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“Deep rooted sorrows”- 1 January 2017.

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Written by Rita Aggarwal
Tuesday, 03 January 2017 23:37

After two years of regular counselling Aarti, in a state of semi hypnotism, where she was more aware of her internal subconscious reality, she blurted out her trauma- that her cousin had sexually assaulted her in her home, finding her alone one day. On waking state she did not recall having said anything significant. That explained a lot of things for us, especially her growing bad behaviour with her family- her relatives, her mother, father and the entire extended family except her grandmother whom she adored. She mentally blamed all of them for her state of vulnerability and for not being protective enough towards her. She was very angry with all of them. She carried this secret burden of shame, guilt and anger, alone for several years which manifested itself in irritability and maladjustment, but the load lessened after we brought it out in the open and shared it.

Anita was a troublesome child as she was stubborn and fussy and had a high temper. She was much ‘misunderstood by all’ was her refrain at home with family members. She was generally good in studies but quite controversial with her dealings with people and friends. It was easy for her to get angry, jump into a fight and then break off from them by ‘blaming them’. She apparently had many deep-rooted complexes. But it took a while for them to surface during counselling as she herself had suppressed and forgotten them. She had been a darling of her father but he had passed away soon enough when she was just a small child in school. She plucked from her memory one day a deep rooted sorrow- her mother had blamed her for her father’s death by saying ‘you killed your father as you have given him the maximum trouble’. Her mother must have said this in grief, with no intentions of hurting the child, but it stuck to Anita’s mind. It bothered her as she felt extreme guilt and missed him badly. Her sorrows multiplied as she became reclusive.

A gentleman often wallowed in his past misery and complained of depression and suicidal ideation. The visual of the burning body of his parent was horrifying even today as the scene stood out starkly in his mental canvas. He would get nightmares whenever his depression struck him and the ghosts would frequent him and torture his mind even though it was a childhood memory. He felt deprived of love and affection by parents as he lost them early on and was brought up by relatives. Although he grew up physically and became a parent eventually he remained emotionally a ‘little child’. He would lean on his wife and friends and demanded ‘love and affection’. His emotional theme rotated around ‘attention, affection and acceptance’ as he begged it from others.

People who experience or witness a traumatic event in which there was a physical harm or a serious threat, stress symptoms set in which develops into a disorder called ‘post traumatic stress disorder’. This disorder was first discovered after world war and was hence called ‘shell shock’ or ‘battle fatigue’ but was later expanded to include a wide variety of terrifying conditions that could cause intense fear, helplessness, and horror. Ordeals such as sexual assault, physical assault, accidents, natural disasters, death of loved ones or chronic child abuse can develop such stress symptoms. These events remain in the memory of people and can flash through the mind at times leaving behind intense feelings of anger, bitterness, guilt and fear. Such people can be hampered in living normal lives as they relive their memories in the form of nightmares, hallucinations or flashbacks. Such people may also tend to avoid the places, people associated with the event or the thoughts as they may lead to feelings of isolation and detachment. They may also experience increased arousal and excessive emotions which may lead to maladjustment issues, such as difficulty showing affection, outbursts of anger and irritability, poor concentration and an agitated restlessness. Their negative emotions may target themselves at innocent people and situations appearing as odd behaviour with exaggerated emotions. Physical symptoms may follow with high blood pressure, muscle tension, rapid heartbeats, and nausea.

Healing is an important part for such people with bad past experiences. A healthy personality is natural and smooth in its responses and interactions with people as it has its past experiences sorted out and emotions in control. An unhealthy or neurotic personality is controlled by its past emotions and displays defensive or offensive behaviour. Healing towards good mental health starts with awareness of the traumatic events and its accompanying emotions. Awareness is a painful process as people run away from haunting memories as they resist facing it- it is too much to talk about and handle. But a resolve to face them, confront them is the first step towards a resolution. The buried negative emotions need to be processed, understood and accepted. The conditioned behaviour that goes with the negative emotions also need to be understood and unlearned. De-conditioning, unlearning the past and fresh learning of alternative behaviour helps in moving on. The mind has to be cleaned of the dark shadows of the past so that energy blocked in negativity is released and can be channelized into bright and positive goals of living life with zest and happiness to your fullest potential.

 

“Clinging, complaining and blaming”- 11 December 2016

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Written by Rita Aggarwal
Thursday, 29 December 2016 19:25

Anurag was declared asthmatic when he entered his teens. He was allergic to many foods as well as cold weather and often absented from school due to ill health. He was down with frequent common cold, cough which inevitably would lead to bronchitis. His sleep would get disrupted with terrible bouts of wheezing where he experienced a feeling of being choked for air and a feeling that he would die. His mother was his consolation, comfort and companion. She herself feared the well being of her child and cried and prayed for her darling child. Anurag became a ‘clinging child’, a ‘mama’s boy’ as he and his mother formed a dyadic relationship. As he grew up he searched for the ‘similar’ relationship among his intimate friends and eventually in his wife. His wife was troubled by his nature and had lots to complain about.

Sangita was a juvenile diabetic from the age of eight years. Again it was her mother who took care of her and monitored her food as well as her medicines. She could never decide for herself and looked at her mother for succour. As she grew up under the care of her mother she never became independent in thought and action and continued being a childlike person, never married and stayed with her parents all her life. Children with various types of physical and mental disabilities do face hardships with their management of health and the accompanying baggage of emotional knots which they need to work on in a systematic way to overcome dependencies. If this issue is not resolved it gets extended into adulthood with disastrous consequences.

Perfectly healthy children without disabilities too can grow up into ‘clingy personalities’ in adulthood if the nurturing is faulty. A girl in her late teens confessed that she had to make stupendous efforts to wean away from her controlling mother and develop her confidence and her own definitions of living! She said that she worked on her clothes, her hairstyle and her habits of reading books and newspaper. She exercised her choice in choosing her friends and socialising with them even if her mother disapproved. In reality she did a little rebellion against her mother’s autocracy and only then did she bloom into a confident young woman.

Children who remain good and obedient and seek advice and heavy doses of reassurance from their elders for their actions display a tendency towards the development of a dependent personality. Some researchers believe that an authoritarian parenting style or an overprotective parent can lead to such personality traits. Of course there are other factors contributing to it such as genetic factors, temperamental and psychological factors which can be responsible for such disorders. Highly anxious parents can infect their children with anxiety and they may need doses of reassurance in many situations.

This type of personality specifically becomes a source of severe conflict and stress in marriage situations. The marriage inevitably enters into rough weather and may be a good predictor for divorce. Although the malady may be present in both the sexes in equal measures, more women get reported by husbands. One newly married woman a qualified professional put all her expectations and demands on her new husband and nagged him to fulfil them. Such as, cook your own breakfast and lunch box before you leave for work (and allow me to sleep), look for a suitable job for me in a good firm, come home and help in domestic work (the guy would help in cooking and cleaning up), he must make as many calls from his office to talk to her for few minutes and get the groceries on way home! She has no friends as the town was new and she did not like the place for she came from a big city. She soon developed aches and pains in her body and kept complaining all day.

This pervasive dependency and avoidance of adult responsibilities (accompanied with childlike helplessness) and constant ‘blaming the other’ for all ills is a significant feature of ‘dependent personality disorder’. Accompanied symptoms are lack of confidence in self, pessimism about life, intense fear of being deserted by the other and blaming the other. Strangely, this trait manifests itself more among intimate relationships than with others friendships. To others they may appear very normal with their behaviour. Wherever they can cling to the significant other they begin to manifest their dependent traits.

Children have many fears in their mind and one such fear is the fear of being left alone in this big world- the fear of being deserted. Children naturally cling to their parents for succour and support and gradually as they become competent, skilled and develop confidence, outgrow this need for dependency and become independent and autonomous. But some children as they enter adulthood may not outgrow this need of dependency. We find high dependency needs in many adults, roughly less than one percent of the population, who continue to behave as overgrown children in their personal lives becoming a source of stress and trauma for others. This emotional parasitism seems to be growing, as parents over-protect and over-indulge in children, who then learn to lean, cling and ‘demand’ from others but do not know to be grateful to people who do things for them. It is a major concern for parents to help nurture bold, independent and interdependent adults.

 

“Power of being an Introvert”- 27 November 2016.

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Written by Rita Aggarwal
Tuesday, 29 November 2016 17:57

A bright young girl in school always topped the class was generally aloof from others and kept to herself. She befriended barely one or two other girls and would not even give a smile to the rest. She got branded as a ‘snob’ with an ‘attitude’ for she was the topper alright. They would talk against her behind her back. Her close friends sometimes understood her and sometimes did not for she never confided in them fully. She was stage shy, never liked groups, group activities, and loved more her books and her paintings. She was termed a ‘book worm’. She was given as many names as there were girls who were offended by her. She easily broke off friendships and never showed that she bothered about them. She however was a very emotional person and developed strong attachments with a few she liked but never expressed herself. She hated loud parties where she was forced to dance and sing and mix with everyone. She found it a waste of time as for her book reading would be more worth it!

The difficulty of being an introvert are many. People are born introverts -it is not a ‘personality problem’ as such but is a temperamental type which is inborn. They often get misunderstood because they are poor on communication and high on sensitivity. People find it difficult to get across to them for they build barriers around themselves. They are generally socially shy but not necessarily. They develop few good friendships and are loyal to them. They love solitude and can enjoy their own company. They may love to read or do their work in peace and solitude. They shy away from loud and noisy parties and get-togethers. The truth is that they need more time with themselves to re-charge their batteries. They may be highly imaginative and intuitive as well. They are sensitive and emotional and can give quick reactions within their mind but do not express it outside. They have over-stimulated minds. They can be keen observers and good listeners. They have the capacity to introspect and be aware of themselves. They love being in their world of ideas, thoughts and feelings and imagination. They may interact with the world outside because of compulsion but soon retire inside.

There is a world outside where we live and there is a whole world inside our heads where we reside. An introvert resides more in the ‘inside world’ in comparison to the ‘outside world’. They comprise either half of the population or in some countries they comprise only one third of the population which puts them in a minority position.The world today favours the extroverted personality who is energetic, communicative, assertive and aggressive in their social stance and can push their way through the competition. It’s a loud and noisy world with parties, music and celebrations. Success in business and trade depends upon communication and social networking and hence the introverts may find themselves under tremendous pressure to ‘conform, adapt and change their nature’. If they are also shy in addition to being introverts the problem is compounded. They are compelled to change their nature to adjust in the world dominated by extroverts.

It is not unusual to have many clients who are troubled by their introverted nature due to social pressures. They cannot identify and diagnose their problems as they give elaborate descriptions of themselves and feel relieved as you listen to them for they have never spoken to anyone so eloquently!

“I burst out crying each time I want to communicate with people. I cannot talk normally. I hate crowds and like to be alone. I have very few friends and lately I have been losing them too. They are ditching me and I am alone and lonely. I feel exploited by others as I help them when they need help but I am not able to get help from others. What is wrong with me?”This is a troubled introvert as her nature is now beginning to become a hindrance in her sphere of work. Not all introverts are shy as you might think for even extroverts are shy – many of them are. Shyness is a different dimension and being an introvert is a different type of personality.

Mahatma Gandhi was a very shy and introverted personality. He mentions it extensively in his autobiography about his school days, his college days in London. He mentions that he tried to fit in by learning French, joining dance classes, indulging in contemporary fashion and all such funny things but gave them up eventually as his shyness persisted. Gradually he realised the power of being an introvert and utilised his quiet nature to his benefit. His movement of non- violence was known as a quiet revolution and he was always a man of ‘few words’. He mentions that ‘my constitutional shyness has been in reality my shield and buckler. It has allowed me to grow. It has helped me in my discernment of truth. Experience has taught me that silence is part of spiritual discipline of a votary of truth’.

 

Many introverts around the world have been powerful leaders in their sphere of work whether it is business or politics. You don’t have to be loud and noisy to be effective. You can be quietly powerful and effective too. 

“Your love affair with life”- 13 November 2016.

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Written by Rita Aggarwal
Tuesday, 15 November 2016 18:03

Have you ever seen a person obsessed with a certain something? There was this short stubby scientist and social worker who worked and poured over his books whole night whole day for 48 hours without rest and finally fell asleep on his heap of books on the table! He did not feel any hunger but his wife dutifully and out of sympathy delivered some tea and biscuits with small meals which he consumed without much consciousness I am sure! There was this other crazy fellow who wrote profusely his new ideas on physics without blinking an eyelid and actually being charged with energy of a hysterical kind. His body and mind would vibrate with ideas as he would pour it out on sheaves of papers perspiring all the while. He felt he was not responsible for whatever was happening to him but the heavens up there was. The Gods were responsible for his writings!

Many people have a clearly defined passionate obsession which defines their life in a way and is perhaps the only way they can keep their brains ticking and ‘loving’ life. Their way of having an ‘affair’ with life!

How many of us feel that we are living the life that we are ordained for and that there is no other way but THIS! When you can say with confidence and conviction that ‘this is the way for me and no other’ then your affair with life is well defined. This applies not only to the super creative geniuses but to anyone and anybody in any sphere in life. When they live with engagement and enjoyment with their lives it means they have defined a purpose and a meaning to it that keeps them happy.

Even if purpose is well- defined, life is never a smooth sail. It goes through rough weather and turbulence. A mother had two sons, one healthy, talented and the other, mentally challenged. The healthy one joined the Air Force and unfortunately died young while flying. The mother was a shattered lady who would scream and run out of her home in anguish frequently. She lost her senses for quite a while before she picked up the reins again and started a school for poor children free of cost. That awakened her lost soul as she brought smiles to hundreds of children in the neighbourhood. She found her peace one day as she searched for it and did not give up loving her life.

Ajit completed his professional degree, landed himself a lucrative job, left it abruptly, went into the jungles to work and live with the tribes. There he experimented with local drugs and got addicted. He married a tribal woman. After some years he left to join a seminary to become a monk. He left that soon enough and came back home and joined his family business and ultimately took that forward and found his peace. What a journey!

Anjan was blind from birth but was groomed by his parents with utmost love like a normal child. He had a passion for singing and very early on made a choice for becoming a musician. He qualified himself and found himself a job in an institution. He lives independently with his wife with pride and happiness. Whenever I talk to him there is a thrill in his voice. He never hated his blindness as a handicap.

Life is not easy. There could be times when your garden does not grow fruits anymore. There are times when the birds have stopped chirping. The sky is overcast with dark clouds with no silver lining visible. Everything seems like a desert with no mirage of water for consolation. Life seems be like hell. At such times can we have faith in existence itself? Can we trust the universe that there is space for you and your tiny life? The huge unfathomable universe harbours infinite secrets in its bosom which we are unaware of- can I look for my answers up there in the heavens.

It is not just about accepting life as it comes for that is the primary condition. The next best thing to do is to look for the opportunities that comes your way- opportunities for expansion of self and growth. The opportunities most times are never obvious to the eye. They are not visible to us easily- we need to unravel the mysteries of the deep universe and to find the opportunities that are the little treasures that are there for us to discover. At times there could be many of them which confuse the mind as to which path to choose. That is where the sense of discrimination and choice comes into play. The key lies in making the best choices under the circumstances.

 

Life is not about existing and breathing but enjoying whatever it has to offer to you. It’s about sailing through the good and bad times with a sense of equanimity and faith. This peaceful attitude comes only when we have a deep- rooted feeling of LOVE. Love for ourselves, love for others, love for the mysterious expansive universe. It is love which makes you patient, tolerant, sympathetic, empathetic, compassionate and graceful. Love- is the most positive, energetic, forward moving and creative emotion which gives life and perpetuates it and the brightest shade.

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