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  • shiv kumar

The All-Powerful Remote


Mom: Why did you change the channel? I was watching the cooking program!

Son: I want to watch The Simpsons.

Mom: Not now, I want to watch Masterchef – it’s my favorite program. Give me the remote!

Son: No, I want to watch Simpsons.

Dad walks in and says “Where’s the remote? I want to watch football – it is kick-off time”.

Voices are raised as Dad, Mom and Son argue over their right to watch the program of their choice. The dog starts barking probably saying “Can you humans just shut up and let me sleep?”!!

Does this scene sound familiar to you?

Isn’t it amazing how much the control of the TV remote means to members of many households? I read an article that claimed that the one who has control of the TV remote for the majority of the time is the Alpha of the household. Holy cow!! This humble piece of equipment decides the hierarchical structure of a family? The TV remote must be very proud of itself and the significance it has gained over the years! Even in multi-TV households, the argument over the control of the TV remote rages on, depending on the room people are in and the channels available on different TVs. First-world problems, right?

There is however another remote that we should be more concerned about but we ignore it and easily give it over to others without thinking at all. Consider the following scenarios –

- You walk into the office feeling upbeat. Within a few minutes, your boss makes a negative or sarcastic remark about a project that you’ve put a lot of time and effort into. How does that change your mood?

- You’re having a pretty good day until a colleague who tends to get under your skin has an argument with you over something trivial. How does that make you feel?

- You’ve made a post on social media and someone makes a nasty comment. Could be a friend or even someone you don’t know. Feel anything within you changing?

- You’re happily driving along the highway, humming to the music on your radio, when suddenly a driver honks at you, swears through his window, and ‘flips the bird’ as he overtakes rashly. Did that flick a switch within you?

In all of the above scenarios, if your mood immediately shifts from positive or even neutral to negative, you have allowed someone to change your channel. Yes, you have given the remote of your life to other people and every time they press a button, they change how you feel. The “happy you” suddenly becomes the “angry you” or the “calm you” might turn into the “annoyed you”. A bit like the calm Bruce Banner turning into the enraged Hulk, wouldn’t you say?

Sometimes we might say of someone that we find annoying – “this person sure knows how to push my buttons”. Well, guess what – that is because we give them access to those buttons by handing over the remote! It is quite disconcerting how naïve we can be with allowing other people to control how we feel. Now, we have no control over what others might say or think about us but we have complete control over how we react to what is said – provided we retain possession of the remote control of our lives.

We seem to be prepared to fight tooth and nail with our loved ones over the TV remote, jeopardizing the peace and tranquility of our home. How about we show similar determination to ensure that we do not hand over the remote of our life to anyone else? We often are not even aware that we are allowing ourselves to be controlled by other people and end up paying a heavy price in terms of our own mental and emotional states. Why don’t we begin by first gaining that awareness? After becoming aware, for the next step, would you like a mantra to prevent others from getting hold of your life’s remote? Don’t worry, it’s nothing religious or complicated!

My mantra is IDGAF. For the benefit of those who don’t know me – I have a thing for acronyms! And IDGAF stands for “I Don’t Give A F…”!! Now, this is a powerful mantra, and so it has to be used judiciously. Even a great wizard like Harry Potter used his spells carefully, right? So IDGAF shouldn’t be applied to every single comment or criticism against you because some of them may be helpful and well-intentioned. Of course, you should take constructive criticism seriously and in the spirit that it was given. But for everything else that is directed at you from people who don’t mean much in your life, practice IDGAF – preferably without saying it out loud, as that could cause more trouble than you bargain for, but silently in your mind. Once you’ve said it… you’ve dealt with it, so just move on! The remote is secure in your hand and you continue to be the alpha of your life. You choose when you want to be happy, sad, angry, grumpy, or any other human emotion that we all have to deal with in our daily lives. Don’t give that power away!!

If you resonate with the idea of keeping your life’s remote with you and practicing IDGAF to allow unworthy comments and actions from negative people roll off you like water off a duck’s back, please do comment and let me know.

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