The Webster’s Dictionary defines inhibition as a “mental or psychological process that restrains or suppresses an action, emotion, or thought.” Under this broad definition, each and every person is likely to have one or more inhibitions, which could have originated at any stage of his/her life. Usually such inhibitions are fed into the brain during the early formative years – depending on a person’s cultural upbringing, folk tales heard from the first line care-givers like parents, grandparents, and/or babysitters – also considered as the first teachers or guides. These persons can implant in a child’s brain all sorts of whims, fantasies, fears, ideals, or teachings based on their personal experiences, or what they valued the most, religious beliefs, and superstitions. Besides these early tales and teachings, the company of friends, peers, bad personal experiences, and the environment may also germinate inhibitions which, in turn, may become a part of one’s personality or behavioural psyche. This psyche may impede or enhance one’s development, career-path, or economic gains over life-time. For example, if a person has been raised in a religious and God-fearing environment, and taught God’s gospels, that person would always show a strong inhibition to hurt anyone physically, emotionally, spiritually, or abuse, bully, or back-stab – irrespective of what others do to him/her.
Role of inhibition
Now that I am retired after almost fifty years of uninterrupted paid work and establishing myself as a writer, I am turning back the pages just to understand how some of my inhibitions played a positive and negative roles in my career as an employee. As my internal psyche worked in both cases – a driving motivation, ambition, and hard work that kept me going to achieve some goals on the one hand, and the disappointments, or failures that I suffered on the other – I am wondering what was it that kept me going through the sun shine or the rain, sleet, or snow. Although I do believe that the lady luck plays some role in life, but the fact of the matter is that a person’s own planning, efforts, persistence, and actions eventually account for his/her success. We all are architect of our own life. We all spend time, effort and energy to achieve our goals, but only a few really succeed and the rest moderately, or stagnate, or fail. Why? Could we attribute such successes and failures to some of our ingrained inhibitions – developed during formative or later years?
My early inhibitions
Like all children, I received my early teachings from the first line care-givers – primarily my maternal grandmother – who looked after me during my early years. She instilled in me innumerable teachings like ‘have trust in God, be respectful to parents, persons older to you, and the elderly, be compassionate and a giver, be courteous to women, work hard to progress, face adversity bravely and patiently, keep persisting until you get what you want, don’t berate others or brag about yourself, be humble, as a man be strong and don’t shriek even when run-over by a train, and on and on.’ Needless to say, some of these teachings became guiding-lights and some turned out to be inhibitions. In this post, I will dwell on two simply to demonstrate how they affected my career.
A. Respect a woman
As I was ingrained – always respect a woman – I grew up respecting a woman with utmost regard – from my mother to senior women relatives and acquaintances outside the home. As a mark of respect, I used to talk to them in a much softer and gentler tone. I would often obey their commands and follow their instructions. As the luck would have it, when I immigrated to Ottawa (Canada) from the United Kingdom with a job in the federal public service, I ended up with a woman supervisor, and another woman as a director. In other words, I had to work and deal with not one but two women. I found myself in a very odd situation as psychologically and mentally, I was simply prepared to talk to them in a soft and respectful tone, whereas the work required to talk to them back-and-forth in a stronger and convincing tone to show my effectiveness as a professional worker. Even when they shouted at the pitch of their voices, I kept my calm and listened to them rather than shouting back at them simply as a mark of respect. This inhibition of mine conveyed them the impression that I was too ineffective and poor in fighting back or communicating. They didn’t know how mentally trapped I was inside that even if I wanted to rebut to justify my actions, my tongue was tied. By the time I overcame this inhibition and started to communicate with them, it was too late. I had been labelled as an ineffective and poor communicator, which in turn, affected my career progression. This equally hindered my search for another job as these women would not recommend me. And no one wanted a ‘poor communicator’ on the staff.
In case you are wondering why didn’t I try for a different job right away to get away from these women. Well, put yourself in my position. As an immigrant, I was all alone in a new country, didn’t know anyone, had no financial source other than the salary from this job, which too was probationary for a year. I couldn’t risk my survival at least for a year. I didn’t want to quit my well-paying professional job, risk living on government’s social assistance for weeks or months, and further with no guarantee that I would get a similar or better job elsewhere. At that moment, I firmly believed that a bird in hand was better than two in the bush. As an immigrant, the financial security was way more important than the hurt caused by these women.
B. Be persistent and follow your goal
What was it that kept me going on the job? Despite my poor inter-personal relationship with these women, I was able to continue to pursue my analytic and writing interests. My grandmother’s teaching ‘be persistent and keep on track until you get what you want’ was always on my mind. I wanted to earn name and fame as a professional and the only way to get it was by having my work published in newspapers and well-received by other media. Over time, both of these women and other seniors realized that I was a skilled, creative, and prolific worker, who was also enhancing their profiles. I have seen my name published in almost every newspaper in Canada. One of the papers I wrote turned out to be one of the best among government publications in 1984-85 and was sent to Canadian High Commissions and Embassies around the globe. Even the last paper published a week before my retirement was quoted in the Wall Street’s ‘Dow Jones’ paper.
By the time I retired, I had published more than one hundred papers and reports; seventy plus tiles, available in the public domain, are listed on the site.
I wouldn’t infer that I had a happy and financially rewarding career. The least I can conclude is that I was able to do what I wanted to do. How I did it and overcame all the hurdles, bumps, and obstacles to simply pursue my writing interest is the subject of my next book “Pursuing writing in the public sector” to be released by summer of next year. In the meantime, I am really grateful to my grandmother for teaching me to face each and every adversity with courage, patience, and perseverance.
Inhibition, Type and source of inhibition, Writing, Writing career, Public sector, Woman supervisor, Persistence, Ambition, Hard work.