One of our favorite conversations at home is related to how our success or failure is directly proportional to the effort we put in. Great expectations, always. Before he goes to bed, he says his prayers and if there is a test the next day, I wish him all the best and tell him he is going to do very well. He’s one of those “pressure-from-within” types and I have to confess that I’ve often felt guilty about not being all over him like most other parents. I don’t nag, either. But I never said we were normal…so there.
Right now, they have their first term tests going on, with a test every Monday. This Monday, it was Science. On the way back from school, I asked him how it went and he said it was okay. Now, from experience I know that “okay” means he’s missed a mark or two. And he’s not happy. That’s a ha-ha to me, but to him, it matters a great deal. So I prodded, asking “why just okay?” Then he said that their teacher went over the question paper with the whole class after the exam and he figured that he’d lose three marks. I asked him if it was because he didn’t study it. That made him indignant – I knew it would. I was only teasing him.
For Vidur, the aim is always 100%. That’s what we’ve always taught him. No, no pressure about being “best” but how aiming for 100%, puts the effort at100%. We’ve also assured him that it is quite okay to lose a couple of marks, unsuccessfully. Anyway, the lad always feels miserable and sulks over the lost marks. To me, 95% looks great. But what do I know? Vidur expects nothing less than 100%. He scores it too, most of the time.
So I was telling him that it simply indicates that he CAN. It is nice to have that pressure from within (I work that way too!) but at the same time, there’s no point getting so worked up about it. Have to move on, you see. Of course, I did continue to tease him about it – but stopped when it did not go too well. So, the next resort was being philosophical.
We have the ability to cope
In life, each one of us is blessed with the ability to cope with the challenges that are thrown at us. To some extent success is in our hands. How are we maximizing our chances of success or survival and minimizing the chances of feeling disappointed? There are so many likely situations that have the potential of hurting us through life. Whether we will be strong enough to take up the challenge of coping with it – and also come out stronger via the experience – depends on our actions and our emotions. How can we strengthen these so that we come out stronger from those difficult situations? And rise above it all?
As far as our actions are concerned, I have found that it is necessary to think laterally – a line of thought that is very out of the box, yet effective enough to adequately deal with the situation. Another cool method is – being cool and calm, and doing a T chart – pros on one side, cons on the other. Sometimes we don’t have enough time to make the right decisions. On top of this, it is also important to be good at time-management and systematic thinking. Weigh the pros and cons for different courses of action. Also remember past experiences to avoid making the same mistakes. For me gut feeling and intuition count, but you decide what works best for you.
Get a grip on your emotions
Handling those emotions well is a very important aspect of coping with a situation. But that does not mean letting negative emotions cloud our thinking. Beware of suppressed emotions – emotional baggage – that can drag you down. It is important to have a good relationship with one’s own emotions – so some introspection and some reassessment can help develop a better point of view. Writing a diary or journal can help with this.
Great Expectations are okay!
Once we get a grip on our actions and emotions, we can actually hope to get what we expect. Like I was irrelevantly telling Vidur, when exams are around the corner, some people just go pray to God and expect their prayers to be answered with good grades – without realizing that it is necessary to study, too. God only helps those who help themselves. And once you’ve helped yourself and done your bit, your coping skills become strong, because then you have the ability to see where you went wrong, and how you can improve.