Fail! Especially as a kid..

Failure terrifies us all! The existence of a discouraging voice inside each and every one of us is what makes failure so terrifying. “If you fail, the society will ridicule you. Your partner will think less of you. Your parents and “well-wishers” would feel insulted.” For some, the voice sounds like that of a Giant, taunting them in their sleep. For others, it  resembles the cry of a poor, whimpering little rabbit, pulling their spirits down whenever they try to fight back. The question I have always had in my mind is why is it that we are so intimidated by the thought of not being successful? How do we perceive failure?

Our attitude towards failure takes shape very early on in our lives. Let me give you a very simple example. Growing up, I never passed exams at school till I turned 12. I never had enough attendance to get through my grade school finals. I had received all sorts of punishments, ranging from running repeatedly around the football ground to getting hit on my knuckles with a wooden ruler. Oh, I wasn’t mischievous. I was just not smart. My teachers openly declared that I was fit for nothing. My parents couldn’t get why I was like that, nor could they afford to spend time for it. My relatives were having their best time, constantly passing sarcastic remarks. As much as I pretended not to be affected by everything going on around me, there was this voice inside of me that kept convincing me that I was a failure and that I was not capable of getting ahead in life. Later in life, I  did attempt to push myself forward, but every time I failed at it, that goddamn voice hideously crept in. I had lost the little motivation I had and my self-esteem had plummeted.

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I thought to myself about how different my life would have been without having to listen to that voice so early on in my life. Everyone has to face their battles in life. There is no way to escape. However, it would have been a lot easier without having to be threatened by the thought of turning into a “Loser”. Is there just one yardstick for success? I believe success is subjective and kids must not be penalised for not being the smartest kid in class or not being the best in sports. Children should be taught right from grade school,  especially in conservative communities of the world, that failure is a part of life and is nothing to be ashamed of. Failure should not be associated with something negative. Our survival depends on adaptation and no amount of failures is going to be enough to pave the path for being the best version of ourselves in life. In fact, let there be more “failures”. Bring it on! People must lend a helping hand to those young hearts which are struggling to deal with failure. Young souls need a source of positive reinforcement and not that of Self-blame.

We live in a world that respects perfectionists. In my opinion, perfectionism is overrated. Beg to differ! Be that person who is compassionate towards yourself and others around you by making room for imperfections. Nature is not perfect and not high-maintenance. Roll with it! If you learn to not let minor failures weigh you down as a kid, gradually, you will begin possessing a stronger mindset for enduring real problems in life. You will have the willpower and optimism to get back up.  You will develop greater confidence early on in your life to reflect on your mistakes and set things straight. You will begin to seek fulfilment through more meaningful experiences in life and discount the less significant downfalls of your life.

Keep failing.. Keep learning..Never stop growing!

Happy growing up 🙂

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Embrace the word “No”

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It was raining outside. I had my cup of warm instant coffee beside me. I cranked open my window, letting the moist yet gentle breeze of a spring afternoon hit my face. As I was in that moment soaked in bliss, I let my mind unwind to let this charged environment take control of me. While I was jogging my thoughts, I found myself interested in understanding my habit of saying no to things. By this point, I can proudly say that I am an expert in expressing disapproval. I began to wonder why, regardless of age, all of us find it difficult at least at some point to establish boundaries be it with superiors, friends, partners or colleagues. Nobody wants to be seen as the bad guy because we crave the validation from others. Some people do not care if they are taken for granted as long as at the end of the day they get to take a Selfie with that person. I begin to wonder, why do we have to do this to ourselves? We tend to forget that we have an option to say no!

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Being assertive in this era of social media is absolutely essential for one simple reason: SELF CARE. We deserve compassion and when we feel that we have so much to give another person, we definitely have plenty to give to the most important person in your life, YOU. All of us work so hard every day to achieve our goals and are constantly bombarded by criticism and other challenges. The least we could do is to take care of ourselves, especially our mental health. We owe it to ourselves to sometimes not be the superhuman that we aspire to be. We owe it to ourselves to not give a crap about pleasing someone or everyone. We owe it to ourselves to be genuine because genuineness is sexy and opposite of exhaustive! Say only what you mean, rinse and repeat. Make it your “go-to ” behaviour. That way, we take in only as much of stress we can handle and we don’t feel bad for avoiding excess stress.

Now, I know saying no to things requires us to be strong and ready to face conflict. Until quite recently, I used to suck at confrontation and I’d say, a lot of sucking at confrontation has made me this person today who can hold an argument without tearing up out of anger. So, I’d suggest, never stop trying! Having said that, do I mean that one has to be a negative person, who is stubborn and never accommodates to others schedule? Absolutely not! It is imperative to know your REASONS for saying no. Have a moral checklist for yourself. What do you want to be known for ? How much nonsense can you possibly put up with? Are you saying no because you don’t like the energy of certain people or a place? Are you saying no because that person said no to you in the past and you want to take revenge? Is your behaviour a good reflection of what you stand for and what you believe in? Did you think for a moment about your reasons or you are just in a cranky mood? Is your action going to negatively impact someone to a great extent? Think about it.

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It is very easy to judge someone these days. Hence, it is also very easy to be judged by others for everything we do and that is inevitable. If I learnt anything about saying no to things through my experiences, it would be to be aware of the fact that when I can say no to someone, others can also have their reasons to say no to me and that is okay. It is crucial to realise that everyone has his/her imperfections and sometimes it calls for maturity to be accommodative and respectful of others boundaries. Empathy can also help us find the right reasons to say no to things whilst preparing us for disappointment. It helps us toughen up easily and honestly, is so rewarding. So, no, you don’t get to be mean and ain’t nobody going to allow you to walk all over. This is a two-way street. Although I learnt these things very late and the hard way, I believe that the joy of growing up is never-ending and we need to embrace every little thing that makes it possible including the word, “No”.

Happy growing up! 🙂

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Meeting with your younger self

Human beings are great story-tellers. The joy of reminiscing is beyond imagination. This is particularly true when people talk about funny, adventurous or pleasant incidents. Most of us love to think of our college or school days and share interesting stories that makes us feel nostalgic. It leaves us with a desire to not just relive those moments but also to stay in that space-time forever! We make efforts to linger over those visions with an unconscious hope of feeling the same level of pleasure even in the present. After a certain point in life, somehow something about the present makes us to want to go back and keep going back in time. This sort of memory replay is not uncommon in younger adults. Sometimes we do this to feel proud of our accomplishments and our journey on the whole. Sometimes, we do this to envy a simpler time in our lives when our problems were easier to solve. Sometimes it can happen that everything is just fine yet we feel the necessity to escape reality for a few minutes. Yet other times, it can reflect an inability to let go of a painful incident. It doesn’t matter why we chose to have these “meetings” with our younger selves, we all do it.

When you decide to travel on a time horse, you may notice that you can halt at two types of stops – the ones that hold painful and embarrassing memories and the ones that hold heart-warming beautiful memories. In my experience, recollection of happy memories are more intentional than an accident. When that happens, my heart swells up in pride and I let it soak my soul, trying to hold on to that memory. When I randomly get reminded of an embarrassing memory, I hate my mind for bringing it up on a perfectly happy afternoon. My mind tries to relive the moment and the painful emotions thereby making me feel agitated. It doesn’t matter if the memory is good or bad, reliving it almost always leaves me with a realisation that the present moment is not the same. The present moment is like an open-ended question. If you allow it, the present moment has the potential to change things for the better and definitely, not worse!

Even with meditation and self-awareness, an average individual struggles to tame this wild elephant that is one’s mind. It is not easy to  train our mind to be present. It is possible with practice but not effortless for most of us. For some beginners, it can cause additional pressure to stay focussed all the time. Should we give up? I believe that we can help our mind suffer less with a range of approaches. Firstly, showing yourself some compassion and a lot of acceptance would go a long way! When your mind hops to a painful memory, accept it and realise that it doesn’t define you anymore. Be kind to yourself like you would be to your friend. When you think of an accomplishment of the past, don’t get cocky! The more wisdom you accumulate, the less entitled you feel for appreciation from yourself. That’s just how it is. That’s the true mark of growth. Loving your imperfect present and trusting your evolved self takes more maturity and less ego. Once you get a sense of this statement, it is easier than you think to embrace and let go.

Secondly, if you want to meet an older version of yourself, ask him/her for specific advice instead of mindlessly wandering in the memory land. Let me explain. All of us evolve as a person with time. At every phase of our lives, a certain aspect of our nature was at its prime and we had worked hard on the others to survive and conquer the challenges of that phase. For some of us, that quality might have been patience or perseverance. For some of us, it might have been courage. For many of us, it might have been an ability to care less about what others think. For a few others, it might be people-skills. So, I would say you take this opportunity to look back at an older version of yourself for specific insights when you are in trouble. It is a simple concept. The next time your mind reminds you of a time you turned red with embarrassment or anxiety, “pinch your conscience” like disciplining a child and direct it towards a positive learning exercise. Condition your mind to seek happiness in wandering to some memory where you can learn rather than relive the anger. I am 24. Whenever I feel discouraged or flustered on passing up an opportunity, I still look up to my 17 year-old self for advice on working hard and moving out of my comfort zone. Every time I do that, it only gives me more willpower to act and mould my present than a feeling of nostalgia.

Lastly, learn to be a proactive member of your team that is yourself! Be on board. Be on point! Don’t be that person that reiterates the obvious like a broken tape recorder! A general awareness that the time is fleeting and thousands of people like you across the globe are growing into better individuals can help you push your foot on the accelerator. Never let your mind fool you into feeling stuck in the past. Adopt subtle ways to out-smart and systematically interrupt your “auto-pilot” mode in order to anchor to what really matters 🙂

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If you want to fight, fight negativity!

In this day and age, it is just so easy to get lost in wordplay. The rush of the blood in your veins when you get involved in a heated argument is too enticing to ignore. There is something so disturbing yet so comforting when you sulk in silence, cry in isolation, start a social media war or hate a bunch of people whom you’d probably never see in your life after that point. What most of us fail to realise is that we are wasting our time encouraging negativity. Most of us know that it very obvious to say that negativity is bad and positivity is important. Nevertheless, only some of us succeed in fighting negativity on an everyday basis. Evolution has conditioned us to be exposed to so many different people and situations with different energies and frequencies yet somehow end up tuning so efficiently to negativity.

Speaking of energies and frequencies, I would like to imagine each of us being endowed with an imaginary rechargeable battery of positive energy. Every day our battery suffers wear and tear that makes us feel angry, unmotivated, frustrated or even scared. These fluctuations can make our existing positive energy supply unable to meet the demand. When we listen to the news first thing in the morning, it doesn’t matter how much we had planned to accomplish that day, a certain percentage of our energy is already drained lamenting over the bad things happening in the world. When minor unpleasant incident happens, we are so tempted to take it all in and be controlled by it. Suddenly, we become the harshest critic of our life. We start to think about all the awful decisions and actions of the past. We return home with low battery, label that day as a bad day and hope for a better tomorrow.

Sometimes our energy is influenced by the people around us. For instance, have you ever noticed the time you were with someone, and you caught yourself being unusually negative about anything and everything? This person has mastered pessimism, has a sub-zero level of patience, extremely low self-esteem and an inability to cope with failure. They are just so depressing that they drain the last ounce of empathy you have for them. You hardly realise it especially if such people are always in your social circle. If you let them, they can ruin your life permanently.

No matter how easily negativity can penetrate our mind, we can find ways to keep our batteries charged! What I like to do is to imagine that I am wearing a protective suit. This imaginary suit is made of all the empowering things I say to myself on a day I am genuinely motivated and in a positive state of mind. This exercise enforces the idea that I am stronger than the negativity around me. All of a sudden, I feel powerful and any number of whining colleagues, rude strangers or bad-tempered superiors seem manageable. When you get reminded of something/someone negative, remind yourself that you have a defined amount of positive space of mental focus. Don’t waste it on negativity or negative people. Use it instead to maximise your potential to learn and grow. Maintain a healthy relationship with yourself in order to keep your battery charged! Find three good things every day to feel grateful! Don’t be afraid of dissecting your emotions as it has proven to be an excellent strategy to reset your mood. Reason each emotion out. Question them. Another important trait to develop in order to avoid negativity is to stay grounded! An enlarged ego can often make you overthink others reactions to your actions. Even though it is not easy to do, call out on yourself when your behaviour or reaction is exaggerated! Stay away from toxic people and don’t be ashamed of stepping out of situations for the sake of maintaining your positive energy.

Our minds are trained to do whatever we REPEATEDLY think, say or do. Try to make it a HABIT to fight negativity and don’t be shy to show some loyalty to positivity.

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