Clean Up Your Act

I have realized that often times my logic and reasoning is influenced by my surroundings. If I am among optimistic and positive people, my outlook toward any problem or issue is positive. Similarly, when my company is a Debbie Downer, then I get dragged down too.

I have decided to take a grip on this matter and actively influence my thoughts with positivity. As a first step toward this, I need to clean up my act. I have to remove negative people and negative things from my life.

Hope to be successful. Wish me luck!

No One Can Make You Feel Inferior Without Your Consent – Eleanor Roosevelt

‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent’. This is a very powerful quote from the former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. This quote conveys that unless we allow insults and words to affect us, they cannot harm us. The opinion of people will not matter to us unless we take them seriously. I do not intend to say that we are inviting the insults. I do not mean that we have to brush them off like dust either. I only mean that we should not believe them to be true.

To explain my point; let me take an example. We all know and agree with the fact that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. We believe in this fact so strongly, that if anyone tells us otherwise, we do not believe them. We will not accept any explanation to prove otherwise. We take it for granted that the speaker is either making a joke, trying to deceive us or is simply stupid. The person may even show us photographs or videos, but we will still disagree. That is how strong our faith is in the fact that the sun rises in the East.

We should have such a strong belief in our ability that no matter what anyone says, we know the truth. We know our true worth, and we will not let people state otherwise.

The same applies to praises and accolades too. When we know and believe in our ability, even flattery and false praise will not affect us. Isn’t that a kind of Zen-like state of mind.

There is an old proverb in India, which loosely translates as follows: A wise man is like a lotus leaf. He can stay in mud, slush and dirt all his life, yet stay unaffected by it. You can dunk the Lotus leaf in dirty water, have a frog sit on it all day long. Yet it comes out unaffected by the dirt. I know that such a strong mind is not easy to maintain. But, what is the fun in easily achievable goals? True enjoyment of success is after some struggle. So, let us work to make our mind and self-belief strong enough to withstand the world.

Is The Internet a Knowledge Hub In The True Sense

The virtues and dangers of the Internet is a topic of discussion that has been done to death. People have made very strong arguments for and against the impact of the internet on youth. So, when I speak of this issue, I am not talking about anything new. I am only sharing my story about our dependence on it and the way our dependency is turning into our weakness.

When I was in school, the internet was still in its nascent stage. It was still an unknown entity and we were not aware of its uses. During this time we were given a project about the seven wonders of the world. Back then, I had to go to the good old library and refer to different encyclopedias to collect information about them. Some of the structures on this list did not exist anymore. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, The Lighthouse of Alexandria etc. were destroyed long before man invented photography. The discussion that we had in class was about the validity of such structures being deemed as wonders. We grumbled about spending precious time in the library to research something that we could not see. As part of the research, I spent more time reading other facts on World wars, European architecture, psychology etc. It was an informative project for totally different reasons.

At the end of the project, I learnt more than just the seven wonders. That was the beauty of going to the library. I went there to research on one topic but, ended up gathering information on many others. I also formed my own opinion on them. For example, while referencing about the Taj Mahal, I found out about the pollution from the industries and the river Yamuna. While researching on river pollution, I found out about the factories that dump waste and the apathy of the government. 

Nowadays, we turn to the internet for all our information and research. In theory, I should have access to more information on the internet while having the same ease in obtaining facts on any topic, issue, or subject. Well, I was in for a surprise. While I researched on the internet, I found bare minimum facts, but more of conspiracies, people’s opinions, theories to support one thought process or the other etc. 

I found that, on the internet, I was not given information to form my own opinion, but I was being fed other people’s opinions. One website felt that the Taj Mahal was being destroyed because of industrial effluents and not vehicular or air pollution. Another article blamed the ravages of time and natural deterioration. Some blamed the government, some blamed the rampant tourism. Even the most acclaimed article hinted subtly towards a communal angle for the deterioration.

The reason for the destruction of Taj Mahal is just a smokescreen. The main focus of the articles is to spread the propaganda or the thought process of specific groups. I am sorely disappointed with the lack of correct and complete information. The example I quote of the Taj Mahal is just to show that the internet has become a place to promote one’s ideology rather than a place of knowledge and information. People are using it to spread incorrect information and confuse the truth with various smokescreens. It is important for everyone to recognise facts from opinions, truth from propaganda and information from conspiracies.

Do We Need A Tragedy to Come Closer

The past 2 weeks have been difficult for my family and I. There has been a slew of bad and sad news from relatives. Two deaths that were particularly difficult for us. Both of them were close family and deeply loved by all. The worst part of the whole matter apart from their death is that I never took time out to appreciate them.

As I have mentioned before, the deceased had a special place in my heart. They were both, in their way instrumental in bringing people together. While they were alive, I hardly spoke to them once in a while. I loved them, but I never took time out to chat and express my appreciation. This fact made me feel worse.

All our life, we spend time disagreeing with people, arguing with them, protesting about things, ignoring people on issues. All these issues may be a genuine difference of opinions, silly misunderstandings, personality clashes etc. They seem very important and critical at that time, but once we realize that the person is no longer with us, these differences ceased to matter. What was once an insurmountable barrier appears to be a stubborn mistake. I know that many of the readers will think that such is life.

My question is when we can be wise enough to recognize our foolishness now, why not see it when they were alive. When we can brush off an issue as inconsequential at this point, we could have done it a week before and spent time with that person. Our busy schedule doesn’t matter when we know that a person has passed away, then why was it so important when that person was alive.

I can only regret my misplaced priorities and hope to not repeat them. Please stop and take time to reevaluate all the small fights and disagreements you have with people. Don’t hang on to petty issues and miss out on all the time you can spend with friends and family.

Scary Encounter or Mind Trick

This incident occurred a few years back during my college break. It was a hot summer day and I decided to spend it reading my favourite book. I was reading The Lord of the Rings, and it was a particularly gripping chapter. Frodo and his friends had escaped from the Nazgul at Weathertop. If you read this book, then you are aware of the gripping story line and the nail biting narrative. Coming back to my story…

I had been reading the book continuously all day and well into the night. I started to feel uneasy; I sensed a presence watching me. My foot became numb along with my leg and this feeling spread up my body and reached my head. Fear and panic set into my mind. I frantically started to chant God’s name in my mind, hoping that it would help me. Nevertheless, the numbness in my body did not subside. The presence that was watching me was moving closer to me.

When I felt someone touch my shoulder, I panicked and jumped out of my bed. It was then that I noticed that I was asleep all the while. Though I woke up, I was still shaking with fear. I went out to my parent’s room and saw that everyone was asleep. Not wanting to disturb anyone, I splashed some water on my face and drank some juice from the refrigerator. This had settled my nerves a little. I decided to sit in the puja room (every Indian house has a special room for daily prayers) for the rest of the night. The next morning I spoke to my mom about the incident and she was spooked too. We decided to let it pass.

Soon our maid came to work and she looked haggard. She told us that, the previous night, a fight broke out in her neighbourhood. A person was caught doing black magic and everyone started to lynch him. She said that it was very scary as they found many weird items in this possession. I was still shaken from last night’s events, so my maid’s story added to my fear.

This story had spread throughout our neighbourhood like wildfire. It became fodder for gossip and fear mongering. Everyone was coming up with new stories every day. I found myself falling for these stories due to my own experience. There was a wave of paranoia among the illiterates and the educated alike.

A fortnight later, on a Sunday, I found an interesting article in the newspaper. It was about our brain; the conscious and subconscious mind. The author spoke about how our subconscious mind continues to work even in our sleep. It was still aware of the surroundings, it assimilates data and sound bites throughout the day and at night it gives us signals in the form of dreams, to alert us of our surroundings. It could be a bug or a mosquito buzzing around us, changes in air quality, change in temperature, thirst, and other bodily functions.

This article suddenly made more sense when I looked back at the events of that night. It was a hot summer night and I was locked up in my room reading a gripping novel. I was so engrossed in the book that, I did not take any break to drink water or get fresh air. At some point in the night, the fan stopped working too. In my sleep, I was unaware of all this. My mind had to do something drastic to jolt me awake and hence that dream. It was purely coincidental that the fight occurred near my maid’s house. This coupled with my dream, started a chain of stories and fake news to cultivate fear. I almost fell for this and believed in black magic.

The whole scary summer turned into a fun and eventful summer by the end of it all.

Think Before You Forgive a Person

‘To err is honest and to forgive is divine’. This has been constantly and consistently drilled into our subconscious. We have been taught to be forgiving people; Although it is a different thing that we do not always forgive.

The saying basically tells us that we all make mistakes, but only a great and wise soul can forgive. It encourages us to look beyond the mistake and see the true worth of a person. I agree with that part of this teaching. We need to look beyond the action and try to see the true reason for the error; however, it is truly difficult to forgive someone for any transgression. It can be a simple lie or forgetting something that is important to us or using our things without permission or disregarding our feelings with their actions etc. Most of the time, it is simple things like these that we tend to forgive.

The more serious actions like a betrayal of trust, showing a lack of integrity, blatant disrespect for boundaries and law etc. are some instances when forgiveness should not come by easily. This type of behaviour indicates a deeper flaw in character. When a person leaks out a secret, throw a friend under the bus to save his skin, tries to enforce their own will on others by any means possible etc. it indicates a deeper psychological problem. Forgiving such a person who lacks loyalty and integrity or a person who doesn’t respect boundaries and authority could imply that we find nothing wrong with such behaviour. It shows that we ourselves belong to the same character and personality type. By forgiving these people, we end up insulting our character.

A person should always think twice before forgiving anyone since we also need to ensure that the transgressor learns his or her lesson. In today’s world, we see many instances where bad behaviour and bad attitude is forgiven in the name of ‘Free Speech’ and ‘Freedom of Expression’. Repentance for one’s mistakes, errors or wrongdoings should be paramount. Only with repentance can we be sure that a similar situation does not arise.

Take time out to think back at instances when we faced such dilemmas. Think back if it was really helpful to forgive such people. Write back to me if you want to share any instances, I will gladly add them to this post.

Are You Living With a Depressed Person?

Every time we talk about any mental health issues, we only talk about the patients. We talk about their mental state, their emotions, their needs and we prioritize on them. However, it is very important to talk about the people supporting these patients as well.

Mental health issues in themselves are difficult to handle because of all the stigma associated with it. A patient is generally not willing to seek help because of the fear of ostracization and ridicule from society and peers. And this fear, ridicule and alienation are faced by the people taking care of them as well. In fact, I would say the caregivers face a bigger challenge than the patient themselves. They do not have the wounds to show, but they have to bear all the pain and stand strong for the patient and take added responsibility.

I have had the misfortune of witnessing the kind of responsibility faced by the family or friends of the patients. The most common statement they hear is, “You should have been more responsible when you know the situation”. It is almost like it is their biggest curse for being the caregiver. It does not matter how difficult the patient is being, the caregiver always ends up taking the blame. The worst part is that we do not have to verbally blame them or say anything. Their conscience will not let them rest for even the slightest of mistakes. That is generally an enormous strain for anyone. It could end up causing problems for them in the future too.

I do not have a solution or suggestion for this concern, as I am not a qualified professional to deal with mental health issues. I can, however, bring to light this concern and hope that those in the know can show us the way forward. Please leave comments and suggestions if you have any.