Of Fear and Shame

A pundit, a man of god, supposedly a master astrologer- decreed for a friend of mine, that she is a maanglik– cancer of the stars. If you are a woman who is found with this- you better not marry- if you do you marry someone who is has the same ‘problem’. Otherwise, your betrothed will die. Clearly forgetting that we’re mortals anyway. If this wasn’t petrifying enough- there’s more- it was also said that if she marries, her husband/s will either commit suicide or be murdered. If shaming wasn’t enough- there’s a shitload of fear that is also added into the mix. Basically, what they’re saying is: a) You should be ashamed because your stars are aligned just so defectively *downcast eyes of the maanglik* and b) You should be scared. You should be panicking!

Here’s what some people can think: Dear God! my daughter/ sister/ I should never say this to anyone. Because if they find out, who will marry my daughter/sister/ me? Maybe there’s some way, some ritual, dakshina/ bribery I can give the Gods, through the said pundit, of course, that they will consider reversing this atrocious state. There must be some ring that can be worn for this very thing, at the least. The afflicted can also assume that s/he is utterly ruined. No matter that the person is an IT professional- working to help his/her family repay all their loans and is in many ways what would be termed as independent.

Fear is that acid that can corrode the most concrete of substances. It can make you feel that you should not be experiencing your contentment and elation- because at any moment it will be taken away. It is that burly old principal who keeps warning you to study, even though all the exams are over. Evolutionarily speaking, fear has point. Think about it, if you were camping out in a jungle, there are two scenarios. Scenario one is when your brain screams “Dude, I bet there’s a tiger out there. Better scoot” when there actually is no tiger. i.e., a type i error. Or there’s scenario two when there’s actually a tiger near you, and your brain keeps mum- a type ii error. In which one would you have a better chance being alive? In scenario one- if you think it’s scenario two, then you’re probably one of those freaks who makes intense (and weird) eye contact with leopards. Seriously, it’s a thing. So, basically you’d rather have a type i error, than a type ii error- which can be fatal.

Where fear prevents us from being in the present because we’re busy watching a scary slide show of our future, shame would not let us get away from our past- because it would constantly make you feel like anything you’d done is so beneath awful that you’d better not tell anyone about it. Not only about what you’ve done- it will make you feel like you are bad just never good enough. Shame is what would make you feel like you don’t deserve what you want- “don’t even tell other’s you’re maanglik“- shame. Shame is what would make you feel like the life you’re living, the accomplishments you have are all phony. You will never belong, you’re faking it, and you know it, it screams.

Where fear has an evolutionary purpose- to alert us to danger, shame does not even have that. Both of them will stop you- even from seeking help. Which is why we have to recognize what they look like. Shame is harder to identify. Shame is anyone telling you that you’re just not smart/pretty/talented/rich enough. Shame is fashion magazines telling you that you can’t carry off a look unless you’re a certain height. Shame is you telling yourself-“This is why I must still be single”. Shame is anyone telling you that you’re a little too dark. Shame is anyone telling you- “This is why your husband/ wife must have left you!”

When we are confronted with fear, we need to understand that our brain means well. We can choose to think- ‘thank you, I know you want the best for me, but I’m cool.’ We can also constantly be taken for a ride. You don’t like it, but you’re convinced that if there’s one percent chance of an accident happening, it’s going to happen to you. When we are living with shame- we need to say NO, and we need to say it loud enough. The best way for shame to incubate is silence. Silence can sometimes be the least Zen thing on the planet.

For the record, I’m told that I am a maanglik. I neither know what it means, nor do I care to google it. Bite me.


(Image courtesy: Weheartit)





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