Saturday, December 07, 2013

The Ostrich Effect

My beautiful daughter loves to play peek-a-boo and hide and seek. She loves to hide herself and go – ‘Where is Gracia? Where is Gracia?’ And then we repeat after her – ‘Where is Gracia? Where is Gracia?’ and pretend to look for her. And that gets her real excited and then she jumps out with excitement, shouting – ‘Here is Gracia!!’ And we pretend to be surprised and laugh and clap along. It’s a fun game to play with your toddler. She sometimes also finds a blanket or sometimes just a shirt or something and covers her face and does the same thing.

Lately she has found an easier way of playing this game. She just closes her eyes J ! When she closes her eyes, its dark and to her, probably, she is not there anymore. She just closes her eyes and goes - ‘Where is Gracia? Where is Gracia?’ And then opens her eyes and goes - ‘Here is Gracia!!’ It’s just so funny when she closes her eyes and starts shouting – ‘Where is Gracia?’ J

This little funny game of ours reminds me of the Ostrich Effect. I googled and found that there really is a theory called the Ostrich Effect which simply means - Avoiding a situation by pretending it doesn’t exist. Another website puts it this way - In the Ostrich Effect, people look away from that which makes them anxious, setting in motion a sequence of events that get them stuck with difficult work situations, problems, relationships and people.

This is one problem I have had a lot of issues tackling. Whenever I feel that a confrontation would turn ugly or bad, I just close my eyes to it or push it under the rug.

Some time back I was reflecting on some things that were troubling me and I realised that I didn’t want to deal with it. And whenever I prayed about it, God always told me –‘Child, I want you to deal with it. So I am not going to make these issues magically disappear. You have to learn to face things boldly and positively.’ I knew God was right, just like He always is but I still didn’t want to deal with things.

The Dentist Scenario: I hated going to the dentists. And not surprisingly, I had quite a few teeth problems that needed fixing. I remember praying – ‘God, please make the cavities and tooth problems disappear magically’ And God replied – ‘Go to the dentist!!!’ I put off going to the dentist as much as I could and just piled on the pain killers and clove oils and everything anyone suggested would help the pain. But in the end, I had to go to the dentist. Once I had taken the step of going to the dentist, God also worked so beautifully. He gave me strength and boldness, strong encouragement in the form of my husband. And he also gave me an awesome awesome dentist. She was patient, encouraging, positive and so calm. I’m not afraid of a dentist appointment anymore. It’s not a huge deal anymore. God did give me a miracle but only, not my way. He took away my fear of dentists.

Facing things removes fear (and gives you healthy teeth J ).

The Milk Packet Scenario: I remember years back, I was upset with my husband for something. I just walked off, without talking about it. Just pushed it under the rug. My husband knew something was wrong and the last thing that he knew had happened before I was upset, was that I had asked him to go buy milk and he hadn’t gone. So he thought that’s what upset me and was wondering why something as small as that had made me that upset. He was probably upset that I was upset over something that small. After about 2- 3 days (I know, days, but I was immature) when I talked it out with him about what made me mad, he went – Oohhhh.. (typical male response I guess. He had no idea!) and he added – ‘I thought it was the milk packet!’ We laughed it out and things got sorted. It’s only when we talk about it that the other person even realises what the problem. Most times they are left wondering what happened!

I realise that the people closest to me are the ones who talk things out with me. I know my weaknesses. I know I go wrong. There are people who can walk away when there is an issue. But there are people who know you and will talk things out with you; those are the ones you develop a close bond with.

Facing things gives you beautiful relationships and beautiful friends.

The Fear Factor: I remember I was too scared about dealing with something that God wanted me to deal with and I remember what God spoke through a message of T D Jakes. T D Jakes talked about how God has not given to us a spirit of fear. So any fear you have, is not from God. God has given us the Spirit of Power, Spirit of Love and Spirit of Strong Mind. I also remember a message of Joyce Meyer’s where she said that when you’re afraid to do something, do it anyway. Do it afraid.

Facing things gives you new experiences and solves problems.

The Spouse Factor: I think one important component in a marriage is communication. There are times I don’t communicate fearing a fight or argument. But I have realised one thing, a fight or argument is temporary but if I didn’t talk about things that need to be talked about, it just leads to bigger problem. And most of the time, my fear has been baseless as we immediately come to an understanding. A wise lady told me how men think different and most times don’t even know what’s going on with us and how important it was to tell them how we felt instead of bottling things up. There are times when things do end up in an argument but whenever we have communicated, 100% of the time things have been solved. Even when things turn into an argument and we tell things out in a not-so-nice way, we still tell out everything and that leads to helping us understand how each other feels and decide things more easily depending on what each other needs. But yes, we are still working towards getting to that place, where we learn to say and communicate things in always a nice way 100% of the time J.

Facing issues gives you a healthy beautiful marriage (Thank God for mine J ).

The Difficult People Scenario: Okay, so this is the difficult part. What about the ones you have talked things out with and it has only brought huge repercussions? What if facing a problem does not help? I’m sure there are such people in everyone’s life (at least one or two). I guess in this scenario, you just pray and pray and pray some more. I remember I was talking to a wise lady about something and she said – Pray! And I said – ‘Oh I’ve prayed so much!’ And she said – ‘Pray More!’ We learn to not give up on God (even if we may want to give up on a person). We learn to not be the victims and at the same to not victimise. We learn to be assertive and not aggressive nor passive. We learn to maintain our dignity and self-respect without disrespecting the other person and also not losing ours. We learn to be calm, to be strong, to hold our head up high, to be peaceful in the midst of turmoil, to be confident. To be People of Power, People of Love, People of Sound Mind. People of God!

This has been quite a learning for me. A difficult lesson but one that does bear a lot of beautiful fruits. It’s the hard things that lead to the most beautiful things. The first step is usually the hardest. Just take your first step, the rest will follow. And also, keep at it.

So let’s get our head out of the sand and open our eyes and say like my beautiful daughter – ‘Here is me!’ and I’m going to confront and deal with this.

Philippians 4 13 -  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4: 6 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.