Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Small Mistake Can Sometimes Bounce Back Badly--All Facts No Fiction

Amit,a young boy of barely 18 yrs of age,was brought to my office by his father.A mere look at him revealed that he was severely depressed.He sat quietly with his head bowed down while his father narrated his problem.

Amits' cousin sister who had been staying with them for the last 10 months,had got married 6 weeks ago but was reluctant to go to her in-laws'house. Amit suggested that they go to their grandfathers' home which was in a nearby city.The girl agreed and they went there.

Over there,his maternal uncle ticked him off for having taken this step.Ever since then he had been like this,sitting mutely,doing nothing.His father took him to a psychiatrist.He had been taking psychiatric medicine for the last 3 weeks but he did not want to continue it since it did not agree with him.

I counselled him as per need but he was neither receptive nor responsive.I could see that he did need medicines to bring him up to near-normal levels before he could take some positive measures to help himself.

I referred him to another psychiatrist in whom I had greater faith.They did not return after that.

At first glance it seems that his impulsive decision to take his cousin to their grandfather' house was the cause of his depression,but his inability to accept genuine criticism too was responsible.He could not handle his family's censure and rebuke.Perhaps his guilt pangs too mortified him.

Life does not cosset anyone and excessive sensitivity or vulnerability is not conducive for health and happiness. 

Follow Up:--

I phoned Amit after about six months.His father came on the line.He told me that the medicine given by the second psychiatrist was on the last legs.He was better and doing good in studies too.He thanked me profusely for my help and thus I closed the case.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A Negative Outlook,and How to Change It.

Contrary circumstances will evoke negativity in anyone,but it generally subsides when things get back to normal.However, a negative outlook becomes a prominent character trait in some people.They see flaws and disadvantages in everything.There are plenty of complaints and criticisms but no constructive suggestions.A proclivity to denounce and not appreciate is also seen in negative people.For them,the glass is always half empty and not half full.It becomes an instinctive reaction-coming spontaneously from their guts.

A negative mindset distorts reality and presents it as much more alarming and depressing than it really is.The result is a flush of disturbing emotions like fear,despair,anger,hatred,jealousy,anxiety and pessimism.

This kind of outlook has a deleterious effect on all aspects of life.However dissatisfied you might be with your current state of affairs-whether it be in the sphere of your job,home,marriage or the city you reside in-you hesitate to introduce changes or make a new beginning because you can only see snags in the available options.

Even when you do make a new beginning,since you do not hope that anything worthwhile will come out of it,you make half hearted efforts and thus prove yourself right.This accentuates your negativity even more.As the famous personal development guru Zig Ziglar said "positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will".

Changing from negativity to positivity can bring about a refreshing change in your life.If you  want to achieve this:

Stop complaining!

Wherever possible,focus on the humorous aspect of things which irk you.

Appreciate any service rendered to you.

Check the habit of criticizing others.

Think up their good qualities and comment on those instead.

Resist the tendency to contradict what others say.

Don't pick flaws in others' performance.

Acknowledge the good work done by them.

Recount your own talents,abilities,achievements and strengths-however dormant they might be in your mind at that point of time-whenever you take up a new task.

Spruce up your self esteem.

Build up your self confidence.

Finally,take a moment before you form your opinions,trash the thoughts which are not factually correct,bite your tongue if you are about to say,or even think something negative;and the world will soon see you in a positive avatar.You will realize that your life, the people around you and the world on the whole is not as bad as you had taken it to be. You will find greater joy and success in life.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

When Anxiety Becomes Too Overpowering.

Anxiety has become a sort of epidemic today,everyone experiences it from time to time.But sometimes it exacerbates to such an extent that we are unable to lessen it and hunt for a quick way of finding relief.Consider if some of the following could help you at such times:
  1. Scream,shout your pain out at a secluded place.This is incredibly therapeutic.
  2. Punch your pillows.
  3. Tear a newspaper to bits.Vent your anger on it.
  4. Pummel an old rag with your feet. 
  5. Jog,run,do aerobics.This will consume the excess adrenaline released because of overpowering anxiety.
  6. Do some stretching exercises to relieve your muscles which had become taut due to anxiety.
  7. Mow your lawn or hoe the soil in your garden.
  8. Wash your car.
  9. Now that the anxiety has decreased a bit,sit in the midst of nature.Admire the greenery around you.Watch the birds flitting here and there.Listen to their calls.Feel the air as it soothes your skin.Relax,look at the brighter aspects of your life.
The first four tips might look a bit quirky to you-especially those who are straight-laced by nature-but extreme situations require drastic remedies.Anxiety mustn't be allowed to occupy your mind space for long.

The aforementioned tips are only meant for instant relief.You will have to take other measures for a full cure.You can choose from the many initiatives which I have discussed in detail in this post.

When one is in the throes of anxiety one does not feel like moving around or becoming active but this is what increases the anxiety.A lot has been written about the efficacy of exercise for curing anxiety or depression,but many have little faith in it.In order to convince them here is an excerpt from:


"What many people don't yet realize is that daily exercise alone may be powerful enough to drastically reduce your anxiety.Studies have shown time and time again that there is an incredibly strong relationship between anxiety and exercise-one that could tip the scales towards living an anxiety free life."

This same site goes on to enunciate the benefits to be had from exercising regularly.So,begin a healthy routine of exercise and open the door to an anxiety free life.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Hurdle Race

I remember watching the hurdle race when I was in school.The hurdlers knew well their limitations and knowing also the consequences of a bad fall,they did not attempt the impossible.I not being the sporty kind,watched from the sidelines.

That was school.Adult life is different.We have to participate in many races.We cannot sit comfortably in shade and watch others sweat it out.And we also do not like the idea of others winning prizes while we are left bereft.Whether because of a dire need or spurred by the hope of winning prizes at the end of the race; we are slowly inveigled into joining many races and jumping over steep hurdles.

The hurdles in adult life are invisible but no less daunting.Joy overflows when we clear a hurdle.If we fall and scrape our knees we just smear an ointment and carry on.The problem begins when we scrape our spirits;when we allow a failure to define us,to fill our waking hours and steal our sleep.That is the time to sit up and cogitate.Was it necessary to cross that hurdle?Was the hurdle too high?Were we in the wrong race altogether?How important was it for us to jump over that hurdle and win that race?

If failing a race makes us despondent and miserable,clearing every successive hurdle and winning much awaited laurels too can sometimes have a negative fallout.

Some of us get so involved in running races and proving our worth that we do not pause to consider whether all those races are absolutely essential for us.This fact does need consideration because while we are running a hard race we have to put many other issues on the back burner and some of them might be equally important for our health and happiness.

If we go overboard with crossing hurdles and gathering prizes,nemesis may not be far behind.It might come in the form of physical exhaustion for one,physical or mental disease for another,and a broken home or relationships for the third one.

Take a look at what Dr Joseph Maroon,a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says in his book"Square One:A Simple Guide to a Balanced Life" :

"I've had rather impressive success [and] cataclysmic failure personally," Maroon says. "I was intent on becoming the very best that I could in terms of my profession, neurosurgery. I worked extremely diligently. It became an all-encompassing pursuit for me in my life … with success, societal approval, writing papers, going to national meetings … Soon after becoming chief of neurosurgery at a major university hospital, I [cracked]. My father died, my wife and children left me, I had to quit my profession as a neurosurgeon due to the overwhelming stress … all within one week … The next week, I [was] helping my mother run a rather dilapidated truck stop left to her by my father in Wheeling, West Virginia, living on a farm. One day I was doing brain surgery and [the next] literally filling up 18-wheelers and flipping hamburgers in a rundown truck stop. It was a great fall. It was kind of like an Icarian metaphor of flying too near the sun. I got scorched and I plummeted into the sea — a sea of depression."

Personal advancement is a driving force of life but it should not be confused with a greed for name,fame and wealth.When our stamina is at it's peak it is possible to wear out our bodies to any extent.Our body and mind do give subtle signals that they are being abused but we ignore those signals.In this way we defy the very objective for which we labored so hard-a happy wholesome life.

The quote by Dr Maroon taken from

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Intrusive/Obsessive Thoughts

Our thoughts shape our moods.We generally try to channelize them in the right avenues but sometimes they run amok and invade our minds again and again,defying all efforts to control them.These are known as intrusive or obsessive thoughts.

Intrusive thoughts are mental symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder.They come in the form of worries,fears,doubts or premonitions.Some common examples are-'Did I switch off the stove?','I hope I don't meet with an accident, 'I hope 'A' is not up to some hanky-panky' etc etc.

Some of them like the ones listed above, are quite inconsequential and therefore less intimidating.But sexual,incestuous,blasphemous or violent thoughts are very distressing because they are uncharacteristic and immoral in nature.They generate a lot of shame,guilt and fear. A person going through this turmoil feels as if he is losing control over himself.It makes him very jittery.

Suppose every time you go for a walk pop comes a thought that you might fall down.You take care and that is that.But if you have a weird thought of having sex with a stranger you begin to fear your own self.You may even stop going out,be fearful of meeting persons of the opposite sex,or remind yourself to not look below their faces if at all you meet them.

Naturally all this multiplies your anxiety manifold.Remember,anxiety was what started the thoughts in the first place.Now the thoughts are augmenting your anxiety.Sadly,anxiety is self sustaining.So what is the way out?

It is best to have a medical checkup in the first place as certain diseases or even the side effects of certain medicines can cause anxiety or depression.

One's style of functioning too requires scrutiny.Those who are overly anxious about things,live apprehensively,fret too much about the future, are more anxious than others.

In order to get rid of these thoughts it is essential to understand how they get fixated.As long as an obsessive thought is trivial you don't pay much heed,but when it signifies moral degradation you sit up and take notice.You analyze that thought,search for it's root and explore your own behavior for any sort of inkling.In this way you entrench it well and proper.Proceeding further,if you alter your behavior to somehow avert that thought,then it becomes a notable part of your routine.The brain learns through repetition-is it any wonder then that this kind of thought persecutes you more than any other?

Eradicating obsessive thoughts is difficult but not impossible.Target your anxiety which is the root cause of these thoughts.Identify the factors which are making you anxious, and try to remove them.

Getting rid of intrusive thoughts May take time but even as you live with them you can do a few things to ease your mind.

Just remember that these thoughts are mere symptoms of anxiety and not a reflection of your character or personality.You are not a pervert or a weakling.The fact that these thoughts come without your bidding and clash with your principles does not mean that you are going crazy or have lost control over your mind.

Don't attach any importance to them,just flick them away like an irritating fly.Don't alter your behavior on account of them.

Desist from analysing them or ferreting for their cause.

If you think you are the vilest person on earth because no one else has such
thoughts,you are wrong.People don't discuss such thoughts with anyone else,just as you don't.Moreover the very fact that you abhor these thoughts signifies that you are in no way responsible for them.It is anxiety which causes these thoughts.It alters your brain chemistry in such a way that you cannot focus on positive thoughts.Don't shame yourself.

The mind can only hold one thought at a time.If you want to abolish an unwanted thought substitute it with a positive one.Choose a tagline which clicks with you.There are many ways of distracting your mind from unwanted thoughts.You can choose the ones you like from this post.Eventually the menace will lose its force.Anxiety is entirely treatable.  

Related articles :--



Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Cognitive Distortion--The Should Statements

Cognitive distortions as we all know,are faulty perceptions of reality--either lopsided,exaggerated,or totally false.Our perceptions harden into beliefs and govern,not only our behavior but also our emotions.wrong perception of people,events or our own selves can therefore push us in the wrong direction.To a large extent these distortions are responsible for the feelings of unease or discontent which often spoil our moods.

The 'should statements'-commands emanating from inside us,which tell us what we should or shouldn't do-form one such segment.Some of us have very strict codes of conduct for self as well as others.If after a perfectly reasonable act,your mind tells you that you should not have done that,then it is your 'should distortion' on the job.

For example if I rebuff someone who has been annoying me since long and subsequently feel that I should not have done this,then instead of feeling good about having asserted myself and secured myself from future annoyance,I feel guilty.

Take the case of someone who is hard-pressed to meet a deadline but is repeatedly distracted by a thought that he ought to have finished that task earlier.Imagine his stress in such a situation.To an extent the should thoughts remind us of our obligations,but if unjustified or ill-timed,they could become a pain in the neck.

Sometimes these notions also prompt us to pass strictures on others' behavior,thereby courting their ill-will and straining the relationships.

Whichever way we look at it,the shoulds burden us with unnecessary guilt,anger ,frustration, and anxiety.If we repeatedly tell ourselves,'I should have done this','I ought not to have done that', 'I must do this',then we are only gathering dark clouds over our minds.We cannot thrive in such an atmosphere.

It is not difficult to get rid of this tendency.Just identify at the very initial stage, thoughts containing words like should, must,and ought.Contradict them again and again and these checks and controls will vanish into thin air.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

To Be Or Not To Be--A Busybee

I was born with a congenital fault,or default-I don't know which-to keep doing something or the other throughout the day.It is very oxymoronish to hunt for odd jobs to occupy me and then complain of being overburdened with work.No one compels me to do this or that.The compulsion comes from within.How does one categorise this tendency?Is it a blessing or a curse?

Actually I have many reasons to be thankful for it.It keeps me fit and supple.Very little chances of my joints creaking from disuse.I don't feel like a sucker-I am doing my bit to justify my existence on this planet.Keeping busy,indulging in various activities broadens my vision and adds to my bag of skills.

I hate to request anyone to do something for me unless I am unable to do it myself.This comes from a yen for selfreliance,perfection,and also a bit of ego.Looks like I myself have chosen this kind of life--no destiny or default at fault :(.

Happy as  am to potter around my home doing this or that,sometimes I do look wistfully at those who enjoy greater leisure time.I guess their minds must be more at peace than mine,because I become restless if I have nothing to do.

If not a life of leisure what about a thundering career?There was no career to speak of.I could have carved out a distinct identity for myself if only I had stepped outside my comfort zone.But my utter content failed to niggle me to look beyond my home and family.

Did I choose right?What do you think?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Shocking Crime and #Antisocial Personality Disorder

We often read about shocking crimes committed in the heat of the moment,and fail to find a logical explanation for them.It is psychology which then comes up with plausible answers to such questions.This fact was revealed explicitly to me when Jay came over to me for counseling a few years back.

He was a robust 35yrs old young man at that time.He required no prodding to come out with all the details of his life till date.He had studied only up to 8th class and he began to earn at the age of 14yrs.He had been driving a taxi since the last 20yrs.Very matter of factly,he stated that his mother did not care at all for him.The only person who loved him had been his father who had expired six years ago.He had two brothers but they lived separately because he went out of control whenever he was angry.

He had gotten married to Ena 3yrs ago but she left him after one and a half years.He loved her profusely.Now he wanted me to mediate between them.If she did not return he would first kill her and then himself.Two weeks prior to this he had purposely shoved his taxi down into a valley.It turned turtle five times and landed upside down but nobody was hurt.All this,to get Ena back.

He gave me her number and I promised to find out what she wanted.Her mother came on the line when I rang her up.She told me that Jay was addicted to opium and smack and in no way would she send her daughter back.

So I called him and gave him the update.I tried to reason out with him,to show him how he was destroying himself and finding no joy in life too.On top of that he was wrecking his health and there was still time to turn back.

He listened quietly and merely said that yes I was right.I was not surprised that he did not turn up for the next appointment.I rang him up after a few weeks to find out how he was doing.He merely said he was OK and that was the end of the story.

His was a typical case of Antisocial Personality Disorder - impulsiveness,violence,breaking laws,destroying property,scarce concern for others' rights and emotions,manipulation--it was all there.It is possible that his disorder was the result of genes or early life experiences.He deserved sympathetic,supportive treatment.

In such cases the family also has the responsibility of keeping a watchful eye on the sufferer and making sure that s/he does not get into trouble especially if s/he is a minor.

I wonder how he is,and whether or not he has transformed himself;though the chances appear bleak.The prognosis of this condition is not encouraging,however,they may mellow down with age.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

#Relationships and #Mentaldisorders

We live in paradoxical times.Life is easy,convenient and comfortable as never before,but the mind is at unrest as it never was.Innumerable appliances,apps and devices make the mandatory functions a breeze,yet a large segment finds itself overworked and overstressed.Leisure hours have dwindled and psychological problems have multiplied.We the urban educated,have countless facebook friends,but how many with whom we can discuss a personal problem?

All this raises a pertinent question-has life become easy or more complex than before?Easy as far as the physical aspect is concerned but complex because of the way it compromises our mental health and equanimity.The stressors are aplenty-waiting at every turn to pounce at the vulnerable.Maintaining our cool under the circumstances has become a challenge.

A study by WHO informs us that there has been a rise of 18% in cases of depression in the last decade.We generally brush off such reports believing we could never succumb to stress,but this is far from true.A major upheaval could rattle anyone.After that whether he keels over or manages to find his feet again depends mainly upon two factors-his own resilience and his support systems.I have already written in length about resilience in this post so I will not go into it again.

When resilience happens to be insufficient,it is our support systems which enable us to keep our heads above water.They boost our morale when we most need it,and motivate us to not give up hope and find a way out of our problems.Sadly,such support is not easily available today.That is why loneliness and incidents of mental disorders are increasing.

A potent prophylaxis against mental disorders is what we all need,and this we can easily possess by building a web of secure,positive relationships;not merely as a crutch for  the critical moments,but as an important,happy feature of our lives.

Stable,positive relationships extend support and infuse joy in our lives.They offer respite from hectic schedules and taxing times.Chatting with friends and family-really,not virtually-enables us to forget our worries and recharge our batteries.We come to know of the problems which others face,and realize that we are not the sole sufferers on this planet.We see how others cope with their problems and learn new skills to meet life's challenges.

Those who are bereft of strong relationships generally keep their angst bottled inside and this can cause psychological problems.Isolation brews melancholy.It spurs feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness.It can deepen into depression if it continues for long.Incidentally,even #toxicrelationships can precipitate mental disorders.In fact it is better to have no relationship at all,rather than a toxic one.

Studies have shown that those who are socially connected live longer,healthier lives.They enjoy better physical and mental health.Just think,if you go on a binge,stuff unhealthy food,go overboard with alcohol or smoking,who cautions you?Who urges to seek medical aid if you feel weak and exhausted?Your friends or relatives of course.But only those who care for you and for whom you have shown your commitment.

We get only that much as we put in.Relationships demand loyalty,devotion and mutual give and take.If we extend a helping hand to someone in a soup,that person is sure to remember it and reciprocate.This is how support systems take shape.It is like investing in our happiness and wellbeing.That is why it is important,and even therapeutic, to connect with the people around us.

You can start right now by calling someone who has not been seen since long,smiling at the person you next meet,fixing up a fun-time with your cronies (how many do you have?),calling friends over for a meal,and wishing them on their birthdays and anniversaries.

It is our relationships which make life worth living.What we often do not realize is,that they could also act as a barrier against mental disorders.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Five Habits Which Foment Discontent

Discontent as such is not a bad emotion.It stirs when we realize that something is not right and then it motivates us to work hard,achieve our targets and climb up the evolutionary ladder.But disgruntlement about every minor issue can devolve into an Anxiety Disorder.

Today only a small percentage is contented with the kind of life it leads.Most people are dissatisfied with who they are,where they are,and how they are.Very often it is not a person's circumstances but his outlook toward life which causes discontent.Five habits in particular,add fuel to this fire:-
  1. Comparisons-No two human beings are alike,nor their life conditions,strengths and weaknesses.It is but natural that their achievements and their stature too should differ.Unfavorable comparisons generate unnecessary stress.
  2. A hunger for more and more-Some people have this innate urge for acquiring more and more of everything-whether it be wealth,material possessions,awards or fame- which is never fulfilled.As a result they are always on the edge.
  3. Perfectionism-Perfectionists strive for excellence but it is not possible to be perfect in everything one does.Things can go wrong because of many factors.Unfinished tasks,poorly executed plans,or misfired attempts create a lot of unrest in such people.
  4. Unfulfilled Expectations-These are a huge source of discontent.We all feel sorry when our hopes are belied.The only remedy is to not have many expectations-the lesser the expectations,the greater the tranquility.We cannot change others,we can only change ourselves.
  5. Not Accepting Reality-Certain things are preordained-like where,in which family,with what kind of abilities you are born.Fuming about these things serves no purpose.Then there are tragedies,calamities,age,and illness,over which too,we have no control.Such happenings are painful for all,but ultimately,just incorporating these setbacks in our lives and going on from there is the only way.Seething about the injustice of it all aggravates misery.
Like many other things,discontent too has many facets.If it can zoom us up the social hierarchy,it can also push those seeking instant gratification into the labyrinth of illegal activities.A potent antidote for overpowering discontent is to be grateful for what we have.In the end,what better way to sum up this topic than in the words of Eckhart Tolle--
"Discontent,blaming,self-pity cannot serve as a foundation for a good future,no matter how much effort you make"

Taken from--

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Pit of #Self-pity

I don't know about you all but I have found
that whenever I am seething with rage,discontent,or a feeling that I have the shoddiest life possible;at the bottom of it all is--much though I hate to admit it--self-pity.

There are times when self-pity is called for and times when it is not.It is natural to pity oneself when in the midst of a tragedy,but here I am talking of the small stuff,the day-to-day hassles like a tiff with a loved one,the daily help on leave,lots of stuff on one's plate,very little leisure time,not being invited to a friend's party,no fun in life,etc etc.

These might seem like pin-pricks to you but they are enough to throw me into the slush of self-pity.I become surly and snap at whoever crosses my path.Those who know me maintain a safe distance,and then I feel lonelier than ever.The atmosphere of my home crackles with uncertainty,anything could happen!One small grievance becomes the cause of many more unpleasant experiences.All because my maid took two days' leave,or the cooler of my room had stopped working.In this way I generate many more reasons to pity myself.

We all feel self-pity now and then but the problem starts when it becomes a signature tune.Cognitive distortions like Black and White Thinking or filtration are often responsible for it.We overlook all that is hunky-dory and obsess over pesky irritants.And then there are comparisons-if we keep comparing ourselves with those who are smarter,wealthier stronger or more successful than us,then we can never be happy.Sometimes we also do it to draw attention to ourselves. Emotional trauma like a breakup,separation or a major failure or loss too,can ignite self-pity.

It is cathartic to shed tears and grieve for a while but ultimately self-pity does more harm than good.

It prevents us from trying to achieve that,which we envy in others.We have this blanket excuse that the cosmos is against us,we do not have the facilities which others enjoy.We overlook the fact that the impediments which we believe are holding us back,are commonplace problems which others faced and overcame.Self-pity gives us an excuse for being an underachiever and taking life easy. 

Indulging in self-pity in order to gain sympathy or help from others does not  work for long.After a while it begins to annoy people.It is viewed as fake behavior and people being busy with their own problems,do not like to be drawn into imaginary or exaggerated woes.It becomes counter productive.It also spoils our public image.We are likely to be slotted as weepy whiners.

What's more,our happiness becomes contingent upon others reactions.If they sympathise with us we are happy,and if not,we become even more dejected than we were before.

Self-pity prevents us from paying heed to our family,friends and the people around us.They might be looking to us for love or support,but we being consumed with our own miseries,do not get their signals.We let them down.In this way we deprive ourselves of the happiness which comes from a bunch of warm relationships.

Playing the victim is much easier than taking charge of our lives,but if we can get out of this cocoon,we shall be rewarded with better chances of success and happiness.

If you want to relinquish this habit then first of all determine which facet of life is causing you the maximum misery.Is it your health,family,friends,love life,career or your financial condition?Pick up that one factor which never fails to depress you.Can you change it?Or at least tone it down?Do whatever can be done to ease your situation and whatever deficit remains;learn to live graciously with it.

You must remember that love,luck,success and happiness are not distributed evenly in this world.There are certain things with which everybody has to compromise.Lamenting about them only makes things worse.Self-pity is not a good coping mechanism.There are no benefits,only disadvantages.Next time when you are on the verge of throwing a pity party,stop.Consider what it will do to you.And turn back.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Six Habits Which Can Keep You Subpar.

Habits are diehard ways of thinking and behaving which make us who we are.Gradually,they rule out many options from our lives because the comfort of old habits prevents us from attempting anything new.You can call it a desire to live in our comfort zones.

But sticking religiously to old habits keeps us from evolving and becoming sharper.We are witnessing massive changes around us in this era.It is not easy to keep abreast of all those changes but it becomes almost impossible if we are bogged down by our old habits.Here are a few examples:--
  • Following a fixed routine-If you are doing today what you have been doing for the bygone weeks,months or years,where is the need for your brain to strain itself?It will snooze in it's comfort zone.But like any other organ of the body,the brain too needs exercise in order to work at its optimum capacity.
  • Refusing to try anything new-This is partly like the aforesaid habit but it has wider ramifications.Technology has invaded every aspect of life today.Numerous needs can be fulfilled at the click of a button but if we continue to do things the old way,the brain slows down and our personality loses it's spark.We also waste a lot of time doing what could have been done in a jiffy.
  • Keeping aloof-It is not media alone which informs us about the developments which can make life easier for us.People around us can fill in the gaps if our knowledge is incommensurate,and the tech-savvy can be roped in to learn the tricks.
  • Not asking questions-We avoid asking questions in order to conceal our ignorance but in the process we become more and more ignorant.We may pretend that we know it all but others can easily see through this facade.This tendency is responsible for us remaining ignorant in many fields.
  • Rejecting criticism-There are two kinds of critics-those who wish to pull us down and those who have our welfare at heart.When we reject the second kind we lose an opportunity to improve ourselves.
  • Lack of curiosity-Newton's curiosity about the reason for an apple falling off the tree led to phenomenal changes in our views about the world we inhabit.It is curiosity which introduces us to new domains and enlarges the field of  our knowledge.
Not only do above habits prevent us from keeping pace with this fast changing world, they also nibble at our self esteem.Changing the very basic ways of conducting our affairs is certainly not easy, but incorporating at least some of the required changes in our lifestyles will enable us to become one of a cluster and not  an isolated dot.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Cognitive Distortion-Blaming Others

It is but natural that personalization should be followed by Blaming-a thought disorder which is opposed to it in almost every way.It denotes blaming external factors for everything which goes wrong in one's life.

Those who suffer from this distortion have a blind spot regarding their own role in the problems which come their way.They do not look back to examine if their behavior was somewhere at fault.This closes the door on a constructive refinement of their outlook and behavior.The setbacks and disappointments recur again and again.

Even in the realm of emotional problems you will hear them complain that so and so is causing them a lot of pain--oblivious of their own role in the deterioration of that relationship.

No doubt ignoring one's contribution to a problem absolves one from the responsibility to improve the status-quo;but this short term relief results in long term disadvantages.Persisting with such behavior makes it difficult to tackle life's problems head on.

It has been seen that those who are forever complaining about this and that are generally not regarded as good company.People get weary of listening to their grouses and showing sympathy.So they are often left alone.

It is not difficult to determine the genesis of this thought disorder.Perhaps they were coddled and made much of as kids--led to believe that they were perfect and could do no wrong.If they grew up as egoists or narcissists,it is hardly their fault.

If you wish to break this shackle you will have to rewrite your ego,understand that you too have drawbacks and weaknesses like everybody else;that these might partly be responsible for your difficulties and they have to be overcome if you want to move forward in life.

If you want to untangle yourself from the clutches of this distortion follow that old Greek adage-Know Thyself.Try to analyse the extent to which you were the cause of a recent mishap.Examine the steps taken by you to solve that problem.A thorough scrutiny of your predilections,weaknesses and misperceptions will enable you to undertake a much needed course correction.

When you finally recognise yourself in the mirror of truth you will have lesser grouses about the world.What's more,your problems will diminish because now you can see how you also added to them.You will embrace better coping skills and have many reasons to be proud of yourself.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cognitive Distortion-Personalization

Personalization is a very common thought disorder.It denotes assuming blame for things not under one's control,holding oneself responsible for others' behavior and interpreting their actions as being directed at oneself even when this is not the case.This kind of thinking produces unwarranted stress and tension. 

When someone holds himself responsible for any blunder,mishap or tragedy which was not his fault,he invokes unnecessary guilt,shame and remorse.Suppose an innocuous remark by someone sets off a heated debate amongst friends and he blames himself for having brought a friendly reunion to a bitter end,he is unjustifiably castigating himself by personalizing the debacle.

Personalization also causes discord and hostility.When a casual remark by an acquaintance is taken personally by someone,it leads to a thaw in the relationship.Taking another example,if a person beset by personal problems passes by a friend without registering his presence,the latter promptly concludes that he is miffed with him.Now he spends hours wondering why that person is annoyed with him and what he had done to deserve such treatment.When they next meet,he gives him the cold shoulder in order to get even,and kaput goes a promising relationship!All this,without any substance.

Many of us fall in this trap some time or the other,but when this becomes a regular pattern it generates rancor,spoils relationships and vitiates the ambience.Of course nobody would choose to do all this knowingly,but our insecurities distort our perception of reality.A person who is unsure of himself and has poor self esteem is more likely to personalize things.

Sustained efforts are needed to get rid of this tendency.Here are some tips:--

Whenever an agonizing thought clouds your mind check its veracity;ascertain if it is fact or fiction.Be more logical and less impetuous while drawing conclusions about everyday happenings.

For longer lasting benefits,strengthen your self esteem and be confident of your value systems and abilities so that you do not hold yourself responsible for everything that goes wrong.You will feel significantly relieved when you have gotten rid of this thought disorder.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Cognitive Distortion--# Magnification and # Minimization

Life would be so much easier if we perceived reality in its' true colors without weighing it down with our insecurities,biases or prejudices.In this way,we even color a normal change with dreadful overtones or magnify the gravity of a problem and invite unnecessary anxiety.

Or we exaggerate our flaws and minimize our capabilities;thus laying a perfect pitch for tension and despondence.That is not all,sometimes we even overestimate others' skills and overlook their weaknesses;placing ourselves many rungs below them.

This is known as Maximization and Minimization.We blow our problems out of all proportions and minimize the positive aspects of our lives.A related distortion is catastrophization,in which we apprehend the worst possible outcome of any situation.A tiny blob on the horizon is taken as a sign of doom.

The ill-effects of these distortions are many.They kill our confidence and we envisage failure even before we have given the task a good try.This not only thwarts success but also further aggravates low self esteem.All this results in a host of negative emotions which are the root cause of depression and anxiety.

We all commit the mistake of magnifying the gravity of a problem sometimes,but it is best to shake off this habit before it takes firm roots.You can do this by being more mindful of your thoughts.Start by being vigilant of the thoughts which make you anxious.Write them down and at the end of the day and evaluate their sagacity.You can also cross-check your judgements with someone whom you hold in high esteem.

Next,try to decipher the hangups which propelled those ideas,why you think the way you do.Perhaps you were belittled by your parent or an older sibling and this has matured into a conviction that you are weak and incompetent.Or a recent setback has made you nervous and apprehensive.

Getting rid of such distortions requires practise and patience.The moment you recognise a thought as being inaccurate,replace it with a more logical one.This will make you more confident and proactive.You will successfully meet challenges and not shirk them.You will realize your full potential and find greater happiness too.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

#Cognitive Distortion-# Filtering

Normally when we filter something we keep the useful portions and throw off the chaff.But in the thinking process known as filtration we do just the opposite.Or we may may concentrate so much upon one aspect of a situation or task that we forget about the rest.

Suppose you go to a party and have a good time with your friends but one acquaintance-B- snubs you.If this spoils your mood so much that you cannot sleep the night,then you are guilty of filtration.You ignore the overall experience and cling to a tiny bad part of it.

We receive adulation from some and rejection from some others.We may succeed in one enterprise but fail in another.Amongst many warm relationships,there might be a failed one too.Those who can put the disconcerting elements behind them,or at least not concentrate solely upon them;are the ones who will be hopeful,sanguine,enthusiastic and happy.

But agonizing over annoying bits and ignoring the positive aspects could depress anybody.Filtration saps self esteem and makes one pessimistic.This is self-goal or self inflicted misery.Those who feel depressed and dissatisfied with life should scrutinize their thoughts to find out if the cause lies in filtration or any other cognitive distortion.

It is easy to get rid of this habit,only you should first recognize that your thinking is erroneous and it is harming your interests.One way of doing this is,to add 'but' after every troublesome thought and continue from there.Going back to the earlier example,when you say to yourself " B does not like me," add "but I have many friends who do."See the difference?Doing this every time will diminish your anxiety.You will be more satisfied with the tenor of your life.

Try to be more rational and balanced about the things which normally pique you.Whenever a troublesome feeling raises its head,recall the agreeable elements associated with it,which you had overlooked.Soon you will realize that along with the annoying bits there are also many pleasing features in your life.

These seemingly minor changes can cut out the negativity in your life and make you happier.

Magnification and Minimization.