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Heard from the Heart

By Priya Muthukumar

Priya Muthu, authorAs a little girl, lying beside my grandma, under the breeze of our noisy fan, I slept listening to her stories, only to be awakened by my dreams - dreams in which crows and foxes loved vadas, vetaal and Vikram outwitted each other, Lord Karthikeya and Lord Ganesha fought over the divine mango, the crow-the jug-the stones and his thirst...the list is endless.

The stories told by a grandma are the greatest gifts she can shower on her grandchild.

Sometimes, my grandma's stories were like our TV serials - next episode, the following night!

My grandma, a strong woman herself, always made it a point to narrate a story or two about the Tamil poetess, Avvaiyar. It was mandatory for me, to repeat a few lines of Avvaiyar's verses to eventually reach the fun part of the bed-time story session which consisted of stories like The Monkey's Drum (kathi poii vaal vandhadhu dum, dum, dum... my favourite, even now!!).

 

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The Fuss About The Mess

Priya Muthu, author‘What India really needs?’ is a question every Indian, wherever he or she is, should try to answer. Do we need another superstar? Or anti-corruption laws? Or a different set of reforms in the education sector? Well, the answers can vary from person to person. According to me, what India needs right now, is ownership! Her citizens owning her up completely, not just by saying Jai Hind or only by distributing laddoos during our Independence Day. All of us, at least sometime in our lives have complained about our bad roads, about the auto-rickshaw drivers demanding more, about the public buses not stopping at the assigned stops? If our home is in India, in other words, India is our home, can we be such silent spectators?

Irony around us
Bangalore park
Image Credit: romana klee, cc-by-sa-2.0, flickr.com

Bangalore woke up to the garbage menace recently, after things really went beyond control in Mavallipura. There were innumerable reports about how the landfills were affecting the health of the villagers living nearby, about groundwater getting polluted, etc. The State Government passed stringent laws on Solid Waste Management … or, in simple words, segregation of wastes at the source has become a must. Is ‘compulsion’ the only way to get started when it comes to certain things? - something each one of us needs to ponder upon. I was asked to take up ‘Waste Management’ as my project, by our ‘apartment association’. I attended a workshop on the same; I realised that there are like-minded people around, who are willing to give a helping hand when you ask for it. ‘Find a purpose, the means will follow’, those were Gandhiji’s words, very true and real!

For the next ten days, all my senses were awake with respect to our Waste Management sector. I gathered information on what other apartments were doing. I kept pinning up charts with pictures and questions to send a message strongly that it was not just a ‘one person’s initiative’. ‘Is Bangalore becoming a garbage city?’ was one of my favourite questions that I had put up on our notice-board.

Just a few days before implementation, the different categories of wastes were finalised. We (along with another resident in our building) worked on a chart showing the different categories of wastes. We worked on the FAQS. These were printed and distributed as leaflets to the 17 houses in our building. The following day, a Sunday, we called for an association meeting. After a couple of reminders, people started trickling in, finally we started the ‘awareness programme’ with 10-12 people. The lukewarm response did demotivate me.. but my passion drove me. I was falling in love with garbage!

Garbage Cans
Image Credit: epSos.de, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

I started with sufficient context, building about why we needed to do the segregation. I believe when one is convinced that he is doing it for himself and not because somebody has imposed it or it has been enforced ... the tempo remains the same, the momentum remains unaltered (I learnt this from children!). I spoke about how consumeristic we have become, we use a ‘use-n-throw’ pen every now and then rather than buying a refill. Has affordability made us numb and insensitive? With abundance in play, what exactly is then valuable to us?

Our discussion left many with a jolt and made many others go back to their sleep (I’m just being honest here!). The different bins were purchased, names were written … things have started rolling. Slowly, people especially women are appreciating the move and expressing their interest and involvement in similar issues. This, I believe is what India needs … many of her citizens, her children owning her up!

As Chetan Bhagat says, “We love our India, but shouldn’t some things be different?’’ Coming together and being a part… not just in the progress and growth of our country, but also in the muck and in the mess.

Looks like we (my apartment friends) are all on the same page ... my heart desires to keep this alive. My daughter has been asked to do a presentation on SWM for the kids here. Oh, the kids are super excited to see the huge blue bins lined up here! Every time somebody dumps their garbage, the kids come running to see with excitement-laden eyes! Probably young India is waiting for this!!

It’s time we ceased to Fuss about any Mess, it’s time we sorted out the mess!

Priya Muthukumar

Read Reach - A Tibetan's Story by the same author.

 

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I am a proud Tibetan.

Why am I in India and what am I doing here?

Priya Muthu, authorDominic Pou. Well, that’s my name. I am a proud Tibetan. I love the mountains, the trees, the wonderful breeze … everything that spells Tibet to me. Then you may ask why I am doing what I’m doing now … which is stealthily crossing the border. We are (yes, there are so many with me) on our way to India. For many of us, it is the place to stay which the Indian Government has offered, for some, it’s the peace of mind ... for some, it’s life! For me, the young and the handsome one, it is my Bollywood dreams!

I am a proud Tibetan.
Tibetan
Image Credit: SFTHQ, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

Small inconveniences for an upcoming star!

It’s 3.00 a.m and the bus comes to a screeching halt. We are ushered from the bus to a tiny shack. The smell of the place is nauseating, the sight of the place is repelling - ’small inconveniences for an upcoming star’, I tell myself. My mind yells in desperation, as I stand there waiting for my brother to come. Angry that he had kept me waiting, I decide to leave, trusting the small piece of paper which had Bhaiyya’s address. Insensitive to the child crying for food, not bothered by the man trying to get a signal on his mobile phone, I leave the dirty, chaotic place! I have Rs. 2000/- in my pocket, my mother’s savings which I had managed to acquire (‘grab’ is also another word).

Finally, I reach Bhaiyya’s house. He will take me to Mumbai, the place where superstars are made!

Taste of disappointment for the first time!

Disappointment, I taste it for the first time. Bhaiyya had left for work. What work? It was a tiny hut, cleaned and well-kept with not many things – a rope-woven cot, a pillow, a suitcase with few clothes. What work? Where does he go to work? Tired, in a way helpless, I doze off.

The mosquito bites and the ‘tring, tring’ from the cycle woke me up. Oh, it was not a cycle, it was a tricycle. It was Bhaiyya on a tricycle loaded with garbage in a huge plastic bag. I was shocked, I know that we are struggling to make ends meet, but my brother cannot be collecting garbage - technically speaking, he is a ‘rag-picker’!

Dirty? Who cares, I focus on my Bollywood dreams.

He disembarked from his vehicle, I hope he does not hug me, he must be dirty. I’m sure he must be smelling of rotten food. Bhaiyya understood this, he stood away from me as we exchanged pleasantaries. How I detest those moments even now!

He bought me a plate of dosa from a nearby hotel. I made sure he did not sit very close to me. Bhaiyya told me how he felt choiceless when he had come here to Bengaluru … the reason behind him going around to collect people’s garbage! Anyway, who cares, let me focus on my Bollywood dreams.

Carefree days and dreams

I kept roaming around, enjoying the place, befriending the Panipuri fellow and trying to charm the neighbourhood girls; after all, I was star material, you know!

The malls, the parks, the supermarkets of Bengaluru were no match for the enigmatic mountains and whispering breeze of my hometown! Strange but true, the love for my hometown overwhelms me, despite my ambitious Bollywood dreams.

Love for my dirty brother

Just the day before we were to leave for Mumbai, Bhaiyya fell sick. My Romeo act came to a standstill. Bhaiyya pleaded with me - I had to do his work for that day, just one day. I said ‘yes’. I hated it ... again my love for my dirty bhaiyya, took me by surprise!

'My area will be not be very dirty, so there won’t be much to collect', I told myself. Bhaiyya told me to collect only paper, plastic, metal - I mean sukka (dry) wastes, so it would be easy! I went to the first apartment and emptied their bin. Nonchalantly when I was whistling my way back, I heard an authoritative voice, ‘Ay, come and clear our wastes too! Useless fellow!‘ Why are they so rude, are they like this to Bhaiyya too?

Sorting trash
trash clean
Image Credit: Wei Tchou, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

My next stop. I couldn’t find paper or plastic, they were all mixed. The security guard of the apartment refused to help me. My hands, my clean hands, I put them into the bin – yuck, I had to touch a soiled sanitary napkin, a smelly diaper stuck with rotting fruits and vegetables!! 'Only today, I‘ll never do it again', I told myself.

With a huge sigh of relief, I left that apartment. I had come from my mystic hometown to do this here? My respect for my brother grew, my disgust for all those who throw their garbage and forget about it, grew even more.

From the land of untouched nature

My tiring day came to an end. The image of the mountains kept appearing in my mind. Coming from the land of untouched nature, I realized the love for nature, still remained in me. This love, in a way validated what I had done today, what my brother has been doing everyday! I sat there, in silence, next to him.

Priya Muthukumar

Read The fuss about the mess by the same author.

 

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Learning to face DEATH

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/facing-death-is-a-vital-life-skill-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Learning to face death

In today’s world of instant communication we can reach out to anyone anywhere with the touch of a button. We get impatient if a phone is unreachable or if we don’t get a reply to our sms instantly. We want to update our ‘status’ on Facebook regularly so that our ‘friends’ know what we are doing every moment. We expect immediate and continuous communication from those we love or care for.

One breakdown of communication, death, is what it was even a thousand years ago – irreversible. What happens when your phone or Internet just cannot reach your beloved, who has passed on beyond this world?

We have all heard the proverb “nothing is certain except death.” Even this proverb we don’t remind ourselves too often – because death is one topic that we would rather not talk about. There are people who almost believe that talking about death hastens its arrival! Knowing that it is 100% guaranteed, is it not better to prepare oneself both mentally and physically for our own death and for the death of a loved one?

Having seen innumerable people breaking down miserably on bereavement, having observed families being broken apart on the death of a patriarch who did not leave a Will, I am a strong believer that Facing Death should be taken up as a vital life skill which should be taught to children, adults and the elderly. If it cannot be done in an organized way, we can certainly do it individually over a period of time.

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Younger Generation Today in Retrospect

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/younger-generation-today-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Younger Generation Today in Retrospect

It has been a habit of every elder generation to accuse the younger one of low morals, frivolous behavior and bad habits. Even 2,500 years ago a famous Greek philosopher had lamented that children of TODAY have lost their morals … (etc.)

I have immense faith in the young generation of today. I feel they are far better than what we were at their age. It is just that since they have much wider opportunities to live life the way they want to, and there is so much media exposure, hence they appear to be very visibly different – and even “immoral” as some elders would love to label them.

Since a year or so I have been asking a question to every student who comes for career guidance: “If you had 2 crore rupees, what would you do with it?” It is amazing (and very heartening) to note that more than 90% of the youngsters mention that they will give away at least a part of it in charity. Some even want to give away the whole amount. How many adults do you think will do so?

I feel there is so much we can learn from young people of today – from new fangled gadgets, to being pro-active, out-of-the box thinking, and even some lessons in human behavior. It is just that we need to be ready to open our minds, interact, and start relearning.

By Ali Khwaja

 

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Only a dream

The month of June it was,
The cold night air filled with the scent of rain,
You took my hand in yours as we walked down Carlton lane.
The pitter patter of the rain drops,
The flash of lightning in the sky,
You handed me a flower,
While I gazed into those eyes…
The eyes that showed kindness, filled with emotion and love.
The hand that gave warmth with the silent message, "I will always be there…"
The smile that portrayed the contentment of the heart.
You were the answer to my prayer.
You walked me home and at the gate you said, "You’re more than I ever dreamed of…"
"I love you ", said I, "Always have and always will…"
And we parted knowing the love we share would help us weather the storms,
And all our dreams fulfill.
With a light head and a happy heart - there was I dancing in the rain,
Smiling, laughing and embracing the moment -

On a rainy day - The hand that gave warmth with the silent message "I will always be there..."
dream
Image Credit: eflon, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

Till a loud shrill rattled my brain…
I open my eyes and look at the window
Where the gentle rays of sunlight come gushing in,
Those feelings of a happy heart,
That dance in the rain,
The safety of my hand in yours,
Are all replaced by pain.
The assurance and your promise to be there seemed so far away…
All that’s left are happy memories.
Memories that bring my life to a pause.
Maybe what hurts is that I’m no longer enough…
But at one point I was.

It was only a Dream.
Yes.
But if I could dream, I’d like to everyday,
'cause even if I’ve let go,
I’d like to carry a part of us in my heart,
Always. In some way.

Nidhiya D. Mutunayagam

(You can share this poem as a beautiful poster from Facebook by clicking on the link here: http://j.mp/fb-only-a-dream.)

It was only a dream ... but I'd like to carry a part of us in my heart...
nightmare
Image Credit: Www.CourtneyCarmody.com, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com
 

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Managing Anger

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/do-not-suppress-anger-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Managing Anger
Image Credit: SFBayMedia, flickr.com, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

Faced with an anger situation

  • Become aware you are getting angry
  • Leave the place
  • Count to ten (or more)
  • Ask a clarifying question
  • Repeat your favourite mantra
  • Do deep breathing or wash your face
  • Involve third person in conversation
  • Try writing the number ‘8’ or the letter ‘s’ very lightly and repeatedly. See if you can write without pressing the nib hard

To bring down your anger levels in general

  • Yoga (shavasana etc.)
  • Abdominal breathing
  • Meditation
  • Vigorous activity (which you enjoy) involving both mind and body
  • Introspection (after each episode)
  • Tratak (focus on stationary object)
  • Diet
  • Forgiveness

This is only a representative list. It is necessary for you to try out, experiment, and take up on regular basis those activities that truly suit you and you are comfortable with. Never force yourself to do something just because others recommend it.

DO NOT SUPPRESS ANGER, MANAGE IT!

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Diversity of Human Nature

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/diversity-of-human-nature-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

A very dear friend of mine lost her husband after decades of togetherness and years of looking after him through old age and sickness. In her sunset years she had reconciled to a life of spirituality and social work, living comfortably in her own house. She had allowed some relatives to live free of cost in another house that she and her husband owned. She was vaguely thinking of gifting the house away to them when she received a shock that they are making efforts to grab the property clandestinely.

nice person
Image Credit: Ramana Murthy MV, RM on Facebook

Being a very compassionate person and very peace loving, she did not want to fight a legal battle, but many of her friends convinced her that she should not allow such greedy people to get away with their crime. Reluctantly she filed a court case, followed it up for years, and won her property and its possession back.

She was not happy with her victory. She was left with sadness that people who could have just asked her and perhaps she would have given it to them, had such cruel minds to try and usurp something that was not theirs at all. Imagine her large-heartedness - one day thinking aloud she said, You know, I still feel like giving it away to them, they are not very rich!

Such is the diversity of human nature. When we see extremes of human behavior, the good and the bad, we marvel at the variety and surprises that life offers us. The redeeming factor is that most of the greedy people are balanced by the utterly selfless and generous ones. It is up to us to identify, acknowledge and appreciate them.

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Characters
human characters
Image Credit b/w: Nelson Felix Giga, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com
 

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Handling Criticism

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/how-to-handle-criticism-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Categories of people who criticize

  • Browbeating and scaring you: to confuse your own thinking
  • Very sweet and sarcastic: You finally did something nice for a change.
  • Patronizing: Maybe you need to go for counselling. You’re all worked up.
  • Projection: Why can’t you appreciate anything that I do?
  • Generalizing: You’re inconsiderate and you don’t love me, when you forgot to get the vegetables
  • Judge: Everyone says that you are wrong.
  • Manipulator: If you really love me, you will do at least this much for me.
  • Sneak Attack: I don’t want to upset you, but …
  • Self-righteous: I am your friend so I HAVE to tell the truth about you …
Handling Criticism

Be aware of the above when you receive criticism. Check out which category the criticism is in.

CRITICISM can be

  1. Constructive -- sympathetic and useful
  2. Concerned -- sympathetic but not useful
  3. Surgical -- unsympathetic but useful
  4. Attack -- unsympathetic and not useful

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I don't want to be an achiever, so what?

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/what-if-i-dont-want-to-be-the-achiever-that-all-say-i-should-be-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

I don't want to be an achiever, so what?

Are you about to finish your graduation, or post-graduation? Or are you a school kid who has appeared for the final exams (no matter which class you are in)? Or are you preparing for any competitive exams? Or are you employed in a job that gives you targets?

Whatever you might be doing, at every point in life (and, of course, everyday from dawn to dusk if you are a student), every other person around you, especially the elders, keep on goading you to use your time for achieving something big in life.

STILL NOT GOOD ENOUGH!
not enough
Image Credit: JenXer, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com
Image Credit: Zach Dischner, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com
carve my path
And yet, isn't that what I sincerely need to do - to create my own path, to seek my own goal, to enjoy the journey more than the destination?

Of course, the whole world also tells you that you must take life by its horns, be proactive, waste not a moment, and work single-handedly towards success. Writers inspire. Speakers motivate. Gurus guide. Teachers explain, and just about everyone tells you what to do to be an achiever.

So who is an achiever?

There are many busybodies who are very upset if they find you relaxing, or doing things that do not make you an Achiever. According to them, everything that you do should have a purpose that leads you to some achievement. They preach their own worldly wisdom and tell you that to be an achiever you have to follow certain norms of academics, career, earning, building up assets, creating a name for yourself ... the list goes on.

Suppose I fail to achieve? That's not acceptable! It only means that I haven't tried enough ... I gave up too easily unlike this Raju or ...
why compare
Image Credit: US Army Africa, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suppose I fail to achieve? That's not acceptable, say people around us. It only means that I haven't tried enough, haven't given it my heart and soul, I gave up too easily unlike this Raju or that Sheela who never, never gave up ... another long list of what I didn't do, what I am not.

And yet in all these lists of things to do, condemnation and worldly wisdom no one teaches us how to handle failure.

Few also remember or practice the principle that each one of us are entitled to follow our mind and heart to get what we want in life. It is a rare friend or family member who allows you to explore your own uncharted path - to walk at your own pace, to stumble, to recover, to change track, to question where, when and how you would like to travel the hills and valleys of life's journey.

And yet, isn't that what I really and sincerely need to do - to create my own path, to seek my own goal, to enjoy the journey more than the destination? In short, to give my own definition to who an achiever is.

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Who is your role model?

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/who-is-your-role-model-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

role modelI often ask youngsters, "Who is your role model?" Can you guess what their answer is? Will you be surprised if I tell you that most of them show a blank face? Is this generation growing up with no one to really look up to, admire, respect, and emulate? Are there no towering national or international personalities who have led lives with great integrity, courage and determination - someone whom children can look up to and be inspired by?

A few young ones mention some sportsperson as their role model, but I suspect it is more because of the glamour, money and media attention that make them larger than life, rather than anything concrete that they may have achieved. Hardly anyone mentions a brave military officer or a courageous fighter for human rights. Very little is known about those who work for civic welfare, conservation of nature, child development, etc. Anna Hazare came as a flash in the pan and faded away, and none among the youth have much to say about him.

Anyway, does the role model have to be a famous achiever, or even rich and powerful? Your role model can be a very ordinary ‘aam aadmi’ or common man (or woman, of course) who can reinforce to every future citizen that integrity, courage, determination and other values do exist, and can pay great dividends in the long run.

I am very happy when a child mentions that his/her role model is the father, mother or grandfather. If a role model is available right at home, if the child can look up to, and be inspired by that person's integrity, solid temperament, and unshakable commitment, and sense of responsibility, the child will grow up with great values.

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A Real Life Role Model - As a father to his children and as a grandfather too!

I am very glad to present to you, this picture and the story behind this old man in his daughter's and grandson's words. An excellent example to show that we can find role models who are around us within our families and friends. - Ali

My thatha (grandfather) and me [November 29, 2008 in Seshadripuram, Bangalore, Karnataka]
role.model.grandfather
Image Credit: mynameisharsha, cc-by-sa-2.0, flickr.com

This is an article my mother wrote about her father on his 87th birthday

Whenever I enter the house, he smiles at me. This great old man who will be celebrating his 87th birthday this month, is my father. A licentiate in Electrical Engineering, an ex-serviceman, who was the youngest among 12 siblings, lost his father when he was a few months old. The apple of his mother’s eye, he joined the Navy in 1942 and served for 5 years.

A strict disciplinarian, meticulous and punctual, he has made all 4 of his children learn them too. He is a person with values, who paid the old maid her monthly wages till her death even though she stopped working for us due to her age.

He also ensures that the maids get the same breakfast and coffee that we have. He does not tolerate corruption. When the contractors wanted to bribe him for getting their tender approved, my father would ask them to lessen that amount in the estimate itself.

When we were kids, he made us eat eggs and take cod liver oil pills daily. This was 45 years ago; I still wonder whether that is why we are healthy today. He woke us up at 6 am, made us study at 7 pm, eat dinner at 830 and sleep at 9 pm. (Those days no one had heard about TVs yet).

Today, his face brightens up immensely at the very mention of his great-granddaughter. I just want to say 'Thank you Dad, for everything!'

That just about sums up how I feel about my grandfather! He's the best one I could hope for!

 

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Give time and sincere attention to listen, to learn, to be loved

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/to-listen-to-learn-and-to-be-loved-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

listen loveWhile we put in so much time, effort and money to get a good education, acquire qualifications and develop different skills, we often neglect the fact that more learning takes place from the people around us. Our life skills are dependent on our in-depth interactions, and healthy relationships.

Listening

Many a time we love to talk rather than to listen. We don't give full attention and make a sincere effort to understand and learn what the other person says. The famous Stephen Covey of 7-Habits fame said: Most of the time we do not listen with the intent to understand; we listen with the intent to reply.

not listening
Image Credit: jessleecuizon, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

Why don't we listen? Why do we want to talk rather than listen? Is it because we are highly opinionated about the person and / or the issue about which he / she is talking? Or is it because nobody listens to us and we are mimicking the same? Or is it our cynical attitude that makes us think, 'what is there to listen'?

Loving

We also do not allow people an opportunity to be nice to us – either by brushing them away, or by imposing our own ideas on them. Why is it difficult for us to accept niceness when it comes our way?

Look below at this proverb and reflect on it
Because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have. - Unknown

tense couple
Image Credit: Ed Yourdon, cc-by-sa-2.0, flickr.com

Most of us are intrinsically good. We all love and try to be nice to others in our own way. Don't we feel bothered when we hurt someone intentionally? If we are hurt by others intentionally or unintentionally, don't we often silently suffer rather than confront them? So, isn't it worth our time and efforts to cultivate healthy and loving relationships?

There is so much of love floating around in the world, and we too have so many opportunities to feel the joy of love in our hearts. Let us not lose those moments of joy because we are too busy with mundane matters that are transitory and do not affect our lives at all.

accept love
Image Credit: mooks262, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

Shall we try to invest more in our relationships, and thus gain in innumerable ways to make our lives a joy every day?

Let’s start today.

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Nurture Your Relationships

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/do-not-let-your-relationships-fall-apart-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Nurture Your Relationships

togetherDue to heavy rains you may have seen massive trees falling down – sometimes with disastrous consequences to people, vehicles or houses. Similarly, it is said that concreting around the tree roots prevents their healthy growth and they die. At times you may have seen otherwise healthy looking trees getting eaten up inside by white ants, and then the hollow trunk collapses one day.

Do not let your relationships fall apart.
hold on
Image Credit: jinterwas, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

I have often likened relationships to plants and trees. It is not enough to start a relationship, as it is not sufficient to plant a sapling. One has to nurture it, very carefully for the first few years, and often much later too. Healthy trees and relationships last our lifetime, un-cared relationships can come crashing down when we least expect them to. Look around and you will see more relationships crashing around you than trees – monsoon or no monsoon.

Let us admit and accept that we cannot live alone in this world. We need to mentally and emotionally bond with at least a few people. I am reminded of a touching quote:

If you want to walk quick, walk alone
But if you want to walk far, walk together
hold on
Image Credit: salimfadhley, cc-by-sa-2.0, flickr.com

Often we lament that we have not been favoured with good relationships. We resent those who we have and we lament those we have lost. But if you understand the following truth of life, you will never be short of warm, loving and long-term relationships:

Time decides whom you will meet in life
Your heart decides whom you want in life
But your behavior decides who will stay in your life.

That awkward moment when you think someone is going to do something really sweet, then they don't.
behaviour decides
Image Credit: EliJerma, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

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Can I nurture and cherish a relationship if I have no expectations in it?

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/is-it-really-good-to-have-no-expectations-in-a-relationship-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

In some of our close relationships, haven't quite a few of us faced rebukes like the ones on the left? Or, we've said so to someone we love, or, at least, had such unexpressed thoughts about a loved one?

"You think you're God. You feel great about giving while declaring that you expect nothing in return!"

"You say you've no expectations from me. Then why do you keep saying that you love me?"

"Am I a beggar here to take your unconditional love, where you're the noble giver who expects nothing in return?"

"You love me but expect and want nothing from me; so in all fairness I too should love you but expect and want nothing from you - then why the hell should we be in a relationship at all?"

In some of our closest relationships, we often say that we have "no expectations." We want to practise unconditional love, and just give of ourselves to the person(s) we love. We seek to derive immense satisfaction from the knowledge that we are giving, and we want nothing in return.

I can perhaps give anything or everything material unconditionally, without expectations, but can I give my emotions without expectations?

Is it really good to love somebody unconditionally without any expectations?
love.somebody.unconditionally
Image Credit: JenavieveMarie, cc-by-sa-2.0, flickr.com

Perhaps at times we forget that it is difficult to be generous with our emotions. We can give of our wealth, our assets, and even our time and efforts, without any expectations in return. But when we give of ourselves emotionally, we do want something back - we do need something in return. If our loved one does not love us, it can be a shattering experience! If he or she loves us, but takes advantage of us materially, financially or physically, we find it easier to keep giving.

When we love, don't we all emotionally want love in return from our loved ones?
unconditional.love
Image Credit: Noël Zia Lee, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

Desire to love and be loved nurtures any relationship

Reciprocation - GIVE and TAKE - nurtures any relationship.
reciprocate.love
Image Credit: .through my eyes., cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

Looking at it from another angle, when we give unconditionally, without any expectation from a relationship, are we depriving the other person the opportunity of giving and, thereby, feeling nice the way we do when we give? The relationship may not be nurtured, the other person may feel helpless, unwanted, or even - believe it or not - jealous of us. Like we have the desire to be loved, we also have a desire to feel the warmth of giving to our loved ones.

A good, emotional relationship is a two-way street, needing reciprocation, give and take - both the persons have to be involved in nurturing it. If I try to make a relationship "expectation-less", won't I be closing the other person's channel of nurturing it?

Maybe it will be healthier for us and our relationships if we declare less frequently "I have no expectations in this relationship" and talk less about and practise less of unconditional love?

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Leading Banjara Academy's online email counselling team of volunteer-counsellors, I realize it is not an easy task reaching out to a person one has never met, never seen, without the added advantage of gestures, eye contact, a gentle reassuring touch, tone of voice and yet providing empathy, positive strokes, making the person feel heard and understood.

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Hats off to all the volunteeer-counsellors of Banjara Academy who have been carrying on this work silently, anonymously for the last couple of years. Truly commendable! - Ali Khwaja

 

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