Thursday, 30 December 2010

Commitment Phobia

Commitment can be best defined in just three words and they are “ a purposeful persistence”.

Just as children have bad stomach or measles, likewise men suffer from what is known as “Commitment Phobia”. Phobia is an excessive and an unreasonable desire to avoid the feared stimulus. Fears can be crippling and Commitment Phobia too is a kind of disabling disorder, which can lead to complete disability or we may say an inability to have stable and long term genuine relationships. The stimulus which such men fear is, getting committed to a long term relationship with a single woman or we may say they have “One Woman Syndrome”. It is a psychological as well as an emotional disorder. A paradoxical situation is seen i.e. a commitment phobic only craves what he fears most and it is ‘Love and Connection’. Intimacy is in his DNA but still he runs away from it.

The man who suffers from commitment phobia is himself a tortured soul. He suffers from emotional conflicts. He has negative and irrational beliefs about love and togetherness in a relationship. He does not suffer alone, but creates confusion, pain, and havoc in the life of a sincere woman who loves him. Emotional intimacy brings shivers to him! All this is due to the unpredictable and bizarre behavior of this emotionally unavailable man!

It is rightly said for a commitment phobic man that “he can easily turn a woman who is a saint into a mad woman as he is quite skillful and adept in playing games with her mind and heart”.

While writing this I might sound harsh and bitter with my words but I can’t sugar coat the reality! This is a disorder that is extensively found.

Men who are reading this article can check themselves for the symptoms whether they suffer from it not. When a commitment phobic man sits down to think of having a long term relationship he might have breathlessness, dizziness, excessive sweating, dry mouth, a bout of anxiety or a sensation of detachment. He might become irritable with complete clouding of thought processes.

A woman must spot out whether the man, she is madly in love with is commitment phobic or not. It would require 3 ‘Ts’ i.e. Time, Testing and Tenacity to do that because such a man often camouflages. Charming, charismatic and romantic, he knows how to make a woman safe and special. Being a master of seduction, he possesses all the qualities to lead a woman out of a world of reality into his faux fantasy land.The poor female eats away her pride and forgets her own self in loving him. She promises more and more to maintain the relation with him than he does!

He would never tell the girl that he loves her even if she repeatedly keeps on reminding him of her sincerest feelings. He would feel love for her when he doesn’t see her but at the same time is ready to run away when she wants to be close. He shows adulation towards the woman he is with and makes her feel as his dream lady, barraging compliments to her! He would want a relationship but at the same time would ask for space. This is the reason that he is often attracted to have long distance relationships with busy and independent women who might not try to entrap him into any kind of commitment or promises. Such a man is an ardent pursuer till he wins over the lady on whom he sets his eyes on!

He has a tendency to get a woman who is quite different from what he actually wants. She may be much older, much younger, married, or they might have different interests and circumstances. As these differences act as tools in the form of excuses to end relationships.

So beware…“A Commitment-phobe loves the chase but doesn’t want the kill”. He gets attracted to a female’s reluctance and all the more intrigued by her resistance! There are subtle messages in his announcements when he says, “You are special for a short time, but it won’t be forever”. He is never ready to talk about his relationship goals and mostly chooses a woman who herself is insecure and needs attention. This man dislikes tears but is never moved by them.He retains the power to refuse the love of a female who is almost reduced to a level of a beggar begging for his affection and feeling so powerless in front of him.

Psychologists opine that this disorder can be the result of an emotional trauma or some kind of betrayal during the course of a person’s life. It can also be due to some inferiority complex.

So if one really loves a man and unfortunately the man is a commitment phobic guy, one needs to act objectively rather than justifying the actions and acting as an advocate of this Mr Right. He needs help. Counseling and hypnoanalysis can show fruitful results by helping in resolving his unresolved emotions and conflicts.

A word for females: Do not become a victim of a commitment phobic guy as there are few chances of winning over such a man.His actions have to be taken a closer rather than getting mesmerized by his words. It can take a huge toll on your emotional health as you won't be able to trust the words "I love you" again in your life. So leave him if you don’t have the patience as it can drain you mentally and emotionally.To get him there needs a lot of hard work to be put into the relationship from your side. You have to try pulling him out from his dark world of negative irrational beliefs.

Saturday, 27 November 2010


Cougar is a domestic cat living in wild. It is a big game predatory cat. But now the word “Cougar” has become synonymous with a middle aged woman who goes ‘hunting for a cub’! This solitary cat prowls and preys on a man almost of her son’s age!!

The word can be new to you but the phenomenon is age old. If we go back to the 1500's we would find that Queen Elizabeth was notorious for her strong inclinations towards younger courtiers!

The concept might definitely sound weird to the Indian psyche since we are made to believe that 'respectable' ladies DO NOT behave like this! But the fact is that, it is a fast developing phenomenon. It has become quite common in western countries especially in U.S where you would come across many such examples. You must have heard of Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher who have 15 years of age difference while and Barbara Hershey and Naveen Andrews have an age gap of 21 years. The modern woman is seen as strong figure in society and thus her attitude towards cougar dating is less secretive now.

Somebody has rightly said, “The human mind is so complex and things are so tangled up with each other that, to explain a blade of straw, one would have to take to pieces an entire universe”. Thus whole lot of factors…psychological, biological, emotional…here also, get involved into converting a woman into ‘a cougar’ and a young man going after her, completely mesmerized.

A woman in her late 40’s and early 50’s reaches her sexual peak..the time which coincides with the male menopause. She might feel deprived of her physical needs at this time. She finds a man quite younger than her age, full of energy in comparison with her spouse. Things begin to get exciting, enticing and interesting for her when she finds an untiring stamina and an unstoppable intensity in a young man! Modern day educated, empowered, professionally successful and financially secure woman would like to seek some thrills with a man who can help in fulfilling her unmet desires.

Cougaring may sometimes go beyond physical infatuation. The woman may want someone to appreciate her, to be with her and to be tied to her. The reason behind it may be that she might be suffering from “Empty Nest Syndrome”. It is a time when her children leave home after becoming independent. The ‘Goody Goody Momma’ now becomes ‘Ms Independent’. Finding her relationship with her spouse stale and unadventurous, she enjoys mentoring a young man since she has got a lifetime experience which the young man doesn’t have. She tries to find a man who is romantic, chivalrous and, above all, relatively free of the emotional baggage. Her man should be alone, free and available for her.

And the man involved, gets attracted towards her maturity and self confidence which she has developed during the course of her life. Those young men who have a broken heart sometimes find women of their age boring, manipulative and selfish get attracted towards wiser, spirited and older women. So the emotionally stunted man looks for a motherly figure in her.

But unfortunately such unrealistic expectations, misplaced affections and pseudo-attachments in no way offer a solution to the problems caused by middle life crisis for women. The solution to their problem lies in their real set ups and in their own surroundings rather than in going berserk and haywire.

Leisure time activities, hobbies and career pursuits can give fuller meaning to their lives along with a kind real contentment.Both the spouses can rediscover each other and should dedicate more time to each other and thus connect to each other in a more meaningful way, since THEY both have spent their lives together.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

A growing culture of slenderness!!

We need to be beautiful to be worthy!!

And what does the concept of beauty encompass??

A difficult question…right??

Beauty is mostly defined according to our cultural settings. Females fantasize about their men having six-pack-abs just like Sharukh Khan with a sturdy body! Pot-belliness, hairiness and obesity are seen with contempt and rejection. And men want females to be just like Angelina Jolie..

They can’t tolerate flab on the skins, not even hesitate to comment on the physical appearance of the other person without even thinking about how the person would feel or take it and that too with a least amount of realisation, that they themselves are so imperfect!

Having a great physique becomes synonymous with “achha”. They without being given any right to do so, indulge in value judgement!

Being overwhelmed by this fashion world and trying to get westernized we have started worshipping the culture of slenderness. Fashion doesn’t permit us to appreciate large size, maturity, voluptuousness and massiveness. People are swayed by the glamorous media giving them various choices such as creams, lotions, serums, and liposuction and laser surgeries. All this has conditioned the minds against fat under the skin. There is constant reinforcement about the disapproval of overweight in the minds when people find large number of gyms, aerobic centres, spas mushrooming even in small towns. They tend to set unrealistic standards not only for themselves but also for those who are around them.

Poor body image is also a product of ones low self-esteem. It becomes both the cause and effect. The person may not only dislike himself due to obesity but he may also not even like to see plumpier people. Those who are not satisfied with their own bodies might also find faults with others. Thus complex psychological issues sometimes get involved in this whole issue of body image. We then get driven by a fantasy that “our life begins only when we are thin”.

You would be shocked to know that in a study conducted by the scientists, ‘body shame index’ was calculated. It was found that men and women could not find obese people suitable as their partners. They even had problem with their sexual arousability.

Unfortunately even our cultural prejudices are in favour of slenderness and against overweight. This is also a function of psychological and social factors. People associate slenderness with happiness, success, will power and is acceptable socially. On the other hand overweight symbolizes laziness, lack of will power, and being out of control. And alas! Out ward appearance thus stands to symbolize personal order!

Those who cannot conform to the set standards of slenderness due to any reason have to face prejudices. There is an increasing and an indiscriminate negative stereotyping of the people who are plump.

Though being obese and overweight is not good for health and can lead to many diseases and its hazardous effects are innumerable, but relating the size of body to being good or bad is just outrageous. A fat body should not be regarded as an insult.

There should not be objectification and criticism of the body or it can have devastating impact on the psychology of an individual.

Confucius has said: 'Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.' These are not only the words to be read and forgotten. These should be deeply embedded in our psyche. Every individual is unique and beautiful. To be different is not a bad thing.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Frailty thy name is woman...

When we talk to infidelity or frailty, consciously, subconsciously or unconsciously, an image of a man comes in our mind. Why doesn’t the image of a woman ever come in our minds especially in the context of Indian society?

The image of a woman embedded in our Indian psyche is that of a weakling who has always been suppressed, oppressed and exploited by the male dominant society. She is an “abla naari” who is always a dedicated wife, incapable of committing any adulterous act!

But let us not be hypocrites anymore. Let us not indulge in undue display of modesty. Let us not obfuscate or try to confuse the truth under the veils of denials!

The modern day Indian woman is getting more and more into extra marital affairs.

The “fairer sex”, now days, is quite a lot, becoming “unfair” to her life partner. She no longer feels any special bonding with her home and hearth. The present day females are thus responsible for turning their marriages into “Caustic Marriages”, leaving their relationships to corrode and rot.

And shockingly, this is one of the reasons behind increasing divorces cases in our country. The women of the feminist movement in our country might come running after me with batons in their hands for writing all this. But closing the eyes does not hide the truth.

I might sound cruel and anti feminine but I would like to say that a woman is better than a man in the matter of infidelity. When she can hide her secret bank accounts so well, then she can also concealing her hush-hush affairs quite dexterously. She is adept in combining subterfuge along with her relationship management skill to escape scot-free. A definite set of pattern is found when a female enters into the cheating business!

She often rationalizes her act by saying that something is missing in her life and this “something” which is missing in her life is fulfilled by the other man! She might have everything—a home, a family and a great husband—but she still wants to be “happier”! She may justify her action by putting all the blame on her husband that he doesn’t give her ample time and attention. The reason for the vacuum can be given to inability to conceive. And thus there goes a long list of reasons and causes. She tries to find “spark” somewhere else.

Inclination towards the other guy may gradually become an intrusive and obsessive thought. There may be acute longing for that person. She might also remain in pain due to her inability to be with him.

Another amazing trend seen in this regard is that this another guy mostly hails from her social group whom she trusts. He may be a co-worker, some one from friend’s circle or an old college friend. The guy, with whom she gets involved, is generally single and is likely to remain single due to his previously broken relationship. Or he may be an “unhappily-married” man.

Infidelity may be mental or emotional one, and not necessarily, be sexual. She may not indulge in physical relation with the other man. It can be under the guise of a platonic relationship or “just friendship”. She takes her lover as her soul mate and continues with her marriage, which gives her ultimate security. This way she enjoys a double bonanza! Emotional needs get fulfilled by the lover and all the other needs are taken care of, by the poor hubby!

The readers might find it to be exaggerated but such a kind of the set pattern is found when a female indulges in an extra marital affair taking her own life, her husband’s life and the lives of the kids to a threshold where nothing else but destruction.

The vow “til death do you part” just remains a lip service. The modern day liberated, educated and an outgoing woman wants to be a free-bird. She does not want to be left behind the men in any respect whether it may be the area of infidelity or cheating.

The chemicals released in her brain make her fall in love time and again.

Shakespeare was not wrong when he said….

“Why, she would hang on him
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on, and yet, within a month—
Let me not think on't—Frailty, thy name is woman!”

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Are They Really "Role Less" Creatures??

When we talk of identifying the marginalized groups in the society, disabled population is always taken into consideration especially in underdeveloped and developing countries. But if we take a closer look within this section of the society, there is yet another subset which has to face the sting of being disabled to a greater extent and live a life of mediocrity. It is of disabled women. It’s really unfortunate and shocking to see a worse kind of gender bias within this group. There springs up a case of ‘double discrimination’…being disabled and being female, they are the worst suffers in every walk of life.

A disabled woman may be a victim of a paradoxical situation where poverty would to her increased disability and disability would increase her poverty. Lack of knowledge, awareness and literacy may further worsen the situation. Her potential to learn and develop as an independent entity takes a back seat, hindering the attainment of equal opportunities.

The countries where the notion of ‘son preference’ dominates culturally, girls with disabilities become a second rate citizen for the family as well as for the society. A disabled woman may confront two contradictory situations. On one side her health, her medical care and her basics needs are totally ignored by the care takers. Lack of positive stimulation often results in the stunted growth of personality and self esteem. On the other hand she may be overprotected due to that prevalent superstitions and ignorance that leads to her complete isolation from the society.

In one of the studies conducted by UNESCO, it has been estimated that only around 1-2% of disabled children in developing countries receive any kind of education, and out of this low percentage disabled boys attend schools much more frequently than disabled girls. The fact sheet prepared by Rehabilitation International and the World Institute on Disability for the UN 4th World Conference shows such heart rending results.

The phenomenon is present every where, in almost every country irrespective of economic development and culture. The difference is only in the magnitude.

The females with physical impairment are employed at lower rates than the disabled men. Disabled women have little access to education and employment. They are given less guidance about their career and future lives; receive less rehabilitation services and they just survive with almost no economic security. In yet another survey, it has been found that around 42% of men with disabilities are able to actively seek work as compared to 24% women.

She is definitely at a distinct disadvantageous position as compared to her male disabled counterparts and non disabled women. Whether it may be traditional or stereotype gender role or any non traditional role, she is considered “an absolute role less creature”. Disabled women can also be victims of violence, physical, emotional and sexual abuse. And shockingly it happens within the family as they remain under a kind of “house arrest” for most of the time.

There are also instances of involuntary sterilization so that they may not produced disabled children. The fear is totally baseless as most of the disabilities are not inherited. They are neither allowed to become biological mothers nor does the society give them the right to be foster mothers and adopt a child. There are no two opinions of the fact that disabled women may face extra difficulties during their pregnancy but it is myth that she cannot be a good mother and cannot take are of her baby. With her organizational skills and management qualities she can dexterously look after all the responsibilities, just like the non disabled females.

Disabled women do become mothers and that too very good ones contrary to presumptions of this non disabled world. Countless women have proven themselves that in spite of their physical limitations they can be wonderful home makers. With their emotional strength they can show the world that they are in no way less than the non disabled females.

She cannot be a mother, a wife, a homemaker, a lover, a nurturer! There is no one to trust her abilities as the main focus remains only on her disabilities and a deformed body! She is not loved and accepted as a partner by a non disabled man because he wants a perfect female for himself. If somehow somebody makes relation with her, she is given the impression that the person is doing a ‘noble duty’ or ‘some kind of favour is being bestowed upon her’. This ‘charity’ robs her of her dignity. Ironically she is neither liked nor loved by a disabled man. Due to his ‘own reasons’ he too wants an absolutely normal female for himself! Not only are the places, freedom, education, employment inaccessible to her but love, care and all the relationships also become inaccessible leaving her on a pedestal of a worst possible situation.

Neglected by the society, tormented by internal conflicts she can develop into a cynical being, quite prone to adopt self destructive strategies and can develop many mental problems. Being unloved, unwanted, unemployed and uncared for disabled females can become bitter, angry, frustrated and depressed. Social isolation and limited roles to perform can play havoc to their personalities.

We all need to work out a solution for this. Practical steps are needed to be taken rather than sitting, thinking, writing and reading about such problems. The pre-requisite requirement for changing the scenario is a revolutionary change in mindset of the people. The age old stigmas attached with the disability and gender bias have to uprooted and thrown away. The orthodox beliefs and the dogmatic thought processes need to be totally revamped. If not done in time, there is a strong possibility that the disabled women would soon perish off ...far off in the oblivion....with no identity and individuality of their own.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Marital Satisfaction and Communication!

Marriage is a universal institution that brings together two persons, their souls and their families closer and encompasses a wide gamut of meanings and varied other aspects. It is a kind of contract between two individuals where they get united legally, economically and emotionally. According to Black Law Dictionary, “Marriage is the civil status of one man and one woman united under law for life, for the discharge of each other and the community, of the duties legally incumbent on those whose association is founded on the distinction of sex”. It brings legal and normative obligations for the two individuals. It is a private institution of great public concern.

While carrying on with this nuptial relationship, each partner wants to be emotionally nourished and satisfied to fullest extent. The condition of marital satisfaction thus becomes a subjective reality, closely related to marital adjustment, marital happiness and effecting marital stability. Absence of marital satisfaction can lead to shattered dreams, tethered understanding, tattered relations and withered lives.

The basic ingredient needed for experiencing marital satisfaction is the level of communication between the two individuals i.e. how well the spouses are able to express their feelings, desires and expectations to each other. Whether it may be an expression of affection, sexual satisfaction, reaching of consensus on a matter, management of conflicts, role distribution…all depends on the way one communicates. Either in verbal or in a non verbal way one should become adept in expressing oneself.

Lack of communication can prove disastrous. We can see an example here. Many people often like to focus on how they would like to be loved by their spouses. They tend to express their love in exactly the way they want to receive it, completely ignoring the thought how their spouse would like to be loved! Suppose the wife, in order to feel loved, would like her husband sings love songs for her or bring flowers for her whereas the husband wants her to encourage and admire him giving him positive reinforcement at appropriate times. Totally unaware of her husband’s needs and way he would like to be emotionally stimulated, the wife keeps on singing love songs for him. All this can prove extremely irritating for the husband, playing havoc in their relationship. Even the sexual needs and desires have to be communicated well. In the absence of it both of them could become dissatisfied dissolving the relationship and that too unrealizingly! Self disclosure thus becomes a key element in an effective communication which leads to mutual trust and respect. Communication thus can increase positive sense of satisfaction between the two partners increasing positive moments in their lives, taking the relationship to a higher pedestal.

There generally five levels of communication:

Sharing of general information

Sharing of facts

Sharing of opinions and beliefs

Sharing of feelings and emotions

Sharing of needs, intimate concerns, hopes and even fears

When the spouses are on level one it is like talking to a new acquaintance. At level two they are sharing only facts. At the third level they can learn more about each other through deeper discussions but remaining on this stage and getting stagnated here can become confrontational. Reaching level can assist them in understanding each other by bringing their feelings and emotions to the surface level. But the most desirable level to experience marital satisfaction and a for a stable relation is to reach the level where they get into the position of sharing their intimate concerns, fantasies, dreams and fears. It can keep the marriage pumping forward.

But styles of the communication can off course vary! One needs to recognize that everyone has a unique way of expressing and communicating. Gender differences do exist while doing so. Women tend to be more expressive than men on self disclosure of personal matters like love and intimacy while men can express their physical needs more vocally than the women. Marriage communication has four basic styles namely supportive, emotive, directive and reflective. An emotive person for example wants be the center of attraction and indulges in talking most of the time. But a reflective person on the other hand is quieter and spends time in thoughts rather than conversing. These two persons can be annoying to each other sometimes but if understanding develops they can wonderfully be complementary to each other!

All what matters is the proper understanding of what is said, how it is said and why it is said. This can avoid criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stone walling. Talks, discussions and negotiations can help in building of an unbreakable bond between two persons uniting them together in a love relationship for the rest of their lives!!

Monday, 20 September 2010


If your house remains filled with guests, if you always have to pay the restaurant bill when you go out for dinner with your friends, if your non refundable loans are getting piled up, if you can’t refuse others just because you feel you are bound by morals, ethics, duties etc…then I am sorry to say that you are a Non Assertive Individual!

Though you might be a master of variety of languages, you might have learnt how to talk but lacking assertion undoubtedly means that you lack communication skills. And I think it is a serious limitation which soon has to be taken care of. If you fail to control the way you act, then we can logically deduce that you have given up or we may say that you have surrendered, and now others would control you leading to what is known as “power vacuum”! And this power play has its spill over affects, which may adversely effect your interpersonal relationships too.

The basic problem of a non assertive person is his inability to say “No”. He would always “Yes” even if he wants to say “No”. He allows others to manipulate him, by remaining silent, giving the other person an impression that he agrees to what is being done. He feels that the rights of others are more important than his own rights. There is a hidden fear of disapproval by others. He knows what to do, but still there comes a mental block due to the fear of rejection. The poor creature has to smile even at a bad joke of others just to oblige them. The timid soul is thus pushed around time and again making him feel miserable afterwards.

He lacks the understanding to differentiate between assertiveness and aggressiveness. There is a constant confusion in his mind regarding the meaning of these two terms. He thinks being assertive is synonymous with being rude. This misconception prevents him from standing for his own rights. He often rationalizes for being non assertive.

To prevent yourself being labeled as such an individual, you need to express emotions and needs without infringing upon anybody’s right. This is what is known as Assertiveness.

The basic prerequisite for being assertive is your decision. Your decision whether you are ready to step on yourself just to please others? Whether you are ready to be bullied? Whether you are ready to lose your self esteem just because you are scared what others will think of you? It is all your decision!!

But if are not ready to be bullied by those who continuously keep shopping for the non assertive individuals, you would need to overcome passivity, fear of criticism, anxiety, insecurity and low self-esteem in your personality.

One needs to be firm. Remaining defensive, apologetic and over polite may prove disastrous for your self esteem and self confidence. You may be sympathetic and empathic but any pressure or any kind of disguised emotions of others should not change your mind. Don’t rear a misguided notion in you that ‘you can do it all and handle everything’. Learn and practice to say “No’. This could be the biggest favour you can do it yourself and to the people who love you.

Don’t live to please others. Nothing is more important than you! Love yourself! Be Assertive!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Who we are and what we want to become...

We, the Homo sapiens, said to be the most developed species of this bio-diverse environment, are becoming ruthless predators, exterminating the members of our own species. Though growing economically, scientifically, educationally and materialistically, we are regressing morally. We are conquering the universe but ironically fail to control our own minds and thought processes.

We only want to be triumphant….we try to win over everything, making ourselves hypercompetitive and over ambitious. The increasing insensitivity and degenerating value system owe their existence to lack of moral development, which should begin from the childhood. To build a sense of self acceptance and moral virtues, the knowledge of our own ideal and real self is a preliminary requirement.

The ideal self is a cocktail of all the attributes which are considered to be "good" whereas real self portrays "who we actually are". The ideal self instructs us to be compassionate, kind, prudent, honest, helping, pure, virtuous and what not! But in reality the real self cannot possess all these characteristics into one single individual. The real self remains “human” and can’t be “humane” as perceived by our ideal self. There remains a chasm between the two. The greater the gap the greater is the risk of loss of self esteem and increased frustration in the individual. This incongruity can lead to development of symptoms of neurosis.

Ideal self persuades us to be exquisite human beings without any flaws and shortcomings. We are ruled by the tyranny of “shoulds” “musts” and “oughts”. Thoughts like “I should be altruistic”, or “I should be kind and giving”. But if the real self is able to be kind and giving only to the near ones and not to beggar sitting in the corner of the street, there is a mismatch between both the selves!! The problem arises when the standards of ideal self become unattainable and unachievable. The real self, when fails to come up to the expectations of the ideal self, there is a feeling of self hatred, tension and depression. All this can result in unhealthy minds and emotions. We then begin to question our own competencies.

For e.g. there is a natural tendency that parents dream of making their children what they themselves could not become. To achieve this objective they often create an ideal self in their children which is not only dangerous but sometimes stupid.

Some of us want to be perfect parents, perfect spouses or perfect siblings! While striving to do be “the perfect ones”, we often ignore the humanity or the human part in us i.e. our ideal self sometimes doesn’t comply with real self. But if we allow ourselves to be imperfect and make mistakes, the gap between real and ideal can be filled easily, making us mentally healthy.

If the ideal self is realistic and healthy then it becomes pertinent to train the real self to be compatible with it. Then the real self needs to practise identifying varied situations and act appropriately. If the ideal self says that we need to be strong and powerful, then the real should express itself physically in such a way that it does not harm others nor does it intrude into the lives of others. To gain strength we don’t have to be arrogant, abusive, or violent. Physical strength can be gained by exercising, sports etc. Real self just needs to adjust and make behavioural changes.

On the other way round, ideal self also needs to be based on reality. A vision needs to be developed. We need to learn to face criticism and establish a healthy code of conduct.

The aim is to prevent the real self from clashing with the ideal self…In other words we need to have an “idealized reality”. This would make us more sensitive to the needs of others and even our own needs, hopes and aspirations.

Monday, 5 July 2010


Few days back a close friend of mine was deeply perturbed and wailful when he heard the news of the murder of a young boy and there was other news of child molestation which again made him sink into melancholic mood the whole day. Its not that he had heard about such incidents for the first time but he wondered where we as a society are heading towards! And this also made me ponder on the subject.

Has anyone of us even tried to answer this simple question that why do such things happen? Why we the human beings though said to be civilized are now heading towards adopting basal and beastly instincts??”

The answer is simple. We lack “Empathy”. Lack of empathy can lead to violence, abuse, murders and what not! Relationships can be completely destroyed in the absence of it. We are not ready to hear the point of view of other person. We fail to understand their perspectives and feelings leading to a complete thwarting of bonds whether familial, marital or humanistic. It was only lack of empathy that utmost atrocities were committed on Jews by the Nazis and they were trampled like insects! Absence of empathy leads to perpetual committing of inhuman acts.

So now let us see what Empathy is! Unfortunately this is a term which is often underused and not even understood by many. The word empathy is derived from German word "einfuhlung" which means "in-feeling” i.e. appreciating emotionally someone else’s feelings. There is a Greek word “empatheia”, which means “physical affection, passion, partiality”. The present day word Empathy comes to mean that we try to understand another’s person feelings and experiences in a subjective way while observing that person. It is not only a communication tool but also a skill if developed properly. It is listening to not only the verbal content of the talk but also listening to what has not been said i.e. the non verbal part of the communication. Being empathic we are able to live the emotional lives of others…it takes us outside ourselves…making us more humane and understanding.

It is different from the feeling of sympathy or”sahaanubhooti” or “hamdardi” which is highly valued in our culture. Sympathy becomes shared suffering. Another term pity should also not be confused with empathy. Pity often makes the other person “bechaaraa” (one who does not have any option left). Pity can even result in contempt and rejection when someone says,” You poor thing!” Both these feelings are disempowering. The feeling of sympathy makes us stand apart from others…it tries to place us at a higher pedestal than the other person who is suffering…we are then portrayed as kind of rescuer and the other person is left as “a helpless victim”. But empathy brings “samaanubhooti” or a feeling of oneness or sameness with the other person..... By developing empathy we try to provide an opportunity to the other person to find the inherent strength to cope up with challenges coming his/her way. We need not be the rescuers. We need to make others strong enough to fight their battles; we need to understand how they feel! Then only can there be resolution of problems in a healthy and optimum way. This enhances the self esteem of both the giver and the taker.

Though present innately, empathy is also a part of our moral development. We need to practise it. We need not try to “fix things” for those in problems, instead we need to trust their inner resources. We need not cry for them. Let them shed their tears and feel their feelings. We just have to be with them with open heart. We need to develop listening skills,tolerance and understanding that people have their own values, beliefs, religions, sexual preferences etc and they have right to believe what they want. To have empathy for other we first need to develop empathy towards ourselves. We need to recognise our own pain. We need to stop blaming others and overreacting. Then only the actual process of healing would start.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Self Esteem!

The word self esteem is derived from a Latin word which means “estimate”. It is the ratio of our successes to our potential. It is how we feel about ourselves. It is a function of age, gender, our socio economic status and body image. Though the definitions of self esteem may show variations in breadth and sophistication, yet we can broadly define it as our ability to cope with the challenges coming our way during the course of life. It may sometimes be regarded as our positive attitudes towards the life, how we value ourselves, how much are convinced we of our abilities and capacities, and how much competent do we see ourselves. It is how does “I” evaluate in totality the components of “Me”!

Many researchers have come to brand the concept as a “Social Vaccine”. It empowers an individual and keeps inoculating a person against self defeating thoughts and behaviours.

Those with the required amount of self esteem value and appreciate themselves. They are less likely to indulge in destructive activities like child abuse, drug abuse, violence and crime. They are neither conceited nor obnoxious. They know the difference between being aggressive and being assertive. Girls having self esteem are less likely to become pregnant at a very young age!

Low esteem, on the other hands leads to negative thinking and lack of confidence in us. Low esteem is directly proportional to unhappiness, depression and insecurities. Our inner voice nags us, criticizes and ridicules us in everything we do or during every decision we make. Challenges then become “uncrossable hurdles”. But one positive aspect of low self-esteem is that it may help us to work hard to overcome our complexes and inferiorities. It can then motivate us to develop strengths or some unique attributes as a means of compensation.

Developing self esteem would help in building a resilient character in us where we would be able to bounce back to active life from adversities.

Family can play a major and active role in building of self esteem in a child. Feelings of being loved, admired or valued contribute towards increasing self esteem in us. Positive responses from our near ones help us to feel worthy. It cannot be taken or given; it has to be earned. We need to accept our weaknesses and should stop underrating ourselves. We need to forgive our own mistakes. Laughing at ourselves instead of laughing at others would increase our self esteem.

Our worth as a human being does not only mean they we need to be the smartest, the most beautiful, the most intelligent or having a perfect body. Never let your self esteem plummet…

We need to create a positive aura around us with right dosage of “Self Esteem”!

We need to celebrate ourselves…celebrate being alive!!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

A Wonderful Feeling Called..Love!

“Love”, a word that encompasses a whole gamut of feelings! An emotion that tends to affect us holistically! For some it means adoration! For others it becomes synonymous with the word worship and what not!

Some consider it to be full of mystery while there are others who consider it to be complex. The truth is that it is indefinable and immeasurable. It is a strong positive emotion. Like all the other emotions it too has a biological basis. When this emotion is felt, the brain starts releasing certain chemicals like pheromones, dopamine, neropinephrine, serotonin etc. All play different roles. Neropinephrine acts as a painkiller. The effect of some are just like amphetamines(chemicals present in narcotics) i.e. just like the effect that cocaine has on us! Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, triggers the pleasure that love gives us. Oxytocin, a hormone, helps in giving emotional signals and works towards cementing relationships making us committed. Edorphins soothe us, embellish us with feeling of calmness and tranquillity, Anxieties are removed and love then becomes ecstatic!

When we are under the influence of this intense emotion, we experience strong feelings of attachment towards the person whom we are in love with. There can be affection, sexual attraction and devotion. One can completely surrender and there can be complete acceptance. There are no reasons behind it; no logic; no inferences; no conclusions. True love then becomes illogical. There are no causes behind it.

It has the potential to nurture; to foster life.

Love can be categorized with all its technicalities. Love can passionate as well as compassionate. Compassion in love brings mutual respect and trust where as passion leads to physical attraction.

Then there can be tough love and unrequited love. Tough love pertains to a kind of love where we deal harshly with the person with an intension to help them. Like parents getting tough with their children.

When there is no reciprocation of this feeling then a feeling of despair can set in. This is what is known as unrequited love. Rejection in love can completely destroy a person emotionally,mentally,spiritually and sometimes even physically.

On the other hand unconditional love is a kind of love that is on the spiritual level. It encourages devoting ourselves in the service of humanity leading to further spiritual growth. It becomes an instrument to overcome individual egos. We are able to shed prejudices and resentments.

On the contrary self love or narcissistic love compels us to be egocentric. Though a bit of self love is a prerequisite to develop self esteem in us but excess of it can make us rude, selfish and critical of others. It can destroy our personality.

Love is not only expressing our feelings verbally. It can be expressed in tangible ways…the ways that are identifiable and recognizable by the person whom we love. It can be in the form caring…caring without manipulation! Our behaviours, actions and attitudes should convey our feelings that can easily be recognized by both the parties.

Love in house implies self worth; it means intimacy with the partner, and intimacy with the children making the whole environment healthy. Love should provide physical, mental and social security but a word of caution goes here….too much love can cause neurotic development!!

So now if you find this emotion prevailing upon you, just try to express it…don’t be hesitant…don’t be scared…reap the benefits of the positive reinforcement of this great and wonderful emotion!