Theory of Expectations: The Negative Exception

a girl smiling with broken tooth

In continuation with my previous posts on the Theory of Reactions: The Exception and the Norm and the Theory of Expectations: The Exception and the Norm; let us now delve a bit deeper into the concept of an Exception.

Recall what an Exception is. An Exception is something that is not ordinary, not mundane. In simple words, anything which you see on the street once and you notice it again is an Exception. Exceptions can be awe inspiring (and formidable) like Sachin Tendulkar, Steve Jobs, Narendra Modi, or somewhat moderate like a handicap person, a girl with a half-broken front tooth, or a man with exceptionally big ears.

The Negative Exception: Recall the Exception-Norm Continuum where we discussed that an Exception can be positive, i.e. thinking or seeing it brings out a positive effect on people, like Sachin Tendulkar, Roger Federer. It can also be a negative one where it brings out a negative effect on people, like talking about or seeing a murderer, rapist etc.

Exception-Norm Continuum

The Exceptions need not always be to the extremes. Many times we come across mildly positive or mildly negative Exceptions.

Let’s say there is a girl with half-broken front tooth, and she is not very happy about it. People notice it every time she laughs which makes her uncomfortable. On the Exception-Norm Continuum, she may as well consider herself as a negative Exception, since the reaction that comes out of people is perceived to be negative.

Inadvertently in a world of marketing where fair, thin and beautiful is the trend we are made to look up to, she is embarrassed to face people with the fear that they will make fun of her. It is a different matter whether they actually do so or not, the fear is still there nonetheless.

The same can happen with a handicap, a man with exceptionally big ears, a person who sweats too much, or have any other physical situation which is out of our control.

The question in a situation like this is what is to be done? What should the girl do? What would you do? Of course getting the tooth back in order to be ‘normal’ is one good option. But what if the suffering is such that it can’t be mended? Say a permanent disability.

With the understanding that the human mind automatically reacts to Exceptions without us even realizing it, and the fact that till the time the disability is not actually physically affecting me in my performance, I think this gazing or comments or whatever the reaction may be should be considered an Expectation with nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of.

Having suffered with this little issue for years (due to a medical situation called Hyperhidrosis), I am now okay with my little lacuna which leads to eye-gazing at me in certain situations. Most of my close associates may not even notice it but it affects my psyche whenever I am in an embarrassing situation. However the fact that I cannot but more importantly I should not do anything about it since it does not affect my performance gives me a sense of comfort, otherwise I would have had spent my energy running here and there to find a cure (most of which are temporary and costly in my case).

I become an Exception in certain situations and feel uncomfortable as a result. But having understood how the human mind reacts to all kinds of Exceptions, I have now understood that the reaction I get is nothing new, it is coming from people because of the way our mind is conditioned.

Having become an Exception, I have also understood that it makes little sense for me to put over-stress on other people’s physical appearance, especially on things which are not in their control.

Think-it-over: Can you think of a time when you were the victim, when you were the negative Exception, and were the subject of an eye-gazing or other similar reaction by others? Try to imagine how it felt when it happened to you. I’m sure you will agree that it’s not the best of the feelings. Now think of the last time you stared at someone for a minor defect in their appearance. Imagine how they might have felt because of your little gaze at them.

This cycle of I vs. them keeps on going, where sometimes they react at me and sometimes I react at them. Understanding this juggle as a part of the process and not getting physically and psychologically affected by it too much is what differentiates the strong from the weak.

Also keeping in mind that my reaction is affecting others in the same way as their reaction is affecting me, helps me to at least control my reactions and keep it at a minimum so as to minimize any negative impact it may have on the other person.