Sabotaging is to deliberately destroy, damage, or obstruct something. Now, imagine doing this yourself that to your self, diligently, day in and day out year after year. That's some serious self-sabotaging.
It is not that we are consciously choosing to sabotage ourselves. It happens as if it is an automatic program, a program that got embedded in childhood, a non-stop tape inside our heads that constantly speaks to us in a voice that tells us what's 'wrong' with us, why we cannot succeed despite working hard and how things will never be any different. It is a program that tells us we are not OK, and it keeps getting reinforced till it becomes so scary for us to come close to actually tasting real success, or find our true potential, that we scuttle our chances, we sabotage ourselves so that the 'I knew I couldn't get it' program can win, yet again
What constitutes self-sabotaging behaviour ?
The self-sabotaging stems from a firm belief that we are undeserving of love, unworthy of victory, incapable of achieving goals and with every successive 'I told you so' the belief hardens and this in turn reduces our ability to achieve what we want. With every failed attempt, we are proving ourselves that we are incapable of being good at anything. Seeking success of any kind makes our this program kick in, and we start anticipating failure, pain and emotional hurt.
To try and protect ourselves from this anticipated pain, we do something or get into behaviours that make it impossible to even attempt and certainly difficult to succeed. That's self-sabotaging behaviour. Self-sabotaging in that sense comes from a need of self-preservation. We create something that can take the blame for the failure. We now have a reason for why something didn’t work out. Our failures therefore are not a result of incompetence but an outcome of choosing some other thing, or an act of nature or just plain bad luck.
Sometimes, self-sabotaging behaviour comes across as simple forgetfulness ('Oh, dang! I forgot my cell phone. Now, I just cannot call her to ask for a date.') or procrastination. At other times, it can even seem altruistic and magnanimous - like giving to a competitor your key insights and work products. It can get really dangerous as well - like the dancer who literally breaks a leg for fear of getting on that stage, or the lover who deliberately cheats because this relationship is getting serious. Over the long term, such instances of self-sabotage can become patterns of really harmful behaviour: self-medicating, substance abuse and other ways of self-harm, and that can really be a challenge
Depression is a state of hopelessness. It is a hopelessness about oneself as much as about the world.
When depressed, everything can seem pointless and too much of effort, because one's critical mind mistakenly reasons that everything is doomed, nothing will ever be right and anyway it all falls apart. The brain is in a loop of ever deepening negativity, a whirlpool that sucks the hapless soul into black pits of nothingness. Happy thoughts and motivation struggle to swim against it, and often it is just a sinking feeling. There is a constant loop of negative thoughts, self-defeating beliefs and mood is depressed.
Even as we look at depression as a mood and thought disorder, at another level, it is an issue of love and compassion, for both oneself and the world around. Part of depression, when deeper, seems almost like punishing oneself. It is like a dictator has taken over the land, and is ruthlessly putting down every good thing - the hard, critical voice takes over and churns out unloving, uncompassionate messages that sap one's ability to believe in positivity, in people, and the world around them. That difficulty in experiencing self-love and self-compassion erodes esteem and confidence, setting into motion vicious cycles of self erosion.
Getting through depression requires attention to defeat these critical beliefs and thoughts at the first level, but it requires something more - it needs us to start being able to love, start to again be compassionate, and as the saying goes love is needed most when it seems to be deserved the least.
When our depressed brain tells us we aren't worthy, the world isn't worthy, that's when we need the love the most. In our quest to fight depression, let's be conscious that this isn't a war on depression. No weapons of mass destruction are needed. No aggression. We aren't fighting. We don't need battle armour and sharp, hard objects, or explosives. We need weapons of thought monitoring and whole lot of love and compassion.
We need to teach all our children and talk to all of them with comfort and confidence on sex, sexuality and body, about consent and privacy, so that the world moves away from the stifling silences around these topics and the harm they perpetuate. Ajanta De and Enfold speak with TheNewsMinute
I suppose there is a big difference between making movies about therapy for an audience used to the idea of psychotherapy and counselling, and one which has largely been fed with histrionics and exaggeration of anything to do with mental health. Which is why, perhaps, there is such a large difference between how a movie like ‘Prime’ (Starring the amazing Meryl Streep and the awesome Uma Thurman) deal with the humanness of the therapist, and what Dear Zindagi does for us here in India, with the first introduction to the ‘DD’ being through a conference of sorts where the basic questions are asked: What is the difference between a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a counsellor? Is this for ‘crazy’ people? (We have some answers in our FAQ)
There is much to appreciate in Dear Zindagi on how it approaches the subject of therapy, starting with the wonderfully nuanced declaration by the movie’s token gay character – that he is in therapy so that he can be comfortable to tell himself that he is gay. A lot of other therapy biggies get covered too – that the sessions have a time limit, for instance and that it is paid for (INR 3,000 per session, in the movie). It also covers transference, with the client wondering if she ‘like likes’ the therapist and asking if they could meet for a coffee, and for me, more than all that it was the simple and clear message that some of one’s present-day troubles, be it at relationships or work, can be from unhelpful learned patterns from the past, and that one can recover from it and grow.
Maybe I am picking nits, and I should just be grateful that this degree of realism was granted and I am grateful for that, but I do have some nits to pick. To start with, before I get to the nits, I guess I should take the pinch of salt the movie offered at the outset: the therapist declares himself very early on that he is in some sense, eclectic, that he follows the rules he chooses, and is flexible about others – and it was great to see that some of the basic rules do get maintained such as time, money, and some social boundaries.
So, the nits: At the very basic level, I do wish the therapist’s place was a lot less fancy and glamorous. I wonder if it might seem that therapy is only a rich person’s vanity, a luxury that rich kids of indulgent parents can afford.
There is so much other flexibility the therapist gives himself that made me question if that’s ok – like the sessions on the beach and on cycles, and once on a boat with lots of other people in hearing distance, all of that without much of a check-in on the what-fors and wherefores, so much of personal disclosure of the therapist’s own personal life (At one point, I wondered if the movie was veering towards the therapist manipulating the client into a relationship with the unusual sharing of one’s divorced/ single status and stories of child custody), a more-than-usual physical proximity with the client right from the get-go, and to top all that, an abrupt closure initiated by the therapist while using eye-drops that just didn’t feel right.
There are other nits too, but let’s face it: at the end of the day, this is a Bollywood movie. I am grateful that this much happened, and that there is a bit more conversation about therapy and counselling in India, a bit more curiosity, and hopefully, it sets us on a road of greater acceptance of personal therapeutic work.
Thank you, Gauri Shinde for Dear Zindagi, warts and all.
Parenting, especially in the present context, is a high-pressure job, and because it is so unique, there is really no handbook or manual that one can refer to for insyructions. If you take a look at much of the information on parenting, the focus most often is on the child. However, research indicates that there are many reasons for us to look inward and understand ourselves as people if our goal is to become a better parent.
We often project our critical feelings about ourselves on to our children. The ambivalent attitudes we have toward our children are simply a reflection of the ambivalent attitudes we have toward ourselves .
All people are conflicted in the sense that they have feelings of warm self-regard as well as feelings of self-depreciation. Therefore, it is not surprising that parents would extend these same contradictory attitudes toward their child.
Parents' attitudes toward their children are a by-product of their fundamental conflicts and ambivalence toward themselves. It is not uncommon for parents to disown their self-critical attitudes and negative self-image by projecting them onto their child. As a result, children begin to see themselves through a negative filter, which may stay with them throughout their lives. But if we look into ourselves and understand where our self-critical attitudes and self-attacks come from, we are likely to have more compassion for ourselves and our children.
How often have you caught yourself saying the same things that you mom or dad said to you? Most parents have the experience, most often when reprimanding a child, of suddenly hearing themself say the same critical statement that their parent said to them. The reality is that, parenting style is often reenacted.
If you feel that this is something you would like to change, then you will need to be open to revisiting that time in your life. Acknowledge how it felt when you were the child at the receiving end. With awareness, you will then be able to offer the warmth, affection, love, and the sensitive guidance necessary for your child's well-being.
As a parent, you are a role model – the first and probably the one with the most impact. Psychologists have found that children really do as parents do, not as they say. The processes of identification and imitation overshadow any statements, rules, and prescriptions for good behavior. Children develop behaviors through observing their parents in day-to-day life. The fact that our children are looking to us to see how to be is enough of a reason for us to focus on our own development as a person.
The bottom line here is that perfect kids and perfect parents do not exist. Parenting is a learn-as-you-go thing. We all make mistakes or do some things that we regret, or that are ineffective for our kids. That’s okay. The great thing is that tomorrow is a new day, and we can forgive ourselves, learn from our mistakes and move on.
When we started InnerSight way back in 2011, we were clear about one thing, and only one thing - counselling was a vocation for us. We wanted to create a collective of counsellors, all committed to the core values of professional and ethical service, personal well-being and providing affordable, accessible and affirmative counselling for all.
We have grown slowly and steadily, trusting that growth will come as we stay true to our practice. It took a while to reach our first hundred clients as InnerSight, but since then, there has been no turning back. More than 50% of our work come from referrals of clients who have been with us, and much of the rest comes from our growing EAP affiliations and the over 25,000 people we now support directly through our growing network of experienced counsellors affiliated with us - close to 20 now across 7 cities!
Looking back, it has been a whole lot of work getting here. All good, solid work, focused squarely on the client in front of us, and staying true to our principle of 'Affordable and Affirmative Counselling for All.' Of course, there have been mistakes, and lots of learning from them. We have always kept ourselves in supervision and personal counselling, and that has been really important. We are so aware that we still have a lot of work to do to make counselling truly accessible.
This, our fifth anniversary, we take a moment to reflect on our journey so far, thank our clients, friends and partners, feel the pride and joy, the humility and the conviction in our vocation, and go forth wishing ourselves many more Happy Anniversaries!
Have you seen the recent hit movie “Kapoor and Sons”? It is winning accolades for its sensitive portrayal of how a gay man struggles to come out to his family, and what happens when the news comes out. If you were like me, you might have wondered what it would have taken the perfect son portrayed by Fawad Khan to play the act of the ideal conforming son, while keeping a long-term relationship secret. All those video chats and conversations with his partner, while pretending that nothing is happening. I imagine what it must cost for the person to be like that, and then I wonder how it must be for any LGBT person to hide themselves in the workplace and be the ‘perfect colleague’
It isn’t difficult to see why somebody would want to keep things secret. Even in Kapoor & Sons, despite everything being ‘out’, there is barely a scene with the partner and he doesn’t fit in the family portrait, even though the other son’s girlfriend is happily integrated into the family.
For most of us, we weren’t taught in our growing years that there is a natural variation amongst human beings in our gender and our sexuality. Words like ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ were taboo and we used them as if they were scandalous, and worse, used derogatory words to hide our ignorance, if not our prejudice. Lack of knowledge and a hostile legal system have only added to the problem. I am sure many of us have witnessed (if not actually did it) a person being called out for standing in a supposed ‘feminine’ posture, or for not wearing what we thought was appropriate for what we saw as their gender?
No wonder people with gender and sexuality differences then learn to be quiet about it and not speak about it, and take on all that extra pressure of having to keep up a façade.
We are now in a much more open space, we would like to think. Speaking of Kapoor and Sons again, I am sure many of you, like me, only experienced a warm acceptance when the ‘news’ broke. We would like to think we are not hostile towards any gender or sexuality, but we do tend to carry our biases and apprehensions into the workplace, even if it is in the small and everyday details – like making fun of a movie star’s gender non-conformance, or saying “That’s so gay!” for something we find silly, or passing on a ‘joke’ about Gayle and his incredible performance that unfortunately belittles both queer people and sexual assault.
As they say, everything is a joke till somebody gets hurt, and here, we often don’t even realize what we might be saying or doing is hurtful to somebody around us. You might say because you didn’t know – that the person didn’t tell you or you couldn’t see it. Let’s face it: You wouldn’t have imagined Fawad Khan’s character was queer till it hit you – similarly, there are very likely queer people amongst us, and why would they tell someone they think is hostile? And if the person was more visible in their difference, wouldn’t it have been so much harder in the face of these unintended hostilities?
For a society , it becomes important because all individuals are important. We want to create a space where everyone is welcome, no matter the person’s race, gender, sexuality, religion, caste, age or abilities. We want a world where we are more aware of the differences that exist or could possibly exist amongst us, and act accordingly so that more of us can be comfortable, and just be ourselves.
Kapoor and Sons has started a conversation all across India – let’s be more aware and make sure we are conscious of being as open and inclusive as we want the world we want to be!
As it happens at this time of the year, at InnerSight we often find ourselves facilitating discussions on a number of topics related especially to women in the work place, in the context of organisations celebrating Women's Day.
Last year, a company in Bangalore had made big plans for the day. They had planned a fashion show, a cookery contest, special shopping festivals and many other events over a three day period around Women's Day to really celebrate the day in a big way. We were a part of the event with a small workshop for interested participants to discuss gender roles, prejudices and perceptions in the work place. Given the rest of the plans, it was interesting to note how much the group talked about the selection of events to mark womanhood - cooking, clothes and shopping. Some of the women were livid at the typecasting, while others were talking of it just being for fun. The few men in the workshop, quite tactfully, kept mum!
It left me thinking then, and I am reminded of it again now, as to how deeply gender roles are engrained in our collective psyche, and how much of a struggle it is to break out of those roles to reinvent roles in relationships. Even now, the idea that cooking, cleaning, child-care and home affairs are in the women's domain is so deeply engrained, that for many working women, it feels like they are in two full-time jobs all the time. Some people, of course, feel they are making these choices themselves as free and empowered people - they want to do it all, and yet, when you scratch that surface, there usually are deep-rooted messages on what it means for them to be a 'good' person, and the costs they are paying, be it exhaustion, emotional and physical, resentments, anxiety and more become quite evident.
We don't have to dig far to see where it comes from. Our ads, movies and TV shows do a great job of reflecting the glorification of the working woman who slaves away at home as well - the villainous women are often the ones who are working outside but not at home, and the virtuous women are the ones who do everything.
Our new heroes are then the Super Woman who can do it all, and all that with a perfect smile while looking like she stepped out of a magazine cover.
A few months back, on Mother's Day, we wrote this. Today, as we approach International Women's Day, we are asking the same questions again, in a larger gender context: "Should we really be celebrating the 'super-woman' status? Can we look at the pressures and stresses that women go through, and actually make it easier?" (paraphrased). This International Women's Day, as we celebrate womanhood, let's also pause to ask ourselves what are we celebrating, and what could possibly change about it.
And have things changed at the organization we started this post with? This year, we hear they have fashion shows, cookery contests, a sack race through the office corridor, a hackathon - and all events are open for all genders :)
Valentine's Day 2016 is round the corner.
As is usual for this time of the year, we are inundated with constant messaging on how & where to celebrate love this special day, and equally, a counter-pressure to not fall prey to these marketing tactics.
Whatever your views about celebrating relationships on a specific date, it is still a great time to remind ourselves of some basic goals which are key to any loving relationship:
If you look at these goals closely, it then dawns on us how much work this is. It really is hard work building and keeping trust, to plan and have time together, and to communicate and listen. Phew.
It is the truth - all relationships take work. It takes work to find someone, love them through the ups and downs, and even - when needed - to let it go. The reward for all that hard work is not only a relationship with someone that you can cherish, but also a closer relationship with yourself, a deeper understanding of your own needs, values and desires.
Perhaps that is the true message of days like Valentine's Day - to recognize how much work we are putting into relationships, and that we need to celebrate it.
Whether we are in a relationship with somebody currently or not, let's celebrate this Valentine's Day as a recognition of how hard we work at our relationships.
Happy Valentine's Day! Here's to loving ourselves a lot more!
Here we are, close to the end of January of 2016. If you, like me, are thinking where the heck did all these days go, then perhaps it is time to take a short break and count your blessings. Quite literally, really. Some studies show that the sense of time passing by really fast happens when we are busy, happy and just quite engaged in our lives.
On the contrary, life can be such a drag when we are going through a tough time. If you think back, you probably can think of periods in your life when it felt so - that time when you were carrying for someone with a chronic illness, for example, or the few weeks that you were unemployed, or depressed. You may shiver at the memory of it and want to shake off that image, hoping it doesn't come again - and that's a good thing to hope.
Fact is, we experience time not just in hours, days and months, but for the emotional context it has for us - though of course, in certain other conditions (such as altered states of consciousness, sense deprivation, age etc) time feels longer or shorter, or just fungible, but under regular circumstances, it is our emotional state that decides how we feel the time pass by.
That said, what of it?
Think of living as a period of collecting life experiences. Imagine you are going through all your life collecting memories, sensations, thoughts, feelings, perceptions - the whole rigmarole of what it means to be alive. If the happy times seem to speed past and the not-so-happy times slow down, does it mean that the not-happy memories linger and stay on longer? Is that what one would want?
From an evolutionary perspective, one could argue that memories of not-happy times serve the more useful purpose as learning experiences for us to try and avoid such experiences in the future, but then, as people, we would really want to remember and cherish the happy times as well, because those are what we really live for and enjoy - not just a series of avoiding unfortunate times.
That brings us back to what we started with - if the month seemed to just rush past, remind yourself that you want to cherish it, you want to mark this period for yourself and keep memories alive and kicking about this period. Get proactive about it - be sure to spend some time thinking over the busy, happy times, make these memories concrete. Save some pictures, maybe a video or two.
May the year continue to be happy for all of us.
Ajanta, Mahesh and other InnerSight counsellors and guest contributors are happy to share their thoughts here.