Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I DARE YOU... LET GO!


Three months ago she left the country where she was born and raised and moved permanently to a different place half way around the globe. Trying to set up home in the United States had its vulnerable moments. Moments when you miss life as you knew it.
It was one such melancholy Monday when she saw an email sitting in her inbox confirming her best friends’ flight details to the United States. These two were as close as gum and glue. It was no surprise then that the news of her friends visit spiraled all that missing into an ecstatic euphoria, so much so that the next two odd weeks snowballed into eagerly awaiting the arrival of everything that symbolized familiarity.
The day finally arrived. What followed thereafter were nine days of pure back to back Kodak moments. From sightseeing in Chicago to partying on the beaches of Miami….Serene lakes in Dallas to handsome horses at nearby ranches….long countryside drives, big Indian lunches to Texan steak dinners…quick pizza meals on busy street corners and shopping at will. Downtown lounges were followed by chilled out conversations out on the deck. In an iconic attempt to have a grand finale, they even sky dived….free falling from 15000 feet up in the air seemed the perfect way to celebrate their time together! It was like the sky’s the limit; literally!
Every waking moment was utilized and yet there constantly remained a nagging unrest which only got worse as the days drew to a close.
It was a rushed morning at the airport. It was while her eyes frantically tried to follow her friend scurry through the crowded security line that she had her ‘moment of truth.’ Her manic compulsion to live these past nine days to the fullest, all the restlessness and anxiety suddenly became clear. For what apparently was just a holiday with a close friend, was far larger than life for her! Fond memories of so many people and places…family, friends, workplace, colleagues, her apartment, the city…. Standing in the distance, 5 feet-ten inches, weighing a hundred and sixty pounds, smiling whilst waving a hurried goodbye… was her life!
Breathing in with new awareness, she smiled and waved back in gratitude. Still smiling she turned to her husband and said, “Let’s go home!” 
Notes from my desk: Life is a collection of our memories. Living it surely is much more. Now, of course, thinking happy thoughts from your past is great, they will act to reinforce the present joys in your life and be a positive influence. However often, mostly unconsciously, we tend to heavily cling onto the past. Living the ‘had been’ and forgetting to see the potential in what ‘can be’! Not realizing that right here, right now, is the only opportunity to create new memories.

Soon after I got to the US I realized that I had to let go of a lot of my earlier lifestyle. Everything was different here. I had two choices: to hold on to my past, complain, and be completely miserable or let go and start a new life while still holding on to my authentic self.

You may not have had to go through such drastic changes in life. However, we all face the dilemma of letting go and holding on. A lot of times if we are not forced to let go of something, we keep dragging 10, 20, 40 years of mental and physical baggage behind us. At some point that baggage becomes so unbearably heavy that we just decide to stop moving forward and start living in the past. We stop having new goals and dreams. We stop meeting new people. We stop trying new things. We stop learning.

How then do you mingle letting go and holding on? A life of genuine balance and peace starts when you learn to let go without regret and hold on with gratitude. I chose to do just that today. Tomorrow I’m headed out to my first open house community event. Looking forward…




Thursday, November 21, 2013

I hate in-laws!!! (An interesting paradox)


“My mother in-law does not lift a finger, she makes me work like a slave, add to it the demands of my father in-law, every hour by the hour, my two sister in-laws are no help, they just sit and wait for me to mess up so they can make a big deal out of it and my brother in law is too busy partying, he does not care about what happens at home.”

Stories like these are heard by the dozen. Growing up in an Asian family I was often reminded to wake up early at my in-laws when I get married, “don’t sleep in late, what will they think, that I have not taught you well,” my mother would say. Make round chapattis, learn to cook a variety of dishes, dress appropriately, the list is endless on how one should behave at their in-laws.
And that’s all right; it’s all taken in the right spirit when it’s wrapped within the threads of love and care from near and dear ones.

However it still does make me wonder what would happen if we took a different approach. What if we were brought up (from as early an age that we are) to believe that we would be lucky enough to have two mothers, two fathers, many sisters/brothers if we get married?  Drop the ‘in-laws’ altogether. In-laws bring with it such a legal binding, a connotation of ‘need to accept by law’! Instead bring the focus on two families becoming one. No relatives’ in-law…only families in love if we had to have an alternative. Would that change our perspective?
Now, I am not here to profess this as the solution to all marital problems or domestic issues.

Yet I’m curious to know if it would impact our outlook if we are informed differently at a stage when we begin to form our standards and opinions.

·         Would the wicked mother in law who does not lift a finger, just be mum who is tired after having worked so hard all her life, wants to let you run the show, wants to step back, take it easy! She does complain and she has her two bits to say every now and then but then that’s mum, she means well! Would that give us more patience, less anger, more love?! 

·         Would the demanding father in law, just be dad who like many dads loves to be spoiled and cared for after a certain age. He fusses and cusses but underneath it all he is just looking for the added attention that he craves for. Could that bring more understanding, less irritation, more peace?! 

·         What if the bossy sister in-law was no different from your younger/elder sister? The one who used to bully you as a kid or the one who was so spoiled that you were always the one cleaning up her mess. The one you fought tooth and nail with and yet knew that if ever they came a time of need, you always had each other. Perhaps this would create more rapport, less bitterness, more affection?! 

·         And would the aloof brother in law, just be the brother who was very different from you growing up. He preferred to stay quiet while you chattered away; he read books while you blared the television. Nonetheless; you were one and though he seemed distant, when you needed him he never was far away. Maybe this could bring about more trust, less assuming, more acceptance?! 

Surely, different permutations and combinations of the above exist. We each have our own unique story. All the same can a new spin of words impact our view in any way?! 

Inquisitive to know if just a simple and easy shift of language could bring about more gratitude I dared taking a risk the other day. When asked by a friend’s mother, “So beta, tell me how are your in-laws?!”  I chose to say, “I hate in-laws!”  In addition I went on to say, “Both my families are great, thank-you!” Aghast, I doubt she heard the second half.  

Nevertheless; try it, it feels so good! 

(Beta: Hindi word used by an elder to address a younger person (boy or girl) it is used in the regular context of meaning son or child. The term is also used among close friends to address each other as a friendly banter.)



Part V: The bigger picture - Our link to society


Put together all the existing families across the globe and you have society. It is as simple as that.

The individual family upbringing will be reflected in the kind of society that is created. Every family teaches something about how to deal with the outside world; how to get along, what to do about injustice and how to relate it all to your life. Some teach conformity, some rebellion, some reinforce group responsibility and yet others teach by building a protective shell around their young ones. Which we think is right or wrong is not the point of discussion here. The point is that many decades ago, the family was the only source for teaching its members what they needed to know to grow up to be an evolved adult. However today the importance of institutions such as schools, colleges, religious institutions, work places and governments have become integral parts of this process. Whether we like it or not they have grown in importance to become our extended family. Add to it the indisputable influence of television, movies, internet and the social media; and what you are dealing with is a whole new world outside of the one you are living in. By the sheer wealth of our technology advancement, family life as things have worked out often takes a back seat getting only the left over time after work, school, college, etc. are through.

Therefore it is vital that we marry the two. This last section on family wellness is aimed at creating awareness to productively link the two. 

The two need not function independent of each other. For e.g. a bold and bubbly 5 year old recently enrolled in a kindergarten school. However contrary to her nature she did not settle into her new routine. The parents assumed it was the new environment. Yet months passed by and little Hailey just would not want to go to school. She’d cry herself to sleep, cry herself out of sleep every morning, and helpless with her limited communication skills, she tirelessly begged all in her family to not send her to this school. On the other hand, her teacher at school noticed that Hailey was weak at many skills, even those that her peers seemed to have no trouble coping with. She was slow at her work and needed added individual attention.  

Finally perturbed and unable to figure out the reason for Hailey’s behavior, her parents felt the need to meet with the teacher. The school however only allowed pre-arranged parent – teacher meetings. So a special request to meet with the class teacher was made. This took another couple of weeks to arrange. In the meanwhile Hailey continued to feel miserable.

Eventually it was discussed that Hailey needed extra attention at home in order for her to catch up on the curriculum and feel like she fit in with her fellow mates. And the teacher now aware of her emotional state agreed to adopt a softer approach henceforth.  

As you can see, a simple feedback session made it possible for information to be shared by all involved. This kind of feedback paves the way for appropriate positive changes to be made. Unfortunately, due to a closed system of operation and absence of healthy co-existence this easy solution took close to six months to unfold. 

There is a need for families to partner with any institution that their members are involved in and equally there is a need for all types of institutions to consider the family as part of their establishment. Today, sit with your family for the sole purpose of finding out where everyone is in relation to the outside world – school, college, work, business, social groups, religious institutions, karate class, skating club, music lessons, boy scouts, whatever! Build their ‘pot,’ encourage open communication; you have all the tools and resources right at your fingertips. Put these powerful forces to work in your family. After all, the family is the integral unit in society. And when each family starts functioning in this manner, making it a more nurturing one, it will have its effects at large on society too.  

It’s about time we lead ourselves into the beginning of a new kind of society!

Credits: Based on the research of famous American author and renowned family therapist, Virginia Satir.

www.tasneemkagalwalla.com








Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Part IV: Overruled - Setting family rules!


The fourth and equally important part is the rules you use to play the wellness game in your family. The Oxford dictionary define rules as, one of a set of explicit or understood regulations or principles governing conduct or procedure within a particular area of activity.”  (http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/rule

Rules therefore tend to project what one ‘must do.’ Now, let’s shift that perception to the concept of ‘should do.’ Let’s take the word from its flat definition form and see how rules are actually a vital, dynamic and extremely influential force in your family life.  

Family rules are important as soon as two or more people live together. Typically rules revolve around money and budgeting, getting the chores done, planning for individual needs, dealing with household fixes and any other contributing factors that make it possible for the family to live together in the same house. The question is who makes the rules, what they do for your family and what happens when they are broken?! 

The answers to these questions lie in the following 21 steps. Adhering to these will ensure a family that is having a ball. Ok! Just kidding – here are 3 simple steps to setting family rules which actually work in the best interest of your household. 

Step 1: Finding out about the rules in your family.

Many a times you may find that you are living by rules of which you’re not even aware. Therefore sit with all family members and ask the following questions: 

·         What are your current rules?

·         How well understood are your rules? 

Do not discuss at this stage whether the rules are right or wrong, whether they are being obeyed or disobeyed. This exercise should be carried out in the spirit of brain storming together, trying to discover all there is to find. Maybe you have a nine year old boy who thinks that the rule is that he has to he has to stop playing when his younger sister wants to use the same game. He figures that since he is elder he must sacrifice his play time. His sister on the other hand thinks that the rule is that her brother stops playing when his mother tells him to. Can you see the misunderstanding that can result from this? This could be happening in your home. Also, often irate parents say, “The kids know what they should and shouldn’t do.” Ask the kids and they are clueless. Most people ‘assume’ that everyone else knows what they know. Talking over your rule inventory can help identify rules which are unfair or inappropriate, assist with clearing misunderstandings and other behavioral problems. 

For many families simply sitting and discovering their rules is new and proves to be extremely enlightening.  

Step 2: Work towards discovering which of your rules are still up to date and which are out dated. Discard the old and unfitting ideas and select the ones you find useful. Now ask the following questions: 

·         Are the rules helping or obstructing?

·         What do you want them to accomplish?

·         What agreement have you worked out for making changes in your rules?

·         Who is allowed to ask for changes?

·         Can your family members appeal against a rule? 

Furthermore, dig a little deeper: 

·         How are rules made in your family?

·         Does just one of you make them?

·         Is it the person who is the oldest, youngest or most powerful? Is it the head of the family who calls all the shots, or your mother in law; or is it the daughter in law who now holds all the reins?

·         Do you get them from books, from society, from peers or from the families where the parents grew up, where do they come from?

And eventually talk about the rules that act as an invisible force, controlling the lives of all family members. These are the ‘unwritten rules’ dealing with the freedom to comment.

       ·         Can you share what you’re seeing, feeling, thinking and hearing?

·         Can you express your helplessness, anger, need for comfort, etc.

·         To whom can you say it?

·         How do you go about it if you disagree or disapprove of someone or something?

·         How do you question when you don’t understand (or do you)?

·         Do you have any topics which you can’t talk about and can’t talk about why not either?

A family provides all kind of experiences. Some of joy, others of pain or sadness. Whatever the feelings, if they cannot be recognized and commented on, they get shoved under the carpet and eat away at the roots of the family well-being. For e.g. when you hear expressions like, “you shouldn’t feel like that, you’re a boy, boys don’t cry.” This develops attitudes about individual self-worth, which translates itself into helplessness, hostility and loneliness.

Step 3: Lastly after you have thought about your rules and examined them, why not check them out against the following questions:

       ·         What are your new rules?

·         What are they accomplishing for you now?

·         What changes do you need to make now?

·         Which of your present rules fit?

·         Which have to be discarded?

·         What new ones do you have to make?

In conclusion, we have seen how rules can be a very real part of the structure and functioning of the family. It takes continuous effort to bring about continuous improvement. New awareness, new resolve and new hope can enable you to change the rules of the game and create win-win outcomes for your family.

Credits: Based on the research of famous American author and renowned family therapist, Virginia Satir.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Part III: Mind your language - Communicating with the right words


The third piece of the wellness pie is that of communication. Communication affects all that goes on between human beings. It is also the scale by which two people measure each other’s ‘pot’ level and is the integral tool by which that level can be changed.

Communication is a vast subject (verbal and non-verbal) and hence for the ease of understanding, we will focus on one important aspect – the spoken language.

 The single biggest reason for dysfunctional families is lack of effective communication. The wife feels ignored and insignificant as she bawls at her husband about an important date he forgot. The husband, feeling victimized and irritated, swears she had not. And the story continues till like a tornado, it has within its realm an extremely troubled family unit which just doesn’t seem to understand each other.

How it works: Typically all of us function through a communication system to give meaning to our experiences. We then use words to express ourselves. These words are not accidental; they have a direct correlation with the way information is interpreted in our minds. We tend to use words and phrases which we unconsciously prefer.

By practicing active listening we can therefore determine an individual’s preferred communication style. Optimally using this information enhances the effectiveness of communication. As the most effective way to communicate with others is to converse in exactly the same way that they communicate with themselves inside their heads.

The words people like to use are broadly characterized in three categories.

 1.       Visual
 2.       Auditory
 3.       Kinesthetic.

Listed below are examples of the words and phrases to look out for. The internet can further be used as a resource tool to obtain detailed lists of the same.

Visual words: see/view/look/picture/looking forward/beyond a shadow of doubt.

Auditory words: hear/listen/say/talk/give me a shout/loud and clear.

Kinesthetic words: feel/cool/smooth/calm/keep in touch/hang in there.

Why it works: Communication becomes more effective when we use words and phrases that the listener uses most often. How many of you have sent your beloved a bunch of red roses hoping she’d SEE your profound love for her. Instead she still complains about feeling insecure, suspicious of your extended work hours and occasionally even goes through the messages on your phone. Now what if you knew that she preferred to just HEAR a simple, “I love you.” Would you not have communicated the exact same message along with a good chance of being welcomed home with your favorite meal? Perhaps with the spare cash (which you saved on the flowers) you could even take the family out for dessert.

By communicating in exactly the same way that people communicate with themselves you are ensuring that they understand what you intended to say. It’s like talking to them in their own preferred dialect.

Now what?! Look. Listen. Feel. Take the time to gauge your families preferred style of communication. Queue into the words they use. Over a week’s time, keep a diary of the words and phrases they use most often. This activity will give you a clear indication of their preferences.

Put to practice the understanding of this new knowledge of each other in your daily conversations. Some of the words may not come as a natural choice of language to you. Yet it would be ideal for you to remain flexible in your vocabulary. For e.g. if you know your partner prefers visual words, you could say, “LOOKS like we must attend Anna’s poetry recital, please SEE to it that you keep yourself free on the 10th of July.”

Notice the positive shifts and changes it brings to the way you interact and feel about each other. This vital impact is critical to build a thriving family with strong family values.

“The difference between ‘the right word’ and ‘almost the right word’ is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug” ~ Mark Twain

Words are powerful! When you chose just the right word, you increase understanding ten-fold.

So what words are you choosing today?!


Click here for Part I/II/IV/V
http://tasneemkagalwalla.blogspot.com/2013/11/part-i-how-healthy-is-yourfamily-read.html


Friday, November 15, 2013

Part II: Worth a pot full - (Re)discovering your self worth!


Honestly; I’m a bit of a #wellness junkie…. I’m willing to try any theory, therapy or home remedy in the hope that it would make a difference in my life and/or act as an added tool to help make a difference in someone else’s. 
So when I read about this great idea to improve my family wellness quotient I pounced on the opportunity to try it! Of course my enthusiasm alone does not get the family excited. I do however need to get the whole family to join in. Now being candid works with my family (you may want to put it forth to your family members as you see best) and by setting my request in a simple straightforward forward question – “Will you participate with me in an experiment that I think might be useful to us?” – I maximize the possibility of a positive response.

In the second slice of this five part series on Family Wellness I’d like to share this easy tried and tested tool on uplifting self-worth with the optimism that it will improve your #family #welfare quotient too.

How it works: We often find it difficult to express our #feelings, talking about how we feel, for example, guilt, shame or uselessness makes us uncomfortable. A wife would hesitate to tell her husband that she feels inadequate, depressed or worthless. A mother may dither to let her son know that she feels unwanted, unloved or unimportant. Or the eldest and most mature teenager may find it difficult to let his family know that he felt like he did not matter, that he had always felt he was no good; that he had to take what was handed to him and could not complain.
So how do you share these uncomfortable feelings with your loved ones?!

You simply talk in “pot” terms!

 (Typically; a pot is used to cook different dishes and often you may have someone from the family ask you, “What’s cooking?!” Similarly when used to describe individual feelings, this simple shorthand word helps families express feelings that have been difficult to talk about before.)

For example, a father might say with a big smile, “My pot is high today,” and the rest of the family would know that he felt on top of things, full of energy and good spirits, secure in the knowledge that he really mattered. Or a daughter might say, “I feel low pot.” This told everyone that she felt bruised or not particularly lovable. Pot is a plain word, in this use almost a nonsense word.  Yet, families seem to find it easier to express themselves and understand others in “pot” terms. So, pot is just another word you’d use to express your self-worth or self-esteem at any given moment.

Why it works: Research by expert therapists and all the day to day experiences of my professional and personal life, lead us to one conclusion. The crucial factor in what happens both inside people and between people is the picture of individual worth that each person carries around with him – his pot. Integrity, honesty, responsibility, compassion, love – all flow easily from the person whose pot is high. He feels that he matters, that the world is a better place because he is in it. Appreciating his own worth, he is ready to see and respect the worth of others. Sure he experiences disappointments, but he treats these temporary low-pot feelings just as they are – a crisis of the moment from which he can emerge whole, something he can feel uncomfortable about but does not have to hide. Other people, however, spend most of their lives in a low-pot condition. Because they feel they have little worth, they expect to be cheated and stepped on by others. Expecting the worst, they invite it and usually get it. To defend themselves, they often hide behind a wall and slowly sink into a terrible state of loneliness and isolation. It is important to understand the difference between feeling low and low pot. Low pot essentially means that you are experiencing undesirable feelings at the moment and are trying to behave like those feelings do not exist. It takes a lot of trust to share low self-esteem feelings. Not acknowledging or sharing your low pot is form of lying to yourself and others.
Now what?! Fortunately, self-worth is not genetic or inherited. It is learned. The family is where it is learned. And it can be unlearned and something new can be learned in its place. Every word, facial expression, gesture and action gives a message about ones worth.  

Relax for a moment, by yourself and with the rest of your family. Feel the state of your pot today. Is it high or low? Has something happened to give you this feeling, or do you feel this way most of the time? Tell one another your feelings. Compare the things that make you feel low pot or high pot. You may find new dimensions to the people you live with and how you can inspire and influence more high pot feelings for each other. As a result you grow closer and stronger as a family unit.
“Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open and rules are flexible – the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family.” – Virginia Satir

So, what kind of self-worth is your family building?!

Credits: Based on the research of famous American author and renowned family therapist, Virginia Satir.
www.tasneemkagalwalla.com

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Part I: How healthy is your family?

Read this introspective article on your family.

A family is one entity with many parts working together to create something larger. Each part has a significant role to play in how well the family will function as a whole. It simply means that each one has a healthy balance of the mind, body and soul, resulting in an overall state of well-being. Family Wellness then is a way to stress healthy family lifestyles and habits. And the healthier each individual family is, the healthier an entire community can be.
By focusing on the ingredients and most important aspects of family life I hope that you find solutions to care about your family through this 5 part series based on inspiring family wellness .

The ingredient: In an ideal scenario, each human being is a person who understands, values and develops his body, finding it beautiful and useful; a person who is real and honest to and about him/herself and others; a person who is willing to take risks, to be creative, to manifest competence, to change when the situation calls for it, and to find ways to accommodate what is new and different, keeping the part of the old that is still useful and discarding what is not. When you add all this up, you have a physically healthy, mentally alert, feeling, loving, playful, authentic, creative, productive human being, one who can stand on his/her own two feet, who can love deeply and fight fairly and effectively, who can be on equally good terms with both his/her tenderness and his/her toughness, know the difference between them and therefore strive effectively to achieve his/her goals.
The family is the “factory” where this kind of (ingredient) person is made.

The aspects: No matter what kind of problem a family could have – whether it’s a wicked mother in law, a nagging wife, an unfaithful husband, a son who no longer cares or an obnoxious daughter – whatever the issue these four key aspects are vital to gauge your family wellness.

1.       Self-worth: the feelings and ideas one has about themselves.

2.       Communication: the different ways people reach out to make meaning with each other.

3.       Family system: the rules people use for how they should feel and act.

4.       Link to society: the way people relate to other people outside the family.
To relieve any issues in a family and its resulting pain and anguish, a way to change these key factors has to be found.

Commonly, the following has been observed of troubled families’ v/s an untroubled nurturing family:
Troubled Families
Untroubled Families
Self-worth is low
Self-worth is high
Communication is indirect, vague and not really honest
Communication is direct, clear, specific and honest
Rules are rigid, inhuman, nonnegotiable and everlasting
Rules are flexible, human, appropriate and subject to change
Linking to society is closed, always trying to please  and/or blaming
Linking to society is open and hopeful

 So today, stop and reflect on these questions:
·         Does it feel good to live in your family right now?
·         Do you feel you are living with friends, people you like and trust and who like and trust you?
·         Is it fun and exciting to be a member of your family?

If you answered yes to these three questions, bravo! You can pat yourself on the back and leave this page now. If your answer is ‘no’ or ‘not often’, you likely live in a family that is in some way or somewhat troubled. You’d probably benefit if you read on!
The solution:  The key to happiness then lies in crossing the bridge from being a distressed family to one that is nurturing and caring. Ask and address the following questions with your family in all honesty:

·         Every person has a feeling of worth, positive or negative; the question is – Which is it?

·         Every person communicates; the question is – How and what happens as a result?

·         Every person follows rules; the question is – What kind and how well do they work for you?

·         Every person is linked to society; the question is – How and what are the results?
There are so many different ways to work towards driving this change. Choose to be creative and take the time to make this an interesting and exciting time for your family. Involve every member. You could even go to a park or an environment which encourages each individual to share and feel that their contribution matters and is truly valued. Have a go at answering the above questions individually and then share as a family unit. Identify the gaps and how you can help each other create a healthy family life. Also specifically communicate the kind of help you are looking for as each of us are programmed differently; (metaphorically speaking) you may want more of a listening ear rather than a helping hand.

In conclusion, discover how you are operating in your family as an individual and as a collective unit.  Generate and act upon ideas on how you can bring about change in order to reduce problems and increase the vitality and joy you can find with each other.
The more we think about family wellness in terms of “we” then we can find our individual place in life too. For; “When ‘i’ is replaced by ‘we’ then even ‘illness’ becomes ‘wellness’!”  

Coming together is wellness.

Credits: Based on the research of famous American author and renowned family therapist, Virginia Satir.

www.tasneemkagalwalla.com 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Need a quick fix?


It was a many years ago that she had once scribbled these lines:
"I sit here at a white window under a white sky.
  Watching the world go by...
  I have a million things to do
  Yet I dunno why...
  Today I just wanna watch the world go by."

What were innocent passing thoughts ages ago had more significance in her life today than ever before. Sleeping in until late mornings, somehow managing to waltz into the nearby gym, pretending to work out while you chat up some equally unenthusiastic individual on the treadmill, waltzing back home, pottering around aimlessly, never ending daily video chats with friends and family, an equally late lunch which sometimes got replaced with odd out of time snacks….it was like laziness had crept in from the back door and made its way into her life; it manifested itself wherever she went.

What ensued as a result was an internal battle. The battle between knowing that it was ‘alright to have a chilled out day once in a while’ v/s realizing that it was ‘growing to become more of an unhealthy habit’. The strategy to overcome this addiction was simple and yet most days she found herself sprawled on the couch doing nothing at all. “If you go to think about it, you’re always doing something even when you’re doing nothing at all,” was her twisted excuse.
So what was this strategy to overcome, you may ask?

One such day; as she was wallowing in her third hour of surfing the television channels over a bag of kettle cooked chips, there was a small voice around her… or was it inside her, it was hard to distinguish. It was the same small voice that she often heard in her head. Up until today it was very soft, she could barely hear it. Not today though, today she could hear it loud and clear.
And it clearly said… Snap out of it!  It was simple as that.  Taking the decision was the tough part, once she had decided it was fairly simple from thereon!

As of now she was still settling into a new country, applying for licenses and work permits, weighing the choices of new opportunities on offer.  She enjoyed reading and found little time for it previously balancing home with a full time job. Today she could grab the chance to do just that. She read interesting books from her field of work and other inspirational articles which caught her eye. For a change she decided to get out of the couch and sat comfortably on the chair by the window where she read on avidly. Over the next week, she read six books!
This stimulus created a shift in temperament and mentality. The constructive utilization of available resources spurred her on to new ideas and possibilities. Thereby, crossing the bridge from ‘lazy’ to ‘motivated’ to ‘ready for some action.’ It proved to be just what the doctor would have recommended, the ultimate quick fix. Totally free of cost with no proven side effects.

The journey from there on was much simpler!
Notes from my desk: There are no un-resourceful people only un-resourceful states! In order to bring about change in this moment all one needs to do is alter your present state of being. Not just your state of mind but your state of space too. This allows a shift in psychology and physiology, to a more desirable one, which can then fuel a more productive state. I chose books as my alibi. What’s yours?

www.tasneemkagalwalla.com



Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What do you believe?

In a new country (and otherwise) time and tide wait for no one! She was no exception. The calendar rolled…. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Over this time she familiarized herself with many essentials. Basics; like the nearest grocery store, gas station, doctor, bank etc. Learning to exhibit unembarrassed poise as you take your time to peer down on new currency and coins while the cashier doesn’t care to hide their frustration and impatience while giving you the, "Hurry up, I don’t have all day," look. Making the effort to meet new people, new places, making new friends… the list is endless! And she did them all. Bravely and willingly and mostly with a smile!
Until in a city where public transport was feeble and distances vast, it was getting extremely difficult to get out of the house. The dependency of having to have someone take her around, make the time in order for her to get basic chores done was getting exceedingly difficult to digest. The only other option was to get a driving license! Seemed like a viable option to purse, you would think, however in her case she had made up her mind somewhere long ago that driving tests were something to be feared. Especially in the US she had heard many stories on how they were torturously difficult to clear! She believed them all.

Recognizing that there wasn’t any other way out, but through…she decided to go through the ritual. Written test first! Bingo – cleared! Next was the road test. Even though she knew how to drive, laboriously she practiced again learning new rules, roads and signs.

Until the day arrived!  The day of the road test. Have you ever wondered why we feel so nervous about certain events in our lives? What have we chosen to believe about the event that creates the unrest? How is that belief benefiting us?
As soon as she got into line, waiting for her turn, she saw that the others before her were being asked to parallel park too! Panic! Parallel parking was something she always detested. “I’m no good at that”, she told herself.  “OMG! I haven’t even practiced it recently. Rarely have I parallel parked previously, I’m so out of touch, I haven’t really done it for so long…” Similar self-talk filled the mind until the body took on to the cue. Hands went cold, mouth went dry and legs had a queer shiver!

The next thirty minutes seemed to last an eternity as she waited her turn. During this time she thought hard and finally as she drove her car up front, next in que, she decided on a different approach. “I have done this before, and I will do it again!” She visualized herself parking perfectly, with precision and confidence. She saw herself driving safely and making all the right turns, adhering to all the traffic signs. Most importantly, she created a picture in her mind which had her receiving her license in hand! With this thought firmly envisioned in her psyche she stepped up to the test.
Within minutes it was all over…..she passed!

Notes from my desk:  Limiting beliefs are nothing but self-sabotage! In life, whether you think you can or think you can’t; you’re right! Therefore, choosing the right belief will facilitate your actions. Visualizations and positive affirmations have proven to create synergy within oneself enabling a marriage of the conscious and unconscious mind, working in perfect unison thus bringing about astoundingly positive results. Today I chose to believe I can! I chose to act ‘as if’ it has already happened…. It worked!

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