Total 225 Blog Posts

  • 20 Jan
    Oyindrila Basu

    Social Pressure: Sometimes Boon, Sometimes Bane

    indian family

     

    Recently, while conversing with one of my friends in USA, I realised that India is so deeply, so gravely rooted in our hearts, even amidst the western breeze of EST!

    They are an Indian couple from Bihar, married for four and a half years now, without any issue of their own, and that is the sole reason, they are often rushed for hasty doctor appointments, the consequential result being really positive….that she ends up consuming atleast 35 kinds of prescribed vitamin capsules, that are supposed to keep her healthy. Reports of regular conversations with the doctor, oftener delivered to her in-laws, who are more than just worried for her first pregnancy.

    Parenthood has always been a subject of criticism in Indian society, when it comes late for a married couple, and early for an unmarried couple. 

    In India, marriage is considered to be a gateway for a very exclusive achievement, i.e. being successful parents, that too as quickly as possible! 

    The first couple of years for a married couple, are filled with enlightened and inspiring advices from friends, peers, and relatives to try and get a successful issue with the doctor’s help, or Baba’s blessings.

     And if, God forbid, the third year passes without any significant hint of small wonder in the family, the couple is almost doomed!

    Moreover, daily news updates on pregnancy within the family, or friend group force them to feel that they are actually falling behind in the rat race of parenthood, which can actually give them an honour code of achievement in the society.

         

    Now, parenthood, or the decision to bring up a child is exclusively a matter of private concern for a married couple. The husband and wife jointly decide (or atleast should decide)  of bringing a new life when they find themselves mature enough, for such a big responsibility.

     

    So how can the society influence them for such a serious decision of their life?

     Society is constructed on this basic idea of group-ism. Individuals who wish or happen to deviate from the protocols in a particular society, tends to lose his/her identity, as one of the group. It is like bearing a common family surname, to signify belongingness.

     

    So peer pressure or social pressure can be immensely powerful and influential for decisions taken by us, as was proved by Psychologist Solomon Asch in his experiment on ‘Social Conformity’. And the driving force behind the success of this pressure is the fear within us, of losing the belongingness, the fear of walking alone. And society as a whole, uses this fear of the individual, to impose and propagate ideas, which are often illogical, or even irrelevant in the current date, but are being practised since time immemorial, and delay, in any of these social rituals push the unfortunate individual to extreme corners, where he is left alone with no peers at all.

     

    Taking up parenthood has become one such social ritual in Indian society, which has a proposed time of action, set by the society, and delay in parenthood is often portrayed as a vengeful crime.

     

    The society will survive, only if every member in it believe the same ideologies, so if a couple decides for late parenthood, the other members, i.e. friends and family and relatives, leave no stone unturned to make them feel that they are getting late, and should pull up their socks immediately, or they might lose their prestige and honour in society.

    The husband or the wife is often tagged with infamous names (like impotent or barren respectively), and yes, it is true that the picture has not changed even today, so that the poor couple starts feeling helpless and un-identical to the rest of the society.

    For single mothers, the societal protocol is to get married and have a husband as soon as possible, and delay in that can create a taboo for the woman who is struggling hard to give her child a good upbringing, but with her individualistic ideologies.

    In villages, marrying off the girl is the prime duty of the parents, even before she is 18, because that is the cultural ritual there.

    This is a generic pressure, which is exerted in many other situations like delay in marriage; delay is passing an examination or getting a job.

    This pressure can sometimes catalyse the growth of an individual, who would otherwise have wasted his/her life in lethargy, but mostly it is a derogatory situation which negatively affects the survival of individuals.

    There is solution to this. Everybody makes an effort to bring about a significant change in the thought process of the society, by changing their own way of thinking, and respect the ideologies of each other.

     Image source

    Responses 1

  • 20 Jan
    Shiva Raman Pandey

    Know the Power of Forgiveness

    Power of forgiveness

     

    Holding grudges may seem like a worthwhile exercise, but in reality it damages us more. There are research findings that show that both anger and holding grudges harm the person experiencing them. Revenge may or may not materialize, but you would have really harmed yourself in the process by then.

     

    Forgiveness, on the other hand, can help you heal and recover and feel lighter in the process. It may feel wrong to ‘let the person go’, but essentially, forgiveness is not the same as victimhood or just accepting your circumstances without having a say. Forgiveness is a conscious decision. Therefore, it is implied that one must be ready for it, rather than rush into it.

    forgiveness

    To forgive, it is necessary to be angry at first. After that, one has to draw out and see the imperfections and woundedness of the person who hurt us and also to see how this cycle of hate is helping no one. This understands will not come immediately after you are hurt because it is natural human tendency to react and try to save yourself. However, over-stretching this is the problem.

    If we keep hurting each other in response, we will be satisfying a very base human instinct. But if we are to have more meaningful relationships and to survive as a species, higher level emotional processing is a must. Think about it: at some point or the other, a lot of people in your life are going to hurt you. How many will you banish and how many will you fight?

     

    Further, it is only one act of theirs that offends you, then why colour the whole person? It is better to give it time and space and then to let that episode of hurt go. Research suggests that couples who communicate and forgive have a much healthier relationship that those who don’t.

    It is human to make mistakes and if we take each mistake to mean peril, we will have to abandon all our relationships! But this means that you forgive an abusive partner or person in your life? Definitely not. Self-respect is the first requirement for forgiveness, since it is an act made in full control of the person. So if you are in an abusive relationship, it is wise to move away. However, holding the hurt of that relationship is likely to become a roadblock in getting over the scars of that relationship. Therefore, from a distance, think of how damaged the abuser is, and how you are too far to care, and slowly let it go.

    buddha quotes

    Forgiveness is about yourself, not anyone else. You do it as a favour to yourself. Further, forgiving means that acknowledging the person who hurt you has emotional shortcomings, and giving them a chance to change. If you carry the heavy burden of anger, grudges and hurt, instead of letting it go, it is you who gets hurt in the process. So do yourself a favour, and inculcate the forgiveness habit for better health, relationships and happiness.

    Further reading:1 2

    Responses 1

  • 17 Jan
    Shiva Raman Pandey

    Fail fast, Fail often, but never fail for the same reason again

    how to overcome failure

     

    Failure is a stepping stone to success only if it can teach you something. If not, then failure will be a waste of your time. Imagine that there are two children, both practicing for a running race. Child A first crosses 100 metres with record time but fails to do so for 200 metres. In the next effort, he crosses 200 metres in time, but is not able to do 300 metres. His failure is helpful because he is raising the bar higher each time. He is failing quite often, but with each effort, he is also getting better. Contrast that with child B, who never makes past 100 metres in record time. Either he does not start properly, or finish properly or lags in between.

    Child B is not making any progress. He is also much more likely to be frustrated. Either he does not like running, or even if he does, does not have the ability to run. This could be because he is not practicing his starting and ending techniques properly before making the run. All of this means that each time he fails to cross 100 metres in record time, is a redundant failure.

    Thus, the difference is clear. It is good to fail, as long as it helps you to keep moving. If despite multiple failures, you are rooted at the same spot, it is perhaps time to take a hint, that whatever is happening is not suiting you. Either you need a change or you need a break. You definitely can’t keep going.

    How to check if the failure you are going through is helpful or unhelpful? After all, life is not as simple as race practice for child A and B. Here are some pointers to help you decide:

    Do you feel like you learned something? Or has there been no increase in learning?

    How do you feel emotionally? Is it the tough frustration of doing a difficult task or is it the empty frustration of waste of time?

    Can you gauge your progress since the time you started? Have you made any movement at all? If you are too biased to judge this, get an external opinion. Get a friend who can be honest with you, to tell you if you have made any progress or not.

    Did you take a break any time? Sometimes, what seems like redundant failure can be turned into helpful failure if you can take a break and be away from the task for a little while. There are a lot of unconscious processes involved in learning which kick in when you do something entirely unrelated, but are going on in the back of your mind.

    Did you get help? Sometimes, learning a new skill can need external help as it may require more resources than what you have. Getting that help can help you make redundant failure into helpful failure.

    After all these, if you still feel stuck, you should leave the task because it may not be meant for you. Right now, it will just cause you endless frustration. If you want, you can come back later and try your hand at it again.

    Further Reading:1 2 3

     

     

     

    Responses 1

  • 07 Jan
    Shiva Raman Pandey

    The Great Ashoka Taught Us How To Overcome Guilt

    How to overcome guilt

    Guilt can be an overpowering emotion. There are a number of reasons we feel guilty for, not just when we do something bad, wrong or forbidden. Guilt is a feeling of immense shame at feeling that a particular behaviour committed was wrong. There are many personal differences in the level of guilt felt. Some people feel relatively less guilt that others although it is the same act which is being spoken of.

    Therefore, our feelings about the wrong-doing play a great role in guilt. We see that culture and upbringing play a great role in this. In conservative cultures, sexual overtures outside of marriage are considered wrong, whereas in open cultures, they are considered normal and healthy in the process of growing up. Therefore, a person influenced by a conservative society is more likely to feel guilty about their sexuality.

    In general, we are likely to feel guilty for 5 main reasons:

    1. When we actually do something wrong (e.g., being mean or overeating etc)
    2. When we think of doing something wrong (“How could I think of being mean to my friend”)
    3. When we over evaluate our wrong-ness (Choosing our interests’ over others can make us feel this way)
    4. When we feel we didn’t do enough to help a person in need
    5. When we feel we are doing better than others (Sort of like survivor’s guilt)

    Of these types, the 3rd one needs more work because these are ingrained by society so we feel much worse than we need to because of how we perceive our behaviours. Most of the times, these are over evaluations.

     

    If you do experience guilt to a troubling extent, these tips can help:

    Reevaluate: We need to reevaluate and find out where the guilt is actually coming from. Is it really my fault or am I making an over attribution because that is what I was taught from childhood? For example, we may feel bad about lying since we are taught that it’s a bad habit, but realistically, we often need to lie without having bad intentions. Therefore, removing filters and looking at the situation can help to reduce guilt.

     

    Draw out: What would you say to a friend who was feeling guilty for the same situation? Often, drawing out and looking from an outsider’s perspective helps to get a realistic view at what transpired. If to your friend you would ask not to worry, that in the bigger scheme of things, the action was right, then why does this not apply to you?

     

    Imperfection is human: We all make mistakes, but that is how we learn. Guilt is likely to happen if you have perfectionist standards that are hard to meet. Forgive yourself when you recognize your expectation was unreasonable in the first place.

     

    Make it count: Guilt is an emotion that can be made really constructive if we can learn from it. The great Asoka felt immense guilt at the war of Kalinga, and completely reformed his personality as well

    Image source

  • 06 Jan
    Shiva Raman Pandey

    What not to expect in counseling

    what not to expect in counseling

     

    counseling is a beautiful process of healing and change. However, without the awareness of what actually happens in counseling and what does not, you may not be able to take the entire benefit of it. Therefore, we address some misconceptions or false expectations from counseling below, which need to be removed.

    what not to expect in counseling

    1.Therapy will work without my active involvement: Usually, after the first or second session, once the clients are done telling their issue, they tend to become very inactive in therapy. This should not be because the therapist needs you to be active in both speaking as well as taking action outside of the therapy room in order to make sure that therapy works. Therefore, continuously keep engaging with your therapist about what you feel, think and what course of action is best. You should not take a back seat.

    what not to expect in counseling

    2.Magic will happen just by talking for an hour: While the talking will help you feel good, but whatever is discussed in the therapy room and the suggestions or homework given, needs to be implemented in real life. Therapy works well only if you can transition the change in real life as well. If the suggestions given do not work out for you, then alternatives need to be actively generated.

    what not to expect in counseling

    3.Therapist’s job is to give me advice and mine is to take it: This is perhaps the biggest misconception, that therapists ‘tell what to do’ and the client is just supposed to listen. In reality, this is not what should happen. Because of their listening skills and knowledge of human mind, therapists can efficiently hear you out and help you reorganize your thoughts and emotions, so that together with the therapist, you can generate the apt solutions for your problems. It is a give and take process.

    what not to expect in counseling

    4.There will be quick and magical solutions: Although you will start to feel better and lighter from the first session itself, for you to see a significant reduction in the problem will take some time. And that too will happen only if you actively participate in the therapy process. Therapy is a scientific solution to a heavy feelings and emotions, but it is not magic.

     what not to expect in counseling

    5.You have to reveal everything to the therapist: Although some information may be vital to getting over a particular emotional block, no one can force you to reveal anything. Therapy should help you let loose, but only after you can trust the therapist enough to tell them. You need not tell them painful memories then and there, or tell them secrets despite being unsure of how they will use them. It is as much about your comfort level as the therapist. If their questioning about a particular line of thought is hurting you, tell them so and discuss it so that you can address it at a later point.

    Hopefully, armed with this knowledge, you will find counseling to be beneficial and will be able to take full advantage of the process.

    Responses 2

    • Deepika Bhandari
      Deepika Bhandari   Sep 04, 2016 08:59 PM

      The stigma around mental health prevents people from seeking help. This article clears many common misconceptions around the topic of counseling, leading to more openness, hopefully!

    • amit kumar mishra
      amit kumar mishra   Sep 04, 2016 08:19 PM

      Very informative article..