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  • Zuhra Al Yarabi

Where are you, Lavender?

Who is your lavender?

Lavender is a person who genuinely supports others’ overall maturation, development, and growth. A person who brings you happiness, security, and love. A person who is your “go-to person.” A person who brings a sense of safety and comfort, aiding you in recognizing and developing the best version of yourself. It is important to note, though, that you define the best version of yourself: it is by your standards and your standards only. Your best self could range from singing out loud to songs when you are happy with no care about how others perceive you to expressing your opinions or significant findings without fear of perceived ridicule and embarrassment.

Your lavender is also your home.

Home is a concept: it can be a place, person, thing, or even time. As you envision your lavender, do you see who this person is? How much do they mean to you? Are you having difficulty pinpointing this person? Or are you proactively disregarding the person you identified as your lavender?

If you are among the individuals who found it challenging, irritating, or even painful to identify your lavender, this may occur in light of one or several reinforcers. These reinforcers act as obstacles in acknowledging the presence of a lavender in your life.

A potential obstacle is an interaction between self-worth and self-sabotage. Think of relationships built and maintained on communication patterns that normalize statements such as “loser,” “you are too much to handle,” or even “nobody will ever like you for you.” The chances of internalizing these statements heighten with consistent repetition in receiving them. The receiver begins to acquire them as one’s own belief without critically assessing their validity and accuracy. The initial thought, seemingly harmless to the speaker, is now gradually transitioning to the receiver from an expressed thought to a fact and ultimately part of the receiver’s core belief, that is, I’m unworthy. Now, with a deeply held belief of that nature, it sadly deflects statements that contradict the negative core belief. It has enough power to force individuals to isolate themselves from members of their contextual setting as a means of protection from hurt or disappointment in themselves, including others. Hence, the self-sabotage.

Another reinforcing factor or obstacle is perceived consequences such as abandonment and loss. The way I see it, people seem to fear happiness and may say, “It’s an illusion and a guest that won’t stay for long.” Of course, that feeling is valid, but notice the emphasis and marked preoccupation with the future. The individual misses the opportunity to experience their emotions as it is occurring in real-time. Similar to the self-worth and self-sabotage interaction, the latter phenomenon can isolate a person from others. There is engagement in yet another cycle of internal cognitive battle along the lines of, “I’m happy. Therefore, I shall stay neutral. Therefore, I shall protect myself from loss and abandonment. Therefore, I shall isolate myself from others to preserve my happiness and avoid getting hurt.” As this is part of an internal dialogue, the people around the individual who engages in said dialogue are unlikely to reason or determine the root cause of it. So, instead, without mind-reading capabilities, it leaves room for misinterpretation. And outsiders to the internal dialogue would make sense of the situation as “That person no longer wants to spend time with me.” Contrarily, the person is trying to say, “I love you and want to spend time with you. But I’m afraid this feeling won’t stay for long.” An internal cognitive battle to protect is now an interpersonal miscommunication that reinforced the individual’s initial fear, abandonment, and loss.

Your lavender is there, but are you willing to accept it?

Being in a merry-go-round for longer than ten minutes can lead to dizziness, a sensation of physical imbalance, and nausea. Imagine this ride as the cognitive cycle you engage in to reinforce the belief that you are undeserving of a lavender. The twist, however, is that this ride has been going on for years. Can you recognize the effort you put into maintaining this thought or belief? It seems exhausting and has an enormous mental load. You do not feel its burden on you until you recognize it. One way to get out of this ride is to challenge the reinforcer. It sounds like an easier-said-than-done remark, yet it is possible with determination and patience. Are you ready for that? I think it’s time for your lavender to stay.

Edited by Emiru Okada

Graphic by Momoka Ando


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