Mattering

I am writing after a long break but it is wonderful I am able to write in this year before it morphs into a new decade! So – yay!

Talking of the arrival of a new decade, I have to say that time is a strange thing. It is something we have made up, to keep track of things we believe we ought to do. Yet, the most powerful moments I remember in my life have been those which render our beings into timelessness, allowing our awareness to flow as if we were air, knowing no obstacles, able to find our way into and through anything that might present itself to us at that time.

Wait, I know I said I am writing about mattering so hold on – I will share how this idea of time links to the subject in a bit ­čÖé

I have been pondering on the subject of ‘mattering’ since a few years now. Often in fleeting moments, sometimes when during the day when the topic has caught my mind space, unprecedented and sometimes during my sleep state perhaps. It is only in the past few days when this topic has take shape beyond my own self that I have decided to write about it. I have always been fascinated with the idea of being able to find interconnections between things and ideas and ‘mattering’ is a subject which seems to impel me to do so.

Britannica┬ádefines┬áMatter as ‘a material substance that constitutes the observable universe and, together with energy, forms the basis of all objective phenomena’. In other terms, what seems to have matter, seems to exist as it takes up space and we can observe its properties.

In my work with women, more and more, I have been intrigued and a bit distraught I have to admit, with the growing phenomenon of educated, talented and very bright women feeling a lack of purpose and confidence. A deeper look into their lives brings to fore this very idea of mattering. Having given into their duties and responsibilities, complying with the idea of what a woman ought to do, bit by bit, some have perhaps let go of pieces of themselves, finding themselves in a state of incompleteness. This often brings with it a sense of vacuum which creates an unexplained dissatisfaction and leaves one feeling less that whole. So how did we allow this vacuum get created in the first place? From a fully functioning, bright and shiny person, how did one end up in this space? I suspect it has to do with mattering. I can say this because I have lived with this void for a while in the past.

As we go along in our day to day chores, buying groceries, tending to the house work, managing children and many times the spouse, we tend to sideline the human need we have for being acknowledged, for being thanked and for being held in the awareness of another. I find in more and more households today, men tend to travel extensively, leaving the woman to fend for herself and the children. Despite being in a relationship, many women tend to bring up their children mostly, by themselves with an occasional guest appearance from the spouse. This phenomenon has become so rampant that I almost feel we need a new word in the dictionary for this kind of parenting that children of today, receive. It is a convenient arrangement I must say. Many times the women are made to believe that this is the only way the household can run. The man must travel to keep up his job else how would the bills be paid? Well…trapped between the responsibility of raising a child and managing the household, having lost their financial independence so as to better manage this added responsibility, women tend to find themselves at a loss of ‘mattering’.

In between travels, home is a temporary stop for the bread winner to repack, refill and restore themselves, leaving little time for things like conversations and love. ┬á‘Mattering’ hangs, droopy eyed, on the window sill somewhere in the house, mostly in the bedroom and slowly, shifts somewhere around the dining area, where half a family mostly gathers to eat. So what is going on? I would like to believe that the men are very sincerely tending to their work during travels but we all do know that a night here and there is easy to extend to make space for having a good time. What that means, is open to interpretation of course ­čÖé

For the spouse back home, it is a reduction in mattering. It is to seek this very completion that many men and women today, indulge in extra marital affairs. They come and go – like breeze. They might or might not be long standing or serious, they might not last, but they are rampant and statistics are alarming.

While people can fret and stomp and go crazy when they discover what is going on in (behind their backs – well, mostly in front of their eyes, if one were to acknowledge the truth), if we were to take a bird eye’s view, there is only compassion to be felt for everyone in the situation.┬áFor this is about – ‘mattering’. Women (and men too, I believe), over time, start feeling a lack of connection with the very person with whom they read the vows. Where there is extensive travel, there is little opportunity to connect. There is dwindling eye contact, mostly due to a lack of physical presence and then over time, it is due to a lack of intentional effort leading to poignant lack of meaningful words. There are sometimes cold wars and harsh periods of silence or words that stumble to make incoherent feelings, caused mostly by an absence of receiving the other person as they are, due to the wall of our own individuality that we build around us. ‘Me, my needs and my desires’, is all about ‘my mattering’.

So what is the point? What is the workaround? Let us start focusing on the matter. Let us create moments of ‘mattering’ and those moments that render us into ‘timelessness’. How? I have come to believe that each of us are complete in ourselves. Before you sign me off as a cynic, know that this is really the ultimate truth. This whole notion of someone, someday will say or do something and life will be happy every after is not only impractical but also unreal. What if we knew that we are complete, now. In this very moment? What if, you knew, that the only person who needs to make you feel as if we matter, is you?

Times are changing and we are living in an era of self-love and self-reliance and that is the smartest way to deal with your big load of ‘mattering’ – by simply dropping it. Be the matter. Because you are the matter. You literally carry all the matter you are with you and in you. Create those moments of timelessness that take you where only you can go. Go watch a meteor shower, watch the sea waves, stare at the sunset, listen to the birds chirp. It is a beautiful world out there. What finally matters is that you are alive, now. You are well and you are able to breathe. Nothing else matters. As for those moments of connection and parts of you which you left somewhere along the way, they will all come to unite with you, in the hushed silence of the night in your sleep.

The One Minute Hack

I don’t have time – as I often say – is the world’s favourite excuse. If something does not make it to the top of our priority list, we are forever caught up in our world of excuses. And we all know, that does not help. It only makes things worse as we start getting that feeling of inadequacy, of not being able to do enough, as a result of which, it only reinforces our belief that we cannot do this or that.

So let’s say, you want to start an exercise regime (it seems to be the most common issue for working moms wherever I go, hence I am taking this example). You haven’t been able to do that because of the one hundred reasons you know best. So what do you do?

One of the very powerful things I learnt in a day long session I attended on Veganism by Dr. Nandita Shah recently, was ‘Don’t do nothing just because you can’t do everything‘. If you think about it, that is really what it boils down too. It is our biggest obstacle. We do not think we will ever be able to make that one hour in a day so we never get started with exercise.

My spiritual teacher, Nithya Shanti, has taught me many things but one thing which I find extremely relevant to all of us who might be feeing stuck, is the power of 1% improvement. Here is what he says – “If we make 1% positive change everyday for a year, which means 0.01 change compounded 365 times, then in a year, there will be an improvement of 37.78 times of what we had a year earlier. There is power in small wins and slow gains. That is why mastering your habits is more important than achieving a certain outcome’.

So let us go back to our original problem statement – you don’t have time to exercise. Give yourself a 1 minute challenge. I am taking 1 minute because I am sure you cannot say I don’t have 1 minute. If you would like to start with a stretch goal, go ahead, take 5 minutes. Stay with that. Can you commit to doing 1 minute of exercise everyday for 3 weeks? Habit changes need 21 days hence the 3 weeks. Can you? What do you want to do for that 1 minute? Pick anything – spot jogging or breathing exercise or a set of 7 super brain yoga. Can you just do this one thing you pick for just one minute, without fail, everyday for 21 days? If you can, you will be able to then learn, that you can, indeed make time for yourself. You can then challenge yourself to 15 minutes and then to whatever works for you. The key is no exceptions. No matter what happens, no matter where you are, no matter how you are feeling, just stick to that time you have committed to yourself.

So there, that is the 1-minute hack. If it sounds oversimplified, it is because it is ­čÖé Who says life is┬ácomplicated? It isn’t, really. Choose to simplify your goals. Nobody is measuring your improvement or tracking your consistency. Only you are ­čÖé Can you do it? Remember –┬áDon’t do nothing just because you can’t do everything!

P.S. If you have watched Dangal and would like some inspiration from a celebrity, look up Aamir Khan’s video on YoutTube on how he lost the weight that he had put on.┬áThat is his mantra too. Don’t worry about the end goal of inches or kgs or speed. Just be at it, one┬áday at a time.

The journey

2Often times we find ourselves thinking of the past and wondering what prompted us to do what we did or what could possibly justify our actions in the past.

Every time I have caught myself thinking that, I try and steer my thoughts towards what I might have missed out on had I made a different choice. What if..this…or what if…that..?

We can continue to dwell in a world of what ifs or we can instead, move into a realm of acceptance. We can choose to accept the fact that like most people, we are, most of the times, thinking, rational beings. The choices we made in the past, were,┬áhence, a result of the thoughts that transpired at that time. This does, however, pose a danger, in the sense, we can then use this to justify any ‘wrong’ that we might believe we have done. It is, hence, important to also trace back to the thoughts that led us to make those choices.┬áIf this is what I thought and that is the choice I made, I was left feeling so┬áand so about it.

What happened was important, as without that, we would never know how we would feel. If we do intend to not feel that again or if we wish to change the outcome, we need to replace our thoughts with other thoughts and see how the related outcome changes.

In essence, nothing that happened in the past was not intended to happen. Can you accept that? Nothing in life is a coincidence nor does anything happen by chance. We are where we are, thinking what we are thinking, doing what we are doing, because that moment is meant to teach us something. Once we have learned what we were meant to learn, we move on to the next moment and create a different outcome.

Many religions and philosophies, including Buddhism talk about infinite possibilities in every single moment of time. If we think about the number of choices we have every single minute, we might feel overwhelmed. Hence, the way things unfold, it seems someone is making that choice for us. It is, in fact, we, ourselves, who make that choice. We make that choice by default by not acknowledging that other possibilities exist.

When you say hello, there are so many possibilities of how you say it. How loud, how soft, how energetic, how engaging, how detached, think about it. Even that one word has an impact on the resulting possibilities that get created in the environment around us.

It is convenient to not think about these as this means more work ­čÖé The point is, we are all living our lives for a purpose..if some of us haven’t found it yet, we are unlikely to find it unless we recognize the choices we have every moment.

So how do you want the rest of your journey to be? Would you like to continue in the greys, blissfully ignoring the possibility of colors around you or would you like to paint each moment with a color of your choice?

HELP

Be_StrongHELP – a four letter word, one that I have known so many to shy away from.

For some of us, asking for help is admitting our weakness or inability to solve our own problems. Our ego gets in the way and we want to believe that we are perfectly capable of solving our own problems. The good news is that it is true. Each of us is in fact, very capable of solving our problems. The bad news is, not many of us are able to do so, alone. Asking for help is really, the best thing we can do to move towards solving our problem.

What kind of help are we talking about? All kinds, really. A mother asking her child to help her in keeping the child’s room organized is a good example of asking for help. It engages the child and inculcates a sense of responsibility and pride in the child. The mother might feel lesser of a victim and less burdened with household chores.

A person asking his / her significant other for an opinion about a work situation is asking for help. Getting a different perspective can only help in finding a solution.

A professional or an entrepreneur asking a colleague to share how he / she would have dealt with a seemingly complex business decision is really asking for help.

These might seem very simplistic examples but the interesting thing is, many of us, choose to take our problems and worries to bed with us and shy away from asking for help.

Most times, we don’t really think that people around us might understand our situation or be willing to offer their thoughts. The fact is, we have already made up our minds that our situation is helpless and we are quick to give up.

Agreed that not everyone is equipped to solve our problems though there are many people we know, whom we have just not considered reaching out to. Think about that one relative who has always made sense to you or been your role model. Think about that long lost friend who you know has always been willing to help. Think about your colleagues at work, the ones you look up to. What stops you from asking for help? What is the worst that could happen? Would it be worse than not being able to solve it?

Choose to ask for help. Sharing is a great stress-buster. Believe that someone in the universe around you, has an answer to your problem and is waiting for you to reach out.

Not sure whom to approach? Try coaching. You might not get the solution to your problem but you would certainly be able to find the path ahead. To book a trial session, email me at namrata.arora@growth-cube.com.

Survival by Denial

denial1Living with the acceptance of everything that is going on around us can be a very painful thought for some of us. I was reflecting on a book I was reading recently and then on a recent clipping in the newspaper about how a mother chose to not acknowledge what was going on in her daughter’s life ┬áand chose to live in denial.

Looking back in my past, thinking about the lives of people I know, I realized that so many of us have spent so many years living in denial. I know of women who have known their husbands are having an affair and chose to deny that as they just did not have the courage to deal with what might surface. I know of mothers who know their children are suffering from ADHD but choose to deny it because it really does take courage to be able to accept what might follow. I know of people who are growing old and refusing to accept that aging has set in. They find it unbelievable that their bodies are no longer supporting their desired schedules and they have a very hard time dealing with things. I know of friends and relatives who continue to follow very hectic schedules to sustain their careers when they know that from a health standpoint, they have become ‘ticking time bombs’ which could explode at any time. They choose to deny the fact that they their overall energy levels have reduced and that their bodies now need a different type and degree of nutrition.

This is not to say that those of us who have lived in denial or continue to live in denial are wrong. As I had shared in one of my earlier blogposts, I don’t judge people. Why would I, when I have been in denial so many times myself..The point is, some of us do not acknowledge the fact that we are in denial till we reach a point when it is very late anyways. You deny the fact that you are putting on weight by not doing anything about it. You deny the fact that your child might be suffering or getting bullied at school by choosing to not talk about it. Denying what is going on around you, usually does not help in solving problems. What helps is acknowledging that there is a problem and starting to think of ways in which you could resolve them.

Accepting things can sometimes be very tough. It is important to have someone around to help you look at things in an objective manner and not get caught in the emotions of what you might uncover.

Hiring a coach can help you come to terms with situations you might have been denying. There are many coaches available today. Look for someone you think might be able to help you and give it a shot.

Deny denial the right to take over your life. It can help you survive but will not help you live happily.

About 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 a car, I could not buy one. When I finally bought one, I did not really need it. When I wanted to lose weight to look gorgeous in expensive designer clothes, nothing worked. When I lost weight, I wanted to buy a bicycle and not designer clothes.

When I wanted to quit my job, I could not afford to. Do you notice a pattern here? I did..just then…after all these years…of wanting and waiting and wanting and waiting.┬áI realized that I was stuck in this never ending cycle and I just had to break it. I did. 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…very liberating. Try it…only you can break the cycle..choose to be happy with what you have, now..wants never end..

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 spend..? Or the time when you had a bad fight and realized 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 kid 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.

The funny thing is..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 :).