In part 1, we described two true-to-life scenarios. These scenarios contained people who ended up bottling their affection. It was because they had been hurt by their affection. In this part, we discuss scenario 1. We explain how the people in scenario 1 could have managed to not be hurt by their affection. Let’s start by re-listing scenario 1 as in the previous post.
Bharat was a single father who had two kids. A boy named Rohan, and a girl named Geeta. Bharat loved both the kids. They meant the world to him. But one day both Rohan and Geeta seemed to be having a bad day, and they were both giving each other a hard time. It was up to Bharat to mediate. He really didn’t know how. So he ended up comforting Geeta and ignoring Rohan for a little while. He told Rohan to go to his room for the time. Once he was done with Geeta, he went to check on Rohan, but Rohan was mad at him. For about five minutes, Bharat tried to win his son over, but it didn’t work. That night Bharat went to sleep feeling extremely guilty. The same thing happened, on and off, for about a year. In the end, Bharat decided that he would stop being so readily affectionate. He had concluded that affection would always be used against him. That it would always hurt too much. In the years that followed, Bharat maintained a standoff-ish relationship with both his children, and the children ended up feeling the same way. Thus, in about two decades, the world got three new people, Bharat, Rohan and Geeta, who held back their affection despite once possessing it in great measure.
Remember: affection is natural in most people. It starts with the best of intentions. But then those intentions are twisted, and there are not many things in the world that hurt more than the twisting of good intentions. You end up feeling like: I try to be loving. But they use it against me!
Getting back to Bharat’s example, it seems like Bharath did not know a few important things about affection:
(1) Affection won’t always be rewarded
The simple truth is that affection is not likely to be rewarded if it doesn’t bring results. That’s just how human beings work. If Bharath knew this, he would have much less heartache over being unappreciated. Of course, we can’t say that he would have absolutely no heartache because his own child was suffering. But that kind of heartache would come from concern not hurt. It’s not right to go by results alone when deciding to appreciate affection, but that’s exactly what most people do. The problem there is not affection. It’s immaturity. You’ll notice that children and adolescents, for instance, always behave this way. That’s because of their immaturity. They have to be taught to appreciate affection even when it doesn’t produce the desired results. Some adults also behave ungratefully towards affection in the absence of results, which is a sign that they are still mentally immature.
(2) Affection will sometimes turn into blame
When humans don’t get results, they tend to look for someone to blame. Often, that someone is the person who tried to help but could not deliver the expected results. In other words, those who show affection are often the ones who are blamed. It’s sad but true. In order to save yourself from blame while you show affection, it is important to understand the following:
This is the decision to be affectionate. For example, when you decide to talk to someone because they are feeling down, or when you decide to buy someone a present to cheer them up.
Patience and Effort
The decision alone means little without adequate patience and effort. For instance, if you decide to talk to someone who is down out of affection, but then fail to persist until they feel at least somewhat better, then the decision won’t count for a whole lot. Affectionate intent should always be followed by commensurate effort and no small amount of patience.
Now, we get into things that are mostly beyond one’s control. A kid may be unperceptive to affection because of bad mood, for instance. This is a circumstantial reality that is beyond one’s control.
Outcome is the end result. Often times, people fail to separate intent and effort from circumstance and outcome, and thus punish themselves for even trying. As long as you intended/meant well and put in enough effort and patience, you should not attack yourself for trying just because the outcome turned out bad or just because the circumstances didn’t favor you.
As we’ve said before, during bad outcomes, humans look for someone to blame. That blame often lands on the person who tried to help. For protection from this sort of blame, it’s important to always separate intent and effort from circumstance and outcome. It hurts to be misunderstood, but more often than not the misunderstanding is not personal. It is simply due to bitterness about bad circumstances/outcomes. Of course, there are times when it actually is personal, but that’s why we said more often than not. You’ll know that an attack is personal if the circumstances and outcomes were otherwise favorable. If the attack is personal, then affection is not the problem. The problem is probably a conflict of interests/needs that’s causing the other party to try and manipulate you. The problem could also be a personality issue or mental disorder. Sometimes, the problem may even be that you did not follow genuine affectionate intent with enough effort and patience. Regardless, the affectionate intentions themselves are never the problem.
That’s it for this post. Try and work through scenario 2 yourself. In the next part of the series, we explain the full psychology of those who try to use affection against others. Thank you for reading!