But some of us perceive that instead of reaching the end of a track, we have been maliciously derailed from our quest for the Holy Grail in our lives. There is a subtle difference between our natural responses in these two encounters, which is irrespective of whether our aims are pure or evil. Being cornered means that you have lost a degree of control that was once taken for granted. After all, it is not you that has chosen to halt your acceleration down a country lane, but a rogue beast that has t-boned your progression having emerged from the hedges. This cessation of liberty can make you feel hopeless and detached from the rigid social structures that you have long depended on. In a split second, your reliance on family, colleagues and wider civil society can become strained, completely unfamiliar from the unshakeable foundations which you have grown accustomed to.
Feeling like you have been wronged or unjustly treated evokes a primitive rage, where a cloud of anger and moral indignation descends onto a person’s adult disposition. You become steeped in the ‘us versus them’ narrative, the eternal struggle between the Good and the Bad which is not surprising in the binary confines of the internet. The result is a childish reaction, one that is steeped in self-justified immaturity and retribution for retribution’s sake. Lashing out like a cornered cat, shouting and screaming to signal the devastation of your affairs and your displeasure at the barrel being pointed towards you.
How dare they.
You are then less likely to take responsibility for your actions and ascend onto a better path, and will become fixated on the injustice before you. This is not to invalidate the surfacing of such emotions or the existence of real injustice, but simply to illustrate that there is a more productive, long-term strategy which builds resilience rather than breeds resentment.
Harbouring feelings of moral superiority over others instead of self-criticising our own actions makes us entitled in a world that, in actuality, owes us nothing. No one is entitled to a straightforward journey to their desired haven and any pitfall, whether a natural carving of the Earth or nefariously planted, is an inevitability in our search for something truly meaningful. Some might spread sympathy and solidarity to acknowledge elements of your mistreatment, but these gracious extensions won’t change the fact that the rogue beast knocked you off the track and left you aimless. Taking strong and calculated action should be the primary response, and should not be contingent on whether you feel vindicated by the world in your moral outrage.
Holding disdain towards others for their role in our professional or personal stagnations also leaves us completely exposed to oblivion, rendering us unable to adopt more effective and emotionally intelligent manoeuvres to navigate future crossroads. Whilst you might feel like a victim due to the unacceptable actions of others, you will quickly become a villain if you choose to carry on in the same manner. Engaging in the exact same behaviour that previously led you to a position of vulnerability is a practice in inertness and lethargy; refusing to gradually evolve as a person as an objection to the ingrained acts of injustice bound to strike at our core. It can make you feel good, even powerful, but it will never make you as refined as you could be.
“Learn from your past and be better because of your past, but don’t cry about your past. Life is full of pain. Let the pain sharpen you, but don’t hold on to it. Don’t be bitter.” – Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah