Let your emotions show!

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and all happy and no sad, makes any human …. well, non-human. Emotions range from being happy to sad, being angry to excited; but why are we comfortable only displaying few of them? Why do we laugh openly and cry discreetly? Why are afraid of anger and why do we shy away from sadness?

 It’s not because we are built that way, it’s because we are taught to. A child knows nothing of these learnings and hence displays all emotions equally. But an adult has learnt over the years that one should always “be happy”. Because only being “happy” makes you a positive person. But do you know, a person who is sad may also be a very “positive” person? A positive person also goes through sadness, fear and anger. And going through these emotions doesn’t take away from them the positivity they possess.

 And of course, there is then the stereotype of “men don’t cry”, or rather “real men don’t cry”. Who said so? A man and woman are both humans and are capable of feeling the exact same emotions. But why is it okay for a woman to let those tears go while a man has to hold them back? Have you also heard of the stereotype – man can’t handle their emotions? Well, maybe because the former stereotype isn’t letting them. Only when one can express, they can overcome.

Psychologists believe that curbing emotions can actually worsen them. When you are not in touch with your emotions, you are unaware of how strong they are. Expression of emotions leads to better handling as it helps you gain clarity of your own emotions. Like they say, you have to face your fear to get over it; similarly, you have to face your sadness to get over it. Hiding it only sends it away for a while, doesn’t help overcome it.

 Moreover, the lack of expression leads to denial. People aren’t able to come to terms with a situation only because they haven’t even identified their feelings or let themselves be aware of how they really feel about it. Letting go of emotions is the first step to acceptance of a situation. And culturally, we need to let this happen. We need to encourage children to be vocal about their expressions, lend an ear to friends/family and also promote therapy where people are truly free to express.

 If emotions are a part of humans, they exist for a reason. It’s your body’s way of dealing with happy or sad situations. By avoiding them, you are running away from your body’s defense. You are only making it harder for yourself to face reality. Because reality is being happy, sad, angry, excited or depressed. Reality is certainly not being “happy” all the time. And if someone were to convince you to believe that, walk straight in the opposite direction.

 The above blog is based on the following article:

 https://www.deccanherald.com/living/let-your-feelings-show-684442.html

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Good stress? Yes it exists!

We have all always heard phrases like “Don’t stress”, “Don’t worry”, “Why are you getting tensed”, “Stress isn’t good for health”. Stress has been badmouthed thanks to new “surveys” and psychological studies about the stress and it’s raising levels. But what if we told you a certain amount of stress is not only good, is almost mandatory to be successful. A good amount of stress at the right time and place could steer you away from high stress situations.

Remember when you were given projects with deadlines and enough time to complete them but did them only when you were under “stress” a day before the submission. Well, now let’s play that out in a larger scenario. If you are working at a certain position and are content with absolutely NO STRESS, would you aim for higher? Would you strive to do better? But if you began to stress about not being promoted and work towards the same, don’t you think the result would be different?

Low-stress could be a great motivator in various situations in life. Even when it comes to parents pushing kids to get over a fear or to accomplish something, subjecting them to low-stress is important. Of course, the intensity varies from person to person. And very low or very high stress either could cause fallout.

Quoting from the article (the article this blog is based on; link given below) –

“The tolerance and appetite for stress vary, too, and one size does not fit all. At work, it means plotting individual team members on the stress curve, so you can decide who needs more challenge and who is teetering on the edge of a breakdown. This is crucial because attrition happens at both ends of the stress curve, and deep engagement comes from more challenge, not less. “

If there are signs to indicate when you are too stressed, then there are also signs to indicate when you have too little stress in your life. Procrastination, lethargy and boredom are certain indicators of too little stress. And when these start to show up, maybe it’s time to change the notion of “stress is always bad” and understand the concept of stress with an added perspective.

Interestingly, stress could bring out the best in us by helping us step out of being “average”. For some being average comes with the benefit of no stress, but again, where will that take us in the future? Very rarely do you see people with no stress climbing the ladder of success swiftly. Moreover stress need not always mean hustling from place to place, worrying about things all day, all night or getting tensed about every little. It’s just about a little motivating stress that helps you push yourself one step forward, gain more out of life and avoid higher stress later.

While it’s important to be susceptible to good stress, let’s also not wander blindly into the stress zone without realizing when it crosses from low-stress to high-stress. A tricky game, yes, but who doesn’t love games?

This blog is based on the article –https://www.deccanherald.com/living/stress-away-happiness-693056.html

Parenting vs. Over-parenting

Like parenting wasn’t complicated enough, now we have another term to think about – over-parenting. When we are still struggling to find our way through parenting, why are we complicating things further by trying to over-parent? Parenting itself comes with its share of worry towards children and to add to that, over-parenting exaggerates that anxiety. While trying to do so much for the children parents don’t realize that they are turning their children into weaker children than into stronger adults.

What exactly is the difference?

Parenting has you following up with your children’s homework and checking whether it’s done. Over -parenting is you doing it for them so they don’t get into trouble.

Parenting is you reminding them to carry everything important and leaving it at that; over-parenting is you running after them with their forgotten items to save them from the consequence.

Parenting is you teaching them how to fight their way through – with other kids and adults. Over-parenting is you fighting for them.

Now let’s not be mistaken. One is not terming the former right and latter wrong; or vice versa. However, parents must be aware that when they indulge in over-parenting, they are satisfying their parental instincts and solving their child’s problems temporarily but are only setting higher expectations for the future and lowering the child’s ability to fight for themselves.

Furthermore, it’s interesting to notice how parents often refer to their kids’ activities as their own too. Or kids’ exams as their own exams. “Yeah, WE are busy with exams this week” or “WE are so stressed about the project” “ WE are working on the job interview”

To be involved in all the kids’ activities is one thing but to be a part of that and include yourself in those activities is taking a little too far.

The ultimate goal of Parenting is EMPOWERMENT and the above mentioned examples are unhelpful in raising empowered children.

 

At the point, it’s also important to stress on the need for parents to find their own hobbies. This helps the children do their work on their own and also helps parents retain individuality which will eventually help them get through the “empty nest” phase.

There are people who give up everything when their kids have exams and literally stay up with them all night. How about helping the child cope with exams on their own? If the child isn’t able to do it now at this age, how will he face bigger challenges at a later age?

When parents get down to helping the child keep every step forward, they feel they are being great, involved parents. But they are forgetting that a time will come when the child has to walk off on his own, and the fact that he/she isn’t prepared for the same will make everything so much harder. 

So while you are striving to do everything as parents to make life easy for your child, don’t forget that if they don’t learn how to face difficulties and overcome them, they will be left feeling helpless at a later stage. Parenting is good enough. Let’s stop at that. Let’s not go into the zone of over-parenting. If the kids need a break from the parents, it’s even the parents who need a breather. Let the kids figure it out. Just like how you all did when you were kids. It’s not just essential it’s also fun for them. To look back at their own mistakes; laugh at them and learn from the same.

 This blog is based on the article –

 https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/07/24/628042168/the-over-parenting-crisis-in-school-and-at-home

 

Mother or Father? – Both!

So are you his Dad? No. I am his mom and dad.

This in itself is an achievement. To be a single parent and try and fulfill duties of both parents is not easy; and to top it all, there’s the unpleasantness one receives from the society. What for though? For solely doing what two people together sometimes find it hard to do? For shuffling between a million things alone to make sure their child smiles? Shouldn’t our society be changing towards normal existence and acceptance of single parents and their kids?

As described by a parent in the article, it’s appalling as to why essays in schools about family talk only about joint families and nuclear families; single parents are left out of the frame. Single parents and their kids can constitute happy families too. Whether it’s out of choice or not, being a single parent comes with its own set of obstacles at every phase in life – from infancy to adolescence; at home or at school. And a supportive society would only help in normalizing it for the kids as well as for outsiders.

Having said that, it’s a fact that kids adapt to circumstances quicker than adults and grow up to feel just like any other child from other families. It’s the whole taboo around single parenthood that makes the child feel “different” or less privileged. Up until then, the child sees his single parent as a parent – a mom/dad or both. When we change the term “parent” to “single parent” we are attaching a tone of negativity for the child. However hard it is for the parent, it’s important to shield the child from discrimination of any kind because of something as basic as being raised by one parent.

And I say basic, because it’s a part of life. Everyone can’t be the same; everyone’s situations can’t be the same. And a different situation doesn’t equate to a “bad” situation. However, there are struggles at every phase when one is bringing up a child alone. For some, lack of support from the family could act as a hurdle and for some, lack of financial support could cause hindrance in the upbringing; and for some, the choice between a good cop and a bad cop could be daunting. But all parents unanimously agree that the rewards come and how!

Furthermore, it’s heartwarming to see people choosing to have kids or bring up kids without mandatorily attaching marriage to it. Their priorities are bringing up their children against all odds and as a society it’s time we respect that choice and normalize it in our minds. Once that’s done, hopefully our school essays will soon include the heroes of parenthood too!

This blog is based on the article –

Deccan Herald Living page 1 – 28th August 2018 – Whole & Sole Parents – http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com.

 

Redefining Freedom

We read about freedom, dream about freedom, rejoice in the notion of freedom, teach, advocate, and hope for freedom, but what do we mean by freedom?

Freedom means many things to many people. We can view freedom politically, as having the opportunity to vote for particular people or parties which best represent our views. Closely tied to this is the notion of freedom of speech, where one has the liberty to voice their personal opinion or perspective. Others understand freedom in a financial context, where people seek to free themselves of financial debt, outstanding credit, and burdensome loans.

It could be the joy of waking up to a sunset or the bitter-sweet joy of watching the sun go down. It could mean a walk in the park or an hour of yoga. It could mean an evening out with friends or a day without the phone. It could mean a holiday or a shopping spree.

And as you visualize each of these actions, we realize freedom is not about what we do, but how we feel while doing it, it’s about the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved. It’s letting go, letting loose and basically breaking free of any shackles. Freedom is a feeling, not an action. It’s time we all identify our definitions of freedom to really experience it and to keep practicing it.

On a personal level it’s easier to find freedom because there is only one person who can help you achieve that – you! But what about freedom in the society? In our country? Why our mind still remains so heavily conditioned after so many millions of years? The mind is conditioned by society with its cultures, laws, religious sanctions, economic pressures and so on.

Freedom is when one can walk “freely” on the streets, feeling exactly how one would feel while running in the park. Freedom is being able to express one’s thoughts without worrying about the consequences. Freedom is not having to change yourself to “fit” into another family or group. Freedom is being able to live your life the way you want irrespective of gender, caste, marital status etc. Freedom is independence to think for oneself clearly and not to act according to the dictates of society.

And when we look at it that way, it makes us wonder if we really have achieved freedom. We may have won battles against outsiders, but we have so many to win against our very own people, our mindsets and oh all those stereotypes.

Our brave soldiers sacrificed their lives and brought freedom to our country, hoping to see a strong, free country. But we only gained freedom from the British rule but we are still under the rule of our past; past ideas, notions, values and beliefs. Maybe it’s time we all join the army and help in truly making the country a free country. And a free country starts with a free mind. The mind is, after all, the result of the past, and this past is tradition. Let’s move on to a free future. Let’s start by letting people around us live. The “live and let live” begins at home. With your children, with your spouse, with your friends. And then hopefully the country will catch up and one day we’ll celebrate the true meaning of independence.

This blog is based on the following article –

https://www.deccanherald.com/content/563982/finding-freedom.html

 

Kids, happy independence day – everyday!

Freedom can mean different things to different people. And often giving freedom to children is something all parents hold back from doing. Be it with regard to going out alone, or letting them handle money or even simple things like letting them choose clothes. But at the end of the day, all parents want independent adults. Now if as children they have never tasted freedom and learnt to make choices, how would they turn into independent adults?

Freedom and independence are crucial topics when it comes to parenting and we need to question ourselves – what kind of parent am I? A lighthouse or a helicopter? One is a beacon of light from afar that ensures guidance when required. And the latter, is something hovering over your child day in and day out, offering guidance for sure, but also dragging along a sense of annoyance.

US pediatrician Dr Kenneth Ginsburg, author of Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love with Expectations and Protection with Trust has coined the term ‘lighthouse parenting’ to describe the tricky balance between protectiveness and permissiveness. We must make certain they don’t crash against the rocks, but trust they have the capacity to learn to ride the waves on their own.

As parents we feel it’s our job to do things for them. Pick clothes for them, serve food to them, clean up, follow up with their school work, keep an eye on their friends and the list continues. While it is natural and necessary to be protective of them, we need to understand that if we do everything for them, we are only making them weaker and more dependent.

They need to take responsibility for their own actions and if that begins at a young age, the more independent they become.

Independent children feel competent and capable of taking care of themselves. Under their parent’s watchful eye, children are able to grow, flourish at their various stages of growth and development, and are more confident in being who they are.

Here are a few simple tips on how to encourage independence in our children –

  • Stop doing everything for them

From picking clothes for them or deciding what they will eat; stop doing it for them. Instead of deciding on their behalf, start giving them choices to pick from. Instead of doing things for them, teach them to do it. Instead of speaking on their behalf, encourage them to have and voice their own opinions, even on little matters. Let them pick what they want to do in their free time or pick books they want to read. It’s time we stop putting the books in front of them and asking them to read them.

  • Give them responsibilities

Since everybody is living under the same roof and are making messes, everyone should be responsible for keeping the home clean. Chores will undoubtedly help teach your child valuable life skills, the value of hard work, responsibility, and respect for themselves and others. One day, your children will grow into healthy adults. And, when they do, they need to have basic life skills which include things such as cooking skills, laundry skills, money managing skills, banking skills, and the ability to follow through. Having this type of knowledge will help them grow into independent adults as well.

  • Show confidence

Acknowledge when they make their own decisions or fulfill tasks. And this starts right from when a toddler learns to wash their hands on their own. A thumbs-up can go a long way in building independent adults. Because when they have confidence in their own actions and decisions, they wouldn’t mind doing things alone.

  • Let them make mistakes

A parent’s biggest fear is that their child will make mistakes, experience failure and get hurt in the process. But in the long run, it’s inevitable and at some level, it’s essential that they make mistakes, fall and learn to get up. A typical helicopter parent is flying over kids to ensure they pick them up before they even fall. But it’s important they learn to have conflicts and resolve them too. Because they always learn better if they experience it rather than have it preached to them by their parents.

But the thing is, children need to be on their own—when it’s safe and the time is right. To figure things out for themselves. To find solutions to challenges. To make decisions about the kind of human being they’re going to be. To establish their own friendships- Without us. We are doing our children a great service by giving them a taste of freedom. Letting them run errands. Letting them be independent.

So, go ahead and let go. In the end, your kids will pleasantly surprise you. They will flourish and grow as people. You’ll see.

It’s all about the attitude!

Ever noticed new things on a drive out of the blue? Like you are driving through that road every day and notice nothing but one particular day on the same route you discover something beautiful about the landscape and wonder ‘when did this happen’? Did the landscape change? No. So what did? Just your perspective.

For decades, legends have proven that it’s never about what life gives you it’s all about your attitude towards it. Shiv Khera, author of the bestseller “You Can Win” believes strongly that when one is faced with a problem, one can either choose to back away, or turn it into a purpose.

Each one is fighting a battle, almost everyday. And the most difficult ones are the internal battles. Because you can run away from situations and people, but you can’t run away from yourself. To win battles outside, one must fight their internal battles, thereby preparing for the external ones.

And the one lethal weapon that’ll help here is a positive attitude! And a weapon that could harm you is negativity. It’s a choice you make.

Sometimes, we hear people around us saying “be positive”, “everything’s going to be ok”. So is this positive attitude? Well, not entirely. A positive attitude is not about ignoring facts and faults. It’s about accepting all of that, while focusing on possible solutions. It doesn’t require you to be oblivious to the bad, but it requires that you still look for the good in it or at the least make the best of the existing situation. “God has a plan for you” sounds clichéd, however if we reflect honestly and deeply over past ‘unfavorable’ events, we could find some good emerging out of them over time. It is just that we need to reframe it in our mind.

When something goes wrong and people say – it’s all for the good; does it annoy you? Does it feel unrealistic? I mean, how can something good come out of pain? But more often than not, people have looked back and realized that, perhaps that statement isn’t completely untrue. Again, it’s the attitude at a trying time that’ll help us survive it. Developing an ability to focus on finding solutions rather than finding faults is a skill that’ll help you get through the rough patches in life.

Look back and revisit the past ‘bad’ experiences and discover what good came out of that. Visualize the last time you were down in the dumps, feeling miserable and concluding that things can never get better. Did that change? Did you overcome that? Now imagine if we just look at every problem with a whole different attitude. An attitude that lets us accept that there’s a problem, but at the same time, helps us sail through troubled waters with a little background music. Struggle is inevitable. But no one has said that we have to frown through the struggle.

The old saying sure does hold good – attitude is everything! Well, old is gold! Let’s return to mastering an attitude that can help overcome all barriers!

This blog is based on the article –

Bangalore Mirror paper page18 – 24th July 2018 – Why attitude is everything –  https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/

 

THE LENS OF FEAR OR THE LENS OF LOVE

Ever tried on a pair of tinted glasses? Say green? Then everything seems to have a tint of green; the people, the things around us, everything.

 Now let’s try and analyse at any given point of time in life, are we looking through the lens of fear or lens of love? Are we looking at everything negatively or positively?

 “We are not responsible for what our eyes are seeing. We are responsible for how we perceive what we are seeing” – Gabrielle Bernstein.

 We all see the same things, live in the same world and deal with the same people. But we all have different perceptions of the same. One is happy, one isn’t. One is angry, one isn’t. So where does the difference lie? Clearly in the lens through which one is viewing life.

 Amaya Pryce, a life coach and author of “5 Simple Practices for a Lifetime of Joy” and “How to Grow Your Soul” conducted an experiment for herself.

She realized that she was perceiving herself as a middle age, lonely woman with almost nothing fun in her life. Stuck in a “boring” job, she felt like life was just slipping away.

 And then as a part of the experiment, she decided to change the lens – the lens of love.

Her perception about herself changed drastically. She started focussing on things that she probably had ignored previously. She was thankful for the bond she shared with her daughter and for the fact that she had a job that could open up multiple avenues in the future. She focussed on relationships that were important rather than the ones that were amiss.

 And then, everything changed for her. Nothing changed externally. Her life remained the same, but her perception had changed, urging her to feel positive. This proved to her the existence of two kinds of lenses.

 She believes that this exists in everyone’s lives and it can be tried in different circumstances and with different people.

 Pick certain people that are currently bringing in a negative wave of emotions in your life. Switch lenses and try to see the pros. This will not change the person or your relationship with him/her, but will sure change how you feel about the person and reduce the negativity around the relationship. This is not necessarily done to make things better with the person, but to relieve you of unwanted stress related to them.

 This works great in situations too. Sometimes the worst of the worst situations don’t really have an immediate solution. But each one has an option of changing lenses. Instead of waiting indefinitely for a situation to improve, we’d rather don our lens of love and give it a positive spin immediately. And then we could maybe see that every cloud does have a silver lining.

 It’s time we started feeling proud of all that we have done than fixating on all that we aren’t able to do; be grateful for that we have than mulling over what we don’t. It’s time to put ourselves in the “hero” spot rather than the “victim” spot and replace the minus with a plus.

 So, let’s remember – LENS – STORY – FEELINGS.

 Your feelings reflect a story and that will show you what lens you are looking through. And a change in the lens can change the perspective of a story and thereby help you feel better.

 It’s easy to blame the situation and grumble as we wait for change, but it’s liberating to know that you don’t have to wait and things could change this very minute – just by changing the lens to the lens of love.

 The blog is based on the following article –

 https://tinybuddha.com/blog/all-about-perception-lens-love-or-fear/

 

Endings can be beautiful too.

Every sunset brings the promise of a new dawn and every ending leads to a new beginning. So don’t fear sunsets and don’t fear endings; because for all you know something better is waiting for you.

Often, people find it difficult to accept that certain things have come to an end – be it relationships, jobs or phases. Change isn’t welcome but change is also the only constant. When it comes to jobs it’s easier to leave one behind and move on to another. But how do we handle it when we are to leave people behind and move on? It seems impossible. And which is why many often shy away from doing so and choose to stay in a dissatisfying relationship or job while harbouring resentment. ; because a rocky road is more appealing than a goodbye.

But the important question, what about in the long run? A fear of an ending could lead to life-long suffering in a toxic relationship or in the wrong job. Isn’t it better to rip off the band-aid, feel the pinch but later be introduced to a healed life, to a happier life?

This definitely doesn’t mean to say that every argument in a relationship is an ending. There are ups and downs in each relationship. But when the pain exceeds the happiness, one must acknowledge that the relationship has perhaps reached the expiry date. And when one is faced with a dilemma, it’s wise to pause, visualize your future (up to next 30 years of your life) in the same situation, then turn the focus inward and see how you feel. That could give you some insights as to if you have reached a dead-end or not. If the answer is yes it’s worth the pain of saying goodbye now and moving on to the next phase in life.

In the light of frequent suicides by teenagers and young adults, it’s essential to understand an ending to something in life is not the end of life. A relationship, an exam or a job is Lilliputian when compared to the magnitude of life. Unless one goes through the tunnel, how would they know there indeed is light at the end of the tunnel? Giving up mid-way isn’t either fair or the solution.

Some relationships don’t work out, some jobs aren’t meant for you and sometimes it just isn’t a good time. If something isn’t making you happy, end it! End the chapter and start a new one! But one must never shut the book! Because you wouldn’t know if something beautiful was waiting to be discovered in the next chapter.

Like they say, the darkest hour is just before dawn.

So what might seem like an END could only be the beginning to a new, and probably a better chapter.

This blog is based on the article – https://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/O-zone/what-s-wrong-with-endings/

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What’s your differentiator?

Oh he’s trying that out. Maybe I should too. Oh she’s wearing that? Then I guess I should try it too. Oh he is reading that? Maybe I should pick up a copy too.

 How often do we see people stuck in this cycle of thoughts?

 Were we humans built to be the same? Why not have robots instead then? The beauty of nature lies in the fact that each flower is different and each leaf has a unique pattern. And that comes so naturally. Then why do we humans struggle to find our one “USP”? Or sometimes, even if we do have them, we tend to overlook that and build on something that’s so not us, only because someone else is doing so.

 The world is getting competitive by the day, and the irony is that people are trying to cope with the same using traits they observe in others, not their own unique ones. Especially today, with people so unsure of themselves, uncertain of what’s right and what’s wrong, it seems easier to just follow the crowd; sometimes at the cost of compromising on your own personality. It’s time we look deep within ourselves, self-reflect and understand who we truly are. It’s ok if we aren’t like others around us or if we have to deal with a little criticism as long as we are true to ourselves.

 Let’s take few examples to understand the role of differentiators –

 Let’s start with babies. Each baby is different. Each one starts walking at a different time, talking at a different time, each one laughs differently and cries differently. Because babies are innately establishing differentiators. They haven’t yet been taught to ape others. They are just being themselves. But as the child grows and goes to school, a child wants to wear what his classmate is wearing, or buy something he/she has bought. Where is this coming from? Us, adults! We have taught them that being different is risky, or in some cases “bad” and unacceptable. We, as adults, need to establish differentiators. Only by doing so and accepting our children the way they are, we are showing them that being different is not just ok, it’s great!

 Another common example we see is about the professions we choose. Everyone wants to be at the desk, doing mundane jobs. How many of us consider being a guitarist or violinist or a kathak dancer by profession? Everyone wants to earn a lot of money, own a house. How many of us are okay spending their whole life in a rented house? Same thing goes with regard to marriage and kids. It is unsettling to see one’s friends getting married and one not finding a suitable person.

 Key question here is – Is everyone, who is doing what others are doing, happy? Is it out of choice that they are doing this? Would they really want to do all of this Or are they doing it because everyone else is doing this and they are scared to be different?

 However, being different for the sake of being different isn’t the goal. Accepting who you are, loving yourself even if you are a little different from others is essential. Because we are in a world where this is no right or wrong for every action; it’s about what works for you and what doesn’t. The minute you embrace your own personality, qualities and values, you naturally tend to carve out your own path, establish your own “differentiator” and eventually stand out!

 If you want to lead a life different from others, and without having to worry about keeping up with them, it’s time to find your differentiator. Then it won’t be about catching up with them or matching up to them, it’ll be about moving ahead and making your own mark.

 This blog is based on the following article:

 https://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/O-zone/what-is-your-differentiator/