Shilalekh

What Life Teaches Me Everyday

Category: Personal Development

5 Life Changing Lessons from 50 Years of Marriage

50 Years of Marriage

Last month we celebrated my parents’ 50th marriage anniversary.

With family and close friends in attendance and truckloads of emotions flowing freely at the dinner party.

50 years is a long time by any benchmark. So there were lots of stories to be told, and we decided to make that the centerpiece of the event. Uncles and aunties and family members sharing anecdotes and feelings about ma and papa.

By and by the party turned into a sentimental journey down memory lane – what we had always wanted.

This occasion also gave us – my brother and me – to do something we had never done before. Thank our parents for all they had done. And not done.

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Grow up But don’t Grow out of What You Enjoyed as a Kid or Young Adult

Grow Up Donot Grow Out of Childhood

Yesterday morning I listened to two of my most favourite old songs, after so many years, on my car radio. And it perked me up like anything.

When I reached back home, I skipped and hopped around, putting the house in order. Then I took out my laptop and started working immediately.

Whole day I was in a good mood, finished two drafts I had been sitting on for almost a week, and even read some of the articles I had bookmarked.

Compare that with the previous day.

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Importance of Communication: My Learnings from a Real-Life Experience

Importance of Communication

The importance of communication cannot be emphasized enough. Recently, my husband and I missed on an important seminar in our city just because of non-communication. Let me tell you how.

The organizers of the event are old acquaintances. I personally don’t agree with their way of conducting business and their general moral compassing. So I don’t exactly enjoy their company and evade any invitations extended by them. My husband believes in keeping up connections in his network, so he does go to their events once in a while, even if just to register his presence.

This time it was different. They had organized a seminar of some prominent people in the region, which included some good speakers. The topic too was close to my heart: How to Make Bokaro a Greener and a Better Place. I very much wanted to attend such an august gathering discussing something that was so pertinent in my day-to day existence.

We received our invitations well in time and were pretty excited by it. However, a couple of days later I read some obnoxious news about the organizers. My first reaction was – I am not attending the seminar, I don’t want to be associated with them in any way. I was so emphatic in my statement that my husband never tried to discuss going there again. He knows how stubborn I can be and didn’t want to face my full-blown ire.

I think he also got confused by the news item and did not know what he should do. I say “I think” because we never discussed the issue. There was no further communication on it for the time being. Attending the seminar got a backseat in the ensuing weeks due a very hectic schedule. A couple of days before the event he proposed to me tentatively that we should consider attending the seminar as we might not get such an opportunity in near future. I replied as tentatively that I was not sure but could consider going.

We let it drop at that and there was no further communication on the issue till the day after the seminar when we read rave reviews about it. Only then did we sit to discuss it and realized that we had missed on this opportunity just because we had not communicated to the other person our feelings and ideas.

He assumed that I was very clear-cut in my stand and I felt he was not raising the issue because he was not keen on going. Whereas, the truth was that each one of us was weighing the pros and cons of going for the event, without coming to any specific decision.

If only we had taken the pains to discuss together, tell each other what was going in our minds, without harboring pre-conceived notions about the other person’s reaction, the outcome might have been different.

As a relationship grows older, we think that we know the other person so well that we know how they will react to any given situation. However, that is where we err. Even if the person is the same, each situation is unique and hence the reaction to that situation is bound to be unique. So we need to communicate what we are feeling and what we feel the other person is feeling. There never can be anything like over-communication between two people.

When I say relationship, it could be between a couple, two colleagues, boss and subordinate or manager and the team. As time progresses and a level of comfort seeps in, the same taking for granted attitude and pre-conceived notions set in.

These are my three learnings from this episode:

  • Never be over-confident about what the other person’s reaction to a situation will be.
  • Never feel shy about sharing your own thoughts and ideas.
  • Never give a final verdict without thinking through a situation.

You must also have missed out on something important due to no or less communication between the parties involved. Do share your experiences in the comments below.

How Self-talk is Making Me Forgetful and Absent Minded

ForgetfulnessI often forget where I have kept my daughter’s books after preparing her homework. At the onset of this winter, I just couldn’t find her school scarf with her winter clothes and had to buy her a new one.

My husband is so exasperated at my habit that he doesn’t let me lay my hands on anything that he might need in future. He keeps everything from clothes to documents to memorabilia to tit-bits in his own cupboard!!

And the best part is, many times I can’t remember if I have brushed my teeth or not. Though that is probably the easiest – I brush again to be sure I don’t go without it for the day. But it’s embarrassing if someone says, weren’t you brushing your teeth half an hour ago?

So am I forgetful or absentminded? Is it a medical problem or something quite mundane? One day I just got tired with it all and decided to find out more about them so that I could deal with them.

Understanding Forgetfulness and Absentmindedness

First of all, I Googled both the words to find their definitions and this is what I came up with:

Forgetfulness – lapse of memory

Absentminded – lost in thought and unaware of one’s surroundings or actions; preoccupied

On more research, I found some of the causes of forgetfulness to be listed as:

  • Old age
  • Lack of sleep
  • Medication
  • Health conditions like depression, underactive thyroid, etc.
  • Alcohol
  • Multitasking

And some causes of absentminded behavior were listed to be:

  • Lack of attention
  • Distraction due to unwarranted thoughts
  • Intense attention to only one thing

I was happy to know that forgetfulness in young adults is usually attributed to lack of time management and overwork.

Is Self-Talk the Culprit

I ruled out medical conditions. Multitasking or time management did seem plausible. After much introspection I realized that my absentminded can be attributed to continuous self-talk. I carry on conversations with in my mind. All the time. For example, if I am cooking something I am not sure my daughter will like, I start having a conversation with her in my mind.

Conversations with Myself

Conversations with Myself

Me: Here, see what a delicious pasta I have made for you.

Daughter: But mummy, you know I don’t like capsicum and carrot and onions.

Me: These are good for your health. Besides, how do you expect the pasta to taste as good as it does without the veggies.

And it goes on and on…till my mind finds a new conversation. I don’t just talk to myself but feel the emotions too. I get elated or saddened by talking to myself.

 

I get so caught up in my monologues that I miss out on what is actually going on around me.

My brother used to call me deaf when we were in school. He would say that I feigned absentmindedness to escape doing little chores!!

Handling Forgetful Behavior

After realizing the probable cause for my woes I have started paying more attention to my surroundings. Besides that, here are some more steps I have taken for the time being:

  • Avoiding doing too many things at the same time
  • Meditation for 10-15 minutes in the morning
  • Using time management tools and techniques

I hope to get some results soon. But I am not too hopeful about remembering where I kept things some time back. If you have some helpful tips for me, do share.

4 Ways to Keep Your Emotions in Check

I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.

― Oscar Wilde

If you ask Google to define emotion, you are told that emotion is a strong feeling deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others. So we can safely say that our emotions are stirred as a response to someone else’s behavior or comment. It is our reaction to others’ action. Mood is just the state of mind we are in, and it is also affected by the circumstances or relationships that we are in.

I am a very emotional person myself. I get excited easily, get elated at trivial of things and get offended at even more trivial of things. This past year I have tried to understand myself and why I react the way I do. And then I have also tried to reason with myself how I should react to any situation. Sounds clinical? Believe me, it is not. You come across very few situations on a daily basis when you are “expected” to react immediately. Rest of the situations gives you ample time to think and react rationally. In other words, show controlled emotions. It is these set of situations that I have been and still am working on.

Nothing is Worth Losing Yourself For

The first step to being emotionally independent is understanding that nothing is worth losing yourself for. When your actions are being dictated by others you can hardly claim to be in control of your life. Bond that you share with your partner is almost always your most cherished relationship. But we often see couples in relationships getting emotional at the drop of a hat. It is very important to realize that being emotionally independent is necessary for any relationship to thrive. You have to take a call on whether the relationship is more important or preserving your identity.

Romantics will cry blasphemy at my suggestion. But let me explain what I mean. A relationship is formed by two or more people involved. The identity of a relationship is defined by the uniqueness of each person involved. If you lose your identity, become someone else, the definition of the relationship itself changes. And if you have done so for the sake of the relationship, your act actually has ended countermanding your first act of love.

Whatever the pundits might say, think 10 times before you decide to lose yourself in your relationship. This is especially true of relationships formed by couples who are in love or married. The flavor of such relationships is unique because of the individuality that two people bring to it. The moment one of the partners tries to lose one’s uniqueness, all is lost. Making adjustments is different and becoming a completely different person is different.

Identify your emotional triggers

The next important step to being emotionally independent is identifying your emotional triggers – both positive and negative. You need to keep even your positive emotions in check because if you get too high on any positive emotion, you are bound to fall that much deeper.

Emotions that you need to Control

Different Emotions Shown by Humans

While the world out there argues whether human have six emotions (happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust) or four (happiness, sadness, fear/anger and surprise/disgust), you must be relieved to know that you have only these basic types of emotions to control. So to identify your emotional triggers you need to ask yourself what makes me happy or sad or angry. What circumstances arouse a deep feeling of disgust in you? If you can identify your emotional triggers, half the battle is won. If you keep your cool, you can predict when you are going to get emotional. And once you can predict, you can take steps to control it.

Let Others Know you Are Getting Emotional

Your getting emotional is an outcome of other people’s behavior. So wouldn’t it be a good idea to let them know that their behavior is making you emotional. Believe me, no one wants to see you getting worked up. I have tried this very effectively with my daughter. The moment I feel anger rising within me, I tell her that I am getting angry and it would be better if she stopped arguing. And she does. In recent times nothing else has managed to stop her more effectively. Of course, I see to it that I use this as a last resort, when all else fails. I don’t see why it should not work even with grown-ups.

Count to 10 Before You React

This is an age-old and oft-repeated advice. But in the heat of the moment how many times do we actually remember. So next time you realize that you are getting emotional, take a deep breath, close your eyes and start counting on your fingers. The added action of counting on your fingers will give you something to “do” and take your focus away from the disturbing situation. In this time you can compose yourself and react in a more rational way.

Emotions are everywhere. And what are we if don’t show our emotions. So never shy away from showing emotions. What you have to work towards is displaying controlled emotions or reactions. I will be following up this post with some simple things to do in an emotionally challenging situation. So keep tuned and in the interim tell me, in the comments below, what you do to be emotionally independent of situations around you.

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