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'You too can be a good speaker!'

EFFECTIVE SPEAKING

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/effective-public-speaking-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Effective Speaking

FlusteredSpeech is like a baby - easy to conceive, hard to deliver. Yet it is a fact that every day of your life you are speaking without preparation. So why get flus­tered when asked to speak in front of new people?

Mike on Podium
Image Credit: tvvoodoo, sxc.hu

Learning to speak effectively is useful not only for giving speeches, but to get your way anywhere anytime. Remember that first opinions are formed within 10 seconds, and final opinions are formed within 4 minutes. Also, every individual, however shy and reserved, CAN build up communication, presentation and speaking skills with a little training and lots of practice.

Effective speaking needs the following qualities:

  • Generating interest
  • Giving information
  • Explaining
  • Ending with goal, summation, question, etc.
Public Speaking Visualisation
Image Credit: jonny goldstein, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

The most important factor is to relate to the people who are listening to you, generate their interest, make them feel that what you are saying is beneficial to them, and to get the pulse of the audience and their expectations.

To be an effective speaker you need to understand how people listen.

People WILL listen to you if:

Man at lectern
Image Credit: renjith krishnan, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  1. You make a good beginning
  2. You are animated and graphic
  3. You have enthusiasm, sincerity, vitality
  4. Your voice is modulated, and at right speed
  5. You maintain eye contact
  6. You are interested in your own talk
  7. You in turn listen to others
  8. Smile warmly, without pride or fear
  9. Break monotony with joke, anecdote, even silence
  10. Involve the listeners with questions
  11. Pause for dramatic effect after making a point
  12. Summarize, ask for action, and end on a high note

People will NOT listen to you IF:

    Close ears
    Image Credit: photostock, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  1. They anticipate what you are going to talk
  2. They are planning what to say when it is their turn
  3. They are tired or worried
  4. If the voice of the speaker is dull and monotonous
  5. Topic is difficult to understand
  6. Topic is too simple and basic
  7. Speaker lacks credibility or confidence
  8. Environment is bad -- uncomfortable chairs, too hot, noise disturbance, etc.
  9. If you start with a long resume about yourself
  10. If you are reading out from prepared text or narrating memorized paragraphs

A mother has trouble putting one child to sleep, but a bad speaker can easily put a hundred persons to sleep.

REMEMBER THE PITFALLS:

  • Writing cannot be converted into talking
  • Be clear whether you want to inform/motivate/persuade/explore or entertain
  • Be sure about the background of the audience
  • Mould your thinking and ideas to the audience
  • If you start by saying "I am going to convince you about..." you defeat the very purpose
  • Unlike in reading, listeners cannot rewind, fast forward or change the speed of intake
  • Do not try to take others' proverbs/anecdotes as your own, except in a lighter vein.
  • Avoid jargon, detailed figures (eg: 48.27%), technical abbreviations
  • If your voice drops at the end of every sentence, it shows your lack of confidence & clarity suffers. Voice modulation is a skill that needs to be inculcated systematically.
  • When interrupted irritatingly, scold, smile and continue
Chickened to speak public
Image Credit: allaboutgeorge, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

Be aware when questions should be encouraged

-- do not allow interruptions to disturb your flow

-- answer may be contained in latter part of your talk

-- only one person may be interested in that question.

Don't allow one person to interrupt, and you also do not interrupt a question midway

If attention is slipping, CATCH ATTENTION of audience by:

  • Asking a question (start with very easy questions that most can answer)
  • Calling out someone by name or by pointing out
  • Using quotes and proverbs (which are topical and relevant)
  • Jokes (it must be funny!) -- of the level of listener
  • Telling them something personal about yourself, or an interesting anecdote
  • Changing your position, moving around, using your arms
  • Doing something unusual and unexpected (think, be creative about what you can do)

BODY LANGUAGE: plays a vital role

Body language
Image Credit: Iwan Gabovitch, Public Domain, flickr.com
  • The way you enter or get up to talk, how you face audience in the beginning
  • Give a warm smile, indicating -- "I am happy to be here with you"
  • Maintain eye contact -- many emotions are expressed by eyes
  • Avoid eye contact with one person or segment in a group, let your eyes roam
  • Hands should avoid -- fiddling, patting, clutching, scratching, hiding, pointing, resting on table by leaning down
  • Hand gestures should be moderate, from arms, relaxed, and not half hearted
  • Do not hide your body behind lectern, bag etc. Be visible
  • Feet -- do not shuffle, shift from one to another, rock to and fro, rise on your toes

The best way to get attention span in a long talk is to say:

"Finally let me conclude by saying......"

The best tool that ensures that you make an impact and leave a lasting impression is – be genuine. Speak only on topics you actually believe in, be passionate about the topic, talk from your experiences and beliefs, respect the audience and their sensitivity. And – adhere to time limits, be brief and complete before they expect you to close.

Good public speaker
Image Credit: southtyrolean, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

You too can be a good speaker!

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From Ali To You (Alumni)

Individual pathsPeople meet, enjoy each others’ company, share many activities together, and then drift away on their respective path. This happens more often when we get together to share a common programme, activity, course or experience. Our paths have crossed, we have walked side by side, and it is time to select our individual paths that take us away from each other – many a time never to meet.

Individual paths
Image Credit: misnyoT, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

In such a scenario it is so heartwarming and touching to see that the alumni, led by a committed and selfless team, are relentlessly working towards bringing back all old Banjara-ites to the road less traveled. The course may have ended for each one, in some cases many years ago, but the mission and purpose remains the same. There is so much to learn from sharing experiences, there is so much warmth in meeting an ex-DCS student, regardless of the batch, year or background. These memories are rekindled, the fire in our hearts burns brighter when we reinforce our individual achievements and progress through others. My salutations to each one of you who is putting in all the efforts to ensure that the fire keeps burning brighter and brighter.

In the immortal song first sung by Pankaj Mallik, and further ingrained in our hearts by our very own Vinod, let us hum ...
Ye raatein, ye mausam, ye hansna hansaa-na
Mujhe bhool jaana, inhey na bhulana.

Let me add from my side, with a tiny change (can you spot it?) the song made eternal by Raj Kapoor:
Kal khel mein hum ho nah ho, gardish mein taarey rahengey sadaa
Bhoolengey ye, bhoolengey vo, par hum tumharey rahenge sadaa.

(On the event of Banjara Alumni 5th Annual Meet on 1 Nov 2012)
 

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Celebrating everyday the small things in life

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/celebrate-the-small-things-in-life-today-and-everyday-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

ToddlerIndia celebrated its 66th Independence Day. My daughter asked me, "Why do we just declare a holiday, why don't we actually celebrate?" Does anyone have answers? An elderly leader dies, and we declare a holiday; a vague festival of a small minority of the population, and all public offices close down. Independence Day, and we sit at home watching TV.

Take many one-minute vacations daily

We are trained to excel in our work. No one teaches us to relax correctly. Vacations are at times more hectic than routine working days. How about starting with some daily One-Minute Vacations - chat with a friend, pat a dog, admire beauty, read just a few lines from a good book, fondle a baby, smell a flower, watch a sunset?

Watch the little child as she takes fifteen minutes to cover the fifteen yard distance from the bus stop to her house gate - exploring, inquiring, peeping, laughing, observing. Where does this innocence of childhood go when we become adults?

You are worried about seeing him spend his early years in doing nothing. What! Is it nothing to be happy? Nothing to skip, play, and run around all day long? Never in his life will he be so busy and happy again at nothing. - Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, 1762
Toddler walking home
Images Credit: Left & Right bottom: abbybatchelder, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com; Right top: ktylerconk, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

If you are still not convinced about what I am saying, look at the set pace of nature: the sunset never changes its speed. As the sun nears the horizon, a breeze starts slowly and gently, birds begin their journey home, shadows start merging with their surroundings, and the light fades out - ever so gently. And then, the sun takes its own time to appear, with the darkest hour being the last one before dawn.

In the dusk of the evening the bird of some early dawn comes to the nest of my silence. - Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds
Sunset
Image Credit: blacktsuba, cc-by-sa-2.0, flickr.com

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Should I manipulate others? How do I not let others manipulate me?

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/should-i-psychologically-control-other-people-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Should I manipulate others? How do I not let others manipulate me?

Manipulation is a powerful psychological tool used to control others

ManipulationNations have used it as a weapon of war. Masters have taken advantage of it to keep slaves under their thumb. Crafty spouses have clearly manipulated their partners with this tool. And many ordinary citizens continue to use it in business, social interactions, or in love affairs.

What and how is the technique of manipulation or 'psychological control' used?

The technique of manipulation is very simple, though one has to master the skill deftly before practising it. (A word of caution: manipulation works especially well if you have a bloated ego, strong ambition, or a blind faith that whatever you do is right.)

Manipulating others Manipulating and watching
Images Credit (L): kevin dooley, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com; (R): Sweet Cheeks Willie, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, how do you manipulate another person? You should batter the self-esteem of the opposite party, repeat an untruth ad-nauseum till it becomes the "truth". You shake up the other's confidence, confuse her, and then - offer yourself as a savior. The other person not only agrees to tow your line, he actually thanks you for guiding him!

Why get fooled? - Controlling or manipulating me is possible if I don't believe in myself!

It is unfortunate that people seem to think the only way to succeed in this world is by controlling others. History is replete with examples of conquerors who have been glorified only because they forcibly subdued others and controlled them. Even today the importance given to success gives an upwardly mobile person the license to trod over others' toes and climb over their shoulders. Using violent means is messy and can backfire; using psychological warfare is "cleaner" and safer.

Manipulating others Manipulating and watching
Images Credit (L): william, cc-by-sa-2.0, flickr.com; (R): martinak15, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is thus not surprising that more and more people use this technique of psychologically battering the opponent or competitor (sledging in cricket and other sports) and, at times, people who are not even competitors.

One of the classic examples of the use of manipulation techniques is visible in the proliferation of godmen, motivators, astrologers, and people who promise to "transform your life in three to thirty days". These miracle-workers rely on the basic human instinct of desires. Many people are not satisfied or fulfilled with their lives. Many have expectations far beyond what they deserve or are likely to get. A vast majority of them are perpetually seeking shortcuts to success and happiness. They want someone who can come and tell them that he will take care of their problems. Like we attribute God as a third person who is a savior and a rescuer, we are looking for vice-regents of God to help us out with our own limitations. We find working on our own and struggling against odds too cumbersome.

Manipulating child
Image Credit: Keoni Cabral, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

Enter the "rescuer" who promises the moon. But most people are suspicious and do not want to trust his word. So, instead of trying to make them understand themselves and their own limitations, he drills into them that they are not capable of getting salvation without a "guru",  Then he graciously offers himself in that role. After that, whatever he says appears very impressive. He keeps up the tirade of self-praise, he makes others praise him and accept his greatness. This is done to ensure that people don't use their rational minds to evaluate him for what he is. He succeeds to a great extent, gets what he wants from them. Then keeping in mind the adage "you cannot fool all the people all the time", he moves on to greener pastures.

Remember that the greatest strength is your own inner strength. Believe in yourself, and you will not need anyone as a crutch to move forward in life. Nor can others use you to move forward in life!

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Let's Not Hesitate To Say It Out When We Love, Care For Or Appreciate Someone

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/lets-not-hesitate-to-say-it-out-when-we-love-care-for-or-appreciate-someone-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Let's learn and resolve to express in words more often our feelings for people around us - especially positive feelings such as love, caring, concern, appreciation, gratitude!

EmbraceHow often we say or hear others say:

"I didn't know what to say on the occasion of ..."

"When my friend was crying, I just didn't know how to respond."

"I sure love my wife; she knows I do, but she feels I don't care about her enough."

"My father takes good care of me, no doubt, but I rarely feel appreciated by him. I wonder if he really loves me."

"My friend helps me a lot; I feel so embarrassed sometimes about it."

"I move the world for her,  but do you think I ever hear a word of gratitude or, even, appreciation from her? She says that I should take it for granted that she appreciates what I do."

What words can we express to console this family?
Soldier departure from his family
Image Credit: familymwr, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

Would you say that the reason we don't express ourselves is just the lack of vocabulary or command over the language? NO.

When we need to write official letters, we find the flow so smooth; when we wish to reprimand a junior or a child, don't we find the words pouring out without any blocks?

Don't we find ourselves never at a loss for words when we want to express our contempt for someone or someone's action?

How Do I Become Fluent in the Language of Positive Feelings - love, caring, concern, appreciation, gratitude - using 'feeling' words?

OMG! How do I tell him that I like him sooo.... much???
Into each other
Image Credit: Glenn Loos-Austin, cc-by-sa-2.0, flickr.com

We are stuck speechless, feeling awkward in many situations or we leave our near and dear wondering about our feelings for them because we have not learnt to be fluent in the beautiful Language of Positive Feelings (Love, Caring, Concern, Appreciation, Gratitude).

This language consists of 'feeling' words and phrases such as the well-known 'love you' and 'thank you' and others such as 'feel sad', 'feel happy', 'am touched', 'feel good', 'well done', 'good', 'that's a lovely deed', 'care for you', 'concerned about you', 'am with you', 'am there for you', 'count on me' and many more.  This language is the same in English, Hindi, Kannada or Latin.

Shall we express our feelings in words that embrace the soul of the other person - words that show you love, care, appreciate?
Words embrace
Image Credit: Robbert van der Steeg, cc-by-sa-2.0, flickr.com

Our fluency in the Language of Positive Feelings is built up by expressing more and more endearments to different people around us.

Do you think it can be strengthened by developing a sharp mind to look for and identify the smallest good qualities and actions of people and then expressing what we feel about them in words?

Expressing our positive feelings about others in words is not a charitable act. Apart from making them feel better, it will help us feel better about our own selves, and what we have expressed will come back to us in some form or the other.

Shall we resolve now to use more frequently the Language of Positive Feelings and reduce the feelings of being unloved, unappreciated, and decrease tension and negativity? Wouldn't that empower us to face the ups and downs of life? At no material cost!

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Will I be happier if I identify, understand, accept, manage my emotions, not deny/suppress them?

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/should-i-let-my-feelings-flow-freely-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Should I Let My Feelings Flow Freely?
"Don't be silly! You have nothing to be UNHAPPY about."
Image Credit: Qole Pejorian, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

"Don't be silly, you have nothing to be unhappy about!"
"Don't be angry!"
"How can you be jealous of your own brother?"
"You cannot be afraid of the dark, you are a boy!"

From when we were children, how many times have we heard the above statements being made to us - by people who loved us, cared for us, and wanted us to grow well?

But don't our feelings of anger, or unhappiness, or jealousy or fear, come from within?

Do we consciously decide and then get angry with or jealous of someone?

With very good intentions, people around us have actually trained us to suppress our emotions. We have been left confused, wondering what we are actually feeling, and whether we are right in feeling whatever we're feeling!

Do you think suppressing our emotions helps us be better, stronger persons?

"You cannot be AFRAID of the dark! You are a boy." - As an adult, how many times, hasn't our heart missed a beat in fear - when we had wanted to express our love to that special someone, when we had faced an interview for a dream job, when we had had to enter the surgery room?
Image Credit: clairity, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

Don't you think that understanding and managing our emotions or feelings is rarely taught to us?

Perhaps, the least we can do is not to suppress or undo the natural process of a person feeling and trying to come to terms with her emotions. We are born with the ability to feel or have emotions. Hence every child is frank in expressing her emotions freely (Dennis the Menace being one very good example!).

By teaching children to suppress and deny emotions, are we creating adults who can handle the most complex of mathematical or managerial problems, but cannot manage their emotions?

"How can you be JEALOUS of your own brother?"
Image Credit: clairity, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

Would we be creating a better world if we all got together and allowed our emotions or feelings to flow freely?

Perhaps it would be so much better if we identified the feelings that arise spontaneously in us and the people around us and then learned to accept and manage the feelings as a natural part of our identities.

How do you think we can go about it? Shall we make a beginning today?

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If I want to be happy, should pursuit of happiness be one of my goals?

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/do-you-want-to-be-happy-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

If I want to be happy, should pursuit of happiness be one of my goals?

Happy Face"What a silly question!" you will retort. "Who doesn't want to be happy?"you'll ask, if I were to ask you:"Do you want to be happy?"
Yes, it's true that almost all of us want to be happy. Then why aren't we happy? Who or what is stopping us? Surprisingly, the answer is - we ourselves! And how are we doing that? Will you believe if I tell you - by chasing happiness?

Do you find yourself looking through changes in life wondering how your life will be, if you will live happily after a change?
Wondering in thoughtsIn love
Image Credits(L): Gabriella Corrado, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com; (R): Nathan O'Nions, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

Happiness is like a butterfly

You may have heard of what Henry David Thoreau or Nathaniel Hawthorne expressed so well about happiness; if you have heard it, it is time you believe it. As Thoreau puts it: "Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder."

Nathaniel Hawthorne's take is slightly different: "Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you."

Happiness is hugging someone you love. Happiness is enjoying the fragrance of a flower.
Happy CoupleSmelling a flower
Image Credits(L): masochismtango, cc-by-sa-2.0, flickr.com; (R): vauvau, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

Pursuit of happiness ... an inalienable right: US Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Famous words! From the United States Declaration of Independence; regarded by some as one of the most well-crafted, influential sentences in the history of the English language.

But perhaps by pursuing happiness, the United States fails to make the top 10 happiest nations in the world, while countries like Australia, Israel and all of the Scandinavian countries do.:-)
(From an OECD report on life satisfaction, May 2012)

The sheer happiness of a teenager, reliving a memory? Nothing like the unalloyed happiness of children!
HappinessHappy Play
Image Credits(L): RoxyHobbs, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com; (R): acornchief, cc-by-sa-2.0, flickr.com

What is your take on happiness?

So would you say that happiness is a goal to be pursued? Do you think 'being happy' is something you can put on a list of resolutions for the year or on a to-do list for the day or week or month?

Do you think 'being happy' is a skill to be learned? Happiness is inherent in us. Happiness is ours for the taking all around us. Just look at a happy child. Did anybody teach the child how to be happy?

Life sure has its setbacks for each of us, but should that stop us from experiencing those simplest pleasures of life that make us happy - can you think of some that will make you happy and experience one now?

Sprinkling water, sparkling laughter on a hot day
Happy Child
Image Credit: aloshbennett, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

Happiness: the sound of water pouring through the tap

During the days when the city was facing an acute water crisis, I remember asking an elderly housewife what her definition of happiness was. She promptly replied, "Happiness is the sound of water pouring through the tap."

Are we aware that these sounds and sights and other experiences of happiness are all around us? It is just that we hear or see or know about them but do not listen to or really observe them.

We just need to tell ourselves that happiness is always flapping its wings around us - it is just waiting for us to offer our shoulder.

About the author

In a brief moment of happiness what we see, what we feel, what we touch and what we smell ... lives a lifetime in our hearts. :-)
Happy Baby
Image Credit: zipckr, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com
Happiness is always flapping its wings around us like a butterfly. Let's not chase and try to catch it. Instead let's just wait for it to sit on our shoulder.
Grow Garden
Image Credit: M. Dolly, cc-by-sa-2.0, flickr.com
 

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Today, I will praise at least one of my near and dear and not pick on anybody!

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/ill-not-unleash-the-critical-tiger-in-me-on-people-around-me-today-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Today, I will praise at least one of my near and dear and not pick on anybody
* What's her inner agenda? She is very nice to everyone, always smiling.
* My sister-in-law runs that well-known boutique. But it's only because her husband, unlike mine, does all the running around.
* I have been observing him, wondering why he doesn't mix with us - he thinks he's a cut above us all.
* She got a distinction, but then her father paid lakhs in tuitions for her, so obviously she did well.
* I don’t care what he does, but I am bugged that so many praise him all the time as if he is the only one so noble, so good.
* He’s bought a new car, but I have my own doubts where he got the money from.
I'll not unleash the critical tiger
in me on people around me today!
Being Critical
Image Credit: radiant guy, cc-by-sa-2.0, flickr.com

Do the statements in the box sound familiar to you? Obviously they do. You have heard so many people around you making such comments almost daily. But, perhaps, you have not heard 'yourself' when you too have made such remarks, without giving a second thought to their truth, sensitivity, need or after-effects.

It's so easy to be critical, isn’t it? (I just realized when typing the above paragraph that I am also being critical of you – so let me replace the ‘you’ above with ‘us’, to include me too). Yes, honestly, with all my counselling and training experience, I still find myself criticizing people and then regretting it, wishing I could have been, at least, silent, or found something nice to say about them. We seem to find it so difficult to genuinely praise or appreciate someone, give somebody the benefit of doubt, or just acknowledge their good qualities.

Let us remember that thinking nice things about others is not a favor we are doing to them. They are what they are, and will probably continue to be so. But by identifying and appreciating the good in people all around us, we are actually making our own life better. We feel optimistic, we feel better - not cynical or bitter.

Being Critical

So, for our own good mental health, let's stop ourselves whenever we find ourselves being critical. Even when we think that our criticism is justified, we can choose to remain silent.

I agree it's easier said than done but let's cut down being critical. Let's try everyday to appreciate, acknowledge the good in people around us and praise them for it.

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My Teenaged Daughter
Drives Me Up The Wall!

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/changing-lifestyles-happy-families-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

My teenaged daughter drives me up the wall!

Five (5) Habits for a Happy Family, or, Good Parents-Teens Relationships in a World of Rapidly Changing Lifestyles

TeenagerSixteen-year-old Nisha was back home unusually early at 6 p.m.
Surprised, her visiting Uncle asked her, "Hey, Nisha, why have you abandoned your friends so early today?"
Nisha replied in all earnestness, “You know, Uncle, it's dangerous these days to be out on a two-wheeler after dark – particularly when it's raining.”
Teenage girl on bike
Credit: JS North, CC-By-SA-2.0, flickr.com
Raising his eyebrows, the Uncle asked, "Where did you suddenly acquire this wisdom?"
“My classmate Ashok told me that he'll call up every evening at 6:30 to ensure that I'm at home. He's very concerned about me, Uncle,” she replied.
The Uncle retorted with a smile, “But if I remember right, your Mom's always been telling you not to be out after dark on the two-wheeler; you never seemed to take it seriously.”
“Oh, no, Uncle,” replied Nisha nonchalantly, “Mom just keeps saying these things. But Ashok, he's really and sincerely concerned about me. I don’t want to disappoint him.”
From another room, Nisha's mom shouted, "Yes, and I'm sure that concerned about how you look, the same Ashok also asks you to wear those tight shirts and short skirts. For you, Nisha, anything your mom says is stupid and old-fashioned. Everbody else is right!"
Nisha just shrugged and walked away, yelling, "There, all she can do is scream and pick on me. She doesn't like to see me looking good or happy!"

Why doesn't Nisha listen to me? Why doesn't Mom understand me?

Nisha is a typical example of the youth of the day. Nisha can drive her mom up the wall. And her mom can irritate Nisha out of her mind! There are persistent fights, shouting, screaming, interspersed with bouts of crying on either side. Perhaps it is because Nisha is growing up pretty fast, but her mother isn’t.

"When I was your age...": Most hated start of a sentence!

Kids say that the one sentence of their parents that irritates them most is the one that begins “When I was your age …” Even Nisha's mom when she herself was a teenager would have hated it. As far as kids are concerned, their parents were of their age in the Stone Age!

Teenager
Credit: Ed Yourdon, CC-By-SA-2.0, flickr.com

Parents: Your kids are not as careless as you think they are!

Dear Parents, your kids are in no way worse (or better) than what you were in your youth. It is just that today we have more consumerism, more fashion, more opportunities to “live it up.” So what? Living it up is not immoral.You need to differentiate between what is fashionable and what is immoral. Your daughter wearing a skimpy dress may just be making a statement of her identity – she is not necessarily promiscuous. Your son wearing an ear-ring or an eyebrow-ring isn't being abnormal or obnoxious.

Kids: Your parents do care!

Dear Kids, your parents are keen to give you the best of education and upbringing. Many have migrated to large cities to avail of the modern and affluent lifestyle that is not available in smaller towns or villages. You are being provided the best, and are being exposed to better than the best. It is thus very logical that as a youngster today, you want more and more. Money is flowing freely in your hands at earlier ages than before. And there is no dearth of malls, multiplexes, coffee-houses, restaurants and pubs for you to spend the money. So it bugs you when your parents expect you to live the austere life of the earlier generations.

Receding role of grandparents

Grandparents, who could have been a stabilizing factor in the family, are receding more into the background. Most often they do not live with the “nuclear” family, and even if they do, their voice is not heard in the babble of parent-child arguments. Obviously other relatives have an even lesser role to play, and are considered an intrusion by children.

Never too late to reduce tension, hypocrisy in parent-child relationships

Parents want their children to meet their relatives, attend marriages and religious functions; but, primarily, because they want to save their face in society, for very often they themselves dislike going there. There is so much of tension and hypocrisy in the wonderful relationship of parent and child. But it is never too late to bring about a change.

Five (5) Habits For a Harmonious, Happy Family Life, or, Good Parent-Teen Relationships

  • Avoid double standards in rules for behaviour. If you don't want your child to tell lies, backbite others, or shout to get her point across, your child should not see you doing all that. Parents should be and are role models for their children.
  • Communicate in an absolutely open manner. No opinions are to be repressed (“How dare you talk about your elders like that?”). Every family member should be given an opportunity to express their viewpoints.
  • Do not succumb to peer pressure. Both parents and children should refrain from succumbing to peer pressure. (Parent: “Geeta, I trust you 100% and I know that Ravi is a good boy. But what will the neighbours say if a boy drops you home on a motorbike at 10 o’clock in the night?” Teenager: "Why shouldn't I smoke when all my friends do so? Some of them even smoke in front of their parents.")
  • Enforce discipline consistently. When you as a parent want or need to enforce discipline, it should be consistent at all times. Follow these steps: explain the action, tell how it affected the other person, suggest alternatives, seek explanations, and then clearly describe the action to be taken in future.
  • Spend quality time together. Families should spend quality time together, with consensus among all members, doing a common activity that everyone enjoys (certainly not ones such as attending marriages, going on pilgrimages, or visiting the ancestral village).

Parent-child relationships, especially when the children are teenagers, can be a joy of life or a pain in the neck – depending on how parents and their teenaged children choose to interact. Even with rapidly changing lifestyles, both parents and their teenaged children can, with the right habits, create a wonderful family together where everyone is a dear friend!

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Marriages are Made in Heaven

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/marriages-are-made-in-heaven-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Marriages are Made in Heaven

Preparing for Marriage

“We met, fell in love, and ever after lived happily!”
“Mr./Ms. Right, my soul-mate, is there somewhere; once I find him/her there will be lifelong bliss!”
Fairy Tale
Credit: JD Hancock, CC-By-2.0, flickr.com
"Once I find my soul-mate (specifically born for me!), I'll marry and lead a happy life ever after." This is the escapist, or romantic, version of marriage that we often hear. And it gives us such a warm feeling to pass the buck to God or Fate and enjoy the honeymoon period of marriage without planning for the future. On the other end of the spectrum are people who have become so cynical or frivolous that they start making bitter statements, disguised as jokes:
  • The cause of divorce has finally been found. It is marriage.
  • Marriage is not a word, it is a sentence – a life sentence.
  • Love is a dream, and marriage is the alarm clock.
  • Trust God completely. He’ll never give you anything you can’t handle – except a spouse.

Day after day, in our work of over 20 years counselling people from all walks of life, the message is loud and clear: "More than career, money, success, it is personal and family relationships that affect our happiness the most." And marriage is the foundation on which a family rests. The fact is that marriage is one of the best relationships that we can have in our life. It has the power to take you to the heights of ecstasy or the depths of misery. But the moot point is that a happy and harmonious marriage does not drop into our lap – it has to be built up, nurtured, carefully strengthened and followed up with commitment. Most marriages run into trouble not because of incompatibility of the partners, but because of poor communication, misunderstandings and different expectations.

Preparing for Marriage
Credit: Priyam.n, CC-By-2.0, flickr.com

Sadly very few people understand the need to prepare for and work towards a successful marriage. There is more to selecting a life partner than just 'falling in love', or 'selection and approval of the parents', often with 'matching of horoscopes'. With changing lifestyles, and the higher expecations, achievements and aspirations of young people, we find that many have not been giving serious thought to how a life partner should be selected. My workshops on “Preparing for Marriage” get the least response compared to all other topics. Divorce rate in all countries is rising at a phenomenal pace, violence in marriage is being reported every day, unhappy children are growing up to perhaps themselves become incompetent spouses in future.

Stop Divorce
Credit: -Xv, CC-By-2.0, flickr.com

Shall we do something about it?

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I'll just enjoy the game of life!

Can I dare to declare that in today’s success-obsessed world?

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/ill-just-enjoy-the-game-of-life-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Enjoy the game of life!

How do I succeed in life, in this, in that?
There is no shortage of advice, books, videos and what-nots on all the how-to’s of success in various spheres of life!

“I’ll just enjoy the game of life.” Can I dare to declare that in today’s success-obsessed world?
Enjoy the game of life!
Credit: Nicu Buculei, CC-By-SA-2.0, flickr.com

Abraham Lincoln failed dozens of times in many endeavors before he become the President of USA, we are told. Top film actors suffered rejections for years, the best of writers had loads of rejection slips from editors, and the stinking rich industrial tycoon tasted setbacks and losses innumerable times before he got the big break.

Everywhere we are told these success stories – how persistence paid off for these super-successful people, and how they were focused on their goals despite all odds, how they never allowed setbacks to push them down, how they kept on repeatedly with their efforts – and there you are! They are now enjoying the fruits of their labour – money, fame, status, appreciation, fulfillment.

The moral of the story, or so we are told, is that ‘you too can do it’. All you need to do is to take failures in your stride, be persistent, keep your eyes on your ambition, and you will be one of those ‘hugely’ successful people. Perhaps, like me, you have asked yourself, “Why doesn’t anyone tell me about the hundreds, thousands, at times, millions of people who had similar goals, kept up with their sincere efforts, and yet ended up without fulfilling their dreams?”

For every one Abraham Lincoln or Sachin Tendulkar, aren’t there innumerable others who tried hard to be in their shoes, who were talented and determined, but who ended up as failures - that is, nowhere as successful as the super-achievers?

Enjoy the game of life!
Credit: Dimitris Petridis, sxc.hu.

Maybe you too have found yourself thinking like I do:
“Why doesn’t our education system or our society teach me how to deal with defeats or failures?”
“Why doesn’t anyone tell me that it is okay to let go, and that I can be happy even as a simple social worker or a street-side cricket player?”
“Can life not be fulfilling for me even if I am not a super-achiever, a big success?”

Why don’t you and I then dare to declare?
“I’ll learn to enjoy the game of life rather than just be obsessed about success!”

PS: I am not, here in any way, detracting from the achievements and the ability-to-inspire of people like Abraham Lincoln and Sachin Tendulkar!:-)

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How many times have I given the nice person the stick?

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/have-i-given-the-nice-person-the-stick-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Have you given the nice person the stick?Have you given the nice person the stick?I was behind a motorist trying to take a U-turn on a busy highway. At the intersection, he found cars coming at full speed from the other side, and no one slowing down to give way to him. After honking, flashing his lights, fretting and fuming, he saw one oncoming car slow down, and the man in it waved him on.

My motorist was so exasperated and the need to take out his frustration was so strong that he stuck his head out at the person who had stopped to give him way, and shouted: “About time, you idiot! I’ve been waiting ten minutes just to take a turn, and you people just don’t give way!”

Seems funny, doesn't it? But reflect over it - ask yourself: How many times have I yelled at somebody who has been nice to me just because I was vexed with somebody or something else? That somebody may even have been a person close to you, unfairly forced to take the brunt of your anger.

Even if you can't bring yourself to thank a person for being nice to you, at least spare her your harshness.

Perhaps, after reading this today, you will feel like doing something nice or saying something that will make that person feel good!

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I am Sangappa!

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/i-am-not-anna-i-am-sangappa-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Appreciate-Honest-SangappasI am not Anna. I am Sangappa!

I am not Anna. I wish him all the very best, and I admire all those who are giving him support to ensure that we get a strong Lok Pal, etc. I do not know much about law, hence I do not know how much the Lok Pal can reduce corruption. But I know that there are many corrupt people who will go on corrupting, Lok Pal or no Lok Pal, and I also know that our country is full of people who are not only NOT corrupt, but uphold the highest of values in every transaction.

I am SingappaI have decided that I am Sangappa. If there was a cap on which I could write it and walk around wearing it, I would most willingly do it. The person I am talking about is absolutely unknown. He is a fifty-year-old illiterate man with an artificial leg, who sells delicious and hot tea on the “Yashwantpur-Solapur Express”, when it crosses Gadag and heads towards Bagalkot. His name is Sangappa Hanumanthappa Pujari.

He walked into the aisle calling out in the typical style characteristic of vendors in trains, “Chaaayaaa….” There were two of us. We asked him how much the tea costed, and he promptly replied, “Ten rupees." Feeling that it was a little higher than usual, we nevertheless took out two ten-rupee notes for two teas and handed them over to him. He smiled knowingly, gave back one note, and said, “Five rupees each, total ten rupees.” That is Sangappa. And I know that there are millions of them in our country. The extra ten rupees would have meant a lot to him – and it had been given willingly – yet he returned it. If this principle and practice is inculcated in every Indian child, rich or poor, we will not require a Lok Pal.

Appreciate Honest SangappasHence I want to support the innumerable ignored Sangappas around us. Tell each of them that we all love you and respect you – and I would like to declare
I am Sangappa!

I am Panduranga!

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Education or Coaching?

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/whats-your-choice-for-your-child-education-or-coaching-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Education or Coaching?

There are advertisements persuading children as small as 5th standard, to start planning years ahead for admission to prestigious professional colleges like IITs – without even considering the options that the child may grow up to become anything other than an engineer or doctor.

I can imagine the pressure a child would go through if he starts coaching classes in middle-school, not to gain more knowledge, not even to score better in his academics, but only to prepare how to answer “wisely” in certain competitive exams, so that he can get admission in one of the top-brand colleges. The ratio of selection into IIT’s or IIM’s is less than 1% of all the candidates who aspire, hence the balance 99% only end up paying huge amounts to coaching centres, attending very tiring classes at odd hours, learning very little, and ending up thoroughly disappointed.

It is said that: “Parents worry about what career their child will take up, without realizing that probably the career he will eventually be in, has not even been invented yet.”

Education is meant to provide knowledge, life-skills, vocational skills, and build up self-esteem and confidence levels. Unwanted divergence into “coaching” can defeat the very purpose. Even if the coaching can result in the child getting admission into a prestigious institution, he will find it extremely difficult to cope with challenges of life in later years, and then end up a confused, frustrated and burnt-out person long before his retirement.

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FREE Online Psychological Counselling by Banjara Academy for anyone, anywhere in the world FREE online counselling for the depressed

  • Are you stressed about your child?
  • Is your marriage in trouble?
  • Are you stressed about your education?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed by anxiety and fear?

Just mail your counsellor now, sharing your problems, your worries, your anxieties, your fears. Your counsellor will reply to you, and be there for you until you need her to help you cope and get going.

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.

With the aid of only written words, it is quite a task building trust, making people open up and share and helping them cope and feel better. So when in many instances they write back saying thank you and that they feel so much better, the feeling one gets is priceless and incomparable - knowing one has done something right, something good!

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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Except where otherwise noted, the Content of the Website of Banjara Academy - the text, the audios, the videos, the images - contributed by Dr Ali Khwaja and his team of volunteers at Banjara Academy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.