What’s So Uncomfortable? What’s Missing? The Stockholm Syndrome of Our Everyday Lives

By Tanuj Kalia

Since I left my job to work on Lawctopus (nearly) full-time and since I stopped going to my publishing school classes, I’ve felt something odd, something missing.

I’ve woken up to thinking, “Hey, what’s wrong, what am I missing?” I spent a large part of my days thinking of the same. At night too, after a certain phone call ended, I thought about the same. “What’s so uncomfortable? What’s missing?”

After some rumination, I arrived at two and a half probable causes.

1. Throughout our lives, there’s something to worry about. In school, college and in office you have time, work, authority, tests etc. to worry about.

Let’s be clear. These are not the things you look forward to. These are the things you love to avoid. These are the things you worry about.

Now, these things were absent from my life. No timings to be followed. No authority. No meaningless work.

But it didn’t set me free, it worried me: “What’s uncomfortable? What’s missing?”

Here is my answer: The life-long feeling of having to worry about something had become a part of me. Ridding that part of me, breaking that cocoon, felt uncomfortable.

Who will teach me to fly?

But now I feel free.

I choose when to work. I choose why to work, how to, where to. I choose. There’s no one to dictate. No one to judge me. No tests.

1. A. This immense freedom can be uncomfortable.

You miss the rope that had bound you. The jump you’ve taken feels uncomfortable. You miss the feeling of the earth beneath your feet that had held you for so long.

There’s this tremendous responsibility of creating yourself. Not through the crutches doled out like jobs, offices, classes etc. but through your own striving. Your own way for your own life.

2. The second and a half/third reason for the discomfit was that I thought I had little to do.

Yes there is the website which I run. There are books to read. A book to write. But these don’t encroach my day in multiple-hour-bouts like classes or jobs do.

And thus because the hours don’t get filled with work, I thought: What’s missing? What’s so uncomfortable? Am I wasting my time? Am I not working hard enough?

But what were the hours filled with earlier (most of them)?

Meaningless lectures. Meaningless work. Meaningless schedules. (Schedules. Not discipline.)

The hours were filled with the work of the mule. With a load to carry, a journey, a destination. Carrot, sticks, food and a master. The work of the mule.

Now I had come to terms with myself. But unsure and struggling. Wondering: “What’s so uncomfortable?”

Every step felt like a struggle. But as I got used to it, it set me free.

It took me time to realise that this is a new place. I am missing the old world, but thank god I left the tyrant behind.

[I just got another answer courtesy of Brenda Ueland’s Book ‘If You Want to Write‘. The Chapter IV is titled ‘The Imagination Works Slowly and Quiety‘. It distinguishes between idling and imagining. I was relieved to know that most of what I considered as a waste of time is actually imagining and it’s OK to give it time.]


In psychology, this is the Stockholm Syndrome: the hostages start expressing loyalty, empathy and such positive feelings to their captors/tormentors. It’s also called ‘traumatic bonding’.

Why do the hostages exhibit such positive feelings towards their tormentors?


i. Knowing that one’s captor is in a position to harm them

ii. Isolation from others and the feeling of attachment with the captors

iii. Belief that an escape is unlikely, or even impossible

iv. Thinking that that tormentors’ ‘acts of kindness’ are ‘genuine care and love’ for their welfare

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