By: Marilyn C. Arayata
WHEN you missed a bus or taxi ride, did you ever tell yourself that it was probably the universe’s way of sparing you from an accident or anything tragic? Did you tell yourself that everything happens for a reason – and that as far as you’re concerned, the world is at its best?
What did you tell yourself when a relationship ended, when a venture you worked so hard to establish eventually failed, when everybody in your group was accepted in an out-of-the country program, but your name was not included?
What do friends and relatives tell people who lost their children to rare diseases, to people who lost their hard-earned money and property to scammers, and to political wannabes who have not won a single local seat after several attempts?
“Everything happens for a reason.” “The world is at its best.” Sweet lemons attitude may not bring back the past or anything we lost and failed to get, but it certainly allows us to cope. In Aesop’s fable, the fox tried so hard to reach the grapes because they look sweet. He could not reach them, and just tried to console himself by saying that the grapes are sour, anyway. In contrast, people adapt the so-called sweet lemons attitude (lemons are not sweet, actually) as a form of rationalization when undesirable things happen to them. They console themselves by thinking that such undesirable events are in fact “desirable”. A student who lost in a school election might think that if he won, he would no longer have enough time for himself, for his studies, and the various extra-curricular activities that require regular meetings and practices. “Less is more.”
Sour grapes and sweet lemons are types of rationalization that people use as defense mechanism. S.K. Mangal provides a succinct explanation: “There are many situations in our environment and also within ourselves that threaten our psychological equilibrium. As a result, we fall victim to anxiety, frustration, conflicts, and other psychological upsets. Defense mechanism helps us defend ourselves from possible injury in such delicate moments.”
What could possibly explain the setbacks and disappointments that you’ve had lately? What rationalization might provide a temporary shield from jolts and surprises? Somebody said, “when life gives you lemons, make a lemonade”!
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Marilyn Arayata: inspirational author, columnist, speaker, and former DLSU-D faculty, your partner in preventing bullying, depression, and suicide. E-mail [email protected] Like the Hope Boosters Facebook Page for nuggets of hope and inspiration.
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