Featured

Psychologist or Psychiatrist – Who Is The Right “Go To” Professional?

Mental health has finally gained some much needed attention in India. In a country where till a few years back and in some parts maybe even today, mental only meant a mindless or mad person, mental disorders and their cure is now being talked about.

Almost two decades back not many people had probably even heard of mental disorders like depression, stress or anxiety. In case someone was suffering from any of these disorders, he would visit all kind of doctors thinking he was physically sick, doctors would get all his medical tests done and when nothing would be diagnosed the patient would visit all kinds of astrologers, healers & God-men and keep on suffering till things changed or came to an end.

Times have changed and now quite a lot of people are more aware of the mental concerns and when the symptoms persist or become unbearable, they sometimes seek help.

And when they seek help, they mostly visit the psychiatrists who are medical practitioners who treat mental disorders by prescribing medicines. They diagnose the illness by listening to the symptoms and sometimes by conducting some tests and prescribe medicines as treatment. Antidepressants for depression, mood stabilizers for bipolar and other mood disorders, anti anxiety pills for anxiety and sedatives for almost everything.

But is medicine the real cure for the illnesses or issues that get triggered or aggravated because of a person’s mindset, attitude, thinking pattern, emotions, beliefs and influences? Can a few doses of dopamine and serotonin alone cure the causes behind the depressive state of a person which probably got prompted or provoked because of a financial loss or heartbreak and his own reaction to it?

The answer is no, medicines aren’t the treatment of mental disorders. Medicines are temporary cure of the symptoms and give immediate and temporary relief to the sufferers, who are both the patient and his family.

The permanent or long lasting solution is curing the causes of the disorder and it is the job of a psychotherapist who is an expert in human psychology and uses psychology to find out the causes and cure the disorders.

The psychiatrists are also trained to do psychotherapy, in layman language counseling, which means treatment of mental disorders through psychology and not medicine. But there are many psychiatrists who prefer giving medicines because medicines are easier to prescribe whereas therapies are time consuming and needs expertise and empathy.

Then who provides psychotherapy? Another professional called psychologist is trained and qualified to do that.

A psychologist is an expert in human psychology and psychology is the scientific study of the human mindset, behavior and actions and the factors affecting the same.

There is another big difference in psychiatry and psychology. Psychiatry is the study and treatment of mental illnesses which is one of the many areas of psychology and psychology is the study and treatment of human behavior, mental attitudes and mindset which also give birth to mental illnesses.

Point here is that mental illnesses are mostly caused because of the mindset and attitude prone to that illness and are triggered by the circumstances that negatively affect the illness prone psyche.

Understand this with an example of a 30 years old person, Amit. Amit is a very ambitious person who wants to achieve big in life. He started a business which was doing well and Amit was proud of his work but now due to the lockdown and its effects Amit’s business has suffered huge losses. As a result Amit has started feeling very low and hopeless, he cannot sleep properly at night, feels anxious and agitated.

If Amit decides to visit a psychiatrist, the latter will diagnose his problem as depression and prescribe medicines for the same.

If Amit chooses to see a psychologist, this professional will empathetically listen to him, diagnose his psyche by conducting a personality test and some other psychological tests and by interviewing him and will give him therapy or counseling. The psychologist will be able to understand that Amit is a result oriented, ambitious person with a high Emotional Quotient and hates facing failures. His business losses have caused him stress and anxiety which have led him to his depressed state of mind.

A good psychologist will not label him as depressed but will comfort him with the knowledge that it is normal and natural to feel low in such a scenario. He will alter his mindset by showing him a positive side to the current problem, give him hope and suggest ways to relax his mind and use his mental and emotional strength and intelligence to find opportunities in adversity.

A good psychologist is an empathetic, non-judgmental listener and an expert counsel and advisor who can change the thought process, perceptions and beliefs of a patient by giving the relevant therapy and thus can teach him to deal with the highs and lows of life.

A good psychologist counsels, guides, mentors, motivates and does almost everything but does not give medicine.

And medicines do nothing that a psychologist does. Medicines do not listen to a person’s worries and anxieties, they do not offer new insights and viewpoints, they do not turn a negative thinker into a positive thinker, they do not give hope and faith.

Medicines only alter the chemicals in mind but mental illnesses are not only the result of chemical imbalances. Chemical imbalance does play a role but it too is an effect of change in mental state and thought process of the person.

If dopamine and serotonin are feel good chemicals they also get released when a person is relaxed, eats and sleeps well and feels good.

So why not change the patient’s attitude, lifestyle and life itself for his betterment and make him better equipped to live a peaceful and joyful life.

The psychiatrists who are also trained to do psychotherapy can use the therapy sessions and cure the causes. If they do they are your “go to professionals” for mental health.

The actual debate is not psychologist or psychiatrist, but therapies or medicines.

Mental illness patient doesn’t know what is the right treatment. He follows his doctor and he too prefers getting the prescription as medication is easy to be administered whereas therapies involve changing lifestyle, way of thinking and mental and emotional transformation.

Little do they know that their illness is actually a signal that the ongoing way of life is doing them harm and needs some change and transformation.

Medicines may make you feel good for some time but they in no way transform your life. Rather they make you dependent upon them and their prolonged use have many side effects which are harmful for the body as well as mind.

So in case you ever choose to visit a psychiatrist ask him/her if you will be given therapy sessions and not just medicines. If the psychiatrist downplays the role of therapy or introduces you to a young intern as your counselor, go somewhere else as your therapist needs to have a good experience of own life to help you deal with yours.

In some illnesses medicines are important. They are maniac disorder, acute depression and schizophrenia as in these cases the patient is not in the right mental state to go through the therapies and benefit from them. In these mental illnesses the medication improves the patient’s condition and then therapy becomes more effective.

In all other cases counseling or therapy alone is sufficient. Other than curing illnesses, psychotherapy or counseling has many other benefits too.

Mental illnesses are never immediate, rather they take years to reach the stage when they get noticed. That’s because they get attention when the worst becomes apparent.

No one gets depressed overnight or suffers from an anxiety disorder in a day. People have tendencies to be depressed and anxious and to a good observer and an empath it would show at a much earlier stage.

For your knowledge, people who are more emotional and intellectual are more prone to being depressed and anxious because overthinking is a big cause of these mental conditions. So actually there is nothing wrong with being occasionally low and worried.

Mental issues are actually oversold as illnesses to sell the chemicals. Naming the illnesses and labeling the patient helps in selling the chemicals.

Out of the hundreds of mental disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), the official book of mental disorders, it is possible for every person to have at least one or more disorders.

If you have a mind then you will occasionally have an ailment of mind.

In the long human life span of 60 – 70 years, there will be many tough times which can make even the strongest of minds to become worried and low. What we need in these times is not to be labeled sick for life but an empathetic listener and guide who can teach us to accept the tough times as a part of life and take lessons from them and be strong again.

If you are going through a tough time and need help from another person’s perspective and expertise, go see a good psychologist or psychotherapist and take benefit from his unbiased and open minded counsel.

Psychologist do not just cure, they also do preventive counseling. They diagnose their patient’s personality and psyche and thus can say what kind of response the person’s psyche will give to certain circumstances.

Human mind is our very complex slave and its mastery is the key to a happy, peaceful and contented life.

A good psychologist can suggest many dos and don’ts to a person and can teach to live a conscious life in place of letting the unconscious to control the person’s thoughts, beliefs and actions.

There is reason that I have again and again written good psychologist/psychotherapist because like any other profession there are few not so good psychologists/psychotherapists too. A good psychologist can teach you to know, discover and discipline your mind to help you reach your full potential and live a peaceful existence.

A great psychologist will not make you dependent on him/her for long because his/her real job is to help you awaken the buddha inside you and help you become self sufficient in resolving your inner conflicts and be peaceful with life.

So next time when you are low, anxious, worried, aggressive, stressed or depressed, seek a good psychotherapist’s help and if you benefit from your interactions with him/her, make your therapist your regular ally and ask him/her to teach you mind management for life.

Featured

Mental Health In Current Times

First time in our lifetime we are witnessing a global pandemic which has forced most of the people world over to quit their day to day pursuits and sit idle at home. Stay at home to stay safe became the new mantra for our wellbeing.

Now it has been almost four months since people had their usual life; when students went to schools and colleges to study, adults went to their workplaces and everyone had their usual routines of visiting shopping malls, hanging out with friends, dining out, traveling to beat the blues and all the normal things we had got so accustomed to and called life.

How has this temporary but seemingly indefinite pause in our living life affected our mental well-being? There are definitely many repercussions of the first ever global lockdown on our minds.

First of all, idleness itself breeds many mental woes. The biggest advantage of a busy life is that it keeps the mind off useless thinking and worrying. In the normal course of life people are usually too busy to indulge in unwanted and unsettling thinking. Their daily jobs and tasks keep their overworking minds occupied and even those who are habitual over thinkers do not make time to reflect everyday. But in this case of forced sit down with nothing much to keep the mind engaged, overthinking and especially negative overthinking is natural. Most vulnerable are the emotionally sensitive and chronically anxious people who in current times have the habit as well as all the time to over analyze things and then worry about them.

Excessive thinking and worrying causes anxiety in people. Thousands of people are getting sick and are losing lives everyday and there are 24 X 7 news channels reporting the numbers and the horrors of what’s happening in every corner of the world. People are bound to worry and get anxious about their and their dear ones lives. Anxiety leads to poor sleeping and eating and many somatic symptoms that give us a feeling of being sick and the health scare aggravates.

The financial losses and worries that have resulted due to the pandemic and the lockdown are the other reason of anxiety. Businesses are closed or down, jobs are being lost, all spendings except for necessities are postponed and hence people are not earning as usual and nobody knows when things will improve. People of all classes and status are bearing the financial losses of varying magnitude. In a country like India where Government packages do not compensate our earning losses and people have to be self reliant for their monetary needs, this stress is inevitable.

Another casualty of this situation is the relationships. In normal days, everyone gets a break from each other, but now people have been forced to live together with their immediate kin all the time inside the four walls of their houses. For some it came as a blessing to have gotten an unusual chance and time to spend with their families which generally got ignored while making living for them. But for many it came as a disaster as living constantly together and finding no usual ways to escape from each other has led to frustrations, increased quarreling and fighting among the family members.

Overthinking, anxiety about wellbeing and life, financial stress and lack of leisure and distractions are causing a feeling of hopelessness and depression in many. There are many people struggling with the evils of depression right now and as mental health is still an ignored sphere of life, they are suffering in silence and without help. If you are one of them or know someone who you feel is being agonized by his/her mind, seek the necessary help. For my readers I am offering some solutions for their mental concerns.

1. The first and the easiest solution to your woes is to find ways to stay occupied. Clean your whereabouts, cook the good food you are missing, water your plants, de clutter your overfilled spaces, do a physical workout at home, watch the series you weren’t getting time to watch, read the books lining decoratively on the shelves or start a new hobby, just do something and keep busy. Do enough to get tired and doze off peacefully at night.

Staying occupied is essential for everyone. Children need to keep busy with useful activities, else they will get more hooked to mobile phones, internet and television. They may start losing interest in studies and even lose some basic cognitive skills while idling away from the usual school routines. Thus, it is imperative that they should be encouraged to read books, solve mathematical problems, play board games and engage in some sort of physical activity like cycling or running.

Stay at home and stay busy to stay absolutely safe should become the new slogan. This pandemic is not going to last forever and when it does people need to come out physically as well as mentally stable and healthy.

2. The best way to deal with your anxieties is to develop a positive outlook about what is happening in the world. God knows how the disaster broke out but what had to happen has happened. The best we can do is is to think of the positives of our situation.

There are some optimistic viewpoints we can adopt. The nature needed a pause from our excessive, abusive activities and has healed somewhat since the closing down. Many of us needed to stop and think of better ways of living life. For some the rat race may become over and a more contended life may begin.

Some of us may wake up to realize that there are many more endangering challenges lying ahead and a new much needed revolution to save the planet may be in offing.

For the less philosophical and more realistic people who need more reason to feel optimistic, look at the data because the data is not pessimistic. Wherever you live, analyze and see that only a very small percentage of people is getting infected and an even smaller number becomes severely sick and very few die. The numbers are not very scary and if you are taking necessary precautions you may never become infected. Most of us personally do not know anyone who got infected or has died due to corona breakout.

You need not give too much attention to the news which is mostly aired to scare you. I strongly suggest, neither be unreasonably optimistic nor absolutely pessimistic. Be realistic and go about your normal life with some caution that your mind has already become accustomed to and you may never catch the virus and even if you did, you will survive as it is curable in most of the cases.

Another way to feel less anxious is that you are not alone in it. The entire world is struggling and all the world powers and medical experts are working to find the solution (the vaccine and the cure) which is going to be delivered sooner than you can imagine. Stay hopeful and use the time to do what best you can do. Like all other good and bad times even this time is going to pass.

3. In case of your financial worries you have to again deal with your situation with a more positive outlook. It is again something everyone is dealing with. Look for opportunities as they are aplenty now, reduce your overheads if you can, revise your goals and plans and if nothing else works, be grateful to be alive and start afresh.

The economy will bounce back once things improve, the money isn’t just rotating right now but it is there and will start churning again and with more momentum maybe. Save your good business sense and energies till then. Rather use this time to brush up or learn new skills.

4. If you can remain busy, feel optimistic about your future and stay calm in these times, then you can definitely enjoy this time as one of your best times with your family and vice versa. Our family life affects our mental well-being and our mental peace reflect in our family bonds.

Work hard and consciously to improve at least some aspects of your life and the rest will follow automatically. This pause is actually the time you have been granted to reflect upon your life and to review and reassess your life situation. Take stock of your life, relationships and all that you hold valuable and make an extra effort to improve the inventory. Reach out to your friends and whoever needs help and share your hopes and enthusiasm with those who need it. As they say, maintain social distance, not emotional distance.

5. Lastly, some people may have become paranoid in the current times when you have to mind your social distance while simply going out to run errands or working if your work has resumed and constantly maintain the hand and body hygiene. Never in our entire lives we had ever been so conscious as we are now.

I personally call it meditation as meditation is nothing but being conscious of now and here. By being alert we are actually living in a permanent mindful, conscious and meditative state. We are not lost in thoughts of past or future but are aware and alert to the present. So, don’t be paranoid, just enjoy being fully conscious and don’t forgo these healthy and hygienic habits that we have been forced to adopt.

The historical event that we are witnessing in this historical year is going to become history soon but how we come out from it physically and especially mentally will become our personal story to be shared in the times to come. So make sure that you don’t make yourself mentally sick with bigger but less talked about illnesses while trying to protect your bodies from the lesser but more popular ailment.

Stay at home and stay busy and hopeful for a better tomorrow.

A Message For My Contemporaries, Continued

Hello xennials!

Many of you felt intrigued by my last blog (by the same name) and asked for solutions to effectively live with the two ideologies of two overlapping generations that make us, the xennials. The question that remained was how to combine the traditional values of Generation X and the new technology driven, self centered mindset of Generation Y to emerge as the best cohort in the history of humankind.

Many of you found the knowledge that you, because you were are born in a year between 1976 and 1984, have the best attributes of the two individually exceptional groups, very novel, useful and esteem boosting. Just imagine, you have had those qualities for years but never felt so good about them and suddenly you came to know a new fact about your existence and you became overjoyed with the newfound knowledge about self. This establishes the importance of language and words and a fact about human psychology that well worded information about self and its implications help us appreciate what we are and have.

Anyways it is indeed a matter of pride for me and my peers that we are a good combination of old school and new age. We are living a technology aided, modern life yet holding on to many conventions and traditions. We are probably the last generation to have experienced a simple life without fancy frills before the technological transformation of the whole world happened and everything changed. For good, I mean, forever.

It wasn’t the first time that the world changed. Since its origin our sole inhabited planet has been witnessing new discoveries and developments and thus has been constantly transforming, but the information technology advancement changed everything at an unexpected accelerated pace and this became our generation and all subsequent generations’ prime-most challenge.

Due to all the advancements our social, economic, technological needs and aspirations underwent a sea change but we as humans didn’t change at the same pace. Our physiology and psychology takes decades and centuries to undergo any significant change and hence we humans haven’t fully adapted to the fast paced, techno-dependent world.

Will explain this with a few examples.

Our eyes and necks aren’t yet evolved to adapt to the permanent strain on them that the excessive use of our favorite devices exert. Similarly our psychology hasn’t really upgraded to survive a life with only virtual friends and the illusion of attention they give us and without many real, intimate contacts in our social media dominated lives. Likewise our livers and kidneys cannot bear the excesses of our eating and the other such indulgences. Even our minds aren’t fully tuned to the high ambitions and aspirations we have from our humble selves.

Because our evolution hasn’t coincided with the changes in the way we live now, living under a lot of physical and mental stress has become a new norm. We may not have realized it but we and most of our fellow humans aren’t living a very healthy life anymore.

We, xennials, are overly affected by this choice of lifestyle that fell upon us, as we are a generation which isn’t completely oblivious to the damage being done to us and our progeny. Though we enjoy the kind of life we have now, many of us at a conscious or a subconscious level still worry thinking about the adverse outcome of such a life and maybe that’s the reason we end up being hypocrites and restricting our children when we see them overindulging in the life we have provided them with.

We are aware that excess of anything is detrimental. Too much use of technology, excessive eating and drinking, unrestricted spending, over-ambitious goals and unrestrained lifestyle have overburdened us and are doing the worst to our successors because this is the only life they have seen.

I personally feel that we, xennials, have an important job to perform. We have to be the bridge between the two ways of life. It doesn’t seem like a challenge to me that we have the attributes of two generations. Rather, it is our privilege that we are the preservers of all things great from the past. We have been assigned to save simplicity, stability of thought, compassion and love for others, intimacy and a need to have and respect real relationships from becoming extinct like all things we didn’t care about did before us.

We have to remain attached to the life of basics we lived before we overindulged in the non-basics because this super fast transformation is not going to last for long. The day nature starts revolting, we may have to retract the advances we have made and then we xennials will be the ones expected to lead the retreat.

Thus the solution to your quandary is to hold on to the two varied ideologies because neither of them is insignificant. Your history is your story of a simple life when you played real games with real friends and all the valuable virtues of hard-work and resilience that helped you create the future that is your present now. Don’t underestimate that past and do not completely cease to live that. Occasionally go back to those times and take pride in the lack-lustrous yet glorious life we had and bring some of it to your present and keep it alive.

To keep your life from being overcrowded with the trophies of past and present, do away with the inessentials like the stereotypes and the prejudices from the past, the overrated excesses of the present and the unnecessary worries of the future. For a near perfect life, learn not to become a slave of anything. Be a consumer of technology, do not let it consume you and your relationships. If you can do it, you can very well teach it.

Remember, we have to have the best of the two lives. So be someone who still loves to read the old classics but enjoys writing blogs too, who cares about the nature and takes lot of pictures and occasionally shares them on instagram, enjoys the old songs of 80s and 90s and can binge watch Netflix on free days, someone who has travel goals to explore the whole world and feels equally at ease living in a small hamlet, who still calls people to wish them on birthdays after being reminded by checking Facebook and when life seems too fast to sustain who can take a pause and slow down and feel contented to have come this long way from the good old days.

Featured

A Message For My Contemporaries

Those who were born around 1980 and are now almost forty or a year or two plus or minus, I call them my contemporaries. Me and my peers, we are a very special genre and are going to have a very special place in the future history of mankind. I take our place and position in the world very seriously and I will explain it why and thus want your absolute attention on every word I write here.

Earlier we either fell under the Generation X (born between 1965 to 80) or the millennials (born between 1981 and 1995) cohorts, but now we are called “xennials” a combination of gen-X and millennials as we were born at the cusp of the two. So if you were born between the year 1976 and 1984 you are a xennial, someone who has seen the best and worst of two worlds.

As the ones born in the transition we have some very significant distinctions from our predecessors and successors. We have the dual traits of two very different generations.

1. We have both the hardworking, workaholic genes of gen-X and the easygoing attitude of the millennials. That probably makes us seek a good work-life balance in our life.

2. We have the gen-X conservative values as well as the liberal ways of millennials. And that’s why we are mostly conflicted in the inside.

3. We are neither completely devoted and loyal generation X nor we are absolutely indifferent and impatient generation Y. Hence, we are less rigid and more flexible and agile to change.

4. We lived our initial twenty years of life without mobile phones and internet but have been using the technology and social media for almost twenty years now. So we are tech savvy and also know both the advantages and disadvantages of the necessary evil.

5. Like our predecessors we did not get to reap the economic boom for good 15 to 20 years and like our successors we did not start career in global recession. We had had five to ten years of career amid plentiful prosperity under our belts before the meltdown began. Thus, we may enjoy extravagance but we aren’t pound foolish.

6. We love our families and care about the society as we inherited it from gen-X and those before them and we are somewhat self-infatuated narcissists too as that’s what our next in line evolved to be.

7. We are neither pessimists and over-cautious like the ones born before us nor we are audacious optimists and outgoing like those who came after us. We are realists and are trying to deal with the realities of life in the best possible way.

In the nutshell, we “xennials” are neither old school nor we are new wave and this distinction makes us a very good mix of the two worlds. We are the last generation to have lived our old traditions and the first one to go ultramodern. We have read books and we have played video games. We have owned audio tapes and we have used iPods and Bluetooth earplugs. We can wear chic westerns and can carry traditional wear with equal elan. We relish our local foods as well as the global cuisines with identical fervor.

All this duality at times makes us confused and conflicted especially while dealing with our children who unlike us belong to a pure cohort, generation Z. Generation Z are those who are born between year 1996 to 2015. Most of xennials are parents of almost or already teenagers which is the generation Z. This generation was born with phones and tabs in their hands, have ambitious and indulging providers, are compulsive consumers of all kinds of trends and desire absolute freedom without questions asked.

Now the question is how our conflicted cohort is dealing with this overindulged, narcissistic gen-Z? This is our life’s current scenario:

1. We are liberals so we give them liberty but get worried because we are conservatives too.

2. We mostly earn well and are indulging. Hence, we have provided them with almost everything but we flinch when we see them not valuing what they have and feeling entitled to have more.

3. We use technology in every form, we are all over the social media but we want to limit their access when we see them overdoing.

4. We eat, drink, party hard as a modern way of life and when we are being replicated by the gen-Z we aren’t sure if it is right or wrong.

Everyday, we are facing one or other dilemmas in our life especially as parents of teenagers because we are a mixed generation. We can’t completely let them loose and we don’t know how to stop the inevitable without being the despised hypocrites.

My fellow xennials, what to do in the fix that we all find ourselves in, just because of the year we were born in?

In my opinion it is not a predicament but a blessing that we are where we are. Our generation has been given a perfect chance to evolve and become better than all our preceding generations. Our prerogative is not to choose to be either X or Y but to take the best of the two and let go of the worst of both. This generation has a unique chance to amalgamate the finest of two wonderful worlds and be the best breed ever.

The job may sound tedious but is doable. Our generation actually has a lot of de cluttering to do. We are almost everything that our parents were and all that they were not. We have all the inheritances as well as the new learned ways of life influenced by the two generations overlapping our lives. For a life less complicated and conflicted we need to emerge as a new entity. If you agree to what you have read so far, there are simple steps to follow.

1. Be mindful of all that you are. Separate your own inherent attributes and values and the ones you have merely adopted to fit in among others especially the newer generations. Ask yourself, “Am I really a very social person or I just hang out because everyone does?” “What purpose the use of technology is serving for me?” “What is my true calling?”

2. List down the characteristics and values that have served you best and are important for your well being especially as a parent. Retain those.

3. List down all those features, values and habits in your life that are detrimental to your peaceful existence but you are holding onto them for sentimental reasons or merely because you never realized that they were undesirable. Unlearn them or give them up.

4. After the unlearning and de littering if you feel the need to learn a new skill or value, learn it. Remember, we have to have the best of the two worlds.

This process will take time, conscious effort and especially a lot of self consciousness, but will make you free from lot of unnecessary baggage. If you aren’t able to manage it on your own, you can take a Life Coach’s help. Do it yourself or with someone’s help, just do it because you are overloaded, over-burnt and overwhelmed by the old and the new and the contradicted, unsorted and inconsistent you cannot guide the gen-Z.

My fellow xennials, it’s high time we do our self appraisal because it’s around 40 that midlife crisis strikes and we are almost there and some self discovery and decluttering will certainly help us find our balance and become the better people we were certainly born to be.

Will share my thoughts on how to deal with the gen-Z in my next blog. Till then help yourself.

Featured

Fatherhood, A Casualty of Conventions

This blog is for those of us who miss and/or have missed their father’s active participation and/or attention in their lives. It is also for the fathers who think their children, who they work so hard for, are more closer to their mothers and do not share an as good rapport with them. This blog is also for the mothers who want their spouse and offsprings to share a bond better than it is right now. All those who don’t fit in any of these categories may stop reading here.

What are your best childhood memories? I am sure many of those memories would be those rare parent-child things you got to do with your father.

Why did I write rare? They were rare because our fathers were mostly either too busy working outside home and earning a living for the family or they were too tired after a day’s work to play with us or help us do our homework. We probably never even expected them to do those tasks because fathers, the men of the houses weren’t supposed to do those.

If they did have time and there was a moment when they were needed by the children, they were hardwired to not show us their feelings and emotions and if we did sit down to talk, it was mostly critical appraisal of our behavior or misdoings and moral preaching, that we got.

So those times were very few when we hugged, laughed, played, had simple funny times or experienced mushy moments with our personal superheroes.

When I think of my early years’ fondest recollections, I think of my father cooking an occasional delicacy for us, our once a year one day trip to visit the temples in our state (this was the only annual trip when he accompanied us), when he went with me for my admission in the University, when he once told me that it tormented him whenever he saw me crying, when he couldn’t eat the good homemade food thinking that I must be eating awful hostel food, when he occasionally spoiled me bad by indulging my reasonable and sometimes unreasonable wishes.

These memorable instances were very scarce and sparse, when I got to feel my father’s love and affection for his favorite offspring and how I wish that there very many many more such times to hold onto especially when heavens didn’t grant me many years with my favorite parent.

These countable on fingertips occasions are few not because your or my father wasn’t emotional, loved us less or didn’t want to be around us more than he did but because of the stereotypes that are attached with being a man and a father.

Here are some of those cliched conventions:

  • Men have to be strong and unemotional.
  • It’s a man’s job to earn for his family.
  • Men can’t cry or have a sentimental meltdown.
  • It isn’t a man’s job to do household chores.
  • Fathers have to be strict and discipline their children.
  • Fathers only have to provide comforts and materials to their children.
  • Either they have to be critical of their progeny, else they become spoiled or spoil them with stuff at the end of a work day.
  • All else is a mother’s job.

Because of these stereotypes, fatherhood and its role in a child’s life hasn’t changed much with the changes in generations. In today’s times when women are better equipped to earn and are earning and hence sharing or are capable of sharing the bread earning responsibility, when there are just one or two children and enough opportunities to play, travel, bond together, fathers are still shy of expressing love, spending quality time with the young ones and being more supportive and less critical.

It is an established fact that children benefit from quality presence and active involvement of their fathers in their day to day lives. Children who have involved fathers do well academically, have lesser behavior issues, are not delinquents, are physically fitter, are emotionally more stable, are less prone to anxiety and depression in their adulthood.

But more than the children, the fathers will gain from the increased camaraderie.

Fathers are as human and sentimental and sometimes even more than their female counterparts. The more involved father gets a much needed emotional outlet which can be the best medicine and de stressor for him.

Ever wondered why men are more prone to heart attacks, hypertension and depression. There are high chances that an involved father who doesn’t keep himself bottled up will be spared from these deadly ailments.

Fathers too need love and being involved gets them their share of love from their young ones, the love which they can never earn with the money they make but only with the time they spend with the kids.

The counsel, advice and guidance is more naturally accepted by the growing up adolescents when fathers have been involved from the very early years. In the opposite cases the teenagers mostly find their father’s new interest in their youthful lives intrusive and annoying. In such cases the youngsters don’t listen to their best guides and the poor fathers feel unwanted and isolated.

So what should the superheroes sans capes do? It’s very simple.

  • Break some stereotypes. Do a fresh appraisal of your own childhood and see what your own father could do more or differently.
  • Feel entitled to the love and companionship of the tiny or now not so tiny bundles of joys and earn it with more quality time spending.
  • Make time to attend all their meets, activities, drive them to their classes as often as you can, cook for and with them, find your common passions and pursue them together. Have some pure father child rituals and times.
  • Give some break to your alpha male and let out your beta father and spouse.
  • Be more expressive of your love and emotions. Let your child know how much he/she means to you.
  • Be an authoritative parent who empathizes, communicates and disciplines only when required and not an authoritarian parent who only demands obedience and discipline
  • Treat your wife as an ally in the upbringing of your child. Seek her help, ask for inputs and feedback and make amends. Stop showing each other down. You are not competition, you are collaborators when it comes to rearing the lives you created.
  • Relish the newfound role.

Parenting is God’s way of giving us another chance to relive and relive well. Fatherhood can be as rewarding and rejoicing as is motherhood. It’s high time when some role reversals happened, for everyone’s sake. Fathers need to shed some command and control to gain more space and stature in the young lives and hearts. Remember, the hands-on fathers are the happiest fathers and happier fathers are better than wealthier fathers.

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.

Featured

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.

Bond Over A Shared Passion.

Featured

These days, we often hear parents complaining that their growing up children are mostly engrossed in their routines and they don’t spend much time together. Couples are struggling in relationships and the mother of the problem is not investing enough time in each other.

Reason is simple.

In this fast paced life, where everyone has a lot going on in their work spheres, lifestyle routines and busy social lives, spending quality time together for any two people is a dream.

People these days have so much to do for themselves apart from the usual day’s work. The fitness program to stay in good shape is important and so is staying updated with news from all over the world. Social networking is unavoidable and staying abreast on all Netflix series and shows is a new compulsion.

Novel interests of baking, painting, photography, YouTubing, Instagramming as well as old ones like reading and writing are contagious, so easily find place in our busy lives.

So in our busy lives, there is an office time, zen time, fun time, social time, and even the quintessential ‘me’ time but there is no ‘you and me’ time. That being so, relationships are withering and people especially life partners and parents who seek affection are feeling unloved and abandoned.

Today everyone has a lot of personal space with all the personal means like a personal income, phone, TV, room, car and circle of friends and hence there is no dependence or even need of bumping into each other.

But is it a lot of personal space or actually a huge, invisible boundary between the relationships, which could only exist and flourish, if there was some sort of dependence on one another?

The lack of time and over self-indulgence is causing deterioration of bonds between the closest ones. Hence, there is a need like never before to invent a new work-life balance equation, that has a place for the ignored dear ones in it.

There is an easy way to do it and that is to bond over one or more shared interests. Yes. There are too many interests and hobbies in everyone’s life so why not do some of the daily ‘to do list’ together. Don’t forsake the newfound passions or your life partner, just find out the common interests. If you are a parent, find some shared passions with your young ones.

So here goes the list. Read it and discover your common calling.

If you are a fitness freak, have joint work out sessions. If you both are cyclists, go out together on your favorite route, watch the stunning sunrise, challenge each other for a race and come home exhausted yet full of exuberance.

The creative ones can bond over the masterpieces or projects you can do together or help each other do better.

The culinary enthusiasts can bond over their favorite cuisines and occasionally cook a multi course menu and feed the gang or own clan and be applauded.

The nature lovers can grow and nourish plants and themselves, watch birds, go for nature walks and find solace in the greens in unison.

The readers can read together, exchange book reviews, tell tales, discuss plots and characters and engage in intellectual insights that this breed does have in abundance.

The dance lovers can boogie to the beats, perform a Zumba, salsa, Bhangra or whatever their heart desire.

The music lovers can have recitals, go to concerts, form own band, have karaoke evenings and if nothing listen to their favorite melodies and distress on the rug together.

The list is endless. Binge watch, have movie marathons, play domino or cards if that’s your calling, do anything but do it almost daily and do it together.

I thoroughly enjoyed making this list and could easily envision myself bonding with those who I call my family over our common obsessions. I am someone for whom my ‘me time’ has always been sacrosanct but so is the need to share my time and life with those who I call mine.

Life inside home in these times have proved that family is the new friends, our babies are our new buddies and spouse is the second self. So invest in them and insure your precious partnerships for life!!!

People photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Living With A Stubborn Child.

The most interesting work for parenting coaches is to work with parents who have stubborn children. They come to us tired and exhausted because of the constant conflicts they have with their unyielding youngsters. Their common concerns are “My child doesn’t listen to me”, “She doesn’t do what I tell her to do”, “He won’t budge once he has said no to something.”

What makes a child stubborn? Why do you think children defy their parents? Why don’t they simply obey what they are asked to do? There are reasons why stubborn people resist any command or advice given to them and are determined to do as they want. Stubbornness may look like a bad quality but the reason why someone is stubborn is, in reality, a blessing.

“Stubbornness is not a problem but the strength of mind. People who are independent thinkers and have beliefs and opinions of their own, appear to be adamant. They are actually directed by their own inner intellect and that is why they find it difficult to follow external orders. They are not defiant, they are just more intelligent.”

Unfortunately, the most superior quality of human brain is not well appreciated because our society expects children to conform and follow and not question the conventions. The established norm is that parents know it all and the children must comply with them and those who don’t are labeled difficult, stubborn, defiant, obstinate, etc. I prefer to call them, if I have to call them something, willful and strong headed which to me are compliments, not bad names.

“It is a good quality to be independent and inwardly intelligent and someone who is that will have own preferences and choices.”

If your child wants to watch T.V. now and study later it is because his mind is telling him to do that. If you tell him to do otherwise he may not listen, not because he doesn’t respect you or enjoys defying you but because his mind doesn’t want that.

So what to do if you have a child like that? First of all, be happy to know that your child has a working head in its place. That son of your friend who follows all that his mother tells him to do is the good obedient boy because his own mind doesn’t guide him. He may seem too good now but will be all trouble later when your friend’s influence will wane off and some not so good influence will replace it. So don’t compare your unmoving bull with the meek cow as your current troubles are nothing in front of what awaits the other ‘now happy’ mother.

Now let me again count your blessings.

  • Your child is more intelligent, even intellectual. Stop criticizing him and pay attention to his/her qualities.
  • Your child is independent and doesn’t need to hold on to someone all the times.
  • Your child doesn’t copy others and doesn’t get influenced by others easily.
  • Your child has better mental processes like memory, decision making, etc. as brain improves with more usage.
  • Your child is a deep thinker and not superficial. He is unique and not just a second hand copy of someone.

If at all he is a copy then he is your copy. Either you or your spouse or you both were the same difficult youngsters and your parents too complained like you do now. In fact, your problem is not just your stubborn child but the stubborn you versus the stubborn child. So don’t fight your own self but be empathetic and just accept the fact that you have another mature mind in your house. And in case the disagreement persists, learn to give in and accept new viewpoints. There are definitely times when it is important for you to be heard. At those times, follow these smart tips.

  1. Just give suggestions and don’t preach.
  2. Say it in a story or through an example.
  3. Don’t give orders but options.
  4. Negotiate and reach a win-win outcome.
  5. Treat him/her as a mature person and give responsibilities.

“Remember, not all fights are worth fighting and winning. Let your strong willed child have his/her way, occasionally fail or fall, learn lessons and then change permanently and that will be his/her transformation and it will be lasting.”

I know all this because I am living with a stubborn child and I love every bit of it.

When The Journey Began…

Whenever I think of writing, it’s my own story or some part of it that comes first to my mind. Not because I am self infatuated or narcissistic, but because it has been quite an interesting journey and I feel worth sharing too. As the entire journey can’t be shared on a blog, I am choosing to share the part that may interest my readers.

I once said, “If my life is ever chronicled I would want it to be in two parts- before and after Princess’s birth.” Princess is my first born’s name and bringing her to this world changed my entire world. Motherhood to me came as my salvation as the restless soul inside me found its purpose.

I don’t remember ever being fond of kids. Being the youngest sibling myself I never had to live with someone younger than me. As a child I had lived quite a pampered life and never even showered few tiny bits of affection on anyone’s cute munchkin. I was actually so childish that when I got pregnant I remember my friends joking that a child was going to have a child. And maybe that’s the reason the transformation was so apparent.

When I held the little bundle of my own flesh and blood in my hands for the first time, I said to my husband, “I don’t know anything about being a mother.” The conscious acknowledgement of my complete lack of knowledge and expertise in my new role of a mother initially made me develop cold feet. I knew just one thing that I knew nothing. The advices I got from all quarters were overwhelming and sometimes terrifying. I knew everyone wished well but I was determined to find out the best ways to do everything.

So soon the reader in me started to soak up all that I could on the subject. In all the free time I had between the feeds and the naps I frequented the parenting websites and devoured relevant books to learn the tricks of the world’s most difficult job. From how to hold her, feed her, deciphering her crying, knowing what the color of her poop meant, to the importance of burping, reasons for her hiccups, checking her milestones, setting sleep routines, introduction of foods, learning logics behind what her doctor said, I think I tried to know it all.

The initial curiosity to learn the basics later led to reading about the child’s behavior and psychology and that’s when I found my calling. The more I read the more I started understanding myself, the world around me and off course the one everything began for, at the first place. Understanding the human behavior fascinated the seeker inside me so much that when Princess was one year old I quit my high paying corporate job to study and later practice my current profession as a psychologist and a parenting coach.

Please note that the journey I intend to share with you is not of professional change and growth. Not everyone should and will change jobs after becoming a parent. What I wish to share and probably inspire you with is my personal growth.

Motherhood transformed the insecure, short-tempered, naive, pampered, stubborn child inside me into a mature adult and the process is still on. I was a very difficult person and was not at all sorted emotionally. I had my reasons but didn’t know a way to change things. Now I know that the child in me needed to be given a responsibility and luckily I didn’t waste the chance I was given. I was conscious of my shortcomings and didn’t want my child to know them. With years of practicing mindfulness and self management techniques I have come a long way and now nothing easily deters my peaceful existence. (To tell the truth I still enjoy being childish, playfully with my little ones.)

In our whole lives we all go from one stage to another and then to the next one and I have always felt that in every new stage we need to change and evolve. We all have several imprints on our minds and beings, of our genes, our caregivers, our handlers, our faulty learnings and acquired or formed beliefs. We need to unlearn all the wrong learnings and unload all the clutter that we inherit or acquire when we enter a new phase. That is what is called adaptation and adaptation is required in any new environment. Be it marriage, child birth, professional shift or change, a loss or tragedy, life gives us many reasons to adapt and grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually. With every phase come new environment, roles and responsibilities and thus the opportunity to evolve. Honestly how you are doing in your various roles and positions today depend on how much you altered your being.

I myself didn’t make much of some opportunities that came before so I suffered but luckily good sense prevailed when motherhood knocked my door. I can say that my attempt to become a good mother made me a better human being. Now I also know that there’s nothing like a perfect mother and especially now that the little bundle has become a teen I on some days get the title of the worst mother too. But I am still happy and madly in love with my precious first born because all that is a part of the beautiful journey called motherhood.

Thanks for reading my heartfelt reflections. These were just my journey’s introduction to you. Through my musings I wish to share my experiences both as a mother as well as a Parenting Coach and a Psychologist.

Keep reading and happy evolving!!!