WE NEED COURAGE TO MAKE LIFETIME CHOICES

Which one is the right way to go?

Which door to open and go through?

As soon as we take birth on this earth we face dilemma of choosing either this or that. Yeah, our parents do that part on our behalf till we are in a position to take decisions on our own. But to a certain period of our life our choices are very predictable and routined but once we are at a stage when we choose our careers, then job, then a place to stay and then choosing a life partner we start exercising courage every now and then.

Choices in life are always difficult and need courage to attempt and move forward with it. But sadly, we don’t have an option of not choosing anything.

Our choices not only need courage but they need discernment as well because the Bible says,

“Good judgment wins favor, but the way of the unfaithful leads to their destruction. All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly.”

And discernment comes from the Lord almighty.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

In my life, I have always tried to trust in the Lord before taking any sort of decisions.

How do you make your choices?

Keep reading and keep thinking,

Stay blessed!

A STATE OF EMERGENCY INJECTS COURAGE IN US

Courage often originates from emergency situations. When we have an emergency situation we don’t see anything that binds us or restricts but we just act to get out of that situation. I have two very interesting and funny events that will prove what I am saying.

A few days ago on a Sunday morning, I saw my former office boy carrying something in one paper carton. I asked what it was. He smiled saying the box was filled with newborn kittens. Three boys used to stay in the office room and the mother cat entered inside to deliver all her kittens.

I was wondering how come those guys didn’t see her entering the room and deliver her babies without they all being aware of it? They had no clue.

This mother cat was always driven away by these three guys yet it chose their room for delivering her babies.

I remember a similar event that happened with me too three years ago. Asmita went to see my Nanny as she was suffering from cancer and I was alone. When I stay alone in my house I always keep busy with my gadgets and rarely care about what goes on around. But this thing was unique.

One evening after office, I came back home and was relaxing. After sometime I was about to take off my shirt and hang it on the hanger when I saw one pair of glowing green eyes below where my clothes were hanging. I took five seconds to realize that it was a cat sitting there and watching me with her eyes fixed on me as if she will pounce on me.

I stepped back and called in one of my office boys to help. When he came the cat ran away and hid itself in another corner of the house but didn’t leave the house. We were wondering why was it not going out of the open door and then our eyes fell on those adorable little squirmy pink kittens in that corner where I had seen the cat first.

The mother cat could have harmed us for holding her babies. So we had to drive her away from our house first and then take the babies out of my house on a piece of cloth. The boy kept the babies in a corner of the complex and the mother cat couldn’t find them. She kept on meowing looking at me. I closed my door but she came and kept scratching at my door crying for her babies. Though later she was shown her babies and she stopped getting upset with me.

This stray cats are small and tiny before us, humans. They are scared of our shouts and even just the tapping noise of our foot steps unless they are our pets but when there’s an emergency situation they don’t care who we are. They simply invade a place suitable for them to deliver their future.

Awesome!!! Isn’t it?

A state of emergency always creates an antibody of courage within us to fight against all the dangers and fears of this earth. And the above events confirm what I am saying.

By the way, the cat who delivered her babies in my house was long gone. But the cat who delivered recently in the room of those boys is still there. I had captured it having a nap on a wasted sofa and have posted that image for this article. I hope you all will enjoy witnessing the example of Courage.

Stay blessed!!!

HONESTY RUNS THROUGH THE BASIC LEVELS OF COURAGE

Courage is the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty according to Merriam-Webster dictionary. Courage is something which makes a person stand out in the crowd. Courage is one thing that makes a person face the danger or dare of any kind which most doesn’t put them into. But along with courage, a person needs mental toughness, physical strength and ability to face that amount of danger or risk and sustain instead of succumbing to the danger easily.

The above is the most generic meaning or higher level application of the word Courage which only a few selected ones possess. But as per my knowledge and intellect is concerned courage has THREE basic levels of application through which each and every human being on this earth gets an opportunity to go. And I have categorized those THREE levels of courage as under:

1. Sincerity – Do what is right level of courage:

With the presence of sin and corruption in our gene we are inclined towards insincerity in our responsibility often and we do try to justify our degree of insincerity with some reasons like sickness, weakness and so on. So according to me, when we display a sense of courage to do what is right despite of our excuses or say, valid reasons we succeed to earn respect and attention from people surrounding us.

How many of us are sincere at our workplace

all the time? Have we tried to do the extra hours just to finish what was due of us for that day? How many times we procrastinate and keep things pending. Oh, trust me, I am a biggest example of that, sadly. I may blame my ill health. But sincerity is essential to display the minimum level of courage I have to do things that I know to be right and essential.

Sincerity is an attribute which can be displayed at any point of time or place and is not limited to our workplace only. We need to be sincere with our household chores or duties pertaining to our house or families. We need to be sincere even with our friends.

This level of courage that we need is concerning our duties and responsibilities mostly which we display in our actions. But the next level of courage is higher and more challenging.  

2. Honesty – Say what is right level of courage:

Dealing with people is more challenging than just doing what is right. We face people at every stage of our life. To say the things which we know to be right and make them follow the same is really difficult. In the previous articles we have great examples of how honesty can put us in danger or at a risk. But the challenge of this level is to have the courage to be honest in our actions as well as express mostly.  

In the family while discussing something, I find it extremely difficult to say, “I don’t want to hear anymore, let’s discuss it later as I am feeling stressed.” That was the honest me. But if I say it honestly, then I become selfish, uninterested and escaping.  

3. Justice – Stand for what is right level of courage:

This level is tough as a person has to deal with both his or her responsibilities as well as the people around him or her. He or she has to stand for what he or she believes or does or says as right. Doing justice is one thing and protecting the same is all the more difficult and dangerous in a world where everyone tends to do things other than what is right.

For the fear of superiors, when we don’t stand for someone who becomes the victim of injustice makes us coward or having no courage. Standing for justice is deadly and risky. But I believe if I practice courage at the sincerity level and honesty level then it will be easier for me to display the courage to be just and protect what is right.

Interestingly, I see the courage of sincerity, honesty and justice working at all levels but honesty is predominant among all. Let me explain as I conclude this article.

In the first level of courage when we are honest with our own self we become sincere. In the second level, we display the courage of honesty when we are truthful to ourselves as well as with the people we deal on a day to day basis. And at the end, when we are courageous to stand for justice we are honest to our own selves, honest to the people around us and honest with the creator God who sees everything from above.

Tough? Really, really tough, I would say. But there have always been people who have stood out as ONE and ONLY from the mass and have proved that they can do – be sincere, stand for justice, most importantly be honest with everything and everyone. We just have to practice it in our day to day life to reach to their levels.

Stay Blessed!!!

VULNERABILITY GONE WRONG – FINAL

Arvind Sikdar, Shaloween’s immediate boss had always been the best for everyone. And that was the reason why he continued to be rated high by all his staff members every time there was an evaluation in the company. He could understand the state of his young and most beloved staff member, Shaloween.

“Will you just shut up and sit down, Shalu?”, he said sternly, pretending to be angry. Shaloween didn’t say anything but simply rubbed her cold palms to each other taking a seat.

“It is not very important how this letter came to me… But why did you write this…? That is more important for me, Shalu. Now, let’s go out somewhere, that’s urgent”, he said sternly and without a second thought he stood and walked out of his cabin asking Shaloween to follow. She was shocked and confused seeing what Mr. Sikdar was trying to do and where he was asking her to go with him even though she was aware of his nature. He always does things in a very mysterious way but Shalu was hyper because of the letter which she wrote against Mr. Chandra which Mr. Sikdar put inside his coat pocket.

When Mr. Sikdar’s car stopped at Shalu’s apartment she looked at him with teary eyes. “Why have we come here, Sir? Have you thrown me out?”, she asked in desperation.

“Let’s get inside then I am telling you, Shalu. Have patience and you don’t need to shed your precious tears”, Mr. Sikdar replied to her, mocking her seeing the tears in her eyes.

When they settled down at her flat, Mr. Sikdar asked her, “Now explain what really happened between you and Mr. Chandra from the beginning till the end. I came here because I didn’t want to deal with these things in the presence of all others. Everyone would have come to the office by now.” He looked at his watch as he said that. Shaloween adjusted herself and explained everything that had been happening to and troubling her.

After almost two hours, Mr. Arvind Sikdar returned back to the company office and was greeted by his colleagues and two of those higher officials, Mr. Mahem and Mr. Chandra.

“You went for a morning walk or what, Mr. Sikdar? And where’s Shalu today?”, taunted Mr. Chandra as he asked looking at Mr. Arvind Sikdar. But as usual the composed gentleman, Mr. Sikdar replied, “No, Mr. Chandra, Shalu was in a deep trouble. She has high fever and as her guardian in this city, I took her to the hospital for a RTPCR test. It is better we forget her now and discuss about the final report, right Mr. Mahem?”

Mr. Arvind Sikdar’s words reverberated in that hall way with all others around and both the officials had nothing to say. They simply nodded their heads and walked inside the meeting room to finalize the report before they conclude their trip.

Two days after, in the morning when Shaloween walked inside the office hall, all others felt a chill in their spines seeing her. But at that moment, Mr. Arvind Sikdar walked out of his cabin with a smile, “Welcome Shalu, I am so happy you were tested negative and your fever is gone.” Both smiled understandably at each other, knowing well the reason of her staying away from office.

“By the way, I have something to announce, I was just waiting for Shalu to be back in the office”, Mr. Sikdar said looking at all as everyone attentively looked at him. “Shalloween had done a wonderful job and the two visiting officers approved all our reports, appreciated our reporting systems and our coordinated working styles. So we will have a party this afternoon.” Everyone in the room stood on their feet and cheered, congratulating Shaloween and Mr. Sikdar.

When Shalu went into the cabin of Mr. Sikdar later that day, his first question to her was, “Did you burn that letter you drafted against Mr. Chandra, Shalu?”

“Yes, I destroyed it immediately after you left the other day, Sir. And thank you so much for what you did for me. The drama you scripted taking advantage of the pandemic situation was exceptional.” Shalu said with her hands folded.

“Shalu”, he said as he asked her to take a seat. “I would have done that to anyone in your state. And you are like my daughter. Don’t you think as a father I would have anyway protected my daughter from such viruses?” Shaloween nodded.

“But you should have immediately told me about the first message you received. You should not have allowed him to play with your vulnerability. He was very manipulative but I am more protective of my own, my office, my staff and you.” Mr. Arvind Sikdar said with a gentle and satisfying smile on his face.

Shalloween literally allowed her vulnerability to go wrong but at the right time, she was well protected by this man. She could not have asked anything more after having a father-like boss and that was the reason why she had such high regards for him.

Everyone enjoyed the department party during the lunch time.

THE END

VULNERABILITY GONE WRONG – VII

Shalloween had been rearing the thoughts of Anubhav for last many years and had never allowed herself to think about anyone else all these years. After his accident and death, she became extremely vulnerable regarding the topics of love, marriage and boyfriend even though she is well aware of the fact that she can’t live her life like this till the end. Yet, she really doesn’t like discussing it any time. She knows, Anubhav can’t return back to her and she can’t feel his loving touches. She knows his comforting words can’t soothe her anymore yet she has been haunted by his thoughts every time she is emotionally weak or down. It is only her work and the passion to do well at her workplace that had kept her away from those thoughts. But this man, Shekhar Chandra and what all that happened with her for the last two days literally made her unstable, vulnerable and haunted her with Anubhav’s thoughts.

Shalloween, I feel there’s something which makes you vulnerable and I think if you can talk it out to someone you can trust and feel close to, you’ll feel better.” Shekhar Chandra suggested with a gentle smile on his face.

‘Close? Trust? This man?’ Shalloween thought and scoffed in her heart but suppressed her feelings within herself. This man was seriously getting on her nerves with his creepy and cheesy behaviour. But out of courtesy and thinking about her position in regards to this man, she simply nodded and said, “Sir, I had someone close whom I lost in an accident. And that incident has literally shaken my life. Otherwise, I have nothing else that can make me underperform the tasks assigned to me.

You always take things very seriously. I have seen you at work, Shalloween. You never underperform. But are you not underperforming now, being with me for a night out?” Mr. Chandra grinned as he replied to her.

Shalloween smiled gently and politely replied, “Night out? Are you serious? I would prefer night outs with my own friends and family members, Sir.”

“So you don’t consider me as your friend?” He pretended to be upset and then grinned wickedly saying, “But I won’t mind going much ahead of being just your friend, Shalloween. And what’s wrong in this? Are we not both singles?

That was a big lie and a joke that this man always said to everyone. Even his colleagues were not aware of the fake information which he had provided in his facebook account. He is a man above 50 years and about his marital status no one knew much. But Shalloween still believed that he was single though she didn’t like what he said. She literally got upset though she controlled herself.

Sir, I respect you as you are a high official and much senior to me. Because of that respect and since it is your birthday, I agreed to keep your invitation. I am a little different from others and I don’t like such complicated statements. Please if we can keep our conversations professional I will be really grateful to you.” She gently and politely placed her feelings in front of Mr. Shekhar Chandra who was still wearing that wicked grin on his face.

I know Shalloween, you are different. That is the reason why I fell for your charm and intelligence. And I am not shy to express myself“, he responded as he waved his hand towards a waiter to come over to their table.

Shalloween could not believe her ears and what he just had told her. She now started to feel uncomfortable in this man’s presence. She realised she made a terrible mistake by coming to this restaurant keeping his invitation. She took time to gather herself as the waiter came to their table and to her surprise he ordered two glasses of whiskey. She could not take it anymore but said, “Sir, I don’t drink and I won’t like it if you drink in my presence, so please let’s keep this dinner simple or else I will make a move now.”

Have I not supported you in the office when your own bosses were against your report? And don’t you know, it was because of me, they kept their mouths shut and no one dared to speak a word against you? Why? Because you are a good woman and deserve the best in life. And I can give you the best which no one else can give you… Can’t we be…just… I mean.. Do you understand what I….” Mr. Chandra paused as he bragged about his power and how helpful he was to her while he attempted to get into Shalloween’s inner circle and seat on the throne of her heart which she has kept it empty for years.

I am very grateful to you, Sir. I will always be grateful to you for your support. But please don’t expect anything in return apart from work assignments. I think, it’s already very late and if you don’t mind, I will take your leave.” She was blunt and polite at the same time when she made that statement as she stood up to walk away from that restaurant.

Mr. Chandra could neither force her nor tried to compel her much, but requested her to finish eating before walking out. He thought he had to find a way to trap her on a later date, not today for sure.

That evening, when Shalloween returned to her flat, she wept holding her pillows thinking about all that she had to go through and how lonely and vulnerable she felt. She regretted accepting the dinner invitation and tried her best to sleep as soon as possible instead of brooding over all that happened that evening.

MY VULNERABILITIES ARE MY STEPPING STONES

Do you remember when you were a kid and your parents/elders forced you to dance or sing or do mimicry when there were guests at home? Yeah, our parents have a habit of bragging about their children and what they can do. And as always you were unwilling to display your talents in front of outsiders. But as soon as they leave, you start singing or dancing. “Yeah yeah, when you are asked you don’t show anything but now you show it“, that’s the usual dialogue we used to hear from our elders/parents, taunting us. This is a generic event which must have happened in everyone’s life, I guess. It had happened in my life too!

It is the fear of being judged or being shamed or laughed at that often make us unwilling to perform what we are good at. I have seen someone who sings so well and can sing in front of a big congregation but unwilling to sing in a close gathering. The reason is same.

The feeling of being shamed or judged have always dragged us back and have become the biggest blockages to our vulnerability. Our vulnerability is not our weakness but it is our way of exposing ourselves to others even when we are uncertain of their reactions.

When I was looking into my life and was assessing how I have been carrying myself through till now, I found, I dealt with my vulnerabilities so poorly in the first phase of my life. But in the later part of my life, till now, I used my vulnerabilities as my stepping stones to climb up. The feeling of shame and being laughed at, had jeopardized my mental health when I was young. I lacked confidence. But when I came to Kolkata, I learned how to be vulnerable and accept the reactions of people. Now, when I see or hear the reactions of people, I don’t feel anything, in fact, I can easily predict who and how someone can react in a certain way when I am exposed. I enjoy it now, unlike the way I felt in the past.

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”

Brené Brown

I loved the second part of the quote where Brown states, “Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” I practically lived with all my vulnerabilities and now I see a quote from a psychologist confirming that what I did was right.

HOW DID I MANAGE TO LIFT UP THE BARRIERS OF SHAME OR BEING LAUGHED AT?

I recall, due to my physical inability I was merely a kind of spectator all through the years till I came to Kolkata. I never found a platform to get exposed. But once I sat in front of a screen and saw the humongous web world, I realised this is where I would love to be exposed. And it became easier for me to open up and talk about my vulnerability. And once I presented my case, voiced out who I am, handled my vulnerabilities with boldness, the feeling of being laughed at and shamed were wiped away from my heart and mind.

You know what? When I came out of the virtual world to the real or physical world, I looked and felt stronger than before. I was more confident.

When Aparna met me face to face for the first time, she made a statement which confirmed what I said above. She said, “Dad, you seem more stronger like this than on virtual platform“. That statement was such a mental booster that I can’t explain in words.

On Television, I have seen how a counselling care group functions. The counselor doesn’t sit separately or in a different chair but he or she sits alongside the people who usually come for counseling. And the counselor invites all to open up and share their hearts without compelling them even a single time. The counselor himself/herself starts with her/his life and then the most confident among all starts afterwards. Some people don’t speak at all for days but when they feel confident and comfortable they open their mouths. This is a western scenario, I wish or hope we have such facilities in India too.

Friends, are you worried about those many obstacles that make it hard for you to be vulnerable? Is it the feeling of shame or the uncertain reactions of people or the fear of being an odd man out or the gendered expectations or being considered weak that stop you to open up and be vulnerable? Use them as your stepping stones as I did. Prayerfully, try to understand yourself first. Secondly, identify the barriers to your vulnerabilities. Thirdly, try to figure out the easiest ways to tackle these barriers. Soon, you will find yourself at the point of being vulnerable easily in your daily life.

Stay Blessed!

AM I A GOOD KEEPER OF THE PEARLS PLACED ON MY PALMS?

Have you seen pearls or diamonds or some very costly stones or jewellery? Do you keep them on a table or juggle them in your hands? Do you not try to keep them safely and securely in a safe or locker? 

Remember, the same way, our emotions and feelings are like those precious pearls which we need to handle or preserve or keep with utmost care and security. 

In 2013, I attended a 10 days Training program on Trauma Counselling. The trainer addressed us and warned us about one thing which impacted me a lot and I treasured that statement in my heart every time someone shares her/his heart with me.  She said, “Whatever we all are going to share here and pour out our hearts talking about our vulnerabilities, our emotions should not go out of these four walls of this room. Treat everyone’s emotions and vulnerable moments as precious pearls“. And I truly am very careful when someone shares his or her heart with me afterwards. 

A few years ago one of my friends who is a doctor and was in Kolkata at that time requested me if I can counsel a lady suffering from schizophrenia. I was 30 years old then and the lady was 42-45 years old. She was rich being a wife of a businessman. His driver used to come and pick me up from my place to her house and after the counselling, I was dropped back at my place.  

What I wanted to point out here is, why my doctor friend asked me, a man with no counselling background to counsel her own client? I asked her out of nervousness and fear, “What made you ask me to do that favour for you? I have no such degree or license to counsel a schizophrenic patient“. 

Because the way you helped me in my times of trouble, the way you made me feel happy and comforted when I was so discouraged, I believe you can do the same with my client. So I have trust in you and your attribute to make people feel important and comfortable.” She responded and that made me understand why I should sharpen my skills further to help many others in future. 

Lynn Carol Miller, at the University of Southern California, explored the psychological profiles of openers by creating a questionnaire to assess the degree to which people are openers.

According to her –

If you endorse the statements below, then you’re likely to be an opener:

  1. People frequently tell me about themselves.

  2. I’ve been told that I’m a good listener.

  3. I’m very accepting of others.

  4. People trust me with their secrets.

  5. I easily get people to “open up.”

  6. People feel relaxed around me.

  7. I enjoy listening to people.

  8. I’m sympathetic to people’s problems.

  9. I encourage people to tell me how they are feeling.

  10. I can keep people talking about themselves.

I see myself as an Opener after I went through the list given above explaining the character traits of the same. At my workplace, I always complain jokingly, “Am I a temple bell that whoever comes rings it? Why me always? Why do you people always try to go through me?” And I know the answers to those WHYs – because I never send anyone with a NO, instead, I make them feel comfortable. I am very approachable to all. That’s my nature which I further tried to sharpen it more for the benefit of the people around me.  

Sadly, it takes just one human folly that turns an Opener into a Gossiper. If we read the number fourth point about maintaining secrecy or confidentiality, we understand what I am trying to say. The attribute of keeping people’s secret distinguishes an Opener from a gossiper or a slanderer. Once people mistrust a person with the way he or she handles their secrets, all other 9 points become immaterial or useless to them afterwards. So an Opener’s credibility is based on that number fourth attribute before everything else. 

THREE things, I always remember when someone opens up to me: 
1. I make them feel Comfortable with me by not judging them.
2. I Listen to them with utmost Care by giving Importance to whatever they say. 
3. I maintain Confidentiality by preserving their emotions, vulnerabilities as precious pearls. 

I try my level best to be a good keeper of those precious pearls which they place in my palms with so much trust and belief. 

How do you manage? 

Keep pondering and keep reading the articles of this week…

Stay Blessed!