THE PRESSURE OF BEING NICE

 

So, this used to be my problem some time back. I was (hopefully) a people pleaser kind of a person who would go to any level of discomfort to make people happy. Who were these people? Family, friends, acquaintances and sometimes even strangers. Why did I do that? Was I seeking some sort of validation about me from these people? Or did doing so make me happy? Not really. I am not sure why this was the case – but the situation turned around for me a few months back. I hit the rock bottom at that time feeling worthless with complete lack of self-respect.

I cried, I threw things in anger, I kicked myself and I did a lot more for being such a jerk. I hated myself for not standing up for my own feelings. And then something happened. Something changed in me. I did something that I never did earlier – I replied back assertively (to my Mother in law). Then came a long period of a cold war which was torturous but I stood my ground. I decided that I will not go back to being who I was – if this relationship is important to her as well, she will have to initiate the talk this time. To my surprise, she did. She did that after a few weeks and things came back to normal. This made me realize that I just had to go through that period without giving in. Sometimes it is important to give an opportunity to others to be nice to you. This has always been difficult for me.

Something similar happened at work. In a meeting I was expected to say a “Yes” like I always do, but I stood my ground and said “No, I do not agree. With all my authority I will stay with my decision.” There was silence in the room for a few minutes and then people just looked at me and said ‘Ok’. And sky did not collapse that day. Work was as usual and this time thankfully nobody had to take a brunt of my decision.

Both these incidents were highly liberating for me. It was like the cap of the pressure cooker was released and my head became lighter and lighter with all steam rushing out of it. I realized that I just had so much time to be creative and think about myself when I do not have the pressure of being nice to all.

Another pressure that disturbs me a lot is the one of looking good. So, you see it is not just important for me to be good to others but also look good to others. Every time somebody would come and tell me that he/she lost a few kgs – the pressure would just double. It would triple itself when FB shows “see your memories” and I get to see the pics of myself from years ago. “Why the hell is it so difficult for me?” After climbing on that weighing machine for almost 5-6 times in a day – I would wonder what I am really doing wrong. And there was no answer ever. After trying out all known diets, workouts, supplements, homeopathy, Ayurveda meds – I was dejected.

Then one day I woke up and asked myself – what would change in my life if I would suddenly weigh about 15 kgs lesser than what I am now? I would be able to wear those jeans and skirts that are hiding inside the bed box. What else? People would come and compliment me. What else? That’s it. Really? That’s it. Just for these minute things I am taking so much pressure.

I am my own enemy when it comes to building pressure. I have done that since my school days. I always took hell lot of pressure of my studies when I could have just taken a chill pill – the world wouldn’t have fallen if I scored a few marks lesser.

Deadlines at work don’t make me feel pressurized. In fact it really excites me. Working without deadlines is rather boring. It is like swimming in an endless ocean of work. I like to swim and swim really fast when that finish line comes closer and closer. Working becomes really exciting when that release is on the horizon. And then the sense of achievement that follows the success. Nothing makes me more motivated at work.

I am learning to be nice to myself and not to take pressure of something that is unnecessary. I am trying not to take pressure and to speak my mind. I have learnt to respect myself before others. It is difficult, really difficult and many times I fall back to my old self.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SUNBEAMS AT SUNSET – XII

I know that you hate Prateek for what he did and felt towards Saaransh. I have been angry with him too. But Mohan, please realize that it was us who were wrong. All throughout his childhood, poor Prateek lived in an insecurity that we loved Saaransh much more than any of them. He always thought that we favoured Saaransh. Imagine living in a hell like that. It is not easy for a child to deal with this level of sibling rivalry. It is not healthy. It must be gnawing him from inside every moment of each day. He was always trying so hard to impress us but always fell short of trophies when compared to Saaransh. Mohan, we as parents should have seen that and we should have helped him deal with this insecurity. I know you think that he failed us as a son, but I truly believe that we failed him as parents!” said Sudha crying bitterly now.

Stop blaming yourself, Sudha. It wasn’t our fault. Kids fight when they are young. It is normal. How could we ever know that there is this level of hatred growing inside his heart for his own brother?” Mohan was clutching Sudha’s hand tightly now.

Can’t we again search for Prateek and where he is? I am craving for Prateek. I know Saaransh will not come. I know, he was always a stubborn child. If he decided to leave us so that we could be happy with the rest of our children – he will not come back. He is a man of his words. I wish he knew how this family broke down after he left us.” Sudha was talking more to herself now.

Can’t we look for my boy, Mohan!” shouted Sudha.

Calm down dear… Calm down… We will… we will search for him again…” Mohan had no option but to just agree with her at that moment to calm her down. He was thinking when would be the right time to tell her that he just spoke to Saaransh three hours ago. How would he tell her that her son is at the border fighting the enemies? Would it make her feel proud? Or maybe she would get all the more anxious now thinking that he is a war-like situation at the border.

Can’t we talk to Palak? Where she can be? Can’t you forgive her and accept her back? Maybe Dhara, our youngest one can find out where her Didi is now…” She said in a pleading tone. 

Mohan’s heart broke looking at her desperation to talk to one of them. To be near them. ‘What sort of a life is this where at this age we have to beg our children to come and see us? How can these kids be so cruel? What Sudha said about us being more responsible towards Prateek – is that true? Could I do something differently to shape Prateek as a better person? I really don’t know. But… Palak…?‘ Mohan came back to his senses and called out her name, Sudha!” as he gently caressed her hairs off her face. He has another mystery hidden in his chest which he thinks to reveal for her happiness.

Sudha shook him with her both hands impatiently, “What? Where did you get lost?”

Dhara called a few minutes ago…” He replied.

What’s the big deal about it? She always calls every week when she gets time from her studies? Is she doing fine? Did you tell her about my heart attack? She had her exams. I had told you not to tell her anything, Mohan!” Sudha looked intently at her husband.

Dhara already knew about it much before I could tell her… She had called in my number which was with Raman… Now, leave that part… She is fine… What I want to tell you is, she told me that she was in constant touch with Palak and Alex for quite some time… And she revealed it to me today… She gave Palak’s number as well… When Dhara went for her higher studies to Pune, she met Palak and Alex there once in a mall… They are settled in Mumbai now… Moreover, Dhara is with them today actually in Mumbai…” Mohan could not hold that piece of information back anymore but spilt it all.

Sudha’s face glowed and she smiled in joy listening to that. “Palak…? Can I talk to my Pallu?” She gripped tightly at Mohan’s hands with excitement.

Mohan nodded and dialled the number with a smile in his face as well and when it started to ring he handed the phone to Sudha.

It was a heart-wrenching moment when Palak decided to marry a boy she loved against their wishes. Alex is from a different country and different culture. She eloped with him and left her parents with just a letter. Palak tried calling later and tried to get back to her parents, but Mohan was so heartbroken by her decision that he decided to never talk to her again.

Mohan was deep in his thoughts as he went back to the hurtful pages of their past but he came back to their present when Sudha’s voice interrupted him.

Hello, hello – Can I talk to Palak?” said Sudha excitedly as some male voice had answered the phone. Must be her husband Alex. 

Palak is busy preparing for the ceremony. May I know who is speaking, Ma’am?” said the male voice again politely.

It is me Sudha – her mother!” said Sudha already thinking over the word “ceremony” Oh ok, let me just pass the word to Palak. Just hold on.” It was Alex but he could not let her know about his identity as he was aware of the whole thing. He left the receiver. There was quite a lot of music and background noise which Sudha could able to hear from this end. What was happening? Was this man the one Palak left them for? Did she just speak to her husband? Sudha kept thinking as she heard someone speaking…

Mom – is that you?” It was Palak.

Yes, it is me.” Sudha choked and heard Palak sobbing bitterly.

There was a pause for some time as both the mother and daughter were weeping vehemently. Mohan was apprehensive about Sudha’s health. He pressed her hands in his and rested her head on his chest to comfort her.

Palak gathered herself thinking about her mother’s health as well and spoke again. “Mom, how are you mom? How I wished to get a call from you all these years? Are you still angry with, mom? I heard you had an attack…” said Palak in a single breath.

No beta. I am not angry anymore. I just want to meet you. I want to hold my Pallu once again tight to my bosom. I want to hear her wise words once more… Can you come back with Alex and see me, please?” said Sudha as she continued to weep bitterly.

Mom, Mom… Please don’t cry… You are not well… Dhara told me everything… And we will be coming soon at once…” Palak tried to calm her mother down.

Yes, I am fine. Please come and meet me. I do not know how long I will be alive. I just want to meet all of you once before that.” Said Sudha.

Mom, stop it… Nothing will happen… I will come straight away. If I take the early morning flight – I will be there by tomorrow early afternoon. Mom, I am coming.” Palak assured her Mom.

In the background, she could hear a baby’s crying voice. “Pallu, who’s crying in the background?” Sudha asked curiously to which Palak revealed that it was her baby. Sudha was ecstatic and looking at Mohan she said, “Mohan, our Pallu got a baby… she is a mother now…” Mohan was joyous too.

Pallu, don’t you want to talk to your Papa…?” Sudha asked her and she agreed but before Sudha could hand over the receiver to Mohan he went away from that room saying he can’t just now…

“Pallu, you can talk to him when you come here… He is on his cell phone…talking to his patient now…” Sudha had to lie to her daughter which Palak could easily make out. But both of them were overjoyed to talk to each other after many years.

Sudha disconnected the call as her face now was so bright with joy. She could not control her smile and her tears at the same time. She felt like dancing. Her Pallu is coming home with her family tomorrow. She now wanted to decorate the whole house, cook all their favourite dishes and do everything possible to make it up for the lost time.

Will this family re-unite again? Thought Sudha. “Oh God, please fulfil my last one request – let this family have at least one dinner together in this house. Then I can die peacefully. There is nothing else that I would ever ask for” said Sudha in her prayers silently.

SUNBEAMS AT SUNSET – VI

Mom, mom – Saaransh got hurt. Please rush. Mom come quickly” Palak was screaming, she was out of breath. Her clothes had spots of blood and so did her hands.

Oh my goodness, what happened?” asked Sudha

Mom, just don’t ask anything. Come.” As soon as Palak saw her mother she burst into tears.

Sudha ran into the backyard as fast as her legs could carry her. A million different thoughts coming into her mind in those 3 mins she took to reach the backyard. Each thought making her heart race all the more and her anxiety was touching the ceiling now.

She saw Saaransh sitting down and covering his eyes; his face was covered in blood. Sudha couldn’t make out where he had hurt himself. “Oh my goodness, eyes! Has he lost his eyes?” She quickly kneeled down in front of him and tried to take off his hands so that she could see what really happened.

Saaransh was screaming and crying in pain. Tears, blood and mud all mixed up. Sudha’s heart was racing like anything. “Oh gosh, let this be a small injury!” She kept praying in her heart through her brain told her that it wasn’t.

Dr. Lal came rushing to the spot in no time. Saaransh had got a deep cut just above his right eyebrow. He was taken to the hospital where Dr. Lal worked. In no time the ambulance was arranged and little Saaransh was rushed on a stretcher.

After an hour or so, it was declared that there was no harm to his eyes. But the cut was deep and it would need stitches which would leave a scar for a long time. Sudha sighed in relief. There was no permanent damage. Last 2 hours have been excruciatingly painful for Saaransh and for Sudha as well. How can a mother breath comfortably when she knows that her child is in deep pain?

But what really happened? How did he get so hurt?” She had to go back home and talk to Palak to find out. “I hope it was not Prateek.” And she skipped a beat at that thought. Lately, Prateek and Saaransh were getting too violent towards each other. Every time she brought up this concern with her husband, he dismissed her saying that boys are rough and they will be fine, he always said. But it still worried Sudha. Why can’t these two boys get along with each other?

Saaransh got better the next day. His right eye was patched up and his pain was much lesser. He had to stay in the hospital for a day more because he had lost a lot of blood for a 10-year child that he was then.

What happened, Saaransh? Who did this to you?” It was almost 20th time that Sudha was asking him, but she always got the same reply from him that she wasn’t convinced with.

Mom, I told you naa. We were just playing and the ball hit on the head. That’s all. It happens, mom. Take a chill pill.” He said with the same smile.

Sudha had to find out more. She went home while Saaransh was sleeping. Only Palak would tell her, Prateek and Dhara would repeat the same story as Saaransh or some other silly story to hide their mischiefs.

Palak, tell me clearly all that you know about this accident”. Palak was the wisest of all, she was mature than her age of 14 years. She had always been a peacemaker between her brothers.

When confronted with this question, Palak started looking the other way. “Nothing mom, they were just playing. You know these boys played really hard naa.”

“Tell me the truth, Palak!” said Sudha with an assertiveness that shook Palak.

Mom, please promise me that you will not say anything to Prateek. He is already dying of guilt.” Said Palak

So, it was Prateek!” sighed Sudha with a helpless look on her face.

But it wasn’t his fault alone, mom!” shouted Palak as she saw Sudha’s face red in fury. “Mom, Saaransh provoked him!”

Stop it, Palak! Nothing can justify hitting his own brother so badly. What does this idiot think of himself? He is going to have a good one from me now.” Sudha felt her rage in her eyes. She felt like she just had to take out all of it on Prateek.

Stop mom. You always do this. You always favour Saaransh. I know he is better than all of us in studies, sports and everything. But does that mean that rest of us are not good enough to be your children? You never listen to our side of the story. You have to believe that Saaransh is the naïve one. What the hell, mom? You don’t want to know the truth about Saaransh. He is always doing things to make us look bad in front of you.” Palak was crying miserably now. It was the first time she pours her heart out regarding Saaransh.

No Palak, no. What are you saying?” Sudha was totally taken aback by what she heard.

Sudha, Sudha, Sudha… Wake up.. Sudha, Sudha” and Sudha opened her eyes in her bedroom looking at her husband’s face that really looked worried. She realized that she was covered in sweat and probably was muttering something in her sleep.

Was it the same dream again?” asked Dr. Lal handing her a glass of water.

She sipped water that made her heartbeat slow down a bit. “Yes, again the same old dream. A complete recollection of that day when …”  Sudha’s voice faded off.

Relax and try to sleep. You need to take an extra dose of anti-anxiety now. This is not helping.” Said Dr. Lal getting back in bed again after giving a small yellow coloured pill that was supposed to make her less anxious.

But sleep was far away from Sudha. She kept staring at the ceiling whole night wondering why she didn’t realize that there was a growing conflict between her kids. Had she realized it earlier, her family still might have been a family.

Guilt never left her and she closed her eyes thinking about Raman and his guilt about not being there with his Grand-mom. “How does he cope with it?

FAT SHAME AND SKINNY SHAME

“Do you really have to eat cheese? Don’t you see how much you are bulging from your hips?”

Shanaya was too tired of listening to this. Sometimes her boyfriend would say something about her diet and other times one of her friends or sisters would make her realize how fat she has become since last few months. She has always been heavy built, no matter how much she went to the gym, dance classes or aerobics, her weight would never go down. Since her college days, she had been humiliated because of the way her figure is. She obviously looked a bit older than her age because of her size.

In spite of the fact that she was heavy, she loved eating. She couldn’t resist food. She relished eating and she had a knack for different kinds of taste. Italian, Chinese, continental, Indian, Thai or any other cuisine, she loved it all. Though she knew that she had to control her diet to look fab, she tried her best but she failed miserably almost every time.

She hated herself, her body, her looks, her liking towards food, everything. She remembered her mother saying,” You better control your weight or else you will look ugly and fat”. That was the first time she thought the words fat and ugly are synonymous. And yes, they were. That is exactly what TV and magazine advertisements proved.

Depression can prove to be very harmful to a growing girl who turned into a woman. She had found a way out of this depression. She used to exercise like crazy; she loved dancing and working out in the gym. She started doing this to get in shape, but she really started liking this. Now, the gym was not a place where she felt miserable but it turned into a place where she could just lose herself and sweat out all her anger and depression.

She thought how lucky are the people who can eat whatever they want and still stay thin without sweating in gym or dance. There was one name that came striking to her every time she thought of such people – Nancy. Nancy was so lucky, she could have chocolates, cakes, ice-creams everything without feeling guilty at all, coz nothing changed her slim figure. How does this happen to a few people and cannot happen to her? Is it even possible that a girl like Nancy can ever feel pathetic and have low body image?

“Real women have real curves. I don’t even know how any guy would find you even desirable with such a skinny flat figure.”

“Eat more bananas with milk, it will add to your body weight”

“Did you try those new creams I got for you? They are supposed to add fat to your skin.”

Nancy ended up crying in a room because this was a millionth time she had heard her elder sister say this to her. Her friends said the same thing. Why am I so flat? Why can’t I have a full figure? She was really slim. She ate a lot; her appetite was as much as of a guy. But it didn’t affect her body at all. She loved eating just like Shanaya, she too took weight gaining courses in the gym and with a nutritionist. She even applied all sort of oils to make her body look fuller and curvy than flat. Nothing really worked and she felt miserable about it.

Nancy too hated her body. She usually used to think, how lucky Shanaya is, at least she had good curves. What if she has a little fat on her belly and her hips, it makes her even more desirable.

“I don’t understand why Shanaya keeps crying about her own body. She looks perfect. People say that she looks like a perfect full figure.” thought Nancy.

On the other hand, Shanaya thought, “Nancy is so crazy. Can’t she see those models in TV, they all are skinny. I think she just doesn’t understand how fortunate she is to have a body that doesn’t gain weight at all. She will never have to worry about her weight.

Nancy was talking to herself at the same time, “Shanaya doesn’t get that model look so artificial and look good only on the television. No guy really wants a size zero girlfriend, they want a sexy girl with complete beauty.”

“Nancy feels pathetic about her body and I have no clue why. If a girl like her goes around the beach in a bikini, people are going to like her. If a girl like me goes around in a bikini, people will take offence in that. They will suggest me not to do something like this until she has a slimmer figure.” said Shanaya to herself.

“Shanaya doesn’t know how much it pinches when people call me flat. When people say that I am not desirable, how rejected I feel at every comment of this kind.” thought Nancy.

Both Shanaya and Nancy had to work on their own body image. But both of them had to realize that this world is so full of confusion about what really is beautiful. They had to realize that beauty is what you define. Beauty is a combination of inner beauty, confidence and natural sex appeal. And it has got nothing to do with what media portrays or people believe. It has to come from inside of every person.

Fat shame exists and so does skinny shame. Both are equally painful and degrading. Both do the equal damage.

MY REMEDY FOR LACK OF PATIENCE

“Joey, finish your milk!” I shouted 10th time at 8:40 am. He has been sitting with a glass of milk for half an hour and his school starts in 5 mins. Of course, I was angry, upset and totally out of patience. This scenario happens in my home almost every day. Does it change the behaviour of my son? No, it really doesn’t. He still takes his own sweet time to enjoy his morning dose of milk. “I really feel like opening his mouth by force put in a funnel there so that I can empty that glass in 2 secs.” This thought is very frequent. But unfortunately (or fortunately) kids cannot be fed that way. I just explained a situation where I run out of patience almost every time. Because my 3.5-year-old son eats (and drinks) really slowly.

I was getting late for my gym. The workout class was scheduled at 6 am and they wouldn’t let me enter the class if I came in after 6:05 am. It was already 5:50 am and I had to drive 4 km. Now that’s not a challenge for most people, but for me it is. Because our basement parking is horrible and I am not a great driver. Well, getting worried that I will miss my workout I start the engine and start reversing the car. 5 mins gone by and I am still struggling to get it out. And then “bang”, I hit the pillar. There was a huge dent on the right side and the bumper broke. “How can you hit the car on the driver side?” my husband asked when he examined the damage. The only reply I had was “I was getting late!” Yet a typical example of me getting impatient. It would have saved me a hell of trouble (and money) if I would have taken 2 mins extra to call the watchman and help me in the situation. But did I do that? No, because 2 mins were too precious at that time.

I am sure all of us are aware of multiple such instances where losing patience has only resulted in anger, frustration and loss of time and money. It is not uncommon. People say Yoga (or something else) helps in reducing stress. But I believe the only thing that reduces stress is in responding to the situation than reacting to it.

My remedy for improving my patience is to do the following

  1. Recognize that I am getting angry because I am running out of patience.
  2. Close my eyes and take 5 deep breaths. Breaths that are really slow that I can feel the air going through my nostrils, in the throat and filling my lungs. Then all the way out.
  3. Open my eyes
  4. Decide the best way to deal with the situation.
  5. Deal with it.

It becomes difficult when in the nick of a time I close my eyes and start breathing slowly especially when I am getting late for something. But this needs to be done, because if I do anything else at all – it would only result in a loss for me. And that is the biggest part of self-awareness. Patience helps and it does help always. It helps in getting the work done, it helps in touching in people’s heart, it helps in keeping my BP, hormones, and cholesterol etc. levels in control. It helps in keeping me harmonized with nature. It is one remedy that always works.

A little secret – I still shout at my son for eating slowly. Having a remedy doesn’t work unless I implement it. But as long as I am on the right path – I don’t worry too much. I know you have such secrets too with this little saint named “Patience”. Patience is one virtue that can set things right in your life. So don’t resist the remedy, just apply it.

THE ART OF MULTITASKING

I work for Philips Healthcare, a business of Philips that sells medical equipment to hospitals. To build these products, we follow Agile Methodology. Some of the software engineers might be aware of this term. This way of work primarily focusses on collaborative work which means the entire team to get together to complete a particular task which is the highest priority. And then move on to next task. This means that every team member is capable of doing any work with equal competence – which is never true. Each person has his/her own competency and preference for the kind of work. So, keeping this in mind – a term becomes very important in Agile methodology “WIP”. WIP stands for “Work in Progress”. It is a number that defines that at any given point of time how many work items is the team busy with. For a team of 5 people, WIP should never be more than 7 or 8. Again it depends on the competency of the team members and the complexity of the work items.

There are various case studies that prove that if WIP is too low – the team has too little work and is demotivated. If WIP is too high – the team is too overloaded and have to switch the context so much that their productivity declines. WIP has to be just right. It should keep the team busy, interested in work with optimum load and highest productivity. One of my roles in my job is to keep the WIP in the limit, not just of the whole team but also of each team member. No team member should ever feel that he/she is too overloaded with work or is getting too confused because of handling too many things.

Sorry, for too many corporate jargons from Software development. When I was asked to write on this topic, the first word that struck me was “WIP”. When I took over this role and understood this concept, I attempted to apply this also to my personal life. Yes, I multi-task and sometimes it is too much. “What is my current WIP? Is it optimum?” These two questions usually bring me back to the reality.

For example – currently, I am writing this article while sitting on a crowded bus going from work to home. My WIP is 2 – because I have to think and write this article on time and I also have to keep my eyes on the road to make sure that I don’t miss my stop. This WIP works because one is an active task (writing) and another one is a passive one (keeping an eye on the road). While multitasking, there can always be only one active task. It is not recommended at all to do more than one active task at the same time. Although we could do one active and multiple passive tasks at the same time. Taking the same example – if I switch on the music on my phone it would become another passive task. If while writing on the bus, I also start talking to my mom on phone – will it work? No. Because talking and writing will both be active tasks. I will have to stop writing now if my mom calls me on my phone.

Now the catch is that sometimes an active task slowly becomes a passive one. For example – for me driving is an active task because I am not a very experienced driver. I cannot even listen to music while driving because it distracts me from the road. However, my husband can also talk on the phone while driving (yes, it is illegal I know – but he can). This is because driving has become a passive task for him because of his practice. Similarly, for a lot of women cooking becomes a passive task. We just are so experienced in this area that it doesn’t take our conscious mind to be completely empty to do the task of cooking. At that stage, we can also combine cooking with teaching our child (a lot of us do that).

Problem with multi-tasking is that sometimes we make a task passive when it deserves to be active. I realized this when I learnt about “Mindful eating”. Mindful eating is a concept which emphasizes the need to be completely aware of what is happening inside our mouth and body while we are eating. Ideally, we should chew every morsel of the food at least 20 times. We should take in the colour, taste, smell of the food completely before swallowing it (eat with all 5 senses). We should listen to our stomach when it signals us to stop eating. All these can happen only if we stop making eating a passive task. However, I know that eating is the first task that we learn to make passive. Eating while watching TV, eating while working, eating while chatting with people. When eating becomes a passive task, we do mindless eating which is the primary cause of overeating and leads to all the side effects related to it.

Another task that we must not multitask is spending time with our loved ones. I am sure most of us are guilty of this. When the child is explaining what happened at school – we are checking our Instagram feed. When our spouse is complaining about his/her headache – we are focusing on the TV. When mom is talking, we are also busy with our heads on the laptop.

Multi-tasking is not bad. It just has some rules.

Rule no. 1 – Never try to do more than one active task at any given point of time

Rule no. 2 – Carefully choose which task is supposed to be active and which can be passive

That’s all. And you will master the art of multitasking.

TWO ULTIMATE SUPERPOWERS

Superpowers!

I wish I had more than 24 hours in a day.

I wish I had the power to change a person’s perspective.

I wish I had the power to eradicate poverty from the world.

I wish… O I so wish…

These wishes never end. If all of us had a genie who could fulfill unlimited wishes for each of us, I think that genie would be the most exhausted soul in the world. With all the maturity that I gained through the experience of years – I wish for two superpowers. Probably if I were to write this article a year later, my wishes would be different but today it is so…

The superpower no. 1 – To know the difference between what I can influence and what I cannot

There is a prayer which is my favorite – “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, grant me the courage to change what I can and wisdom to know the difference between the two.

I have spent a large part of my life wondering what people think of me and how they like me. And if they don’t like me, what can I do to change that? It is horrible but I was deeply influenced by how I am constantly judged by people. Imagine, what happened – disaster. I became my last priority and my first priority was to keep people happy and fulfill their expectations. Well, it took time, a few blows on the face and a lot of pain to realize that I have no control over what people feel for me. I cannot control how they judge me and so I have to stop worrying about it.

What is in my control is what I feel for myself and how I feel about the world. I can choose what to do with my 24 hours a day. I can choose who to be friends with and who to ignore. I can choose a million things in my life. But at the same time – not the whole world is under my control. When we lost my youngest brother in law (husband’s youngest brother), how I wished I could reduce the pain the whole family was going through. All of us wished to go back in time and make things right so that this death would not happen. But life doesn’t work that way. I learnt that Death is the ultimate truth and there is absolutely no influence over it. I realized that I can share the pain of my family but I cannot reduce it. I cannot take the pain away from my husband. He and his parents have to go through it and all that is in my control is to be with them in the journey.

A lot of times we end up running after things that we have no influence over without realizing that we are only wasting our time. All I wish is to have the wisdom to know what I need to accept and what I must struggle to change. Life would be way simpler then.

The superpower no. 2 – Strength to embrace pain

Any human being that I consider successful (in whatever field) is successful because he/she has gone through tremendous pain and struggle to get there. In fact, more the pain better is the outcome. We define success only when we face failures. Our failures define us not our success. A child who is born with all the riches has a completely different definition of success than his father who spent his entire life building up those riches.

Naturally, we all try to avoid pain whether it is emotional or physical. We have the plethora of painkillers to kill the physical pain and we happily take it without seeking the root cause of that pain. To escape the emotional pain we again have a number of killers that differ from person to person. Some people dissolve the pain in alcohol and other forms of abuse, there are people who resort to one night stands and flings, few more who resort to other addictions like shopping, makeovers etc. All this to forget and escape the pain inside. When we try to run away from the pain, we also run away from an opportunity. An opportunity to come out stronger. Feel the pain and cry out the loudest and only then you will get the strength to rise the highest.

I have had my own painkillers and I abused them in various ways which even messed up my life to a large extent. I wish to have the strength so that I never resort to my painkillers. I instead bear the pain, go deeper inside me to figure out the root cause of the pain, understand my pain, live the pain and then eventually emerge a stronger and better person.