you just take it


My encounter with a Person in Power the day before yesterday needs some reflection. In the last 2 days, I have moved from an emotional response, a desire to get back at the person with all the things I realized I should have said at the time, and which occurred to me only hours later, to a reflective state. I need to analyze what happened, and how I behaved, what happens and how I behave, to be able to learn the things I already know.

1. My capacity to tolerate aggression is dangerously large. This has been proved in my earlier marriage. One would have thought I had grown up. This comes from an innate politeness, a desire to be ‘nice’, to be approved of. To consider myself a ‘good person’ is also such pompousness.

2. I am unable to stand up for myself when intimidated. My ability to listen to the other person’s point of view makes me forget my own point of view at times.

3. In a conflict situation, I respond with extreme calm which is almost a shut down of all my responses. I am afraid I will burst into tears if I begin to respond. Which is why I often prefer a frigid calm.

4. I expect Other Assorted People in the situation to see what is right, and just, and stand up for it, to be supportive, which is pointless to expect when I don’t stand up for myself. Perhaps the other people are also intimidated, playing ‘nice’, playing safe, like me.

5. My sense of responsibility towards a project, towards work, is sometimes at the cost of my self dignity. Years of struggling financially, and some years of single parenting when Dhanno was very little, have made me swallow all kinds of bitter pills to keep things going, when it would have been more righteous to walk out. It would also have been so much more dramatic, so satisfying.

6. I realized that what comes across as power is usually an audio-visual play. There is a seating arrangement which spells ‘I am in charge’, a tone of voice, a facial sneer. Mostly, power is about who has the loudest voice, and who can get away with being most rude. The Person in Power in this situation, was someone I have been acquainted with for over 20 years, someone with a reputation of being sensible, sensitive, intelligent. But obviously the accoutrements of the chair gave him a voice which I had never heard before. I am clear that he has a right to his opinions, but the airing of those were offensive in a way they did not need to be, particularly when the conclusion to the meeting was a given, even before the meeting took place.

7. I came out of the meeting with the Person in Power and Other Assorted People, and crossed an assistant director who had worked with me on a shoot. I remembered how nasty I had been to him during the shoot. I still think that he had done enough to deserve my exasperation, but I do know that I had shown him my annoyance because he was my subordinate. I was unable to show my annoyance to many other people on the shoot who deserved it more, on other occasions, because they were not my subordinates. I know that though I might resent the Person in Power, given a chance, I can easily be one myself.

For more lucid thoughts on power. 




  1. You have done so well by writing this, Banno. We can get to changing something only when we understand what it is that we are dealing with in the first place. It feels like a gift to read this. “My ability to listen to the other person’s point of view makes me forget my own point of view at times.” Thank you. Hope you feel better too!

    • Thank you, Natasha. It took me a while to get to this post. But yes, I do feel better. Once you know what’s happening, and you can put it into words, you begin to feel in control again. Getting over the ’emotional obscurations’ as the Dalai Lama calls them. How I love that word!

  2. I was going to say, Points 2, 3 and 5 until I realised that a bit of every one of these points. We must figure out a way to not care what people think of us but it’s easier said than done. I always chicken out.

    • Space Bar, thank you, that makes me feel so much better, in a stupid sort of way. To know, that there are other people I know and love out there, who do chicken out, like me.

  3. All ‘good’ people are like this only. We need to discover and unleash our inner bad person. That is such an insightful line: “To consider myself a ‘good person’ is also such pompousness.” Its a useless moral high ground, no, if it makes us feel defeated anyway.

  4. Hmmm…don’t want to sound condemnatory, but really time to stop taking it Banno…also perhaps time to accept a few things about other people – they are not necessarily nice, intelligent, likable or decent – simply because you know them. Also, perhaps you could write another post on how women are the chief attackers when you stop being a nice girl. That’s been my experience. I am most unpopular amongst them, perhaps because I threaten a lot of the silly behaviour they endorse. Anyway.

    • Yes, Anna. Definitely time to stop taking it. Though of course, I don’t believe that everyone I meet or know will be ‘nice’. I am not quite as naive as that.🙂 I’ve had a lot of experience with women condemning you when you are not a nice girl, when I was younger. But not so much now. But I know what you mean.

  5. Oh and I have been a major chickener-outer in my time, so we all have lots of company! the thing is – when to stop? BTW we know each other from long ago (when Dhanno was small)…send me a request on FB???

    • Oh, I wouldn’t have taken you to be a chickener-outer. I guess we all are what we do not seem. But it’s good to have company. But definitely time to stop.

    • Dipali, I hate to admit it, but I wonder if that desire to be ‘nice’ is also something I learned as part of being a girl, while growing up?

  6. I understand very well, what you mean. If it is a consolation to you, I feel the same myself quite often.
    And more laudatory is the fact that you take time for self-reflection. From my experience, I know that only few people have this virtue! Bravo!
    Don’t condemn yourself for not reacting the way it should have been, both as a “victim” and as the “perpetrator”. MAYBE that was the right thing at that time. Being offensive is also not the right thing always.
    Self-reflection helps and will help you come forward in life.
    Beautiful post!

    • Thank you, Harvey. Yes, it is always a consolation and a strength to know, that we are not unique in our anxieties and our weaknesses. And that we can go forward.

  7. We have all been down that path sometime or another – agree with Anna Palmer. We need to stop at some point and take stalk of ourselves. Power in many cases turn people into bullies – and it is on us to stand up to them. Reflection, analysis is good and I hope you take this important lesson and change in ways that will help YOU in the long run.

    • Thank you, Sukanya. That was one of the reasons I wanted to analyse, because it is pointless just feeling sorry that someone bullied you.

  8. I could identify with such a lot of what you said, Banno. Actually, come to think of it, all of what you said. As my mother (who is also cast in the same mould) says in a self-deprecating way, “I’m a doormat with ‘Welcome’ written large over it.” It takes time and effort, I guess, to stop agreeing to be bulldozed.

    Hah. As if I can lecture about something I’m so bad at, myself.

    • Dusted Off, It seems so graceless to have ‘Buzz Off’ written on a doormat. But of course, the trick is to stop being a doormat.😦

  9. Banno, I once told a very close someone, I’m not a doormat. Yet there seems to a sign on my forehead that is visible only to you that says ‘Please. Wipe your feet on me.’ So, yes, what you wrote resonates in many chilling ways, only I’m quite assertive in other ways. I hope you find a way to balance the being nice with the being annoyed. Oh, how I get that! All the best.

    • Yes, Anu, if I, and so many other people, who have sympathized here, could find the balance, things would be much better, not only for ourselves, but the world at large. I guess, you live and learn.

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