Let go of the box

While decluttering is certainly something I am passionate about, this post is not about that 🙂

Did you know, that every day, 7% of our body cells change and replace themselves? In terms of volume, as shared by Tom Chi, co-founder of Google X, that is about one arm of our body. In a year, about 98% of our body cells have changed. Which basically means that every day, we become a new person. In fact, every moment, there is something in us which is changing.

The same phenomena happens with every living being, every moment. Change, as we know, then, is truly, the only constant. It is interesting to note how suddenly, so many things can be explained with this one concept.

Think about a few years ago, the person you remember being, your choices, your ideas, your beliefs –  it seems like a different you, almost like a past life. Well, as explained by science, it clearly was a different you! Now think about the people you live with. For people who stay with families, you can now understand why sometimes you feel disconnected from the same people you felt connected with at one point; why you feel they have changed and you have trouble identifying with them. So much so, that sometimes you start questioning your own self and your set of choices.

Well, there is good news! You probably made the choices which were right for you at that point in time and then, change happened, bit by bit, every day. New thoughts led to new experiences and more change happened, every day. During this time, people around you were changing too, bit by bit, every day. As Barbara Frederickson explains in Love 2.0, love is connection. How connected you were with our family on a daily basis, would explain how connected you feel after a few years. Robin Sharma says that the secret to your success lies in your daily routine – the same goes for relationships. The secret to a successful relationship lies in your daily connection.

So now, the box.

I find it fascinating that as human beings, we love boxes. We find a box that we think we fit in and we get into it – let us say it is the box of a working professional, who is also a parent, and so on. Everyday, as we are changing, the box tries to keep up with us and then one fine day, we realise that we don’t fit into that box any more. It clearly happens with women I know after they have a child and then they try to find new boxes to fit in. The mom box is a tricky one 😉

Either ways, the thing is, when we outgrow a box and try to find a different box to fit into, what we don’t realise is that we are going to soon outgrow that too. It is just that brief comfort that makes us want to find one anyways. I am going to be off work now and will just be a housewife or I will now be an entrepreneur and will work from home or I will just sit back and enjoy life.

No wonder then, when people ask us for an introduction, we start sharing the labels on our boxes (mostly including past ones, even though we feel disconnected with them), little realising that we are not the box. We have never been the box and we have never identified completely with only one box. And when we have tried to do that, we have felt limited and restricted and whether we acknowledge it or not, it has caused us more pain than giving us comfort.

YOU are not the box. So who are you? An infinite, limitless, abundant being. I know – might sound too blah blah or fuzzy and might us uncomfortable, especially for those of us who love definitions and prefer structures. But well, you are infinite. Everything is connected and you are limitless. Let go of the box. You don’t belong in it. Nobody does.

One million people do not get up in the morning everyday. You did. You read this post. And you still want to go back to the box? Let go of the box. Just be.

P.S. I watched this video that said – How to save the world in 3 simple steps. Do watch it. Bottomline – meditate. Try using Insight Timer. It is an awesome App and will get you started 🙂 Enjoy!

 

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When Plan B fails

quotefancy-106928-3840x2160People who know me might smile reading the title of this blogpost. I am known to be a planner and I almost always, have a plan. Sometimes, I also have a plan for when I cannot have a plan. I know it sounds absurd but here I am, like so many of you out there..who had a plan A that did not work. It happened again with me recently. I had a plan B, that did not work. While my unconscious mind kept working on Plan C and Plan D, I had a lot of trouble accepting what made my plans not work. Stephen Covey has talked about it one of my favorite books – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. There are things in our life that are in our control and then, there are things in our life, which are not. The things that are not in our control, should they even be a part of our plans, in the first place? No easy answer, this one, but usually, these are the things that make my plans fail. No matter how much we might be able to anticipate something not working, what we might never be able to fully estimate, is HOW wrong something could go. HOW much delay can something cause? HOW bad can it be? HOW low will this person go? It surprises me HOW so many times, it is that HOW that I am unable to estimate. It might be attributed to my belief that people are in general, smart and out to do the right thing. What happens along the way, is sometimes, best left a mystery. What is important, however, is learning how to cope with these failures. Over the years, I have tried many strategies – from my early years of writing nasty emails to giving people a piece of my mind to talking to other people about how something or someone is so not worth it. However, none of these really have made any difference to my state of mind and in fact, have only added to my frustration levels. The only thing that has worked, each and every time, is to productively redirect my energy into something that is of value. When I was young, I used to sometimes wash utensils in the kitchen when I was very angry. Today, I run down the stairs from my 15th floor apartment and take a long, brisk walk. These are only good to dissipate the negative energies that are brewing inside. What works, finally, to get oneself back to a positive state of mind, is a lot of self talk. In coaching parlance, this is referred to as self-coaching. I often find myself reminding myself of the larger view of life, of how insignificant that one instance or interaction might be and how grateful I am for everything else that is going right. So what works, when all plans fail, is just your intention to make things work. Just keep that and see how things fall into place. They take time, but they make the wait much easier and less stressful. Have you experienced failures of your plans? What have you done in such cases? Share with me, I would love to know! P.S. I have written a blog after ages! I feel as if I had never taken a break. I was working on my book, which is finally done. I hope to write a blog about it soon 🙂

Refuse to accept

whatever-course-you-decide-upon-there-is-always-someone-to-tell-you-that-you-are-wrong-ralph-waldo-emersonOver the last decade, I have had an opportunity to closely observe many family customs, rituals and practices. I feel blessed having been raised in a family that had a democratic set up. There are certain practices that my parents followed and while we were always encouraged to participate and contribute in whatever way I could, there was really no compulsion to do anything especially if it did not resonate with us.

Over time, this practice has become so deeply ingrained in me that I find it to be an extremely empowering way of dealing with situations in which people around me ‘expect’ me to do some things. Of course some people frown when I question them with the intent of helping them break free from age-old customs that they resentfully follow without questioning their rationale.

Your child turned one? Great! What would happen if you don’t splurge the money on inviting people who really have no reason to feel thrilled and instead, open a bank account for securing your child’s future? A baby boy was born in your family (very Indian :)) ? Congratulations! How would buying clothes and jewellery for relatives help you or the baby boy? What else could you do with that money? You just bought a new house? Yeeaah! It is time for celebration! You would need more money to settle in so why not celebrate modestly. Sure everyone likes to share happiness but it is important to remember the point. Share happiness. Why does money have to play a critical role in that?

Most times we tend to fall into this trap of ‘people will expect’ or ‘people will think’..when what we forget is..we are those people too! By doing exactly what has been done and what
other people expect, you are saying ‘Yes, I agree. That’s the right thing to do’. If you genuinely believe that, go right ahead. But, if even for a moment, you find your energy draining at the thought of doing that task, know that it is a signal your body is giving you to rethink your actions.

Refuse to accept things as they are. Make your own decisions about what works for you. You can do whatever you want to. The only person who stops you from doing that, is mostly, you.

Shape up

keep-calm-and-prepare-yourself-1Imagine that every relationship you are in, presents itself in a 3-D shape. Choose your favorite shape – a sphere or a cuboid or whatever.  Imagine you are in it, with the person with whom you share this relationship. And this could be any relationship – of any kind. Could be with someone from the family or a friend or an employer perhaps. The point being, that when we are in a relationship, we try and sustain the shape we are in. We try our best to let the cuboid remain a cuboid and not transform itself into a sphere lest it create discomfort for us. We hence, also try and play it safe with our relationships and fear experimentation.

As and when we find the nature of our relationships (viz.  the shape we are in), changing, from what we originally thought it might be, we start feeling uncomfortable and do take a while to get accustomed to the ‘newness’ it presents to us. No wonder then, we take time to ‘settle’ into a new relationship..are unsure..need time..and all of that. We are really trying to figure out what shape we are in and how to keep it from distorting.

The birth of a child does, in most cases I know of, unsettle relationships. Could it be because we forget that with the addition of one more person, it is time for a new shape and we perhaps are still trying to force fit ourselves and everyone else into the old one? A parent moving in with his / her children or a child moving out once he / she grows up; a spouse who has started to work or another who has given it up – all present us with an opportunity to recreate the shape of the space we are in so that it becomes a comfortable setting for all.

So, why would we, then, want to be fixated with something that is old and want to retain it, knowing that it has the potential to make everyone uncomfortable?

Welcome change. It is an opportunity to create life all over again.

So, what shape are you in?

The Bridge

T-C-header-cleanerRemember those times when someone who you thought you knew really well, did something or said something which stumped you and you thought ‘And I thought I knew this person all this while..’? I have a theory on why we end up in situations where we end up disappointed and would love to hear from you what you think about this.

This is not the Charles’ Darwin theory of evolution…but well, on similar lines, the theory of evolution of the psychology of people. Human beings, we all know, have evolved and we continue to evolve biologically. We do know that over time, our brain and our capabilities have evolved too. We are witnessing some of the youngest minds prove themselves better than some of the older, experienced ones and certainly, evolution is apparent. The thing to think about, and honestly, I found this thought a bit spooky, is that everyone around us, is evolving, constantly and well, so are we.

So? The thing is, that if we know that everyone around us is evolving, then, are we evolving at the same pace? The answer in many cases might be – not always. We all know of relationships that sour over time or just lose that spark or children who find they can no longer connect with their parents or vice versa. What happens? Well..everyday, each of us, go through a whole bunch of thoughts, feelings and emotions. We might think something, feel something and end our day with some thoughts. Every day, we evolve. We don’t know into what and we don’t know by how much and most people around us don’t know that too because they are busy evolving too!

If we did consciously acknowledge this constant evolution, then, perhaps we would get up in the morning and think..ok…now, let me think about how my spouse might have evolved post this travel and what I need to do to get up to speed so I can evolve a bit in that direction…or we might sit down with our friend and recount the many experiences and feelings and emotions they have been through to gather the extent and the direction of their evolution?

The less we do pay attention to this, the more surprised we are, at some point in time. We just wake up one day and say..I have no idea who this person is! Of course we have no idea! How would we, when we have not kept up with their evolution or shared about ours?

Relationships, by that construct, would be these continually broken down, vanishing and rebuilt bridges, connecting two people, who are moving from one stage of evolution to the next. The more disconnected we keep ourselves from the evolution of people around us, the wider and weaker our bridges might become.

So..did you rebuild your bridge today?

Spiderman!

blog-3My 4 year old daughter loves Spiderman (she loves Barbie too, so I am not worried, really ;)). I was watching Spiderman 2 with her the other day and I realized that, well, each of us, is like Spiderman (minus the web..let me explain).

In one scene, Spiderman was utterly and totally frustrated with his evening sojourns and in that moment, he received advice from his dead uncle’s spirit. He said to Spiderman – ‘You have a choice’. The next day, Spiderman decided to take a break from being Spiderman for somedays to get back to being himself. He dumped his costume in a garbage bin and walked away…and he was happy!

Of course there is a longer story to it else what would the kids watch, right? But let’s hold the story at that point when he dumps his suit.

Isn’t that so much like each of us? Each day, we try to be something – something that is superlative, something that we believe the world expects of us, something like Spiderman. Sometimes, carrying the weight of being that somebody seems like a burden to us. It might be the weight of being a dutiful son or daughter when all you want to do is to go out on a date..it might be the weight of being a mother when all you want is to travel away to a quiet place..away from the madness..it might be the weight of being a star employee when all you want is to just say ‘that’s enough..let me be’ or some other weight…we all tend to carry some weight at some point of time.

All it takes is letting go of that weight. I know we might believe that we are not in a position to let go of the weight and we don’t have a choice. But, well, we do. Imagine that you are wearing a costume of that responsibility and imagine dumping it into the garbage bin, just like Spiderman! Now imagine that you are free and are living the life you want to. What costume do you imagine wearing now? Once you have visualized it, imagine placing it in your wardrobe forever. You can wear it any time you want. You can get really creative with this and let your designer instincts come to the fore.

The point being..you can choose to not wear the weight that you feel is wearing you down..let go of it. Even if it is for a while, you can let go of it. Wear something else instead…which makes you look better and makes you feel happier. You could wear the costume of a lovely princess instead of a dutiful daughter or wear the costume of a highly successful and dynamic woman instead of a full time mom…or anything else you might. Be who you want to be. There’s no stopping Spiderman..is there?

Note to my readers: This is how the Belief Closet methodology works. It is an extremely powerful technique to help you change your beliefs. It was introduced to me by a practitioner of this methodology and I can totally vouch for its results. 

Forward. Rewind. Replay.

122/365 || ResetAs I was sharing my life story with a fabulous story coach of international repute today, who is creating a pool of inspiring life stories across the globe, I discovered a pattern about the way I have been making decisions in life.

Making a decision, almost always, is about weighing the options one has and then thinking about the pros and cons before weighing in on one of the options. I use ‘almost always’ because there are times when accepting what comes our way and making peace with it, is sometimes, the only good choice to make when not many options are available to us, other than denial, of course.

So let’s say, something happens, which you were not expecting to happen. You now need to deal with it and make a decision. How do you decide? Try this. Take each option and fast forward your life post making that decision. e.g. If I take up this job now, then this might happen..and then that might happen…then…and you arrive at a certain set of things that might or might not seem appealing. The further you are able to fast forward, the better you might be able to choose. Hold these thoughts and start focusing on the option which seems the most appealing to you. Make that a ‘wannabe’ goal for yourself. Now move into a rewind mode..get back to where you are today. An then start playing your life afresh. So, if that is what I might end up with, then this is what I need to do now – to get to it. It works. This is really nothing but using your intuition for making decisions. The decisions you might end up making as a result of this would be better accepted by you and hence by people around you and are likely to leave you a much happier person.

The key is to stay focused on what would work for us in the future and the vision that we find compelling. That way, we would find our vision pulling us towards it and our chances of realizing it would be much higher.

We could, however, also use the converse of this technique to one’s benefit if our intent is to focus on something we have been neglecting for a long time, like health, for instance. Say, you want to lose weight but find that you are not able to exercise or follow a diet. In this kind of a situation, when we already have a pre-determined goal, if we focus on the things that can go wrong, we might be propelled towards action. So let’s say you have been advised to lower your cholesterol levels and you want to reduce your cholesterol by changing your eating habits. What could possibly happen if you don’t do something about it? And then..? And then..? And…is that what you really want? If not, then what should you do about it..now?

Every time you catch yourself slipping back into your comfort zone thinking you might want to take action some other time, fast forward to the worst possible outcome. Make that your driving force. You will do something about it because you don’t want to end up like that.

Have you tried this sometime? Would love to hear what your experience has been 🙂