There is a raging insider vs outsider debate going on in the Bollywood industry. The fact is that this concept doesn’t apply just to any one industry. Throughout my childhood days, I have always been an outsider.
My family would move from one location to another, every one or two years. Therefore, I would always find myself in a new place, with new kids in school and my neighborhood.
What I would find is that in the new school, groups had already been formed. They were friends and classmates who had been together since kindergarten. So there was no place in the group for that awkward new girl in school. Not that I didn’t have any friends, just that I never felt part of any group and that for some reason made me sad.
But practical that I was at that age, I told myself it would be a waste to be a part of any group. I always knew that one day, my family would move again and then I would just have to start from scratch. Moreover, none of the kids went out of their way to make me feel comfortable. They were too busy hanging out with their group as I quietly sighed and probably felt a little …no, a lot jealous of them.
I also noted that none of them really cared that I appeared lost in that huge network. Nobody really tried to be my friend. So my heartbroken self told myself that it was all a waste of time.
And that is the real fact about this insider vs outsider debate. People who are pointing fingers at the Bollywood insiders only just need to look back at their own childhood days. How many of them can honestly say that they have included every outsider in their circle as a kid? How many, as parents, ask their children if they became friends with someone who doesn’t seem to fit in their protective circle? Do we honestly have any right to pass judgement on others when we might ourselves have been guilty of the same crime at some point in life?
Does that mean we don’t question this? Or does it mean that the first person we need to question is our own self?
Change can never start from outside. An ideal change, a productive change is inside out.
It seems like a cliched statement and yet that doesn’t make it false. It hurts to feel like an outsider, I’m a living proof of this. But I also grew very strong and empathetic because of my experiences. Its not all dark and gloomy for an outsider.
But that doesn’t give a person any right to exclude anyone or make them feel small in any way …period!
When I was a kid, I was scared of the dark. I was so petrified about going into a dark room that I would usually have my little sis, five-and-a- half-years younger than me, to accompany me in to a dark room. There she was, all of four-years-old, holding my hand, “Are you scared? Don’t worry, I will come with you!” She would promptly step in to the dark room, her re-assuring hand holding my hand tight, and would switch on all the lights in the room. Then she would smile at me and step aside.
While a part of me was embarrassed, I couldn’t help but admire my sister’s courage at that young age. I also realized that my problem had a simple solution … simply switch on the lights. Problem solved!
To this day, before I step in to a dark room, my hands look for the switch board, and then I hear a few clicking sounds and there is light everywhere. My sister doesn’t accompany me anymore, but the image of her smiling face floats in my head as I thank her for all those times that she was there for me.
There is the darkness in a room and then there is the darkness in our soul. Not all darkness can be conveniently removed in this manner. The darkest of the dark feeling is when you lose the will to live. I can not even imagine what goes through a person’s mind when they contemplate taking their own life. Do they wish for someone to reach out to in those dark moments? Do they even stop caring enough to try to come up with a solution?
It is so easy to judge them and call them a coward. It is so easy to claim that they should not have given up so easily. The truth is we all should be doing something that we are not doing. Or we should all not be doing something that we are doing. Hindsight, as they say is 20/20. But is it really that easy to do or to not do?
In an ideal world, I should not have been scared of the dark. In an ideal world my little sister shouldn’t have to take care of my fears. But both of the situations happened. In fact, I grew up to have my own children and constantly tell them to overcome their fears. And yet, to this day, my hands look for the switchboard before I step in to a dark room. When I think logically, I know that there is no reason for me to fear anything. Nothing bad has ever happened to me in a dark room. And yet, I still feel that irrational fear. It can happen to the best of us, all rational thoughts disappear when we are stressed about something. So, I close my eyes, imagine my four year old sister telling me, “Don’t worry. I will come with you.”
As I tell my children, the world is filled with good guys and bad guys. Some people are there for you even when they are not physically present. Some people are there just to pull you down so they can feel on top of the world.
When you come across the latter, hold on tight to the former. Reach out and cry for help. Tell them that you’re in pain. If there are ten people pulling you down, there will be ten people smiling at you as they say, ” I’m there for you!”
I’m a parent. That sounds like such a simple statement. And yet there is so much of complexity in that tiny sentence. As I play the role of a parent, it also includes being a teacher, a friend, a hard task master, a time-keeper, a chauffeur, a cook, a tear-wiper. To make a long story short, the above list is a work in progress. Before I breath my last breath, I’m aware that a lot more will be added to this list. And how do I know that? I look at the life of my parent and the ever-growing list that keeps her occupied.
It is obvious that a parenting job never ever gets finished. In between all the different activities that keeps my children and me so busy, it seems like an impossible task to find time to do anything for myself. Let me rephrase that comment.Sometimes, I just feel too lazy to do things for myself. When I start thinking about just going out for a walk, a longer list of excuses are ready to attack me. I still have to finish cooking the dinner. I completely forgot to do the laundry. The dishes are not going to jump themselves out of the dishwasher. In other words, I’m willing to spend the next couple of hours going from one task to another, rather then spend some thirty minutes doing something that I love to do.
In my mind, everything else is more important. And everyone else’s needs will be more important than mine. And it happens so naturally that you don’t even realise when you made that decision. It is not like anybody else is stopping you from doing what you love. Most of the times, we are our worst enemies.
Like, a couple of months ago, I had an opportunity to take part in a group singing event, something that was very close to my heart. The catch was that I had to get up early on a Saturday morning for some practice sessions. It took a great deal of convincing on my part to even decide if I should attend my first practice session.
My mind came up with its usual laundry list of reasons why I couldn’t possibly get up for a 7:00a.m. practice. My favorite one was, ” Saturday is the only day you get to sleep extra in the morning!” It is kind of tricky when your mind can pull off smart excuses like that. I couldn’t come up with any sensible counter-argument. Who can argue with sleep?
So, I decided to trick my mind by claiming that it will just be one practice session. Of course, the night before every session was the same ping pong game of more- sleep-vs-one-more-session that my mind and I played with each other. Before we knew it, we tackled one session which turned into two that lead to four more practice sessions.
Life is a sum of these small victories. We may not be able to make time for ourselves every single day. But the time we manage to take out for reading that latest book or pursuing the hobby that we wanted to, a long time ago, can prove to be quite refreshing. Taking that first step is always the hardest, but the end result is so worth it.
In my case, I was able to attend to my needs with a greater degree of enthusiasm than I have ever shown in my life.
Some people have been asking me why have I not been writing. In fact, I have asked myself this question about my paralyzing overwhelm for the past two months or so. As far as I can look back, writing has been my thing.
I remember the time when I was in tenth grade. My dad decided to help me prepare for my final exams. To my shock, he just came in one day and said that he would ask me questions, like he used to when I was little. It was one thing to answer short questions, and a totally different concept of reciting essay style answers. I escaped that day by coming up with some vague excuse. But my dad was a persistent man.
Every time he saw me with a book in my hand, he would give me that “questioning” look. So, I decided to come up with a solution that would solve both our needs. His need was to be a part of my education and my need was to avoid public speaking in front of him. We decided that he would ask the questions and I would write down the answers. I have always believed that my writing skills developed during those days of preparing for my final exams with my dad.
I didn’t know it then but writing was going to be a big part of my life. I write to express my emotions. And my writing has this strange connection with my emotions. The sadder I get, my writing gets more intense. And when I’m done writing, the sense of relief I get is indescribable.
So, when I developed the biggest writing block that I ever faced in my life, it came as a big shock to me. The past couple of months, things have been going crazy all around us. The entire world is facing tragedies of massive proportion and there seems to be a sense of paralyzing overwhelm all around.
My personal emotions seem to be playing a roller coaster game with me. I’m up one day, and down in the dumps the next day. I’m hopeful one day and completely falling apart the next day. I’m laughing at something that my kids said or did, and feel guilty for being happy at such times. I’m downright sad one minute and then feel guilty for being such a pessimist. I should have been writing up a storm during such times. Every time some personal tragedy has struck me, I have always gone crazy writing. Words become my best friend and sentences flow in my head demanding to be written.
But, all I have faced in the last two months is a blank slate in my mind. It is dark in there, no words and no expressions. I kept searching for answers till I got them today as I talked with a good friend. These are not normal times of grieving. We are not grieving for anyone in particular.And yet, we are grieving for everyone.
Every single day, we hear stories of love, loss, sickness, separation and anxiety.
We hear the courageous stories of health care workers and other people on the frontline. We hear the sacrifices that people are making so that they can perform their duties to the best of their abilities. We are hearing stories of hundreds and thousands of people being affected by this new challenge that humanity is facing.
And amidst all these struggles, when we struggle with something as small as cabin fever, we feel like a terrible person. When we worry about little things like our child’s online education, we feel a horrible sense of guilt.
Fear and guilt are the ruling emotions!
Fear that this pandemic might effect someone close to us. Guilt for stealing those magical moments with our family amidst all this chaos. Fear that I may never be able to write again. Then guilt that I’m worried about my inability to write, while there are people worried about putting their family at risk because they are out there in the open dealing with sick people. Fear that I may not be around to cook my family their favorite dishes. Guilt that there are parents worried about whether their next meal will be available for their family. These see-saw of emotions will continue, and hopefully we will all figure out solutions to our problems, like my dad and I did, not too long ago.
For now, all I can manage to do is to live my life one day at a time, not going too crazy over this paralyzing overwhelm and not losing too much of my valuable hope. I don’t have solutions to the big problems of our lives. I don’t even have solutions to my little problem of a writer’s block.
All I have are these see-saw of never-ending emotions, and allow myself to feel them with honesty.
You are going to be surprised how many of us are overcoming daily anxiety. I clearly remember the first time that I got behind the steering wheel of a car. I felt two kinds of contrasting emotions stirring within me. I felt a sense of power and an incredibly debilitating sense of fear, at the thought of all that power.
One wrong move and the car would crash and along with it, all my hopes of healthy living might crash too. Unfortunately, that day, I gave more attention to the second feeling, completely setting aside all other rational thoughts.
So, from that day on, every time I sat on the driver’s seat of a car, I let that hopeless feeling take control of me. So, the whole time, I was learning to drive, I would imagine me and my car in all kind of disaster scenarios. It was like watching a movie in my head, except it didn’t seem fictional.
I was the hero of the movie and I was also the villain, as I crashed the car in to some ditch or a tree or some other car and did nothing but destroy, just like any classic bad guy would do.
The big change
And then I got married and came down to USA, a land where life threw me in front of my biggest challenge. There was no way out, and I had to drive here, especially if I didn’t want to be stuck in my home for the rest of my life. So, I got behind the wheels again, accompanied by all my fears, fast-beating heart, panic attacks and so on and so forth. Every night, I would think of various excuses, to use on my husband, as to why I couldn’t come out for driving practice the next day. I could pretend to be sick. I could just say that I’m extremely tired, from having spent the whole day at home. I could just tell him that I had to feel the urge to drive and I just wasn’t feeling it. The words stayed stuck in my throat. Even I knew that those excuses sounded hollow. Even I knew that I had to act grown up and just get through this challenge. But, I felt helpless in front of the non-stop disastrous thought patterns that my mind kept presenting. It took me ages to understand that what I had been experiencing all these years, right from my childhood had a name attached to it.
The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as, “An emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.” It sounds very simplistic when you put what you feel in a decided set of words. Words simply cannot do justice to what you feel, no matter how eloquently they are put together. You want to cry, but tears won’t form. You want to scream, but vocal cords stop working. You want to speak with someone about what you’re going through, but the words seem to kind of freeze in your throat. All you’re left with is this roaring sound in your head and the words, “I can’t do this!”
The days trudged by, and I did manage to somehow get my license to drive. All the days of practice with my husband, many driving school sessions and a couple of driver’s tests later, the miracle happened. I felt victorious when I held that license in my hand. I felt on top of the world, and then I made the mistake of looking down from that height. Reality hit me as I realized, now that I was legally allowed to, I was actually expected to drive places, all by myself. And that’s when the panic button hit one more time. My husband tried his very best to motivate me, but the terror of it had paralyzed me …all over again.
A reason to move forward.
It took me two years to move forward, and the reason came in the form of my first bundle of joy, my little daughter and the lady who gave birth to me, my mom. My mom was the one who said, “I’ll take care of your little one, and you make sure that you can take care of her when I have to leave.” In retrospect, I guess that was all I required to move myself to do something. I had to accept that if I wanted to be able to independently take care of my child here, I had to face my fear, no matter how strong the fear was and how weak I felt.
It started with little baby steps, small trips to the nearest grocery store, and lead to bigger things like handling my baby’s doctor’s appointment, all by myself. Every little step that I took, seemed to push me ahead. Pretty soon, I was able to convince myself pretty quickly that I wasn’t anxious about driving anymore.
And then came the big setback.
It happened, the day I had been dreading all these years, arrived. And it came so innocently that it caught me off guard. It was a regular morning and a regular visit to my daughter’s preschool. As I drove out of her school, I misjudged the oncoming traffic, and crashed straight into a car, with my daughter in the back and my mother-in-law sitting next to me. Though all three of us were shaken up by the event, no one was thankfully injured, not even the driver of the other car. But my nightmare of crashing my car came true.
Moving on again
If I say that I breezed through the next few days, I would be a big fat liar! It was horrifyingly painful and the image of the broken van is permanently etched in my brain. Not to mention the fact, that once I was in a condition to start driving again, I had to pass the same route every day, twice a day, for five days a week as I dropped and picked up my daughter from her preschool. It did not happen just like that. It took me months, probably years to gain my full confidence back. But, sometimes the only way you can get over something is simply by getting over it. You take one painful step after another, and before you know it, you look back, in awe, of the distance you have managed to travel.
The lessons learned
What I learned is what I’d like to pass on to my children and to anyone else who faces anxiety.
1. Do not ignore or suppress your fears. Doing that just increases the size of your anxiety. It definitely does not make it go away.
2. When you have decided that you will be facing your fears, do not listen to the negative self-talk that you will often hear. You will not fail at this. You will not look back and doubt yourself. You can do this and more, a lot more.
3. Search and find your true motivation for walking past your fear. It can be for your parents or your friends. But it works best when it is for yourself. Your self-esteem and self-confidence are always the best motivators that you can find.
4. Always be prepared for setbacks, as they will invariably make an appearance at some point in your life. Just when you think you have conquered this, life will take an about-turn. And when that happens, take a deep breath, begin the process of taking one step after another, and keep moving on.
5. Whenever you feel down about how hard this is, try to visualize how it would feel when you look back one day from a place of strength and achievement. That day will come soon, even if things look bleak now.
If I say that my days of breaking into sweat are behind me, that would be another gigantic lie. Today, I drive all over the place, almost like I’m walking, and yet I’m aware that all it might take is one more episode of disaster and I may have to start all over again. And that’s completely alright with me. Real-life doesn’t offer happy-endings-forever.
What it does offer, are repeated opportunities to conquer fears and experience those happy endings.
First published on … https://sursangeet2000.wordpress.com/2019/10/14/overcoming-anxiety/
It is the season of giving Thanks in USA. Families from all over the country are gearing up for sharing meals and expressing gratitude for having families and friends to share their meals with. It is a beautiful event, that slows down our fast life and forces us to take stock of everything and everyone that we hold near and dear to us.
It reminds me of the times when I spentthese few days with our family members. My husband’s cousins from all over USA gather in one place with their family members, every year during Thanksgiving break.They say that real life lies in the simple things that we experience. I would be one of the first ones to be awake. There I would be, holding a hot cup of water, just relishing the beautiful sight of sunrise, waiting for the whole house to be awake. If there is beauty in silence, chaos comes with its own kind of charm.
In the next half-an-hour, an entirehousehold, consisting of about 10 to 15 families will wake up, and bring with it the sounds of adults joking around, children demanding food, smells of delicious coffee brewing, music running in the back ground clashing with thesounds of dishes andpans in the kitchen.
Living in the moment
When I want to live in any moment of time, whether calm or chaotic, I take a step back, physically as well as in my mind, and just take in the whole scene as if I’m a part of it and yet I’m away from it. It puts a whole new perspective and makes you appreciate the present like nothing else can. It makes you truly thankful for all the little and big things in your life.
I’m thankful for ….
1. Each and every Thanksgiving get-together with my family members which created the home away from home. Meeting relatives, making lunches and dinners together, singing and dancing the night away, chatting for hours together, again late in to the night, watching your children bond with their cousins, and simply being present in the moment …all your worries and tensions left far far behind. That’s a lot to be thankful for!!
2. My husband who has been with me through thick and thin, through every up and down that life has thrown our way. I can not imagine or wish for a better life partner. We complement each other in strengths and weaknesses, in agreements and fights, in the lows and highs of our relationship and for that I’m ever thankful!
3. My children who turned a naive little girl into a strong woman and mother. If they had not entered in my life, I would not have grown to be what I’m today. Every challenge that they faced and brought in to my life, I’ve grown with them. The first day that I brought them home from the hospital was a challenge of its own. As I held their hand in my hand, and the moment they grabbed my finger, a priceless moment in and of itself, I was hooked for the rest of my life. From the moment they were born to the moment their little extensions will be born, I will forever be thankful!!
4. I’m thankful for the first silence of the morning, when the entire household is still fast asleep.I’m extremely grateful for that first sip of my coffee that makes me go … aaahhhh. I’m so thankful for the sounds of the pressure cooker, pots and pans, as I go about preparing lunches for all of us. But, I’m most thankful for the sleepy good mornings that I get from my family, as they reluctantly step out of the comfort of their beds.
5. Finally, I’m just very thankful for being alive and the sensations that it brings with it. Yes, life can throw some very big challenges from time to time. But, it is those difficulties that bring growth in our lives and make us aware of our existence. I’m so grateful for the momentous feeling I get when I cross another hurdle and come out victorious. So, bring it on life … give me another good reason to be thankful in this season of thanksgiving!!
It was just a regular day at the county library. I sat on a couch, in the children’s corner, waiting for my kids to select the books that they would like to take home. I probably was too involved in observing a ten-month old attempting to stand on his own, which would explain why I completely missed the thirteen-year-old boy who sat down on a couch next to me.
“Excuse me?” The voice startled me. “Were your children sitting on this couch?”
I was totally thrown by this question. “No, none of my kids were sitting on the couch.” I smiled.
“Are you absolutely sure that none of your kids were sitting here before me?”
I stopped to think for a minute, how to address this child’s concern about my children.
“I just wanted to make sure that your kids were not sitting here before me.”
It would not be a lie to state that I was beginning to get a bit uncomfortable with this line of questioning. Something inside me cautioned me that this was not a regular question of a regular child. He would not look me in the eye when he asked me that question. He was swaying back and forth, looking at the carpet, and waited for me to give him the answer that he wanted to hear. I gave the kid my brightest smile and assured him that my kids did not intend to ever sit on the couch. That seemed to be enough for him, as his attention was diverted to other people walking around us.
And that was when he spotted a couple of teenage girls walking across the room and he called out the name of one of those girls. Now I had a clear view of the girl’s face, as she looked at her friend, and they seemed to be in a hurry to get away from that place. As I saw an expression on the girl’s face, I realized that I had experienced the same feeling a few minutes back when I was put on a spotlight by this teenage boy. The girls tried to avoid him, but he stood right in front of the girls, and they had no choice but to engage in a conversation with him.
This little incident at the library made me very aware of how uncomfortable we get when we come face to face with something that may be a little bit different. We like our things to be regular or as we like to put it, normal. Anything that is even slightly abnormal makes us uneasy. And how do we decide what is normal, simply put, it is a case of majority rules? If a majority of people speak or act in a certain way, that is normal and everything else either becomes a mystery or has to be put in a particular slot. We live in a new era, where we not only categorize objects and things; we have also learned to place human development in various categories.
Category Normal Vs. Special Needs
Unfortunately, human beings are not machines that need to be fixed. Every one of us has something that is unique to us. Our strengths are our own and our problems are our own. We are such a diverse gene pool and yet we are being forced to stay in the confines of one category of normal. And if for any reason, we fail to fit in that category, we are immediately thrown out of that circle and we are put in another category of “special needs”.
Now which one of us can honestly say that we do not have any special needs of our own? I like to feel special just as much as anybody who breathes in this world. I have the special need of being surrounded by my family and friends. I have a special need to be respected by people around me. I have a special need to be appreciated for my knowledge and skill sets that I possess.
I have the special need to be accommodated for my shortcomings that feel endless on some days. There are days that I feel that things could not possibly get worst for me or my family member. But, I have been lucky that none of my teachers or doctors have labeled me “special needs”.
I am lucky that I have learned the art of getting lost in a crowd by talking and behaving like hundreds of those that are next to me. My negative sides are only visible to those that are closest to me, my immediate family and close friends. They have learned to accept me as a whole, the good, the bad and the ugly.
It pains me to say it, but I feel like I have been the luckiest that none of my children have been officially labeled as anything other than being a kid. But I wonder when I look at the number of children being diagnosed with one thing or another, how long my children can escape this net? Does that mean I feel that children should not be given help when required? The answer to this question is a resounding NO. I personally am a very big advocate of early intervention. If there are problems, they need to be solved, and there is not a single doubt in my mind about getting children the required help. The real question is, “Is that enough?”
To answer this question, I need to take you back to the time that I was chatting with the teenage boy in the library, and the alarm bells that were ringing in my head. To be more specific, I have to admit to myself that the child’s behavior made me uneasy. If, as a normal grown-up, I cannot move past my pre-conceived notion of what is normal behavior, how can we expect the younger generation to embrace this difference? And if the younger generation is not taught to accept this difference, what are the hopes of these special children for leading a successful and fulfilling life?
Every parent wants their child to lead a successful life and be accepted for who they are. So, why should those children who act different today feel anything but accepted? As we keep an eye out for the well-being of our children, we also have to make sure that we are raising them to be the responsible adults of tomorrow. After all, the children today are going to be parents tomorrow, with children of their own.
They are also going to be engineers, doctors, architects, chefs, grocers who are going to face special needs adults. Depending on their skill sets, the so-called special adults could be living in a group home, or trying to be independent, and fit in the big, so-called normal world of our children.
I’d like to dream of a future when my daughter and son walk hand in hand with a so-called special needs friend and there are no alarm bells ringing in their mind. It is not enough to make space for special needs children in a regular classroom. It is even more important to make a space for them in our children’s hearts.
The need of the hour is to remove the normal and special categories and move them all into one ‘human’ category. And all we need to do for that is to broaden our vision of normal behavior. Children follow the adults in their life. One-step in the right direction taken by us can lead us all to a brighter and better future.
Read the book that helps build confidence, acceptance, moderation, reliance and more … within SELF!
Each and every one of us has some talent that comes naturally to us. For me, it is Carnatic music, a form of Indian classical music. I always loved music even as a child. But, to be honest, shy as I was, I enjoyed singing in the privacy of my home, more than anywhere else. And then I was introduced to Carnatic music as my mom officially got me into a music class.
I was the only kid in the class, so I had no choice but to sing out loud enough for at least the teacher to be able to hear me. And that was the first time I knew that music was my natural talent. I quickly progressed through the lessons, and my teacher could go as fast or as slow, depending on the pace that I set. Those were some wonderful years that I spent and both my talent and confidence grew, day after day.
I started singing more in public. The shy little girl in me took a back seat, as I started performing more for the audience. I would learn a new lesson, and walk back home with the new song running in my head. I was aware of the people around me staring and I cared less and less about what impression I was making on people walking in the street. To say those were the best times of my life would be an under statement.
But life took over and I ended up stopping my music lessons. I wasn’t aware of it then, but I was making the biggest mistake of my life. I have often wondered how my life could have been different if I had not quit my music lessons. I remember how sad my mom had been and I always wished I hadn’t let life disrupt the most beautiful moments of my life.
Every child has something that comes naturally to them. For some it may be music, while for others it may be art or they may be an excellent writer. While academics play a very important role in their lives, as parents we also need to find out every single talent that comes naturally to our child.
Identifying the hidden talent
The most obvious talents such as writing, drawing or playing a musical instrument are easy to accept. But talents don’t always come in a very specific pattern. Take the example of a child who has been termed as the class clown.
On the outside, it may seem as if he is wasting away his life just by being silly. But on deeper examination, a parent may find that the child has a natural ability to make others laugh. This child could grow up to be a stand up comedian. As parents, we need to learn to keep an open mind about our child’s abilities.
Nurturing our child’s talents
We are already doing the best that we can to raise our child to be a well rounded individuals. Once the child’s natural abilities have been identified, it is up to the parents to provide the child with opportunities in the form of formal lessons.
This usually involves juggling schedules and dropping and picking them up from different activities. And if there is more than one child in the house, schedules can get very tricky. But the most important thing that a parent needs to remember is giving the child adequate time and energy to practice his/her skill.
Letting the child lead
The biggest mistake that a parent can make is dominating the child’s passion. Children have their own way of following their heart. We often think that just because we are older, we are more knowledgeable.
In the process, we often hinder the child’s natural abilities to make a decision. While it is good to keep reminding children to practice their skill, it works even better when the children are themselves motivated to work on their skill. The parent’s role is to gently shift the responsibilities on their child’s shoulder, constantly reminding them that they are way more capable than they think.
When interests change.
Not every child finds and sticks to one passion. Just like grown ups have changing interests, children are allowed to change their minds too. There are some kids who like to try everything before they pick one ability that they would like to develop. We may be raising a Jack-of-all-trades, and that may not be the end of the world.
As I grew older, I moved on to so many different interests and passions. I found that I had a natural ability to express my emotions in words. I also learnt that I could convert my love for books into another hobby of writing book reviews. Music is still a big part of my life. Both my children have musical abilities.
My older daughter is experimenting with musical instruments such as guitar and actively participates in her school chorus. My son, on the other hand, loves Carnatic music just as much as I did as a child. And as I attempt to guide and supervise their natural talents, I find myself continuing to develop my own talents and passions.
I have come to accept that learning is a life-long process and it doesn’t have to stop at any particular age.
Find more tips on raising kids who accept themselves and grow with a confident mindset to achieve long term success in life.
It was just another pleasant evening in the neighborhood. I was out walking with my friends when I noticed a harried mother following her toddler who was walking, or should I say running around with her toy stroller.
Now, this little female had a mind of her own and would insist on running towards a group of older boys playing soccer. The mother was trying her best to move the child away from the boys, as she obviously didn’t want her child to get hurt. But the little one let out a scream and turned right towards the boys again. This continued for some time and the mother was close to tears. And just then, another parent who must have observed this mother-daughter interaction smiled at the tired mom and said, “You are raising a leader. She is not going to follow you. You have to follow where she goes.”
In a world that requires children to listen to authority, and follow directions, it amazed me to see and hear such an out-of-the-box thinking by another parent.
In a world that passes judgment at parents for not being able to control their children, a tiny gesture of understanding and support feels like a breath of fresh air. A tired-looking parent and a tantrum-throwing toddler is a common sight for most of us. But, how often do we get to see an understanding passerby who puts a completely unique spin to the most common situation that a parent faces with their little ones?
When a child is throwing a tantrum or seems to be questioning our decisions, our initial reaction is always that if they don’t listen to their own parents, how are they ever going to respect authority?
It never occurs to us that we could be raising a leader, someone who will grow up to set his own rules for others to follow.
If everybody wanted to be leaders, who would follow them, someone who lifts everyone up? In any group of kids that we observe, we will find kids that make up new rules of games and teach their friends the right way to play that game.
On closer observation, we will also find that a group of kids that follow these rules and regulations. As parents, we want to instill leadership qualities in our children. But we fail to recognize the importance of people who implement these rules set by the leader. Can a teacher function without an assistant? Can a chef prepare all those tasty dishes without those who chop vegetables?
Every job that a person does has its place in society. Let’s not undermine the importance of raising those rule followers and implementer.
We all have come across emotional children. These kids always seem to cry at the drop of a hat.
Anything that seems to be even slightly off and the tears seem to promptly flow. And then we start worrying about how this kid is going to manage the challenges ahead in his life. We never stop to think that we are raising children filled with love and empathy. They cry because they feel more strongly than others.
These might become adults who understand the importance of valuing feelings and emotions.
Raising Critical Thinkers
What about those children who seem to live in a world of their own? They have been called introverts, extremely shy and sometimes even anti-social. The one thing that they truly are, but never been called is observers or thinkers.
These are the children that grow up to discover gravity after observing an apple falling from the tree.
These are the kids that have an amazing social skill set. They are the extroverts that make friends easily and maintain relationships with the same ease. Parents may worry that their social life may come in the way of their other responsibilities. And then, these kids set out to prove their parents’ worries wrong by using their social network to build a career of their own and even become billionaires.
A common sight in every classroom is the class clown. And if our kid is that child, we shake our heads wondering if they would ever be taken seriously by anyone in their life. And yet, these are the kids who bring a smile on everyone’s face as they might grow up to be entertainers in the show business.
As parents and people residing in a community, we are often quick to pass judgment on other parents or members of our community. We all have, at different times, raised our eyebrows at a child throwing a tantrum and their tired parents. We also have, as parents, wondered how our parenting skills and our child’s behavior will be judged by others. The truth is that children should be raised in a worry-free environment. Every child comes into this world with their own skill-set …strengths as well as weaknesses. It is our job as a parent to make their strengths stronger and their weaknesses weaker.
And it is our job as productive members of the community, to help other parents by offering them a judgment-free community. Comment below and let us know what quality you feel your child possesses at present?
Raise Confident Kids with a Global Mindset with Strong Roots!
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new.”
A wonderful quote by the former president of The United States of America, Barrack Obama. Every one of us comes across such quotes online. Sometimes, it is said by famous people, or some other time, an anonymous writer makes us think by using such quotes. And yet, the hardest thing we find is to ask for help.
If we are a parent, we are expected to be good at pretty much everything. We are those super-beings that single-handedly lift mountains, whether it is a sick child, our work duties, various pick-ups and drop-offs, piles of laundry, and so on and so forth. We dare not complain and shouldn’t even think about asking for help.
So, the next time that we are neck-deep in work, probably are even feeling a bit off-weather, we need to remember, asking for help is not acceptable. The pressure to perform, no matter what, maybe subtle, but it is there. We may feel like we have been pushed into the sea of life, chore after chore pulling us further down, but we must fight the sinking feeling, go against the wave, and come right out like the super-heroes we are meant to be. We just blindly accept this rule without questioning why and who expects us to be like this.
When a person appears to be strong.
We have all experienced this, or have at least seen somebody who has experienced this. There are a group of people in life who appear to have all of it together. They are efficient at their work, run a stable family, always seem to be on top of things, irrespective of the nature of the challenge. As soon as people sense their strength, they start hovering around them.
“They are so smart!” “They can handle anything, no matter how big or small a problem!” “Their spouses and children are so lucky to have them in life!”
It starts with them liking this attention. After all, who doesn’t like being admired and appreciated by everyone?
They begin to completely believe and accept the hype created around them. They begin to feel that they are invincible and that nothing can faze them. And if their spouse and children begin to look up to them for every little or big situation, they act as if it is nothing and it can be quickly solved by the super-parent.
The problems multiply.
To start with, the problems are actually pretty solvable. And as long as that’s the case, the parent can maintain their, “super” image, as they seem to fight battles after battles without even a flinch. But then, the very same problems begin to multiply, even as the parent’s strength starts diminishing from all the other battles that they have fought and won. On some level, they have forgotten that they are just humans, and not super-anything. The problems start to increase and eventually they come face to face with a big issue that actually might not get solved, no matter how hard they try and fight.
People start to look up at them for solutions.
So, the big crisis arrives, and everybody is expectantly looking up to them to be the rescuer again. But, somewhere deep inside, a nagging feeling begins to appear. They are not really as strong as they liked to think. There are still some problems that they couldn’t possibly conquer on their own, and dear heaven in god, it looks like they might actually need help. But, they look around and all they find is adoring and hopeful eyes that suddenly appear to be burdensome. Everybody likes being needed, but nobody likes being in the position of being needed all the time.
And they are trapped.
The sense of being trapped in their own net intensifies, even as the problem seems nowhere close to getting solved. They begin to worry that people will finally know the truth that the “the super-human” image that they had painfully created was all a lie. They were not really that strong, to begin with, and all the burden they had been carrying alone had just made their shoulders weaker.
The next step.
Just like there is always a solution to every problem, there is always a positive end to every negative mindset. When we are at the bottom of the pit, there is no other place but to look up. Clichéd as these lines may seem, there is a great deal of truth in them. It is only when we accept that we are not as strong as we thought, we will even begin to think of asking for help.
When a parent is surrounded by a sick toddler, dirty piles of laundry, no dinner in the kitchen, they will have no choice but to call up a family member and ask someone if they can get some food, do their laundry, or maybe just come over to take care of the child, as they try to finish other tasks.
They ask and they receive.
The things that we complicate the most often have the easiest resolutions. When a parent is tired after a long day of hard work, just kindly asking their children for a glass of water often results in a very satisfactory exchange of emotions. The parent is thrilled to realize that the child would love to help, and the child is thrilled to know that even a parent sometimes needs help. It also teaches children that to ask for help is not a sign of weakness. It takes courage to know that we are unable to do something and that somebody else might actually have to help us to get the work done.
It is said that it takes a village to raise children. I believe that this applies not just for kids, but for each and every one of us. We weren’t alone when we were born. We won’t be alone when we die. Each and every one of us will have somebody different present at the time of our birth and death, but very rarely will we be alone.
It is good to be strong and independent in life. But it is equally good to know when a situation is too much for us to handle alone. If there’s food to be prepared, let’s ask a friend. If there’s unlimited laundry and no time to do it, let’s look for a laundromat. If we need some kind words, let’s trust our children or other family members.
We can choose to live our lives in a vicious cycle of our invincibility. Or we can accept the sweet truth that our village lives right around us, but will only appear if and when we decide to look for them.
One of the first things that we learn to dread when we decide to enter the parenting roller-coaster is getting that difficult child. You know who I’m talking about, don’t you? That child with a mind of his own. That child who appears to have entered this world for one and only one reason, pushing all our buttons. And god forbid if the child decides to be a picky eater! It is the stuff that nightmares are made of.
We spend our life dreaming of that picture-perfect child, the one who listens to every word we say, is smart, studies well and eats every single thing that is offered to him, on top of everything else. But the reality is quite different from our dreamland. What we get is a screaming, tantrum-throwing child, who runs at the sight of books and who will only eat junk food. The resulting battle that ensues is what dramatic stories are made of. The game is called power-struggle, and who controls whom is the object of this game. Makes your head spin, doesn’t it?
The breakfast, lunch and dinner table turns into a battleground and the battling sides are a parent and a child. The little being, the sight of whom can bring a tender smile on our face can also bring out screams from our throat that we never knew existed in us.
The dinner table conversations revolve around, ” Eat your carrots or you don’t get ice-cream!” The parent is nagging, the child is screaming and throwing food all over the place and the house appears like a tornado just made an appearance. We all know that this is a problem, but what is the solution?
First thing first.
Finding a solution to the problem often is the secondary step. We often ignore the first step, try to climb over it, fall down and believe that we fell because we tried the wrong solution. The first step to handling any problem is staying calm ourselves. An agitated mind does not offer answers. It just raises more questions and absolutely exhausts us in the process. So let’s all take a deep breath, count to ten, and try to get a totally different perspective of the situation.
The little being that came out of us, is a unique individual. He may look like us and even act like us in some ways, but he is separate from us. He is not going to like everything we like or even feel the way we feel about things. And he does not like carrots!! We can eat, drink and sleep with carrots, but he simply does not like them.
And that is completely okay, but not for us.
We know carrots are really good for him. We have read on the internet that carrots are rich in vitamins, mineral, and fiber. They are good for eyes and in the long term have been known to even prevent cancer. But most importantly, we love carrots. It’s all good except, the apple of our eye extremely dislikes carrots.
What is a parent to do?
We have accepted, in as calm a state of mind as we possibly can, that our child does not like carrots. So what, do we just give up on our idea of carrot-eating dream child? That’s not really a good option for us.
The answer to this often depends on the age of the child.
If we are dealing with a tantrum-throwing toddler, we go with the flow. We offer him carrots, and if they start flying all over the dining room, we calmly pick them all up, maybe clean the carrots and start eating them ourselves. After-all, we do not want to waste food, do we? If we are well-fed, our efficiency in dealing with trouble can only increase, right?
As for the unhappy child, we offer him another healthy vegetable, something that he likes, like beans. We do want to feed him, as a starving child can also be the worst possible tantrum thrower. If the child is older, we explain to them why carrots are so good for their health.
Maybe, we also show them those internet articles that we have painfully researched. We teach them that they need to eat those pesky vegetables, especially if they want to be strong and functioning being. Will it work? Your guess is as good as mine. It may work or our child may still decide to be stubborn and not eat it. He may tell us that he is fine the way he is and there is really nothing we can do about it. So, what’s next?
When it comes to children, we need to remember to take lots of breaks in between all the parenting we do. When we step away from the problem for a short period of time, we feel rejuvenated. If our child does not want to eat carrots today, that does not mean they will never eat them ever again.
Kids can be tricky that way. What they don’t like today may become their most-favorite-dish-ever tomorrow.
This follows the same thought process of friends-today-but-enemies- tomorrow scenario. So, we give it a week and try the whole process all over again. The odds are that food may fly some more, but they can always be cleaned up and we get the satisfaction of not really giving up.
But, aren’t we really giving in to the tantrum?
Yes, we are probably giving in, temporarily.
The real question is, do we really want to stuff their faces with food, even the healthy kind, by threatening them with dire consequences?
The food may be healthy, but the energy that we are serving along with the platter of food should count for something too, right? The next question that our restless mind asks is that if we give in to their demands now, what will people say?
We all face it, constantly, over every decision that we take, whether it is about the child’ s education, behavior or eating habits. We are constantly trying to live up to an image of the perfect parent with the perfect child. If we feed the child, people say that we are encouraging them to be dependent on us.
If we put our foot down and expect them to eat by themselves, we are being harsh. We cannot escape judgment, no matter which path we pick.
So, we may as well do what is peaceful for us and makes the most sense to us at that point in time. And if there is some consequence to our action, so be it. At least, it was our choice and not forced upon us by an outsider’s opinion.
In my household, we have an easy-going child as well as a picky child. Now which one will be easy going and which one will be picky depends on the situation. It can be for a dish, for school work, or friends.
Disaster comes un-announced and brings with it a great deal of emotion. What I have learned from my fifteen years of parenting is that it all depends on my attitude to the problem. If I make it a big deal in my head, it becomes the biggest deal outside.
And then begins a downward spiral that results in a lot of screaming and crying from everyone, and the loudest screams are usually coming from me.
A bitter pill we all need to swallow is that there is no one-step-solution to such problems.
What worked for us may not work for someone else. We want our children to grow up to be balanced individuals, but we also need to make sure that they don’t lose their individuality in this process. So, if they don’t eat everything that we want them to eat, it’s not the end of the world!!
Get Our Book for Confident Kids with a Global Mindset
Bucket lists are ‘in’ now. Everyone is making a list of things they want to do before they turn 30 or 40 or even before they move on to heavenly abode. I decided to give it a try with a twist. So, I made a list of hopes and dreams, not for me but for the future generation, also known as – My Kids! This would turn into real advice they can use to be mentally strong adults as well.
Advice to Be Raise Mentally Strong Adults
Reach for the Stars
1. Everyone wants to be known as the next big achiever! I dream that my children understand that sky is indeed the limit for them. They can be whoever they want to be. However, I hope that they also know that no matter what they try to be, being human while trying to achieve is more important than any other crown that they will wear.
You do not want to reach the top and look down upon the people you have trampled to reach your destination
Love Totally & Move On When Needed
2. Relationships and people are the driving force behind each and every one of us. I dream that my children are surrounded by love and respect in all their relationships. And I hope to teach them an important life-lesson …Looking for closure in relationships is equivalent to giving away your supreme power to be happy. When you read a book, you do not wait for the author to come turn your pages or close the book for you. You decide when enough is enough, or when you want to read more.
Contribute to Society
3. Each of us have an important role to play in this society. Some of us become doctors and teachers while others might chose to stay home and care for our family members. I dream for my children to be productive members of our society. It would be lovely if they could earn enough money while doing this. But I hope that they find happiness in whatever they decide their contribution should be.
Lose with Grace
4. You win some. You lose some . An unwritten fact of life that everybody seems to ignore. I dream that my children win every game of life. But, I hope that they also learn to take a loss in their stride. You fall, you get up and get going for the next challenge.
Forgive & Forget
5. We live in unforgiving times. People find it hardest to let go and move on from people and situations. My dream is that my children never ever face a situation where they have to forgive or have to be forgiven by someone. But I sincerely hope that they don’t follow the saying …I will forgive but not forget. Have you really forgiven someone if you haven’t forgotten what they did to you?
Keep Bettering Yourself
6. Competing with others robs you of your self-esteem and peace of mind. I dream that my children increase and improve their talents, every single day of their life. But I hope that they are aware that no matter how good they think they are at some thing, there might be someone who is better than them and that is completely alright!
Do What Feels Right
7. We are all surrounded by various relationships and the expectations that come with them. We are constantly expected to be a certain person and act a certain way with people around us. I dream that my children are strong and capable enough to deal with these expectations.
I hope that they also understand that it is impossible to keep everyone happy constantly without going crazy yourself. At some point, they should learn to do things that feels right to them and do it because it is the right thing to do.
Keep Expectations in Check
8. And continuing on the above point, I dream that my children are smart enough to not have too many expectations from people and situations. I do hope though that if they do have expectations and face any disappointments, they are brave enough to dust off and move on. You do not form relationships to get something from them, you form them because you are a social animal and it is what you should be doing.
Be Kind – To Others & Yourself
9. The act of helping someone gives you a great deal of satisfaction. I dream that my children are known for their kind and helpful nature. But I truly hope that they are also kind to themselves, especially when they feel like they have made a mistake. When you learn to be kind to yourself, you develop a new perspective of other people’s so-called mistakes.
Work & Play Hard
10. We constantly live our lives pursuing one objective after another. When one mission is fulfilled, another task is waiting just around the corner. I dream that my children are able to fulfill all their objectives and missions that they have set up for their life. But I hope that they also manage to have fun while working hard to meet their goals. As the saying goes, all work and no play makes you a dull boy/girl. I would love for them to work hard and play hard too.
When it comes to hopes and dreams, there is no end to what we want for our children. But a parent’s biggest hope and dream will always be for their children to be have a peaceful and a joyful life!!
He was our lighthouse, my dad. The rock that we could hang on to, at times of storm. We never expected to be shaken up, the way life shook us one day, not this early in our lives. The dreaded phone call came on a regular summer morning. It was their wedding anniversary, the day that we should have been celebrating. Instead, they were rushing off to see a doctor as he had been getting severe headaches. And then began my days of being a parent while losing one.
The doctor took an MRI and asked him to get admitted immediately. They saw bleeding in his brain and dad kept insisting that he felt fine. When the doctors at the hospital said what they said, he told them “,
If you do the things that you are saying, things are not going to be normal for me.” And he was right. The next nine months were the hardest times that a man and his family would face. His life went back and forth between the hospital and home and our lives went back and forth between hope and fear. One phone call took away life as we knew it.
Being a Parent While Losing One
While our mom was thrown in the midst of full-time care giving, my sister & I had our own share of realities to face. It started with , which one of us could get to them faster and for how long. We both had our own families to take care of, our husband, children, in-laws, all of whom proved to be our rock.
As we went back and forth between our homes and our parent’s residence, we had to contend with the big G, the humongous guilt factor. When we stayed with our parents, we felt bad for our little ones, and when we came back home, we spent sleepless nights worrying about our parents. It was a lose-lose from all ends, or at least it seemed that way. Being a parent while losing one is unimaginable.
The nine months seemed to have passed in a daze. To be honest, as I sit here trying to recollect what kind of parenting I did in those months, I can not point a single moment in time when I did anything great.
But the days did pass by, one day at a time. Lunches were made, kids were dropped off and picked up from their activities, home-works were accomplished, parent-teacher conferences were attended and we managed to stay sane through it all.
Emotional roller coaster…
However, even the little ones had to experience their share of emotional upheavals. Though my younger one was not fully aware of what was going on with his grandpa, he had to undergo separation from his mom, at least a couple of times.
So, every time I would come back from the trip, he would make me promise that I wouldn’t go back. And every single time, I promised him that no matter how many times I had to leave, I would always come back.
My older daughter became my rock, even as she occupied herself with her school work and taking care of her little brother. As much as she was heartbroken at the thought of her grand-dad, she always stood by her mother. She sometimes became the second mom of her sibling, and at other times, a strong shoulder for her mother, so much so that her mother lost track of who was the parent.
The dreaded final days…
Even as we dealt with day to day activities, my dad’s health deteriorated. After repeated surgeries, we all began to accept the fact that he couldn’t survive the latest of his health crisis for long. We didn’t want him to undergo any more trouble and we couldn’t bear to watch what it was doing to our mom.
The decision was officially taken out of our hands as my dad went into a coma and the doctors too asked us to take him home, as there was nothing else that they could do.
As our mom struggled with watching him slip out of her hands, we struggled with maintaining our sanity, especially in front of our children. I had to leave one more time, just so that I could spend a few days with my dad and support my mom. I have often wondered where we got all the strength to deal with the necessities of taking care of a terminally-ill person. But we held strong, especially my mom, surrounded by a network of well-wishers and some very able doctors and nurses.
While my children coped with my absence, I sang to my dad, talked with him, held his hands and promised him that we would take care of his wife, our mother. And when my son came down with flu, despite my husband’s protests, I flew back to take care of my son, at my mother’s insistence. I will always admire my mom’s clear-headed thinking at times of such emotional turmoil. We each had to do our duty, and there would not be any confusion on who does what.
No matter what kind of situation life throws at you, it comes with its share of lessons. We always think that we could never handle something, and it could be anything. Then, one fine day, that situation stares at you, you are faced with being a parent while losing one and you find yourself coping with it in ways you never thought were possible.
You are surrounded by your village, people near and far, friends and acquaintances, near and distant relations, each and every one of them contributing in their own magical way. But the most important contribution is your own self. You are stronger than you ever imagined, braver than you ever thought. You tackle it, one problem at a time, and one day at a time.
And, the biggest parenting lesson that I learned was from my mom, there is no guilt in parenting , period. You do not have to feel guilty over your choices, nor should you make others feel guilty over their choices.
You do what you can do, to the best of your abilities. Some of them will be right and some might even be wrong and you face the consequences of each of these actions …again to the best of your abilities.
Nothing more, nothing less. A standard that we always saw our dad live up to, and what we continue to live by, as we move on in to a life without him.
To say that my son is a perfectionist would be a huge understatement. He does not like making mistakes. And the idea of doing something wrong paralyzes him so much that he won’t even try something unless he knows that he can do it.
So I do what every mom is supposed to do, keep reminding him that it’s OK to make mistakes and that learning from our mistakes helps us all grow our brain power.
On one such day of advice-giving, he looks up at me and says, “If I make a mistake, you get angry.” That was the day that I realized that his extreme reactions came from my unrealistic expectations.
That was also the day I understood that Moms can and often make mistakes.
So I started observing my behavior around my son. Every time he made a mistake, frown lines would appear on my face as if by magic. If the mistakes continued despite repeated instructions, my soft voice got louder. In a few days, I observed myself losing control more often than I would have liked. It felt as if someone else resided in me and she would take charge every once in a while.
Then, I had to follow up with the real work of catching myself while making those mistakes. It is so much easier to catch something once it has already been done. After-all, hindsight is always 20/20. The real challenge was to identify it right before it started.
So, every time that I felt I was losing control, I would count to ten, or start chanting Om. I also kept reminding myself that I was dealing with another human being, a little one who had his own share of feelings and emotions. And the little child’s expressions as he looked at my face was a bit too much to bear.
Shift Your Perspective
It took all my positive spirit to make myself understand that making mistakes was not the end of the world. I kept reminding myself and forgiving myself every time I lost control of my emotions. It took quite a bit of self-talk to come to terms with this side of me.
I even compared myself to the great Kramer in one episode of Seinfeld, where he decides not to talk. The guy would start talking and then in the middle of his speech, remember his oath, and state, “And it starts now!” That became my catch-phrase, my new mantra …It starts now!
But the most important thing that I did was to make a point of sharing with my son that getting angry over making mistakes was a huge blunder in itself. He had a huge grin on his face when he understood that I was the one in trouble for a change and that he got to “forgive” me.
And they live happily-ever-after
The day finally came, when both of our hard work gave us some tangible result. My son and I were singing a song at a pitch of G sharp.
As the song progressed, my son shook his head from time to time, even as he continued to sing. By the end of the song, I caught on to the fact that we were both singing in different pitches. I had gone down to F sharp which was not how we started the song.
I knew that all my efforts to teach him the value of making mistakes were not wasted when my little one waited for the song to get over, each of us singing in different pitches, and then exclaimed, “Mom you made a mistake … but that’s alright, you still sang well!”