Portrait of a Fortune Teller

I feel cloistered and caged, literally. It’s a sad life when you’re just somewhat exotic and paraded around. People think I have all the answers to the universe. A cosmic encyclopedia, you can say. They don’t think about me as having any feelings, and they would never acknowledge my help anyway. This is my life. When you do nothing all day but feel exhausted right down to the bone, you realize that existence is such a drag. Can’t fly, can’t be, just strut around, and look poised, calm and stately, while inside you just want to end this. I don’t really know what to do, but what else can I do?

My owner is fat old woman. She refuses to let age dictate her and wears bright blinding yellows and tangerines and reds- the rainbow would take a bow. Jasmine and roses are piled in her hair. Her lips are red, probably from the betel leaves she has been chewing. Today, we have company. There’s another old lady sitting beside us, taking our expert opinions and future predictions about her life. She has her hand held by the fat lady, palm facing upwards, and regaled with tales and predictions. A montage of future and past which is shrouded in mystery and marvel, omens and affirmations, things that match her life exactly and things that don’t slightly. Her son is not disobedient really, but then maybe he is. This gypsy woman has to be right, she thinks. They all do. She certainly was about at least four things.

The four things she mostly right about are: a) you are, at heart a simple person. Well, who isn’t? Even a crime lord would agree. b) You like taking care of people around you. Whoop-de-da. c) You never get the money/care/future you definitely deserve. Well, does anyone? And d) You have come to a grave trouble recently. These dolts are sitting on a threadbare mattress believing that me, a parrot will guide them to their future. They have grave troubles all right. The woman, whose palm and life is momentarily in another’s hands, is nodding her head eagerly, as if to reassure herself and the other woman, to go on. What more can you tell me? Will my daughter get married again? What about my husband, is he happy wherever he is? Is his spirit in peace? What about money? Will I get more this month? Would things be better? The fat lady sighs as a doctor would, wondering what to tell this patient, that I don’t know what this disease even is, leave alone it’s medicine.

Then, at the end of that whole routine, the fat lady opens my cage, if you can call a four by four (centimeters, in my case) old and smelly contraption that, with a flourish.The sun is a mammoth blinding orb, which I get to see once in a while, like now.I walk on the cards arranged by her side on the mattress. I pick one out, hovering, walking a little, as much as I can get away with without the fat lady being suspicious, and then pick one of many ancient looking moth infested cards. Then, as if giving me a prize she throws three or four (on a good day) grams.  My foot is tied to the cage. I’m practically seventy percent of her sales pitch. I go back in and the solar system is in alignment again, as far as my owner is concerned.

The card is picked up, studied, lamented and nodded over. Then with a graveness that signals one to hush, the fat lady explains to the woman about everything. Yes, her daughter would get married again next year. The man would come to them himself. Yes, your husband seems happy and tells you to not mourn for him anymore. If you are wise you will save a lot this year, and by the end of next year you may unexpectedly come about a lot of money. Yes! It is clear from your cards. These don’t lie, my dear. Have faith. Oh, the ennui!

After one or two questions where the client realizes that nothing else comes to her mind, she pays her from the little red purse she takes out from her blouse. She gets up slowly, her bones cracking and walks ahead, to the vegetable vendor.

We’re alone again. She gets up as well, buys some food, ready for the long day ahead. Talking to other people among whom prominently there is the woman selling vegetables, the cobbler, and the boy making sugarcane juice, the man having the stall selling dried prawns, the man who sits on a rusty machine and sharpens old knives. She talks about her son. Can they give him a job? Also, do they know of a remedy for coughing? Do they also have grand children? She tried asking me for some predictions, whatever card I picked up, she threw. I guess I’m not that supernatural after all. At the end of the day, we go home and then I’m kept in the corner of the kitchen where I talk just to hear the sound of my voice, until someone gets irritated by that and clouts my cage. Fortune telling is hard work.

tumblr_ncpq91oXgb1rs58s9o1_500

Advertisements

Things We Lost in the Fire

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

tumblr_nj03kjqwiQ1tz00vso1_500

No faerie wings could be as fragile, no dandelion as ephemeral as trust- trusting someone or something. It’s the bedrock of all our ideologies, and our belief in people. The world will become, and probably is a scary place, for a lot of us, when we find ourselves unable to trust. Because if we can’t trust anybody, anything, even ourselves, then how are we going from one day to the next?

“But how can I trust him again, how?! It is killing me that I can’t”

Heard that? I have. It sucks when you feel like there has been a breach of trust so extreme that someone whom you would have allowed to lead you anywhere blindfolded, you just can’t seem to rely on. After that point, anything- anything they do is futile. They can be nice to you, but then you’d ask yourself, ‘Why so nice?’ Or you can say, ‘Ah so that’s the guilt’, or you can say, ‘Oh good. You little snake. Nothing will work because you should hate yourself ‘. They can cry, they can say sorry, and they can leave. It’s all the same. Go. Leave.

After you’re done telling yourself that you didn’t need them anyway, they had to go, and that s/he deserved it, there will have come a point where you were reminded of the times you had with them. A sadness so unfathomable that no amount of chocolate could help you. This is the funeral of your faith (see how I hate being dramatic). It is not something you can move on from that simply. It is painful.

Being the person on the other side is no party either, let me tell you. If having your trust broken is painful- being the one who broke it in the first place, can be excruciating, once you put an end to the denial- ‘What else could I do?’, ‘I did the right thing for me’, ‘Yes, so I thought about myself for once!’ ‘There’s no need to blow it out of proportion.’ Or ‘Haven’t I said sorry, am I going to be punished for life?’, ‘Hell, it’s not worth it. I’m done. I’m out.

tumblr_mlbqi0wnQ81snvtqyo1_400_large

Once you break someone’s trust, you’ve already done something which is putting everything you have to test. It’s like throwing your relationship, your ideals about yourself, your trust, yes your trust in the other person’s ability to handle it, your courage and your vulnerabilities into the chimney. It’s either charred or it’s nicely roasty, if you salvage it all at the right time.

Wait, is there a possibility that you can get through it? Maybe. Where there’s life there’s hope. Trust is a) like a lot of things in life, a two way street and b) it is a choice. It is slowly and steadily built and it is built by all involved. This blanket will not wrap itself around you, pal. It may be cold outside, and you may want to get warm, really bad. A lot of times trust is like love itself. If you call love unconditional, trust may also have to be classified as absolute, no bullshitting. When you trust somebody you choose to trust them. You don’t trust them thinking that this membership is revoked with one wrong move. If you want out, then you’re still making a choice. If and when your trust is broken, you need to realize that you chose! You did. (And I don’t mean that in a self-blaming it’s-your-fault kind of way) You can, again.

After a point, it is not them who make it difficult for you to trust them, it is you who are not able to.  The act of trusting itself is a reward, not a litmus test. There’s only so much you can do. There’s only so much time you have. If you chose to flavor it with hope and belief then you do that, or you can sit around complaining about the blandness of it all.  Sometimes, we’ve got to pay it forward.

Sea shells on the Sea Shore

It’s so strange sometimes to realize that you’re you and everyone else cannot experience what you are experiencing at this very moment. Isn’t it weird that how you feel, emote, behave is something exclusive for you and that at second no one really knows this. My reality is only mine. It takes a lot of getting used to- this feeling. Sometimes I don’t think about it for days and sometimes, the simplest things will make me feel like this. That every sensation, every breath is so completely my own. (And no, I’m not drunk.)

In the same way I cannot completely and truly understand what someone else is experiencing, but it’s only a watered down version that I can probably experience. What does it take to really understand someone? The ability to accept that the other’s reality is always going to be different than mine, and yet, trying. Empathy is a word frequently bandied about, but I sometimes check if I’m still with it. empathy means the capacity to understand what others are experiencing from their frame of reference. Now I sound like Google. Honestly, I sometimes wonder if it’s an illusion. If we ever come close. We try, of course. But is it really possible?

When there are so many questions we ask ourselves daily, which leave us drained, like where is my life going? And am I doing the right thing? Am I really in love? Or the trivial, but very important nonetheless-did I lock my home from the outside before I left for work? Or is there a bathroom, I really want to pee!! How do we get out of our own selves and our needs to really do anything else?

Maybe the answer lies in doing something for others, or maybe it lies in doing something creative, or maybe the answer lies in centering ourselves, or maybe we need to distract ourselves. As human beings we are wired for social relationships, and empathy forms a big part of it. It’s something we need to keep practicing. What is really required is to be curious. To want to know, and understand. To notice. To pay attention. To listen. To say something. To say nothing. To realize that it’s not your job to make others feel better. All you have to do is despite any limitations, try and understand. That’s really all sometimes. If that understanding moves you to do something, then consider doing that. Make choices that if not make everyone happy, does not aim to hurt anyone.

Having empathy makes us maybe a little closer in our search for meaning in life– the thing which we all are going bonkers about. Unless we’re so busy that we don’t even ask ourselves that question. Sometimes, you feel so jaded that nothing makes sense anymore, and you don’t even care. There’s no bloody meaning. You just get born and you die. While you’re here you just spend time in as much of a painless way as possible. That’s it, okay, pal?  Sometimes, without really putting it so much in words you find it, one moment at a time. Maybe there is something to it after all. Maybe we’re like sea shells that find the sand when the frothy salt water hits the shore and then get picked up by the tide again. Why does it happen? For whatever reason it does, it’s charming. Let it.

11fd1a1135608a4b90d834bf0d1464d5

Talk time

Of the many things in the world that needs to be preserved more than rare fossils is the art of conversation. It’s the curer of heartache, it’s the bearer of new ideas and it’s the bedrock of any close relationship. If there were no conversations, I don’t know how we’d survive the tediousness and the starkness of the world. If you have had a conversation with someone that left you feeling pleased, then you know what I am talking about.

A conversation is so much more than two people just yapping about movies- its tells you in its own way- maybe she’s not mad at you anymore, maybe you have a chance after all. Actually, I’m not sure a conversation requires that many words. We’re living in a time, where fortunately, or unfortunately, it is normal to look up (from our own smart phones) and find everyone else on the dinner table looking into the arresting device which possesses limitless trivia and treasures. Anything to save us from that one second of monotony.

So what is a conversation? Well somehow, I know what it is not. I’ll tell you- It’s not about talking on the subject of yourself until everyone is secretly hoping that you would go use the restroom- even a minute’s respite would help, you see. It’s not about it being background noise where you can think about why he’s not texted you back, and what could he be thinking? It’s not about bashing someone- who’s not even present. It feels incredibly nice though- a burst of gratification that leaves you wanting more and more every time. It’s not about asking your usual three or four questions, and being prepared for the answer.

Honestly, a bad conversation is like a shoe bite, which you keep convincing yourself is not that bad, but it so is. You keep making excuses about it but you actually berate yourself for wearing those things. And you thought they were nice! You had hopes. A good conversation is like… and no I’m not going to say wine. A good conversation, as I was noting, is like a hot bath on a chilly sleepless night. It really helps. You’d never hurry, you’re alive in the moment and you basically always like it.

The absolute splendor of being able to speak your mind, without the threat of having your head bit off! If only two people could have a good conversation, I think the world would be good. I’m not implying that only by talking everything can be better, but it’s a much needed start. I’m also not saying that conversations are a means to an end, because they’re not. They are very precious, merely as they are.

Haven’t we had discussions and arguments far too many times already? A good conversation is a thing of beauty that is a joy forever. That is because, there are no defensive statements, and explanations, and justifications and clarifications, and all those other heavy duty stuff. It’s just so simple and yet so intricate. If you ask me to define what friendship is, I probably would flounder, google it (yes I will!) and give you a lackluster answer, but what I do suppose is that if you can have conversations- that make you happy, make you think without you even knowing you had to, that makes you question a few things at the same time reaffirming your belief in others, then you’re doing just fine. If you can air out your deep dark secrets, be stupid, and have a generous dose of humour and kindness, then you will get through whatever it is you have to get through.

 gossip-girl-finale-serena-blair-flashback

Just wait a lifetime

I am tired. Tired of thinking about the past. Of people whom I once met and may never again meet, of things that happened, about dreams I once had, about the moments gone by, about the places in my memory. But more than this I am absolutely knackered of constantly thinking of the future at every single moment. Where I’m going to be in the next year- next five/ten/twenty years, what I’m going to buy/ acquire sometime, who I’m going to be with, where I’m going to be in my career, what time I will reach wherever I’m supposed to be, what I’m supposed to wear to work tomorrow-phew. I realized those moments where I am just present- and just in the here-and-now are few and far between.

When will that moment come, when we will just stop and say- “Okay, I’m here.” – there is always going to be that car we need to buy, that bill to pay, some assignments to be done, some responsibilities in the future. So basically, we’re priming ourselves to never be present in the present. Keep on focusing our energies in that jungle called ‘someday’. I mean, I understand that thinking of the future, and planning one’s goals is a good thing, really- it shows that one is interested in living, but it can get a little exhausting sometimes. It’s as if we’re not allowing ourselves to be happy now. There’s always some standard we need to reach, and like a mirage it’s always there, ahead on the road- unattainable, even if we’re already there.

peter pan

I wonder sometimes if we’ve actually bitten off more than we can chew, or maybe we’re chewing more than we’ve bitten off. All the planning and deciding and imagining- and then something happens and everything changes. All the pages of the book get torn and flutter in the wind. Then we run and grab whatever pages we can, and write a new book, new chapters for ourselves. And idiotically plan, plan and plan again, and yet again the same thing happens. Exhausting.

If we’re not happy with whatever we have now, what makes us think we can be happy with more? I read this somewhere and like a rap on my knuckles, it hit me, and I couldn’t ignore it. It’s insane how much we require, or think we require to feel content and happy. If you have bucket loads of stuff and things going your way- it’s pretty easy to be content don’t you think? Where’s the challenge in that? And is that really contentment? Because I thought being content was a state of mind – not a state of things. Maybe we have confused comfort with contentment.

So basically your life more or less follows a pattern- Birth. Nappies. School. College. University. Work . Marriage. Work. Work. Kids. Work. Responsibilities. Retirement. Gardening. Death. And all the while we’re always thinking about tomorrow. Being excited about the future, and being constantly focused on everything in terms of the future are two different things. When everything and everyone, including yourself is changing every single moment, isn’t it essential, to just be present in this moment? Not think about how we should plan our leaves this year or reading our future in the stars. But maybe I don’t know. Maybe I’m the girl who is being silly and not thinking about important things. Maybe. But all I ask is- when was the last time you felt happy and at peace at that moment- Not thinking about what to be or what do? In chasing liberty, are we caught in a web?



Unbearable

I think I do not need you.
You hurt me, you cheat, and you lie
Maybe it’s time to move on.
But even the thought makes me cry.

I never want to think of you again.
I never want to remember your smile.
But oh how I yearn for you every moment
Forgetting you will take awhile.

I remember when you taught me to skate.
How you took my hand and guided me.
And then how we both fell down,
A tangle of arms- we never wanted to be free.

Then I see my face in the mirror
The ugly, purple bruise on my cheek
They know I’m lying when I laugh and say:
I banged into a door- what a freak!

Everyone tells me you’re a bad man
They tell me of things I already know
Of all the reasons I already have
To leave you, and never look back

I tell them- So what if I should?
You’re going to kill me- I know.
Is there a DIY tutorial- Shredded Hearts:
Thirty easy ways to sew?

I hate you so much, but then
I love you more- it’s really horrible,
That I will gladly die in this storm
Than be away – it’s unbearable.

cc599dfd1c8bcd714d8fa3dc229d7f36

I am She.

I’m not who you think I am. Wait, I’m not even who I think I am! You know what? Maybe your version of me is truer than my version of myself. I think I’m someone- but there’s always something that I’d up and do which I never thought I would have. In my head, I’m a gawky, gangly, awkward, quiet, scared, industrious, dreamy, shy eleven year old-ish. In reality, I probably am a loud, cranky, fidgety, chirpy, lazy twenty five year old woman. Who am I really? Am I a strong woman or an intimidated girl? Is the ‘me’ in my mind real? Or am I only defined by my actions. Rachel Dawes famously tells Bruce Wayne, it’s not who you are, but what you do that defines you. Is it really time to re-assess who I really am, and will there ever be a symmetry? Do I even want that?

According to the famous humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers, there’s always an ideal self- what we think we are, what we want to be and the real self- what we actually are. If and when these two overlap significantly is when one is supposed to be congruent. This congruency, says Rogers, leads one to self actualization- the nirvana of humanistic psychology.  Self actualized people are those who may be called fully functioning people. That is to say, they are well adjusted, well balanced and interesting to know. These rare individuals are open to experiences, trust their feelings, and are creative. Funnily enough, all these things are often frowned upon by the ever present and vague notion of ‘society’.

In her book Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s psychopathic character Amy Dunne (spoiler? Oops!) mentions how she behaved like the ‘Cool Girl’ for a long while before she tires of it. She makes it sound like changing a persona is like putting on a new pair of pants. I was a bit taken aback but when I think about my life, I think it makes sense. We all do it- we’re different kinds of people with different kind of people. Or maybe it’s just me.

Maybe there’s no true you. You can be and have been a lot of people, even though you think you’re only one kind of person. I’m not saying it’s good or bad. I’m just saying it is how it is- IF it is- that is. Yeah, okay, I’m complicated. So really really think about who are you in your mind. Are you glued to being that naive twenty year old in your mind- reluctant to move on? Because of course its not easy- moving on. Moving on from our own image of ourselves, which has been redundant since a really long time now. Can we really know who we are? Can anyone? Do you really think personality tests or those freaky tests which tells you about who you are from the shape of your teeth( I kid you not!) can really tell you about you? Or are you relying on reading your palm now?

6a00e554f1ae9388330120a647c3ff970c-800wi

“Your whole idea about yourself is borrowed- borrowed from those who have no idea of who they are themselves”- Osho

Have we borrowed too much? Food for thought.Who do you think you are?

Requiem for a Dream

I was at the butcher’s shop, dispassionately looking at the meat when I heard about it. Him and the chicken, both dead- I thought. Hilarious. Someone called me to tell me about his death. Lenny’s, I mean, not the chicken. I remember mutely hearing the news as I stared at the featherless dead bird dangling by a limb. And then I remember blackness. Blackness so sudden it felt like I was the one who had died.

I’m in his funeral. The beautiful boy that I once loved. I remember his crooked teeth stacked together as if God was in too much of a rush, because all the time was spent in making that tiny, tiny cleft in his chin. I saw it all, I heard it all, the wailing sobs, the grey sky, the overpowering scent of those cream coloured roses mixed with the cloying sandalwood smell of the burning incense. The laughs of the little kid, who didn’t really know why he was there, mocking us all. Look, there’s a man, dressed up in his best suit, lying still. How funny. There are people staring at me. Some curious onlookers who don’t quite know who that girl in the corner is.

The man lying there is not my Lenny. An impostor. He has to be. My Lenny is going to storm in here any minute now, laughing at this whole thing. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. There’s no mercy. Before the day is through, I will die. I will die of heartbreak. I will die of this pain. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. I can hear his laugh. I can hear him calling my name. Where are you? You said you wanted to be with me. You’re not here, are you? You’re not here. Not here. Not here. I’m rocking back and forth in the seat. Breathebreathebreathe.

The food is good. Or not. Sawdust that you keep chewing and chewing until your jaw aches. Then you swallow the cud, trying not to gag. Then you brace yourself and take another spoonful. Repeat. Lenny made breakfast for me once. We had our first kiss that day. Banged our foreheads once. And then laughed until we forgot what was funny. I touched the cleft in his chin, and he looked into my eyes and smiled a brilliant smile. Then we kissed some more. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.. The way he called me sweetheart. Like he couldn’t help himself. Corny, but romantic. That was Lenny.

Someone taps my shoulder. Through my misty eyes I can still smile- at least that’s what I think it is called-pulling up the corners of your mouth. Funny, how you smile. It’s a boy- smiling at me. Very un-funeral like smile. Very aren’t-you-cute smile. Very unwelcome. “You look sad”, amazing observation skills, of course.

I just stare. If I had the strength, I would have slapped him. As it happens, I don’t. Smiling took all my energy. “Hey, sit with me, we should talk”, he asks me, and turns to move. Seriously? Who does he think he is? The funeral police? I shouldn’t, but I’m uncomfortable, miserable and cold enough as it is. Might as well endure this. It’s one of those damp park benches. I’m waiting for him to say something, but he’s staring at me, smiling like he’s the only one in on a joke. What? What the hell am I here with him for?

“You’re sad”

“You said that.” If boulders could talk, it would be like this.

“I know”

“It’s a funeral.” My voice is breaking. Breathe. Breathe. I can’t cry now.

“I know.”

“Okay, um, I should go.” I get up. Pat my skirt as if that would dry it.

“He loved you,  you know that right?”

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.I plonk myself back gracelessly.

Who is this man? I can’t seem to make sense of this man. Or anything. I want to get home.

“Don’t go. Please… Please just stay with me. A little while”

Was he in pain too? Did he want to not think about it? Did he also want someone with whom he could just breathe too? I decided to wait it out. He seemed…to get my pain, to get me. This bizarre person in this bizarre place.

“He wanted you to have this”. He takes out something silver from his pocket… a locket in the shape of a tiny book, which opened. It had a message which goes I’m with you.

I palm it hungrily. With me. Ha! What a liar.

He laughed. A bittersweet cackle. What? Did I say that out loud?

“Sweetheart, sweetheart! Believe.” I look up sharply. Who is this man? I have to know. I need to know, now! He smiles again. He has funny teeth- like they’re dumped inside of his jaws in a hurry.

Thump thump thump . Breathe. Breathe. Get up. Get up and leave! Move. Move! My mind is screaming, but I can’t seem to register that. All I can see is the deep cleft in this chin. I reach out. Slowly, slowly I touch it. He looks into my eyes and smiles.

I forget breathing.

“I’m not a liar, you know, not about this.”

Blackness. Everything swirls in my head. Like someone is blending sludge viciously inside my brain. And then sprinkles water on it. No wait, that’s my face. I feel the chill of the drops and open my eyes. A bushy eyed stranger is holding me. I‘ve seen him. Somewhere, sometime. He helps me up, and oh Lord, there’s a small crowd. There’s the chicken dangling. There’s the knife lying on a slab. There’s my phone lying in the ground.

And there’s the locket in my hand. Shaped like a tiny silver book. If you open it, you will find the words ‘I’m with you’.

sad-girl-photography-black-and-whiteno--photo--favimcom------rebelle-society-16edqiok

 (Image taken from www.popularphotographybiz.com)

Once Upon a Time…

vintage_pictures_of_people_and_dogs_9

Holding onto time is impossible. Without even knowing quite how, it’s slipping through our fingers. Technology can help us a lot, but it’ going to be awhile before we can control time.  Memories are such strange things, sometimes horrible, sometimes ecstatic, sometimes real and sometimes made up. All of which, extremely personal. Because whatever else anyone can snatch from us, maybe our memories are the only things that remain. That we can say with confidence are ours. Of course, science fiction will debate, but its fiction, after all. The memory of your first crush, for example, may be an exaggeration of sorts, but at least it’s yours.

Do you ever find yourself remembering a memory fondly and you had no idea at the time that one day this would be a fond memory, or even a memory? The very mundane things, the normal stuff.The time you had dinner with your family like every other day. The time you woke up for school like any other day. The dramatic fights you had with your friends. The extreme worry you had before your math exams. The humiliation when you found that you forgot to zip up your pants(!)

The thing is- we’re making memories even without knowing we are. Somehow it’s harder to remember that we ARE doing it. Like, right now. This might be a normal day. You might have just been listlessly sitting in your cubicle. Or just making small talk in the elevator. Or maybe this is a day which is in no way normal. Maybe you’re sitting in the hospital waiting for a loved one’s test results. Or maybe you’re baking a cake for your sweetheart. You’re making so many memories. All of these little things might come back to you, maybe when you least expect it.

Being in the present is important. Unquestionably. Being aware of exactly where we are and what we’re doing right now is probably what we need to strive towards, but then again our memories are undeniably powerful. Yes, we need to stay in the present, but we need to find a way to make all our memories lose the power to hurt us in the present. That is one of hardest things anyone of us has to do. To strip the memories of their destructive powers. To stop imagining it in its Goliath-like form. The things we’ve heard, the mistakes we’ve made, the failures we went through, the times we’ve felt like not even existing. Can we ever get the better of these memories, or is there no redemption?

Is there a way where memories become just that- fragments of a past that is no longer the truth, not now, even if it ever was. A time that is gone, a moment that we had and which slipped by- slowly and effortlessly. Sometimes, there’s no getting over some things. There’s only accepting that it happened. We survived. We live to tell the tale. There’s only remembering it. And keeping it back where it belongs- in the annals of our consciousness, to lie until disturbed.And maybe lie even after.

(Image from weruletheinternet.com)

 

Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?

When it comes to consoling and soothing friends, most of us are pros. We bring out the positives in them, we normalize disastrous situations, we bring in humour, we talk about life lessons and life experiences, we empathise, we listen, we are emotionally available, and we’re just generally nice. But you step on a banana peel and slip in front of people and all the niceness will be hung by its heels when it comes to you. We call ourselves ten kinds of idiot, we don’t find anything funny, we make things extremely stressful and we’re just basically super mean to ourselves. Big difference right?

Why are we so nasty to ourselves? Maybe because we think we’re doing something good for ourselves- Shielding ourselves from hurt. Not realising that the hurt from external sources would never be as painful or durable as the one which is the DIY type. Is compassion a well-known friend to us, or a stranger? Well, maybe both. We think we know all there is to know about it, but maybe- and this is a strong possibility- we’ve taken it so much for granted that we probably don’t miss it so much.

What is compassion made up of? Psychologist Paul Gilbert, who introduced Compassion-focussed therapy, tells us that there are six attributes of compassion: care for well-being, sensitivity, sympathy, distress tolerance, non-judgement and empathy. Do we have them all? Or have we just assumed that we do? Being compassionate to others seems easy, but are we being fair when we’re so non-compassionate to our own selves? Isn’t self-compassion equally important, if not more, than being compassionate to others? And can there really be one without the other?

Self-compassion- a term which is easily understood but rarely put to use-“Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings”. Having compassion for yourself means that you honour and accept your humanness. On the other extreme we think we are nice to ourselves when actually we cut ourselves not some, but the entire ration of slack. Sitting on the sofa eating a tub of ice-cream and watching the TV day after day after day, neglecting those bills is not self-compassion- it is self-indulgence. Victimizing ourselves in every instance is not self-compassion- it is self -pity.

Self-compassion involves-

  • Being kind to ourselves- even, or rather especially when we fail. So rather than self-flagellation- “I am so stupid, I had it coming”, it is important to remember to that our beauty lies in our humaneness.
  • Common humanity towards oneself. Realising that suffering is embedded in the very fabric of life. Maybe it’s not our fault, it’s still our responsibility. That is human.
  • Mindfulness-willingness to see ourselves as we are, know where our actions are stemming from. Being mindful means being okay with observing our shadows. Mindfulness means realising I am more than a sum of what has happened to me.

So, it is important to do unto others as you would have them do to you. But sometimes, maybe the opposite is imperative. Maybe we need to imbibe our compassion to ourselves as we would show others. Be your own best friend.

How do we do that?

It may seem very unfamiliar to most of us, but here are some things we need to remember. Once we start practising them it will become natural to be self-compassionate.

  • How would we treat someone we truly cared about? Do that!
  • Show yourself some respect and talk to yourself nicely.
  • Comfort yourself with a soothing physical gesture-like putting your hand over your heart.
  • Use positive self-talk.
  • Practice guided meditation-start gradually if you find meditation daunting, keep at it, and you will get it. Don’t worry.

What you practice will become stronger. If you practice being self-critical, you’re only going to be more self-critical next time. If you practice being compassionate, you’re only going to become more compassionate. Here’s a fact- our brain actually, literally changes the more we do something. So if we’re mean, and whine non-stop (as we all like to do-once in a while) our brain is changing. And so it goes for self compassion as well. What do we really want?

tumblr_lx7b2arvWQ1qaa7gwo1_500

                                                                                                               (Image from imgfave.com)

To know more about self-compassion, please go to http://www.self-compassion.org/ , and check out Dr Kristin Neff’s amazing work on it.