How to live with someone who has rigid mindset?

Rigid people are ones who choose something over intellect and thinking process. Whatever they choose, like money, safety, luxury, status, appreciation etc., becomes their priority. Go through previous article “Why are some people rigid” to understand what is rigid mindset in detail.

People who have rigid mindset stick to concepts that they have learned. They don’t like experimenting and learning new things. They cannot take risks. They cannot fight with society. They cannot explore themselves. Their coping style is denial. They ignore their problems and try to convince themselves that there are no problems in their life. In one sentence I can say, they are intellectually and emotionally numb.

Every human will have some percentage of rigidity. Therefore the statement that “a particular person has rigid mindset” is contextual. Above given description of rigid person holds good only in one particular situation where person is actually being rigid.

In previous article, I introduced briefly about why it becomes difficult to live with rigid minded people. When priorities are different, choices will be different. If I am vegetarian, my partner is non vegetarian, we will fight everyday about what to cook and what not to cook. I would say “let us make aloo curry” and he would say “let us make chicken biryani”. In the example fight is about food. In the same way, fights happen between open minded and rigid minded people. But underlying cause in such fights will be about change and trying new things.

[Imaginary story based on several true stories] One of my client, Padma continuosly argues with her father Krishna.

Padma (P) : Let us shift to Delhi. I want to study there.
Krishna (K) : Delhi is a horrible place. There is no safety there.
P : No. My friend lives in Delhi and she told me that hostel is safe.
K : She might have lied to you. Never trust North Indians.
P : She is not North Indian. She is Keerthi, Suresh uncles daughter.
K : Suresh belongs to lower caste. Dont believe in people who belong to lower caste. They just wants to suppress people belonging to higher caste. Keerthi will be happy if you get raped.
P : What are you talking dad! She saved me from a eve teaser.
K : I don’t want to hear anything. We are not going anywhere! I have to go to market.
P : Please don’t go. You might get exposed to COVID
K : I have to go. Dont worry. I am resistent to COVID
P : How come? There is no vaccine in market!
K : I worship lord Shiva who is controller of death everyday.

When we look at the argument, it seems like Krishna is a religious, narrow minded person who discriminates people based on caste, religion, region, etc. He believes in GOD.

But if we dwell into the psychological aspects of conversation, we can understand few things which Padma failed in understanding. Its not only that Krishna discriminates people or believes in culture. Krishna cannot choose something new. That is why he cannot send daughter anywhere. He cannot adapt to something new. So he is reluctant to believe that there is danger of catching COVID infection. To stay in his old place, where he had been staying for years, he is using culture, caste based and region based discrimination. Padma is trying to rationally argue and make Krishna understand. But Krishna lacks brain functionality (thinking) to understand Padma. Its like, Padma is trying to impress a blind person by showing her dance performance. When a person looses part of body, his/her deformity/disability will be visible. We dont expect blind person to cross road. We try to help him. But if a person looses part of functionality of mind, we cannot see. So we treat him/her like normal person. We expect and get disappointed.

So how can Padma resolve the issue?

Step 1: Padma has to understand that her father cannot understand her point of view and deal with her disappointment. Its not about Krishna, its about Padma!

Rigid minded person’s mind lacks a part of the mind functionality which is nothing but thinking. So when open minded person learns that, he/she will not expect/get disappointed.

Step 2: Padma has to learn how to draw boundaries so that her choices, relations and life will not get affected by Krishna.

Physical separation and economic independence are needed in some cases to draw boundaries. But only physical separation and economic independence cannot help. Intention to create boundaries and understanding of situation plays a major role. Some people fail in dealing with disappointment and drawing boundaries when they lack objectivity. In such cases, they will have to seek help!

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