Archive | October, 2017

Hidden Truths

22 Oct

‘Speak the truth’ is a phrase I grew up listening to.

Saying what I really think or feel does not always come easy to me. Sometimes you have the truth stuck in your head but when it comes to saying it aloud, you just can’t say it.

You know that what you should be doing is speaking up and yet every time you think of speaking up there is a kind of fear- a numbness which seals your mouth.

Your head tells you to go ahead and talk about it but in the same breath it also tells you not to talk about it.

Why does this happen? Do we consciously choose to keep away the truth from those around us? Is it a lack of confidence or plain struggle between emotions and logic?

I remember while growing up, a lot of intense emotions I kept to myself as I feared I would never be understood. Putting the truth out there makes you vulnerable, open to judgment and leaves you with a kind of uncertainty about what would happen next. That is stressful, and it is that stress that paralyzes you makes you retreat into your shell like a tortoise.

Many a time the truth is hidden, not wilfully but as an unconscious reaction to the things you aren’t quite sure how the world will accept.

As much as it is soothing to keep them under wraps, it is tormenting to live with them. Overwhelmed by them you drift through a life interspaced by many blanks. Your true authentic self never gets to be in the forefront. It floats around like a Life in waiting – Waiting to burst out in its fullness.

Maybe you’ve had a good enough reason to keep quiet about certain matters. As much as it hurt a part of you to not talk about it, it also protected a certain part of you and therefore you decided to hold it back. Maybe you didn’t feel ready to talk about it then. You feared losing out on love or acceptance from those who matter to you? You didn’t want to offend anyone or maybe you feared falling in their eyes? Whatever your reason, it was a valid reason then and you don’t need to blame yourself.

With time it begins to dawn upon you that the only way to feel complete is to align yourself with your feelings. It can be terrifying but there is no other way.

Truth can be painful, but I am not sure what is less painful – telling the truth the way it is or wrapping it up with deception.  Holding back or shading the facts make others feel betrayed, hurt and festers relationships while speaking from your heart can be healing, fosters love and strengthens relationships.

Truths sometimes shocks and even upsets people around us.  Let their discomfort not frazzle you. Everyone has an opinion on how life should be lived. Acknowledge their perspectives but express how you feel in a graceful manner. Of course you need to tame your honesty and consider the impact of your words on others so focus on talking about your feelings while being respectful of theirs.

Telling the truth is definitely an expensive option- an option that brings along with it Freedom – A freedom that comes with being real, both with yourself and your loved ones.

As I gaze into the distance, the magnificent Sea- Link Bridge catches my eye ; along side I see a portion of an unfinished bridge. Looking at both of them I am reminded how similar bridge building and being honest is – A lot of effort; but useless unless its complete, but once complete it makes it so much easier to cross the chasms of our relationships.

 

 

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Feeling Heard

11 Oct

‘Listening is one of the most difficult skills on the planet’ said Nicole Lipkin, and  I couldn’t agree with her more.

Having someone listen to you is a rare gift.

Screening out distractions like cellphones continuously messaging or ringing , your own list of a million things to do ,  thoughts and biases that flit through your mind and with all that completely attending to the other person does take a lot of effort.

To be a really good listener you need to understand not just the ‘content’ of what is being said but also the ‘context’ in which the sharing is being done.

Paraphrasing or summarizing what we understand was said by the speaker gives us a clearer understanding of the content spoken, but just the content is not enough.

Listening means paying attention not only to the story being told but also understanding from where it’s coming and the verbal and non verbal ways in which it’s  being told.

Encouraging the person to share more gives you insights into the context from where these feelings and thoughts arise. After all aren’t we a composite of our experiences and influences!

This isn’t easy.  It requires you to shift away from where you are to where the speaker is; give up your opinions and experience his…..and from there listen non judgmentally and empathetically. That’s when you hear not just ‘what’ is being said but also ‘why’ its being said. Its only then that the speaker feels the relief of being completely heard and understood.

Few common mistakes we make while listening are –

Jumping in to give advice- No sooner the first few lines are done we construct a problem that the speaker may be having and get involved in giving well meaning but unsolicited advice. Many a time the speaker is quite capable of finding his solution and all he wants at that moment is to be able to talk to someone.

Sharing your own experiences- This type of listener is present only for the first few lines. He/She then begins to narrate his own life experiences.  Deflecting the topic to your own story leaves the speaker feeling lost and incompetent at handling his issues. Resisting the urge to talk, listening and responding adequately helps us build patience and character.

Minimising the matter – When the speaker talks of his disappointment, many a time the listener reminds him of how things could have been worse. Of course this is a known fact, but, to the speaker his issue is overwhelming and being heard is very validating. Infact  he clams up when he realizes that his issues are not been given center stage

Listening is healing. It sends out the message that says ‘You are important to me , I respect you’. It makes one feel  accepted, understood and valued.

Listening is a skill that requires a great deal of effort and patience. Its capacity can be diminished or strengthened making it a transformative communication tool.

Make time to listen to people, and notice how it changes not just their life but also yours.

Making Memories

4 Oct

Memory is a potent thing. It can bring a smile on an otherwise gloomy day or send you down a spiral of negative thoughts. It brings laughter and sometimes tears. It fills us with anger and sometimes induces fear. A familiar smell, an old school building, the ringing of bells all have the potential to send you down a path of both sadness and joy.

The good times we’ve had, our accomplishments etc all get stored as ‘core memories’ deep down in the vast realm of our long term memories.

Memories shape our preferences and beliefs. They serve as a guide in the present and go on to shape future experiences. Our attitude and perception are coloured by them.

Our childhood memories stay with us- things that brought joy , times when we felt crushed, all maneuver us either into a life filled with passion, joy and growth or one smeared with guilt, blame and unhappiness.

If these souvenirs of the past play such an important part in our present ,it is only natural to ask ourselves as parents and caregivers this one question- ‘ what kind of memories are we creating for our children? Which echoes are they stocking up in their vast repertoire of memories?

Creating memories with our children means being with them in the moment and giving them our time and undivided attention. No special day or no special occasion is needed …..just a typical day doing all the predictable stuff can sometimes be etched in our children’s minds forever.

As I look back I am reminded of the quiet pillow talks I had with my mom before I fell asleep, the diligence with which we sang hymns before dinner, the countless games of snakes and ladders we played, Cheering for our cricket team while gorging on moms banana fritters ….all of which helped create memorable moments which sustained me through the years.

Even today when I meet my sister our favourite line is undoubtedly…’Do you remember the time we ………..’

One doesn’t need a lot of money for these ‘Do you remember’ moments. All one needs is a desire to intentionally make an effort to set up fun things to do with your child.

A bit of imagination mixed with love, kindness and patience will help us gift our children  a rich tapestry of experiences  from which they can draw upon  whenever they need to.