Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Omar Khayyam,Once Again!

Omar Khayyam's exquisite quatrains require no introduction and Edward Fitzgerald's translation does full justice to his verses.Please enjoy....

One Moment in Annihilation's Waste,

 One Moment, of the Well of Life to taste---

 The Stars are setting and the Caravan
Starts for the Dawn of Nothing---Oh, make haste!

'Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days

 Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:

 Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,

 And one by one back in the Closet lays.

 The Ball no Question makes of Ayes and Noes,

 But Right or Left, as strikes the Player goes;

 And He that toss'd Thee down into the Field,

 *He* knows about it all---He knows---HE knows!

 The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

 Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit

 Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

 Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

 And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,

 Whereunder crawling coop't we live and die,

 Lift not thy hands to *It* for help---for It

 Rolls impotently on as Thou or I.

If you liked these verses you may also appreciate the following posts.....


Sourced from google.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Raise Your Self Esteem--in eleven easy steps

I have come across many individuals who are qualified,competent,hardworking and honest but they have not been able to achieve much due to low self esteem.What's more,they know what drags them down but are unable to mend it.

Is it so difficult to raise your self esteem?I think it is easy;provided you recognize the need to do so, believe you will be able to do so and take the necessary steps towards that end.Let me confess at the outset that i too have suffered from this malaise and (as i think) put it behind me.Perhaps what worked for me will work for you too-so let me pontificate a little.

1) While preparing the groundwork for a higher self esteem,it is essential to first recognize that your present opinion of yourself is a fallacy(built up over the years by many stimuli), which is redundant and counter productive.

2) So you feel inadequate and are now ready for a makeover.In which sphere do you think you lack?Is it your personal relationships?Are you a pushover?Start by asserting yourself.Say what you feel,what you think is right.Most important of all-stand up for your rights.Nobody is going to give you them on a platter.Don't be scared of voicing your dissent if the occasion arises.Believe me,the very first time you voice your honest opinion you will start feeling capable and confident.The feeling of inferiority will subside considerably.

3) As you begin to say what you feel and not what others would like you to say, you will have to give up the habit of people pleasing,which,incidentally,is very detrimental to a healthy self image.

4) A feeling of inferiority often spawns self deprecation.If you want to augment your self esteem you will have to discard this habit of always belittling yourself.You are not the only one who has a flaw or a shortcoming.So quit saying-'I am no good at this','I am ugly','Nobody loves me' etc.

Most people would not even notice these things about you if you did not proclaim them from the roof tops.It is a person's temperament and behavior which attract others,not his/her physical characteristics.It is even possible that your perceived flaws are merely the result of an over-active,unrealistic self analysis.If you really think that your body structure or personality have a glaring fault then take some positive steps to correct that fault-merely lamenting about them will not accomplish anything.And just keep quiet about your weak points.

5) Peep into the secret chamber of your heart.Is there any somnolent desire lurking there?Any skill which you would love to master but dare not attempt because of a fear of failure ?I would suggest that you learn the ropes and then go for it.You are no less capable than anybody else and if you give it a try you are likely to be pleasantly surprised, as i was,when I first touched my pc at the age of 65 yrs.

6) Self deprecation can easily slip into self-bashing.Do not be too hard upon yourself if you fail-in fact be as kind to your own self as you would be to another person.

If it is a joint project or an official assignment which has gone wrong, you might be held responsible by others because there is no dearth of people who will pin the blame upon those who are not likely to rebut or retaliate.People can have exterior motives.Those who suffer from a meager self opinion lambaste themselves even if they are not at fault.

Even if you have failed or committed a blunder, you are not the only one to have done so.It is honest and upright to own up your mistakes but avoid capitulating to false accusations or flogging yourself.It is a review of the whole process which is called for and not guilt, because your method and intentions were the best according to your judgement at that point of time.There is always the next time.

7) Low self esteem comes up as a huge boulder when the time comes to take up an important assignment in hand or to take a personal decision which can have grave ramifications.As a result we often shelve taking a decision or ask for someone's advice or let a momentous opportunity go by.If you really want to strengthen your image it would be better if you consider all the pros and cons of the situation and then--if you are sure of what is good for you--just go for it independently.This will increase your confidence in your own abilities.

8) When you are unsure of what to do it is of course necessary to ask for expert advice and even help;if you do not have the requisite resources.But if this is not the case and you only want additional force behind you, then it is time to let go of those crutches.Take your decisions,use your resources and bask in the adulation and self-satisfaction which will follow.

9) We all want to be loved and for this very purpose we often put up with a lot of insensitivity or indifference from others.But if you want to assert yourself then begin by ignoring such individuals if they do not belong to your inner circle.Do not give them more than you receive.If you fear that they will be hurt by this change in your behavior then think--how long have they been hurting you.Your needs are no less important than others' needs.If you ignore your own happiness then who will care for it?

10) Self esteem cannot come out of a vacuum.If you want to value your own self then make yourself worthy of your respect--stick to your values and standards of behavior,pursue goals which are upright and noble according to your thinking,and don't be secretive about your achievements.

11) Look around you and consider the person you hold in high esteem.What is it that attracts you to him/her?Is it possible to inculcate that quality in yourself?If yes then there is no harm in trying,but it should not devolve into aping.This suggestion needs a caveat--very often it is not because we are inadequate that we feel insignificant;rather we have been made to believe thus by unthinking or uncaring others.Every person is unique and has special attributes.What you are and what you can do,no one else can.So believe in yourself and cherish yourself,all the while learning and evolving. 

In the end I would like to repeat George Elliot's words;
'It is never too late to be what you might have been'

The image is from google.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Learning A Lesson.......The Hard Way!

Last month I was rendered immobile for a week.You can well imagine what all this entails.Thank God I was on my feet again after one week but this one week taught me many lessons.

The day I first walked to the bathroom after this, I realized what a blessing it was to be able to do so.Before that I had never imagined that one day I would rate this simple act as a major component of my happiness or satisfaction with life.

And then there was the buoyant feeling of not having to depend upon anybody for the simplest of needs-like turning off the fan or picking up something to read.Because of my reluctance to bother my family time and again,I had been suppressing many such desires in the past week.

It was almost a thrill to be able to undertake any activity of my choice-even a simple act like sitting out in the garden or making my tea my own way.Lying supine on bed for one whole week had tested my tolerance to the maximum.

As I took over my normal routine I felt deeply indebted to all those who had chipped in to help me out in the week gone by. I could not but marvel at the many blessings, the good lord had bestowed upon me.Every small convenience now became a source of joy.I do not live in the lap of luxury but even small facilities like a comfortable bed with clean sheets,a nice clean bathroom and a convenient kitchen-- all these factors have made life easy and enjoyable.Not to talk of bigger boons like a healthy body and mind,a caring family,the home I own etc etc.

The list could go on and on,but I guess you get my point.There are so many comforts we enjoy and take for granted.Not until we are deprived of them do we realize how lucky we were.We sweat about small stuff ,not even considering the pleasures which fortune has bestowed upon us.We take for granted what we have and we also desire what others possess.Instead of gratitude we fill our hearts with envy and discontent.Perpetual hunger for more and more causes unrest and anxiety.While yearning for happiness-we in fact tarnish it.

Even as I write this I am aware that if I am healthy and happy today it is not always going to be like this.The whole life experience is like the wheel of a bike with different parts of it's circumference embossed with natural events which generate happiness,sorrow,disease,frustration,growth or stagnation,with the passage of time.We feel deeply the current joy or displeasure which is uppermost on this wheel, forgetting that this too will go down and other experiences will come up.

Even when face to face with a calamity,what succor do we have?We can only thank God that it is not worse than this, while coping with it to the best of our ability and telling ourselves that this too shall pass.I guess the answer lies in savoring mindfully and gratefully,what we have;appreciating more, and whining less.Talking of gratitude,this post has a lot to offer.It is worth a visit.

What is precious to me could differ from what you hold dear.It would be interesting to know what evokes feelings of gratitude in you.So come along,say your say !

Image courtesy google.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Defeating Difficult Times

Nobody can expect to go through life without facing any troubles or traumas.Beginning from disappointments,upsets,failures and going on to rejections,separations,loss,accidents,disability,disease and death;the dark shadow of sorrow spares no one;though it is true that some get more than their fair share of it.We try our best to avoid these vicissitudes but it is not possible to prevent all of them.The only option open to us is to learn healthy ways of coping with them and coming out unscathed.

When the situation is not too grim or life threatening, POSITIVE THINKING can work wonders.It enables us to find a ray of hope even when the clouds are dark and dreary.We set aside our doubts and find the courage to move on.Perhaps you broke off with your girl friend or failed to get a promotion,but if you think a better girl or job might come your way then your regret will subside considerably.An innate belief or hope that tomorrow will be better,you will make it better,or you can make it better makes it easy to live through challenging times.

But positive thinking does not help when a solid problem stares us in the face and demands a solution.At such moments only logic can help us out.A preponderance of emotions is likely to muddle our thinking  and obfuscate reality.Rational thinking saves the day,it points to the way out from a tricky imbroglio.

Some problems are heaven-sent,some created by others and some are self-inflicted.If only we pondered over our own role in a fiasco instead of lamenting about destiny or someone else's behavior we would be able to mend the damage sooner.When we blame someone else for our own blunders we lose the opportunity to correct our course and the problem stays put where it was.We compound our mistake by reading too much into a gesture,remark,or a development and mentally label a friend or an acquaintance as an enemy.This is not the way to emerge from tumultuous situations.

Personal problems generate a lot of heart-ache.So much so that they can blot out all sources of joy and satisfaction.Emotional matters involving close relationships evoke sad memories,disillusionment and sinking feelings about future.We are so overtaken by conflicting signals that it becomes difficult to choose the correct course of action.At such moments it helps to discuss the problem with a close friend or a relative  who is not involved because that person will have a clearer perception of reality.

But if we do not want to disclose our problems to any known person then professional help is the best choice because it is of paramount importance to vent our emotions and find a solution to our problems.When we express our innermost thoughts,worries, suspicions or guilt in front of someone who is not  judgemental we immediately feel lighter by virtue of  catharsis.A professional views the state of affairs from an unbiased stand and suggests a way out which is likely to satisfy all concerned;or which is the best possible solution at the given moment.

Positive thinking,logic and  even professional help are of little use when we find ourselves in the center of a  terrible tragedy like the loss of job,home,limb,or a loved one to death.Such shocks are the hardest to bear.It helps to take a break from the hurly burly of life,to cry,express our sorrow and grieve for our loss.Problems which require immediate attention can be entrusted to those who care for us.These are small measures but they give considerable relief.

However the grieving period must not extend beyond a reasonable limit or devolve into self pity.A lot remains even in the aftermath of a tragedy because only death annihilates fully.Therefore if we take stock of what all has not changed,count our blessings (yes some always remain),then we can pick up the threads of life and build a new life scape.In the ever changing kaleidoscope of life we are often required to reinvent ourselves and the outcome should not be viewed with skepticism because the future will pan out in sync with our own expectations and efforts.

Sometimes we are tempted to look up at the sky and ask 'why me?'.But why not?We did not ask this question when life was rosy.Maybe the sorrow has come to teach us a lesson,to help us evolve.Religion and spirituality can offer strong support in stressful times.They endow a broader vision so that we can look beyond our hassles.

It is very comforting to believe that there is a supreme power which will look after our welfare and ensure that justice is done to us.Above all,it is very soothing to think that if the cheerful times have receded,these irksome days too,will pass on and we shall find our happiness once again.This takes a heavy load off our shoulders so that we can take charge of our  lives once again.

Image courtesy google.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Passing Moments.....Lost Moments.

Every moment is slipping by,
Like carriages of a train whizzing by.
Loaded with stuff no one can see,
Desires worries and memories,
Hope anxiety and agony.

A lamp post on way shines some light,
And so, the carriage perks up bright.
Into the jungles, and then again,
Darkness black resumes it's reign.

A cool breeze sometimes brings reprieve,
Then turning to gusts,it sows unease.
Take care,the signs of a brewing storm,
Hold tight to all you cherish and own.

Thank God the storm has passed away
Not taken you too,along it's way.
But the journey still is far from done,
All kinds of weathers will test you on.

Many carriages have dropped by the way,
And new ones are added every day.
What was dear and intimate,
Is now swathed in distant haze.

Onward goes the march of time,
Who can ever lag behind?
My own destination I do not know,
 In my hands, to heal and grow.

Image courtesy google

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Personalities--4 :The deprave's Wife.

Is it possible to ever know a person fully?Even if you have been associated with someone for two decades?This question niggles my mind whenever i think of D's wife.She is an enigma to me.Let me call her E.She was a good many years senior to me.Though not much educated;having moved in society with her husband,she was well versed in all social graces.A perfect housewife.It was hard to pick any defect or deviation in her personality and behavior.Friendly,social and as right-thinking a lady as i have ever seen.

BUT--and this is a tremendous but--there is one thing about her which i cannot synchronize with my assessment of her persona.Was she aware of what her husband was up to?After all, everything happened in her very home,maybe her courtyard.A chance occurrence could have gone unnoticed but if it was repeated many times?How could she not be aware of it?And knowing it,how could she have condoned it?

On the other hand if she did not approve of D's  habit of molesting young children   then surely there ought to have been some signs of discord between the two of them.But none were ever visible.She probably had no one to fall back upon and there was also the future of her kids to consider;so i can well understand her putting up with him.But they got along very well to all appearances.The couple was a picture of harmony and togetherness--she was not subservient to him in any way.

Was she so good at hiding her emotions or was she in cahoots with him?If it was the latter,then WHY?She appeared totally straightforward in all other respects.She was the typical kindly,neighborly lady with whom you could trust your kids if need arose.Therefore she is still an enigma to me.I guess there are certain questions-the answers to which will always hang in the air.

These episodes date back to many years.Today also we come across many instances of wives defending adulterous husbands-especially those who are rich and famous.Do they try to save them so that they can continue their luxurious lifestyles?Even as i write this Leela Maderna the wife of a minister accused of rape & murder ,is defending her husband and fighting elections in his place.

Integrity,ethics,values,humanity,compassion--what are they?????And where??????

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Personalities--3 : A Deprave and his Wife

When I was young and naive,or the world was more straight,or the crooks less crooked,I used to think that i could tell from a person's visage if he was normal or a criminal.But this fallacy has been disproved down the years.Looking at the pictures of many criminals in the media it is hard to believe that they have deplorable tendencies.The anti-social elements hide their villainous intentions thoroughly.Thus many innocent and vulnerable souls are victimized by perverts and scoundrels in various ways.

I was young when i met this couple-not only met but also associated with them for a good number of years.Let me name the husband D for obvious reasons.He lived nearby when we moved to the town and we were mighty impressed by his congeniality and helpful nature.The soul of courtesy,manners and politeness,he helped us settle down in a new city.

But as time passed we came to know about another side of his character.He was a thorough gentleman where officers' wives were concerned but not so with those belonging to the lower strata.This too was not as hideous as another vice of his-pedophilia. His demeanor was kind and friendly so that young kids did not fear going near him initially.And that trapped them.Many kids must have been traumatized at his hands though i cannot give you the exact number.In fact nobody can.

Many knew about his heinous acts but nobody confronted him outright.Some changed their residence,close friends discussed the matter in privacy and all those who got an inkling of his filthy behavior took care to protect their kids but none denounced or humiliated him publicly. Why? I don't know.

But this very lapse on part of the general public allowed him to carry on his nefarious activities unchecked.Child sexual abuse is one crime where the victim stays quiet-either out of fear or shame or ignorance of the fact that s/he has been exploited.Even if s/he confides in his/her parent the latter generally suppresses the fact to protect the child's reputation or peace of mind.

Ultimately,as is often the case,D completed his tenure and went away unpunished.

Next I will tell you his wife's reaction to,role in all this.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Something Breaks

When she leaves,
For her eternal abode,

Something breaks

No more the assurance,
Of her warm presence,
Nor any hope,
To see her beloved face.

Something breaks

What a blessing it was,
To just enter a gate,
And be engulfed,
In her fond  embrace.

Something breaks.

Tender and sweet,
Her memories wrap,
Like a snug soft sheet.
A lot remains,
But something breaks.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Downside of Success

We envision success as the end of all troubles.It is very satisfying too-no doubt.But it can have negative repercussions too,if we are not careful.
Want to read more?Please follow the link given below

Monday, October 28, 2013

Personalities--2 : Haughty ? Singh

This post is about Happy's younger brother Haughty.He is at the peak of his career,a super duper high achiever under fifty.He is married to an heiress who too,is at the top rung of her career.They have two children and all the requirements of a blissful life.Success of this magnitude does ensure happiness doesn't it ?

But he did not look happy to me.He was pre-occupied,reserved and disconnected.He barely uttered a word-perhaps some syllables in greeting-that's all.Was he shy?Did he lack inter-personal skills?Not likely.Because without the requisite social graces it is difficult to reach the top.Physically too he was distinctly over weight,not at all fit or supple.

What could be the reason behind this gamut of characteristics?Disinterest,apathy,disease,angst or simple arrogance?I cannot pinpoint the cause because i do not know him well enough.I had attended a party hosted by him a few years ago,then also things were not much different.I am just stating what i observed.

But this set me thinking that going by the general belief that success and affluence breed happiness Haughty did not fit the bill.It struck me that there can be a down-side to success too (which is going to be the theme of a future post).Coming back to the matter at hand; he looked so off-key,that seeing the two brothers together and knowing that one of them had lost his job,all would have unhesitatingly ascribed this to Haughty.

We slog hard to achieve success but amid all this toil happiness  sometimes slips away by the road-side.It requires a lot of sagacity and determination to retrace steps and grasp it,but those who attempt,could find a new meaning to life.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Personalities--1: Happy Sing

Personalities --we come across so many every day.Of various hues and dimensions.This is such an ambiguous feature that despite the psychologists' categorizations like Introvert,Extrovert,Neurotic,Psychotic,Perfectionist etc. it is hard to fix someone in a definite slot.On the other hand it is interesting to mull over the various types that we comes across.So here goes my attempt to share one with you.

Yesterday we had gone to look up a family friend who had fractured her hip joint and was admitted in a nursing home, which was only ten minutes'walk from our house.As is the case with most couples our age,this one also lived alone.Their two sons were located in different cities.We were greeted by her elder son Happy outside her room and he introduced us to his younger brother Haughty.

We went in to see her and her sons also followed us in.After we had asked about her well-being, other chit-chat followed.A word about Happy-he was quite many years senior to our son in school.Every year on the Annual Day function he used to win many prizes because he was a good all rounder.Then he qualified and went to his job and we used to hear from his parents that he was doing very well, though we never had the chance to get to know him well.A few years back as recession started we guess that he was retrenched because he began taking up random jobs which were inferior to what he had till now been doing.

But his whole demeanor gave no hint that he had suffered this misfortune.He was smiling and courteous,participating in the conversation and asking about our welfare.Physically too,he had maintained himself well.We were both impressed by his behavior.
As we took our leave he told us that he will visit us when his mother is discharged from the nursing home.

Happy reinforced my conviction that one can choose to be happy even during lean periods.Circumstances do impact us favorably or unfavorably,but ultimately it is our response to them which makes us miserable or hopeful.It pays to cultivate a balanced outlook on life and keep other options open.Of course the presence of a viable support system makes it easy to tide over difficult times.

I wonder what you think about this.Is it easy to put a smiling face on testing circumstances?Does it come from one's innate personality--call it genes if you will--or can any one mobilize himself to overcome frustration smilingly?A lot of our happiness or misery is concealed in the answers to these questions.Your views on this are welcome.

Next I shall tell you about Haughty Singh.
The image is courtesy google.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Stark Reality

Dissolved in the waters,
Dispersed in air,
Your beloved presence,
Though everywhere,
Is now nowhere.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder---The Enemy Within

It is easy to fight an external enemy but difficult to fight against one's own mind or slay the demons which it puts forth.This is exactly what happens when one is tormented by Obsessive Thoughts.They constitute one part of the Anxiety Disorder known as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The other part is compulsive behavior,which may,or may not follow obsessive thoughts.
Obsessive Thoughts
These are persistently recurring inappropriate thoughts,images,impulses or memories which the person recognises as improper but cannot control.They could be violent,sexual,incestuous or blasphemous in nature.Naturally he is alarmed,shameful and miserable on account of these thoughts and begins to doubt his own worth.Actually they are manifestations of a deep seated anxiety but their occurrence worsens his condition by generating uneasiness,apprehension,fear,worry,guilt and more anxiety.
Compulsive Behavior
This refers to meaningless acts which the person indulges in, to counteract disturbing thoughts.They become a ritual for that person.They could take the shape of excessive washing or cleaning,counting,repeating routine functions like locking doors or checking them,stepping on cracks or alternate tiles on a pathway, or silently chanting a 'mantra', for example.
He convinces himself that if he carries out a certain ritual he will be fine or a tragedy will be averted.If circumstances prevent him from performing that ritual to his satisfaction he falls prey to more fears that something terrible is in store for him.Pressing anxiety goads him to carry out the compulsive acts.His tension decreases for the time being but it surfaces soon enough and again that ritual is carried out;so that it becomes a permanent fixture of his personality.
Gradually these activities take up more & more of his waking hours so that he can do scant justice to the roles assigned to him.He becomes a recluse so that he can perform those rituals--which could be overt as well as covert.A person who fears dirt could shut himself in a room,spend hours bathing, and have no connect with anyone else.In this way OCD  takes over his whole life.This has disastrous consequences not only for the patient, but also for his family.There is a lot of ridicule,blame,bitterness and acrimony.The relationships go haywire and the patient is generally ostracized.
Causes of OCD
These could be :--
Psychological-- Like a mental trauma or depression.
Physical--A grave disease.
Biological--Imbalance in brain chemicals.
Genetic Propensity
Environmental--Imbibing it from an afflicted family member.
Curing OCD is not easy.The first reason is that patients try their utmost to hide their problem because of the shame or stigma involved.Even when it comes to light they may fight hard to justify their habits.The compulsive personality is usually a perfectionist,conscientious person of high intelligence.He is rigid,meticulous,inhibited,unemotional and preoccupied with existential or health issues.He is not amenable to others' advice and thinks he knows best.All this bars him from admitting that his behavior deviates from normal, and seeking help.By the time he finally goes to a mental health professional his symptoms have taken firm roots.This is a major obstacle on the road to recovery.

Talking of treatment,the earlier it starts the better is the prognosis.

In the initial stages self help guided by CBT is the best bet.

Medication alone is not of much use unless it is supplanted by counselling.

Meditation helps to soothe ruffled emotions.A sufferer told me that she had cured herself with the help of self help and meditation.

OCD causes a lot of tension not only in the mind,but also in the body--making him high-strung and nervy.Relaxation Techniques bring taut muscles back to normal. 

OCD is highly debilitating-take a healthy diet and proper sleep and rest.Pamper your body--it has been misused and overused long enough.

Family therapy is employed to awaken the family members to the patient's needs and explain them about his disease.

How it is done
Countering obsessive thoughts is easier than controlling compulsive behavior although both require enormous will power.Obsessive thoughts spew certain emotions which disturb the person because he does not approve of those thoughts.Yet they invade his mind--despite his disapproval.Naturally his peace of mind is ravaged.The stimulus and the thought create certain pathways in the brain's neurons which become entrenched with each repetition.In order to kill this connection he needs to create new pathways.Like if you have blasphemous thoughts when you see an idol,go and see it and then tell yourself 'this God is kind,he will take care of me';or any other phrase which clicks with you.The aim is to create new associations in your mind.As these associations take root the old ones will vanish-trust me.You have to give it time and patience.Don't avoid the stimulus;give it new associations. 

It is natural to feel worthless in the face of such thoughts.Suppose you have this blasphemous thought invading your mind.Tell yourself--This is not me.I am not like this.It is not from my volition and hence i am not responsible for it.It must be the work of some quirky cells in my brain.Shoo from here.

The first time you try to supplant an inappropriate thought with a permissible one pause to appraise your state of mind.Do you feel a tad better?The thought will return,but with lesser force each time after it has been snubbed.Your sense of well being after each such episode will be motivation enough for you to keep at it until you are totally free of this pest.

Whenever you are troubled by an obsessive thought shift your focus to something you enjoy doing.

Some people write down that thought and throw it in a dust bin.They say it works.

Observe your behavior to understand what starts you off on the obsessive path--beware of those triggers so that you can control your response.

Compulsive actions are harder to overcome.The best course of action here is exposure followed by response prevention.Opt for gradual exposure if you dread touching door handles at public places like Cameron Diaz and must wash your hands fifty times after that.Go to a public place,grasp the door handle with a tissue paper and throw it away.When you go home and feel like washing your hands tell yourself--i did not touch the handle,i do not need to wash my hands.There will be a lot of uneasiness in the beginning but control this urge if you really want to get better.After you have desisted from giving in to your urge for fifteen minutes introspect and you will feel that the anxiety is slightly less than it was before.

Once you have adapted to opening doors with a tissue do it with a kerchief this time and throw it for washing.The discomfort will be great but your determination every time has to be a notch higher than the compulsion.Gradually you can go on to opening doors with your hands.

There is no doubt that OCD is a terrible condition to be afflicted with but it need not rule out a productive life.If total remission does not happen,the symptoms can be reduced by 60-80 %--this probably refers to those  patients who refuse to go ahead with CBT.One out of four patients belong to this category.It is just a disease like any other and one should not be ashamed of it.Many celebrities suffer from this disorder but they are living a normal life.But it is best to contact a Mental Health Professional as soon as one feels that things have gone beyond his/her control.

Images courtesy google.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

# Fears and Phobias

Fear is an instinctive reaction to potential danger.It saves us from mishaps by stimulating us to either fight the danger or flee from there.When a child is born it has only two fears-that of loud noises and another of being dropped.But as we grow up we face precarious situations or painful experiences which instill in our minds,fears related to those episodes.These are normal,rational fears which are helpful to some extent and can easily be sidelined or overcome.
Origin of Fears
Faulty upbringing gives a very bad start to a child.If it is subjected to abuse,cruelty,hostility or neglect, it could grow up to be timid and fearful of the elements associated with it's negative experiences.Like,if it was confined to closed rooms as a form of punishment,it could develop a fear of enclosed spaces.

Some fears are learned by copying others.Children are quick to catch on to what their elders do.For example if a child sees his parent or any close relative afraid of road traffic,he too may imbibe this fear & dread crossing roads or driving a vehicle as he grows up.

Social conditioning is responsible for the fears which we as a group entertain--like the breaking of glass,spilling salt or a black cat crossing out path as being unlucky.A chance misfortune following such an incident accentuates that fear.

Low self esteem too,exposes a person to many fears.Any activity which he thinks is dangerous for him,beyond his capability,or which will project him in poor light;becomes an object to be feared-like public speaking for example,or participating in competitions,or confronting anyone.

Sometimes a trauma or one negative experience is enough to instill a lifelong fear of that particular stimulus-like a dog bite,an accident or a rough flight.

If someone has been through a lot of stress,life-threatening situations or painful events in a short span of time;he could lose control of his emotions--becoming weak & vulnerable.Clinging to rational as well as irrational fears is a possible outcome.He may believe that if he avoids certain objects or situations he will be safe.
Take the case of Mohan.He had a terrible accident with a truck on a highway on a Saturday.It resulted in him fearing highways,trucks,Saturdays and even the purpose for which he was going on that on road---labeling it as ominous.

Most people have an odd fear tucked into their minds which is rational and easy to ignore.But Phobias belong to a different category.They are illogical,intense and persistent.They generate severe anxiety and interfere with normal functioning of life.Many people who suffer from them are forced to make drastic changes in their lives because they cannot tolerate the anxiety generated by these fears.They realize that their fears are irrational and disproportionate to the stimulus but are unable to overcome them.

They avoid the phobic object,this gives relief,and any hint of that same stimulus in future is followed by abrupt withdrawal.Thus this behavior is reinforced.What's more,the fear generalizes to encompass many other stimuli. As they go on capitulating to these fears they become more & more entrenched.This sequence of exposure>fear>withdrawal establishes a kind of circuit in the brain and the whole process becomes automatic.That is why it becomes difficult to relinquish phobias as time goes by.

The diagnostic criteria for Phobia are available at this site.

Now for the good news.Anyone who wants to get rid of his phobias can take heart from the fact that since this is learned behavior,it can easily (well not so easily) be unlearned.

Breaking Free

*Understand your Phobias
First and foremost,phobias are common and treatable.Many people suffer from them but they don't let it show.Think back to the origin of your fear and why you succumbed to it. Aren't you maximizing the danger and minimizing your powers?

*Believe in Yourself
Being afraid of something does not make you weak or crazy.You can get rid of it through self help-which should be your first option.The only condition is you will have to be brave and committed.

*Gradual Safe Exposure
Facing a phobia is not easy,it has to be done gradually.Break it into smaller parts and tackle the easiest,the least scary segment first.

Going back to Mohan,he could start with the Saturdays.He should recall how many Saturdays he has lived safely through.Then recollect the good things which happened on a Saturday.If he has been confining himself to his room on this day then he could venture out and attempt ordinary tasks initially to convince himself that Saturdays are not so ominous after all. 

The highway next.He can sit at a safe place beside a highway and watch trucks whizzing past,without crashing into anyone.By and by,he will feel more comfortable watching them going on the road.
When he is convinced that all trucks are not devils on wheels and what happened to him was a rare chance,he can go on to the next step.

Perhaps he is still fearful of driving a vehicle.He can ask a trusted friend to drive him down a deserted road.When he is fully comfortable riding pillion,he can himself drive a vehicle accompanied by his friend if he likes.Slowly he should graduate to solo driving and increased traffic.

The scariest part--that of driving on a highway,should be attempted only when he feels equal to it.The important thing is-there should be no coercion.Each new step should be taken only when he is fully confident that he can do it.

Of course this is not easy--there will be tension,palpitations and sweating.But think of the good that is going to come out of it.

*Relaxation Techniques

Because this whole process is stressful,one needs to practice relaxation techniques alongside the steps delineated above. Meditation and Pranayam are excellent for soothing the nerves and stilling the mind.They endow peace and positivity.

There is nothing like shavasana for giving rest to a tired body and relaxing tense muscles.Try it.

Initially all these efforts will look like an uphill task but once the pattern of reacting to a phobic situation is broken and the brain has adjusted accordingly,there will be no more fears.You will be much happier than you have been ever since the phobia got you in it's clutches.Remember:---

Image courtesy google.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A # Marriage On The Rocks--second & last part

Rajesh came at the appointed time along with his brother Prakash.He also brought a photograph of Sita for me to see.She seemed a nice girl and both of them agreed that this was so.But when i asked Rajesh about the relationship between them,he curtly termed it as 'useless'.At the same time he denied the occurrence of any major fights between them.All the statements uttered by him seemed at odds.He was full of venom for her whole family,which,according to him,was characterless--save Sita of course.
After some more talk he disclosed voluntarily that Sita's uncle had cast aspersions upon his relationship with Rupa.Prakash was quick to deny this-the relationship i mean.He was in fact full of sympathy for his wife because she had been very ill since the last three years.She vomited whatever she took in.The doctors had proclaimed that there was no disease but the problem persisted.It struck me that the span of her illness coincided with Rajesh's married life.Was she trying to purge herself of some guilt?I don't know,maybe a psychiatrist can throw better light on this syndrome.

In any discord it is vital to give a hearing to both sides but Sita's father refused to come.His only stand was that Sita will not go back to Rajesh.When i talked to Sita she told me that Rajesh had tried to kill her and he would do so again.Therfore she will not go back.She clammed up when i asked her why he had done this.Probably she valued her privacy.

After a few days Prakash and Rupa came to Sahyog and i told them what had transpired.They admitted that Rajesh was hot headed and capable of hitting his wife.But he was willing to give in writing that henceforth he would not hit her.I suggested that he should personally go and convince them.

Another two days went by before Prakash told me that his brother was scared of going to his in-laws'place but he would meet Sita at my office.I tried to fix up an appointment but every time i called Sita's, her youngest sister would pick up the phone and tell me that no one was at home.Obviously they had washed their hands of the whole affair.

Rupa rang me up to ask about the progress and i told her the facts.She had heard from somewhere that now Sita was willing to come back.They were thinking of roping in her maternal uncle to be the mediator.Rupa was very anxious to bring Sita back because this whole episode had injured their reputation terribly.

After this exchange Rupa and co.also quieted down.Their phone number had been temporarily suspended so that they were completely cut off.

A few questions loomed up in my mind.Why had they let matters come to this stage?Did they not see any misconduct or maltreatment going on in the house?Was it because Sita was a 'good girl' that her tolerance was tested to the limit?What was the truth in the whole imbroglio?Who all were to be blamed for this whole fracas?Was Sita right in refusing to go back?

Do let me have your views esteemed readers.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Marriage on the Rocks-All Facts,no Fiction

Rupa,a young woman of 32 yrs,came to Sahyog for a problem raging in her joint family consisting of her F.I.L,M.I.L,her husband Prakash,she herself,their two children,two younger brothers of her husband and the middle brother Rajesh's wife Sita.Though not very educated,Rupa was highly competent & self assured--one who will take charge of any situation.

The problem concerned Rajesh and Sita, who had been married for three years.Both of them were Hr.Sec.Rupa told me that Sita was a very good girl and things went smoothly for 2 yrs,interspersed with minor disagreements which are common to all couples.They had one child and another was on the way.One fine day Sita came to Rupa and told her that she was going back to her paternal home and she went away without taking anything with her.They tried to get her back but she refused point blank.Her parents supported her fully.Rupa and her family were mystified about this behavior of hers.They could not guess why she had done this and what she wanted.

Sita came from a poor family-all of them used to make paper bags at home to make ends meet.She had four sisters,two of whom were married but living with the parents only.Now Sita too,had joined them, but her parents took no steps to resolve the conflict.They had given Rs 20,000 to the boy's family at the time of marriage.Rupa and co. offered to return this sum in order to ease their situation but they declined the offer.Contrary to the general trend,they did not initiate any legal case against Rajesh or his family for torture or dowry demands.

I was perplexed by the whole scene.Firstly it was very unusual for a D.IL to approach a counselor for a rift between her B.IL and his wife when he himself,his elder brother and his parents-all were available.Looking at their family background and the prevalent culture,this was very off-beat.

Secondly,without any demand from Sita's side,they offered to return the dowry amount .Why?

Sita's behavior,as that of her parents,was no less enigmatic--no violent accusations or attempts at rapprochement.

However i put aside all my doubts and decided to proceed further.Perhaps all answers lay in the womb of the next sessions.The next logical thing was to talk to Rajesh.I asked Rupa to send him over the next day.

To be continued

Friday, September 13, 2013

Voyager One Leaves Solar System

This is truly an epoch making event.BBC News confirms that Voyager one which was launched 36 years ago to study the outer planets Jupiter,Saturn,Uranus and Neptune;has gone beyond it's original task and entered inter-stellar space.It is believed that this happened around 25th August 2012.It is so far from earth that signals sent by it take 17 hrs to reach earth.
This is the first man made object to leave the solar system.Although it is now out of the solar system,it can still feel the sun's pull.It will take nearly 40,000 years to approach another star even though it is moving at a speed of 45km/s and it will orbit around the center of our galaxy with all it's stars for billions of years.In 1990, when Voyager looked back to earth it was seen as a blue dot 

In terms of size earth may not be so earth-shaking,but look at what a stupendous achievement earthlings have made. Marvelous!
For more related news you can check this site.

Pics courtesy google. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Preventing Suicides

Why does a human being kill himself?It must be a very tough decision.A lot of courage,sorrow,anguish,disillusionment,hopelessness and helplessness must go to consolidate it.A veritable whirlpool of worry,misery & loneliness can suck out the will to live.
While it is true that some people commit suicide on the spur of the moment driven by an extreme emotion,most suicides are pre-meditated and pre-planned.It is not as if the pain or distress suffered by the suicidal is unique--many others must have lived through similar situations--but the person who opts for suicide finds it impossible to go on.What is it that differentiates the one from the other and how can we prevent suicides?

Let us start from the very beginning.If we give proper love and protection to a child when it is born,help him to blossom in a healthy environment,nurture in him a healthy self-esteem,do not cosset him unduly, and impose valid restrictions upon unreasonable whims or wayward tendencies;then it is very likely that he will grow up to be a responsible adult,capable of tolerating any adversity or misfortune which might befall him.

On the other hand if we rush around fulfilling his slightest wish, he will not be able to take refusals or disappointments in his stride.Every child,as he grows up,should be gently exposed to the truth that obstacles and down turns are also a part of life.

Every parent wants his child to excel and be a high achiever but it is a folly to burden him with unrealistic expectations, or ridicule him for a lapse or a failure.He should be assured of his family's unconditional love & support even if he is a mediocre.

If everyone had a family or at least caring friends the world would have been a much happier place,but sadly,this is not the case.There are many lonesome souls bowed down with the weight of mental/physical illness or personal/worldly problems,trying their best to stave off killing themselves as long as they can.Who will care for them?Counselors' desks at schools,colleges and work places can change the picture.You and I too,can do our bit by extending a helping hand when we see someone staggering.

One who is entrenched in a net-work of loving relationships has better chances of weathering a storm.It is not the quantum of sorrow which drives a person to the wall,but the lack of any redeeming feature in a bleak landscape.A shoulder to cry on,a parent,spouse or a sibling to boost morale,a friend to hold hand,a professional to counsel or merely act as a sounding board--these are the factors which can turn the tide in favor of life.

September 10 being the World Suicide Prevention Day i give the following links to bring other aspects of this pressing problem on the same page:--

Images courtesy google.

Monday, August 26, 2013

All Facts,no Fiction.

The following account is a window into the torturous life-paths of many who go about their daily lives without letting on what they are going through.

To come straight to the point,many years ago a boy of about 37 years of age--let's call him Suresh--came to my counseling centre "Sahyog".He had a steady job,good health,ample property and came from a large family consisting of his mother,three sisters and one younger brother.The family had good political connections.

His father,who used to be a government servant,had expired ten years ago.He had been an alcoholic & died of cirrhosis of liver.The family had been in dire straits till he lived.After his death Suresh took charge and got his younger brother--let's name him Ritesh--instated in his father's place.Suresh began to work over-time and married off his sisters one by one.

Problems started when Suresh went to another city for his father's last rites.Ritesh misbehaved with his sisters.It came out that he was a voyeur.

Relations between the two brothers were very good till the elder one got married about two years back.Ritesh started peeping into Suresh's room at night after removing the panel of his room cooler.He also tried to instigate Suresh's wife against him by cooking up stories about illicit relations between Suresh & his young aunt.Now their relations deteriorated rapidly.Ritesh bacame notorious in the neighborhood too.

In order to pacify his wife Suresh bought a house in a larger city.His sisters had been married by now.His mother & brother also shifted with him and the problem persisted.His mother shielded Ritesh who was her youngest child.Suresh tried to marry him off so that he could be separated, but he refused to marry.

Naturally all this took a toll on his mental health-he was so agitated that he could not even recall his own phone number when i asked for it.He wanted to get on with his life but this problem would not let him concentrate on anything.

I expressed a desire to meet Ritesh but he said that he would never come over,nor would he go to a psychiatrist.So we discussed how best he could cope with the situation & then he left.I think he had already thrashed out all possible solutions and he had come to me only so that he could get a load of his chest.

I called up Suresh for a follow up after a few months.He told me that Ritesh had got into some bad company and he also began to associate with some tantriks. He died in a road accident about 45 days after Suresh had come to me.

Strange are the ways of some lives.A problem which seemed insurmountable was solved miraculously.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Curbing Crime

There is a never-before spurt in violence and crime in our society today.It is time we gave a thought to why this is happening.Can we reverse this trend?
Please join me in a discussion about this disturbing reality at:--

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tackeling Loneliness

We all know what loneliness can do to us--it can suck all joy out of life.Sometimes it becomes difficult to get over it, but it is not insurmountable.
To read further on the Speaking Tree please go to the following link:---

Monday, August 5, 2013

# Resilience

Remember the toy that,no matter which side you hit it from,stood up again?It had resilience in ample measure and who would not like to be blessed similarly?Because life will knock us down now & then and we cannot afford to keep lying there.But sometimes getting up again seems more difficult than reaching for the moon.Yet there are individuals who do just that when they are struck by misfortune.

Here i am reminded of a super star who incurred colossal debts & was forced into semi-retirement for five years. But he explored new avenues and is still raking the moolah even though he is nearing seventy years of age.

It is no doubt the quality of resilience which empowers a person to overcome all odds and stand up again.We all have it in varying measures but those who find themselves lacking can certainly take steps to increase it.Here are some tips:---

*When circumstances change drastically flexibility comes to rescue, therefore guard against rigidity.No matter how dear,attractive or promising a dream was;when it shatters a new one has to be dreamt. So go ahead and do it.

*Now that you have bid goodbye to the old and accepted the new scenario, it is necessary to make the required changes.Think deeply--what is the need of the hour,which options are open to you,what talents and resources you have, and then reinvent yourself.

*But wait!If a recent calamity has sapped your confidence then what hope do you have of re-establishing yourself?Build up a strong belief in your abilities.Think back to the occasions when you overcame adversity & crossed hurdles.Take baby steps in the new direction.Every small success will increase your confidence & soon you will realize that you are doing fine;and can take on bigger tasks.

*Confidence needs to be accompanied by optimism.Have faith that the outcome of this change will be good,that even though it is not exactly what you would have asked for;it could still have certain plus points;or at least this--that you will be able to manage whatever comes your way.Positive Thinking is an important constituent of success.

*Confidence & optimism can be put to action only when you have a realistic goal in front of you.Determine your short term & long term goals carefully.After you have deliberated over the pros & cons of your decision, chart out your game plan & spell out the steps to be taken in order of priority.

*Take decisive steps towards your goal.

*While you are doing this make full use of your resources.The best resource is strong supportive relationships, whether in family or outside.Relationships provide role models for guidance and also inculcate reassurance & enthusiasm through their loving trust.You can share your worries or fears,seek solutions & get feed-back regarding your efforts.

*It is not easy to overcome all upheavals.Certain tragedies like loss of limb or death or disease of a dear person, can result in long grieving periods.Reaching out to other similarly hit persons can be therapeutic when all else has failed.Many people who suffered a loss due to Cancer,H.I.V or some other fatal disease threw themselves into a cause for the welfare of others suffering from it and therein found a purpose for their lives. Samir Zaveri is one such hero.

*Religion or Spirituality can also help you tide over difficult times.The conviction that a supreme being will help you to overcome & take care of you, can be very empowering.It is a stabilizing force for those who are thus inclined.

*However, not everyone has such faith.Those who need external help in order to find solace can take the help of counselors.

*Adapting to challenging situations demands energy & equanimity.Take good care of your health in order to achieve this-eat well,sleep well & take up a physical routine of your choice to keep you supple & active.Above all,do not indulge in any form of substance abuse in a fit of depression.

*When a daunting reality stares you in the face it is natural to yearn for the old,comfortable set-up.But as you accept the change & view it with an open mind,you will soon realize that it has a brighter side too:-----
*For one,it will enable you to evolve & learn new tricks.
*You will sense greater confidence in your ability to weather a storm.
*Your resourcefulness will come to the fore& you will learn new problem solving skills.
*And lastly,you will also find out which are the ties you can depend upon.
Therefore, try to look for the silver lining in those ominous clouds.

Everything happens for a reason.When a traumatic event is viewed as only one part of the vast panorama of life it becomes more bearable.Docket it in it's proper place and remember:----
Sometimes Grace comes in the form of a punch in the face.
Mary Elder.
Image courtesy google.