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Forced Regression

by Sudhama Ranganathan Wednesday, Dec. 05, 2012 at 8:53 AM

People navigating unusually trying circumstances often need to dig deep to come up with responses and solutions to those predicaments that are equally unconventional, in order to effectively navigate those circumstances. There are so many ways we can be tried in life, and not one of us experiences the exact same test, or experiences a duplicate test exactly the same way another person’s does. Individual and singular, there will always be something peculiar to who we are that is introduced into everything we do. Dealing with adversity is no different, and it can bring about new responses to situations many others have previously been through, due to our uniqueness as individuals.

Smiley face

When solutions to dealing with the problems we face have been ill defined or related by others, in details and description that are patchy at best, we need to make up for those shortcomings on the spot, using our own ingenuity and creativity. Sometimes that means basically starting from scratch, while on other occasions it means just adding a few things here or there catered to our own situation. Our experience will never be exactly like another's, especially the more detailed you delve into it. Though the larger picture is important to keep in mind, sometimes understanding how details fit into the entirety can make all the difference to successfully navigating any number of circumstances.

Dealing with and surviving especially harsh instances of harassment, whether due to gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, uniqueness as a person or whatever it may be, can no doubt call for summoning inspiration and strength from deep reservoirs on the part of the person being harassed, they may never have known existed until the need arose. People suffering severe harassment will also usually need to find ways of thinking outside of the box and stepping outside of their own comfort zone in ways they never had to imagine in the past.

I know, it happened to me when I was a student in the University of Connecticut's Landscape Architecture program. I was forced to concoct methods to overcoming the harassment by drawing on survival instincts, will and my imagination. The fact I was harassed was not unique in and of itself. I was not possessed of any special skills or above average intelligence. Most of how I chose to deal with the harassment was driven by the need to survive the situation I found myself in.

The information available to me on the subject mostly dealt with inner feelings a person dealing with harassment might experience, and how best to resolve inward conflicts, angst and pain. The rest had to do with going to superiors and offices set up for redress to report such incidents. Others dealt with trying to reason with, and/or find common ground with harassers.

Dealing with personal emotions as things happen and afterwards is important, both to surviving while the harassment is happening and putting things in place afterwards. It is always necessary to follow the rules and regulations governing both harassment and the response to it. However, going to superiors isn't always successful, as sometimes your superiors can be responsible, and their word may hold more weight than yours no matter what the truth is. That was the case with my experience, as some of the actual professors in the program were involved in the harassment.

In terms of finding common ground, that too can just not always apply. Unfortunately, there are people that simply will not see reason. In the meantime, if you have no choice or choose to not be pushed out of the situation you have every right to be in, as the person being harassed you need to come up with ways to fend for yourself. This requires discovering methods for dealing with the situation beyond what Dr. Phil, or other pop psychologists recommend.

What I found was that by studying your harassers, and crafting strategies and tactics to counter what they do, that can be the best way to prevail, depending on your circumstances. There is no set in stone method, and really any advice has to do with basic blueprints and framework suggestions to be built upon by the person in question that is struggling with the actual harassment. Of course people have been dealing with harassment for as long as there have been civilizations and probably before. Yet, as I was unable to find much in the way of people having passed on their experience, with regards to specific counter strategies, etc. that they successfully employed for themselves, whether online or in print, I often write about what worked for me, just in terms of basic strategies.

My situation was unique and yours will be also, however, if you take the basic idea and build upon it or discover any bits and pieces that work for you from what I write, and it works, that is my hope. One such basic premise is the idea of what I call forced regression. This, like all the strategies is not something I recommend employing as a sole means for survival strategy, but that would be employed in tandem with others. In this strategy, the idea is to get your harassers to constantly lower their bar for what they believe to be success. This can lead to many positive outcomes for yourself, including having those observing become doubtful of the strength, efficacy and overall competency of your harassers.

When this happens, the chinks in their armor can be exposed, leading to, among other things, them losing support that they may have relied upon to harass you, for example. Compare it to a person that is working on a project car in their garage in their spare time. That person represents your harassers. You want to find ways to sabotage their progress so that not only do they get stuck, but they begin losing ground. By such methods, you can make it so what they professed they would get done in a month, they have to keep reducing their claims for. Then, eventually, what they were doing last month they are suddenly behind on, and they are trying to accomplish what they thought they had already completed months ago or perhaps longer.

Now, this analogy isn't to espouse actually sabotaging a person's car or anything else illegal. It's not about revenge, acting out of anger or other emotions. It's about planning and implementing strategies that discourage, frustrate, deflect and confuse your harassers, or any other results you may so desire. Such methods slowed, frustrated, angered and exposed my harassers when I was living through it. I've seen it work successfully, and in the end I came out ahead.

It's about survival, and in such a situation, you are essentially being unduly attacked. If you do anything illegal or against the rules of the institution the harassment is happening within, you can be removed, arrested or worse, and thus, you lose. That is part of the point of harassment, to see you fall. You want to set things up so not only do your harassers begin to fall, but that they also step into their own traps. That will happen on its own as you implement the strategies, but you can specifically design it to happen also.

This way, you begin to see them for what they are and gain confidence and know how. The people watching and observing become less likely to support them, as they see real weaknesses and failings in those harassers they may have once seen as strong, invulnerable or somewhat omnipotent, were they to get away with harassing you with no counter-response. People talk. Can't be helped or controlled. Your harassers begin to lose confidence, become angered and become frustrated, making it easier for you in many ways.

If it is a concerted effort to harass you involving numerous people (which it usually is), you may even see some leave, stop to rest or even get kicked out by the group, penalized or forced to change roles, all due to your counter responses. So, find ways to force regression by studying your harassers as a group and as individuals. Know the laws and rules, and don't break them. Don't act out of emotions, though you may feign anger, sadness or other emotions to set them up. Anger and emotion lead to cycles of negativity, and make things worse like the endless cycles of terrorism and apartheid-like oppression between Israel and Palestine.

Keep clear in your mind, even if you are feigning confusion and emotional tumult. See the big picture and study the details that make it up. Always relate the details back to the bigger picture, or as much as possible given your circumstances. Forgive, but don't forget, and never forget to forgive the person most in need of it, that you may often forget first – yourself. Stay aware of your surroundings, and obviously, good luck! :D

To read about my inspiration for this article go to

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