From the desk of a psychologist!

Archive for April, 2012

We and our Addictions

Whenever we use the word addiction, it is generally associated with a substance. The picture which comes to our mind is of someone in a secluded place, in a grave kind of state, leading a sorry life.    

But, the addiction I am going to talk about today is something closer to home. I am going to talk about the thing or behavior which is beyond our control, which we understand we need to get rid of but somehow aren’t able to bring ourselves to do it. It can be our addiction to junk food, getting involved with the wrong kind of guy, not able to manage time effectively and so on.

Before going on, think of a behavior or thing which you are making constant resolutions to change or give up but it is not happening.

I’ll take the  example of  ‘loosing your cool on a loved one ‘, even when we know we shouldn’t do it as it hurts us too, we are not able to control ourselves. We have done our share of talking to ourselves, made a pact that the next time if a situation like this is going to rise, we won’t repeat what we did the last time…. But the same or worse happens when the real situation comes. It feels it is beyond our control, something which is not in our hands.

The reason for the need for change in behavior or thing usually is a consequence or a negative outcome we are facing due to it. We face the results, make promises to ourselves on not going on the same path again but everything falls flat on our face as soon as we are in front of our problem behavior or thing.

Now, picture a person, you call an addict. Is there a difference between him and us? You’ll say certainly, for being an addict there need to be a substance.

You are right but what about the behavior difference?

  • An addict has no control over the substance, the same is the situation with us, as far as, the behavior we need to work on is concerned.
  • An addict is not able to do anything about his addiction even after consequences and same goes for us.
  • An addict operates on immediate gratification and we are not far behind. We indulge in the behavior because it is something which is giving us immediate relief though it may hurt in the long run.
  • As an addict we are also developing a tolerance for that behavior or thing. The intensity keeps on getting worse.

It is perfectly fine to be a little doubtful about your addiction after this. Don’t worry this is not a post to make you feel bad about yourself but the aim is to challenge ourselves, to work on us and grow as an individual.

Even if we accept that we are powerless over a certain behavior or thing, what is the next step. I’ll say, something very similar to the treatment of chemical dependency. You should not mess with this certain behavior.

I have seen, in the course of my practice, it’s a vicious cycle. Until and unless you are not in it you are fine but the moment you indulge in the behavior/thing, you lose all control. You become an audience and witness yourself repeating the behavior/thing again and again. Enable yourself by not experimenting with this certain problem.

Going back to our example, of losing your cool on a loved one. If you feel a situation which could make you upset is rising, walk away. Don’t think that let me convey this message in a decent way and leave. Because chances are you’ll start on the vicious cycle, and won’t be able to make your point and leave but end up losing your temper again.

I believe God has made us the master of certain things but at the same time we have our challenges. This is the difference between a common man and a saint. We just need to accept the things which are beyond us and leave it to those who could handle it.

Deal with your addiction and stay sober…Renew your Spirit!

Teenophobia- The cure

India is rapidly changing as a country. People, thinking, attitudes, relationships almost everything is changing. The equation between parents and children are also going through a huge transition. As we all know by now, change is good but often painful.

I am a person, who witnesses both sides of the coin. I don’t know whether I should take it as an advantage or not because it makes me feel for both and I find myself in a fix. I understand the dilemma both go through on an everyday level.  There are a lot of confusions, frustrations, irritations which leads to utter chaos.

If you are a parent of a teenage child, these are some of the statements you often must have heard,

” You need to trust me”,                  

” If everyone is allowed to do it, why can’t I?”,

” My friends understand me better than you.”

” Why do you compare me, all the time?”

” Why should I do something just because you want me to?”

” What’s your problem with my phone or computer use…It is my life!”

” You are never satisfied or happy with me.”

And as a parent you must have seen yourself repeating these sentences over and over,

” Do you even listen to me.”

” Put the phone down.”

” You need to do this because I say so.”

” Where is your respect?”

” I am just asking for a little responsibility.”

” I have seen the world, trust me.”

The gap, between both of you, all of a sudden looks so huge. Something, somewhere has changed drastically in a couple of years. It is like as a parent you were doing great and now nothing you do is sufficient.

Every day I have at least a couple of sessions which give me the feeling of déjà vu. After dealing with quite a number of these cases, I have understood some things, which  I would like to share with you today:

  • There is a lot of Miscommunication or Lack of communication between an adolescent and parent: While talking to both the parties, I have realized one thing…both have a lot to say to each other, which they never do.

Parents are generally uncomfortable in talking about certain issues, like sex, substance abuse, which leads to them either opting to not talk about it at all or becoming overly aggressive as soon as the topic is brought up.. This also makes the kids uncomfortable. They sense the discomfort of their parents and find it easier to hide or lie about it.

  • As parents, we need to understand that the world is changing, as so is our culture. We need to be aware about what  the general trends are as far as the freedom and independence of our kids are concerned. We need to know the outing hours, frequency of peer outings, time on laptops and phones of the friends of our kids.We can neither live in the last century, nor just let go of all the rights of a parent.

It is always a good idea to be in regular contact with the parents’ of the peers of our teenager. We should know what is being allowed and accepted by others. This will help us with the typical, ” The rest of the parents are cool with it.”

  • We need to have our own home rules and regulations. It should be talked with the adolescent and make them understand the point and the reasons behind them. It is also a good idea to abide by these rules yourself before implementing it.  They will learn the best when they will see you rather than hear you.
  • It is a good idea to always give them the reason behind your decisions. Just because you have gone through a childhood, where rules were made without any questions and answers, that doesn’t mean you could do the same.

If you’ll make decisions without giving reasons, you’ll lose the trust of your child. They will start taking you as a dictator and stop sharing their thoughts and issues with you. They will think that their friends understand them in a better way than you.

Generally, I have seen that you stop giving reasons when you yourself are out of it. Reflect and see, whether the point you’re sticking to is even worth it?

  • There is also a major issue of ‘talking back’ of children: The generation we are talking about is very forthright. They will ask till they get an answer, which they like. We need to understand it and should be tactful in such situations.

If the ‘ talking back’ becomes disrespectful, you need to be clearly voice it to your teenager. There also is a need for the presence of proper consequences when there is crossing of limits, which needs to be decided beforehand.

You should always remember that whatever is the situation, you need to be emotionally available for your adolescent.

For a teenager, the times are really difficult. They are going through change within them as well as the outside world . They are highly confused and as a result very vulnerable. Be gentle with them.

Your child is seeking support, though it comes with an attitude. You can’t blame them, it is their age of confusions!

P.S. If you are a teenager reading this article, I have a message for you. Your parents love and care for you and that is why they always want to protect you from this big bad world. They are scared and don’t know how to reach you. Help them help you!

Counseling Simplified!

I talk a lot about counseling. I’ll go on and on about it but what does it really mean and most importantly how it helps?

I am an Indian, so by default I am surrounded by people who speak in computer language. But sometimes I feel lost between them. They take it for granted that everyone must be aware of their basic terms like  Download, WiFi, Java etc. I try to keep pace but sometimes it sounds like gibberish and I lose my interest. On observation, I found out that most of the professionals do this; they mix their own basic terminology and unconsciously expect the whole world to understand it.

I am no exception. When I talk to people I expect them to know the meaning of PsychologyMental HealthCounseling etc.

If a person is not able to understand the basic terminologies,                                                      

how do you expect them to follow your discussion. It is more

like standing in a crowd where people are talking in a language,

which you have no clue about. Certainly you will loose your audience, let

alone convey your message to them.

So, today I decided to break this thought and start with the basics of counseling.

The first doubt which I want to clear is the difference between a Psychiatrist & a Psychologist. This is the most common place, where I have seen, a lot of people getting confused.

1. The major difference is in their degrees; A Psychiatrist is a Medical Doctor ( M.B.B.S.) while a Psychologist has Psychology Degree.

2. A Psychiatrist can prescribe you medication while a Psychologist uses psychotherapy/ counseling like behavioral, Psychoanalytic, Humanistic, Cognitive therapy etc.

3. Psychiatrist usually deals with mentally sick patients while a Psychologist caters to the wellness of emotional& mental health.

So here, I am going to be talking  about Psychologist, for the simple reason that I am one.

So, what we basically do is Psychotherapy/Counseling. A lot of therapists are going to have a problem with this statement of mine because if we go deep down in Psychology there are some minute differences between these two.

The goal of this post is to make things easier to understand and to stick to our aim, we are going to use counseling for both counseling & psychotherapy. Lets try to understand what exactly is Counseling first, I am sharing a definition which makes a lot of sense to me:

According to the professional body for counselling and psychotherapy in Scotland, COSCA: ” Counselling and psychotherapy are ways of responding to a wide range of human needs. Counselling and psychotherapy provide opportunities for those seeking help to work towards ways of living in more satisfying and resourceful ways. ”

Counseling is not only about the major problems of life but is a tool which could help you resolve something as simple as every day’s issue and concerns. It helps you make full use of your potentials and allows you to get rid of the hindrances in  leading a happy and contended life.

A lot of people think that if you’re seeking the help of someone else you are weak. This is a myth because counseling empowers you. Sometime you, yourself aren’t aware of your strengths, finding those hidden strengths is a byproduct of the counseling process. It makes you more independent than ever.

A Psychologist is a non judgmental person, who helps you in understanding your problem and working on it objectively in a methodological way. In counseling, you will never be told what to do instead the options are laid in front of you and you are equipped with skills to help you choose the best option for yourself.

I love to give this example to understand it in a better way;

I am sure all of us has been photographed whether we like it or not. We always ask ( or want to ask) the camera man about how are we looking?

Why do we do it?

Simple, because the cameraman can see the picture and we can’t.  Same is the case with our lives, sometimes we get so entangled in the details that we can’t see the full view objectively.

You have been given a life, go ahead nurture it, if anything is stopping you to do so, you now know what to do about it 🙂

The Sorry State of ‘ Mental Health’ in India

The World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
We Indians, have major issues in understanding this definition let alone apply it. Somehow, we have come to terms with the physical well being part of it but the other two, still an alien thought. We can easily follow all sorts of Babas and Soothsayers but will never accept the need to look after our Mental Health.

Almost every day the newspaper is full of reports about people ending their lives or going on a destructive path for reasons which could be easily dealt with, if taken proper care of. In our country, we are happy to be doomed but no one should call us crazy. We live with our problems, stress, difficulties, issues, in our self-made façade. Even our relatives and friends help us in covering our so-called weaknesses. It’s a pathetic state which is seeking awareness and help.

When do we know we need to take care of our mental health and how do we do it?

I would like to ask you a question in response to the above one:

How do you know you are physically not well? Your answers could be anything like; lethargy, tiredness, feeling sick, headache etc. Your next step usually is to take care of it by yourself and if it is something beyond your expertise, you find a doctor to help you, so that you can lead a healthy life.

The same signals are sent by our brain , when we need to take care of our mental health.  We go through an inability to be happy or experience positive emotions. Our lives become difficult and we carry it like a baggage.

Now, there is a difference between what should we do about this problem and what we do? We should, in this case also, seek an expert for help to make us healthier but generally we don’t do it.  We keep on dealing with it ourselves making it worse with each passing day.

I wouldn’t blame the people of my country entirely for the negligence in this field but there are a lot of other reasons for the stigma attached to seeking mental health care:

1. Lack of Awareness: Till today, everyone thinks if you are not on the streets with torn clothes, staring at space, you have perfect mental state. No one ( that includes all the literate people) will ever recommend counseling for a friend. If you are a good friend, you’ll help him/her by helping them hide their problems not dealing with them.

I’ll recommend you to start seeking answers. If there is something bothering you look out for solutions. Until you ask, you aren’t going to get answers.

2. No one could help me: This is a feeling which stops most of us from seeking help. Sometimes we are not able to decide whether we even need help or not.

It is always better to get a second opinion because if you are in a situation it becomes impossible to take it objectively.

3. An Outside help for my problem is a taboo: It is difficult to admit that there are problems which need to be sorted and for that we need help.

What we don’t understand here is counseling works on the strengths rather than the weaknesses. It equips you with the skills to deal with your issues making you stronger and more independent than ever.

4. Lack of Mental Health Professionals: Even if you decide you need help, where do you suppose to go after that? Our country lacks good credible professionals in the mental health area. People are scared to go to a person and be exploited with their innermost feelings.

I’ll recommend checking and finding the right kind of specialist. Do your homework. There is a shortage of reliable professionals but that doesn’t mean there are none. It may take more work. Only go to a person, you can trust. It may mean you have to do some trial and error.

Thanks to technology now we have the amazing world of online counseling . You need not come out and announce it to the whole world but discreetly could seek help. We, Indians are born IT savvy. I have seen the participation of small, remote cities on social networking sites.

It is high time to build the courage to ask for help. It is in our hands to suffer till we want to. There is a huge misconception in our country, that you only visit a mental health practitioner, if you have major issues. It is not true!

I would like to take an example, which I often use, life is like a road and it is normal to get road bumps in it. It could be in the form of relationship issues, adjustment problems, stress etc. You need to slow down and sort it before speeding up again on the track, otherwise your vehicle of life will topple down.

Come out of the taboo and take care of yourself in the real sense. You need to nurture what is given to you. Take the step, if there is a need…Reach out. You need not make a scene or announce it to the whole world. Find a person, who could help.

Nothing is going to stop you in finding a way, if you make it your priority to take care of yourself!

The world of duality: Coexistence of Good & Bad

 

The topic for this post came to my mind after the feedback I got on my earlier posts. They were in extremes. Either people loved it or disliked it completely. I would be honest and say it did hurt but then the positives were too strong to help me deal with the criticism. This whole process made me think about, if facing a bad feedback is so painful then why this painful emotion exists.

The answer lies in the Duality of this world. Nothing in this world exists without its opposite.

If there is GOOD, there is BAD;                              

If there is a DAY, there is NIGHT;

If there is SWEET, there is SOUR;

If there is SOFT, there is HARD;

If there is a FRIEND, there is a FOE;

If there is HAPPINESS, there is PAIN.

Our experiences with this dual world actually make us strong. The appreciation for the good things also comes when we go through the hard facts of life. How could you even imagine, dwelling in the sweetness of your success if you have never tasted failure or understanding peace with total absence of wars?

I have seen so many people ( and I’ll include myself in it), without complaining going through all the positive experiences in this world and the moment life presents them with a challenge, they say ‘ LIFE IS NOT FAIR.’ Actually it very much is, it is just that when we are going through the positive time flies, while going through pain, every minute seems like eternity. This makes us think that our life is full of only tough moments.

Duality exists within us too. No one is white or black. We all are grey. We are not totally good or bad but a mixture of both. We have our phases of light and darkness. We have our own share of right and wrong choices but that is the building block of who we actually are.

“In order to eat, you have to be hungry. In order to learn, you have to be ignorant. Ignorance is a condition of learning. Pain is a condition of health. Passion is a condition of thought. Death is a condition of life.”
― Robert Anton WilsonLeviathan

The Sunshine Award :)

So, I found this comment from Merlin on one of my posts which talked about how I am nominated for Sunshine Award. My first reaction was it sounds like a spam ( I am a new blogger, right now checking my territory). Sorry, Merlin 😦

Then I  took some time out to go through the post. It actually is a very nice post which talks about nominating those blogs which you think are worth following. It also makes you share information about yourself without making you uncomfortable. I found it a great way of spreading awareness and getting to know about good blogs. Here is my try in building a bridge, if you feel it…Hop on 🙂

so this award here has certain condition like every other awards. They are.

  • include the award’s logo in a post or on your blog
  • Answer 10 questions about yourself
  • Nominate 10-12 other fabulous bloggers
  • Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blogs, letting them know they have been nominated
  • Share the love and link the person who nominated you.

The logo of the award has been included and here goes the anwsers to the 10 questins about me.

Favorite color: Red

Favorite animal: Bunnies

Favorite number:  7

Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Fresh Lime Soda, Virgin Mojito

Prefer Facebook or Twitter?  Facebook

My passion: Human Relations

Prefer getting or giving presents:  Getting

Favorite pattern: Nothing Specific

Favorite day of the week: Friday

Favorite flower: Rose

:D eeee here i have answered the 10 questions about me. Am nominating 10 others fabulous bloggers that i peek into.

A Detailed House

Work the Dream

Of Live and the Living

Inspired Weightloss

Mental Wealth

Sana Noor

Ichigo Ichie

My Body the City

Introvertblogger

Into the Bardo

Make your day worth with a little sunshine and let the world see how beautiful you are.

 

 

IT begins with YOU!

” We can only share, what we have”.

Whenever I try to make a person understand this concept, I always take the help of material stuff. You can only help a poor if you could afford it, which means if you have ample money to share, then only you will. Apart from a handful of saints, human beings tend to satisfy their own thirst first and then look into the outer world. If we want to be the source of something, first of all we need to have a reservoir of it.

Lets try to understand it a little better through relationships ;

So many times I have heard this, ” Even if I am unhappy, I will make my loved ones happy.”

My question is how?Your bank is empty as far as a certain emotion goes, but still you claim to lend it to others. Till now, in real life, I haven’t seen anyone making others really happy while they themselves are suffering.

Tina has a friend, whose kids are subject to her anger spats. She decided to talk to her about it. After the conversation, she realized that it is her friend who needs to first of all get her share of love and care, then only she can pass it to her kids. She has a lot of anger and frustration inside her and so she shares it.

I am sure you must have heard about energies. We carry our energy with us, it can be negative or positive. We influence others with our energy. Say, you have started your day on a very positive note but you end up spending a couple of hours with a person who is carrying negative energy. Trust me, that person has helped in bringing down a lot of your positivity. It’s similar to a conduction process. We rub our energies with each other but the strong one overpowers the group.

So, it’s a simple thing, whatever you want to have around you, start it from WITHIN you. If you want to take care of the people around you, first of all it needs to start with self-care.

Lets try to understand it by taking the feeling of happiness. I have taken this feeling because we all crave to achieve this state of mind.

Happiness within you→Happiness you share with your loved ones→And your extended social circle→which in turn is spread all around you.

If you are right now cribbing or complaining about something and is not happy with how things are going. Take some time out and start the change from within you. Come out of your ‘Self Pity’ and do something about it.The POWER is in our hands to make the world a better place to live.

 

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