Use Writing As Therapy

Writing is often considered a good habit to cultivate, many use it as an avocation. Some might even turn it into blogging as I have. But, I feel that penning down your thoughts is the best form of therapy. This is not an original thought; many psychologists have recommended that we maintain a journal of all the events that affect us. I never quite understood the benefits of this exercise until I tried it myself.

It all started with an interview of a famous celebrity, I will not name him as he is a controversial figure with many people glorifying him and just as many reviling him. In this interview, he was asked to advise students who study away from home and fall into depression.

He gave the following simple exercise for all students who feel alone or agitated on any event or issue. ‘Every time you face an issue that disturbs you, write it down’. Find a peaceful place to sit and record the complete incident from your memory in that book. After writing it once, if you do not feel calm, write the same incident again. Try not to revisit what you wrote the first time, but write the whole incident freshly as you remember it at that moment. Repeat this process of writing until your mind cools down. He said it is a way of removing the incident from your mind and getting rid of it.

I tried to follow what he advised and found some interesting things about myself. I realised the first time, I described an incident that hurt me in great detail. I wrote an essay that was 20 pages long describing my emotions, my pain and all hurtful words. The next time I wrote it, the number of pages came down considerably, so did the description of all the emotions. By the end, I wrote about the event 5 times and my fifth attempt was only half a page.

I read back at all the 5 essays that I wrote and I was startled to see the change in tone with each attempt. At first, it was all centred around me and my feelings. The next attempt was slightly less about me and more factual. The third time I became a bit critical of my self. By the last time, I narrated the incident from a 3rd person pov.

I found this technique very helpful and therapeutic. It was also a kind of analysis into my way of thinking too. I want everyone to try this method of self-therapy before we pass judgement on it. Tell me how it works.

Always Finish What You Start

Have you ever started something that you were very excited about, but have quit midways? Have you started a project with one idea in mind and when things didn’t work out as you planned, you lost interest. It has happened to me a few times and I have burnt my fingers to learn from this mistake. Never quit midways. Always have the patience to wait until the end. If you have confidence in your convictions then it is worth the effort, I speak from experience when I say this.

While in college pursuing my undergraduate degree, I had taken up a computer programming course. My intention was to earn enough programming certificates so that I can take a job in either the programming field or my chosen field. The plan seemed simple at that time. A little into this course, I realized that it was not that simple after all. My programming certificates were not equivalent to a degree in computer science, so I may not get jobs as easily as I hoped. This disheartened me and I quit my course halfway through to continue with my undergraduate program. After graduation, when I started my job hunt, I faced tough competition at all interviews. Any additional qualifications that one held became important. I lost a few lucrative job opportunities, to someone who had done a certificate course in programming. This was a hard punch to me, though I had knowledge of programming, I did not have the patience to complete the course and get my certificate. This was the first time that I learnt this lesson.

Though I learnt my lesson, I did not quite remember it. Later on in life, I faced a similar problem. I decided to get fit and enrolled in a fitness program. To join this program, I quit my yoga class halfway through. Again, I lacked patience and was in a hurry to get healthy fast. A week into my new health class, they started yoga training. I was upset, I told them that I just quit my yoga class to come here so that I can get on a fast track. The cherry on the top was that, if I had finished my yoga class, I could have leapfrog this level. Since I quit halfway through, I had to redo the whole thing. 

There are many such situations in all our lives, some funny, some not so funny, where we ended up paying dearly for our impatience. Call it lack of foresight or impatience or lack of planning. Either way, we paid dearly for not finishing what we started. Consider yourself lucky and learn from my mistake, if you have not faced such situations. 

Many of us, would have set up New year resolutions hoping to better themselves. Make sure you follow through on your resolution and not quit. You never know when this resolution will add a new lifeline for you. So, I resolve that this year, I will finish all the endeavours that I take up. Here’s to hoping that I’m successful in doing it. Cheers!!

We Need To Develop A Thick Skin

We often come across stories of intimidation through trolling, bullying, severe and vociferous criticism etc. Be it skin colour, body type, thoughts, ideas, religion or something as random as dresses we wear, anything can trigger an avalanche of hate toward us. In our endeavour to be heard and to express our opinion, we often encounter such behaviour. They have become commonplace in the society which often believes itself to be the judge, jury and executioner in all matters social.

Take the example of the recent case cyberbullying of the 16-year-old climate activist, Greta Thunberg. For all her tireless activism, Time magazine named her the person of the year. This triggered an unwarranted Twitter attack from President Trump. Where earlier he ridiculed her health condition and mannerisms, today he suggested her taking anger management classes.

In life, every decision we make will be met with an equal number of supporters as well as opposers. There is nothing wrong in stating an opinion as long as it does not prey on someone’s confidence and self-esteem. Constant criticism and bullying often lead to depression, anxiety, even suicidal thoughts. Every small remark or comment made against a person dents their confidence and scars their psyche. Many people have spoken about this negative behaviour with little to no impact on the trends.

However, I would like to make a note of caution on this point. Sometimes, people become so sensitive about a review that they refuse to consider constructive feedback too. In fear of being bullied, we close our mind to all kinds of feedback, both useful and otherwise. This is another dangerous behaviour in itself.

The way I see it, despite constant reminders, coaching, punitive laws, trolling and bullying continue to thrive in the world. It makes more sense that we try to find a way to overcome this monster by making our self tougher and stronger.

I do not condone any form of bullying and bullish behaviour, however, I feel that we all need to develop a thick skin. If we want to survive in today’s world, we all should be able to brush off these bullies and critics. We need to stand tall and strong with our beliefs. We have to learn to maintain a strong sense of self-worth and self-esteem. We should believe in our self strongly enough so that these bullies cannot budge our confidence. As long as we are not breaking any rules or law, we need not be afraid of others’ opinions. We should only look at them as empty words of distrustful people.

It is true that bullying and trolling is a wrong attitude and it should stop. You might say that it is not the victim who should change, but the perpetrators. I agree with that comment too. However, I feel there is no harm in improving oneself. If having confidence in ourself and strong self-worth is what we need to develop then I want to make that change. Being a victim can only get us so much help. If we want to turn the tide, we need to help ourselves. So friends, do not cower down in the face of bullies and haters. It might take time, but build your self-confidence and self-esteem to fight them.

Beware Of The Evil Eye

Anyone who is from India or who has visited India is aware of the evil eye, or ‘Buri Nazar’ as we like to call it. As I pride myself on being a person of science, I always dismissed this concept of evil eye or ‘Buri Nazar’. It is a widespread notion that says when an envious or ill-intentioned person regards us or our possessions than it will cause harm to the person or the possession. It sounds magical, doesn’t it?

For a long time, people around me have supported this concept of an evil eye and told me many anecdotes of suffering caused by it. There are also just as many people who denounce this notion as being unscientific. They say, these anecdotes are based on hearsay and are stories of uneducated minds. I belonged to the latter thought process. I felt that the idea of causing a person to lose their wealth or health or happiness with just one envious thought seemed magical and fantastical. It happens only in fairy tales. But what if there was a way to prove this evil eye.

Do not worry, neither have I not lost my mind, nor have I turned into a believer. It is not a study or thesis that I have conducted on this subject. I stumbled upon the work of Dr Masaru Emoto on water crystals and the impact of human thoughts, words, emotions etc, on these crystal formations. He says that water carries a consciousness that is gathered from the people and the emotions around it. In his book, ‘The Hidden Messages In Water’ Dr Emoto says, “water exposed to loving, benevolent, and compassionate human intention results in aesthetically pleasing physical molecular formations in the water while water exposed to fearful and discordant human intentions results in disconnected, disfigured, and “unpleasant” physical molecular formations”.

I have attached a link to his interview from this YouTube video. https://youtu.be/ujQAk9EM3xg

From my understanding, what Dr Emoto says is that a positive and loving thought or person invokes positivity and peace around them. Hence, the water crystals are symmetrically and aesthetically beautiful. Similarly, a negative, hateful and envious person or thought invokes discord and unhealthy environment around them. Hence, the water crystals are deformed and shapeless. Since a human body is made up mostly of water, it would be safe to say that these water experiments hold true on people as well. I felt that the same explanation holds true for the concept of the evil eye as well.

I am still not convinced a 100% about this evil eye. It is because I do not like the idea that all my hard work could crumble just because of the jealous and weak thoughts of a person. However, Dr Emoto has made me rethink this concept. I may not have become a believer, but I do not denounce the concept either. There is sufficient experimental proof about the impact of loving words and hateful words that are carried through the water. I do not agree that evil eye works every time, but I believe that positive thoughts and love begets positivity and love. If I surround myself with loving and positive people and emotions, then I will only attract love and happiness. What do you say??

Let Us Agree To Disagree

People all over the world, irrespective of ethnicity, race, religion, gender etc are all obsessed with being in agreement. People want to be in conformity with others in everything, be it appearance, ideas, opinions, even in priorities. The funny thing is, even when you disagree on something, we all want to disagree on the same thing. Conforming to a norm or a set of rules of utmost importance.

We all speak very highly of heterogeneity, uniqueness, out of the box thinking. However, the minute an unconventional idea, or fresh thinking or something different comes up, we all want to remove it, to change it or to kill the uniqueness. Basically, our first instinct is to remove anything that stands out and bring back uniformity. We might enjoy discussing this new idea, we may argue about its pros and cons. We could also debate about it, but we all want everyone to reach a consensus and stand by it. We do not accept fringe groups who want to make their own path.

In today’s world, diversity in the true sense is not tolerated. It is a superficial concept that we like to boast about. However, in our hearts, we secretly plan to remedy this situation. At the core, we want everyone to think, function and behave alike. This notion is what brings about the death of a culture. When we get into a herd mentality, individual thought dies. Without independent individual thought, society cannot grow and evolve. It will die a slow and painful death.

We all need to make an effort to accept our differences. Not just on a superficial level, but also in our hearts. We should understand that there is nothing wrong with being different. We must make an effort to realise that there is nothing wrong in seeing a different perspective. There cannot be a hero without a coward, no white without black or no good without evil. So diversity is a requirement to every society rather than a nuisance that you have to put up with.

Image Source: I have sourced the featured image from Google images. I do not own this image.

Celebrate Your Victory, Not Their Loss

Celebration after victory is required after any contest. Be it in sports, business, politics, elections, cinemas, academic pursuits etc, it is common to see the boisterous celebration, partying, and quite a bit of chest-thumping. Especially in sports, we get to see spirited voices that speak of the greatness of their team, players, strategy, execution and much more. Any football fan would vouch this being a common practice. Even as part of the ‘after analysis’ of the game, we see experts on both sides break the game down, play by play for their viewers.

As long as the discussion is limited to the performance and play, it is all good. The trouble starts when the fun and celebration start to get personal about the players of the losing team. To make one team look great, followers start to demean and insult the opposite team. They make a show of how bad their performance was, the number of errors they made, the flaw in their strategy and play etc. This is the most unsportsmanlike behaviour, but it is particularly common among the fans.

We see such mudslinging, offensive and personal attacks being made toward the opposing team not just in sports, but also in politics, elections and business competitions too. Something about participating in a contest brings out the darkest and meanest attitude in people. They resort to various below-the-belt tactics to take cheap shots at one another. Celebration becomes more of a slugfest. It takes away the joy of winning and the fun of participation.

True sportsmanship is an attitude that should reflect in all of us. In those who participate in the contest and the revellers who come to support the contestants. By resorting to demeaning our opponents, we only prove that our victory is undeserving. It shows that our team won, not because of our superiority, but because of the opposing team’s inferiority. Nothing is more insulting than being robbed of our victory because we did not deserve it. It is something that the world needs to learn.

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?

Be Mindful of Your Words While Expressing Yourself

Words are the most powerful tools that we use to express opinions, intentions, ideas, plans etc. Understandably, our words can make our life easy and smooth sailing or they can invite trouble and unwanted risks. Many times, though we speak the truth, if we are not careful of our tone or choice of words, our message is not conveyed correctly. This can potentially wreck a relationship, business deal or lifelong friendship.

When we let our anger, envy or pride colour our tone of speaking, we could end up conveying a very different message. There are few situations when our emotions are justified, however, they get communicated in a more sinister way because of the words we use. We often describe it as righteous anger and intend to point out the evil intentions behind an innocuous deed. However, our emotions and inner turmoil can distort our speech and make us appear jealous and resentful.

There are many examples of such mishaps in our daily life. I had recently encountered a conflict that was blown out of proportions because of this reason. It was a lesson I wanted to remember and hence, I have written this blog. I hope to bring this to the attention of my readers.