Note & disclaimer: This post is just a part of multiple random thought analysis and based on few discussions. Unexplained rules & lack of healthy discussions which might result in Psychological Barriers. The use of term “Psychological Barriers” is done in a very specific sense related to setting up boundaries. It covers the process, understanding and assumptions of rules which we follow in life and an example when they defeat the actual purpose and might cause harm. Also, it closely related with forced rules or traditions.
Birth. Beginning of new life and our actual interaction with external world.
Interaction, not verbal but very much functional. All the 5 sense of a human body are at work and uninterruptedly sending the information to brain. Even if a newborn isn’t able to communicate, the efforts are always there, body is always receiving feedback to the mind in response to the senses. Feedback which might not turn into an effective or noticeable action. Body is in developing stage and gathering all type of information and stimulus for the first time. There are thoughts which might not be known and doesn’t make sense, not even to brain itself but they do exist and is a sign of life.
While growing till someone starts speaking, there has been a lot of thought processing. Those thoughts are seen in various actions or “attempts”. The most common ones include crying, laughing, anger, self-isolation (kind of), hand movements. There is interaction and understanding being developed and this is quite evident by all these actions or attempts. The brain is still in more or less learning stage. Still learning the “external world”. How to respond to what, how to respond to a situation. Also, taking a feedback if the response was “as expected” of it by the “external world”. A child is usually considered as innocent & happy because the adult or mature behavior isn’t expected from a child. The response is natural, unadulterated and untamed.
Growing up, before school and school
A person is performing all the functions, making use of same 5 senses which were functional since birth. But now there are continuous interventions and expectations. “External World” is at play and tries to mould the child into what is acceptable in society. The child is still unaware but somehow starts to “get it”. This “getting it” is a part of understood partially by what is “taught or explained” by someone else, and partially through own understanding by analyzing the feedback received from others. The latter is something unwanted or not deliberate but very well a natural response to surrounding. This continues, behavior starts to get modified or we starts practicing or rather made to behave or act in a certain manner. Even if this contradicts our own judgment (difficult to call it judgment at this stage) or more of our natural response.
However, over the time we are not only taught various subjects but also silently our “behavior”. This changes from person to person and the level of acceptance to this continuous external input varies. However, there is a visible impact and change in everyone, there is noticeable difference in actions and how one “reacts” to something. This continues over the years and we keep on processing information from external world. We start following certain “rules” even if they are not termed as “rules” or even if we are not old to understand what “rules” actually mean. But we “get them” and more of less follow them. If we follow them “less” we are expected to be given more attention till the time we start following them “more”. Gradually this “more or less” turns to all of them. Not following even a single rule has its consequences. Consequences which are considered appropriate as per external world for that age.
There is a constant feedback, both verbal and nonverbal. We understand what we are expected to do, how to do it and if we don’t we at times question and tries to understand. We might understand or not but we are still expected to follow it and made to follow it. The understanding grows over time & improves.
Post school – The shift & freedom
Completion of school provides us with the much-needed set of behaviors which is acceptable by society (in most of the cases). We are considered educated & “well-behaved”. Behavior which is a mix of our own understanding, external inputs but still with a lot of confusion & curiosity. Depending on what a person is doing after schooling like higher education, work, break or anything else, there is a refinement and new set of behavior which is developed based on more of “own understanding” and less of “external inputs”. Less of external verbal inputs, we are seldom taught not to steal because most of the time we someone “get it” because of what we are taught in the past. And if still someone do something like it, there is no “verbal feedback” but rather “consequences”. So more or less, we know how to follow “rules” and we “get them”.
By this time we are aware of what we need, how to say it or ask for it, how to respond (not “react’) if we don’t get it. And then try to get it again. Everything in a manner which is governed by external response and in accordance or “external world”. Again, few things might be in contradiction to our own natural response but we have learnt to “tame” our natural instinct or that is now somewhat lost.
Not everything is learnt at school, college, work or home but each stage plays a crucial role in building a person’s understanding of the external world. How a person ultimately responds is somewhat defined by the set of boundaries we make ourselves in accordance to external world. This is now our new natural state and we slowly stops questioning it. These boundaries and rules, are meant to be for greater good and necessary for a healthy & peaceful society. There is bound to be a certain set of rules in place which are applicable to everyone for a functional world.
Fast forward – Issue or Problem
The problem come into picture when we start imposing certain set of rules which might not be required or were simply temporary. There is a limit (qualitative or quantitative) defined to most of the rules which justifies their applicability in a certain situation. Something as simple as an example of fire. When used as per rules, it has endless functions but if used callously the consequences can be life threatening.
In our modern world, there are number of rules and less of explanation or the defined limits. Maybe because it’s just impossible to define each and everything and then teach the limits to someone. These are regarded as a part of our own understanding and “common sense”. Don’t put hand in fire, don’t go to deep water if not a swimmer, and don’t jump out of a moving vehicle. See, common sense.
Picture Credits: Boldomatic
Common because we learnt them somehow, either verbal or own understanding. But there are times when these rules become “barriers”. The ones which are not set by society or external world but rather by yourself. Knowingly or unknowingly we frame a set of rules for us without actually knowing the limits or the “healthy limits”. The basic expectations which we perceive as rules and with time they start acting as a new normal. A new normal which is a part of our daily life but actually a “Psychological Barrier”. It can be a result of our wrong assumptions, failed understanding of limits or a forced rule which we just forgot to stop following or removing. We often fail to realize that there is such rule in place or rather “barrier”. There is a feeling of uneasiness or something being wrong and us being uncomfortable or not happy about it. We “get it” that something is not right but it’s difficult to identify and fix. It’s now something which is a part of “expected behavior”. A rule which was put in place but was never removed and we continued following it. A rule, or rather an assumed rule” just because it was repeated enough number of time, we made it a rule or understood it as a rule which has to be complied with. Also at times warnings with known consequences, warnings which were applicable only a few times but they are now a routine rule.
Simple, common and easy to relate examples
The first one has been explained in detail, other are broadly classified in two categories without elaborating them.
Category 1 – Returning home early
“Return home early or before 10 pm or XX time” – A perfectly normal, logical and mostly acceptable concern of society. But repeated very frequently, frequent enough to it starts becoming habit. There is no more questioning involved. Failing to follow it, there might be anger or scolding which has to be accepted. An action which reflects consequence of a “rule” which was not followed. A consequence which is more out of concern but often doesn’t come with explanation. The explanation of it is “assumed” to be common sense and the already known reasons. We somehow start to “get it”.
If there is an occasion which requires staying up late or returning late, we are expected to “take permission”. There might be slight change in situation here depending from person to person. You might be given permission or few modifications can be put in place. These can be simple such as sending someone elderly with you (if possible & practical), suggestion to take a can instead of auto rickshaw, stay at that place until morning (if at a friend’s house or when possible) or take help of a friend etc. This is something which is a sort of explanation thought suggested actions. Valid concerns and the possible means to decrease chances of any damage happening.
The other side of story, you are given permission and you return late. Nothing new in any respect just a new entry time which was more than the usual allowed and accepted time. These instances when often repeated or on denial of this “permission” slowly takes from of “Psychological Barrier”. It seems like a rule in place without any useful meaning and slowly makes a person to self-isolate from events which requires taking that permission. An assumption that the permission will not be given based on past experiences. Since there was a lack of reason for this response, it’s difficult to access if the permission will be given for a particular event or not. A few more denials to that permission will now results in giving up on such situations.
There is a barrier which will prevent from even asking for permission. There will be self-withdrawal from such events. Thinking about attending one might seem challenging or exciting. Both these cases are again governed by different set of rules, rules which are put in place by society or by yourself.
Category 2 – Not participating in a certain activity, sports or event.
Do not fly kites, do not play kabaddi, do not play ludo, do not attend college fest, do not go out on solo trips etc. Again, rules faced by people differs from person to person. Reasons behind those rules vary but the explanation is rarely given.
Category 3 – Lifestyle, eating and clothing choices.
Do not eat non veg, don’t wear jeans, always wear kurta/ salwaar, do not party with friends, and don’t go out with boys / girls.
Such repeated reminders or frequent repetition of such rules or restrictions in place often results in “absorbing” these restrictions as rules and also as a set of values in some cases. Some of these are restriction for us which are imposed by elderly just simply because those were restrictions for them which were imposed by those who were elder to them. This has been passed on as tradition/ set of beliefs/ unquestioned or illogical rule. Biasness or personal preferences are imposed as set or rules & restrictions in many cases. No explanation is given, and if a reason is asked then it is viewed as argument or challenging those in authority. Such reasoning which is not welcomed or entertained have its own associated consequences attached.
A logical and reasonable response to someone’s questioning or asking for explanation might be just more than a simple answer. The answer might frame a rule which the mind will put in place without consciously knowing and understanding. The long-term impact might be very negative if not identified and dealt with.
Discussions, answering, reasoning promotes a healthy development. Especially in modern world where the rules are rapidly changing and situation is dynamic. If a natural response is not positive or especially negative or unpleasant, try to think about it for few minutes rather than discarding that thought. Knowing about these might help you identify someone dealing with such a situation.
Because of internal thought process and at times as an “assumed” response to restrictions, we tend to impose restrictions which were otherwise didn’t exist. These are put in place without any validation or because of similar past experiences where no reason was provided.
People often consider this as “normal” & “acceptable” which is not true. The actual impact varies from person to person and how they cope up with such restrictions, but there are few who are severely affected. Both these groups are underestimating their true potential and always filling a void. Try & help to overcome them whenever possible!