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Shades of disapproval

Whenever you reach home late, your mother opens the door soundlessly and serves dinner. Today, your father opens the door and your mother is standing behind silently.

You meet with an accident and reach home in a shaken state of mind. The injuries are minor, but remembering the scene makes you shudder. Your father looks sternly at you, and a cold voice erupts from his disapproving demeanor, “It’s okay this time. But I don’t understand what makes you undertake those adventures.” There is absolutely no concern about your well-being.

Your boss says ‘Come In’ without looking up, and continues to work on his device. The latest weekly report is lying on the table. You know the silence is a volcano waiting to erupt. Business figures have dropped.

Disapproval sends a chill down your spine. It makes you uncomfortable, or defiant or strengthens your resolve further. One extreme state of mind begets another.

Yet, let us look at the different shades of disapproval.


The person lives in fear of consequences of certain things considered unsafe.

The rules or disapproval are all framed to help escape the ‘feared’ consequences. The fears may not be logical or justified, but are very much real for the person.

Their past experience, stories they’ve heard or mindsets instilled in their growing-up years make them act in this manner.

It can be a fear of losing control, a fear of social stigma or imagined fear of accidents, illness or death.


This set of people believes they can exert authority only by holding the power to approve or disapprove.

Leadership by example or leading from the front or servant leadership is not their style. They need to crack the whip, and fear losing power if they don’t.

All of us know of a boss or bully of this description.


They’ve never looked beyond tradition. It has always been done this way, and thinking of anything else is blasphemy.

They try to induce guilt, punish or ostracize one for deemed errant behavior.

Religious heads, political leaders, grandparents or parents, business heads can all display this behavior at certain points of time.


Deep down, they feel unwanted or side-lined. It may have happened due to a change in roles, advancing age, change in family or organizational structure or something else.

The strategy they adopt is to see how far will someone go for them.

Will you forego your next vacation, or break up with your girlfriend? Can you fast or perform rituals to carry forward a family tradition? An ageing parent or an old friend can do this when you move on to other social sets.

A refusal by others to do so makes them insecure.


These people are born with a sense of entitlement. They believe others are obliged to follow their rules and pay obeisance.

They pass judgement on things totally beyond their purview, in a self-important manner.

Hushed voices around them ask, “But who are you to…?”. They never listen.

Ignore them. They are not likely to change.


One can be disgusted by the manner in which a segment of the population treats another. Disdain, oppression, racialism, gender violence infuriates them.

They turn into rebels or leaders of a movement. Disapproval of unfair practices is positive.



If you spot any of the reasons given above, or something else, say it. Confront them with truth. Let the subconscious pattern evolve into a more conscious way of thinking.


The more you give in, the more pressure will be exerted on you.

State clearly why you act in a particular manner, and how does it support your life goals.

Let them know in clear terms that this is the way you will go.

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