A Manual for Apologizing: How to Apologize?

Many times in life, we find ourselves apologizing to others. Sometimes because we had no choice or maybe it was a formality to do so and sometimes it was because we hurt someone by our actions. Many people I talk to think apologizing is a very hard task. While apologizing we are genuinely putting ourselves out and vulnerable. It becomes difficult to apologize when they are a lot of overwhelming emotions involved and might be more difficult for a person who is the head and has a lot of pride. Never in my life, I have seen my father apologizing when he did mistakes. After a fight, he was always the one to initiate the conversation, he talks to us normally like nothing ever happened. Although it is good, people we love who are hurt by our actions expect an apology. To be honest, all they expect is an apology. Why? Because when people apologize for the things they did, it makes the person feel their feelings were acknowledged. A sincere apology not only creates a stronger bond between people, but it also helps the person not to repeat the mistake. Having said that, do you know many do not know how to apologize? They make many mistakes while apologizing that can show they might be insincere. You might be one of them too because we were never taught how to apologize. So, here are the to-do and not-to-do things while sincerely apologizing.

Source: Google

Things not to do/ Things to avoid

  • No, But Please!

This is a common mistake many do. All my life I have seen many apologizing and 99% of them used “but” while apologizing. A ‘’but” invalidates the apology. It doesn’t make the person receiving feel sincere. “I am sorry but I had no choice”, “I am sorry but I was busy”, “I am sorry but I had an emergency”. All these invalidates how the person felt. If you feel you are not wrong then don’t apologize but if you know that you did a mistake, then you shouldn’t add but. “A mistake is a mistake no matter what reason you had for doing it.”

  • If and Vagueness?!

Never use “if” while apologizing. “I am sorry if I hurt you”. This suggests that the situation might not have happened and that doesn’t make sense if you already knew they are hurt. Choosing what words we use while apologizing is important because we do not want to sound inconsiderate. Using vague words only makes an apology feels like a formality. Opening up your emotions can be hard but it only helps the other person understand you more.

  • Too many justifications!

This is similar to the first one. I have seen many giving too many justifications while apologizing. I understand if one does it because he/she wants to express hurting the other person wasn’t their intention, but giving too many justifications will only make an apology insincere. If you want to explain why you did something either explain the whole situation and make a sincere apology or make a sincere apology and after the person has calmed down, explain what happened. Do not do them both simultaneously. Doing so only ends up people in frustration.

For instance, imagine your friend is angry at you because you did not make time when they needed to talk to you. You might have so much going on in your life to not make time for them but apologizing for it, only makes you considerate. So, how to do it? You can either say, “Hey! I was busy all day with all the meetings and work. A lot is going on here. I should have told you this earlier. I am sorry I couldn’t make time for you. Next time, I will make sure this doesn’t happen and I will let you know beforehand if I couldn’t make time for you.” Or you can say apologize first, ask them what they wanted, and then after they expressed and calmed down, you can explain why didn’t you make time before and can ensure that it will not happen again.

Now you might be wondering are all situations this easy. Of course not. There could be much more complicated situations especially in relationships where we might not understand why a person was hurt no matter how many times we think. So, what to do in those kinds of situations, and how to apologize when we don’t understand what we have to apologize for?

Things to keep in mind while apologizing:

  1. Always Listen mean Really Listen!

Confused by the heading? Don’t be. It is very simple. Really listen to what the other person is saying. Why am I stressing about this? Because many times we think we are listening but in reality, we are not. We might have already developed a prenotion about what could the reason for a person getting hurt and we think everything in such a way that confirms that notion. This is one of the major reasons why fights in relationships only get intense. Many couples don’t really listen to each other. I know a couple who always fought. Every time his girlfriend fought, he thought it was because he couldn’t make time for her as he was busy. Despite her saying that number of times that his busy life wasn’t a problem, the man never understood it because he never listened. So, what happened? He felt pressured for not able to manage his time and she felt, he never understood her. Eventually, they broke up because things weren’t working out but maybe if they both listened and understood each other, they would have ended up having a great family together.

  • Empathize

Now, that you have understood how to listen and why it is important to listen, after doing so, empathize with the person and take accountability for what you did. This is where you make a sincere apology by opening up your true feelings. Be considerate with the person. Things you don’t feel important or things that aren’t a big deal to you might be a great deal for others. Hence, never invalidate. No matter how petty you think that is, try to understand why it is big for the other person. “After all, you love them, and what is more important than understanding what they feel and think?” If you empathize and understand them, you don’t have to repeatedly apologize to calm them down. Once they feel they were understood, they will feel good and try to understand your situation in return and the whole conversation might help you both to come to a mutual understanding and might solve the problem. Do not believe me? Try it for yourself.

  • Take Responsibility

One should understand that apologizing is not going to mean anything if one is going to repeat the mistake. “Once you claim that you are not gonna repeat the mistake, stick to it.” As said before, if you feel you haven’t done anything wrong, say it openly. It might hurt the person but it is better than the trust being broken slowly. As you repeat the mistake, again and again, the trust is going to break inch by inch and that’s gonna hurt a million times more. It can develop a fear in the other person and they might end up not trusting anyone in the future. Hence, never pretend to give a sincere apology and then repeat the mistake. Taking responsibility might not be an easy task. A relationship always requires constant effort for things to work but that doesn’t mean you have to live up to other person’s expectations. “Communicate what you feel, what you want, listen to what the other person feels and what they want, make a mutual decision, and make an effort to stick to it, and there you go, a beautiful and healthy relationship you might always want!”

By

Sravani Mangalampalli.

5 Ways to Become a Better Critic

Often, in the previous articles, I have mentioned how people validate others even when they don’t feel it is true. For instance, complimenting a painting even when we don’t feel it. Usually, validations make the receiving person genuinely believe it and as a result, they will continue to be unaware of their mistakes and never improve. The problem with giving accurate feedback is many do not like to sound negative either because of hesitation or because of the fear of disappointing/hurting the other person. So, here are the tips to give effective feedback while encouraging the person to improve.

Source: Google

Tip 1 – Be aware of the subject

When we are giving feedback, we should be specific i.e., we should talk about what we liked and what we didn’t. Vagueness doesn’t help the person to improve. Hence, to be specific we should be well aware of the subject. This also applies when we want to suggest improvements. Do not give feedback only because you are asked to. If you are not well aware, then tell the person that you are not the right candidate to give feedback and suggest to them a professional or someone who you know is good at the subject. Remember not to be ashamed to say you are unaware, not everyone has to know everything.

Tip 2 – Environment

While giving feedback, the environment is most important. Negative feedback or criticism must be done in private whereas praise or a compliment can be given in public as well. Also remember, before giving feedback to have a fresh mind and a plan about what you want to say. Create a comfortable environment and start with positive points. While talking about negatives, focus on one point at a time. Do not say all the points at once. Doing so can only make the person overwhelmed and discouraged.

Tip 3 – Objectivity and Direct

While analyzing an outcome, it is important to keep your subjective opinions and feelings aside. Be honest, and objective. Try to view the result from the third-person point of view so your feedback can be more useful. Also, remember to be direct. You do not have to sugarcoat things.

Source: Google

Tip 4 – Focusing on Improvements

Always think about all the possible ways to improve the result. Remember, nothing is perfect. There will always be points where people can make improvements so try to notice them. Having said that, improvements don’t necessarily mean it should be a negative point. one can also improve their positive side to be more successful.

Tip 5 – The Usage of Words

Giving negative feedback doesn’t mean you can be rude. It only discourages the person. To use criticism, one must be careful about the words one picks. Instead of saying ‘you don’t know’, ‘you are bad at’, or ‘but’, try using the words ‘you can’ or ‘what if’. For instance, rather than saying ‘your content is great but you are bad at communication’, trying saying ‘you have great content, and what if we focus on your communication so you can reach more people?’ that way you are motivating and encouraging the person to improve.

Source: Google

Conclusion:

Unfortunately, a lot of us are not getting accurate feedback but it’s high time that has to change. Giving effective feedback can help the other person learn and grow.  Hence, we should stop validating others and start being honest about our reviews.

By

Sravani Mangalampalli

Are You Presenting or Pretending?

Since young, we were all told to dress, eat, and talk properly when we were outside. When we go to an interview, we check a thousand times if we look professional enough, we practice our smiles to see if it is welcoming, and we try several dresses just to see which looks best to get a best first impression but do we stop to care about presenting ourselves once we get a good impression? I say no. We all play different roles in society; as kids, students, parents, friends, siblings, and professionals (whatever your profession may be), we have different equations with everyone. No, I am not talking about comfort level here. For instance, if there is a discussion going on politics and if I find out that I have an opposite view to my best friend’s, I can explain and be open to her without hesitation but I may not do the same with my colleague or a superior because there is always a degree of impression I should maintain and I cannot take a chance to ruin it especially if they can impact my career in the company. But the problem with presenting ourselves doesn’t stop here. What do I mean? Presenting ourselves is given so much importance to the extent where we all have become shallow and are failing to see reality. People can many times get away from whatever they did simply by the way they present or pretend. Do you not believe me? Let me elaborate on it for you in detail.

Source: Google

Most believe what they see:

Before getting into details. Let me tell you two stories

Story I: Mr. X was found dead in his apartment by the police. Police said they found the body when they had to break down the door open after his friend called the police to complain about X. People close to Mr. X said that he was stressed, depressed, and scared after he failed to answer calls of the moneylender due to loss in business. It was also found that his friend was the moneylender who gave Mr. X money and called him repeatedly and went to meet him personally when Mr. X did not respond to his calls. His friend said that he thought Mr. X was avoiding his calls so he can escape from returning the money. Police said that the crime scene and the reason for Mr. X’s death are yet to be investigated.

Story II: An innocent man was attacked by mobs when he was talking to a female friend on the street. The man was severely wounded and is now taken to the hospital by the police. Police have taken the mobs into custody and the reasons for the attack are yet to be investigated.

Did you read the stories? What was your opinion on the reasons for the death in the first story? Most people might assume that Mr. X’s death has something to do with his friend and there is a possibility of murder. Why? Because the line which says the friend thought Mr. X was escaping shows that he was furious with X and indicates a possibility of murder out of aggression whereas, in the second, the story clearly says that the man was innocent and was attacked by mobs. So, most people immediately start protesting against the incident and raise their voices for justice. But if you observe, in both situations the reasons for death and attack is yet to be investigated. Police neither confirmed it was a murder nor said the man in the second story was innocent but most assume it might be murder and fixate that the man was innocent. But wait for a second! Let me present you the same stories in a different way.

Story I: Mr. X was found dead in his apartment by the police. Police said they found the body when his friend called them to complain about X. It was found that the friend had given money to the X and called several times to get it back. When Mr. X did not respond, he went to his house to meet and talk to him personally. When no one opened the door, the friend thought that Mr. X was avoiding him and complained to the police to get his money back. After the police reached Mr. X’s apartment, they broke the door open and found him dead. People close to Mr. X said that he was facing loss in business and was stressed and depressed for several months when he started getting calls from a money lender to pay the money back. Police are investigating the scene and the reasons for his death.

Story II: A man was attacked by the pedestrians when he was found misbehaving with his female friend `on the street. The man was severely wounded and is now taken to the hospital by the police. Police were seen investigating the pedestrians and the details of the incident are yet to be revealed by the police.

See the difference? Now, what was your opinion after you read these stories? Did you not feel that Mr. X has committed suicide due to depression? Did you doubt the intentions of his friend? Or at least thought it was a possibility? No. Did I change the story or added any details? No. then what did I do? I changed the order of the information presented.’ Although in both the cases I told that Mr. X had complained to police, many in the first case might assume that the friend only complained so no one would doubt him. Another difference that you can observe is that in the first case, I said Mr. X was stressed, depressed, and scared after he failed to answer the calls whereas in the second case, I mentioned he was depressed when he started getting calls. The sentence in the first case and the word ‘scared’ indicate that there might be a possibility of threat whereas in the second it clearly shows he was depressed due to loss in business. Coming to the second story, the words ‘innocent’, ‘mobs’, ‘talking’, ‘custody’, ‘pedestrians’, andmisbehaving’ completely changed the meaning of the scene. In the first scenario, you see most people protesting against the people attacked and in the second, you see most people supporting the attackers. Unfortunately, this is how our media and influencers are presenting their stories these days. Many are biased and they manipulate the story and twist the words to fit their agenda and people blindly believe what they see without verifying the content. I have also explained this in my previous article ‘Levels of Stupidity’.

‘If twisting the story to fit their agenda makes people manipulative, blindly following them without verifying the story makes people stupid. Are you one of those?’

Source: Google

Acting can make anything seem real:

Above, when I said people have become shallow that’s because they fail to see the true intentions of others. When someone says they are interested in something or support or are against on so and so cause doesn’t mean they do. For instance, awareness of mental health is growing these days. If a popular celebrity commits suicide everyone of us uploads a social media status about depression and how should people listen, care and support depressed people but when someone reaches out how many of us give a response? Very few. One can say their agenda is to bring equality but their actions may not confirm what they said. People of this kind are called hypocrites and one must realize hypocrites are good at acting. The only way to recognize these people is to carefully observe what they say. Hypocrites contradict their points. A few days ago, an activist I know posted a social media status that it is her choice to talk or not to talk about a certain topic. She said she is not obliged to talk about everything and can be selective if she wants. Well, I agree with her on this point. After few days, she posted another status which said selective activism is not real activism and one should talk about all the social issues if they are a true activist. Contradicting? Now, that’s what I meant by my hypocrisy. Most times people fail to these contradictive points and agree with everything they say. People being able to brainwash others that they are victims when they are the guilty one is another example that shows acting can work like a gem. If a person accused another of harm and came out in the media, people immediately believe him/her. Most times if you observe people believe the person who comes out as a victim first but there is also a possibility that the person is falsely putting allegations on the other for attention, sympathy, or any other benefits but how many of us think of that as a possibility?

‘A person who truly cares about the truth listens to both sides of the story and then concludes but a person who doesn’t care about the truth and only wants to follow others or a trend comes to a conclusion listening to one side of the story. Which one do you want to be?’

Source: Google

Validations are everything:

This is something I observe almost everywhere. Most people aren’t objective or do not say the truth for whatever reasons. They validate or agree with everything others say to play safe or simply because it is entertaining. How many of the people you know give you objective feedback? If your answer is many then you are one of the luckiest people. Validations can make people act to any extent because they genuinely believe it. We all want to be acknowledged and accepted but if that is not done objectively i.e. if a person is not given feedback about their mistakes, they will continue to repeat them. For instance, take a person who is bad at signing, if the person is validated and encouraged to upload it online instead of objective feedback on improvement, they might end up criticized or can become a troll to many. People can also validate others if they have sympathy for others or because everyone is doing it. For example, if there is a painting on social media that is not worth the price, but if the people are commenting that it is great, many who don’t feel it is great, also reply the same only because everyone is doing it. You can observe this trend more in body positivity posts. Any body type should be accepted but many do not understand the difference between body positivity and unhealthy habits. To show that they support body positivity, many end up encouraging unhealthy lifestyles. People continue to validate such things because they sympathize with that person or simply because everyone is doing it. All this becomes a problem when the person in the picture genuinely believes everything people validate and continues to stay in the state away from reality.

‘So, where do you find yourself? As someone who gives objective feedback? Or as someone who pretends and validates everything for others?’

Source: Google

Conclusion:

People can present themselves opposite to what they are or pretend to be a person who they are not. One needs to see people beyond their projections and understand the true intentions of a person especially if they are in an influential position.

Remember, ‘to listen attentively, verify carefully, and judge objectively’

By

Sravani Mangalampalli.

Levels of stupidity: Check Out Where You Stand

Have you seen anyone and felt “how can someone be that stupid and wondered what runs in their mind?”. I had so many times. I understand that decisions are affected by the environment but sometimes I can’t help but think ‘why so stupid?’ I mean sometimes it feels that people forget to apply common sense. A few days ago, I got a message on WhatsApp from my friend. It was forwarded so many times. The message was about the changes made in WhatsApp due to the new rules of the Indian Government. Check out the images below.

Did you read the whole message? Now, what do you call the people who created and forwarded this message many times? Look at the last line – you will get three ticks if the government has started proceedings against you’. I mean what? As if WhatsApp can change its whole design just to help the Indian government and if this message is true, would the person who created and forwarded this message arrested by now? What interests me more is what runs in people’s minds when they forward messages like this? Do they believe it? Or is it fun to forward?  Last year, India lost a wonderful actor ‘Sushant Singh Rajput’ due to suicide. Everyone in the country grieved for him. Just a week before his suicide, his ex-manager also killed herself. Now, knowing this everyone started assuming stories and that’s human nature but what unexpected was, people started posting social media statuses about what they think happened. They came up with a story that big celebrities in Bollywood raped and killed his ex-manager and then killed the actor before he could open up in the media. When I saw this story as a status in one of my friend’s WhatsApp, I couldn’t believe how people can blindly share such stories. Immediately I told her to delete the status because it was not verified and honestly was very insulting to the deceased. I mean conspiracy theories also have a basis and limit. Thankfully, she deleted it. The next day, the father of the ex-manager filed a case about these stories. Now, what do you expect? You expect people to understand and stop posting such stories but everyone came up with a different kind of story this time and my friend posted it again as a status. This time I did not tell her to delete it. From sharing the picture of actor’s dead body to these conspiracy theories and believing a guy who said he talks to the actor’s ghost; people crossed the line of stupidity and that is when I have decided to write an article on this and here are the types/levels of stupidity I see every day

Image Source: Google

Levels of Stupidity

  • Over-confidence/ I know it all

People of this category think they know everything and believe they are geniuses. For instance, take a writer who uses unnecessary big words to sound intelligent. When I read articles, I see few writers use fancy words in the wrong places which changes the whole meaning of the sentences. I always wondered if they knew the meaning of the words they used. What’s interesting is despite many commenting on it, they repeat the same every day. I talked to a few of them and I have found out that they publish articles without re-checking/double-checking what they have written. When asked why? They said they have confidence that what they have written was right. Sadly, I see more and more people like this every day. What’s common in all these people is they overestimate themselves and never really grow. They never realize the mistakes and refuse to change. When they face a problem because of it, they try to manage or escape for the moment and then get back to repeating mistakes. I have also mentioned this in my previous article ‘Self-beliefs’. Take for example a person who just completed a course in the stock market and is ready to compete with a professional? We can’t help but think how stupid they are. These category people always underestimate the situations/problems.

  • Discrediting others

This category is related to the first one or maybe a level after it. This kind of people cannot realize that there are different ways to solve a problem. As they mostly think they are right, they fail to see the skills or talent others have and end up discrediting them. For example, an older person who is hell-bent on solving a problem his way and denying others even after clearly explaining him the smartest way. These people are always the first to give unnecessary advice and criticize other’s way of doing things. Have you ever watched sports with a person who always criticizes the players? They constantly tell you how they don’t get what others see in those players. They say they are only representing the nations because of money or recommendations. I am sure you have crossed paths with these kinds of people at least once in life. They can never appreciate others and will always try to show that they know it all. When I decided to take psychology as my career, everyone gave me advice when they had no idea what the subject is about. One of my uncles who told me he knows everything about psychology suggested I pursue an MBA after my bachelor’s. Yes! you heard it right. Although these people believe they are presenting themselves as knowledgeable, they only end up making fools of themselves.

  • One- Dimensional

These kinds of people have a very closed mindset. They fail to open their mind and listen to other’s views, ideas, and opinions. They blindly support a view and hate others. These are also the kind of people who justify their views in every possible way. I mean sometimes the justifications don’t even make sense. You know like you fell but I was pushed by phenomena. I see these kinds of people mostly in political or religious conflicts. When there is a social issue, a smart person listens to both sides and then comes to a conclusion but a one-dimensional person comes to a conclusion without listening to the other side and when you try to explain it to them, they start hating. After some point, they will completely block listening to the other side and start searching for ways to spread hate even on the good things. If you observe politicians or their supporters, many spread the news about why the public shouldn’t vote for the opposition instead of why the public should vote for them. I believe these people do not work for the betterment of society rather they work to spread hatred on a particular community. Only if these people can open their minds a little bit, the world would be a more sensible place.

  • Influential/Influenced Stupidity

This, I think is the ultimate level of stupidity and can be seen in two types of people; the one who influences and the one who is influenced. Social media has become a major part of our lives to the extent where we cannot imagine life without the internet and this has become a platform for many to express their opinions. Although it sounds good people started stating their opinions as facts and their followers started believing everything they say without verifying the content. This became super easy for people who want to spread hatred towards a community; like open an account with a few followers and start spreading hatred towards a community and that’s it you will have thousands of followers in no time. The followers who believe everything starts to share the content they see and it goes on. Remember the example I have given above? The conspiracy story about the actor everyone believed? The public not only believed the stories, but they also went on to hate those celebrities mentioned in the story. To be honest, no one knows what happened to the actor; if he killed himself or was murdered and the whole point was to find out the truth but due to these stories, the truth somewhere slipped away. It’s been a year and yet no one knows what happened and this happened in many situations. Recently, in Tamil Nadu, a teacher was arrested from a PSBB school for sexually harassing a student. Later many students opened up their stories about how they were slut-shamed by the teacher. The teacher was also seen topless and wearing a towel around his waist in online classes and shared links of pornography with his students. The teacher was immediately dismissed and arrested by police. Afterward, many students from many branches of PSBB school opened up about their traumatic experiences, and the teachers who harassed were named publicly. Soon it became a national issue but the spotlight was only on PSBB. The public has divided into two groups for-PSBB vs Against-PSBB and the core issue of child abuse has slipped away. How did this happen? People started sharing everything they see without verifying the core issue and the content. If only people verified the story before sharing it, they would have understood that the teacher who abused the student would have done the same in some other school too, not just in PSBB. Adding to this, Many influencers today are going to any extent to seek validation and increase followers in their accounts. Recently, three videos in India have gone viral in just a week. One tied balloons around his pet dog and uploaded the video of its flying, Another released a video about the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh saying he is not Indian and the third sang a rap song insulting Hindu culture and gods. Insulting a religion, stating opinions as facts are considered cool and intelligent these days. Sadly, many like this are going unnoticed, and in short, all this is plain stupidity.

Bottom line:

A stupid person acts in a way where it neither benefits them nor others. He/she can never realize the consequences of his/her actions and ends up harming others. Sadly, these people who can never learn from mistakes can influence many others in social media and the public has become blind enough to share without verifying the content. If you don’t want to be stupid, My suggestion is to open your mind, listen and verify all possible ways and never make stupid people famous!’

By

Sravani Mangalampalli.

Is Consent Complicated Than We Think? An Analysis

I was recently watching a series on Netflix – The Bold Type.  It is a series about the journey of three young women who work at a fashion magazine called Scarlet and whose main goal is women empowerment. The series covered different types of issues women face in modern days and one of such issues was consensual sex. A woman named Kristen writes an article about how she was pressurized to have sex by one of her colleagues named Jeff, which later goes viral. A writer from the scarlet magazine – Alex was asked to do a follow-up on the story. While interviewing Kristen, he finds out the Jeff she mentioned in the article was none other than himself. Confused Alex, says to Kristen that it was consensual. Although Kristen agrees to it, she expresses the pressure she felt to have sex with him because Alex, an already established writer offers to read Kristen’s pitch who was still an amateur writer making her feel it was conditional i.e., Kristen felt Alex would read her pitch if she slept with him. Listening to it Alex explains that he always offers other writers to read their pitches and it wasn’t intentional. Kristen denies and insists that Alex knew why he offered to read her pitches at that particular time. Devasted Alex, goes to Sutton, one of his colleagues with who he had one nightstand with and asks her if she felt pressurized by him. Sutton answers no but explains to him that it is not always easy for a girl to say no and every girl faces such situations. Later, Alex publishes the follow-up story by admitting he is Jeff. After, he gets backlash from his readers but receives a message from Kristen that she is happy to make an ally.

The whole issue about being pressurized caught my eye and I immediately started researching the topic. I read many reviews about the episode and most of the reviewers supported Kristen and concluded that a man should be careful while making a move as he can unintentionally pressurize a woman to have sex. Although I agree that men can pressurize women to have sex, I do believe there is a thin line between feeling the pressure by themselves and being pressurized. It is undeniable that Kristen felt the pressure but let us stop for a second and ask ourselves why did Kristen feel the pressure? Was it because of Alex pressurized Kristen? Or Was it because Kristen felt pressure because of her assumptions? To understand this, let us break the entire issue step by step by basic questions and answers.

Let us first understand what is consensual sex? Sex is said to be consensual when it is active, a process, a choice and is based on equal power. In simpler words, when a woman, who is not in any vulnerable position (asleep, drunk) around the man, and says yes when she has a choice of yes or no, then the sex is consensual. Few things to keep in mind to understand consensual sex is ‘only yes means yes’ and ‘just because it was a yes once doesn’t mean it is always a yes’. Having said that, it is clear that any sex where a woman is not comfortable doesn’t come under consensual sex even if it seems like one. Coming back to the Alex-Kristen issue, by the explanation, was Kristen had an option of yes or no? Yes, Kristen had a choice. Was she in any vulnerable position? No. So, was their sex consensual? Again no, because Kristen was not comfortable with having sex. She only agreed to it because she felt the pressure.

This brings us to our second question. When do women feel pressured to have sex? In many situations, women feel pressured to have sex especially when the man behaves in a way that he is not willing to take a no. For Instance, imagine a girl who is casually dating a guy or a woman who is in a committed relationship. If the man ignores and continues to show that he wants sex by his gestures despite the woman giving cues that she doesn’t, then it is clear that she is being pressurized by him. In another situation, a woman feels pressurized when she is threatened or conditioned to have sex. For example, a woman being threatened by her superior to have sex at the cost of her job or being conditioned to have sex for a raise or promotion. In such situations, women have significant things to lose if they do not do what they asked for. Unfortunately, many women in such situations feel it is a better option to say yes than experiencing the consequences after saying no. Now if we look at the Alex-Kristen situation, Alex neither threatened Kristen nor had any power over her job or in any aspect of her life. Although Alex was an established writer, he was an employee who was equal in position with Kristen. Moving further, Did Alex put conditions for having sex? Here the answer gets very tricky because it was a no for Alex and a yes for Kristen. It was wrongful of Alex to offer help at that particular time giving an impression to Kristen that it was conditional but he explains it wasn’t intentional which Kristen denies. So, let us assume for a second that Alex indeed put conditions to have sex. Did Kristen have anything to lose if she said no? No. As mentioned above, Alex had no power over Kristen’s life and she had a choice of `yes or no. Despite it, Kristen felt the pressure to have sex with Alex. Why?

In some situations, women say yes because they are scared or they feel an obligation to make their partner happy. Although in the current situation Kristen did not feel an obligation to make Alex happy, it is completely understandable if she said yes because she was scared that the offer was conditioned but one should also consider that being afraid doesn’t always mean a man is pressurizing to have sex. It is also possible for a woman to assume such conditions. In this particular situation, I feel Kristen felt the pressure and said yes because of her assumptions rather than because of Alex. Having said that, it is right to say that Kristen felt the pressure but it is also wrong to say that Alex pressurized Kristen.

Zeroing it down, consensual sex is not always consensual and it is always hard to verify consent in such situations because each case is different. Some men pressurize women, some women falsely blame men, and sometimes both individuals do mistakes. It is wrong either if the victim did not get justice or if the innocents are blamed and jailed thus, making consent complicated to prove. In the Alex-Kristen situation, Alex unintentionally offered help at the wrong time giving Kristen a wrong impression, and Kristen assumed and said yes when she had a chance to say no. One should keep in mind that it is never the right thing to generalize and blame a particular gender. Hence, to avoid all such situations the initiator should ensure consent before making a move, the only way to do so is to ask and communicate and the other should not assume and openly say no especially when they have a chance to say so.

By

Sravani Mangalampalli.

‘Self-Beliefs: Underestimating vs Overestimating Ourselves’

Recently, I was reading articles on self-concepts and I noticed almost every article made a similar statement that ‘We know ourselves better’. Well, I agree that’s true but not always especially when it comes to judging our abilities. When I observe people in real life, I see so many with self-misconceptions. People do not always estimate their abilities correctly. Before getting into details. Let me tell you two stories.

Story 1: There was a girl who was interested in drawing. She learned how to draw on her own, made few amazing paintings, and won many prizes. She works very hard at her job without a break and used to take care of her family all alone. One time when her family got sick, she managed to take care of her family and her job, worked day and night without any help and sleep. As time passed by, she got many promotions at her job and made everyone happy at home. Despite many achievements in her life, the girl suffered anxiety and self-worth issues every time she was faced with a challenge. She thought she was failing, not working enough, and letting her people down. Every day she cried and questioned her abilities despite evidence proving otherwise.

Story 2: There was a student who was very interested in science. She had high ambitions, wanted to achieve a doctorate, and desired to be one of the prominent members in her field. Every time there was an exam or an assignment, she skipped reading, copied, and always submitted her assignments after the deadline. When asked why, she said it was because she fought with her friends, or because of her family, or because she was not well. She continued to fail in exams, never tried to learn any topics, theories, or concepts in the subject. Despite everything, the girl thought she had immense knowledge and can easily win against the professional in her field.

Now, what did you observe in both the stories? The girl in the first story underestimated herself whereas the girl in the second overestimated herself. What’s more interesting is that the girls genuinely believed what they thought. The first girl believed she was incapable despite her achievements and the second believed she knows more than the professional without working at all. I am sure we all crossed such people at least once in our lifetimes. Think about a multi-talented businessman who always tries to seek validation from his family on his every decision or a friend who just started learning about the stock market and is ready to compete with the professional. Why do they do that?  It happens to every one of us. When faced with a challenge, we underestimate the risk and overestimate our potentials or vice versa. The question is why does it happen? And how to stop it?

Image Source: Google

Why do we underestimate ourselves?

  • Parenting:

The foremost reason I think is parenting. As I mentioned in the previous articles, our personalities, interests, likes, and many more are influenced by our parents. Imagine a parent who always screams at his son that he is good for nothing every time the son did a mistake, compared him with his siblings, and said he is incompetent. What happens? The boy will start developing insecurities and genuinely believes he is incapable. A friend of mine who is multi-talented is always insecure and afraid to decide on his career because his father thinks he is incapable. If his father was more supportive and trusted his abilities, maybe he would have accomplished so much. So, it is very important to be careful about what and how parents talk to their kids. No parent should be a reason for their kid’s insecurities.

  • Fear of disappointment:

I think we all heard of a popular saying ‘Expectations only brings us disappointments’. No one likes to get disappointed or to disappoint our loved ones. Because of it, we think million times before we make a decision. Although, it is good to be careful most times fear of disappointment doesn’t let us move forward. Think about a student who is not willing to get into competition only because he/she is scared of losing or a boy who doesn’t express his feelings to his crush because of the fear of rejection and in situations like this, we often find ourselves unable to take a step forward and when that happens, we need to remember that ‘we don’t know the future’. As we fear we might be right about losing but we might also be wrong. Either way, we don’t know what’s in the future and it is okay to be uncertain.

  • Fear of risk-taking:

If you were born in an Indian Middle-Class Family, you know what I am talking about. Indian families never like to take risks. We always go for the safest option in the book. One of the reasons why many Indian parents do not wish to send their kids to different fields. I have a cousin who likes to enter the film industry. Listening to his ambition, everyone in my family immediately judged it’s a wrong choice. Why? Have they seen him act? No. They judged he cannot achieve it without knowing his capabilities. I am glad my cousin went forward with his decision but many stop themselves only because it’s an unusual option and is risky but no matter what others say there is never the safest option. Every decision has its consequences. If we take up a career because it is safe per, say engineering, we still have to go through so much competition. The chances of succeeding are always higher when we take up a career, we are most interested in.

  • Listening to everyone:

I am sure everyone experienced this. Every person in our life has advice that they want to give us. Most of them don’t even know why we decided to do something. When I first decided to take psychology as my subject, everyone gave me advice that it is not the right field for me. Most told me to take Business Administration and then MBA or pursue engineering and get a job. If I had listened to them, I wouldn’t be here today writing this article but unfortunately, many listen and step back. Considering advice is good but one shouldn’t blindly follow them. All the people who gave me advice not to take psychology don’t even know what it means. So, when we decide to follow a piece of advice, we should question ourselves on why we want to follow it? Is it because the person is experienced and might be right or is it because we are just told so?

  • Comparisons:

Comparing ourselves with others is an instinct of a human. We all do it. We compare ourselves with a person who is above us on the ladder and we make a list of why they succeeded in their field. When we find ourselves lacking according to the list, we immediately step back but what we don’t realize is there are many successful people in our respective fields. They are many successful sports persons, celebrities, scientists, etc., and all of them neither followed the same path nor have the same personality traits. So, it is okay if we think we are lacking in certain things because, with the right amount of guidance and hard work, we can be successful too.

  • Adjusting to what we have:

We are continuously told by our society that we have to adjust to what we have, we should not think about being at the top or about earning a lot of money because money doesn’t buy happiness. Many are not boosted to be successful and as a result, they find themselves adjusting and managing with what they have. But one doesn’t need to get adjusted if he/she is not satisfied with their current life. Irrespective of what others say one can have high ambitions and desires as long as they are realistic. If one has imaginations about how to lead their life, they should trust themselves and move forward. If it’s hard to be positive then it is okay to not be so. I always tell myself if I am unable to stay positive, I should be neutral. Just because I am not positive, doesn’t mean I am negative. I can be neutral and see where it goes.

  • Past experiences:

Our past experiences shape our opinions and behavior. Many times, we step back from a decision because we experienced failures before. One of my teachers in school used to tell us a story about a man who never gave up. Thomas Alva Edison failed more than 1000times before he successfully invented the light bulb. If he had given up because of his past failures, he wouldn’t have made history. There could be numerous reasons why we failed at a particular time. Because we failed once doesn’t mean we fail always. If we look up the reasons why we failed and work to overcome it, we sure can get successful one day.

Having said that, now let us see why we overestimate ourselves?

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The Dunning – Kruger Effect & Self-Serving Bias

David Dunning, a social psychologist with his student Justin Kruger experimented on undergraduate students. He asked questions on grammar, logic, and humor and told them to judge their score and their relative rank when compared to others. It was found that the students who scored bottom estimated themselves as the highest and the students who scored highest judged themselves as the lowest. Dunning and Kruger carried many such experiments and observed the same results. Unskilled people, not necessarily incompetent always judged themselves as above average. There could be many reasons why a person does that but Dunning says, Self-Serving Bias is one main reason. According to these people, they are never wrong. Self-serving bias is a concept where the person always credits success to himself and blames failures on others. In the above story, if you have observed the girl always blamed others or situations on her failures. She never admitted she did not do well in the exam because she did not study. Dunning- Kruger Effect and Self- Serving Bias helps us to protect our ego and self-esteem. No one likes to admit that they are unskilled. So, we tend to ignore the evidence and overestimate our performances. One of my friends once told me that ‘Ignorance is a Bliss’ and that’s true sometimes. Those who overestimate themselves are highly confident. It seems very logical if you think, when one thinks they know something very well, they tend to be very confident about it. This is also called Illusion of Confidence’.

Dunning, in one of his studies, quoted

‘…incompetent people do not recognize-scratch that, cannot recognize- just how incompetent they are…what’s curious is that, in many cases, incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge’

Although it gives people false confidence, the problem arrives when a person has to face the reality or a challenge that requires the skills, he thinks he has and as these people are most times ignorant, they do not wish to learn and ultimately never grow and develop in their skills. Another reason Dunning points out why people overestimate is because of no accurate feedback. If you observe people around you, you can see most do not like to give negative feedback. They say a painting is amazing even if they don’t feel so. This can make the painter believe that he is amazing and also some parents always praise their kids every time the kid does or doesn’t do anything. As much as a parent should not be a reason for a kid’s insecurities, they should not also be a reason for a kid’s ignorant behavior.  So, how do we stop overestimating ourselves?

Reality Check-In

The only way to stop overestimating ourselves is to carefully observe the results. If we failed an exam. Why did we fail? We can find several reasons if we start blaming others or situations but what’s important is to accept and focus on one’s weakness. If we find it is hard to self-assess our abilities, we can ask for feedback from the person we believe will give us accurate opinions and by being open to criticism, we can learn and help ourselves grow.

By

Sravani Mangalampalli

‘The Art of Walking Away’

Decades ago, it was given that dating was strictly prohibited in India. Our elders and their families were never open to love marriages. The matches were arranged and most of the time, the bride was never asked for an opinion about the bride-groom. The bride agreed to everything her parents said and was taught to get adjusted to the new family despite the problems and pain. I was surprised to know that my mother did not know my father’s name until she got married to him. It was believed that when a woman gets married, she was no more considered a member of the family she was born. Over the years, this dynamic has changed. Women are given a voice today and asked for opinions in marriage. Relationships and love marriages have become more common. Despite the changes, there is one thing that hasn’t been taught in society even today. Confused? Let me explain. It’s no new thing to know that separation, divorce in relationships are still taboo in India. It is treated as a mark of reputation in many families. A few months ago, I asked people on my Instagram page that what would they do if they realize their partner is toxic. Would they like to change them or leave? And 90% answered they would try to change them. Despite being aware that their relationship is toxic, why do a couple still like to stay together? Is it because of reputation? No. Is it love? No. To answer this question first we need to know why are relationships toxic?

Image source: Google.

Why are Relationships Toxic?

People are different. Every person has a different personality, thoughts, opinions, likes, and dislikes. No two persons can exactly match in everything. When two people fall in love and have a great understanding of each other, we all know that it did not happen overnight. It takes a couple of months or years, several discussions, fights, and a lot of effort to understand the person. Having said that, not all relationships need effort. Few relationships are toxic, to begin with, and few become toxic over time. When a couple starts dating, it is because of the attraction they have towards each other. The relationship is new and everything in it seems wonderful. The rush to see each other and the excitement to spend time with each other feels amazing but no couple can maintain the same excitement for life. After a couple of months, the newness and excitement slowly fade away and the relationship becomes a normal part of daily life and this is where the struggle or the fights usually starts. During the months of newness and excitement, the partner becomes the world and a couple usually spends more time in the relationship than with family or work. They are always on calls, holidays, dates and they share every tiny bit of their day. Once this newness fades away, they don’t spend the same amount of time they did in the beginning. They start concentrating on work, family and things get back to normal. Although this pattern can be seen in every relationship and with every couple, two people in the relationship might not come to this stage at the same time. In simpler words, the couple might not be on the same page. This can happen in many stages of a relationship. I know many couples who are in a relationship and struggle every day because they are not on the same page but this doesn’t make the relationship entirely toxic. A relationship becomes toxic when the person starts involving their partner in every aspect of their life. Relationships are important and should be a priority in life but they should not be a person’s whole world. Many couples today don’t seem to have a life outside their relationships. I have a couple of friends who have the same pattern in their relationships. They involve their partner in their work, when they go out with friends, and they don’t have anything to talk about other than their partner. It’s also frustrating to see couples like this because, in the end, you will know nothing about the person’s likes, dislikes, or personality except about their relationship. Couples in such relationships also try to control each other. They have opinions on every aspect of their partner’s life and they get hurt if the partner does the opposite to what they have been told. The toxic partner does not maintain boundaries and the other ends up pleasing and explaining over and over again. Eventually, the other partner also develops the same patterns and becomes equally toxic. Relationships like this become addictive and feel impossible to break the patterns.

Why is it hard to walk away?

As said, toxic relationships are addictive. They are mentally exhausting. When a partner tries to break the pattern or leave the relationship, the toxic partner apologizes or gives hope that they would change so that the other holds on. Adding to this, Indian culture conditioned people to work on their relationship and stay together despite the problems. Our culture doesn’t teach us the right to walk away or choose ourselves when things don’t work. A man is always expected to look after the family and a woman is always expected to put her family’s needs before hers. A year ago, I heard about a domestic violence case in my city. The wife who has two daughters endured years of domestic violence finally came out of the house and filed a case in court. In an interview when asked why didn’t she come out sooner, she said she hoped for her husband to change. There are many such examples like this and are many more who are still enduring hoping that their partner would change one day. 

When to walk away?

A couple needs to be aware of their relationship, how they affect each other and whether if they are on the same page. It’s important to know your partners’ goals, ambitions, and ideologies about life because even if a couple wants to stay together it gets impossible if the ideologies do not match. For instance, a man who wants to settle abroad might not match with a woman who likes to settle in India or a man who expects his wife to be independent might not get adjusted with a woman who chooses to be a housewife or vice versa. Having differences in a relationship does not make it toxic but having no boundaries does. One needs to realize that it’s okay to walk away if things in a relationship do not work and get mentally exhausting. There is no such thing called ‘matches made in heaven’ or ‘a couple is destined to be together’. A couple is only happy when they practically work and are in love. Remember..

‘A relationship is not successful when a couple gets married and stay together, rather they are successful when a couple is contended, satisfied and in a healthy relationship’

By

Sravani Mangalampalli.

Title Credits @Krishnateja Reddy

‘Our First Relationship’

The first thing we see when we open our eyes after we were born was our parents. Their first touch makes us stop crying. We instantly know we can trust them and from the day on, our parents work every day to make us smile, laugh, and give us a bright future. As kids, our parents are our world and we are theirs. They teach us every little thing by holding our hands. ‘learning alphabets’, ‘our first bicycle ride’, ‘our birthday parties’ all make us feel very special that we know we are their little prince/princess. I still remember one evening I casually asked my father to buy me an ice cream, the next minute I know was that he filled our freezer with ice creams. It was like he bought me an ice cream parlor and I instantly knew I am special and I am his little princess. As we slowly grow up, we go to school and then to college and university. We start observing the world around us. We watch our friends, their parents, and families. All of a sudden, we realize that our family isn’t perfect and our little world has its problems. The thoughts that our parents are perfect might slowly get shattered and we start seeing the other side of our family that we never thought of as kids. While some kids continue to respect and follow their parents, few kids feel resentment towards them especially during adolescence or in young adulthood. It’s always questionable that ‘why do kids resent their parents?’ is it kids’ fault? Parent’s fault? Or both?

Why do kids resent their parents?

There is one super hit movie about the father-son relationship in my native language. The father loves his son so much, provides everything the son could ever imagine, and also plans to offer his son the company he raised for the son’s future. Despite everything, the son feels he is locked up in a prison and resents his father till the end of the movie. Why? Because every time the father buys something for his son, a shirt or a bike he only thinks about how good it looks and how much he liked it instead of how much his son liked and wanted it. There is this one scene where the father and son both go shopping, the son picks up fancy shirts that make him feel young but the father picks up formal shirts and convinces his son to try them out. Before the son explains that he didn’t like it, the father happily buys them for his son. Although it looks very simple and petty, little things like this have a greater impact on the kid than we think we do. Fortunately, the movie has a happy ending where the father ends up understanding everything he did and apologizes to his son but how many of the kids in real life end up having a happy ending with their parents?

Such kind of parenting can precisely be seen in Indian culture. Indian parents get to choose what kind of toys their children should play with, what color they need to wear, what subjects to take to university, to when and who to get married to. An interesting article in Times of India elaborated the results of an HSBC Study on the hopes and expectations of the parents on their children’s education in which almost a dozen countries have participated. According to the study, when parents asked to rank the three important goals that they want their children to achieve, 51% of Indian parents choose successful careers, 49% choose happiness in life, 33% choose a healthy lifestyle, 22% wanted their children to earn enough for a comfortable life and only 17% choose for their children to reach their highest potential. In the contrast, more than a dozen countries ranging from Indonesia (56%), Hong Kong (58%), UAE (60%), UK (77%), Canada (78%), and France (86%) choose happiness in life as their ultimate goal while successful careers were only 17% in UK and Australia. The survey also showed 91% of the Indian parents wanted their children to have at least an under graduation and more than 88% of parents wanted masters and even higher degree and when inquired about the subjects most of the Indian parents choose engineering (23%), followed by business management and finance (22%), computer and information sciences (16%), medicine (14%) and law (2%).  While it’s great to know that Indian parents want their kids to have successful careers, this does pose an interesting question about how many parents will consider their kids’ opinion if they wish to have a life opposite to their parents’ expectations?

This brings me back to the day when I had to choose my subjects in my college. I was interested in taking up Biology but my father insisted on taking Mathematics and Physics so I can pursue Engineering. Fortunately, I ended up taking the subject I like but I do know many kids who are forced to take up careers that their parents wish to. When I talked to my mother and too many parents about this, everyone had a common answer “We do it for our kids and their happiness. These decisions will make them happy and secure in the future”. Now, it’s understandable but questionable. “Will the happiness of both parents and kids confined to the same decisions? Will things that made parents happy also make their kids happy? Will the kids have the same ideologies and goals in life as their parents?” and the answer is NO! A BIG NO!! Kids are different from their parents, their tastes, likes, interests including color, fashion to career are different. No kid turns out to be an exact copy of their parents. Many factors including environment, peers, schooling, etc. influences their choices in life and it’s okay for them to choose the opposite of their parents’ expectations. It’s their life and they have complete right to do so. One of the reasons that make a person happy and satisfied in life is when they do not live with regrets and that can only be achieved when they are given the “freedom of choice”. Turning back at their life, a person should not feel that their life would have been different if they had taken up decisions on their own. After all, it’s not a crime to choose on their own, and doing so they become more independent, confident, and ultimately satisfied and contented in life. They learn their mistakes by experience and in the end, every kid only expects their parents to understand and be their backbone irrespective of what they choose.

So, the next time your kid chooses something opposite to your expectation, remember that “They are not wrong, they are just different”.

By

Sravani Mangalampalli

References: