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Back to Warning Bells - The Emotional Unaffordability Of Our Gifts!

Discussion in 'Saturdays with Varalotti' started by varalotti, Feb 9, 2007.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Most Gracious ILites,
    We have had enough (and even an overdose) of Kambar and Bharati during the last weeks. It's high time that I start ringing the warning bell again. On one of the least understood aspects of human relationships - the emotional affordability of our gifts.

    I had originally posted this article of mine (which appeared in Womans Era) when IL was in its infancy with about a 100 members. I am posting this in my anxiety that it should reach all of you.

    I have dedicated Sunday as the "reply day" for all my threads. So whatever posts you have made in all my threads, including this one, will get a reply on Sunday, Godwilling.

    Read on, ladies.
    regards,
    sridhar/varalotti

    ARE YOUR GIFTS EMOTIONALLY AFFORDABLE

    Ravi attended the marriage of his office colleague. When the marriage ceremony was over, as was the local custom, the guests gave money as gifts which was written in a notebook and the names of the donors were read out in a public address system.

    Ravi had gifted a hundred rupee note and as he was walking out of the hall he was shocked to hear the amount read against his name. “Mr. Ravikumar – Rs.1000/-. Ravi immediately checked his wallet. The hundred Rupee note he had intended to gift was there. But the thousand Rupee note was gone. Sheer mistake. There was no way he could correct the error which had costed him dearly.

    When the colleague later thanked him for this unexpected munificence Ravi was actually seething within, Ravi had done a classical mistake which most of us do quite often. He has made a gift which he could not emotionally afford. Ravi could easily afford a thousand-Rupee-gift financially. In fact he has gifted more than that when his close friends got married. But this guy was not that close to merit that large a gift.

    In this case the emotional unaffordability of the gift was clear. Many times it is not. Santhosh returned from his office that day on the top of his moods. He had been promoted with a hefty increment. He conveyed the news to his wife. Later in the evening his wife requested him to drop her at the beauty parlour.

    “Why drop you, dear? I will be there waiting for you in the car and bring you back home. Is it not my duty?”

    “That would be great. But Santhosh, I am going for facials today. May take more than an hour. Is it okay?”

    “Even if its two hours it does not matter. Give me three minutes. I will be ready.”

    His wife took one and a half hours in the parlour. Santhosh had to wait in the car in the hot summer evening. He could do virtually nothing in that god-forsaken area.His patience lasted only for twenty minutes. Then he was kicking himself for having offered to wait. Now he could not go back on his word. No doubt he sat through the ordeal. His wife emerged out of the parlour on the top of her moods with a shining face. Santhosh was red hot with anger which he could not express immediately. When they reached home on the flimsiest pretext – his clothes were not ironed or that there was less salt in the subjee – he burst out thus venting out his anger for the waiting. A would have been great evening was spoilt for both of them.

    Santhosh had made a gift to his wife which he could not emotionally afford and that led to the disaster.

    In the course of human relationships we do make a lot of gifts. In fact the whole art of human relationship consists of giving and receiving gifts. If the wife falls ill and the husband takes time off his work to attend to her, it is a great gift. Believe me, a sensible woman would cherish this gift much more than a trendy diamond necklace. But before we make a gift we should just look within to ensure whether we can emotionally afford the gift. If we can’t afford it is far better to say a graceful no now than to suffer later, eventually spoiling the whole relationship.

    My friend wanted to borrow my car for a picnic. Having known about his methods of driving I said no, giving some lame excuse. At first he was furious and shouted something and ran out. A few days later he came to me and apologised. It was much later did I learn that he had borrowed another friend’s car which developed problems on the way and there was a minor accident too resulting in damages to the car. There were heated arguments between them as to the cost of repairs, the condition of the car and so on. Looks like they can never be reconciled.

    Even listening to another person talking, being polite to a person when that person is rude, brushing aside snide remarks and insinuations from friends – all are gifts we make to sustain the relationship. But if we cannot afford the gift the result is sheer hell.

    A salesman, after undergoing a vigorous training on how to please his customers, started work. A customer walked into his shop whom the salesman did not like at all. The customer was totally ignorant and was asking irrelevant questions. Nevertheless the salesman bearing in his mind the training he had received indulged in an extra-ordinarily pleasing conversation with the customer softly answering all his irritating questions. Ultimately a sale was clinched and the customer left the shop. The salesman whispered to his colleague: “The sale is done and I have gained a friend. But God, what an enemy he has gained.”

    Psychologists say more than 90% of the stress happens in human relationships. When someone says that her job is highly stressful, most of the time she has in her mind her difficult boss or her demanding customers, and these tend to strain the relationships and increase the stress levels. And relationships are strained because we always make a gift out of fear that if we do not give, our image would get a beating. We do not look into the emotional affordability of the gifts at all. More often than not we would be whispering ‘yes’ to an unreasonable request while our mind would be hollering a big ‘NO.’

    Many parents these days lavish their children with costly dresses, sophisticated gadgets and expensive schooling (though expensive schooling is not synonymous with quality education) well beyond their financial means. In most of the cases these gifts are emotionally unaffordable too. This explains why the slightest provocation, the parents enact violent emotional scenes invariably listing the sacrifices they have made to give the best to their children.

    Had the gifts been emotionally affordable in the first place such outbursts would not arise at all. And the worst thing a parent can do to her child is to list the sacrifices she has made for him. Nothing distances a child farther than that.
     
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  2. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Part 2

    Vel was a born helper. Even in his college days he would spend most of the time doing some kind of social work or other. He would teach the slum children, co-ordiante the polio vaccination camps and be a volunteer to hospitals and old age homes. Our teachers used to quote him as a role-model to us.

    His avowed object in life was to marry a lame girl and give her a happy life. In spite of his parents’ objections he did marry a girl who had a pronounced limp because of childhood polio. We all thought that this story would end with the lines “and then they lived happily ever after.” It didn’t.

    Vel did not treat his wife as a life partner to be respected but a child to be fussed with. His office people wanted to felicitate him for the noble act and invited the couple to accept a gift. When Vel’s wife found it difficult to climb up the podium, Vel lifted her with both his hands much to the applause of the crowd and the embarrassment of his wife. His wife was a very sensitive person who did not want to advertise her handicap. But Vel wanted to proclaim to the world that he had done a noble act.

    The root of the problem was that at the bottom of the heart he could not afford the gift emotionally. This manifested in several ways. Once Vel was ill and had a bout of coughing. He signalled to his wife to bring him water. Before she could limp along and bring water Vel lost his patience and shouted at her: “If you are going to hop like this for a cup of water, I will simply die of coughing.”

    Soon Vel developed an unnatural desire to elicit sympathy from his wife’s friends. Once he met his wife’s beautiful friend Sudha and went to the extent of complaining about his wife’s sexual incompatibility which was a blatant falsehood, to put it mildly. Sudha promptly communicated this to his wife who has now sent a divorce notice to Vel.

    The entire story has one theme: making a gift which could not afford. Vel was definitely compassionate and kinder than most men. But he was not definitely that kind to marry a lame girl and give her a normal life.

    It was a cold winter night in a very dense forest. A group of hedgehogs (porcupines) cuddled closer to beat the shivering cold. As they became closer and closer the pines/thorns in the animals’ bodies hurt others. The pain forced them to move apart. But then the biting cold compelled them to move closer.

    After repeating the process for a while the porcupines were at such a distance from each other that they were near enough to get the body heat of other animals and were far enough to avoid the pin(e)-pricks. That’s precisely the art of human relationships is all about. If there is no relationship at all we would suffer from the chill of loneliness and pointlessness, and if we are too close we would suffer from the ego-pin-pricks of other people. The idea is to maintain the correct distance.


    To relate is to understand. And one glimpse of this understanding is to find out whether your gifts are within your band of emotional affordability.

    sridhar/varalotti (just to tell you, that you can address me by any of these names or whatever you may assign to me eg. mandu)
     
  3. varudhini

    varudhini Bronze IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar

    Again a good article from you. I actually read it in WE, but i didn't remember the author's name.

    Yes it is very true of human relationships that there should be correct distance in maintaining relationships with others. Whether emotionally affordable or not sometimes we forced to give away some valuable gifts or deeds due to circumstances and later to reprimand. It is all but human nature.

    "If there is no relationship at all we would suffer from the chill of loneliness and pointlessness, and if we are too close we would suffer from the ego-pin-pricks of other people". :yes: that's the Sridhar's way of precisely explaining the human nature.

    With regards
    Varudhini

    PS:Your sign does not matter to most of us. You are our Sridhar that's all.
     
  4. Manjureddy

    Manjureddy Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Varalotti

    I surmise what you want to say is this :" Dont bite off more than you can chew"

    Woman's Era is a sweet little magazine that loves its readers as its own children . It coddles and pampers them with articles that give them nice tips like "when you go out during rainy season, dont forget to carry an umbrella." Such a thoughtful, helpful magazine !

    Manjula
     
  5. sihi

    sihi Senior IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar,

    I had never thought about such a thing as emotionally affordability. Honestly speaking, I have felt uncomfortable giving expensive gifts to people whom we don't consider close.....but I always used to correct and console myself saying that gifts we give should make us happy and ignore my feelings. Sometimes my hubby has remarked saying that I should not even be thinking in such lines. Reading your article has made me feel good that I am not the only one and its human nature to feel that way.

    I loved this statement by you....and its so very true
    If there is no relationship at all we would suffer from the chill of loneliness and pointlessness, and if we are too close we would suffer from the ego-pin-pricks of other people.

    Its also true that when we give out valuable gifts to whom we consider close and in return when they give us something very cheap (not that they cannot afford, but they simply don't want to give)...we do feel really bad. Wonder what is that called?

    Regards,
    Sihi
     
  6. deepavenkatesh

    deepavenkatesh New IL'ite

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    dear varalotti,
    i have read many stories of yours in tamil magazines.
    i am a new member of il, when i read the short stories and articles really i was happy .
    BACK TO WARNING BELLS: a very good article for this period of time.
    b'cos i would say now a days people make more commitments emotionally which leads to unnecesary problems.
    my husband always advices me to maintain a correct distance to any person we are dealing with.:yes:
    be it a servant or relation or neighbouror, staff..
    but i am still trying to develop that quality.,and hope would succeed.As u have have said having closeness with a distance is always a good way to maintain a long lasting relationship.
    this helps us to be smiling always.
    bye.
    deepa.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2007
  7. vmur

    vmur Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Varalotti,

    When I was in my 7th standard, I had two classmates who were "best" friends(school jargon). One of the classmate's dad got a transfer to some other state, and this girl had to change schools. The other friend was sooo disappointed that it started showing in her performance in studies. One of my teachers was kind enough to see what the problem was and this is how she consoled her and gave advice to all the students in general.

    Friendship is like fire, don't go too close, you will get burnt, don't stay too far away, you will not feel the warmth.

    I was reminded today of that saying again on reading your article.

    Regards
    Vidya
     
  8. sriranjani

    sriranjani New IL'ite

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    I can see the dig, Manjula Madam

    Dear Manjula Madam,

    Though Varalotti may not choose to see it, I can definitely see what you are saying. You have given an overly simplistic summarisation of the article and then say it indirectly in so many words, that what Varalotti has stated is a needless truism.

    At the risk of being labeled V's chumcha I beg to differ from you. You can make such simplistic statements of virtually anything. What does Valmiki say in those thousands of verses, "Dont covet other's wife." And for Mahabaratha, substitute wealth for wife.

    And then, Madam, you will proceed to say in your own flowery language, Valmiki loves his readers as his own children . He coddles and pampers them with poems that give them nice tips like "dont lust for another' s wife" Such a thoughtful, helpful Rishi !

    Going in this mood, nothing will remain but perhaps some complex treatise on Differential equations or the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem or Einstein's exposition of his General Theory of Relativity. May be highly evolved minds like yours can appreciate them. But we simpletons will prefer to stay with Varalotti and take his charming advice on taking an umbrella when it is raining.

    But Madam, you please take care. Not good for your health to stand in the rain without an umbrella. You might catch a cold.

    regards,
    Sriranjani
     
  9. Bhugan

    Bhugan New IL'ite

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    Dear Varalotti,
    This is the 1st time ive come across this coinage 'emotional affordability'.
    Yes its a lovely terminology. Most of the times we make a gift about which we feel guilty later. This especially applies to our servants to whom we try to be generosity personified fearing inside that if we are not so they may quit working or ditch us
    when we require them the most, but eventuallly they 99% dont live up to our expectations and then we are seething with devilish rage.
    This also applies too all our relationships and most of the times we are not able to draw a line.
    Now after reading yr article i shd be more careful and choosy about my emotional affordability and this especially applies a lot to me as ive become a pauper in emotional affordability since too many relationships have thrived on me.
    Sir, ive become an ardent fan of yours after extensively reading all yr articles in this site and infact ive copied down some of yr wonderful quotes.

    Bhugan
     
  10. vidyasarada

    vidyasarada Senior IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar,
    I dont remember reading this in W.E. So it was a new article to read.

    Since civility is the lubricant that keeps the cogs in any society moving smoothly, we are sometimes constrained to make compromises .( In case of married women, very frequently). We do give "gifts" that we cannot emotionally afford when the situation demands it.

    My " Chicken Soup for the soul" for dealing with such non-affordability is this:
    Having made a conscious choice to give/do something, I make myself take responsibility for it ; to accept it and to never go on guilt- trips or regret- trips about it later . Crying over spilt milk only leads to psychosis.
    I remember a pithy punchline from a very old Hollywood comedy : " If you gotta go, you gotta go". Thats how it is with certain decisions we make , the decisions get made by themselves ! when the head cannot be allowed to rule the heart , when we cannot sit and debate the affordability or otherwise of that particular decision.

    We can either train ourselves to make un-emotional, detached decisions. Or to never indulge in post-mortem analyses. Both are equally bitter soups , but as with "Karela', repeated usage can help in acquiring the taste for either one .

    VS
     

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