TAME YOUR TONGUE

Give thy thoughts no tongue” – William Shakespeare

It is said that half of a person’s beauty comes from their tongue. An amazing truth about the tongue is, it takes years to learn how to use it but a lifetime to learn when and where to use it.

Here’s a free verse poem on the tongue:

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moist and pink
it’s a small soft flesh
without a bone,
but sturdy enough
to twist the words and turn

smitten by the briney
winds of the sea
it licks the lips with haste,
savours the flavour
beackon for more
it lives mostly for taste

but don’t be fooled
with its smooth texture
if you haven’t seen
what it can do,
it’s as mighty and evil
as one can get
tongue is a powerful tool

it speaks your mind
also your heart
sometimes chatter idly
bringing on mischief,
or time the words
to persuade a crowd
and if it slips
can ruin the world

nerves make it dry
otherwise drools amply
it’s an organ of flair
Connoisseur in matters of taste;
it bends and curls
in raspberry twirl
when it devours another lips
always willing to assist
in matters of the heart

hold it, bite it
if you’re feeling too sharp
tie it with words
it’ll mock your heart
maybe it’s forked
making you lie
put it in your cheek
it’ll play the part

don’t let it go astray
tame it with care
teach it the language
of fairness and quiet
it’ll know what to speak
when and where.

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I NEED TO BE SEEN!

It’s amazing how we are all on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram nowadays. By “we” I mean adults. We’re adults, right? But emotionally we’re a culture of seven-year-olds. Have you ever had that moment when you are updating your status and you realize that every status update is just a variation on a single request: “Would someone just please acknowledge me?

We seem to want or need recognition that bad. My nine-year-old niece wants to walk the ramp and be a fashion diva. She would say “I want everyone to see me.” That’s exactly how we all want to be seen and recognized. What is it, in us that seeks to be “seen” or “recognized this way?

Usually the recognition we seek is from other people and usually, we don’t get it. Instead, we end up with feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, emptiness, and disappointment at not getting it. And then we work even harder at things still hoping for recognition, get rid of those people and try the same thing with a different group. It’s a trap of infinite loops.

We all have the potential to be seen or valued.

So, how do we fall into this trap of seeking recognition? Now let’s be clear that recognition is good and truth be told we all have the potential to be valued and recognized. It’s your essential essence and it’s valued and feels valued when you and others pay attention to appreciate and respect it.

But ironically it’s only when others pay attention we feel recognized. At that moment you feel seen and you experience your own value as a feeling.

The negative voices in your head calm down, you feel good and accept yourself.

We all have the potential of being something that matters to us and sometimes to others, the part of us that signifies truth and integrity. It’s not just a belief system or the construction of ideas of self-esteem, it’s the truth. Self-worth is a conceptual image that our mind builds up based on our essential value. Our integrity or our truth has always been there, simply because we are living beings.

When we hold an infant, we instinctively recognize the true value of human life, one which is often blinded by our false beliefs, prejudices and critical judgments of others. If we try we can see this precious nature of life in anyone or everyone.

Why do we stop being seen or valued?

As a child we get lots of praise, support and recognition for anything as small as playing with a ball, or walking or even laughing or eating, assuming we have decent, attentive parents. As we grow older, such support and recognition for small efforts decrease or sometimes becomes null depending upon how our relationships with the world shape up.

We are expected to behave, perform and yield results in a specific manner. We are constantly evaluated in school, college, work, relationships and are expected to give measured output. Even when we are able to give the desired result, the focus most of the time shifts to improvement and not to celebrate our achievements.

By the time you are an adult, you are conditioned to seeking recognition not your own value through boxed opinions and beliefs. With only so much opportunities and so much pressure to perform, we often do not recognize our own integrity and are often influenced by the opinions of others about us. Like a seven-year-old, we try to be ‘seen’, seek approval based on adopted opinions often starving ourselves of our real values.

We learn to mask our values from others.

One of the early false belief we adapt to while we are trying to be in touch with our true value is that we are most likely being shamed or scolded if we voiced out values in front of others. It might be called tooting our own horn, bragging, or put ourselves above others. “who do you think you are?” “Nobody likes a bragger” are the comments that hit us emotionally with guilt and shame.

But truth be told, this is where we learn to adapt to the opinions of others about ourselves, and quickly learn not to talk about ourselves positively, boast, or do any extroverted things to get praise or recognition. Instead, we are more likely to work hard, keep quiet, and hope others notice, and comment.

This programmed false belief is what we try to be in front of others. Somewhere we might be in touch with our core values or authentic self but we refrain ourselves from presenting it for fear of criticism and none acceptance.

It can be difficult to learn good self-acceptance practices in childhood because of this.

We repress our desire to be seen or valued.

As we grow older we don’t need others to repress our actions or the need for recognition, rather learn the pattern of criticism and shaming and are seasoned to do repress it ourselves. Priya put in a lot of effort into getting a literary fest together. Known and famous literary peoples from all over India showed up, interacting with each other and the event got started. As Priya was finishing up the last moment preparations, she felt the impulse to bring attention to the work she had done. A voice in her mind wanted to hint to others with a comment like, “I put a lot of work into getting this to work out for everyone’s benefit.” Her mind searched for a way to make it less obvious.

Priya had enough awareness to observe these thoughts of seeking recognition. As she saw them, another part of her mind judged and condemned her for it, “You are being such a pathetic needy person,” “What are you a narcists, needing all the attention on you?” “Grow up girl. You agreed to do this conference on your own. You don’t need praise from these people.”

This internal rebuttal, that part of Priya that wanted to be valued, was declared a needy, pathetic, narcissists, and shunned. The, “who do you think you are”, the response she learned from others, was repeated in her belief system to herself, just as she had learned to do years earlier from others.

I remember being in a training program for employees in my previous workplace and we were asked to introduce ourselves and include something that we were proud of. It was different for each person. Someone was volunteering for an NGO saving stray animals, someone was had run a marathon for cancer cause, someone had served in the army before and someone even said that he was proud of fulfilling his responsibilities as a son and husband. It was a way to say to others this is something that I do that is worthwhile and valuable to me. For a moment it was okay to acknowledge that we value ourselves and have others join in with appreciation and respect. Everyone felt good in the group. Partly because it wasn’t just one person doing it. Everyone was allowed and encouraged.

Let’s see ourselves first before being seen.

This was probably the best exercise to value oneself and also feel recognized by others at the same time. We don’t do this well in our society. Our culture is more inclined to criticize than to appreciate. The point here is the should not suppress the need to be feel valued by ourselves. We miss the mark completely and aim at getting recognized by others. This is probably a way to ask for recognition or to be valued in our society that isn’t lame and pathetic, but it isn’t obvious and can easily be misunderstood. Our culture isn’t big on it. We suppress that need for feeling our value with a condemning judgment. Instead of valuing ourselves, we shame and guilt ourselves for being egotistical, weak, or needy.

We have to understand that there is a very thin line between seeking approval and self-recognition. We have to know that self-acceptance and bragging are not the same things, and it is nuanced to do one and not the other.

Let’s acknowledge and accept who we are before even demanding/expecting to be recognized by others. Self-recognition is self-love. Let’s learn to love ourselves.

IS MY “MOTHER TONGUE” MY NATIVE LANGUAGE?

My best friend Meera is from Odisha and speaks Odia, English, and Hindi fluently. Her husband, Atul is from Maharashtra and I’ve always seen both of them conversing in Hindi. Their daughter Tia who is just 5 yrs old, understands Hindi, Odia, and Marathi though she is more fluent in Hindi. Of course, Meera always specifies that Tia’s native language is both Odia and Marathi and Hindi is her mother tongue.

In countries like India, such instances are very common nowadays and perhaps the reason why mother tongue and native language are not synonymous anymore.

A first language, or mother/father/parent tongue (also known as arterial language or L1), is a language that a person has been exposed to from birth.

The concept of having a mother tongue and the corresponding tendency to equate it to a native or regional language is a very Indian practice. The regional languages of India are the languages that are often spoken at home and are the ‘mother tongue’ or first language of that specific community.

Unfortunately, the schools want to stress that the first language at school is English, which leads to confusion and the handy substitute is ‘Indian Regional Language’ in official documents and ‘Mother Tongue’ in colloquial use.

Outside India, anybody would understand you speak a native/regional language, most will be confused about you having a ‘mother tongue’, as most of the countries use an official language native to the country.

In some countries, the term native language or mother tongue refers to the language of one’s ethnic group rather than one’s first language. Children brought up speaking more than one language can have more than one native language, and be bilingual or multilingual. By contrast, a second language is any language that one speaks other than one’s first language.

The first language or native language of a child is part of the personal, social and cultural identity. It also brings about the reflection and learning of successful social patterns of linguistic competence of acting and speaking.

A person is bilingual by being equally proficient in both languages. A person who grows up speaking English and begins learning Hindi for four years is not necessarily bilingual unless they speak the two languages with equal fluency. Balanced bilinguals perform significantly better in tasks that require flexibility (they constantly shift between the two known languages depending on the situation/requires constant juggling), more aware of arbitrary nature of language and also that balanced bilinguals choose word associations based on logical rather than phonetic preferences.

One can have two or more native languages, thus being a native bilingual or indeed multilingual. India, Indonesia, Philippines, Kenya, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa are examples where most people speak more than one language.

The designation “native language,” in its general usage, is thought to be imprecise and subject to various interpretations that are biased linguistically, especially with respect to bilingual children from ethnic minority groups. The definitions of ‘native language’ vary based on common usage, the emotional relation of the speaker towards the language, and even its dominance in relation to the environment. However, all of three criteria lack precision. For many children whose home language differs from the language of the environment (the ‘official’ language), it is debatable which language is one’s ‘native language’.

Now since we have established that native language can always differ from mother tongue, I’d like to shift the focus to the common misconception that mother tongue is essential to preserve cultural heritage. Like in my friend’s case, Meera follows all rituals of Raja and Kumar Purnami festivals and teaches their importance to Tia and also performs Ganesh Chaturthi festival the Maharashtrian way with great enthusiasm. I believe Tia is culturally much stronger than any one of us here. She understands the cultural diversity and yet through her, the compassion of her parent’s heritage is also preserved. I’m sure Tia’s generation would have a much better and global understanding of cultures and how ultimately everything comes together as we being humans. As far as Tia’s native languages are concerned, if she is ever interested she could learn and enhance her skills on those languages.

I myself can read, write and speak Odia, English, Hindi quite well. I can understand Bangla and I’m learning Urdu. But the language I’m more at ease and proficient is in English. My native language/mother tongue is Odia, which I learned from birth. I adapted to English much later in life. Yes, that’s exactly the word I was looking for, Adaptation. I used to and still read lots and lots of literature in English and somewhere down the line, I started conversing with myself in English too. That’s how I adapted.

Over the past few years, there have been significant cultural changes within our society. Education has gained importance and has become a priority. The socioeconomic changes have caused people to move out and seek employment outstation and overseas and people preferring to settle down there just for mere convenience. During my 4 years stay in the USA surprisingly I found the Odia families and their children are more closer to their culture. Of course, learning our native language is very important, but a more progressive attitude of adaptation would definitely help preserve the “mother tongue” and also the native culture.

FALL IN LOVE 💘

💝💝💝💝💝💝💝💝💝💝💝💝💝💝💝

There are those who fall
and then those who crumble in love;
Those who want it but never feel
Those who felt it but never said
Those who said but walked away
Those who left but chose to return
Those who stayed but couldn’t last
Those who stood by but couldn’t let go
Those who chose to let go and got so hurt
Those who chose to hurt but stuck to strive
Those who fought for it but did not survive
Those who learnt to endure in all the squabbles
Those who spewed words but ended with a kiss
Those who never spoke but lived together
Those who gelled together but didn’t get each other
Those who merged but were not blessed enough
And then there were those
who were blessed and lived happily ever after.

It matters not
This love or that love
His love or her love
Gelled in love or broken in love
Rise in love or fall in love
It began for reasons unknown
and ends with fate uncertain.

Love is bliss
blessed are those
who’ve known love.

💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞

IS PATIENCE A LOST VIRTUE?

The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter. – Paulo Coelho

If you’re too impatient, you might make quick decisions resulting in huge consequences. If you’re too patient, you might pursue the wrong options for too long, wasting a big chunk of your time. The question is, where can you find the right balance in this fast-paced life?

Both patience and impatience have their flaws, but our society seems to push to hustle while telling us to hold on.

Do you remember the hunter-gatherers few thousand years ago? when they couldn’t find food, it was time to consider alternatives and change strategies; to survive. With time people learnt to settle down, they learnt the value of patience when they harvested crops, travelled far to trade each time coming back home, rewarded with festivities and family time.

Time has changed again. Twenty years ago, companies had five-year plans. Nowadays, life is a bit more complicated; a company with a five-year plan would be a joke; delivering an obsolete product to the market. Entrepreneurs today must pay more attention to the brewing changes, and be willing to revamp more frequently. They must be impatient to get the results or miss out on opportunities. And faster technology changes, the less patience will pay.

What is obvious is that we have many more opportunities to be impatient today. Technology, social lives, personal schedules and work often collide. Many of these collisions bring about unexpected costs. And unexpected costs lead to impatience.

We have video games, smartphones, social media, ebooks, online movies virtual and live sports for our leisure time. And there is always something better to do in the midst of an unexpected hold-up.

We don’t have to leave the house for entertainment. Technology has made us lazy. We don’t even have to find directions. We have an automated voice instructing our twists and turns. Even running an errand is not required anymore. Everything can reach our doorstep at the click of a button.

Where are we actually leading in terms of advancement? We are succumbing to laziness fueled by capitalism. We have more time for ourselves than ever, but we are not sure of our choices, owing to innumerable options. And too many options leads to impatience.

And then there is the hankering need for gratification. We tend to choose the options in our life with immediate results rather than wait for eventual better results. We want to remain healthy, but we order rich and heavy dessert to quench our emotional or behavioural needs. Our logical side comprehends the consequences but still yields to visible outcomes.

Let’s explore the emotional side too. The pixelated canvas has become a veil to hide actual feelings and portray the other self which one wants to show to the world. We don’t need to work on relationships and feelings. We have emojis or else we just block and move on. There’s no patience whatsoever lurking anywhere in these social taboo.
We don’t need to spend time making decisions or follow a routine. Everything is always available, 24/7.

Patience is not always a virtue. We should consider if there are ways to speed things up, or if there are better uses of our time, attention, and energy. Today’s world revolves in high pressure. Impatience definitely yield opportunities, rewards and capital. But at the same time, it is accompanied by increasing stress level, increased morbidity and reduced age of mortality.

The balance is about not getting flustered when making decisions, but not taking so much time that the competition and opportunities pass you by. There’s a very thin line in between being impatient and taking opportunities. Patience is not always the best today but let’s find the balance between the options available to us and let’s make it a point to conserve this virtue in us. It’s definitely not lost, it’s just being layered with technology and stuff. It lays inside us, we just need to find it.

​”COPING OR GIVING UP” – THE CHOICE IS YOURS

Few months back on my birthday a friend sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I kept those flowers by the window, the sun shining on it and as I was admiring those lovely, fresh flowers, I was reminded that the petals would eventually wither and dry up.

Desperately to capture the beautiful moment that I was having with the fading momento, I tried to take a picture on my mobile. But the result was just a cheap imitation. And it hit me that grief is inextricably tied to love. This was a very small loss but the message was clear, ‘Love exists with the shadow of impending loss’.

The eventuality of loss always exists when we feel love – either for a person, a thing, or an experience. But sometimes people are overcome with the fear of the expected loss and try to protect themselves from the pain by holding onto the moments or  avoiding conflicts at all cost, trying to make sure the relationship stays positive. However since they are no longer open or connected, eventually the love dies.

Sometimes people defend against the feared or expected pain from loss by staying emotionally distant from people. They might even keep their lives small and controllable. But this leaves them feeling cut off from an important part of themselves that is curious, wants to explore and grow, or even has a hidden passion. As a result, they remain stifled and feel empty or dead inside.

Loss can take many forms like separation, divorce, moving to distant relationships, death, disability, chronic illness, some of which are more devastating than others making our lives feel upended. Indeed, loss forces us to confront psychological challenges.

In his book ‘Loss and Trauma: Walking on Broken Bones’, Guy Winch, Ph.D. and Licensed Psychologist, mentions about five psychological challenges due to loss.

1.  Overcoming Paralyzing Emotional Pain

The most immediate challenge we face in case of a loss, is that of excruciating and paralyzing emotional pain. The initial pain is so severe we might be in shock and feel as though in a haze, trapped in a terrible alternate reality from which we cannot escape. We might lose the ability to think straight or even to function in the most basic ways. The one thing that helps diminish the pain is time. Therefore, our challenge is to find ways to simply get through those first terrible hours, days, and weeks. Once the initial shock begins to fade away and the new realities set in, we face our second challenge.

2.  Adjusting to Changes in Our Daily Lives:

Grief and loss can change almost every aspect of our daily routines. We might no longer have a partner to share feelings or having to restrain ourselves to do the most basic tasks. To recover we face the challenge of coming to terms with the changes that are forced upon us. Only then can we begin the process of finding new ways of living and adjusting to the physical lacuna connected to the emotional loss.

3.  Reformulating Our Identities: 

Sometimes grief and loss can impact our very sense of identity. We might feel as if the person we once were is lost and that the person facing us in the mirror is a stranger. We might have defined ourselves by our career but lost our job (or retired), we might have defined ourselves by being the fun couple but lost our partner, or we might have defined ourselves by our physical fitness but become disabled in an accident. To recover we face the challenge of reexamining and redefining who we are, how we see ourselves, and how we want others to view us. We have to reconstruct our identities and come to peace with our new selves and our new lives.

4. Reconstructing Our Relationships: 

It is common for people to respond to profound loss by withdrawing into themselves. We might try to hold on to a deceased loved one by talking to them in our mind. At times, we might avoid other people, as they remind us of our loss. After failing out of college we might lose touch with classmates. Unfortunately, sickness and disability often make others uncomfortable and make them withdraw from us. To recover we face the challenge of reconnecting to those who remain and forming new connections that reflect the new realities of our situation.

5. Adjusting Our Belief Systems: 

Trying to make sense of our experiences in life is a compelling human drive. Although some of us articulate it more clearly than others, we each have our perception on how the world works; a unique set of beliefs and assumptions through which we view the world and our place in it. Loss and grief can challenge these basic assumptions and make us question everything we thought we knew. We’re flooded with doubts and questions, the simplest and most compelling of which is often simply—why? Our challenge is to find ways to make sense of what happened and adjust our belief systems accordingly. And to thrive, we must discover a new purpose to drive our existence.

Now that we have identified the challenges with remedies, we need to implement these to reformulate our lives. Face the loss instead of ignoring or denying it.  Thus, avoid self medication with alcohol or other drugs, or escapism through excessive sleep, internet use, or any other maladaptive habit that makes you vulnerable to addiction or depression.

It’s also important to talk and share your feelings with other people as it helps our mind to process the loss and often allows us to come to terms with it sooner than if we kept our feelings bottled up. Of course, it is important not to overdo these conversations as one runs the two-prong risk of wallowing in the misery and causing other people to feel compassion fatigue.

Take an inventory of the blessings you have and the various parts of your life that you can feel genuine gratitude for.  This helps to refocus the mind on what one has rather than dwelling on what one lost.

As per Clifford N Lazarus, Ph.D., Clinical Director, Lazarus Institute, distracting yourself by keeping busy with enjoyable activities you can [still] do not only helps in moving towards acceptance of the loss but it will also ward off deepening sadness because of a process called “behavioral activation” which has been shown to effectively treat depression.

And the most important thing to remember is that recovering from grief and loss takes time. So think well, act well but give it enough time.

Also remember that there’s no way around experiencing loss. Living is definitely accompanied by risks of choosing to explore new territory and making yourself vulnerable. The raw experience of being in the moment with a deep sense of connection with people and things you love can be both exhilarating as well as putting you at risk for a deeply painful loss. But it also represents opportunities for personal growth and living life fully.

“Live life and accept loss”

Treasure what you lose and look forward to what you have.

​VALIANT TEARS

I hear the waves crashing inside me

as they push me to the edge,

amidst the thunderstorms raging in my mind

and aroma of sea salt and moonlit lilies

a doorway opens to the chasm of quiescence

that I was not meant to confront;

And as I wonder what lies beneath

those shining blue sapphires,

the string of ocean flows out of the ravines

caressing my cheeks with the salty brine

soothing and rocking my demons to sleep,

as the sailing anguish on the high seas

meanders it’s way towards the shore;

Those tiny shaking fingers cup the moonlit pearls

slowly waning through the night

into the hushed up dawn.

Just a moment of tranquility

and an aura of accedence,

a silver lining on those hovering clouds

as the ocean of no-thingness

replenishes its unfathomed abyss

with intolerable ocean of dolour again.