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  • Writer's pictureSona Parmar


Updated: Oct 28, 2021

Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.

- Sigmund Freud

It is very hard for me to accept that there are people in my life who are assholes.

I am of the opinion that behind every action, there is an intention and even if that intention is borne out of greed or revenge, say, one “should” be compassionate to those people. Apparently, they are the ones that suffer terribly, and thus they cause us to suffer with their actions.

The problem is, I still have to deal with these assholes.

I use the word asshole, because it is not a word I normally use. I don’t like to label. So when one of my kids hits one of the others, s/he did a bad thing. S/he is not a bad person. The difference is important, because their inherent worth is not up for debate.

So when I say asshole, it’s as if I’m saying that this person is somehow less than me, that his or her behaviour warrants less respect and that my reaction should take this into account.

But rather than asshole, I’ve now started to use a more descriptive term: I have started to label people as various creatures (probably also unfair, but needs must).

So I think of someone in my life who is a crocodile. She may smile sweetly, but she’ll have me for lunch given half the chance. I have a lamb, who’s always bleating “poor me” and a cat who comes and goes as she pleases. Then I have a rattlesnake, a weasel, a chameleon, a leech, a bear, an owl and even a puppy.

It’s not about labeling to say they are “bad”, rather to help me accept, and then act upon, someone’s nature. So, for example, if I am doing business with a rat rather than a penguin, I am much more likely to have my wits about me (arguably, I should always have my wits about me, but yet another story).

(I should also add that creatures may morph into others over time, so pay attention.)

So, finally, I have a framework in which to analyse and compartmentalise, to safeguard and flourish. I feel so proud of myself – or at least I did.

You see, despite this ingenious discovery, I couldn’t help but remember the wise words of the fictional character, Raylan Givens: “If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you're the asshole.”

Looks like I may need to tweak my theory…

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