Friday, January 26, 2018

Do You Repeat Yourself a Lot? This Technique Might Help!



I've stumbled upon a mind-blowing, stress reducing, and truly life-changing communication technique! This may prove especially useful when communicating with the males in your family, and though that might seem sexist, the reality is that this was borne out of my frustrations communicating with my husband and son. 

Here's what a normal conversation used to look like in our home:

Me: Do you need me to pick up your prescription after I run my errands later?
Husband (responding almost instantaneously):  What?
Me: Do you need me to pick up your prescription after I run my errands later?

And here's a common one with my son:

Me: Have you watered the plants yet?
Son(responding almost instantaneously)What?
Me: Have you watered the plants yet?

After years of operating this way, I finally got sick of repeating myself and feeling like my boys have become selectively hearing-impaired. It's exasperating!

One day, in my exasperation, I summoned my inner Dalai Lama and found the value of pausing...waiting...silence. I decided it was time to give up my 'echo'.

Our conversations then started looking more like this: 

Me: Do you need me to pick up your prescription after I run my errands later? / 
      Have you watered the plants yet?

Husband/Son (responding almost instantaneously):  What?

Me: (PAUSE...SILENCE....WAIT)....

Husband: Oh, no, it's ok. I already picked it up last night. 
Son: Not yet, Mama. I'll do it now.


I felt victorious over their selective impairment and I confirmed that it was all because they've gotten so used to my willingness to repeat myself that it's become a knee-jerk reaction for them to say 'What?'. Instead of truly listening to me, they've found it's just easier to ask for my echo, which would always inevitably come.

But now, I just wait for them to catch up. I give it a 3-5 minute pause and 98% of the time, they respond accordingly without me having to expend unnecessary energy in repeating myself. Of course there have been those very rare moments when they honestly didn't hear or understand me and that's perfectly fine. But at least now, I'm feeling like I'm approaching them with more patience as I wait for them to process and realize on their own what I just said. They're not stupid, nor deaf. Actually, I'm doing them a favor now by treating them like the smart males that they are, fully capable of comprehension and piecing together what they've just heard, even though they THINK they didn't hear. I'm giving them more credit than they give themselves! (Yes boys, you're welcome!)

I know this is part male brain wiring, part getting used to tuning me out. I can't change the former, so now I'm just training them to tune me back in. Once I find a way to train my boys how to read my mind so that things just get done automatically, I promise to let you know!


Let me know if this happens to you too, and even with female members of the family! I suspect this is not gender-specific, but a condition triggered in others by mothers.
 🤦🏻‍♀️ 



Friday, January 19, 2018

Rewriting With Kindness


There's this guy I knew as a teenager. I loathed him. In fact, for most of my life, I referred to him as an a**hole. 

We knew each other from high school, but when we met again and moved in the same circles during our early college days, we never fully acknowledged each other, let alone have a conversation. It didn't matter whether we were left by ourselves in the same room, or walked past the other in the hallways, we simply ignored each other as if we were complete strangers. I waited for him to make the first move but he never did. He's not a shy person by any stretch and since I observed that he spoke with practically everyone but me, it was easy for me to conclude that he was simply a first class a**hole. 

There's another important piece to this story: I had a crush on him. No one understood why and all my friends knew I deserved so much better in terms of looks. But all I saw was that he was intelligent and confident. And now he was being mysterious by not talking to me, fueling my imagination and the pen as he became the perfect inspiration for countless essays and poems in my mid-teens. He became indispensable to my psyche. 

After a while, I realized I was getting tired of our script. Him ignoring me moved from being mysterious to boring, until I rationalized everything by one label—'a**shole'.

Boredom turned to anger, and then indifference. Before anyone knew it, I had replaced him as my muse and moved on to other intelligent, confident and (some) better looking objects of affection. My taste in men eventually improved. I grew older, but my narrative of him and all my convenient labels never changed.

But what would happen if I changed my mind? 

Recently, from out of nowhere, I had a dream about him. We were the same young people but what was different was that we spoke to each other. There was no suggestion of any romantic sentiments between us, just more maturity and peace. 

That's when the thought hit me: What if I rewrote this story? What if I just consider the alternative and approach the narrative with more kindness? 

As soon as I started doing that, I saw the possibility that he might have seen me as the a**hole. Why didn't I initiate conversation? Why wasn't I the one who just said 'hello' and smiled? I was so preoccupied with hiding my feelings—making sure I never gave any indication that I had a crush on him—that I went to the other extreme of acting so indifferently, maybe even rudely. I probably struck him as a hostile snob, for all I know. 

But I simply didn't know any better. I was too uptight and immature. And just as I can be kinder with him now and decide to free him of my odious label, I know I also need to be kind to myself. I could have been more mature, less uptight, but I wasn't and I have to respect that part of my evolution. However, it's quite liberating to realize my role in a deeply-entrenched story where I've always accepted my part as the martyred victim. Now I see that I could very well have been an aggressor myself. 

It's so easy for us to create convenient narratives where we're always the heroes, or the virtuous underdogs who eventually rise from the ashes. But plots and characters are never black or white. Our complex biographies shape equally complex motives that always lead to imperfect outcomes. We may find ourselves focused on the pains we endure, but the truth is that we wield that same power that causes others pain whether we intend it or not. None of us is ever an unstained hero. To me, what's important is that we find peace when our mind combs through our narratives. And what I know is that any story, no matter how bitter, can be digested easier and offer that sense of peace, when laced with kindness.












Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Gift of Misery



I hope you are having a wonderful new year so far! It's good to be writing again after stepping back for quite a while. Some of you may have noticed, while majority I'm sure didn't and couldn't care less. 

To be perfectly honest, I've been going through some sort of an existential crisis as a blogger or writer. (And yes, as soon as I typed those two labels, I've had to backspace several times, retype, backspace again, retype, and finally decided to leave it be). I wish I could say that the reason for my 'disappearance' is because I was writing my first novel, or memoir, earning more money and saving the world from lunatics, aliens and asteroids. In reality, I've been feeling like a loser and have been cleaning, organizing and decorating around the house to distract myself. There's no better elixir to mask your inner mess than having an organized surrounding. 

My deep-thought moments have been all about asking what this is all for, wondering if my words count, what my end game is, and not finding any clear answers except for the clear realization that comparing myself to other bloggers, vloggers, writers, brand owners and social media wizards only make the weight of my misery completely unbearable. I know, I know, I ought to be wise enough to know that comparisons never made anyone happy. Blame it on my being a middle child, or my spending too much time in the academe simmering myself in a culture of overachievement. The fact is, I've been feeling lost and depressed. 

They say life has a funny way of calling your attention to things you need to realize and I can't help but feel that life has been calling me to take Gratitude more seriously. Because you know what? I really don't have a crappy life! In spite of my complaints and feeling lost and unworthy, and never knowing what to do next, I really OUGHT to be happy. And the real reason why I can't seem to allow myself to be happy is because I keep forcing myself to want 'more' only because of what I see people around me are doing, and because of what I assume I should be doing based on what I assume is expected of me. 

Too many assumptions, don't you think? 

Should any one person really live and measure her life based on assumptions? I think not. Neither do any of us deserve to live a life in a perpetual state of unworthiness. 

I'm tired of feeling unworthy only because I haven't accomplished things others already have. When I look at my life as a mother and a stay-at-home parent, I really am happy and content. For the longest time, I have denied that because I believed that those should never be enough. I believed that no one can (or should) be happy staying home to engage in the drudgery of housework. I believed that I'm a disappointment and a waste of space for choosing this life in spite of my master's degree and others saying how smart I am (as if only stupid people deserve to be stay-at-home parents). 

The truth is, I AM HAPPY staying home to take care of my family. 

I'm happy that my daily stress levels have been manageable and that I don't have to deal with social anxiety every day.

I am happy being who I am now, doing what I do. And just being 'Me' should be good enough for each of us. We all deserve that. Besides, the reality is that I am not 'more'—the way the material world defines 'more'—simply because it's probably not what I truly desire for myself. It's just not where my heart is.

The greatest gift I received from the Universe this New Year is this new mantra:

I will focus on being HAPPY, not on being special.

From now on, in everything that I do, the focus will be to find happiness in it, instead of craving to stand out, excel, be perfect and be recognized. Too much happiness has already been stolen from me through my fixation on wanting to be different from the rest, be 'special' and remarkable in everything that I do, that nothing seems ever good enough. I am tired. I'm tired of feeling miserable, tired of trying and ending up always disappointed with myself because I imagine the world's eyes glaring at me in judgment. I'm tired of obsessing over what the next course of action should be so that I can stand out, instead of simply choosing to do what I enjoy and makes me happy, no matter how ordinary it might seem to others. And you know what dawned on me?There is absolutely nothing wrong with being ordinary! And if being ordinary is my ticket to happiness, then I will choose it any day over wanting to be special yet staying miserable and depleted. 

We always say life is too short, and it really is. Make the most of it by focusing on seeing the abundance in you. I know now this is what I need to do.