To sink or not to sink

positive-people-e1350527502707My 4 year old daughter loves to experiment with water and what it can do. She tends to pick up different objects each day, tries to fill water in them, drowns them in the bucket, see if they come up and float or stay down.

As I was watching her take pride in her discovery, I realized how relationships as I had known them, had the power to sink or float a person.

There are many people each of us have in our lives, who have this sink effect. They would just say something and send you spinning down a spiral. In other words, make your happiness sink. We all have those kind of people around us, right? Sometimes by default and sometimes by chance. I have known such people in my extended family, at work and even in business. Sometimes they know they will make you sink, yet they pretend as though they don’t know any better and sometimes they lack the wisdom to know otherwise. Either way, they make you sink.

And then there are these people who have the ability to make you float. They would be so accepting of you, would just get you and would just know how to elevate your state of happiness. It is fun being around such people and I guess we are all naturally drawn to such people. Again, I have known such people in my extended family, my work and at business. The world, is hence, made of sinkers and floaters. I don’t know a third kind…maybe there are more, but I never paid enough attention (please do share your thoughts) – I love creating theories from experience.

Here is my thumb rule on ‘The Floatation Principle of Life’ (just coined this and if it exists somewhere, please do let me know!) – if ‘sink’ does not turn into ‘float’ sometime soon and you start running out of patience, move the ‘sinkers’ away and if you can’t, move away from them. It is however, important that we don’t dismiss the ‘sinkers’ right away. Some amount of sinking is good, of course. It is a good break from the constant floating and a bit of change always does some good.

Constant sinking, however, is not good. Life is too short to spend it sinking. Get some floaters. Get the sun!

This post is a reproduction of my weekly column  written for The Goan (http://thegoan.net).

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How to find the Ctrl + U button

take-control-lifeThey say that if you keep your hair tied up most times, you are probably the kind who likes to be in control. I have, however, often found myself coaching women who believe they have lost complete control of their lives. It is almost like they knew there was this control switch somewhere and then life happened and they just can’t seem to find it any more.  It might sound extreme but this is really how many women I have coached have described their situation to me.

Losing control of life, is usually, a slow and gradual process. It is a process that is usually devoid of our conscious self and heavily influenced by the environment around us.

It might be tough to nail the exact trigger for this process, but there are some early warning signs that might be helpful to be aware of. If we find ourselves reacting, instead of responding to things or people or circumstances around us – examples being peer promotions, inadequate increments, break ups, disagreements, unreasonable material pleasures and the list is never ending, we should know that we are treading the path of losing control of our lives.

We drift away with the food options in a restaurant because we don’t really don’t think it is important to think about what we eat. We drift away with our emotions because the people around us are perhaps too busy to hold us accountable or wary of showing us the mirror. We drift away with our work as we forget that work is an important part of our lives but does not define completely who we are. We drift away from our family and parents by not thinking about them and letting them fade into the background of our lives. Before we know it, we tend to drift away from ourselves and all the things and people who, to begin with, had meant the world to us and reach a point where we forget what we stand for. Every time we exclude our conscious self from the decisions leading up to our action, we lose a little control of our lives.

And then, one fine day, at the end of an uncontrollable outburst or a lost relationship or an estranged spouse or child, we realize, that all this while, we thought we were busy making a living, we were losing control over our life, bit by bit by bit.

We are and will continue to be, solely responsible for ourselves. Watch for signs in universe around you that remind you of this every now and then. Choose to be in charge. Ctrl + U.

This post is a reproduction of my weekly column  written for The Goan (http://thegoan.net).

The long wait

FamilyLivingPicture1I met this really old woman the other day at a party. She came by, assisted by a younger woman and sat at our table. She had this permanent, apologetic smile on her face and kept on looking at me and my friend, waiting for us to say something. We did say something polite and she replied – ‘This is old age. I have lost all of my five senses and I am unable to hear you. I am waiting for God to locate my file so he can finally call me to be with him’. I had this strange urge to just walk up and run away or just get up and hug her or just say something to comfort her but I did nothing of the sort. I just kept sitting, looking at her, trying hard to smile, feeling a strange sharp feeling – I don’t know what it was – maybe sorrow or fear or perhaps guilt. It made me think of all the people in my family who were getting old – the pain they were all going through, silently. In that moment, I prayed for all of them and their happiness.

I don’t know what it is about old age – like they say – it is your second childhood. I shudder to think how one must feel as one grows older – living with multiple medical issues which only get worse; getting up every morning, hoping someone might remember to call you or make the time to meet you.

It is like we treat our children sometimes – thinking we know what they want better than they do, when we actually don’t. My heart goes out to all the old people around me and I remember the irritation I used to feel as a teenager when I would find myself standing behind one of them in a queue. Maybe this is what growing up is all about, knowing that you are getting closer to being there yourself. It makes me think – how do I want my old age to be? How do I want people around me, my child to treat me then? What can I do today, to help them prepare for the future and what lies ahead of them? Who knows how long we have?

Wanting to stay young and being with young people is the easier thing to do. Choosing to make a difference to people who are growing old is tougher. Why the wait?

This post is a reproduction of my weekly column  written for The Goan (http://thegoan.net).

Breaking free from ‘stuck’

Break-the-CycleSo many times, we find ourselves saying that we cannot help our situation because we believe that we are really stuck. We might find ourselves stuck in the wrong relationship or the wrong job or the wrong house. Despite what we go through everyday, we choose to remain stuck. That’s right – we are stuck by choice – well, in most cases, we know that is true. We might choose to remain stuck because we believe any change might upset our life’s balance, render a few people unhappy, unsettle a few minds and what not. So, we decide to become the sacrificial lamb instead and drown ourselves in self-pity every day for many days, months, even years. The result is often something that we might not want to admit or know about. Nervous breakdowns, depressions, lack of self-worth and a lack of desire to live in general are red flags for us to take action.

I know of a friend who believes her health is going down the drain as she is stuck in a very stressful job, unhappy with her situation at home and believes her kids are getting impacted too. Nobody would really choose such an unhappy situation. Perhaps what seems ‘more’ important to her is the desire to earn more money and to sustain a ‘socially acceptable’ lifestyle. That is really where the key lies – in prioritising our needs and wants. So often, we let our ‘perceived needs’ govern the course of our lives. Often, we do this at the cost of our qualitative wants and desires. We let go of that walk in the morning for the new job because it pays us more money; we forget how we used to love reading books because we are too busy at work and no longer permit ourselves the time to do what truly brings us joy.

Many of us find ourselves caught in the quagmire of what we really want but believe we cannot have, as just we cannot let go of the comfort of our present.

We spend far too much time thinking about how sad our situation is and how we wish something better might happen but we don’t really spend much time working out alternatives to get ourselves ‘unstuck’. The truth is, sometimes, we prefer the sadness of being ‘stuck’ than the likely happiness that a changed situation might present to us. More often than not, miracles happen to those who work towards making them happen, every single day.

The last time you felt ‘stuck’, how strong was your desire to be unstuck? How many options did you generate to get ‘unstuck’? Did you stop after your first try? Did you believe that a miracle might happen simply by waiting for it or did you work towards being ‘unstuck’, relentlessly?

As they say, if we want something real bad, the universe conspires to bring it to us. The point is, are we ready for it? Are you ready for being ‘unstuck’?

This post is a reproduction of my weekly column  written for The Goan (http://thegoan.net).

The guilt tax

thought2This is a touchy subject so let me start with a disclaimer that I really don’t intend to judge anyone for their actions – never have, never will. After all, we are the best judge of ourselves and the actions we take. There are so many instances I could recall in general from my life and the lives of those around me, when I sensed someone feeling guilty or felt guilty myself. You might be able to relate to some of them too I guess.

The time when you perhaps forgot a dear one’s birthday or a special occasion and tried hard to make up for it by splurging and going overboard with your gift? Or the time when you had a bad fight and realised later it was completely uncalled for and tried all kinds of things to somehow wipe off the event? Or the time when you found yourself slipping away with your emotions, bordering or even crossing the line with legitimate relationships and then being extra nice at home, sending lovey-dovey messages or flowers? Or how about you really wanted to spend that time with your child and just could not manage it and somehow thought some treats (mostly unhealthy) might make up for it?

There are many more…maybe some we witness every few days. The interesting thing is that most times, our guilt tax ends up being something material. Guilt is monetized. The guiltier we feel, the more we might end up paying as tax.

However, nobody I know is into the guilt tax collection business. People are in relationships and there is love (of varying kinds) in relationships. You give love, you get love. That’s really how relationships work. Love is given by spending time with people who mean something to us, doing the things they love to do…listening to them…making their unexpressed wishes come true.

In fact, I would tend to think that every time we pay a monetized guilt tax, we might run the risk of demeaning a relationship. A chocolate? Is that really what someone’s happiness is worth? Or flowers? Or an expensive watch? Is that really what you believe might give your loved one the happiness they deserve?

How about giving some thought as a tax? Think about what might be valuable to them? What might be something that would truly delight them and make them forget about what you did not do? I have tried it a couple of times myself and it does give me a great feeling at the end of it.

So here is what I propose – don’t monetize your guilt. Choose to pay ‘thought’ tax. Try it the next time you feel guilty – hopefully over time, you won’t have many more such reasons to be guilty .

This post is a reproduction of my weekly column  written for The Goan (http://thegoan.net).

A sheen that lasts

11222sssx12q222111211a1The zeal to live and be happy in new ways despite setbacks is the long known secret formula behind being eternally beautiful. Being a woman, I know how much time so many of us spend on keeping our sheen. Sheen for some of us, could be the way we look and hence spending time shopping or pampering ourselves with massages at spas is what we believe keeps our sheen. It could be the way we keep our house and hence ensuring that it is clean every day and presented well every time is important to us. While many of our choices are related to what is on the outside, we often don’t really think much about getting our sheen from the inside.

Many of us might be earning well, be able to afford exotic vacations, be able to buy expensive cars, new clothes for each occasion, yet feel that life has lost its charm. It is not like we might jump out of bed every day and say – Yeah! I love my life! Some of us would rather wish that the night extended a bit so we could get just some more rest or get up wishing our boss was out sick or that magically it was declared a holiday. Yet, we go on, working on the sheen at the surface, trying to shine up what people see.

So how do you get your ‘inner sheen’ back? It is not that tough really – think of some of the things that give you happiness – a walk in the park, a musical evening, a bicycle ride- are all good ways of bringing some sheen back. These would be akin to doing a facial. You get a glow that lasts for a short period of time and then? The ‘inner sheen’ is really about creating a schedule which you can sustain for a longer period of time. Try a meditation routine or a signing up for swimming classes or perhaps challenge yourself to learn something new. Consider painting or writing for instance or just associating yourself with an NGO or a social initiative in your city. If you have tried these and could not sustain something, it could mean one of two things. Either what you picked is not working for you or what is more likely that your work schedule is such that it does not permit you to sustain your activity.

Diverting your energies in a direction other than your day-to-day work to do something that you like to do is sure to provide you a sheen that lasts. It is your botox shot. Much less expensive and pleasurable to say the least! Sharing your intention with someone who is likely to support you and to hold you accountable is likely to bring you success.

So what sheen formula would you pick? A facial or a botox?

This post is a reproduction of my weekly column  written for The Goan (http://thegoan.net).

What a girl wants

thinking-girlWhen I was a child, I wanted to grow up. When I went to school, I wanted to get to college. When I got through college, I wanted to go to another city. When I went to college in another city, I could not wait to get back home.

When I finished college, I wanted a job. When I got a job, I wanted to earn more. When I wanted to buy a really great music system to listen to music, I could not afford one. When I could afford it, I no longer had time to listen to it. When I wanted to travel to all countries, I did not have the right company to travel with. When I found good company, the only travel that was possible was for business and was alone.

When I wanted to quit my job, I could not afford to. Do you notice a pattern here? I did. After all these years of wanting and waiting and wanting and waiting, I realized that I was stuck in this never ending cycle and I just had to break it. I decided to break free. I decided to just do what I wanted and when I wanted it and not wait for a moment to present itself to me in the future, when, who knows, I might no longer be able to appreciate what I wanted in the first place!

I am no longer governed by what I want and cannot have. I look at what I have and what I can do with it.

A completely different perspective and very liberating. Try it…only you can break the cycle. Choose to be happy with what you have, now, as wants never end.

Stuck in the wrong job

Reading your post ‘Stuck to Unstuck’, I realized I have been stuck in one wrong job after another for the last 3 years and am unable to be happy at my workplace. How can I break out of this?

-Anonymous from Mormugao

Dear Ms. X, first of all, congratulations on taking the first step of acknowledging that there is a situation you are in which needs to change. Many of us find ourselves ‘stuck’ in the wrong kind of jobs and it is sometimes because we have not really given much thought to what we really like to do. It is important to think about what you are really about, what gives you true happiness, how much time are you really spending on doing those things and what is getting in your way. You might find one of my blog posts on ‘Design Your Life’ in aboutcoaching.wordpress.com useful in this context. Coaching can help you get more clarity on the underlying issues which might be getting in your way and can help you design a life that you deserve, in a practical way. Should you be interested in booking a trial session with me, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. Cheers to a life that is ours to choose.

This post is a reproduction of my weekly column  written for The Goan (http://thegoan.net).