Of the many twists and turns which shape our destiny, we often don’t realize the role played by the many reprimands received in the course of our life. A reprimand is unpleasant but it usually does us a lot of good.
I have always considered well-intentioned criticism (feedback) as an act of compassion. It is but an extension to say that a well-intentioned scold is also an act of compassion.
But why is a scold so curative?
I think it has got something to do with how brain circuits are formed.
I discussed in an earlier blog how creating new brain circuits can help us lead a happier life.
I think the unpleasantness caused by a scold creates a kind of “emotional furnace” which moulds new circuits.
The indirect cost of avoiding unpleasantness is chronic unpleasantness.
Though it might be foolhardy to add a dose of scold in our daily routine, we can still make use of this phenomenon by “inviting” a scold when nothing else is working.
In short, the best way to develop a coveted new habit is to get a really unpleasant scold.
When I say scold, I mean anything which causes unpleasantness. It need not be verbal. A glance, facial expression, silence, failure can be as effective.
Bad Habit + Scold = Good Habit
That’s why failures are so effective teachers. The more painful a defeat the more likely that it will be life transforming.
Consider the movie Slumdog Millionaire – Jamal knew all the 10 answers because he had learnt each one of them the hard way.
It is for a reason they say that the best way to remember your wife’s birthday is to forget it once.
How many times do we try to brush away our oversights / failures under the carpet? What if we make a big deal about them? What if we tell the world about them? Won’t the shame cure us of that habit?
How often do we tell our boss about our mistakes. Won’t telling them our mistakes make us better professionals?
Surkh rooh hota hai insaan, thokren khaane ke baad
Rang laati hai henna, paththar pe pis jaane ke baad
If my blogs are getting any better it is because of the scoldings I have received (mostly by way of silence)…if they are not, it means I have not been scolded enough…
PS : An interesting conversation with a reader:
Sonia: Sorry Rohit but just a ques
Sonia: Do you think the world will let us survive after it knows about failures… Though one should not give a damn to this world but how many of us can survive the shame,and cure ourselves
Rohit: Good question…
Rohit: We should of course use our judgment as to what extent we should invite “shame” or “scold”….it should only be done if it can only make us a better person thereafter…
Sonia: I agree to that but then there is other side of coin as well….
Rohit: If the other side of the coin is only “ego hurt” we should not let it prevent us from doing something for self improvement…
Sonia: No I don’t agree sorry, It is not about ego hurt
Rohit: If you tell me what the repercussions can be then I can comment…of course we should not do anything which can hurt someone else…
Sonia: Of course we should not do to anything to hurt someone but what I meant was at times even if a person gets perpetual scolding he might become stubborn. For him scolding might not matter any thing
Sonia: He might think what he is doing is just right
Rohit: If a scold will make the other person stubborn, we should not scold…
Sonia: Hahaha, Then
Rohit : If we want to improve someone, an occasional scold can be part of the total “treatment” plan but the plan should start with a genuine interest to improve the other person, an empathic understanding of the person (why he does what he does), making the person realize that our only interest is their improvement…then a strategy has to be worked out with mutual co-operation…
Sonia: :-)….agreed. But still have ifs and buts to it….Have to talk in detail when we meet
Rohit: Sure will do
Sonia: On a second thought Rohit, won’t love be a better option rather than scolding. Sorry just trying to discuss. You could be right in your own perspective
Rohit: Of course we cannot change anyone without love…love is the over-riding emotion and the reason why we want to change anyone…the other person should also feel loved (that’s why I said “making the person realize that our only interest is their improvement”), scold is a possible component of the overall strategy but cannot be the only component and need not even be a component of the strategy at all…