wonder there is tension between him and his wife. Praful’s brothers and parents have total control over his life.
Another example in a joint family results from constant compromising. It is often the daughter in law who is called to compromise in many situations. She may have to compromise her job, her career, her hobbies, her needs to serve the interests of the rest of the household. This compromising may go on indefinitely, until a time comes when the daughter in law has lost all ambition, and comes to believe she is not of much good anyway. She has lost her real self. She looks the same as before, but isn’t. She is only a shadow of her original vibrant self. She has lost all sense of self worth and becomes a mere puppet whose strings are available for anyone who cares to pull them.
Then there is the example of old parents living with their children. Since the parents may be retired and not bringing any income, the children think their parents feelings and needs are not important. Parents are told what they can and can’t do and cook, and other such rules. They are dominated in ways they never dreamed of by their children eg. Be the unpaid house help and cook, clean, wash, laundry and do other chores. Because they do not contribute to the family income, but do contribute to the expenses, the children feel it is ‘all right’ for them to treat their parents in this demeaning way. Such parents are very low in self esteem. They suffer silently, cursing their fate, unable to take back their power from their children.