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Archive for January, 2012

31
Jan

Please People, Let Me Live My Own Life!

Since you are born, you are asked to walk, talk, smile, go to school, get good grades, go to college, get a good job, get married, have kids, to eat veggies, to go for jog… I feel even each breath we take is asked by someone else so that we do not die..So, the moral of this article is – Make your own goals, Live your own life, Spend time following your own dreams – not of others!

Sounds good and motivating, right?

But….(there is always a but!)

If you are going to live life your way, if you are going to passionately follow your dreams and fulfill your goals, then you need to take responsibility of your actions and be able to stand up to even your loved ones on your way to achieving your dreams.

There is nothing more wonderful in life than determining what your goals are and to pursue them rigorously. Following your dreams sounds good in words but is a costly affair. To be dedicated to your own goals asks for being mean, and requires a lot of your time, energy and money which might not please other people who are used to having you at their tail helping them following their own dreams. Like a wife leaving her own career because her husband got a higher paying job in some foreign country. Did the wife also want to go there or she just went to please her husband and help him achieve his goals?

Anyways, what this means for ME and for YOU?

A LOT! I often feel sorry for myself. I struggled hard, sacrificed my weekends, got self-deprecating shouts from bosses, and sometimes had little to none vacation time. It’s been an intensive ordeal so far and has taken me far away from friends and family.

I gave a lot to be where I’m. Most of the time, I got into comparison mode and get myself into grief for not being able to be what other people are – social, balanced, happy, rich, successful, satisfied or contented. Sometimes I felt a pressure building inside me to stop sacrificing so much for just one goal. I started judging myself and was judged by others. I had dedicatedly diverted all my energy to just one goal and nothing else mattered.

People kept telling me that you have no social life, you are always working, you have no time for even your family. I had a lot of external pressure to quit what I was doing and just do what people expected me to do. I often wondered inside, “Why am I so wrapped up in my career, when no one else I know seems to care about it. All they are doing is judging me for spending so much time pursuing my goal”.

But pursuing my goals got me into a good college, got a high paying job in a MNC, helped me start my own business, these are not the things that happened by chance. I sacrificed a lot to achieve these goals and it required a lot of hard work and strong will. I didn’t let other people judge me and divert me from my path to follow their paths. I took responsibility of what I wanted to do and didn’t get affected by people judging me.

If you wish to follow your dreams and want to for once start living your own life then follow what I did:

  • Don’t enter into comparison mode:

Just focus on your goals and be determined to achieve your dreams. Don’t ever let yourself enter into the comparison trap. Focus on being YOU and allow yourself to filter the sound of others who are pressurizing your to abandon your goal. You also definitely need to stop complaining to others how many sacrifices you are making for your goal. It’s your goal, your decision, so stop cribbing and start working.

  • Don’t give up:

At some point you might feel low and depressed and start agreeing with other people and say “They are probably right, I’m done”. But don’t give up so easily. Path to your dreams will not be easy. People will easily judge you and ask you to give up because it is not their dreams, it is YOURS and you need to take a decision by following your heart not theirs. Analyze what your dream is asking from you, if it makes you real bad, then tune yourself accordingly, but don’t give up on it until you achieve it.

It’s all right if it makes you look weird and out of place, once you achieve your goal, everyone will realize who you are and will appreciate you. But if you give up on something or do something that is someone else’s goal, you will never be YOU in life! If you want to be YOU, get up, take a stand and be strong-willed. Life is too short to be living in someone else’s footsteps, mark your own in a way that people follow you!

27
Jan

Impatience – Pause and Think, Do You Really Need It?

We all are in a hurry. I know as soon as you start reading the article, you will be in a hurry to finish it to know what the end is. I’m sure even when you read a book, you first read the excerpt at the back to know what it is all about, you just cannot wait to read till the end without knowing the gist. So, to cut a long story short this article is about impatience, which in my opinion is not a good thing. Now, if you want to know why, continue reading the rest of the article.

Over the years, we tend to learn that being impatient is the only way to get things done our way. We want everything quick and fast. We eat fast food, we order through drive-ins. We blow horns as soon as the signal turns green, we even blow horns in traffic jam. We use short sentences and short forms during conversations. We take shortcuts and overtake people on every possible chance we get. We text instead of calling. We use kiosks for self-checkout because we cannot wait in line. We go for power weekend diet because we cannot wait to shed those fats through yoga.

I’m no exception, I’m also an impatient person. I cut other people’s sentences because I cannot wait to have my say, I curse the slow cashier at the grocery store, I break red lights when I’m late to office, I eat at my work desk and do all the other things that would make me an impatient person. I used to think that this is what successful people did. They are hardworking, they don’t waste time and they are intelligent enough to find their way quickly.

But there was one incident that changed my outlook considerably. I had gone to a coffee shop and was waiting in queue for my turn. The guy at the counter was really slow in serving coffee, and I had no option but to curse him under my breath for making me late. Finally when my turn arrived, I saw that the guy had only 2 fingers in his left hand. I was shocked and at the same time ashamed of myself. My impatience made me draw conclusion that the guy was inefficient when in reality he was more than efficient. It made me see that impatience is not good and it is not needed for achieving success. In reality impatience is a bad habit which every one of us needs to break not only for people around us but for our own good.

Scientifically also it has been proved that impatience is harmful to our health. Impatience can lead to hypertension, obesity and can even make you broke due to rash judgments.

But one key thing is that impatience is not something you are born with, it is a behavior which you grow into yourself as a result of living in this chaotic world where everyone is rushing for somewhere. Long queues, traffic jams, bad customer service are all part of this imperfect world. Still every now and then I get irritated but I have come to terms with my daily dose of rage. I try not to get hyper on small petite things which are everyday routine and will not change with my getting angry on them.

We Want NOW!

Our generation wants everything and we want it now. We cannot wait and we want to get things quickly. We want our computer to be quick, we want the browser to load as soon as we hit enter, we want to watch movies with just a click as we are too impatient to drive to video store. We have become impatient to such an extent that we are now impatient about impatience.

I have spoken a lot above about how bad and harmful impatience is, but hang on a second. Is impatience always bad? Not necessarily, impatience can also be a sign for a healthy mind that doesn’t take crap. Let’s see recession for instance, things are definitely showing signs of improvement, but people are getting impatient to see some fast results. Now an impatience of this kind is good, it motivates you to work further quickly and make things better. Civil right leaders and abolitionists have been able to achieve something better for the society only because they were impatient about wrong things happening around them.

But all this is a different kind of impatience. Everyone gets impatient if things are delayed long enough. But it is only when we have a short fuse and get impatient quickly, our impatience becomes a cause of grief rather than relieving us from the problem.

Be impatient but don’t be imprudent. Impatience on small things will just cause stress, it is not going to achieve anything positive for you. Relax and have the capacity to digest small issues, it will take you a long way in life!

20
Jan

To Care or Not to Care?

What stops an unhappy couple from getting divorce? What prevents someone from telling how annoying the other person is? What prevents someone who hates his job from quitting? To what extent our actions are based on the worries of what would others think? Eventually it comes down to just one thing, we all want approval from other people. We are not confident about our own lives and we want to make sure that whatever we do, we say, we wear, should be picture perfect in the eyes of the others whether we personally like it or not. If someone says we look amazing, we instantly feel on cloud 9, our self-esteem goes high and we become very proud of ourselves. Approval from others makes us feel confident of ourselves and disapprovals leave us dejected and depressed.

When I was faced with a decision of leaving my office and moving to a new town, I instantly thought, “If I leave, what will I do?” My self-image has been developed by the work I do, it gives me a sense of confidence and motivation to live ahead and so I was worried about what people will think if I suddenly stopped earning money and started sitting at home. I will probably not have the same respect among people as I do now have due to the work I do. I was not sure about what I should do that would not look bad in the eyes of other people. But, I somehow failed to ask myself, “Why should I continue to stay in a situation that was giving me so much stress”. I soon realized that I had to do what was right for me and not base it on what others thought was best. I would accept the responsibility of the action, no matter the outcome. When I was able to let go of the fear of caring about what other people think about and made my own decision, I felt confident. Even if it was wrong, it would be mine and I would be responsible.

I personally feel that there are two types of decision makers. The first are self oriented people who think, analyze every outcome and never discuss with others. It can be because either they have been burned so many times due to other people’s opinions or they are simply over confident.

The second type is of dependent decision makers. These people always require the opinion and approval of others. They would always ask questions such as, “Do you like this proposal?”, “Do you think it will work?”, “Am I right?”, “Do I look nice?” and “Are we doing the right thing?” etc. They are people who are low in self confidence and are unable to move on without the approval from others.

Take for example, you think of a brilliant idea, you say to yourself, “No one else has ever thought of this, I think it will make millions”. You are really excited about it and you go and share it with your friend, he says, “I don’t think this will work, you won’t be able to earn even a dime with it”.

Oops, your face falls drop dead to the ground and your dreams are shattered before even they got started. Before you shared your idea, you were all confident but just because someone else thinks it is worthless, you are now shaky and probably already discarded the idea all together.

The addiction to what opinion people form of you affects you so much that you end up living life as per the terms of what people around you do. If your neighbor’s kid is going to the most expensive school, you also want your kid to go there because you worry about what the neighbor will think if you send your kid to any other school. If your colleague is wearing a branded watch, you instantly want to buy the same or even a better one in fear of being judged by your colleague. For that matter, even the car you drive is based on the opinion of what people on the road will form of you. Other people’s opinion about us matters so much to us that we end up living a life dictated by the terms of society and not the life that we really want.

If I go around and ask people whether they are addicted to this, I’m sure many will reply saying, “no way, we only do what we want to do, we don’t care about people”. If you are also one of them, then try to go to office tomorrow wearing boxer shorts, or go to meet a big client in bus or walk to your boss and say you “quit” or tell your boyfriend that you wish to breakup or go and tell your mom you are gay.

There is only one way to come out of this trap of caring what others think, just stop caring about the outcome. It is hard work to not bother about someone else’s opinion, but trust me if you do achieve that, you would be more happy and contended in life. Someone else’s opinion is not a fact. They judge you negatively only because they themselves are not confident about themselves. Once you let go of this addiction of wanting other people’s opinions, you will realize how unreliable, insubstantial and fleeting their opinion is.

While writing this article, I remembered about a book by a famous physicist Richard P. Feyman who was known for his cheerful approach towards life and a do not care theory for what people thought of him. In his book he mentioned the following conversation:

“Professor Feynman?”
“Hey! Why are you bothering me at this time in the morning?”
“I thought you’d like to know that you’ve won the Nobel Prize.”
“Yeah, but I’m
 sleeping! It would have been better if you had called me in the morning.”—and I hung up.

Feyman lived a life independent of other people’s opinion which made him live a life full of creativity and enthusiasm. Next time whenever someone gives you their opinion, just think of the words of Wayne Dyer, “what you think of me is none of my business”.

03
Jan

Are We Lying to Ourselves and Living in Denial?

The key to survival is denial. We deny that we are tired, we deny that we are scared, we deny we hate our job, we deny we are in pain, we deny we are in love. Most importantly, we deny that we are in denial. We only see what we want to see and we only believe what we want to believe. Surprisingly it works. We constantly keep lying to ourselves and after a while the lie seems to be the truth. We keep denying the truth so much that we cannot recognize the truth standing right in front of our eyes.

What Is Denial?

Denial can be thought of as a complex psychological process where there maybe some conscious knowledge or awareness of events happening around but somehow we fail to realize their emotional impact.

We all want to be happy and contended and thus, denial is an attempt of our brain to reject unacceptable feelings, needs, thoughts, wishes or any painful reality that alters the perfect picture that we have drawn in our minds. This little act of denial protects us temporarily from seeing the reality and living in that perfect world that we have created for our sub-conscious mind.

Let’s think of this in a simpler way. Each one of us has had some or the other unpleasant experiences that we desperately wished would not have happened. If we hear about the sudden death of a dear one, the first words we usually utter are, “No way, it’s not possible”. This is clearly the refusal of accepting the pain that will ensue if the death was real. We want to believe that it is not true and console our heart. Thus, the immediate negative reaction gives us time to sink the information, readjust our thoughts and prepare ourselves mentally to face the horrific reality.

The feeling of denial is wonderful, it protects us from the cruel truth and helps us to believe that something is true, when in reality it is false. It pretends us to feel “love” when we are actually behaving in a hatred manner. It hides the truth by using big words to prevent us from feeling those dreadful feelings.

I believe one major reason for denial is fear. When we are weak from within and do not believe in ourselves, we need to lie to ourselves. We just don’t feel we are strong enough to handle the truth. Rather than accepting the truth and work toward creating a favorable outcome, we choose denial.  But denial is just a band-aid.  Instead of facing the horrible truths, it just covers them up.

There is a very popular Bollywood movie wherein the lead character tells everyone to touch their heart and say “all is well” whenever they are in fear. Now, the theory sounds good, shows positive attitude, but I personally feel it is just a balm to your pains. Just by saying things are well they are not going to become better. I feel instead of just fooling your hearts by saying all is well, it is better to calibrate our thoughts to accept reality and take actions to make everything fine.

We are not in denial, we just believe in Optimism!

Many people do not believe that they are in denial. If you tell them so, you would probably hear from them, “We are not in denial, we are just being optimistic”. There is no harm in seeing the glass half full, but if your positive attitude towards everything prevents you from doing what needs to be done, then it is not optimism but denial.

People who are optimistic face the truth and make adjustments to their vision regarding the reality and how things should be done. They don’t run away and pretend that the truth does not exist. By being in denial, you simply cannot change the truth. We are not Ostrich who can bury our heads in earth and pretend that no one can see us. By hiding the truth, we cannot make it go away. Truth is there, standing in front of you, it is better to accept it and align your thoughts accordingly rather than denying it and pretending it never exists.

So what are you going to do?

Will you prefer to close your eyes and live in the fairy tale land where everything looks picture perfect, or you wish to open your eyes to the reality of a less perfect world, where things aren’t always safe, where a phone call always doesn’t bring good news, where hard work always doesn’t give good results or where everything is not flawless, but it is a world where you actually do something to make the world a better place to live in?