Unpacking the conventional ideas of one’s being in context of young people

by Prachi Mehta (Junior therapist & Narrative practitioner, Ummeed Child Development Center)

Let’s talk about discourses;

A system of statements, and practices that share common values. An informed medium that provides words and ideas to our typical ways of being.

We come across discourses in ways that could be smaller and neglected or bigger and aware of its existence, but can’t do much about them since they have been prevailing centuries ago. 

Unpacking discourses

“Whatever is voiced in a room, reflects back but at times that reflection of the voice might go unnoticed or remain outside the room if both the therapist and the client are unaware of those discourses being present.”

Discourses in the mirrored room: A Postmodern Analysis of Therapy by Rachel T. Hare-Mustin, Ph.D

This gave me an entry point to unpack so many discourses that probably others and I for a very long time were unaware and influenced by, but through conversations and constant intentional questioning they became more and more visible. To begin viewing the constitution of problems as problems and not view people as problems. I intended to understand the roots of these discourses and how they have been living amongst us (trying to understand sources of their nutrition) since centuries. To constantly question the validity or the source of a particular idea that we are already a part of and condemn the conventional idea of one’s being.

We begin to start deconstructing these ideas, when we become aware that this is something we DO NOT hope to continue for ourselves and people around us, things that influenced us once upon a time/ or are still influencing us. Unpacking discourses is a constant effort for ourselves and others around us to not fall prey to the sole way to one’s being. Wouldn’t the world be such a better place with so many different identities, voices and ways of being?

Unpacking the conventionality of discourses, gives us an opportunity to look at the  unconventional ways in different perspectives and lights and what beautiful outcomes could be produced once these ideas are unpacked.

The hope is to unpack several conventional ideas that I had/ I grew up with and assist others also to unpack some of the ideas they had/ grew up with in the context of children. I interviewed a couple of people to understand the sources of the discourses they had and unpacked them together.

While interviewing these people so many ideas were unpacked for myself and I could witness them deconstruct some ideas for themselves. Some sparkling moments for me were to unpack that Emotions are Emotions and expression of any kind of emotion in a healthy manner is equally important, as it helps an individual to heal and encouraging this since early childhood helps a child with their well being in their adulthood. And that expression of emotions isn’t weighed as negative or positive. 

Another thing that stood out to me was how learning is and can be a collaborative two way process: by not just imparting knowledge but also seeking it back.

What became possible was to have an understanding that probably the biological sex assigned at birth can be different, but not the difference in gender roles and expectations or receiving different treatment for who you are. That sex and gender are fluid and expression of any emotion can be expressed by any individual. It even became possible to understand that children are agents of their own lives and know who they are or what they want to be (by not confining them). It made it possible for me and other people whom I interviewed to deconstruct the idea to “fit in” with others and when the idea was unpacked, a sense of freedom was achieved and there was an acceptance of our ways of being.

As I witnessed all the people I interviewed including myself unpacking these ideas so much later in our lives, as a narrative practitioner working with disabled children and young adults, all that I hope is that I can unpack certain fixed conventional ideas that are thrown upon them by the society from the very early stage in their life, and together we are able to explore the windows and mirrors of how one can be. This would not only help them think about the unconventional ways of being, but accept them too, to feel the sense of freedom. 

The purpose of each tree is different and the fruits bearing on them are different, then why create differences in what people have to offer?

Let’s together move towards deconstructing many more discourses that come our way and question the mere conventionality of the same.


Prachi Mehta is a wanderer who likes exploring new things and feels happy in small moments of joy. She also likes capturing moments through her eyes and the camera. Prachi is a narrative practitioner and enjoys interacting with diverse and young people, learning about their hopes and imaginations about the world. You could reach her on prachi.mehta@ummeed.org. 

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