A Sympathetic Ear Is All We Need

There have been many occasions when I wanted to shout on top of my voice, ” I do not want solutions, I just want a sympathetic ear”. Haven’t we all been there? Every time I feel overwhelmed by the world around me, I feel the need to offload my troubles onto someone. Just sit and tell them my troubles and then carry on with life. I know that talking about them won’t solve them, but we feel light and less alone when we talk out our problems. But now I have encountered an even bigger problem, there is no one to listen.

I tried speaking to my family and soon realized that I was better off keeping my mouth shut. By speaking, I was adding to my troubles. It almost feels like I was asking the police how to steal.
Next, I turned to friends for a sympathetic ear. The minute I started telling them my first problem, they started comparing it to their lives and their troubles. It became a competition of who has the worst situation. It was fun for a while, but I never got to actually telling my problem before the winner was declared. They had their own set of issues to deal with and I could not compete with theirs.

This time I turned to my seniors. I tried to speak to my teachers and lectures, anyone senior to me. It was fine at the start, they listened. But slowly after some time, they started making suggestions, giving solutions etc. They understood my mindset and attitude, so they started anticipating my issues and told me what to do next before I could talk. It would have been a blessing if I was really looking for solutions. I realized this must be God’s way of telling me to stop complaining all the time.
Nowadays, I have anything on my mind, I just stand in front of a mirror and rant out all that I have to say. If it does not help, well that how I get inspiration for my blog posts 😉😉.

Inspiration

Inspiration is the positive driver that guides us and urges us to achieve our target. I have written a few times, on a similar theme in my earlier posts. I wrote about motivation, how the quality of motivation is important, and how we can turn our fear into a positive driver. I do not want to be monotonous. The reason for speaking on this topic again was a heated discussion that I was part of. It brought upon a sudden urge to rant to my readers on the topic about what should and should not inspire us.
I have always believed that inspiration and the root of inspiration is an individual choice. What encourages us and what discourages us is a personal choice based on our experiences and perspectives. Yet, I hear people denouncing and ridiculing others on what they base their inspiration on. How can one decide what is inspiring or not for other people?
I often notice that people make fun of one another as a way to make them take up a dare or a challenge. It is all part of the friendly ribbing that is common among kids. It was fine when it was between kids, but when we see elders employ the same tactic, it gets disturbing. There are instances when grown-ups poke fun at kids on their weaknesses and expect them to get inspired by it.
They think that when they say, “You are stupid”, or ” You can’t manage the job” or ” You run like a girl” etc, we will take it as a challenge and complete the task to prove them wrong.
I find this tactic to be childish and counterproductive. Picking on a person’s weaknesses or insulting them will only discourage them and make a person doubt. It will in no way, encourage the kid.
Kids generally draw inspiration from famous people or sportsperson. It is quite common to be influenced by positive example that we see in the outside world. This idea was shot down stating that we should not look outside for inspiration and that it should come from within. I agree with this argument but, being mean to a kid is no way to reinforce their confidence or boost their morale.
At times, it might be tricky to encourage a person or to give them a confidence boost. However, it is not necessary to kill their faith with harsh reality checks. You might come from a good place, but insulting a kid or picking on their weaknesses is just called bullying. If your intention is not to bully a kid, please change your tactic. I can only suggest that we all should be mindful of the way our words are perceived. If we have nothing motivating to say, then it would be better to hold our tongue.

Make Adversity Your Best Friend

Whenever people find themselves in a sticky situation, the first thing that they generally experience is stress and the next is, to wish to get back to the status quo. Above all other emotions is the “Why me?” feeling and our brain starts looking for an easy escape. Adversity knocks on the door more frequently than good luck. This is a fact of life. If we can make adversity our friend, then every trouble has a tale to tell and every misfortune has prosperity hidden in it. Though it is not easy to untangle the web of misfortune, it is still worth the effort. The only exception is the sorrow of the death of a dear one.

Trials work like a litmus test and reveal our true well-wishers. During difficulties, we turn to our friends and family for help, while most of them try their best to help and stand by us, a few of them disappear from our sight. I like to call these people the fair-weather friends. Had it not been for the trials, we would never get the opportunity to identify them.

In times of difficulties, if we look within ourselves rather than blaming it on a jinx, we can surely come up with a solution. We just need to reexamine our skillset, bolster our determination and work on our problems. At times like this, we find out where we are lacking and thus, get a chance to improve our self accordingly. Adversity teaches us resilience. During the economic slowdown of the late 1990s, I lost my job. Instead of lamenting on it, I used this as an opportunity to improve my skills and when the market was ready to offer jobs, I was better prepared.

I have noticed that laziness and procrastination lead to unnecessary distress as a job done on time means, no worries. We can make bill payments as an example, any delay in payments lead to fines. Similarly, a lack of proper understanding of the task also creates hardships. We should never shy away from asking for assistance. Sometimes miscommunication is the cause of all our ordeals. We can try and solve this issue by explaining our intentions and requirements in a task. We can take language classes too if that is the problem. Give it whatever it takes to solve the problem because, in our quest to solve them, we end up improving ourselves. Every adversity scoops out the unrequired qualities within us and builds our character.

If we reminisce back to school days, while working out math problems for a given topic, some questions were very simple. If we practice only the simple questions and then we cannot handle even slightly complex problems on the same topic. We will be fretting and frowning about the sudden complexity. In the same way, twisted circumstances in life help in sharpening us. There would be no problems in life if, we learn our lessons at the first encounter itself, else we are bound to repeat our mistakes.

If we take a look at the people around us, we will find that some of them can manage their life really well. It seems as if God pre-programmed them before sending them into this world. They make you wonder, “Why can’t I manage things like them?”. Either they have excellent managerial skills or they have a great sense of style or they perennially have a smiling face. It is not that they are born that way but, they take every adversity and turn it into an advantage.

I can tell you from experience that following this advice is tougher than preaching it. The hardest part is to set aside the ego, drop all excuses and accept the truth. Believe in yourself that you can make a difference and welcome every adversity as a friend that has come to improve you. Like a jigsaw puzzle, put all the pieces together to get the complete picture. Twist and turn the problem till you shape it into a solution and pull each thread out patiently until the mess is untangled. All the best In your effort, if you succeed, you will be the best form of yourself.

Problems That Need a Name

A problem that does not exist, needs no solutions, isn’t it so? Unless we recognize the existence of a problem, we will not start thinking about ways to repair it. For this reason, the first step towards problem-solving is to recognize and define the problem. A problem can be anything that endangers your welfare or anything detrimental to your future well-being.

For over a year, I have been suffering from persistent headaches, that sometimes last days at a stretch. Initially, I thought it was sinusitis. Later, the blame was pushed on to stress and bad weather. Whatever the cause, the only solution I could see was painkillers. I had work to do and could not stop to rest. Even when I had the time to rest, I would hesitate to think, “How often will people around me put up with my excuse?”

As time passed, I was able to identify some common features of my problem and finally, the doctor diagnosed my trouble as migraine. Rather than disturbing me, the diagnosis gave me a sense of relief. Since the problem has been identified and named, I no longer feel disconcerted. I can research about the condition and take necessary precautions. I can try different options such as changing my diet, meditation and exercise instead of going straight for the painkillers. This incident got me thinking about the importance of “Identifying the problem”.

We don’t often take the time to introspect about the whys, whats and hows. We find it easier to point fingers at others, the circumstances or our fate. Our deficiencies become our neighbour’s fault or the devious plan of some evil imaginary force. Either, we build up bad vibes for the so-called ‘enemy’ or pray to the heavens for divine intervention. We fail to recognize the fact that unless we work on the problem, it will continue to thrive. That brings us back to our main point; unless we acknowledge the problem we will not work on it.

To acknowledge the problem, analyze every situation and assess your role in the crisis. Think about all the various possibilities like, “What if I had taken a different approach?”, “What if I had prepared for the exam?” or “What if I had alerted the appropriate person?” Is there anything that you could have done that would result in a better outcome? During this process, it is important to be truthful to yourself. This line of thought will lead you in the right direction.

Once the problem is identified, our mind will automatically start looking for solutions. My personal experience has been that I was able to improve myself along many planes. It also helped me become a better person and improve the quality of my life compared to two decades ago.
Tell me about your experience or if you have anything more to add to this topic. I would love to hear from you. Have a nice day!

To Change Or Not To Change

I have a bit of an enigma, to change or not to change. Everyone says change is the only constant in life. If we want to adapt to any change in our life, then we have to change ourself, else, we might become obsolete. We have to try to improve our self. In fact, it is strongly believed that those who stick to the old ways often get left behind. Acclimating to change is the only way forward.

Just when I’m convinced with this argument, my mind says, but we have to be strong and stay true to our convictions. We should not keep changing colours and end up losing our individuality in the crowd. We should adhere to our way of life. Change means to quit on our opinions and taking a cowardly way out.

How do we choose which is correct?

Discipline Is Not Just An Old-World Concept

Discipline, hard work, and loyalty are all terms we hear about when we speak to someone from the armed forces, sportspersons or in speeches from old people. Today’s generation does not understand or recognize the value of such concepts.

It is a sad truth that I have realised only recently. During a farewell speech from an old colleague, he spoke of the value of these concepts. He told the new joiners that this was the only secret to success. But, the sad thing was that most of the crowd was rolling their eyes and mumbling under their breath. They all saw his advice as just another lecture from an ‘old guy’. They proudly spoke about smart work as against hard work. Bending rules to achieve success against discipline and abiding by the rules.

I do not intend to complain about a specific office. The grouse is about the general attitude that denigrates ideals. It has become a ‘cool’ attitude that is celebrated around the world. I sincerely hope that my readers agree with my philosophy that values like discipline, hard work, loyalty do not belong to history lessons and old-world stories.

Beware Of The Urge To Hoard

As a child, I observed my grandmother clean the kitchen. She disposed of all the unnecessary things, scrubbed every surface by washing and wiping them diligently. At regular intervals, she repeated this process with every room in the house. My mother, I can say with total confidence, is the chip off the old block. Keeping things organized and clean is not just her habit but also her hobby and passion. I wonder where those genes disappeared when it came to me. I clean my house no doubt, but that passion is completely missing.

For almost the last ten years, I have been living in the same old house. It has two bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, a kitchen, a laundry room and a storeroom. Every room, including the laundry room, is large. The problem with large spaces is that we tend to accumulate things. Over the decade, we had collected many things. Moving out from that house was nothing short of a nightmare.

It is at this juncture that I realized that I have been hoarding. Embarrassed by my situation, I got into a feverish pace of disposing and giving away things that I don’t really need. Things that we usually collect and pile up in corner cupboards are:

  • Old clothes: We stop using clothes that we grow out of, but somehow we don’t throw them away. They just sit there collecting dust. Removing old clothes is a very good way to declutter the house.
  • Old newspapers, books and magazines: What do I say about this one! Both my son and I love to read. We have a collection of books that we don’t have the heart to throw away. I managed to dispose of some and give some away yet, I have quite a few books that I am emotionally attached to. But, clearing them frequently is what I advise.
  • CD’s/ DVD’s/Records: This one was a surprise for me. I never expected to see so many CD’s/DVD’s in my house. The more I cleaned the more I found. We cleared at least fifty per cent of what we had and still, I have more to sort through in the collection.
  • Old electronic items: This category includes old phones, chargers, gadgets that no longer work and a few gadgets that we do not need anymore. They just lie in a corner covered in dust and grime. After a while, I don’t remember if it’s useless or otherwise. I had been lazy in getting them fixed or disposing of them. Now we have a ton of things to ship to the garbage bin.
  • Old expired items: This category is a critical one. We need to regularly check the expiry date on medications, cosmetics and food items stored in the kitchen. We need to get rid of items that are past their expiration date. This is one thing that I never miss out, fortunately. Laziness in this area means putting the whole family at risk.
  • Old bags: Yep! That’s what I said. Old handbags and school bags, lunch kits have a way of getting settled into cozy areas of the house. We tend to collect them out of nostalgia but, they should be cleared at the earliest.
  • Recycling Projects: These projects intend to use up the leftover and unwanted items. Make something interesting out of them and reduce the unnecessary stuff. However, the end result is often the opposite of this. We end up accumulating more waste with a project in mind, but never come around to finishing it.
  • Unfinished projects: This category is linked to the above pointer. I collect things with the idea of making some craft item but, these things rarely see the light of day. I have a hard time letting go of such projects. Every time I look at them, I hope to finish the project and make an art piece. I had to close my eyes and throw away all those things. From now on, I am setting a time limit of six months on such projects. If I don’t finish in that time, I have to throw those things because it means I will never have enough time to do it.

Finally, after clearing out all of these things, the house felt lighter and brighter. Our new house is smaller than the old one; the downsizing has helped us a lot. Cleaning the house is a never-ending task. I decided to devote a day or two, every month, for decluttering the house. If you have any other suggestions on this topic, I will be very happy to hear from you. Feel free to write your opinions in the comments section below. Enjoy!

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