Theory calls it Self Efficacy. We all know it first hand as our belief about what we can and cannot do (well). Though the holder of the belief is our self, it can never be free from the influence of others.
It is said that who we are (or we think we are) is both, due to our innate qualities and the impact of our environment. Someone explained it very nicely, by asking: If water is leaking from your roof, would you say that it is because of the kind of roof you have, or because there is water somewhere on it? If your answer is BOTH, Bingo! You just cracked the theory of personality 🙂
Well. Sometimes who we are depends upon who we think we are. The twist in the story is, sometimes we don’t know who we are. Or, at least some part of it. So, if I think I cannot do Maths, I actually cannot. If I think I cannot swim, I never will dip so much as my toe in the water, and I would not swim.
So, why do we not ‘know’ what we have? The injunction from others can be a very important thing here. If, since my childhood, for whatever reason, others kept telling (me, to others when I am hearing, or when I am not around) that “xyz is so… so delicate! She falls sick if she practices dance very hard.”
That, to the person xyz means, ‘you cannot exert’. Now that might be a reflection of reality. But if this person wants to enjoy the activities like dancing or sports, make new friends and in short, enjoy life, it is preferable to develop stamina, practice, eat and rest well and remove this barrier, rather than become immobilised by the judgment and treat it as a finality.
If it IS taken as a finality, the words etched upon the mind of young xyz would be, ‘Don’t exert!’ Now THAT is an injunction, and if it is etched on the psyche of the person, xyz will not only exert in case of dancing, but then sports, then something else, and gradually with most things.
All of us carry some injunctions with us from our past. They might have been well-meant and realistic at that time, but might have been well past their shelf-life. Why do we clutter our existence with them and let them shadow our present and future?
Our traditional stories had a beautiful way of treating them with the use of what we know as a curse and its lifting.
Our stories very vividly give us a back ground portraying who cursed whom and under what circumstances. More beautiful is the fact that each such story inevitably has a turn, where post-curse, someone persuades the curser (the one who curses) to provide an antidote, following which there would be a liberation. Now don’t remind me that sometimes it took another Janma (life) to be so liberated. Some poets are also known to live centuries in one moment (ala ‘Ramta jogi’ song in the movie Taal -remember??)
OK – so question is, how do we rid ourselves from the curses?
Perhaps there are several answers. One of them is, to take up a challenge. There is a lovely story of how Lord Hanuman freed himself from his curse and in turn, did something without which there would have been no Ramayan: cross the sea.
But we need a little flash back here.
Hanuman was the son of Anjani and Kesari. They were childless, so Anjani started Tapas to please Lord Shiv. Lord shiv is known as Aashutosh (the one quick to be pleased), and accordingly he granted her his Tejas from which Anjani would have a son. The wind God, (Marut, Vayu or Pavan) carried this Tejas within Anjani and thus Maaruti or Pavan Putra (Son of Marut or Pavan) was born.
He had excessive energy in him, and he was further energized by the legacy from Pavan. So, he was a living tornado for the people living in the vicinity, especially the wise Rishis in the Ashrams. Little Pavan Putra would chop off the small peaks from the mountains and they would tumble down scaring everyone. He would create a havok in and around the Ashrams. Once he was staring at the sun, scarlet and looking very inviting. Little Maruti thought that it was probably a fruit which could be as good in taste as it was in looks. So he jumped for it, and swallowed it.
Next? The entire world was plunged in darkness, so the King of all Gods, Indra hit Maruti with his weapon called Vajra. Vajra hit his chin, almost broke it and Maruti fell on the earth, knocked unconscious. Seeing this, Lord Pavan was very angry, because being hit by a Vajra was too severe a punishment form a little child with innocent and playful intentions – death would be its only outcome. So, he withdrew himself from the earth. When Vayu left, every living being started getting suffocated. Now Indra had to do something.
So, he called Vayu back at a condition that his son would be revived. The gods not only revived him, but showered him with boons – like the skills to expand his size, reduce his size, and many other qualities along with the skills.
However, the sages thought that Maruti (now known as Hanuman -the one whose chin was broken) would be in trouble if he continued his adventures. So, they cursed him that he forget all about his extraordinary capacity, courage and valiance until a moment when someone told him about it. Collectively, they would never remind him, and so his childhood would pass safely.
Next, we know that he was reminded of his boundless capacity when Lord Ram wanted to verify if Sita was actually in Lanka. There was no one who could cross the sea, and someone reminded Hanuman of his childhood, his episode ending with boons granted on him and he finally made it.
We do not know who carried us in the world, what powers we derived from our role models and mentors. But the Who alone does not matter. WHAT we have from them is a subject of discovery. But slumbering, we do not wake up and discover. Isn’t it about time we did so?? I am sure, if not one, we would be sure to find another ..