Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Finding a Balance

For years I had been taught that for a relationship to be lasting and fulfilling, I’d have to be generous beyond my comfort zone. Maintaining healthy relationships does take some effort and I might have to be on the giving end quite often to be accepted and loved. It’s only after I got married, I realised that I couldn't have been more wrong.

Marriage was synonymous with change for me. It meant I had to completely strip myself off my old self and be a brand new me. I was an independent woman and had never stepped into the kitchen apart from the times I had to fix myself some instant noodles. I liked to sleep in on holidays and pamper myself. I had a head on my shoulders and held my own unbiased opinions about the world around me.
All that changed after marriage with a lot of effort on my part. I started spending time in the kitchen trying to create things that would please my new family. I used to be up early regardless of the time I had hit the sack, a habit that would make my new family accept and love me. I had things taken care of before they even thought about it. I showered them with gifts every now and then. I tried to accept traditions that made my new family happy regardless of my own likes and dislikes. And since I was putting in so much effort, I did expect some appreciation in return.

The time I had for myself soon dwindled to a few minutes a day. I gave up reading, a passion since childhood, simply because there was no more time. A day of never-ending domestic chores, being over-accommodating, and always nodding in agreement out of the fear of offending someone, was enough to suck all energy out of me.
Soon discontentment settled it. I was in constant battle with myself to stop nodding at things I did not believe in. I craved for more personal time to get back in tune with myself. My body was demanding more rest. I desperately wanted to be me again. 

Time passed and people forgot all the gifts and the good things I'd done. My obligation to do what I thought was expected of me was misunderstood as a belittling act. My exercising caution to keep away from sensitive family issues was taken to be dis-involvement and indifference. I faced frequent criticism over my culinary skills and I was constantly dealing with snide remarks instead of the appreciation I had expected for all my services. Yet, I absorbed everything negative, never venting it out. I spent sleepless nights rewinding the incidents and thinking where I went wrong or what I should have said or done. I was in a pitiable state and a feeling of being victimised began gnawing at me.  I couldn't quite understand where it had all gone wrong. I was doing my job, but there was no result, no appreciation, no acceptance; only judgement. And so, I ruminated on this problem often, reliving all the hurt, refusing to let go off the baggage.

And then one day, everything came crashing down. I had been too much on the giving end for too long and had exhausted myself out. A war of words broke out, flared by my incapability of expressing my true feelings and their incapacity to understand it.

It was only after a year that it dawned on me what had gone wrong. I had felt unappreciated, that was my part of the problem; the other part was that others had always been on the receiving end. They had the need to be appreciated too, which I had failed to fulfil. That’s when I switched sides and put myself on the receiving end doing my bit whenever required and allowing myself the luxury of not always being perfect. 

Miraculously, things changed for the better. I realised that simple things like appreciating my mother-in-law for something she had cooked would have worked; only that she would have had to fight her way through my excessively accommodating nature to receive that appreciation. Or I would have thanked my father-in-law for a lift, had I not been awfully concerned about the inconvenience it would cause him. All these were missed opportunities. 

A relationship is a balance between giving and receiving and no relationship with an imbalance of these two elements can survive and thrive. Though, the wounds of the past have left their mark, I guess I'd just bank on time to do what it does best; heal.

Thursday, 7 August 2014


Before, I used to practise silence because of the lack of understanding; now, I practise silence because of it’s adequacy. 

 - Candid Cadence

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Reader

If they would pay to just sit and read books day in and day out, I would have been a billionaire by now.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Writer's Block

When you face the writer's block, you know it's time to snuggle up with a great book and cup of piping hot coffee.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Monday, 30 June 2014

Perfection of God's Love

Have you ever experienced a moment complete in itself?
Have you ever felt, there was nothing more left to be accomplished?
Have you ever denied the world just for a moment of belonging, togetherness and ecstacy?
Have you ever stood on the shores of a turbulent ocean, watching the waves wash away every drop of fear and released a sigh of relief?
Have you ever given up and still been a winner?
Have you ever experienced perfect tranquility?
Has there been a time when you were sure of the perfect alignment of your body, mind and soul and marveled at its magic?
Have you ever been sure enough to laugh at uncertainty?
Have you ever felt like the master of the Universe?

I have.....
and every moment of the day when I feel this way,
every time I watch the birds return to their abode,
every time I see a soul smile...
I slowly close my eyes and say a silent prayer.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Bully's Side of the Story

I don't watch Britain's Got Talent regularly but whenever I've had a chance to, couldn't help but notice that apart from Simon's eye rolls one thing has been recurrent; bully victims.

Many people have come up and confessed they have been bullied at some point, which being so rampant in the western society slightly programs the audience and judges to be more sympathetic and consequently more supportive towards them. And why not? I was a victim myself at a very tender age of 5 years. I don't remember much of school that year, only the agony and the daily battle of making up my mind to get up, dress up and show up for another day of abuse and exploitation. I kept quiet for a long time but my parents started noticing that I was returning with lost items everyday without an explanation. They did what had to be done. My bully left school at the end of that academic year. I don't know what became of her. But I do remember her name and will always do.

Bullying has serious repercussions for the victim. It is a drastic blow to ones self esteem which leads to depression, anxiety and countless other psychological and physical issues. The self esteem of the victims is so botched that it's hard for them to muster up the guts to stop being victimized at every point in life. After my stint with a bully, I had no school friends for almost two years. I admit I still have trouble making friends, maintaining lasting friendships without my immediate family or even striking a casual conversation. According to CDC, bullying is the third leading cause of all suicides every year and has been on the rise in the last few decades. Some victims resort to bullying others in order to vent out their anger, boost self worth and feel respected again. Hence more victims and more bullies.

But while our heart goes out to the victims, we totally tend to disregard the psychology and background of the bully. Bullying is not genetic or an inherited trait but rather a developed proclivity owing to one's circumstances; family structure, culture, social and peer pressure etc. Although the fact is that bullies sprout from all economic levels and sociocultural backgrounds regardless of age, the contribution of the family institution is indisputable. Children who do not receive the much needed attention, respect as an individual and acceptance at home, their very first social school, seek it elsewhere through various means, hence the birth of a bully.

It may sound very idealistic but the changing dynamics in the family structure (single parents, both working or same sex parents) has a much greater impact on children than we can imagine. Children derive their sense of security from their mothers and identity from their fathers. A prolonged loss of contact or complete absence of either of the two may wreak havoc on the sociopsychological development of children.

Most educational institutions have clearly spelled out the ramifications such behaviour may have yet it grows unhindered when victims are confronted by bullies covertly in dorms or bathrooms or virtual environments. If we want to put a check on this growing issue, we need to begin at home. We need to instill a sense of acceptance in children, teach them to be empathetic and not crave for control that the media so audaciously promotes. More importantly, we need to give them time and an opportunity to express themselves so that their negative feelings do not fester for a long time and then are vented out in the most cruelest form possible. 

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Time to fight 'Pinkified Toy Blues'

Our world and attitudes are shaped by the most trivial decisions we make in our daily lives. Some of the lessons learnt subconsciously inspired by our simplest decisions may take a lifetime for us to unlearn. The most common is the realization of the concept of gender roles in children at a very tender age when they are blissfully oblivious of societal dynamics.

Children are not born with a preexisting gender identity.  They gradually acquire it via socialization with their surroundings and beings. At a tender age of 1-2 years, they learn most of the things by observation, social interaction and imitation. By this time, they develop gender identity and by ages 3 and 4, have pretty set standards about the two genders, their roles, dressing, attitudes and attributes. Adults have preferences that they try to project on children, like what and whom to play with. When we prefer a girl child to play with girls only and with a certain type of toys, we already begin invoking in her the attributes that her gender role in future will require.

Gender consciousness has become more prominent though in the last couple of decades. During 1980s, children would play with gender neutral toys. Today the toy companies wouldn't let them even if they'd want to. Have you noticed these things when you walk into a toy store?
  • Two prominently bifurcated sections: Girls and Boys
  • Pink, white and purple is for girls; blue and black for boys
  • Iron man is for boys; barbie for girls
  • Workbench tool set in the boys section; nail art and hairstyling kits in girls' 

Toys are an essential part of childhood. Apart from being fun and games, certain toys are helpful in developing cognitive and motor skills in children. These are toys that both girls and boys should play with. As the standard of living has risen, more children have their say when toys are being purchased. And keeping this trend in mind, toy companies have employed a new manipulative marketing strategy which genders toys, completely ignoring the fact that children have unique personalities and choices. Stereotyping toys for girls and boys will only crush these unique personalities and widen the gender inequality gap that we have been trying to fill for decades now. Doesn't it sound like one step forward, two steps back!

Secondly, something as harmless as toys can have lasting effects on children's psyche, now when they are exposed to non-conformist lifestyles like homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenders and the ever fading line between gender specific roles in the labour market. Is this the advent of identity crisis? The birth of a lost generation. A generation fearing to express itself out of the fear of being laughed at or isolated because they prefer different things from the majority. A generation that stops itself to rise above their gender roles merely because it isn't deemed in the right light by the society. A restricted and oppressed generation.

The status quo however has not gone unnoticed thanks to campaigns like 'Let toys be toys' and 'Pinkstinks'. These campaigns throughout Europe have urged mega conglomerates and retailers to stop labeling toys as gender specific. Similar petitions are underway in Australia where parents are asking retailers to stop marketing certain toys as girls or boys only.

That's at the macro level. What can we do at the micro level depends on how fast we stop projecting ourselves on the next generation. The least we can do is buy them gender-neutral gifts that do not shove them into the social gender essentialism maze. It's time to listen to their personalities, give them space to develop and not crush them under the roles they ought to be playing in future. If we want gender inequality and all crimes associated with it to be a thing of the past, we'll have to start from the start.

Friday, 23 May 2014

The Surgical Pursuit of Beauty

Have you ever wondered what the world would look like if everyone looked alike???
Well... have a look at the contestants. This will give you a fair idea.

Miss Korea 2013 contestants- Spot the difference!

I have been reading about this a lot these days... not that I deliberately read about plastic surgery, it just is all over. Celebrities who have undergone the knife to improve (or sometimes botch) their looks and bodies or denying any apparent procedure at all are always making news. Every page has before-and-after pics of them pointing differences (as if that was necessary).

Having lived in Thailand, I was aware of the Thai fascination for western looks and colour. You could tell by the number of whitening lotions that graced the shelves of retail stores and the use of heavy make-up and diet pills to achieve the desired look; a slim figure, light eyes, skin and hair, slim nose and oval/heart shaped face. But I guess it's a pan south east Asian trend now.

If we talk about numbers, definitely US tops the chart, but if we consider rates relative to population, South Korea leaves everyone way behind. The reason is the underlying conviction that beautiful people are wired for success and attract all things better in life. For most South Koreans surgery is a passport to finding a better and high paying job, husband from the high echelons of society or merely being accepted and treated better in the society. A bizarre yet a painful truth for most SE Asian cultures. Japan too is in the race coming up with outlandish products as cheap substitutes for surgery as not everyone may be able to afford it. The senior market (men and women hitting mid-life crisis) around the world is also growing by leaps and bounds, sometimes for clinical reasons and sometimes behind the smokescreen of boosting ones fragile self esteem. Surgery is so rampant now that countries like Korea and Thailand are heavily cashing on their medical tourism and why not?

Nose Shaper: to be worn 20 mins/day for effective results

A double eyelid creater

Humans are visual beings. Agreed. They are attracted to all things beautiful. Agreed. Yet it is sad to see how the concept of beauty is narrowing down to one single checklist. I am not personally against surgical procedures to enhance looks but I wouldn't trade my features for a set standard in beauty.

Our world is full of diversity. Every living creature has its own identity. The beauty of our world lies in it's differences, not uniformity. The point is that diversity begets the possibility of an adventure of stumbling upon something new and beautiful in its own way. The fascination of different yet beautiful people and cultures makes our human experience worthwhile. The absence of this fascination would only turn us into robots with no zeal and longing for the magic of the unseen and unexpected... What would be the point? It's all the same.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

A Lesson in Grooming

I was in my early twenties and it was 2009, the recession. Just finishing college, I was trying to make the best of an opportunity as a PR I was lucky enough to find. Since it was a small company, we strived hard to maintain a media presence. For one such event, a press conference, I was incessantly networking with the most influential in the art world of Bangkok.

As a PR this was my big day. I was a student with a student's wardrobe (if you know what I mean...) and no make-up barring a lip gloss. To prepare, I shopped for a perfect (or that's what I thought...) pair of grey trousers, a nice black top and a blazer to finish the look. The next morning, satisfied with my look, I started for the venue where my employer had already reached and was giving finishing touches to the set up. I knew she'd be happy and surprised by my professional turnout and boy oh boy, surprised she was.

What happened at the press conference is a distant memory. Everything was over in no time. How I packed up and came home remains a mystery to me; I have no memory of it. All I remembered was the reaction and comment of my employer. I remember her looking up at me, smile deserting her face, her scuttle towards me and her callous pull at my arm. I remember her, telling me that I make her look bad. Why couldn't I spend some time on myself? Why didn't I wear a skirt? (weird but true...it's a Thai thing) For God's sake... I was the PRO!!! I represent her in the media... Why didn't I groom myself? Why couldn't I look my best?

Another look in the mirror and a different perspective cleared the haze. I wasn't my best. I looked like a timid person with low self esteem. I didn't love myself enough to groom myself. How would anyone entrust a dismal being with the image of their company? The thought stuck with me.

No, I wasn't fired but realised that dressing and grooming are the most pronounced forms of self expression. How one presents oneself is a subtle display of ones personality traits, positive and negative.They are the giveaways of our deepest feelings and misgivings. Whether you are complacent or a go-getter, it will be reflected in the way you dress and groom. It is a subconsciously acknowledged fact that people who dress and groom well exude confidence, have high self esteem and climb the success ladder faster than those who don't. They have a sense of self efficacy and self-sufficiency. And it's not just professional success that makes grooming important. People who take care of themselves are better caretakers too. Confident people are able to maintain healthy relationships as they can voice their opinion and hold a regard for others simultaneously. Confident people trust themselves and therefore are capable of trusting others.

Lastly, beauty attracts beauty. While we all have different perceptions of beauty; to me it simply means being at your best. I can write and write about grooming and turn this article into a thesis and I'm tempted to include a gamut of topics about grooming here, but some other time.... :)

Monday, 12 May 2014

Avocado: The Superfruit

I love avocados. Particularly its creamy texture and the delicate and rich aftertaste. It is one of the superfruits with contain something of everything and has numerous health benefits. It will take me a day to write about its goodness and nutrient content, believe me there are loads. But for starters, let me pen down the 3 basic reasons you need more avocados in your diet; its fiber content, number of vitamins and minerals in it and fat. Don't freak out, this fat is exactly what you need; monosaturated. 

Here are some health benefits to keep you motivated:
  1. This tops my list. You can put avocado to use as a facial mask (this mask works!)for cleansing, moisturizing or as sunscreen. 
  2. Avocados reduce LDL in the body and increase HDL. Therefore, they keep cholesterol in check and keep the heart healthy.
  3. They contain lutein, a carotenoid which are antioxioxidants.
  4. It makes you lose weight. Yes! It contains soluble fibre which slows digestion of carbohydrates. So, have your avocados and you won't be feeling hungry anytime soon.
  5. A friend of all Mommas-to-be. It contains folate which boosts healthy growth of the unborn baby.
  6. They contain vitamins Bs, K, and E. What more can you ask for?
  7. They have all the minerals. I cant even list them down.
  8. They are awesome to taste.
They mostly grow in tropical climate with little care. But you are elsewhere, do not worry. These countries produce a lot of avocado and share it (export) with others too :). 

Some people take time to develop the taste for avocado. Its a bit too rich to be eaten as is. So, here is a simple recipe you can use to make an avocado spread. It tastes great with some wholemeal bread, nachos and pretty much anything you'd like to take it with.This is a lovely recipe for breakfast or snacks and takes just about 5 minutes.

  1. Avocado: 1 ripe (you can increase the quantity as you like and relatively increase other ingredients)
  2. Garlic pods: 2-3
  3. Lemon Juice: 1 tbsp
  4. Chillies: 1-2 (medium spicy); You can always adjust this according to your taste.
  5. Parsley or cilantro: 1 tbsp (too much will overpower the flavour of the avocado)
  6. Olive Oil: 1 tbsp
  7. Canola Oil: 1 tbsp
  8. Pepper: 1/4 tsp (preferably crushed)
  9. Salt: to taste
  10. A good blender (very important)

  1. Cut the avocado lengthwise in half. One of the halves will have a seed. Remove it by simply scooping it out.
  2. With a teaspoon, scoop out the fruit (you will only be able to do this with a ripe one) in a blending jar. 
  3. To avocado, add chopped garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley/cilantro, pepper, salt together and blend until a paste forms.
  4. Slowly trickle canola oil while still blending.
  5. Stop when the texture is smooth and creamy.
  6. Garnish with a sprig of parsley and serve with wholemeal bread toasts or use as spread in a sandwich, that's pretty much your take.
Keep everything ready before pitting the avocado. If kept in the open for too long, the flesh will oxidize and turn brown, not very appetizing to look at.  If at all you had to attend to your baby who wants to pee after you've cut the avocados, here's the trick. Squirt some lemon juice on them. This will stop oxidization until you're back.

Friday, 9 May 2014

If You Lie and You Know It...

Do you have a problem too?
People lie. They lie all the time and time and again I've had the opportunity to meet with liars. What happens in their heads and why they don't even consider the slightest possibility of 'what if she knows the truth?' has always been ridiculously amusing to me. Either out of kindness or just deriving pleasure listening to them or my inability, I've never confronted people but it always compels me to think about the reasons that trigger such behaviour.

At some point, all of us have lied in one way or the other. There are various degrees of lying from plain harmless white or 'prosocial' lies to pathological lying. White lies is a more diplomatic way of communicating a feeling, perspective or impression. People often use white lies to:
  1. Avoid hurting people or out of concern
  2. Avoid conflicts
  3. Express something in a harmless way or
  4. Avoid refusing to something
Researches reveal that humans learn to lie at a very early age. There are 3 levels of lying in the developmental model of lying:
  1. Primary; Ages 2-4: Harmless white lies to coverup a breach of rules.
  2. Secondary; Ages 4-6: Appeals to the listener's reasoning.
  3. Tertiary; Ages 7 and above: Well constructed with follow up statements. 
Also, family is the first school and lying can also develop as a habit when a child sees his/her parents/guardians lie in everyday life. Even small white lies like calling in sick can send out wrong messages to a child's straightforward way of thinking. Parents should also check the way they respond to minor transgressions at home as children are most likely to fib when they fear your response.

But what about those for whom lying is a habit? Many people gradually get to the stage when they lie about almost everything, whereas some are wired to lie. Mostly, lying is not inherited but there is strong evidence of genetic connection when it comes to 'pseudologia fantastica' or compulsive/pathological lying. There are symptoms associated with compulsive lying and such people if not treated may turn into sociopaths and even resort to drugs. People lie outrageously for many reasons and often there are underlying psychological issues.

Low Self Esteem and Inferiority Complex
Low self esteem is one of the major driving forces for lying. People want to feel good about themselves, want to be accepted and often lie to portray themselves as likable to the listener. Self acceptance issues may trigger lying to portray oneself in a better light. The higher the frequency of a lie, the more it reinforces self image. A liar forms a world around himself where he sees and believes himself as he would like to be seen or be accepted. There is often a lot of compulsion over people to lie to be able to feel equal to their counterparts.

Fear is also a major contributor to developing a lying habit. Feeling vulnerable is human nature and we often lie when we feel threatened by something or someone.

Protect Self Image 
We do not act as we are expected to in every situation. Our virtuous moral system sets up these expectations not taking our human nature into account. Therefore, people resort to lying about their take, actions and reactions on situations where they were expected to act a certain way and they did not. And all this effort is to protect their self image in front of others and more importantly, themselves.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Save the right way, Spend in the right place

Moving to a new country half way across the globe was stressful for us as a couple. Both of us were jobless and knew that by the time either of us would find employment, most of our savings would be over. By God's grace, my husband found work after a month and a half. We moved to a new city and the idea was to save money wherever we can and to spend it in the right place. Here are a few things we did to achieve our goal.

Some home cooked Pad Kapao Kai, Kai dao... I so love Thai food....
1. Home cook food
Both of us like to spend time in the kitchen and cooking together so instead of buying processed food which is a much easier (and unhealthy) option, we settled on getting raw material and cooking food which would pamper our taste buds. Believe me, you can save hundreds and still wont have to compromise on food.

2. Buy from the right place
This required a little research and traveling. There are about 4-5 major retails stores in Australia and all have different prices for different stuff. Check their websites or go to their stores to see what suits you. You can also explore local butcheries and grocers who actually sell fresh stuff for way less than that sold in stores. It may not be clad in fancy looking packs but who cares....

3. Cheaper doesn't  mean low quality
All retail stores have their own personal brands and they always sell for a dollar or two less than the  other brands on the shelves. Exploring retail generic brands for a myriad of cooking and baking products (even bath utilities and almost everything....) is also a practical option.

Our kitchen garden in its nascent stage
4. Plant a kitchen garden
We had some low maintenance outdoor space where we have planted a little kitchen garden. We still need to reap its wholesome benefit and I'm hoping it turns out as what we imagined.

Telephone/Mobile/Internet Plans
1. The word is research. Carefully plot out your needs and go for the right plan. Always look for offers. For example, we got an internet connection at a normal rate but here's a catch, we also got an IP phone with it which enables us to call overseas for FREE!!!
2. If you are not much of a caller like me, buy long duration plans instead of monthly's

Utilities (Gas, Electricity and Water)
If you are planning to stay in a rented accommodation for a longer period, say 24 months, look for long term contracts which usually have discounted rates.

Save where you can...
1. Switch off electronics when not in use
2. Try to make use of natural lighting as much as possible
3. Wash laundry in bulk... don't put the washing machine on for a pair of jeans
4. Chalk out a budget for everything... and stick to it

I hope you find these tips useful and applicable. I got to spend all I had saved on new clothes and hair styler.... that sure made the whole effort worthwhile.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Confronting Fear

Emotions add spice to our lives. Psychologists have spent years of research in understanding the causes and effects of emotions on human activity, both physical and mental. One of the most intriguing is the emotion of fear. Psychologists define fear as the emotional response to an alleged threat; simply the awareness and anticipation of perceived danger. Self-preservation is one of the primal urges of mankind and fear is the cause of the survival instinct against any potential external threat. Fear is one feeling that brings about a lot of physical activity in the human body. Some of them may be faster heart beat, dryness in the mouth because of the improper functioning of the salivary glands, sweating (especially in the palms), tightness in the abdomen etc.

The autonomic nervous system is responsible for the visceral functions of the human body. Its two responses that keep the functions of the body in balance are sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic responses allow the body to function under duress. Parasympathetic allows the body to repose and relax, thereby having an absolutely opposite effect on the body from that of the sympathetic. Fear can be better understood as one of the conditions stimulated by sympathetic responses in the body. The response is caused by the release of adrenaline, noradrenaline and the steroid cortisol.

The process is always physical, chemical and then rational. As soon as the body comes in contact with an external fear stimulant, the sympathetic responses of the body are activated resulting in the release of chemicals. Every time a person encounters a situation where he experiences fear, the human mind chooses between two options, fight or flight. In order to prepare itself for the fight-or-flight mode, the body automatically performs a number of functions so as to be ready for either a quick action or a quick escape.
  1. The heart rate increases and pumps more blood to the muscles and brain
  2. The air intake in the lungs is faster in order to supply oxygen to the body
  3. The pupils of the eyes dilate to improve vision
  4. The activity in the digestive and urinary systems slows down for those particular moments to facilitate the mind to concentrate on the fearful thing at hand. 
The third step is rational, where the mind reasons whether the stimulant is actually harmful or not. Sometimes, the same situation or physical condition can be experienced without any apparent stimulant, person or situation. Such a condition is termed as 'Anxiety'. Fear holds a close relation with many phenomena, such as, worry, caution, horror, and panic.

The intensity of fear varies. It is a part of evolution for human beings. Most of the time fear depends on the conditioning of a child's mind. Conditioned fear infuses dread for otherwise harmless and inconsequential things being associated with danger. Past experiences also serve as conditioners. For instance, once a child is hurt as a result of burning his finger after touching a hot pan, he invariably takes precaution the next time. This is termed as the mildest forms of fear; precaution. Suppose a child has experienced being shut alone in an elevator, he may develop claustrophobia in the later years of life. This is a more intensified feeling of fear. A phobia can rouse frustration to the extremes. Experiences of fear may be forgotten by the conscious state of mind but can be stored in the unconscious and may resurface as nightmares. Such a situation may lead to paranoia. Extreme fear can lead to many pathological conditions such as schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder. Unconditioned fear is instinctive. It cannot be learnt, rather, it is more of a heritage from our ancestors.

Research has revealed that a person feeds his own fear. People are social by nature. The most deep rooted fear of man lies in 'being isolated'. This has bred the apprehensions of being abandoned, losing security and ones identity, feelings of inferiority and discrimination, losing face etc. These feelings often incite people to behave irrationally. Much of the anti-social behavior of people is a direct consequence of these fears. However, fear can prove to be healthy too. Psychologists term degrees of fear as 'good' or 'bad'. The fear of uncontrollable things is only upsetting; however, if there is room for improvement induced by fear, it is a much healthier condition of fear. For example, the fear of being humiliated may lead a student to work harder for his/her exams and attain a better result.

To get rid of fear, it's important to face it first. The best way to tackle fear is being aware of the nature of it; being aware of the kind of feelings it arouses and what are the outcomes of it. There are many behavioral techniques devised by psychologists to reduce the feelings of fear and thereby reduce stress. Most importantly, it is necessary to understand and accept the fact that everyone has the same underlying fears. This feeling of empathy helps us to deal with fear in a much better manner and get results faster.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Adeline_Cecilia
Yup, that's me.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Attention Employees! Let's Gossip

When I was working for an elearning firm, we were quite a tight knit group of 7 girls. We spent considerable time together which gave us an insight on each others' strengths and weaknesses and all of us made some effort on our part to improve the team's overall performance. We always made it a point to lunch together whenever possible and discussed almost everything from work to personal life. I was a new comer so mostly sat listening. We weren't malicious gossipers but after a while I was well aware of the informal hierarchy of authority in the office which would have taken me months to figure out on my own.

Later, at an interview, one of the questions was whether I was immune to office gossips? To which I responded rather pedantically while holding a slightly opposing view. Who wants to put off an interviewer???...

Gossip has always been considered a taboo. We are often warned against its destructive nature in personal and professional life. Proverbs 16:28 and many other Biblical verses warn about the havoc that gossip wreaks and the ulterior motives, personal issues, the backstabbing nature of gossipers. Organisations discourage such practices openly and exhort employees to exercise caution against rumours and telltales for obvious reasons: it hampers productivity.

But just how many organisations can claim to be free of gossip circles? None!!! The truth is gossip rules organisational cultures. About 70% of all conversations that take place at work involves gossip. Recent researches say that it might not be such a bad thing after all. 

  1. One of the many advantages of gossiping is that it helps employees to bond easily. 
  2. It makes newcomers feel accepted and involved.
  3. Most companies are not 100% transparent regarding company policies or management decisions. Since gossip is informal dissemination of information, it gives employees a chance to discuss situations, brainstorm possibilities and come up with possible consequences.
  4. Gossip reduces stress as it gives a platform to employees to vent out their dissatisfaction and anger in the office premises instead of taking it home seething.
  5. Gossips are good way to understand workplace dynamics.
  6. Gossip helps in people management to an extent.
  7. It maintains power balance, which means it keeps prima donna bosses in check.
  8. Helps to identify non-performers.
But as the old adage goes, too much of anything is bad, gossip also has its downsides.
  1. Gossip is a double edged sword. If it's used against someone else, it can be used against you.
  2. It transfers preconceived notions about people to people who may have different perspectives.
  3. Gossip makes it difficult to distinguish between facts and rumours.
  4. It may slightly bring about an imbalance of power in the group involved in gossip; the one who has more information will be deemed more powerful.
  5. Gossip breaks down trust levels between two groups and makes working together difficult.
  6. May give rise to conflicts.
  7. Malicious gossip can reduce productivity as employees/supervisors spend a lot of time figuring out who said what which often results in animosity.
  8. It may make introverts feel culturally isolated. 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Are You Assertive Enough?

Just like it takes two to tango, it takes two thinking individual minds for a relationship to blossom not a mind and a resentful doormat. A relationship, whether on personal or professional grounds, cannot thrive in the absence of dialogue. Since I'm a partial escapist, I'd put a quarter of the blame for learning this the harder way on my culture and two thirds on me persistently being a masochist.

What's your take?
From the very beginning, we are taught to obey. There's nothing wrong with that. But there's a thin line between obeying and obeying blindly. Obeying blindly in an effort to be more likable and accepted, not voicing my opinions in fear of offending people and lacking the ability to say 'No' when my insides were raging has cost me a good deal of emotional energy, countless hours of good night sleep that I spent plotting revenge and dealing with an overpowering feeling of being victimized. And the funny part is, I always thought I was assertive when clinically I was exactly the opposite. A Passive Polly!!!

Over time and at the expense of many 'not so good' experiences I have learnt that being assertive is an invaluable communication skill and is an integral part of emotional intelligence. It is a way of communicating that you respect yourself enough to stand up for yourself and are confident about what you are asserting without disrespecting other people or belittling their interests. Here are a few advantages of being assertive:
1. Less stressful than being passive/aggressive
2. Maintain better relationships
3. Does not lead to resentment (that can be held on to for a long long time...)
4. Leads to peaceful coexistence
5. You will have more positive energy to divert in constructive areas
6. Leads to high self-esteem

Both the other extremes, passivity and aggression have their own repercussions. Where passivity may leave you with wrath seething inside you, aggression may lead to avoidance and opposition from the other side.

Everyone, regardless of the personality types can learn to be more assertive though some individuals are naturally blessed with this communication technique. The crux lies in resisting the urge to react with aggression, admitting when wrong and respecting boundaries.