Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tips for parents in disturbed marriages

  • Reinforce periodically to child that both love him
  • Don’t try to pretend that everything is okay when he walks in
  • Don’t try to compensate by giving him material gifts
  • Explain reasons for fights, even when he does not show interest
  • Never criticize other parent in absence, and don’t allow him to play politics between parents. Don’t use him as a spy. Don’t criticize other parent to relatives or friends in his presence.
  • Don’t involve him or expect him to take sides
  • Show small affection/appreciation to each other whenever possible
  • Give him extra doses of demonstrative love
  • Reinforce that family is important and permanent
  • Keep communication open at least as far as child’s welfare is concerned
  • Be aware of the long term impact on the child and that he may start showing bad behavior.

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Teach Men to express Emotions

In the book: “What Your Mother Couldn’t Tell you & your Father Didn’t Know” John Gray says …..
“A man’s orientation to intimate relationships is much more goal oriented than a woman’s. His action in the beginning of the relationship are the steps he takes to achieve his goal. Instinctively, he touches her affectionately, buys her flowers, calls her from work, plans dates, looks at her when she talks, notices how beautiful she is, listens to her stories, and behaves in other ways to say that he cares.

Practically speaking, he is on the hunt. His goal is crating an intimate relationship with the woman he has chosen as his mate. He is fully focused. Once he has achieved that goal, his hunter’s instincts shut down.

Instead of regressing, he progresses. Instead of buying flowers, he shares his complete income. Instead of calling from work, he comes home each day. Instead of planning dates, he plans to live his life with her. Instead of giving affection, he gives sex. Instead of just looking and listening to her when she talks, he feels a greater responsibility for her and tries to solve her problems

Once a man attains his goal, he is no longer focuses on repeating the things he did to get there. Instead, he focuses instinctively on doing what it takes to stay there. Like his ancestors, he concentrates on being a good provider.”

When you look at men objectively and impartially, you will realize that they have as much emotion (sometimes more so) than women. Men can be fiercely jealous, they can give up their lives for their love, they can die for their country or for a cause. Then why is it presumed that they do not have emotions? Because their expression of emotions is often not what women (or even society in general) expects. If the issue is not in “having” emotions, but in “expressing” them, then the solution is simple – just teach them how to express.

Most men have been taught to suppress emotions. It is a tough task to undo the learning of their crucial growing-up years, but it is not impossible. Men can be fun, thrilling, exciting, adventurous, romantic. They can be the strong shoulders over which a wife, daughter or mother can rest abandoning all worries. If you are ready to stop pointing fingers and work proactively towards building a better world through a better family, here are some tips:
  • Allow a man (and boy) space in his “cave”, and just let him know you are there for him
  • Teach him to verbalize emotions by making statements like “I understand you must be angry,” without asking questions or expecting them to respond.
  • Tolerate momentary outbursts, give time, and again verbalize, “Yes, it seems to be quite a frustrating situation.”
  • Ask him to demonstrate his feelings through action. Give him responsibility and express happiness and gratitude when he does something good.
  • Never compare him with yourself, others, and do not give unsolicited advice. Ask him whether he needs any help, and in what form. Let him ask for it.
  • Pamper his ego at times, and then gently (preferably humorously) remind him how he behaved when he lost control of his emotions.

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Are You Lucky?

Scott Peck in Further along the Road Less Traveled:

“I believe the greatest positive event of the twentieth century occurred in Akron, Ohio, on June 10, 1935, when Bill W. and Dr. Bob convened the first AA meeting. It was not only the beginning of the self-help movement and the beginning of the integration of science and spirituality at a grass-roots level, but also the beginning of the community movement.
That is the other reason why I think of addiction as the sacred disease. When my AA friends and I get together, we often come to conclude that, very probably, God deliberately created the disorder of alcoholism in order to create alcoholics, in order that these alcoholics might create AA, and thereby spearhead the community movement which is going to be the salvation not only of alcoholics and addicts but of us all.”

Are you lucky?

If you are involved in an accident, and escape unhurt, do you consider yourself lucky? Have you wondered why you should have been in the accident in the first place? If you have not done anything risky and yet the accident happened, you were unlucky to have had the accident. Then you found that you are unhurt, and said, “So lucky, nothing happened to me.”

Do we even know what is good and what is bad for us? Often what could be a disaster may actually be for the better. Like the friend of mine who was in an accident, did not escape without injuries (in fact he was quite seriously injured), found a pretty nurse taking care of him, fell in love with her, and …… lived happily every after. Lucky or unlucky?

Do You Want to become Lucky?
Yes? Then try out as many of these as possible…..
  • Keep your eyes and ears open to things other than what you are looking for
  • Develop an optimistic attitude – keep removing negative thoughts continuously
  • Never pass off an offer without evaluating it thoroughly
  • Invest in people, understand and nurture relationships
  • Learn to express your desires and wants to others
  • Keep a diary and keep reviewing good things that happened to you
  • Listen to your intuition, not your impulses
  • Avoid jealousy, envy or comparison with others
  • Be resilient, do not brood over setbacks or failures
  • Relax, let things go at their own pace, avoid anxiety
  • Change your routine now and then, do not be rigid
  • Visualize, fantasize success, happiness, fulfillment
  • Work hard, even if you have bought a lottery ticket, till the results come. You may not win the lottery, but you will get good things from other sources.
There is a cycle in the working of the universe. What goes away from you comes back in some form or the other. If you stop thinking of yourself as different from others, and feel the connectedness with everyone else, you will never lose out in the long run. Also, wish good luck to others, it comes back to you.

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Bullying and its effects


The effects of bullying on the person can be manifested by any or all of the following:
  • Emotional effects (severe anxiety)
  • Cognitive (concentration) effects (making mistakes, having accidents)
  • Behavioural effects (smoking, excess drinking, overeating)
  • Physiological effects (contributing to raised blood pressure, heart disease)
  • Reduced resistance to infection, stomach and bowel problems and
  • Skin problems.
The most serious effects remain fear, anxiety and depression, which can lead (and have led) to suicide. The effects on the organization as a whole can include:
  • Increased absenteeism;
  • Low motivation;
  • Reduced productivity;
  • Reduced efficiency;
  • Hasty decision-making;
  • Poor industrial relations.

People who are prone to bullying:
  • Older employees
  • Low status employees
  • Employees who are unduly shy, lack education or learning ability, have physical disability or sensory impairment, or are known to be unwilling to complain
  • Employees of a different gender or sexual orientation
  • Employees who are members of a trade union which is not accepted by management or which is perceived by colleagues as not being the right trade union to be in.
  • Employees who show a willingness to challenge harassment, (which can lead to victimisation)
  • Employees who choose not to be a member of a trade union and as a result suffer harassment by colleagues
  • Former prisoners
  • Employees suffering from poor physical or mental health
  • Employees with very noticeable physical characteristics
  • Employees with religious or political beliefs not shared by their colleagues
  • Employees of a different race, ethnic origin, nationality, or skin colour


The form which any of these kinds of bullying may take are:
  • Physical contact
  • Verbal abuse
  • Implied threats
  • Jokes, offensive language, gossip, slander, offensive songs
  • Posters, photocopied cartoons, graffiti, obscene gestures, flags, bunting and emblems.
  • Isolation or non co-operation or exclusion from social activities
  • Coercion for sexual favours
  • Intrusion by pestering, spying and stalking
  • Repeated requests giving impossible deadlines or impossible tasks.
  • Repeated unreasonable assignments to duties, which are obviously unfavourable to one individual.
  • Vandalism of personal property (destroying clothing, scratching paintwork on cars).

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Grieving process on death

On the death of a very close loved one, an individual may go through many or all of the following stages in sequence:

Stages of the grieving process:

  • Shock and numbness
  • Outburst: “How dare you tell me he is no more …?”
  • Denial – "It can't be true!"
  • Disorganized – “what’s happening, I feel lost”
  • Fear – "I'm scared. Will others also die?"
  • Anger – "I don't want anyone, I hate you all"
  • Blame – "Who is responsible?
  • Shame or guilt – "I am a bad child, so he went away"
  • Pining or longing – "I want him back"
  • Bargaining -- living in fantasy “maybe a miracle will take place”
  • Despair, hopelessness, no future – even loneliness
  • Euphoria – “Now I can do what I want, I want to fly …”
  • Anxiety about losing control of life – "Who will take care of me?"
  • Depression – Losing motivation, interest and involvement in life
  • Loss of Self Esteem – "I am good for nothing, I'm useless"
  • Apathy – "I don’t care what happens"
  • Acceptance – “It is reality, I cannot change it”
  • Rebuilding & trying to move on in life – “Let me try and go forward”


    1. Distraction for immediate relief, enjoyable activities
  1. Keeping up daily routine -- Official, Family, Personal, Social
  2. God or spirituality or meaning of life – reading, rituals, group prayers
  3. Identifying the setback, reliving the tragedy -- What happened, how it effected me
  4. Tackling with ongoing problems, or expected ones (at practical level)
  5. Feelings NOW – awareness of feelings very important. Can I accept my feelings?
  6. Reaching out to another in similar grief. Your close relationships & your responsibility to them
  7. Is there a long term solution? Can I wait?
  8. The worst and most painful tragedies can be overcome with sustained efforts. The struggle is long, even painful, but it will give results.

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Do relationships die?

I have tried this several times with children: I ask a group, “how many of you remember the name of your grandmother?” Quite a few hands go up. Then I ask about grand-mother’s sister’s name, or name of great-grandmother. Hardly any hands go up. Then I ask how many remember the name of the Father of the Nation, or the great King of Ayodhya who conquered Lanka. All hands go up.

This is an exercise in understanding relationships. Our relationship with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is not dead, even sixty one years after his demise. Our relationship with Lord Rama or Emperor Ashoka is not dead, thousands of years after they left their bodily form. But our relationship with our own great-grand parents is dead, and we remember nothing about them.

We remember our old servant who passed away. We recall our best friend who left the city and disappeared with his family in childhood. We cannot forget the boy or girl on whom we had a childish crush, and who we could never gather the courage to speak to. This is the beauty of relationships. I feel that a true relationship is not by the tie of blood or marriage, not even by duty or law, but by the emotional bond. The person who has left us and gone to the other end of the globe, the one who had an untimely death, or one who we just stopped meeting and drifted away from – some of these have left a strong footprints in our journey of life. Having had them as part of our life has enriched us forever.

Make a list and see who your true relations are. It will be those who remain deeply embedded in your mind and heart.

For ….. true relationships can never die !

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Thought Stopping

At times you may be disturbed by very sad, disturbing or fearful thoughts. Whatever you do, these thoughts may keep coming back to you again and again. They may even disturb your routine and your daily schedule. The more you try to push them away, the greater vengeance they come back with.

Change your approach. Start off the following routine and see how it works:

  1. Sit down quietly, undisturbed, and actually INVITE those thoughts to come in. Tell yourself that you will not push them away, you will in fact welcome them. If any other positive thoughts come to you at that time, ignore them and focus only on these painful or negative thoughts.
  2. Start systematically and run the incidents or the memories in chronological order, like you are watching a re-run of a video. Slow down and go through each minute detail. Visualize your role in those incidents, how you felt at that time.
  3. Experience each of the feelings you are going through as you re-live those painful memories. Try to label which feelings are strongest NOW, and connect each incident to a feeling.
  4. Accept the sad or painful feelings as they come. Acknowledge that those feelings are real, and they are because of what happened in those incidents.
  5. Run through as much of the incident(s) as possible, for a minimum period of five or ten minutes, even more if the flow of thoughts is smooth.
  6. Then at one point, tell yourself “STOP”! You will not allow those feelings to come in now. Keep some rigorous activity ready, and get down to it as soon as this session is over.
  7. Then fix a time, maybe three or six hours later, when you will go through a similar session of thinking about the incident. When thoughts come in between, push them away. Tell those thoughts to come back at the pre-fixed time. As many times as the thoughts come, just keep pushing them away and repeating that you will allow them in at the particular time.
  8. At the fixed time, stop whatever you are doing, and again go through ten or twenty minutes of intensively and with focus, thinking about the painful memories. Then stop and get back to work.
  9. Continue this cycle by increasing the time period between two “thinking” sessions. Steadily keep increasing this time period, and slowly reduce the time allotted for thinking.
  10. Depending on the intensity of the pain and hurt, the process will slowly start bringing relief, and you will at some stage, not need it at all. The thoughts will continue to come, but they will be bearable and fleeting. At that point, accept them and move on with day to day life.

Though there is no assurance that this method WILL definitely work, it has given relief to many people who I have worked with. Do it sincerely, and best of luck.

A modification of the above is to replace negative thoughts with positive ones with regard to the same topic (or nearest to it). For example:

If you are having a bad time at office and feeling bad to go there, after thinking of all the negative things, think of some good days you have had at the office, or some good aspect e.g. canteen tea is very nice, or one friend who you like to meet in office.

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What do you do when you hear gossip?

Often, we do not even know the thin dividing line between discussing about a third person, and gossiping about him. Many people who gossip, do it under the guise of showing concern for the other person.

You may have come across someone who comes to you with a very concerned look on his face, with a statement like, “I’m really worried about X, he is a nice guy, but ……” I think that itself is the time to put your guard up. There is a very nice technique called the 4-Way Test, which is universally adopted by the Rotary Clubs. Ask yourself:

  1. Is it the Truth?
  2. Is it Fair to all concerned?
  3. Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

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Most of the time we use gestures without even being aware of it. Study your own gestures and those of others:

Limply held hands convey a sense of dejection, of negativity, or lack of vitality. Hiding the thumbs is a sign of with drawal. The thumb held rigidly close to the palm betrays someone who is over-controlled. Perspiring of the hands is an indication of fear or discomfort. Arms and hands held close to the body are a sign of introverted nature or defen sive attitude. Jerky or rigid hand or arm movements are invariably a sign of tension and anxiety. So is fiddling.

Confidence and self assurance is conveyed by easy, flowing, controlled movements.

Each gesture is like a word in a language. In order to understand completely, one must structure the gestures into sentences that express complete thoughts.

The way you enter or get up to talk makes the important first impression. First impressions are made within seconds, confirmed within minutes, and last for a long time.

Always maintain eye contact -- many emotions are expressed by eyes, and the other person feels a bond of attachment. Do not stare, and do not have shifty eyes.

Feet -- do not shuffle, walk meaninglessly, shift from one to another, rock to and fro, rise on your toes. Feet are the most difficult to control in body language, and they give away the true feelings of the person.

Lies -- verbal lies are easy, but body does not lie usually. You can catch a fleeting truthful expression on the face before the person covers it up. People telling lies usually have stiff and controlled postures, and minimum arm move ments.

Dressing -- plays an important part in what impression you are giving others. They form judgments based on your height, complexion, suitability of your dress to the occasion. Shoes/chappals are one way of making out a person's nature.

Be aware of the tone of using key words -- eg "Yes"

Have an open posture, giving a feeling of welcome to the other person. Smiling faces are always more attractive than glum or frowning faces.

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Body Language

Body language speaks in sentences, like verbal communication. Do not take any one item in isolation. Study the body language in context, with other gestures, congruence with the words, and the circumstances of the person. Here are a few tips:

  1. POSTURE: Sit in a comfortable, relaxed posture, so that your client also will be comfortable with you. Be natural.
  2. SEATING: Maintain a comfortable distance from him. You should neither be too close nor too far from your client. Do not have any unnecessary barriers between yourself and your client.
  3. FACE YOUR CLIENT: Only if you sit facing the client, he will know that you are interested in listening to him and that you are attentive. Your face as well as your body should be turned towards him.
  4. EYE CONTACT: Eye contact wins client's confidence. Do not stare fixedly making him uncomfortable. Keep looking at him most of the time (at the zone between his eyes and mouth). Avoid looking towards the door, or at your watch.
  5. Have an INTERESTED look. This will make the client feel comfortable. Have genuine expressions, and be natural.
  6. Have an OPEN POSTURE Your body should be expressing to the client that you are open to receive his communication and that you care for him as a friend.
  7. MAKE ENCOURAGING SOUNDS helping the client to continue with his narration. Saying "Hmm, hmm", or "I see" or "Yes" is enough to carry on the conversation. Smiling at the right time is an indicator that you have understood and accepted.
  8. OBSERVE the client's non-verbal behaviour. If there are discrepancies between what he says and what he expresses, he has still not opened out with his real problem.
  9. ALLOW SILENCES. When the client feels overwhelmed by his emotions or when he has said something critical he is likely to become silent for sometime. Silence may mean that the client is feeling sad, guilty, scared etc. Silence is not an inactive stage. The client is thinking something important and is communicating non-verbally.
  10. Do gentle probing only when the silence becomes too long. If silences are handled well they make communication more effec tive.
  11. Use appropriate QUESTIONS, CLARIFICATIONS and summarizing to understand what is being said clearly.

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Occurs around the forties, mostly to urban educated middle class upwardly mobile men.


  • Career on plateau – too many fast promotions earlier
  • Youngsters know more – technology changing fast
  • Insecurity of future, retirement, inflation
  • Wrong job move out of desperation, companies collapsing
  • Heart attacks & other illnesses – hitting at lower age
  • Stamina – cannot do unlimited work as before
  • Loss of libido – performance in bed getting poorer
  • Cannot play same games, son performs better
  • Children do not need you -- for leisure or studies
  • Child disobedient, different values, addictions etc.

Emotional factors such as:

  • Wife coming out of shell, picking up her career
  • Wife gives up trying to make you communicate
  • Want self actualization, but feeling direction-less (no proper goals)
  • Scared of retirement and inflation – too much responsibility
  • No support since parents & childhood friends are away
  • You cannot talk out, cry out (too senior)


  • Loneliness
  • Bad family relationships
  • Moody and temperamental behavior
  • Addictions
  • Becoming a workaholic
  • Foolish career decisions
  • Extra marital affair

Midlife crisis can be overcome, and once the difficult period is over, life can go on smoothly and normally (provided no permanent damage is done to career, relationships etc.) One needs to make the person aware that he is going through this phase, help him to slow down and introspect, and tackle each issue with some amount of patience and rationality.

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If the other person does not communicate:

Often we have been told and taught the importance of communication. We do understand that the basis of a good, warm and long-lasting relationship is communication. We also understand that communication is not just “talking”, but being able to express, emote, and understand each other. Hence many of us go out of the way to communicate with the important persons in our life. But what do we do if the other person does not reciprocate? Here are some ways to overcome that hurdle ………

  • Let your non-verbal communication reach the other person before your words e.g. your smile, your hand-shake, your step forward. Do this on a continuous basis. In fact, often you may not have to use words, your gestures are enough.
  • Start with commenting on a neutral but positive topic e.g. good weather, nice incidents of the day, etc.
  • Then make a statement of concern. Do not take up a touchy or sensitive topic, something minor—that he drives many miles through heavy traffic.
  • When you need to get information from him, talk in statements rather than questions e.g. “I trust you would have tried to get the extra money we need,” or “I was wondering whether you would like to go to Mother’s house today.”
  • After some gap of silence, express your feelings positively, “I would be very happy if you share whatever is important to you. I always feel nice when you do so.”
  • When you want something from the person, say so directly, using “I” sentences. “I would love to go to a movie this weekend with you.” “If you’re not tired, I need to get the loft cleaned.”
  • Make it a habit of ignoring short temper outbursts or irritation of the other person. On the other hand, give him positive strokes when he is nice (or even neutral) to you e.g. “Today evening was so pleasant because we just spent time together in each other’s company watching TV.”
  • When facing intense or long-lasting anger from him, keep reminding yourself that it is his inability to communicate better, and try to keep yourself mentally insulated. Never get into an argument when you know you cannot win.
  • When upset or angry with him, tell him in calm and assertive tones, with the focus on your feelings rather than his action e.g. “I felt very hurt when I heard you telling your mother that I am lazy.” Then tell him what makes you happy, or give him alternatives, “I would be very happy if you tell me and give me an opportunity to change, or to present my view point.”
  • Use alternative means of communication, such as Post-It slips, notes (particularly those kept in unexpected places such as his tiffin box), emails, sms, etc.
  • Do not put all your emotional dependency on him. When you find he is not communicative, develop alternative persons you can emote with.
  • Keep reminding him of whenever he communicated well, and how happy it made you, expressing it in the form of “feeling” words e.g. “When you supported me in my argument with my sister-in-law, I was thrilled, and felt very proud to have you as my partner.”

At times a person close to us can be very closed, difficult to interact with, or even perpetually angry. Once you have identified his personality traits, work on yourself to keep your feelings aloof, and build an emotional wall around yourself. Seek the help of others who are positive towards you, or appreciate you, and reinforce your self-worth as you continue in your struggle to improve communication with this person.

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There is a lot of difference between sympathy and empathy – Empathy is defined as “putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.” But we cannot put ourselves in the other person’s shoes till we remove our own i.e. till we stop thinking from our point of view, and try to understand what the other person is going through.

Understanding the other person is in two parts

1. Understanding the feelings the other person is going through right now

2. The upbringing and indoctrination that shapes his thinking and his actions.

Only when we understand both these issues can we truly empathize.

Please remember that empathizing is NOT “trying to feel what the other person is going through”. You cannot feel either her pain or her happiness. You are an individual with your own feelings and attitudes. Empathy is “understanding” what the other person is going through, without being judgmental, without labeling or allowing your own values and attitudes to come in between.

Empathy is the strongest bridge for human relationships. We are all looking for someone who understands us and is willing to be with us unconditionally. Unconditional support only means supporting the person, not necessarily his actions.

Very often when we keep asking in frustration “why does he behave that way?” actually we are not asking a question, we are making a statement. We do not want to really know why he is behaving that way. We only want to express our own inability to concur with his behavior. The focus of that question is on ourselves, not on the person in question.

Particularly in counseling, you are not risking anything by being empathetic to your counselee, since there is no deeper or personal relationship, there are no material transactions.

The other point to keep in mind is that – it is not enough to FEEL empathetic towards a person, you should also EXPRESS it to him. He needs to be reassured that you understand him (or in the worst case, are at least TRYING to understand him). Never pretend to understand when you actually do not. If you just cannot empathize with a particular individual, just tactfully close the interaction instead of being a hypocrite.

Keep in mind that empathy helps YOU, not only the other person – it is not a charitable act, it helps you feel better with your own life.

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Marriage and Communication

Marriage is often taken for granted—until it starts hurting. And then it becomes more of a competition in accusations rather than an exercise of improvement.

It is important to understand that there are many dimensions unique to the relationship called matrimony. Assess yourself as to how strong you are in each of the dimensions, build up where you are weak, be aware and take pride in those where you are strong:


1. Sex—actual sex, and non-sexual intimacy

2. Emotional—being tuned to each other’s wavelength

3. Intellectual—closeness in the world of ideas

4. Aesthetic—sharing experiences of beauty

5. Creative—sharing in acts of creating together

6. Recreational—relating in experiences of fun/play

7. Work—closeness of sharing common tasks (home/off)

8. Crisis - closeness in coping with problems and pain

9. Conflict—facing and struggling with differences

10. Commitment—dedication to common goals

11. Spiritual—sharing ultimate concern and ethics.

12. Maturity—taking responsibility, toleration

13. Communication—the vital source of true intimacy. Many shortcomings in the above can be overcome if communication is good. Any form of communication (including arguments, fights). The weakest marriage is one where there is no communication.

Want to do something to improve your marriage?

Try out the following action points.......

1. Look into each other’s eyes for at least a full minute and, without words, try to read what the other is feeling.

2. Let one person say the other’s name repeatedly, changing the tone and intensity, until that person senses that it “feels good”.

3. Practice listening & understanding by explaining the spouse’s problem. (Switch roles)

4. Attempt to get messages through to each other with the use of touch, facial expressions, body movements, eye contact and gestures.

5. Try arguing at a distance, and then do the same face to face holding hands.

6. Do not meddle in each other’s affairs. Learn to love rather than wanting to be loved.

Do you fight?

If you have answered “No” to this question, please apply to the Guinness Book of World Records. An important tip regarding FIGHTING:

People who fight badly or bitterly do so because they want to CONTROL the other person. Happy couples fight too, shout and sulk etc., but they do not try to control each other. Control is the pathetic alternative when you lose out on love.

Good luck and happy communicating!

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  • Use his language & terminology – allow him to use
  • Use e-mail, SMS, post-it slips
  • Listen more than speak
  • Tolerate his wide mood swings from adult to child – don’t react
  • Allow his silences on vital issues (but express your disappointment)
  • Encourage him to talk about his friends (be non-judgmental)
  • Be consistent in exercising your authority
  • Show interest in activities that he likes
  • Give him space
  • Offer to help him, but allow him freedom to choose
  • Send him unexpected messages/gifts (and don’t expect response)
  • Exhibit a positive mental attitude about yourself
  • Share family worries, but reassure that you can handle it
  • Don’t ever compare with sibling
  • Praise specific acts of his (note, card, gift, public acknowledgement)
  • Be a role model in day to day activities
  • Bring up topic of concern, be non-judgmental, and ask for his views

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You !

Some very thought provoking questions. If you do not find time to answer these truthfully, you will not find yourself:

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

2. What is the trait you hate most in yourself?

3. On what occasions do you lie?

4. Which words/phrases you overuse?

5. What is your greatest regret in life?

6. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

7. What are your most compulsive habits?

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

9. What is your main defect?

10. What is your most treasured possession?

11. How would you like to die?

12. What are your principles, values and morals?

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There is a lot of difference between hearing and listening. Listening is an art which we need to consciously develop. It helps us gain knowledge and information, and also to build better interpersonal relationships. A few tips on GOOD LISTENING:

  1. Eye contact – steady, relaxed and not glaring
  2. Reflect expressions and feelings of the talker
  3. Do not interrupt or offer unsolicited advice
  4. Be polite and patient when questioning
  5. Show interest in the speaker as a person
  6. Be open minded till you form an opinion

  1. Be yourself, natural
  2. Talk as an equal, let the other person not feel inferior in any way 3. Deal with the person, not the problem 4. Give your full attention, and stop if you cannot do so.
  3. Smile naturally
  4. Rephrase to understand better, ask open ended questions 7. Remove bias and prejudice, keep aside your own values and attitudes
  5. Be patient. If losing your patience, stop the discussion, take a break 9. Learn to carry silence, be comfortable, allow gaps in conversation.
  6. Show genuine interest and empathy
  7. Steer towards the pain slowly, and make the person open out.
  8. Summarize when there is a need to end the session


  1. Calling the subject uninteresting
  2. Becoming critical of the speaker’s delivery or talking style
  3. Getting over-stimulated by one point in the talk, or drastic statement
  4. Listening only for facts instead of focusing on the feelings
  5. Trying to outline everything or putting it into categories.
  6. Faking attention or showing artificial etiquette.
  7. Tolerating or creating distractions, showing impatience
  8. Avoiding difficult or delicate matters, getting uncomfortable
  9. Letting emotion-laden words throw us out of tune
  10. Wasting differential between speech & thought speed.

Keep in mind that while all of us can HEAR, Listening is not taught to us. In counseling it is important not only to do Active Listening, but also Supportive Listening. It is a skill that needs to be developed and sharpened with practice. It is one of the most important skills for a counselor. Listen with your ears, eyes and heart – only then will the message be complete. -- Ali

Enjoying silence

Have you been away from the city, far, far, away, where there are no proper roads, no electricity, and very few humans around? As the day slowly and reluctantly gives way to the all-enveloping nights, a few stars twinkle in the sky, and a few lanterns hesitatingly nibble on the darkness.

The silence is broken only by the sounds of nature – wind whistling through the trees, frogs or crickets calling out to their mates, a rare animal or bird calling out in distress. Other than that there is silence.

Have you learnt to listen to silence? As a city dweller, have you had occasions to get away from it all, and be in a place that is not rocked with noises of traffic, loud music, people talking on mobiles, and the mad rush of humanity?

Have you learnt to enjoy being alone without feeling lonely? Try it, learn it, and enjoy it. At times enjoy and cherish silence all by yourself, at times with a true friend who does not need words to convey his love for you, at times holding hands with a family member ….

If you can learn to enjoy silence, and if you can master the art of being alone, then nothing can shake you in life. You will be a complete human being, and no one will be able to take away your peace of mind. -- Ali

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The more negative your thoughts, the more likely you are to look exclusively at the physical side of you, and to behave in such a way as to destroy your body as well.

Every negative thought is an inhibitor to personal transformation. It keeps you clogged up just as choles terol clogs up an artery. When you are filled with negativity, you are kept from attaining higher and more bountiful levels of happiness.

The inclination to judge others also serves as a gigan tic inhibitor of your personal transformation. When you judge another person, you do not define him or her, you define yourself.

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All of us show, at some time or the other, three types of behavior:

(1) Passive or Submissive (2) Aggressive or Dominating, and (3) Assertive


Hesitate, speak softly, look away, avoid the issue, agree regardless of your own feelings, value yourself “below” others, hurt yourself to avoid any chance of hurting others.


Answer before the other person is through talking, speak loudly and abusively, glare at the other person, speak “past” the issue (accusing, blaming, demeaning), vehemently expound your feelings and opinions, value yourself “above” others, and hurt others to avoid hurting yourself.


Answer spontaneously, speak with a conversational tone and volume, look at the other person, speak to the issue, openly express your personal feelings and opinions (including anger, love, disagreement, sorrow), value yourself equal to others, and hurt neither yourself nor others.

This is how the body language of a person differs depending on whether he is:

Passive aggressive assertive

  • Eye contact … minimal glaring steady
  • Hands … limp fidgeting free movement
  • Posture … stooped chest out straight
  • Dress … baggy, shabby showing off neat & clean
  • Walking … shuffling, slow swaggering upright & brisk
  • Expression … dull, withdrawn leering, proud firm, responsive


  • Identify SITUATIONS where you cannot assert
  • Identify PEOPLE with whom you cannot assert yourself,
  • Identify your FEARS eg. rejection, failure
  • Identify the deficits in your BEHAVIOR. For example, your inability to speak clearly and loudly or your difficulty in maintaining eye contact.

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Over Ambition or Contentment

Over ambition and contentment are distant cousins. Over ambition could be in the area of Emotions, Inter Personal Relationships, Materialistic wants, Spiritual attainments. There is nothing wrong in having ambitions. Having realistic ambition within ones capacity is progressive when it is managed and kept flexible. Also by having realistic ambition for something one may strive to achieve it. Every achievement thus attained gives sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. Over ambition beyond the reach may lead to disappointment and frustration. Sometimes over ambition may make one look up higher and higher increasing the disappointment and frustration level. Even attainable ambitions may be achieved at much slower pace than one anticipates. This also may lead to disappointment and frustration. Patience may be lost leading to deeper disappointment and frustration. Biggest loss is satisfaction, peace of mind and CONTENTMENT.

The distant cousin of over ambition is CONTENTMENT. That means be contented at every step. Enjoy where you are and what life has to offer even while working towards being somewhere higher. Contentment gives the desired peace. To work towards contentment one has to do some hard mental exercises:

  • Firstly take time off. Simply take time off from the drudgery of over ambitions and devote time for some leisurely activities, enjoy family and friends and start ‘working to live’ rather than just ‘living to work.’ This may help in achieving the unachieved realistic goals.
  • Secondly appreciate what one has. Count the small mercies and bonuses life offers in bountiful, which otherwise would have been missed out in the rat race of over ambition. Start looking at the less privileged than one is.
  • Lastly give, give and give. Give ‘TIME’, your time as much as possible to reach out to others and in whatever little way you can. One has a choice of giving materially for needy and worthy cause.

This is the food and nourishment CONTENTMENT thrives on so wonderfully.

Both over ambition and contentment are in you. Which ever you feed, nourish and cherish more that will grow in you. Grow over ambition and keep seeking the eluding satisfaction and peace of mind. Grow contentment the eluding satisfaction and peace of mind come searching you.

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Excerpts from “The Road Less Traveled” by Scott Peck

What makes life difficult is that the process of confronting and solving problems is a painful one. Problems, depending upon their nature, evoke in us frustration or grief or sadness or loneliness or guilt or regret or anger or fear or anxiety or anguish or despair.

These are uncomfortable feelings, often very uncomfortable, often as painful as any kind of physical pain. Indeed, it is because of pain that events or conflicts engender us that we call them problems. And since life poses endless series of problems, life is always difficult and full of pain as well as joy.

Yet in this whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has its meaning. Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure. Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and wisdom. It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. When we desire to encourage the growth of human spirit, we challenge and encourage the human capacity to solve problems, just as in school we deliberately set problems for our children to solve. It is through pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Those things that hurt, instruct”

It is for this reason that wise people learn not to dread but actually to welcome the pain of problems. This tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering inherent in them is the primary basis of all human mental illness. Since most of us have this tendency to a greater or lesser degree, most of us are mentally ill to a greater or lesser degree, lacking complete mental health.

Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life’s problems. Without discipline we can solve nothing. With only some discipline we can solve only some problems. With total discipline we can solve all problems.

It is the hope that problems will go away of their own accord. Problems do not go away. They must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit. “If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.”

Truth is reality. That which is false is unreal. Truth or reality is avoided when it is painful. We can revise our maps only when we have the discipline to overcome that pain.

Discipline has been defined as a system of techniques of dealing constructively with the pain of problem-solving—instead of avoiding that pain

ARISTOTLE: “Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not easy.”

“Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action”—Rabindranath Tagore

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Thoughts -> feelings -> action-> feelings in other person-> reaction

There are a multitude of emotions, but only three feelings.

There are just three feelings: the pleasant one, the unpleasant one, and the neutral one.

The importance of feelings is that they help give rise to emotions, in other words the bases of all emotions are the three feelings.

When feeling is united with mind, it generates emotion. Emotion is the activity of feeling directed into a mental concept. The feeling energizes a conceptual response to a stimulus.

Feelings are primarily either pleasant or unpleasant; rarely are they neutral.

Awareness leads to action towards change.

Steps to manage feelings:

  1. 1). Awareness
  2. 2). Understand feelings and its complexity
  3. 3). Acknowledge not negate
  4. 3). Determination,
  5. 4). Getting motivated and
  6. 5). Then action
  7. 6). Acknowledge feelings of other person
  8. 7). Manage your reactive feeling

Awareness of one’s own feelings is emotional intelligence

    1. Problem Solving,
    2. Decision Making
    3. Creative Thinking
    4. Critical Thinking
    5. Communication Skills
    6. Interpersonal Relations
    7. Empathy
    8. Self awareness
    9. Managing emotions
    10. Management of stress

Anger: most dangerous – can cause instant harm – self destructing

  • All strong emotions need outlets, particularly anger, because it is the most destructive emotion.
  • It stems from unfulfilled desire (rooted in fear, helplessness), and often rational thinking is lost.
  • If you become passive: it lowers your self esteem, the other person walks all over you, and unconnected third persons form bad opinions about you.
  • If you become aggressive: it drains you & escalates war
  • Too much anger can lead to a personality disorder; whereas frivolous anger is the sign of an insensitive person.
  • Feelings can be controlled at three stages—Thought, Speech & action

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Adolescence is that wonderful period of life where, that transition from being a child to a adult, that phase just before adulthood that they become perplexing creatures for their parents and adults around them.

It seems that there is no right way to understand them, respond to them and approach them and everything we do seems to go wrong. The best way to describe them as part time adults and part time child and they will decided on which part time is when!

Adolescence can be a scary time, full of angst and new emotions. It is also a time when there is a tremendous amount of energy in these young people and they can actually contribute to many worthwhile projects. The more parents and teachers can do to engage and understand teenagers, the more likely it is that young people will have a successful transition to adulthood.

Now with changing times the age of puberty is itself coming down and we could see all around us children who are not in their teens typically, but display teenage attitudes, and feelings. The cause for this could be attributed to greater exposure, their being observant, higher awareness levels and greater intelligence. This age is called the TWEEN age, the in-betweens, “a child and a teenager soon to be.”

  • their sense of dressing changes,
  • they are confused about gender roles
  • they are aware of relations and their qualities
  • signs of first rebelliousness
  • they are observant and start to understand the value system of the world.

Adolescence is that stage of life which starts with puberty and the child is changing physically, emotional, socially and intellectually, these changes traditional could be fit into ages 13 and onwards.


During early adolescence, there is a accelerated skeletal growth and puberty starts transforming a boy into a man and a girl into a woman. Physical changes are happening in their body and this leads to an increased interest in their BODY IMAGE, making them critical of their looks and judging how others look, and are constantly comparing themselves with others.


Along with rapidly changing bodies, teenagers are experimenting with their own identity. “ Who am I?” is one of the pressing questions of this time.

They are becoming capable of abstract thinking, and are able to think logically and question and critically think. We would see these changes manifest in the following behaviour:

  • Challenges rules and need explanation for every rules made.
  • argumentative,
  • need for freedom,
  • need for privacy(room door locked)
  • over generalization- (nobody understands me, nothing to wear)
  • live in a world of their own.
  • increased desire to make their own decisions and choices
  • increased risk taking (doing a dare, free wheeling, etc )


Changes occur in the way they relate with the adults in their world, it is not true that they don’t care for the parents, or are disrespectful, but it is just that the expression is not always smooth and is conflict ridden, because they don’t want to be babies any more and want to be independent.

  • They want to move away from parents emotional,
  • increased criticisms of parent (“what to talk and wear when a parent goes to Parent teacher meeting”)
  • Embarrassed at being seen with parents (“Drop me here and I shall walk the remaining way”)
  • Need to identify and associate with other adults other than parents (Teachers, parent of a friend)
  • fight for freedom and privacy
  • decrease in communication with parents


During this age they spend most of their time with friends and friends become the most important part of their lives. Acceptance by peers is a very large pressure for teenagers.

Peers provide the opportunity to explore different identities, social ideas and the nature of relationships. friends support their new independent selves and image.

Adolescents who rely on the peer group, rather than the family, for their main support are particularly vulnerable to peer pressure to engage in problem behaviour, such as smoking drinking or drugs.

An adolescent slowly moves thorough the early adolescent stage to the late adolescent stage from being moody, expressing feelings in action rather than words, need to associate with other adults, questioning all the rules, unclear about the future, not able to make clear goals in the early stages, to becoming more self involved and capable to making goals, think about his skills, capable of making and taking decisions, during the middle phases and slowly moving on to the late stages where they are more stable emotionally, an identity of their own being created, ability to express themselves and their feelings, take pride in their work, show concern for others and create or set goals realistically.

This transition brings in conflict or issues in the following three areas:

  • Career and studies
  • sexuality and boy-girl relationship
  • parent-child and other social relations, values.

Given the description of the teenager and his behaviour the first thing that we as adults in their world need to remember and change , is that we grow with them, change our attitudes, method of discipline, respect his ideas, give responsibility, and independence and yet at the same time be around to guide and hold their hands when they need it.

the followings steps may help us to reach up to them and grow with them:

  • give them their space, time
  • answer their questions honestly, and encourage them to ask questions.
  • be consistent in laying down rules
  • be approachable, genuine, available, and understanding
  • give choices while giving instructions
  • get into their world
  • keep communication open, wherein he can share and talk about anything under the sun without hesitation.

Teenage happens only once in a lifetime and we as parents and adults around them can grow with them and get to see their world and enjoy with them for soon they will be adults and will find a direction to their life.

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TWEENS-A Life between childhood and teenage

This stage of life (approximately between 9 to 12 years) needs to be dealt with very delicately, and it will pave the way for a smoother adolescence. Today’s Tweens are facing a completely new world, and we adults have to adapt to it.

Age of onset of puberty is steadily coming down, but more than that, children are getting wider exposure to the world in the pre-teen years.

  • There is confusion because their feelings are not real (no hormonal development as yet)
  • Advertisers are targeting younger and younger consumers – to use their pester power Guilt of busy and rich parents manifests in appeasing kids by giving material rewards
  • There is a consumer culture, buy now and pay later. Tweens want everything NOW.
  • During this age they begin understanding value system of world, are keenly observant
  • TV watching habits start changing – Soap serials make them aware of relationships
  • Awareness of their adult relations & their good and bad qualities begins
  • Aware of adult interactions at home & financial matters
  • Aware of parents fighting with each other
  • First rebelliousness with teachers – we need to talk about good/bad teachers
  • Study pattern starts changing – modern Math, more difficult subjects
  • Gender roles start off – boys vs. girls (parents overdo the difference at times), confusion
  • Deep down they are still very innocent, don’t get misled by their adult vocabulary
  • First signs of loneliness appear. Cases of suicide in this age group are increasing.
  • Improving and Facilitating Their Growth:
  • Communicate with them: Listen, be non-judgmental
  • Give them direction, goals in life, “you are unique” – build a sense of identity
  • Discuss role models – APJ Abdul Kalam is a good one
  • Balancing academics & sports should begin at this stage
  • Discuss values, don’t sermonize, involve them and their opinion without being critical
    • Start off by allowing them privacy & space
    • Saying and encouraging “I love you” verbally & non-verbally – touch them a lot
    • Impart Sex education and awareness of relationships, family, boy-girl
    • Fashion – parents sometimes encourage mod dresses at this age & then regret later
  • They start becoming aware of body image
    • Start setting consistent discipline at this age – with explanation why the restrictions
    • Teach them to handle money, give them small responsibilities
  • Have at least one adult from family circles who they can confide in
  • Peer Age is starting – discuss friends & give respect to their friends
  • Encourage autonomy – allow wings to develop, grow with them.

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The best marriage is one that is equally strong on the following four pillars that hold it up permanently.

  1. Communication: Whether you fight, disagree or express negative feelings, it is always better to talk it out rather than keeping things in your heart. Communication is not just talking about day to day affairs, you should be able to express your innermost feelings freely.
  2. Respect: You may have differences, but you should never put down the tastes, habits, relationships or values of your partner. You can express your dislike, but respect your spouse’s need to do things in a different way.
  3. Trust: No marriage can survive without mutual trust. Even if your spouse has let you down once or twice, never generalize, be suspicious, or attribute wrong motives.
  4. Commitment: However bad things are, remain committed to your relationship. Never threaten to separate or divorce, even in your most angry mood. Let your spouse feel secure that the relationship is permanent, even at the most turbulent times.

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An extensive study done by a voluntary organization, the type of homes which parents create for their children, is the key factor for children to take a constructive or destructive path in life. They have classified families into six types:

I. RESTAURANT TYPE - where family members come in only for meals & each goes his/her way without care/concern.

II. CEMETERY TYPE - where no communication takes place between anybody, an atmosphere of terror in the family prevails, with the father or mother or both exercising stern controls on every behavior.

III. WAREHOUSE TYPE - where any type of friend comes in and leaves without any questions, with parents uncaring of its effect on the children.

IV. ZOO TYPE - where each member of the family is absolutely free to behave as he feels best towards parents, younger and older siblings, leading to completely undisciplined children.

V. PARLIAMENT TYPE - where, family members, when they meet, talk about all kinds of issues outside the family, political, economic and others, but no communication on matters of personal concern, sharing or emotional support takes place.

VI. A TRUE HOME - where members of the family share feelings, and emotions, are honest with each other, accept other members of the family for what they are, and eager to help in the personal growth and development of the others.

Parents, particularly mothers, have a big role to play in the present scenario of widespread breakdown of family bonding. Homes need to be created in every house, which enable healthy self-development of youth, positive attitudes to life and others, work ethic and a spirit of self-reliance, which is the only lasting vaccine against the dwindling of the family spirit.

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