Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Putting people in boxes

Are stereotypes born or made? We shout ourselves hoarse about the narrow-mindedness of others but aren't we stereotyping people all the time? We want people to play the roles we choose for them. We put them in little slots inside our heads and take comfort in the thought that they will only do this much and no more.

And we do this quite unconsciously -- a home, at work, with the people we love, the people we dislike, with each other. A colleague or boss does this when he/she allots work to the team. The favourites get the plum assignments, the silent ones end up the worst off. A parent does this when he or she lays down the law -- tells the child to do only this and not that.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Maybe, we are all more than a little cruel, deep inside. We don't want to re-think our image of others and we most certainly don't want them to do something we think is out of character for them. Maybe we do this because there is a deep fear inside all of us, a hunger to always be proved right; a fear of inadequacy, of being overshadowed and overlooked; of being stuck in the shadows while another basks in the limelight.

But really, we don't need to be so afraid. Of others or of ourselves. Because we truly can do anything we put our mind to. Marianne Willamson put it beautifully in 'Return to Love: Reflections on a Course in Miracles':

‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond imagination.'


So break out of those little stereotypical cardboard boxes you've built inside your head.
Do what your heart wants. Because you can.