Lives Matter

Whenever a famous celebrity or a well known personality takes the most drastic and tragic step and commits suicide, people wake up to the aotherwise shunned subject and start wondering that why someone so successful and famous had to resort to this extreme action. If you too are wondering, “Why does someone take his own (otherwise much loved) life?”, then read till the end.

When someone loses all hope, gets engulfed in sorrow and feels worthless and miserable for bit longer than his endurance and is not snapped out of the feeling by someone or something, suicide happens.

“I have always believed that suicide is an accident because it is sudden and mostly a momentary decision.”

If someone is lucky, the moment of agony may pass and life may resume and eventually become better. Those who aren’t lucky on that day and time may not be pulled out of the trance at the exact moment and hell happens.

Many of us may have had that fleeting feeling at some point of time but either an internal voice or an external help might have helped the moment pass and here we are, well and alive.

“What is unfortunate, is not falling in the abyss of gloom at occasions, but not being pulled out before sense prevails.”

What should anyone do at such times of hopelessness when life feels like an unbearable pain and the desire to free self from the pain starts overpowering all love for life and logic?

If you are someone or know someone who gets such self-harming thoughts at times, do or tell the person to do the following.

  • If ever that feeling raises its ugly head, immediately get in touch with someone and talk your heart out. If one person isn’t available try contacting another person but reach out immediately.
  • Even if all is well these days still confide in to your closest people that you experience such thoughts on your rough days. It is absolutely okay to confess and ask someone to look out for signs and also to look out for you.
  • Take professional help to learn how to deal with the lows of life. This is the permanent solution. You need to learn to be stronger mentally and emotionally. There are experts who can understand your psyche and transform you into someone who will never think of ending his precious life.

Here I will share my thoughts on what is the biggest cause of such emotional weakness that leads to our emotional breakdown. The foremost reason for our depressed state of mind is dependence.

  • Dependence on people for love, attention, affection, support, companionship, etc.
  • Dependence on materials to feel accomplished and successful.
  • Dependence on success for feeling worthy.
  • Dependence on substance and toxins to feel good or happy.
  • Dependence on social approvals to feel good about self.

People who seek happiness, sense of worth, love, companionship, support from external sources are the weakest emotionally. It’s like others have the switch to your happiness and lack of it and what if these others are unavailable or insensitive to the person’s needs or rather than helping, start tormenting. Then breakdown occurs.

The recent tragedy is most probably an example of someone seeking love and support from a fraternity that is most competitive and very selectively supportive. When the sought out acceptance did not come, depression took hold of the mind and in that one weak moment when the mind felt completely lost and no help was available, life got lost.

Now everyone is blaming the people for being insensitive, unaccepting, nepotistic, closed to outsiders and what all. These are not some special species of self-centered snobs. In reality such people are everywhere. In schools, colleges, workplaces, offices, social circles, family groups, everywhere. Groupings happen everywhere and there are some lowly, lonely souls who do not get included in those groups.

It is definitely an insensitive thing to do but it happens. In the name of common interests, backgrounds; common friends; old relations, familiarities; same social, economic status; eliteness; whatever, but people form groups. This elite gathering then even indulge in mocking, bullying, ridiculing the lesser ones.

Unfortunately those on the sidelines seek approval from the same groups. They seek love and acceptance from their haters. Why? Because sadly they are usually the idols. It’s them that everyone wants to become. The unaccepting, uncaring, self indulging, mocking, jeering, shallow and hollow yet classy, successful, suave, good-looking people are the superstars everyone is chasing and intends to become. So their approval and acceptance matters.

Everyone wants to be a part of some such group and hence is running the race. Either one gets into the league or doesn’t. Those who gain the elite entry lose one’s own good self in the process. Those who don’t lose all hope and sometimes life.

Why do we have to be someone else or a part of those who don’t love us for who we are? Why can’t people see and love their own qualities and be proud and not seek anyone’s validation of them? Rather than following others’ trends and footprints why don’t they create their own mark to be modeled by others like them? Why need the coveted entry to a classy club? Why not form your own less classy but a more mature, intellectual, down to earth group that doesn’t look down on people rather works for some higher purpose? Why not prefer being alone than chasing hollow illusions and dummy appearances?

Read it, reread it and think about it. We are here to love and live our precious lives. We are perfect the way we are and with what we have. Strive to do and be better if that pleases you but don’t lose yourself in the process. Find the love, hope and strength inside the depths of your own being. When you do that you will see that divinity has become your ally and is guiding you to your rightful place.

Let’s be more mindful of our lives and the lives around us because, black or white, classy or non-classy, lives matter.

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What Makes A Child Confident?

“I don’t think I can do this.”

“It is too difficult for me to try.”

Almost everyday I meet teenagers who are clueless about what they want to do with their lives. As a career counselor, when I suggest them various career options based on of their potential and inherent capabilities, rather than seeing their excitement on the prospects what I hear are their doubts and reservations. These apprehensions primarily stem out of their lack of self-confidence and self-worth.

Ever wondered why are our children and teenagers so full of self-doubt? Why does this generation of English speaking youngsters who are well groomed, sent to best schools and provided with extravagant lifestyles, lack in self-assurance when it comes to decision-making and acting upon the choices they make?

The key reason that our youth is engulfed in self-doubt and self-deprecation is their poor self-concept. Self-concept means one’s idea of self which gets constructed by the beliefs formed about self. Since the beginning of our life, whatever happens in our life, contributes to the building of our self-concept or self-image.

Some of the most critical yet overlooked contributors are:

1. Love and affection of parents.

When a small child is unconditionally loved and showered affection at by parents and other elders the innocent mind of the child doesn’t think, “My mother is so loving.” It rather thinks, “I must be very special. That’s why my mother/father loves me so much.” Think of it. ‘I am good or special’, is a self-concept that gets constructed by something as natural as a mother’s love.

On the opposite hand, when a child is often reprimanded or scolded by a parent, the immature mind doesn’t form a bad image of the parent but of self. “My mother doesn’t like me. I must not be good.” Thus, the self-loathing self-concept is formed.

2. Appreciation from parents and teachers.

Few positive words of acknowledgment on any small and big feats of a child can form the positive self-belief and the exact opposite happens when criticism is spewed on the young mind. In our society, negative appraisal is granted easily to the young ones as it is considered as a motivator. Parents think that if they tell a child that he can’t do something, he will be prompted to do it and prove himself.

Little do these parents know that their critical words are actually dispiriting the child by forming the child’s image in his mind as someone incapable of doing the job. And Why not? Those words are coming from the ‘know it all’ parents who are idolized by the unknowing children.

The opposite happens when an encouraging parent or teacher tells another child that he can do something. The simple words paint a picture of a competent self in the child’s impressionable mind. The child just acts his image and sometimes even an average child outdoes others.

Many a times parents are wary of bestowing praises on their progeny as they worry that accolades may make them arrogant. It is a myth. Appreciation doesn’t lead to arrogance. It rather forms a self image that the child wants to live up to.

3. Acceptance of the individual.

When a child is accepted for who he is, he gains confidence in self. On the other hand, comparison and discrimination are confidence killers. When a child is discriminated and given differential treatment because of her gender, color of skin, shape of body, height, intelligence, talents, performance, etc. the feeling of being less creeps in.

Every child is unique in his unique self and shall be treated equally and fairly. Give your child respect for who he is and see the leap his self-confidence will make. And also protect your child from any discrimination he might be getting from other sources. The world is still full of its prejudices and our children need to be proofed from it with our confidence in them.

3. Accomplishments of the child.

The biggest motivator in one’s life is one’s own achievements. Our previous accomplishments are the reference points for our self-confidence for our next endeavors. When a child does well in her tests, exams or other competitions, the self-concept of being competent gets formed automatically. The child faces the next competition with her positive self-image and performs well again and the positive image gets further reinforced and then the cycle continues.

The opposite happens when a child doesn’t perform well consecutively a few times and then another pattern of failure persists. It is thus vital that a child does well in something or anything. It can be academically, in sports or in any curricular or extracurricular activity.

They say, “nothing succeeds like success.” That means every success leads to the next success because every success creates a successful self-concept in the person’s mind.

The renowned psychologist Erik Erickson in his psychosocial development theory has called the age between six to twelve years as the stage when every child has a crisis or conflict of industry and inferiority in her mind. A hardworking or industrious child succeeds and forms a positive self attitude and the not so hardworking kind forms an inferior self image.

Thus, victory or failure becomes a natural self expectation and we in easy language call it self-confidence or lack of confidence.

So, how do we enhance the confidence in a child? It is clear by now.

  • Love your child. Shower your affections on him.
  • Say encouraging words to your child. Give genuine appreciation whenever you get a chance.
  • Help your child achieve. Tell him it is important to do well and make it happen together.
  • Celebrate the successes and the failures. Celebrate the efforts.
  • Never let your confidence in the child go low. Never give up hope in him.
  • Teach him perseverance.
  • Be a good role model yourself and share your stories.

A confident child is a dream of every parent and it is also your own creation. Your own small acts of love, kindness and empathy paint his best picture in your child’s mind. Be mindful of this and help his mind see him as a self-assured doer and capable of fulfilling his dreams.