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.

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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?

Choose to have fun!

DChitwoodWhenYouHaveFunAs we recover from the aftermath of the festivities around us and gear up to deal with more, it is perhaps, an opportune time for us to reflect on the feelings and emotions that we go through as we celebrate. Many of us find ourselves in a situation where we believe we have to attend a party, even though we know it is really not going to be fun. These might be parties at work or social gatherings with the relatives whom we don’t really connect with much at all. Let us dwell on these for a bit, keeping in mind my interpretation of the fundamental principle of life, which says that, in every situation, we have a choice. If we do decide that being somewhere would be an utter waste of our time and effort and we would rather spend time doing something else, perhaps it might be wiser to politely decline and to be done with it. What a great opportunity that opens up for us – we can plan to do something we have wanted to do for ages and get really creative with that time. Should we, however, lose the reasoning battle with ourselves and the people around us who matter, we might need to consider engaging in some self-talk. Back to the principle – we do have a choice. We can go to the party wallowing in self-pity, feeling a misfit and not end up happy (just like we had known and hence, planned) or, we can decide to have a great time even before we land up there. Visualization is a great tool in helping sportsmen gear up for victory and it does apply really well in day-to-day life too. Here’s how: Imagine that you will have a great time and start from there. Work your way backwards – to have a great time, what do I need to do? Look good, for sure. Go on, indulge yourself – get creative with what you wear. What about who I take along? Pick someone who will ensure you will have fun. You can always seek permission to bring a friend along – try it. Think about how you would want to engage with people, what would you want to talk about? Has there been something on your mind you want to know more about or is there something you are dying to tell someone? Is there someone you know who might be in the least bit interesting, whom you could consider talking to? And really, this does not imply planning for a flirtation but it could really just be a simple act of thoughtful networking. Find out more about what a couple of women whom you can connect with might be up to. Find out more about the recipes of the food you like. The point being – do whatever it takes – but make it a fun time for yourself. You can decide to have fun, even before you land up somewhere. Give it a shot! Cheers! This blogpost is a reproduction of my column ‘Her Point of You’ published in SHE section of The Goan (http://thegoan.net). If you are going through change or have been planning some kind of change in your life, coaching can help you. A coach works with you to help you move from point A to point B, ensuring that you hold yourself accountable for your progress. If you would like to know more about coaching and experience a trial coaching session, contact me via my website (http://growth-cube.com). Coaching works. Try it.

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 🙂

Let’s Pretend!

main-pane-rpPretense..what is the first word that comes to your mind when you hear this word? Acting? Play? Something else? (Do post a comment to share what came to your mind when you read this).

Being a single child, my daughter tends to try and make friends. Since she is just 4 and a bit shy, I noticed that she is not sure about how to approach people and initiate conversations. I decided to put my expertise of 14 years of learning and development to practice.

One of the most effective tools to teach anyone how to do something, esp. related to saying something and helping them practice a situation, is the use of role plays. I pretended to be her and she pretended to be her friend and we spoke about how we would initiate a conversation, what are some ways it could evolve etc. We did this a few times as she loved the concept of pretend play as do many children.

Later, as I was reflecting on how this was such an interesting way of teaching a child a different way to respond rather than using instructions, I figured it is, in fact, a very powerful way for adults to change their responses too.

I have tried it a few times myself. Sometimes, in the past, when I have found myself at a point when you just don’t know what to do, I have thought about someone I look up to and thought about what they might have done and attempted to do that. Eventually, I might have handled the situation differently than they might have but in that moment, I was able to get past my own block and move ahead with a response.

I think this might be an interesting way to try and address anger. If you are angry at someone for something (which you in all likelihood, know was not really done intentionally) and want to just lash out, think of yourself being in a role play. Imagine that you are lashing out at a funny bunny or that you are wearing an angel’s costume and are supposed to reprimand someone on stage. What would you say then? If you are able to control your laughter, you might end up smiling. That itself might change what follows. If you do this a few times and succeed in breaking your pattern of behavior, soon you would be able to develop your own unique way of dealing with the situation without having to resort to pretend play.

Choose to try new ways. Pretend. Let me know how that works for you.

If there is something you have been trying to resolve for a while and have not been able to get much headway, coaching can help you. To book a trial session with me, email me at namrata.arora@growth-cube.com. Do visit my website for more details. Cheers to a life that is ours to choose 🙂

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.