Friday, 19 June 2015

Counselling : A taboo (that it isn't!)

One of my closest friends,has been avoiding me for quite a while. Not because we had a tiff.But,she has been very distressed lately.She went through a bad break-up and is finding it difficult to get back on track.To her, the world seems the worst place to be in right now.

But she isn’t talking to anyone.She has become very cranky and irritable. The days when she finds herself amidst broken sleep,she just takes some medicine and gets by the night.

Sadly,those nights are increasing.
Sometimes,she starts crying for no apparent reason.

And I am worried. I am worried for many more such people,who get bogged down by life and find it difficult to get back up.

Life is moving so fast that we don't even realize that we are getting caught up in a web.

A web consisting of demands, commitments, responsibilities; and a multitude of events that constitute our daily routine.

Without any conscious effort, we start hoarding of a lot of unwanted and unwelcome thoughts, emotions and actions. These in turn, give rise to many pertinent issues like stress, anxiety, sleeplessness and mood swings, aches and pains and many other health issues.

These days, health issues are almost becoming our second nature.
We all are aware of this fact.Yet, reluctant to change it.

And for some strange reason, we find it easier to take medicines than to actually make the effort of solving our problems.

Yes, times have changed and more and more we are realising the importance of this profession called ‘Counselling’. However,we all still operate under some fundamental misconceptions about it.

Here are some things about Counselling that we all must know.So that, if and when the need arises, we can make an informed choice of approaching a counselor and seeking help.

Mental health is as important as physical health for our well-being : When things don’t go our way, it’s very natural to go through a gamut of negative emotions.However,a healthy mental condition allows us to evaluate our situations and problems objectively and enables effective problem-solving and decision making. 

Sometimes, prolonged or severe acute stressors can create a whirlpool within us. 

Thus, giving rise to sleep difficulty, anxiety, excessive anger, irritation etc.

When we find ourselves unable to handle our daily functioning effectively, it is an indication that we need help. It is the same as going to a doctor when we experience some physical symptoms.

       Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be ‘mad’ to seek counselling or therapy : Counselors function much like doctors-they listen to your symptoms,diagnose what the problem and the source is.But instead of giving medicines,they help us to explore the issues from different perspectives,until we arrive at a feasible solution.

    You can be stressed or anxious over your job,family issues,relationship problems,emotional set backs etc. and you can still seek the help of a counselor,who is trained to help you cope better.

Counselling does not make you ‘weak’: Going to a Counselor,discussing your issues and inner most feelings does not certify one as ‘weak’!

If anything it does, is widen our thought process to include different understandings of a particular event. It enables us to vent out our emotions. 

This is can be termed as ‘emotional cleansing’ or ‘catharsis’ which makes us feel relaxed.

But,the most important thing it does, is to ‘empower’ us so that we can handle our thoughts, emotions and actions better.

 Talking to friends and family members is not a substitute to Counselling : Yes, we must share our thoughts and emotions with our loved ones. We all have that one person who is our best friend, our confidante.Yet,when going through a difficult phase(internally or externally),sometimes it’s not enough.

Simply,because when we talk to people close to us, we are listening to their opinions, ideas and judgments.

Sometimes, a situation demands much more than just an opinion. What works for one person, may not work for someone else.Situations and problems require an objective, unbiased view of what’s going on and the possible solutions available. 

Someone may be losing sleep over an irrational fear of something, while someone may be anxious about a future occurrence. A counselor is a trained professional, who helps you to objectively evaluate and solve an issue because the solution lies within us.

What if other people find out!: Well, Counselling is based on mutual trust and confidentiality. As an ethical practice, counsellors do not discuss client’s information with other people. It is only in special cases where there is a potential risk involved, that a Counselor will feel the need to inform other relevant people.

How can I talk to a stranger! : Wasn't your best friend initially a stranger? The fact is, that most of our relations outside of our families, started off with a level of unfamiliarity.

It is the unfamiliarity that creates space for objectivity and facilitates free-flow of thought. Doesn't it feel nice to just let your heart do the talking, without worrying about what the other person is thinking about us?

In times like now, don’t we just want to be heard and not talked to all the time? Having an hour or two, just to ourselves..Isn't that what we all want?

 Counselling is expensive! :  So are all the luxury items that we spoil ourselves with! It may seem like the counselor does nothing except listen to our rants.But that is his /her actual job! 

He/She listens so that he can get an in-depth understanding of what’s going on within us. A counselor invests a lot of time and energy on every individual client.

Thus,he/she charges the amount that he/she thinks is feasible.

Counselor only talks or listens and does nothing! :  The fact of the matter is,that Counselors and therapists invest a lot of time and money in getting trained.It's a profession that requires interaction! 
And not just that,it employs many kinds of therapies and techniques.It's all about finding yourself,placing the pieces of this puzzle called life- together!

And yes,he/she does listen!That's one of the ways to know what's going on inside us! And then,there are those times when always crib that 'we have no one who listens to us!

 Counselling is life-long : Well, if you end up establishing a good rapport, then why not! 

After all, we all have people whom we call our ‘guides’ or ‘mentors’ and they are there to guide us all along! 

But, Counseling involves a lot of time and effort from the Client and the Counselor. Depending on the nature of the issue and the need of the client, Counseling can be long term or short term.  

 Counselling does not provide you with tailor-made solutions or fixes!:  It is a guided self-exploration process. And we all know, how complicated our inner and outer lives are! 

Just like we can get stressed over many things; there are many solutions to problems.Sometimes, it takes a long time to find the solution.

Sometimes,it comes to us in a flash! The idea behind counselling is, to keep exploring, till we find the solution that fits best without losing our mind!

Counselling is magic!: Yes, it is! If, we have the will to work for our own betterment. Just by sitting in a Counselling session, our problems won’t vanish. It requires focus and commitment to our own self. Only then will the sessions be effective.Counselors, therapists can only guide us to a better life. They cannot live our lives for us.

The big question then is,when to approach a Counselor?

The harsh reality is,that stress,anxiety,worry etc have all become intricately tied to our lives.
 We do manage to lead our versions of a normal life.

However,when these issues begin to interfere in our daily functioning(unable to sleep well,anger,aggression,feeling low etc);when we are no longer able to cope with life's challenges and demands and need a reorientation; that's when we should seek help.

And yes,Counselor and Psychiatrist is not the same! A Psychiatrist is a doctor.He gives medicines. A counselor is a different person and approach altogether.

A little patient and lengthy process in comparison.But,with long-term benefits!

At the end of the day,Counseling,Therapy etc are professions-like all others!It is not a taboo.Rather,it's a resource that we can use to improve and empower our lives!

*Due to some technical error,the fonts may appear to be different.I have been unable to fix this error.*

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Live Well,Live Real

I have been wondering for a while,why is it that the notion of 'well-being' has suddenly found an important place in our lives?

We all want to live a healthy, free and fulfilling life.Yet,it seems like a distant dream.

Almost every magazine, internet website,television channel, is buzzing with ways and ideas of 'how to lead a healthy' life.Cities are bustling with yoga,dance,fitness and meditation classes.Spirituality is the new king.

With all these avenues aiding us,we might and are able to lead a physically healthy life and they do put the mind at ease.Yet,this isn't long-lasting.

It seems like we have managed to create an illusory world for ourselves; where if you are not sleeping well,just meditate or worst, pop a pill. If you are angry or irritated,just meditate and it will all go away.

If you're unhappy with something, just accept it and keep going on because you 'can't afford to actually do what you want'.

It's all much too convenient.

Convenience, doesn't have a soul. It's just a plain simple cardboard box,in which we go on stuffing the inner most parts of our life.

We can decorate it how ever we like,just so it looks good.We don't care what's stored inside.

However,the notion of well-being is very intricately linked to certain basic things that we deem unimportant.

Ideas about our own self : Who am I?
What kind of person do I want to be?
What do I like?
What is my worth in my own eyes? 

I am the one living my own life.Therefore, my ideas and beliefs about my own self are very important.

But,we find it much easier to get ourselves validated by people around us. For us to believe we are smart,talented, beautiful etc, we need someone to tell us.

And then,our thirst for more increases-setting of a cycle of fluctuating self beliefs and external validation, for restoring our balance.

The fact is,our well-being depends on what we think of ourselves.Because we are the 'beings', who need to be 'well'.

Our needs : In this glittering world,our wants are the only accessories that will ensure we shine bright.

Well,the human soul wasn't meant to be adorned with ornaments. It was and is,meant to experience. For that,it needs to be nurtured and cared for.We may have a palatial house,swanky cars,a high positioned job. But if those were the true parameters for a happy life; depression, anxiety,anger,broken relationships wouldn't have found a way into our lifestyle. 

Fulfilling the wants for material things doesn't ensure a rich inner life.

The want for a happy life,is connected to the fulfillment of basic emotional needs like love,care,concern and support.

Before we expect others to that for us,we must start doing this for our own selves.

The more we compare our lives with that of others,we disrespect ourselves more.As they say,different strokes for different folks!Everyone has a different purpose and path in life.People may be better,richer,smarter etc,but they can never be you.

How much can one do? : We are running. It's a mad race. Sadly,there isn't a concrete finish line. 
Enough is not enough and there is no one ,who can judge this better for our own selves,than our own self. 

Thus, we need to listen to our mind and body.If need be,readjust our priorities to let ourselves breathe.

Make the time : Our own goals, desires,relationships are important.Pursuing them, doesn't make one selfish. Somebody or the other,will always be a little less satisfied with what we do and how we do it. 

It's better to ensure that that someone, is not 'you'.

And we will never have the time because time too,is running.We will always have to 'make time'. And when we see the results of those little efforts; the pain and the discomfort will all be worth it.

Some things don't promise us anything more than just a 'feel good factor'. Perhaps, that's the only thing we lack in our constantly buzzing lives. We all deserve a little break!


Take responsibility : Not everything has to be done. And if it has to be,then we should be able to take responsibility for our own actions.

We love to play games like, 'passing the buck' or 'hide and seek' ,to avoid taking the onus of what's happening in our lives.

We think things 'happen to us' ,because its convenient.

The existential fact, will always remain that all choices are for us to make.

If I choose to take a high paying job that eats up my free time,family time and leads me to neglect my health; I made the choice.The job didn't change, because it saw me sitting on the hot seat.

We are all given a certain range of choices.Whatever we choose to do,we just need to be a little mindful of them.

Some choices are tough,some are easy,some are unwanted and some are delayed.But,they are there. 

For every given situation,we can only choose what fits best!

Relationships matter : There's only a limited period of time for which we can take our loved ones for granted.Parents,children,siblings,friends-they all matter.

Healthy external relationships are vital for the feeling of fulfillment to settle in.In essence,our lives are inter-twined.We are together for a reason.

And attaining that reason requires time and nurturing.The value of  passing 'I love you','I miss you,' surprises,gifts etc. are far deeper than what we can see. Just being together in all times,makes life so much worthwhile!

Change is the only constant : No sunrise is the same.The sooner we accept that,the better it will be. Yes,we go through all sorts of phases.

We feel life is unfair,or we haven't got our due.But, it's not going to be forever.

We just need to be patient and keep the fuel of hope burning.

Learn to appreciate : For every 2 unhappy people,there is one happy person..somewhere! 

Instead of focusing on what we don't have or what we are not; it's alright to take a break, to appreciate what we have ,what we have earned and who we are.
And even when we see something that we like or admire in someone,we must appreciate it! Not because it should be done or it's socially appropriate.

Appreciation brings with itself 'desires'.The desire to be good,to be better,to experience, explore and achieve something new!

Keep learning! : Life is actually too short to wait for the 'right time'.We must observe,explore,meet new people,learn new things! It doesn't matter if we are good or bad.What matters is,that everyday we strive to come closer to our own self!

Eat well and Stay fit! : Ha!ha!I couldn't resist mentioning this teeny-weeny fact! All will be well if we get our basics right! And food and exercise are the foundation of a long and healthy life!

It's very convenient for us to ignore our health owing to lack of time and pressure of work etc. Well,everything is connected! Our body-our responsibility and we will always have to make time! 

Happiness is a state.It's an outlook.But more than that,we should try and be content,satisfied with who we are,where we are and what we have.

That's what 'being' 'well' is all about.It just means "I am satisfied with what I am and the things around me".

It doesn't mean being complacent. We can always want more,need more,strive for more. But a little stability, goes a long way.

Then,it also means "I am mindful of my desires and have the patience and will to achieve them".

Eventually,we all realize that we cannot compartmentalize life in lists and bullet points.It will always be full of twists and turns and it's own zig-zag patterns! We need to keep seizing the day and choosing our own designs and patterns! 
At the end of a long hard day, if we are able to sleep peacefully and wake up fresh, we can be rest-assured that we are living well.. :)

And you can find more such articles on !

 # “I am participating in the ‘Ready For Rewards’ activity for Rewardme in association with BlogAdda.” #

Image courtesy :

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Talking to Sisyphus

“Hey!Hey!what are you doing? Do I look like  a beach or waterfall to you that you’re conveniently taking pictures?”

“Oops! Sorry buddy!I didn’t mean to offend you. But you were so engrossed in your task,that I didn’t want to disturb you either.By the way, I’m ME and you are...?”

Sisyphus looked at me quizzically.He must be thinking I’m crazy or something.”I’m Sisyphus”.

“Nice to meet you Sir.That’s a pretty tough job you have there.” I pointed to the big boulder that was lying beside him.”So,what exactly do you do?”I asked.

I guess,I had offended him quite a bit with that question.He just stood there with his hands crossed in front of his chest and stared at me with narrowed eyes.

“Nothing of consequence to you.Now, if you’re done with your sight-seeing,I’d like to go back to relive my curse.” He was agitated.

“Curse?” I was puzzled.”What do you mean?”,I asked.

“Do you mind leaving me alone Mister? As you can see,I don’t have all the time in the world that I can spend frolicking around! I have to push this damn boulder up this hill until it rolls back down again.” The agitation was building up in his voice.

“And what do you have to do after that?” I asked innocently.

Sisyphus had just begun to push the boulder up,when he stopped all his efforts mid-way to glare at me.For a second,I was scared.I stepped back.May be I had stepped on an unchartered territory.I mean,what did I know? I was just a tourist. I was just trying to help...I had all these thoughts running through my mind,when he started screaming.

“After that??After ask?Well,nothing!It will come down and I,like an idiot,will gather all my courage,my senses,my strength and start pushing it back again.Again it will reach the top,and then roll down..and I will keep doing this till I die! And you know why will I do this?Because I’m cursed!Because,the mighty Gods couldn't find any other way to punish me...”

And Sisyphus broke down.His body just collapsed on the ground.There he was tired,exhausted,frustrated,angry,on his knees,on the ground.

“Here,have some water,” I offered.

“Thank you Mister.You are very kind and I’m sorry to have acted out like this. It’s been long since someone came my way and actually spoke to me.Mostly,humans come,look at me,show some sympathy and walk away.”Sisyphus spoke in the saddest voice I had ever heard.

“Can I sit beside you for a while? If you don’t mind..?” I asked.

He smiled.I sat down.

There was something about him,that didn’t allow me to leave him like this.I wanted to know more.Did I want to help him? I don’t know.I don’t even know if he needed help.May be,just someone to talk to.

“So,you said you are cursed.Is that true?”

“Yes.I am.It is true.I did some things for which I was punished.This is my punishment.”He replied.

“So,what is the end state? When does it get over? How do you know that it’s the time to stop? That you have served your sentence?”I shot these questions all at once.My mind was racing with so many of them.

Sisyphus laughed.”There is no end to it Mister.That is my life. It’s like someone pushed you onto a buzzing race track and told you to run. Everyone is running.There is madness,chaos and just running.But there is no finish line.No one is sitting there to tell you who won,who lost,who is cheating.You just go on and on till you realize, you can no longer do it.”

I couldn't make sense of what he was saying. How does his punishment not have an end?Why would there be a race,if there is no finish line, no judges,no parameters? This was all absurd.How can someone say such absurd things?

“But,you always have choices..don’t you?,” What did I just say?”

“What choice do I have Mister?” He asked as if I could offer some divine insights.

“What are you doing now Sisyphus?”

“Why,I am talking to you!”He looked at me as if I was insane for asking such an obvious question.

“So....isn't that a choice that you made? To take a break from your monotonous job,let out your frustration,have a conversation with someone?,” I had no clue of what I was saying.

“So,will this conversation end my sorrows? End my punishment?”,the agitation was building up again in him.

“No.I didn't say that. But,what I am saying is,that you’re not alone in this absurdity.What is a punishment for you,is life for everyone else.We too,work hard,aspire to reach the top and one day,everything comes spiraling down.We pick up and start again,”I said.

“At least you know what you have to do!What about me? Can you even begin to imagine how hard this task is for me? And every time this damn boulder rolls down, it breaks my soul.”He was in tears.

“I can’t even get out of it-this meaningless task and existence”.

“But it does have meaning!May be less but certainly non-existent! Everyone feels sad and distraught,when things don't go our way.But,that's what life is all about..”, I said and I was blabbering.

“Meaningless means there is no meaning Mister!Just like a race with no finish line! You would never know when to stop,whom to take over,when to take a break..”Sisyphus argued.

“But may be ,that is the point.We are all thrown into existence.Just like you were thrown into this punishment or the race that we are told to run!And we know what we have to do!Yet, we like to imagine contrary states of existence and like to feel miserable.

And we have choices.May be, they aren't exactly to our heart’s desire. But... they are there. We just need to find that one or those,that resonate with us,our existence.” I wondered if was I making any sense.

“Your job is,to roll this boulder up again and again.Your actions led to this punishment. But do you accept this fact? No.

Punishment wasn't random.It was a consequence of your action.So,you had a choice of accepting responsibility.You can’t have the freedom to commit and the choice to turn away from its responsibility.

Then,you had the choice of accepting the fact,that there is no end.But there are breaks; like the one you’re taking now-sitting and talking to me.You could talk to those many others who sympathize with you,make some friends who could keep you company. Admire the sunset and the sunrise. Most people don’t even know what dusk and dawn is...

You could brainstorm and come up with different strategies to keep the boulder on top!Ask for help and someone will come! could have run away.... and then could have born the consequences for that as well...” I rambled on.

“You know,everyone is  another ‘You’-engrossed in their own struggles.Running their own race.And it’s just very convenient to have someone validate our efforts and existence.Like in a race.

So, a race without a finish line would’t be devoid of meaning.May be,less meaningful.

If I know,I just have to run and never to finish;I will live.”Was I making sense to myself?

“So,you will keep running? Without a goal?”,Sisyphus was deeply puzzled by now.

“Who said without a goal? For once,can I not use my own mind and heart to make my own goals? I may not win the entire race.But I can choose to over-take the racer right ahead of me or I can slow down if I’m tired.I can rest for as long as I want.I can give up and then get back again or wait for someone to bail me out.Then I need to be patient as well!

I can observe and learn from all the other racers around me.I can befriend some of them and share little anecdotes on life.

I don’t think The Supreme Power(if there is),gave all of us a mind,just so we could lock it away.It’s my race,my life,my choice-isn't it? Yes, what I am thrown into,at times,may not be my choice.But,I can always choose to be here and now and do whatever best I can.”

“I may not win the race.But it doesn't mean I can’t be my own winner. And sooner or later,we all will die.That,is the ultimate finish line and no one can erase that.No one can judge your death.People may sit on the periphery of the race track and have their opinions.But,they can't change the ultimate.But,the racer has the choice of how he wants to run” I said.

Sisyphus got up and started looking around for something.

“Hey,what are you looking for?”,I asked.

“Tools”,he said.

“My punishment was to make this boulder stay on top.I think,with some tools,I might be able to...someday.”,He said with a tiny smile spreading across his face.

“I think I might have something in my bag that can help you”, And i took out a hammer and a few nails and handed them to him.

“Hey,something’s written on the hammer,” he said.

“What?Read it,”I urged him.

It said “WILL”.

Our eyes locked,and we smiled at each other.”I guess,'WILL' is all you need then,my friend”.

#This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.#