Sunday, 24 August 2014

Connections T2 Article Dated 24th Aug' 2014

"Love is just a word, the reality is the connection it implies."

— The Matrix Revolutions 

Much of our lives revolves around two major implicit fears — " I am not good enough" and " I am not loved". If you dig deeper, you'd realise that both these fears have an underlying theme — a need to " belong or feel connected". The unconscious thought is " I am not good enough to belong to this family/ parents/ society" and " I am not loved / accepted as part of the family/ herd". These fears can be manifested in a range of issues in our head, like fear of rejection, loneliness, isolation, low self- esteem and self-belief, feelings of not being lovable or deserving.

All our lives, we either fight these fears to prove them wrong, or we give in helplessly. Paradoxically, both choices often lead to the same outcome. For instance, if you have a predominant belief that you are not good, you may try to fight it by pushing yourself harder, aiming for higher goals or by becoming a perfectionist. But all this can actually put a lot of pressure and become the very reason for you to feel like a failure, as now no success is good enough for you. Or you may completely give up and not try by succumbing to the fear of " not being good enough". Similarly, you may become clingy, possessive, insecure and controlling when you think " I am not loved", and in turn may push love away when it knocks on your door! These fears are mostly fed by our childhood memories and experiences. 

Rizwana, a homemaker, is always panicky about her children, aged 11 and 8. " My happiest moments were when I first saw my children after they were born. But now I am always bitter with them. I shout at them, raise my hand and then feel terribly guilty. I feel I have forgotten to love them," she told us.
Rizwana wants her children to do well in life. She wants to make sure they are accepted and respected by her family, friends and society. What she is actually trying to do is ensure that her kids feel they "belong". But her children are feeling unloved by their mother and disconnected from their family. They show defiant behaviour and their mother's worst nightmare seems to be coming true.
We all may have encountered Rizwana's struggle, either in ourselves or in others. Yes, this problem may arise in any bond of love.
When we love someone, we fear losing the connection. We want to fit them into our idea of "how it should be". We want to change them to make sure they accept our point of view, our ideas, our needs, so that we feel connected to them. And this approach severs that very connection. As we operate from our own fear of disconnection, we contribute to the same fear in our loved ones.
Meaningful connections don't always happen naturally, but we can try to create them. Here are some tips on how to do that... 

Make an effort to bond with your family, friends and colleagues. Believe that you " belong" the way you are. Meet new people, make new connections. Don't try to prove anything, just be a part to share. Join a group class — painting, dancing, yoga, movie or book club; anything that you fancy. If you can't find one, you can start a book or movie club yourself.

Make friends: 
Across age, race, class and culture. Be open to learn newer ways of thinking. You don't have to agree on everything to be friends. Agree to disagree. Challenge the limits of your acceptance. Try not to judge, not to fix according to your value system. Greet more, listen more. Be more inclusive.

Do something meaningful: 
Join a cause or an initiative. Try to take out time for something that you consider is meaningful or for the greater good.

Help your kids to connect: 
As you discipline your children, also make sure to tell or show them that they are a part of the family and you love them. It is their behaviour you disapprove of, not them as a whole.
This needs to be conveyed often. Go on a family holiday and make a rule to not be on the phone during that period.

Dr Sangbarta Chattopadhyay and Dr Namita Bhuta are medical practitioners, psychotherapists and life coaches Share your problems with them at  dr. sangbarta@ gmail. com 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Comparison : T2 article dated 10th Aug' 2014

" Comparison is the thief of joy," said former US president Theodore Roosevelt

When I see my friend doing so well... happy... earning much more than I do, I doubt myself and question — did I choose wisely? I keep thinking that if I had stayed back and taken the same decision as him, I would have had the same life today."

That's Arnab who was happy with what he was doing and his future plans till he met a friend in Mumbai, who had started his own business, and began feeling unsure about his own life.
We keep comparing our lives with that of others. This can often be the reason for a lot of mental distress. More and more needs and wants are added in our life, creating disappointment, sadness and in some cases a sense of worthlessness.
The mother of a happy, healthy and active three- year- old girl came to us with the complain that her daughter was "not like others".
On inquiring, she said that her daughter only wanted to play with dolls and was not interested in any "extracurricular activities". Our conversation with her went as follows...

Mother: She is happy and obedient. If left alone, she is content playing with her dolls but she is least interested in drawing or dancing. I feel she is a little slow.
Therapist: What do you mean by slow?
Mother: When I see other children, they seem to be doing so many things.
They recite poems in front of others, are eager to show their drawings, but my daughter is least interested in any of this. She talks a lot but only with us. She does not behave smartly like the other kids.
Therapist: Is she not friendly with others?
Mother: She is very friendly and she makes friends easily. If you talk to her, you will adore her.
Therapist: So?
Mother: But she is not as streetsmart like the others.
Therapist: Who are these 'others'?
Mother: Other kids at her play school…. Their mothers are so happy with them and keep praising them.
Therapist: And how do you feel then?
Mother: I feel I am not doing something right. I feel frustrated and irritated and I take it out on her. Though she is a very nice child, I shout at her and keep pushing her. I can't even enjoy the time we spend together.

If this mother is not careful with her thoughts and expectations, she may eventually convince herself and her daughter that there is a problem with the girl, which can severely damage her daughter's selfesteem.
All this because her mother felt that the other kids were better than her.
From childhood we decide or are told how "mothers should be like mothers" or " fathers should be like fathers", comparing them with others' parents. Our ideas of parenting, love, life, success and several other concepts are often formed through comparison. The ability to compare is an important learning tool and is so second nature to us that the inferences we draw as a result remain largely unchallenged. We form judgements not only about others but also about ourselves.
Continuous comparisons can make us feel bad/ sad/ disappointed about everything. A good car is not good enough, a job is not good enough, our kids are not smart enough... the list goes on.
Product advertisements actually exploit this inherent human nature and try to nudge us to compare ourselves with the smiling actor and actress on TV. They lure us to buy the particular product so that we can be like them. The problem is that it very subtly but surely reinforces the belief system — " I am not good enough the way I am" — and in turn it creates self- esteem issues.
Regularly remind yourself that life is like an exam — you may feel that you can copy somebody else's answers but what you don't know is that everybody has a different question paper. Life is a work in progress and sometimes it is also important to know that you are doing enough.
Become more aware of the times when you make comparisons. Do this often so that eventually you can catch yourself when you are comparing yourself with others.
And each time that happens, just focus on what you already have.

Dr Sangbarta Chattopadhyay and Dr Namita Bhuta are medical practitioners, psychotherapists and life coaches Share your problems with them at: dr. sangbarta@ gmail. com