A more generous view of others

1 Aug

A protracted sparky conversation with a friend left me feeling exhausted. Besides having a ‘bumper car’ kind of effect, this ‘should have been tete a tete’ prompted me to mull over all the times she behaved unreasonably and upset me with her sharp tongue. For the nth time I decided to stay away from her.

A long walk and some introspection  led me to keep aside my smog stained glasses of labeling and egged me on to focusing on the good in her . Sure she had virtues- energy , patience and kindness. Yet in moments like this when I am all upset I fine tune my attention towards her shortcomings.

Gradually my anger began to diminish as my mind moved away from her imperfections and focused on the goodness in her . It isn’t an easy thing to do but it’s freeing.

So this uniquely flawed me has now begun to look beyond the apparent and turn my heart and mind towards the goodness in the people I interact with everyday.

Have you noticed how easy it is to take our closest relationships for granted. Some of us cannot release our grip on the grudges we bear or the wounds we nurse for years thus leading unhappy and disturbed lives.

If we only take time to bring to mind what we value and appreciate about the other person ; look out for what’s right rather than what’s wrong we would attract happiness into our lives and perhaps bring about more circumstances that allow us to enjoy these positive attributes.

In finding the light in others…. I began to brighten the light within myself.

This new found wisdom connects me to people and the words of William ward then ring true. ‘When we seek to discover the best in others , we somehow bring out the best in ourselves’

Keeping our children safe online

14 Aug

Childhood today is greatly different from what it was a decade ago.

Today it’s common to see toddlers play games and entertain themselves with ease on smartphones and tablets.

By the time children are in grade 5 or 6, they have their own cellphones on which they can spend a lot of time interacting with their peers or browsing the internet completely unfettered by parental supervision.

Although tech savvy, they lack the maturity to understand the potential dangers of the virtual world.

Today online safety extends beyond pornography; there is cyber-bullying, sexual predators, and precarious online games. With just a click your child can post information, or even unknowingly connect with dangerous online predators.

Few things you can do to keep your child safe include:

  • Educating them on the online world

The online world is replete with both useful and unsafe information as is the real world, except that the dangers in online world are many fold as you have no idea who the recipient of your posts and confidential information is.

The thumb-rule on safety for our children should be –

if they wouldn’t do it, watch it, or say it with a parent in the room, then it is not an ok thing to do.

Inform them that their posts are similar to the news being read over the PA system during assembly which mean that these posts, pictures are visible to everyone and can never be erased completely.

  • Keeping phones away at night

As a practice, keep a place at home where all phones and laptops are left to charge for the night. Not only is this beneficial for health but it keeps your child from attending to all the beeps at night.  Night-time is when kids are alone and vulnerable to a lot of dangerous stuff.

  • Limiting screen time

From the time you give them a phone it is important to establish a few rules. For every hour of screen time there needs to be at least 15 minutes of outdoor activity. I have seen it work when you sit them down and mutually decide on an ‘Acceptable Use Formula’ for using their phones.

  • Having ‘device free’ time

Even as adults it is so easy to get sucked into the limitless world of the internet. Having a few hours, say on Friday/Saturday evening, will help them learn to connect with the family, play board games or even have healthy discussions. Help them build hobbies and interest that on its own will limit their dependence on the virtual world.

 

As parents we all hope that we can keep our children away from every impending danger; but the truth is sometimes we can’t. Hence it is important that along with taking advantage of technology we also sprinkle in some involved parenting.

Its time for a hug

18 Jul

 

 

Hugging your teen isn’t an easy task. They either wiggle their way out or else just freeze as if to say – ‘Go on, get over with it quickly.’  Not very encouraging! But believe me, for all the awkwardness they display I don’t think they mind it too much. So although Virginia Satir’s 12 hugs a day advocacy may be a little difficult to achieve; I certainly believe that every teenager needs his daily dose of affectionate physical contact from his parents.

Hug them when you see them in the morning or maybe you can make it a practice to hug them before either of you leave home for the day.

So what does a hug say- It says ‘you are special to me and I care about you’which to the teenager translates as ‘I am loved and valuable.

Most teens elect to give up on expressing or even reciprocating physical affection with parents. All the more reason you need to find those little windows of opportunities to make physical contact. Parental touch is irreplaceable. Pat them on their back; put your arms around them or even a side hug can sometimes help get through those high walls of non compliance.

Affectionate touch allows them to feel safe and secure, lowers anxiety and make them less hostile. When their behavior really drives you up the wall – lean in and give them a hug that says ‘I’m giving you a hug so that I don’t end up yelling at you; but as you hug them , what they are hearing is- ‘I’m angry but I love you’……and they need to feel that warmth and acceptance.

The adolescent years comes with a certain angst of its own.  Even though they roll their eyes in protest, they want us to reach out to them and need constant reminders that we care. Whether its just a squeeze on the shoulder or a big bear hug or ruffling their hair we need to invest in the flow of touch which will do wonders to their wellbeing.

 

Musings….

25 Jun

At 24 i lived in my comfort zone- A complacent wife and mother but with a relentless need inside of me to be a part of something larger. Going back to study meant a lot of adjustments but this persistent voice inside of me allowed no room for negative thoughts to sprout inside my head.

With a renewed mind i went back to study why people behave the way they do; i guess subconsciously i wanted to understand myself

Today years later i can say that this journey has bee life changing. Through the various challenges , triumphs and varied experiences i have come to believe that nobody needs to feel alone, left out , worthless,anxious or irrelevant.

Each of us at some stage in life need someone to tell us that we have value, to teach us skills that turn our anxiety and sadness into courage and happiness and to help us learn not just to survive , but to thrive.

Every youngster needs someone to listen to them and validate their feelings. It makes me feel honoured to be a part of a profession  where words can offer unconditional acceptance and healing. If i think of the darkest moments in my life i know how powerful it could have been to have someone support and encourage me to be my best self.

Today as a mental health practitioner I’ve found my path and my passion. Ive fought my battles with hope and determination and learnt not just from books but also the people Ive met along the way. I am now ready to walk alongside others who need that hand holding while they label their emotions,deconstruct their thoughts, and find the strength and courage to create alternative narratives for themselves

Relish the Unpredictable

25 May

Dining out used to be a pleasurable experience: the best part being , browsing unhurriedly through the menu wondering what each dish would taste like. At certain oriental restaurants reading aloud the names of the dishes followed by an English explanation of what went in them invoked a feeling of childlike happiness. Eventually the chef would be summoned who then recommended his personal favourites and suggested something out of the menu which he promised he’d  make to suit our palate.

This of course was followed by looking around at the furniture and having a discussion on the theme or lighting etc. Our dining out was flavoured with quite a few surprises which made us feel all charged up and alive.

I missed all this the other day when a friend with whom I was dining out had already gone online ; read the menu ; picked out a few good dishes and had even given me an idea of the decor .  I did have a good dinner but missed out on the joy of  that bit of unpredictability that makes things  more interesting . Thanks to google we can preview our experiences even before we have them – something that fails to stir up any excitement in me .

I like surprises. It brings vitality into our lives . It gets us curious , help us sit up and notice things, lights up the pleasure areas of our brain and then pushes us to share it with our friends so that we savour the experience even more. I don’t remember a time I’ve not shared a surprise with a friend.

Nodoubt negative surprises are are not easy to handle and as much as we’d rather not have them , they do spring up from time to time. One needs to accept them as a part of life. Easier said than done !

I believe Life would be stagnated if we shield ourselves from unpredictablity, so ide say it’s a good idea to get out there and engineer a few surprises for ourselves. Now that would mean letting go of control and excessive planning and choosing to be a ‘not knower’ and vulnerable . Not easy for some but worth a try .

The safe zone is comfortable but it’s only when we let life surprise us that we are most alive .

 

Agenda for the Year

7 Jan

Come January and its time to start afresh. Summing up all done ; gaps in our life all noted and  its time now to come up with an impressive ‘to-do’ list.

Everyone around is talking of their plans , posting resolutions and me …..I actually feel a kind of pressure to come up with my  list of resolutions for the new year.

I find myself questioning the wisdom behind this self improvement drive . The chaos and despair that follow in less than two months is enough to send all the good intentions through the door.

Of course I am open to the feasibility of plans and I do believe that each year brings along with it its very own pail of triumphs yet I find this need to  declare targets  disturbingly banal.

So when it was time to put down my bulleted list ….I changed my plan .  This year I am moving away from the usual ‘list’ frame into the ‘ feeling ‘ frame.

It struck me that every time I put down something on my ‘to-do’ list , it was primarily to feel something – more confidence, more joy, more love etc.  It was this feeling that made the pursuit of something enjoyable. Its only obvious that what the heart wants to feel is a far better motivator  than a list of  activities which needs to get done.

The content of my workshops sat so long in my head that the Anti Procrastination task force gave up trying to get it out on paper but when I imagined the feeling of accomplishment I get on seeing my presentation , the highway from the mind to the pen cleared up and voila …I was at my table putting down my thoughts on paper.

Its gotten easier now as I know what I want to feel ,so I wake up each morning and do things that lead me to that feeling.

Despite the fact that change from the familiar is  difficult; the thought of the feeling that accompanies the change ; the momentum and progress it finds me in  is the elixir that make the bulleted list not so bad after all.

 

Mindful Moments

25 Nov

Staying  Silent  wouldn’t count as one of  my virtues. Not to say that people think I am a chatterbox but to opt for wilful silence isn’t something that comes to me easily

Friends spoke of the the value of spending a few minutes in silence but it was only when I experienced it that I understood how it dramatically refuels my mind.

Like many other enforced routines , purposeful stillness was introduced at the workplace. First thing in the morning. everyone stopped what they did, stayed in their seats, eyes closed for around eight  to ten minutes with pleasant music in the background and spent these moments with themselves.

Initially I resisted , grumbled and sometimes waited for the music to end so I could get along with my work . Finally, taking some advice  from my colleagues,  I decide to give it a try.

I cant say I felt any different instantly but over a period of time I began to feel a little of that energy people say silence creates.

Thoughts kept floating by but after the first week i learnt to allow them to pass by like cars on a busy highway .   Slowly I began connecting with myself. This quietness took me to a place of clarity ; a place where the mind quietens and the heart whispers.

Like they say – ‘it is the space between the bars that hold the tiger’ similarly  it is  that space between our ongoing thoughts –that silent gap that increases our self awareness, improves our decision making skills , reduces stress and  induces in us  more empathy.

That quiet time every morning gradually helped me see what I needed more of and what I need to let go of thus creating a sense of balance in my life.

Today I look forward to those ten minutes in the morning- its my tool of self care that adds   fuel to my goals.

So yeah meditation isn’t for a select few, anyone can avail of its power. You just need to disengage from what you are doing , sit silently for ten minutes ; pleasant music is helpful while you lap up this elixir of energy.

Be prepared for initial itches but gently allow it to pass and in time you will have the power to rewire your brain for a more productive and a more Joyful you

 

 

 

It’s all about ME

22 Sep

My solo walk on the seafront was interrupted by a bubbly Riz. Riz- charming , witty , confident with the gift of the gab …. Just some of the words to describe her ; and yet being around her is draining and frustrating.

Riz believes that that she needs to have certain privileges because ….. Well because she is Riz….. And most definitely a cut above the rest ( so she believes).

Her needs always figures on top of every plan and she has this deep seated belief that they got to be fulfilled as top priority.

She feels entitled to have this special treatment and expect most of us to admire and respect her ……. Which we do initially but a few months down the line all we see is a bully and a manipulator.

Don’t give into her ways …. Then you  either suffer her attention seeking melodrama or the silent treatment or yelling and screaming.

Her assumption that she  is much special than the others and therefore she is entitled to more than others makes people wary of her.Genuine and intimate relationships steer clear of her.

Some say we are living in an ‘Age of Entitlement’which as Steve Maraboli says is a cancerous thought process that is void of gratitude and can be deadly to our relationships .

For now  it’s Riz and her endless chatter about how unkind her neighbour is.  And me …. Am looking out for another friend to wave out to.