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Thursday, 26 May 2016

Communication is vital - Ask your counsellor Q&A Column

[The following column answered by me appeared in the Deccan Herald Education supplement on May 26, 2016]

Dear Madam,
In this fast and competitive world, I am confused about what is good for me. Is it good to choose a career which brings me happiness? Or is it better to choose a career which my elders/relatives/society wants me to do in which they all are happy.
A student

Dear Student,
You have one life to live, and one life to make yourself happy. Your parents and relatives and society have all had their own chances. Ultimately they want you to be happy. It’s just that they think they know the way for you to be happy, or they believe what made them happy will be the same thing that will make you happy. Or, they want to live out their own dreams through you – they weren’t able to achieve what they wanted to in life, so they want you to achieve it, sort of on their behalf.
Remember you are the captain of your ship. It is your responsibility to steer it towards where you want to go, if you are clear of your dream destination. The others are mere cheerleaders.

If they see you reaching your dream destination, ultimately, even if they don’t like it at first, they will eventually cheer you on if they realise the power of your dreams and how happy you are chasing them. All the best.

Dear Madam,
Due to some unknown reason, my grades in college are dropping down day by day. I have completely lost my self-esteem and feel lonely and depressed. Could you suggest what can I do so that I can gain my self-esteem back?

Dear Anonymous,
I think it is important for you to be able to understand why your grades are dropping, which is causing to lose your confidence. It will be very helpful for you to seek the help of a counsellor to understand what is going on for you. If you have access to a counsellor please set up time for some sessions with him or her.
If not please reach out for support on the many free counselling helplines that are available just for this purpose. One such is the Parivarthan Counselling Helpline. You can reach out to them on 080-65333323. A counsellor from the centre will be able to provide you with the initial support and an understanding of what’s happening. All the best.

Dear Madam,
Though I am good in studies, my parents have never appreciated me so far; but they appreciate others even those who are not good in studies. They think by doing this they are motivating me but the opposite happens. Please guide me as to how to cope with this problem.

Dear Adithi,
I think it is important for you to let your parents know how you feel about what they do and let that start an important conversation which will help you express your feelings and point of view, while at the same time allow you to listen to their perspective. What you are saying is your perception and your reading of what they do. It may not be based on the reality of what they are trying to do. Remember, communication is important. And even more important is communication that allows you to express your feelings.

Remember, all your feelings are valid and important, but it is your responsibility to let the others in your life know about your feelings. Don’t assume that they know, or understand the impact of what they say and do, on you, unless you tell them. All the best

Dear Madam,
I have just completed Class 9 and I am going to Class 10. Everybody around me is talking about the Board exams. I am pressured to do well. Even though it is one year away, I feel very nervous and tense.
I don’t know what to do. How do I ease the tension? I feel if this pressure increases, I will end up failing in the exams even though I have studied well. I am a good student who gets good marks. Please help.
A student

Dear student,
I think you need to communicate with your parents that you are feeling pressured and how the constant conversation about Board exams is stressing you out. Please don’t assume that others understand how you feel and respond to situations and remarks.

If something is not working for you and you are not feeling okay about it, it is your responsibility to yourself to express it and let others know that what they may be thinking is helpful is actually not.

So go ahead – talk about it. And also talk about your anxieties, worries, fears and stressors. You are lucky the people around you care enough about you to worry about your success. Now turn that support to your advantage in a way that helps you, not hurts you. See the silver-lining in having support. Use it and mould it to your advantage.

Dear Madam,
I am in Class 11 and have a boyfriend. We both like each other a lot and have been dating for a few months. However, I’m constantly distracted because of this. I can’t stop thinking about him. Even if I am in class or in a test or at home, I think about meeting him and talking to him. Is this normal? I don’t want to be like this. Please guide.

Dear Neha,
Boyfriends can be distracting for everyone. But ultimately it is our choice to make them our whole life and the purpose of our existence, or to treat them as an icing on the cake and a nice to have, while you go about the main purpose of your life. Remember that you are a worthy and capable person, and your purpose in life is not just to have a relationship with someone.

You have a larger purpose in life, for yourself and the world at large, and you must respect yourself enough to allow yourself to achieve your full potential. No one is more important than you and you don’t need to make your dreams and aspirations less important than anyone else. Remember, in this journey, having a companion is a bonus.

But the companion cannot become the journey. If you want more help in dealing with this, I suggest you meet a counsellor who will help you understand your emotions and behaviour. All the best.

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