Saturday, February 27, 2010

Getting ahead of yourself

           The concept of getting ahead of yourself was taught to me in school by my hindi textbook. I tell this to people all the time, guess because this funny story stuck in my head. Of course, the exact story may not have stuck with me, but the moral of the story definitely did. Long story considerably short not super short goes like this, there is this funny character called shekhchilli, who is walking, carrying some milk. As he is walking, he starts thinking about making some butter out of the milk and then selling the butter, using that money to buy more milk, making butter, selling that for profit to I guess buying a cow and then going on and on that, as he keeps building castles in the air, he suddenly slips and falls down dropping down all the milk he had and his little dream castle gets demolished in a minute. As I said, the story may not be exactly what I read in my school hindi book, yet, I think all smart readers of my blogpost by now would have gotten the moral of the story and that is not to get ahead of yourself or in other words, 'don't count your chickens before they hatch'.

           Stories apart, one of the classic real life examples of where this happens with us human beings is mostly during relationships. We would start talking to someone, and have an instant liking for them, Few conversations and we foolishly start feeling that we know this person really well and this is the person we really like, this is the person have fallen in love with. We get so ahead of ourselves that we let our imaginations have fun and think far too ahead along the lines of spending our entire lives with that person. Think of it rationally, we might not even know that person really well and we are in love and thinking about spending all our life with them. With time, we slowly go to stage where we don't see beyond that person and try to interpret and analyze each word they speak to us. We get upset when they don't respond to us in the manner we expect them to. In the process we forget to look at the practicality of how right that person is for us. A similar example which Indian movies often show is the one where someone's flirtatious talk could be misunderstood for a romantic interest in us. It could end up like being fooled by a mirage. We start living in an illusion until reality strikes one day. People who call themselves mature might read this example and say, well this doesn't happen to everyone, it happens to people who are immature or people who don't think rationally. I am not saying this happens to everyone, but I do know all of us go through such an excitement atleast once in life. If you didn't, either you are really dumb or you are blatantly lying. Let me give another example. We often prepare for situations say for instance an interview which goes really well and we start getting ahead of ourselves and start making plans for after a getting the job, though we haven't even got the offer yet. We have all been shekhchillis atleast at some point in our life atleast for a few minutes. 

            Getting ahead of yourself has negative effects when you encounter experiences where you eventually met with a failure.  So you get a bad experience and then you slowly become cautious and then with another bad experience you become cynical. In such cases, we keep telling ourselves not to get ahead of ourselves and try to be very watchful. We could even end up being over cautious and afraid of taking risks in life. But  paradoxically, someone can come and ask us, 'a man can dream can't he?' . There is a fine line between dreaming and getting ahead of yourself. It is easy to confuse visualizing or envisioning a future and trying to take actions to reach them with trying to do something or plan for something which is not yet appropriate. So if I have an ambition of becoming a psychologist, taking steps and preparing to achieve that goal is something positive. But if I start thinking now itself about how many people I am going to counsel once I become a psychologist or how much money I will be making by open up a private practice, that is just when I am getting way ahead of myself. From a psychological perspective, getting ahead of yourself could lead to a chain or train of thoughts, but should not be confused with the monkey mind concept where your chain of thoughts could pretty much be disconnected and each thought in itself may be rational.

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