Tag Archives: Self Acceptance

Being REAL – The “Velveteen Rabbit” Way.

The slogans of  “Being Real”, “Being You” buzz around us more often these days. With a few quotes tweeted, some posts shared and by becoming part of the  forums of our choice – we think we are portraying our REAL selves. Honestly, being REAL (yes, the REAL in caps) ain’t that  easy in a world filled with “mirages of perfection”.

Sometimes when I feel lost on my quest to find answers, I take refuge in the timeless stories from my childhood, and these stories become my guiding stara guiding star that’s always reassuring and lights up to help me find my way. One such story is the children’s classic  “The Velveteen Rabbit” (written by  Margery Williams). Timeless as the book may be, it’s a story that speaks to our deepest anxieties about our quest for becoming REAL.

The story revolves around a stuffed toy – a velveteen rabbit that is gifted to a boy on Christmas. When rabbit is introduced in the boy’s nursery, he realizes that he is a simple toy among the myriad of toys that are more sophisticated than him – having moving parts and operate on switches and batteries. The poor little rabbit was made to feel himself very insignificant, and the only person who was kind to him at all was the Skin Horse – the oldest toy and hence the wisest one at the nursery.

Here is the piece of conversation between the velveteen rabbit and the skin horse that answers the question on “Being Real” in its most simple, yet profound way.

real

Velveteen Rabbit : What is REAL?

Skin Horse –Real isn’t how you are made, It’s a thing that happens to  you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.

Love makes us Real. The love for one self and for others is what makes us Real. When we allow ourselves to be deeply affected by someone we are in essence, becoming more “Real” through our openness. The best way to understand the word intimacy is to read it as “Into-Me-See” – When we allow someone to see ourselves, as we overcome the fear that our real selves is unlovable or not good enough – is when love grows. As someone put it – Love is the mutual beholding of one another’s realness.

Velveteen Rabbit – Does it hurt?

Skin Horse: Sometimes but when you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.

Without our armor of pretence, we open ourselves to be disliked by some, ridiculed by others but only when we open up being ourselves  – true connections, creativity and meaningful life happens. Hence once you are “REAL”, you grow beyond the “hurts” from the ignorant few.

Velveteen Rabbit – Does it happen all at once, like being wound up or bit by bit?

Skin Horse – It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.

Being REAL is a process. It doesn’t happen all at once. It is a process that can be slow, painful, and hence doesn’t happen to everyone.

Skin Horse –

Once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

Once you are real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.

True that! Once REAL, you can never be UGLY and you can never go back to being UNREAL again! And I sum it up with Colbie Caillat’s  soulful song – ” Take your make up off, let your hair down, take a breath, look into the mirror at yourself –  don’t you like you? Cause, I like you.” 

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Understanding the Quiet Ones

We all know someone in our respective circles who would prefer a quiet weekend reading books, someone who often makes an excuse when asked to join an office party, someone who seems to have ideas but isn’t necessarily the one who speaks the loudest in a brain storming session. We often call them the “serious types”, the loner or even a snob. They are the introverts amongst us. And believe me, most of them are used to being misunderstood, misinterpreted and probably have been asked to change their behavior since an early age.

Our school system favors and promotes extroversion making introversion seem like a personality flaw. Extroversion becomes the standard that all of us feel we need to conform to. To put things into perspective, until recently left handedness was also frowned upon, and left handed kids were forced to become right handed (sounds weird now)! Our prejudice comes from our ignorance about human behavior and our inability to accept the diversity in behavioral pattern.

Our prejudice comes from our ignorance about human behavior and our inability to accept the diversity in behavioral pattern.

It becomes important to understand where we fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum – because introversion and extroversion are at the heart of human nature. When we make life choices that are congruent with our temperament, we unleash vast stores of energy. With a misunderstanding about introversion and the social conditioning of extroversion being a desirable behavioral trait, most introverts end up spending their life emulating extroverts to fit in. The stress of not being “true to yourself” results in a feeling of void.

“Isn’t it refreshing to know that what comes perfectly natural for you is your greatest strength? Your power is in your nature. – Laurie A. Helgoe, Introvert Power

Understanding Introversion

Neither is introversion shyness nor are introverts anti-social or arrogant people. Shyness is the fear of negative judgment, while introversion is simply the preference for less stimulation. Famous personalities like Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Warren Buffett, JK Rowling, Steven Spielberg, Elon Musk, Emma Watson and Mark Zuckerberg are all introverts. It just proves that – you don’t have to be the loudest personality in the room to be at the top of your game.

emma

Carl Jung brought the terms `intro vert’ and `ex trovert’ into the spotlight in the 1920s. He defined an introvert as a person who gets his energy from within. An extrovert, however, is charged due to external stimuli. So while introverts need solitude to think things through, extroverts are stimulated by activities, people and places around them. As per Jung’s clinical studies, there are no pure extroverts or introverts – most people fall in different ranges of the spectrum.

Recent scientific research have found that the brains of introverts and extroverts are activated  differently. Extroverts are less sensitive to dopamine, so they need more of it to feel happy. While introverts are more sensitive to dopamine, so too much of it makes them feel overstimulated. Also, the Introverts prefer to use a different neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Like dopamine, acetylcholine is also linked to pleasure; the difference is, acetylcholine makes us feel good when we turn inward.

 Introverts & Relationships

One of the gifts of introversion is that we have to be discriminating about our relationships.  We know we only have so much energy for reaching out; if we’re going to invest, we want it to be good.

~ Laurie Helgoe, Introvert Power

It’s a misconception that introverts are not interested in people or relationships. The truth is they actually crave intimacy more than extroverts do. They are built for deep connections. They usually avoid small talk. They  love to share emotions, feelings and ideas.

Does an introvert – extrovert relationship work? Yes, it can. An introvert – extrovert combination can be a complimentary relationship as long as the extroverted partner understands the introverted partner’s need for recharging and downtime and the introvert partner respects the extrovert partner’s need for significant social interaction.

Relationships make everyone happier and that very much includes the introverts too.

Here is a TED talk from Susan Cain who is the author of the book QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. She is also the co-founder of Quiet Revolution, which empowers introverts for the benefit of everyone.

The Warmth in your Heart!

A letter to your Own Heart! From one loving Heart to another!

Just pause, maybe even for a second and feel the warmth in your Heart.

A warmth that belongs to All Life!

Some call it Gratitude, some Compassion and some Heart

That’s the most beautiful thing about Wisdom, Beauty, Truth and Love

 It doesn’t belong to any one of us.

It’s always from and for the bounty of Life

At the Feet of this Mystery of Life, as it reveals itself deeper and deeper,

I find Love at its very core,

I find myself utterly human, my very real insecurities, my constant battles,

The ever present tension of the world and helplessly so.

There is a strength in that,

In holding it all together and surrendering without fighting or succumbing.

An exquisite tenderness and freshness, moist eyes and hands grounded, as hard as iron.

The sooner we acknowledge that we’re failures at this thing called life,

The easier Grace can take over,

And take over it will. 

When things seem rough, and the absurdities of life seem to take control.

When all else fails..go to your heart.

In genuine surrender, just pause,

Maybe even for a second and feel the warmth of your heart.

That’ll do.

Loving the “Work- In-Progress”.

 

“What do you want to become?” – a question I have been asked often as a kid, and for me it was an easy answer – just that my answer changed as every year passed. The response held true for my state of being at that point in time. The reason why my response changed wasn’t because as kids one is so fickle minded, but rather my inability to accurately predict my future self. Honestly, this is the most irrelevant question we ask kids who are  sometimes as young as 3 years of age. 

I find it irrelevant because I have come to a point where I strongly believe I would never “BECOME”, but my whole life is a process of “BECOMING”. The moment I start believing I have “ARRIVED” would be the point where I literally put a “full stop” to my BECOMING. To quote Leanardo Da Vinci – Art is never finished, only abandoned. So is the case with us humans. The moment we start believing we have figured it all out is the moment we stop giving life the chance to change our minds and evolve beyond our “current” comprehensions.  

Psychologist Dan Gilbert states that “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been. The one constant in our lives is change”. We are all work-in-progress.

Accepting ourselves as “Work in Progress” also means accepting our imperfections, accepting a bit of confusion that just hangs in there, accepting uncertainty, impermanence and the unknowns in our lives. The reason we find it challenging to accept ourselves as “Work in Progress” is also because the ego soaked society values the illusion of perfection – the so called “arrived/ figured it all out” state and not the imperfect evolution phase.

To accept individuals as “Work in Progress” is critical in relationships as well. We all are bound to evolve – shedding our barks, growing deeper roots, spreading our branches and sprouting new greens. Understanding that people change has to be a basic component of our emotional intelligence. Letting people shed their barks, spread their branches, grow deeper roots and evolve becomes part of the relationship. Expecting people to stay the way they are forever is quite similar to having a “Bonsai” tree at home.  

Waiting for a perfect state of self or waiting for the perfect person to get into a relationship is a delusion. As individuals we are always a “work in progress”, there is no perfect state – we are always in the process of  BECOMING. So when someone says, “I am working on becoming something or somebody before I settle down in a relationship” – Relationship just seems to be a point when you quit your “Becoming”.  This is a “fixed” mindset and it’s always better to have the “growth mindset” in a relationship. Love is the unconditional acceptance of being part of each other’s “BECOMING”. It’s not just unnatural its highly stressful if one is loved for one’s perceived “state of perfection” that needs to be kept in tact forever.

Love is the unconditional acceptance of being part of each other’s “BECOMING”.

Like mentioned before, we are bad at predicting our own future self. We don’t know the extent of change that would happen to us. Hence relationships often fail when the love is for a certain “fixed state of a person” – ultimately breaking up because one has outgrown the “fixed state”.

Our inability to predict our future self  has been studied by a group of psychologists and they term the phenomenon as “End of History Illusion”. “End of History Illusion” states that while we remember our past selves to be quite different from who we are today, we nevertheless believe that we won’t change much at all in the future and hence take bad decisions for our future self based on our current projections.

When we are bad at predicting our future self, let’s be in love with the “work in progress” we are, accepting it wholly devoid of the illusion of perfection. Like in agile development, let’s have a “forever beta” mindset – evolving into something better iteration after iteration. And when in love – accepting being part of each other’s BECOMING, embracing the “Work In Progress”.

The Psychology of your Future Self – TED Talk – Dan Gilbert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heart Break is real after all

I remember a little framed quote that I always used to keep at my desk. It read “If your heart was really broken, you would die.”

It was a constant reminder to my no-nonsense cynical self that a heartbreak was not that painful. Heartbroken to me was nothing but a theatrical misconception that a stoned poet conjured.

How can someone “break” your heart? It had no physical connotation what-so-ever. At least, that is what I thought.

So, when do you realize that a heart-break is very real?

What does it take to realize that a “heart-break” actually has a very tangible physical connotation to it?

It takes waking up one morning, suddenly stripped off your denial and realizing that your life has changed a great deal.

It takes coming to terms with the fact that your house will smell of yesterday’s breakfast and that you are going to smell of freshly dried tears for a while.

It takes sleeping with frizzy hair and puffed eyes in your old clothes that were supposed to be in the washing machine, a week ago.

It takes a sink full of undone dishes, untouched homework and a heavy heart.

It takes waking up to the smell of Nutella and banana pancakes and grasping that you still don’t have an appetite.

What does it take to realize that a “heart-break” actually means that you are broken?

You slowly start to realize that you don’t make plans for “We”.

You realize that suddenly you have no one to tell the most unimportant details of your life to. You smile when someone says how being single feels great even though every time you think about the fact that you are single, it feels like someone just punched you in the gut.

It is normal to panic at the very sight of emptiness. When an important person leaves our life, it creates a void. We hate emptiness and we immediately fill that void with something, no matter how meaningless it might be.  

That is why he becomes a box of chocolates. He becomes a new hair-cut. He becomes a new job, a new city.  He becomes a gold fish you cannot take care of.  He becomes a new hobby or a garden.

And slowly, he becomes everything that you try to thrust in to fill the void that he left behind.

What does it take to realize that a “heart-break” takes its own time to heal?

It takes days when you are smiling because it seems like there is finally a new beginning.  That feeling lasts only until memories of a seemingly sweeter yesterday pushes you back to the corner of your bed where you cannot even stand the thought of your own blanket touching you.

It takes days when you feel that life is downright unfair. It takes days when you plead with destiny to give you just another first time with the familiar. It takes sleepless nights and days when you just live to oversleep.

And then it takes those most important days. The worst days. The days when somewhere in between a busy meeting, an excel file, a meaningful book, a funny movie or just before you drink a sip of water on a random afternoon, you wonder.

You wonder, however did I let something so perfect be ruined?

And it is on those days that you realize that a heart-break is very real after all.  

Love as a way of Life

We all have our notions, our definitions or even a vague picture of how love is supposed to be. Come February and this sickness suddenly spreads and heightens it’s fold. It’s like somebody from above opens a can of “Love,” air freshener and sprays it all on us … Long enough to last a month, I guess.

For me, love isn’t just an emotion or a mere feeling, its a way of life. It’s not just those moments that blow my mind away or that time when he cuddles next to me , after a long, dreary day.

Love is the universe for me … I experience it in the smallest and the most infinite forms , separately and yet intertwined. For when my mother cooks my favorite food to when I help an elderly person to their car . It’s the call my child would rant across the house with, in order to get my attention or the time my boss calls me in the middle of my holidays to ask me something that slipped his mind . It’s all love.

Myriad forms, varied temperaments but yet making you feel so close , so inherently important in this vast world.

People call me vain, because I love myself so much. Little do they know that self-love is the start of every form of love that exists. If you cannot appreciate your own existence, your vices & your uniqueness, you will never be able to expand your horizons to others and see the love in them .

My friends often also have this notion that love only stands for togetherness .

Baahhh Humbug!!!

Fear, Anger, Anxiety, Surprise, Shock, Sadness, they are all… all an amalgamation which form the crux of this 4 letter word. For me, the most important being sadness. If you’ve laid your hands on the movie, “Inside Out,” you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Sadness is the most vulnerable part of love. It brings out the beauty within our hearts & exposes our innermost desires in the most simple way possible. But not through words, if that’s what you’re thinking. Sadness leads to love, you can say….at-least self-love. You decipher your self , you understand, you experience & you further envision . If you are fully able to open your heart & accept melancholy as a part of yourself, love isn’t far away.

If you are fully able to open your heart & accept melancholy as a part of yourself, love isn’t far away

One day my friend Lalit asked me, “Who is that one person I can go to when all I need is love & maybe some support.”

I just showed him the mirror. 😊

Always remember that love will never knock at your door, you have to keep those doors wide open & love will gently sway within. The best feeling is when you don’t realize you’re falling for someone. It’s the most beautiful phase so please, please live it to the fullest.

Lastly, not every love ends at marriage, some begin with it too.
Let’s stop relating love & marriage together…. They might be important but they are not meant to be together always.

I pray that we all are always in love. No matter with what, but in love & in all purity.

I Am What I Am, Not What You Want Me To Be

To be who you are  is a journey that begins with self-doubt but ends in embracing oneself. A beautiful story of self acceptance.

(This post is part of a special series on #FreedomToBe  where people shared their heart felt stories about one’s relationship status and the judgement that often comes with it.)

self-acceptance

The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.

– Jim Morrison

While going up the staircase, of my Paying Guest (PG) one afternoon after lunch, I overhear one of the residents declaring, “Oh, she is one snob I have come across, extremely arrogant and doesn’t speak to anyone other than her roommates.”

Having lived in a hostel for almost half of my life, I knew exactly what people thought of me. And it wasn’t the first time that I was being judged and passed off as an ‘extremely arrogant person’; I have been there before.

I remember the first time I heard a comment of a similar nature. It took me a while to get a grip of the situation and realise that the subject of discussion was ‘Me’. I was more surprised than angry. But as time went on and similar comments made their way into my life, the feeling of insecurity and the urge to appease everyone around me started slithering in. I used to try hard to strike a conversation and try harder to keep the conversation going. But to make others happy you have to be happy within; you should be doing things not to please others but yourself.

The most amazing part of growing older and wiser is that you don’t sweat on the small stuff anymore.

The most amazing part of growing older and wiser is that you don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. Things like ‘What others will think’ do not matter to you any longer. You start doing stuff which gives you the freedom of being yourself; being what you are and what you find happiness in. Old clichés like, “I wish I knew these things when I was in my 20’s, things that I know now…” grow actively redundant with each passing day because wisdom comes only with age.

I think that most of us who habitually people please are mindful of the fact that it makes us vulnerable to mean, controlling people; people who might have a hidden agenda. But to hear it said so matter-of-factly was a real a-ha moment for me.

People-pleasing doesn’t just drain you and prevent you from getting your true needs met. It erects a neon light flashing a ‘Target’ sign over your head.

People-pleasing is a habit that has been ingrained within us. First we try pleasing our parents, then our friends, then our boyfriends/girlfriends, husband/wives, in-laws etc. The list goes on. But in our vehement attempt at accommodating the need of others we often forget to please ourselves or let go of things that please us. It kind of comes with the offer; please others and please yourselves.

I tried hard to please people around me so that they would have kind and appreciating words for me.

I tried hard to please people around me so that they would have kind and appreciative words for me; words that would give an invisible moral boost and depreciate the feeling of insecurity that bad words or the passing of false judgements on my persona would bring. I would cower down in front of the false and untrue judgements and the people passing those would stand tall and up their antennas for further judgements to-be-passed.

There were days when I tried hard to stop people-pleasing but it was tough to let go; it was like it had become my whole identity. If I could manage to perceive that they were happy with what I had done or said, for just a minute, I felt good about myself.  And if I managed to get into a groove of pleasing others, well then, I could be happy for a longer period of time.  But, of course, this is much harder to do, because we never really know what other people want.  We have only our own perceptions and their facial expressions and the words to go by.  And, they could be and often are lying, especially if they are also people pleasers or have some other agenda to further.

Today I do things that make me happy; connect and be friends with people whom I think will connect with me. I live life on my own terms and not on the rules set by others. If I am in a group with whom I do not connect with or I think they do not connect with my ideas and perceptions then I prefer to remain quiet or just walk out on them. I do not care what they say behind my back or what judgements they pass on me. It doesn’t matter at all. Because that is the way I am and if you cannot accept it – then it is your problem not mine.

(This was published on Women’s Web. Thanks a ton Jyotishree Mohanty for sharing your story! Three of the published entries including this one, will receive a Papilio glass table clock with old world charm from SoulCafe.)