Monday, November 30, 2015

Are you driving your partner away?

We have all been in relationships… we sucked at some and we triumphed at some, some of them lasted for a while and some fizzled out sooner than we expected. Some of us finally found a perfect partner while some are still struggling to get a grip on things. If relationships can be summed up in one word- I’d say, they are tricky!

What is it that makes relationships tick? Why is it that some people suddenly start playing hard to get- they keep you at arm’s length, cancel your time together more often than it would seem courteous, do not bother replying to your calls, even make you wait for replies to your text messages, while you keep wondering if they are as committed as you are? Confrontations lead to fights, and you seem to drift further apart than getting closer!

And while you sit alone on your couch, phone in hand, twiddling your thumb, wide awake at 3 am in the morning, they are probably happily snoring away oblivious to your agony. Well, you’d be surprised to know you aren’t alone! You have plenty of company!

I have been on both sides of the relationship. I am guilty of having ignored some people, and I have had my fair share of being ignored too!

Being in a relationship isn’t half as fun as it is supposed to be. Especially when your partner is not as involved as you are. Here’s what I think tips the balance in most relationships-

Being too available-

Being available is good, it shows how committed you are. But by being available all the time, you have effectively proved to your partner that you aren’t going anywhere. You will be available at their beck and call, anytime THEY need you. To top that, you will readily forgive them, irrespective of what they do! You will buy any excuse they give you because you fear to lose them. And somewhere along the way, you have lost your dignity and become their slave. While you’d like to think of it as a good thing to be forgiving and caring, they probably think you have no self-worth or you are insecure. And trust me, insecurity is such a big turn off!

There was this guy, P, in college, who would always be around me, like a puppy! (Sheesh! I feel so wicked saying that!) He was good looking definitely, but I hated the way he kept tagging along wherever I went! He would offer to drop me home, pay my bill at the canteen, and even carry the books I borrowed from the library (the books used to be really heavy). But, I wished he’d leave me alone. I remember my reluctance to go out with him even if we were going out in a group, or even take his call! He wasn’t a bad person at all, and I couldn’t put a finger on what bugged me about him. On the other hand, I had a serious crush on a senior and I would keep trying to find reasons to talk to him. My heart would skip a beat when he stopped to talk to me (no, not me actually, to the entire group), and I would struggle to speak, leave alone say anything intelligent! I would keep approaching him for help, and he was quite helpful too, but we never progressed to even close friendship! Looking back, I think, he perhaps felt the same way I felt about P. Too needy!

That’s the big lesson- stop looking so needy.  Stop sucking up to people. People don’t appreciate things that come easily to them. Human nature is such that it values things that come to it after a struggle as compared to things it gets easily.

If they are not returning your calls, stop calling them. Go out with other friends. And if they suddenly make plans for the two of you when you have already made plans with your friends, have the courage to tell them so. Don’t cancel your plans, just because they badly want to go out with you. Men and women alike, respect people who make their own decisions and stand up to it.

Of course, this does not mean you have to be snooty all the time. Give only when you feel they deserve it. Give when they appreciate all that you do. Give when they give too. Giving makes relationships better and stronger and works only when it is two ways.

Being sickly sweet-

When you are in a bad mood, what do you reach out for? Do you grab a bar of chocolate and a bag of chips or do you eat a bowl of broccoli? Broccoli is a known stress buster, but would you really eat that when you are stressed? We look out for comfort food, don’t we?

 The same holds true in relationships. People are not looking for goodness all the time.  Being too sweet, too forgiving, too devoted, too caring, just scares them off. Sometimes, it is important for them to see your wicked and naughty side, allow them to woo you and ask for forgiveness before you forgive them, be wild and you’ll have them knocking at your door. It is more comforting to have someone challenge them than someone who doesn’t need to be worked upon at all.

Being a nag

(men don’t do this too often, yea, some do! But perhaps women would relate to this more…)

Don’t overdo the sulking parts, the crying parts and the nagging parts. You nag for every little thing, sob at every given opportunity and keep complaining. ‘Why didn’t you answer my call?’, ‘what were you doing?’, ‘do you really love me?’, ‘is football more important than me?’…you go on and on. And not knowing how to stop that, the poor guy starts pulling away from you.

A friend keeps complaining that her husband is no longer interested in her. He often goes off on weekends with his friends, not bothering to include her in his plans, and they have frequent arguments about whether he really loves her or not! Common, right?

I think, men fear and hate being trapped or sucked into an emotional whirlpool. They value their independence. Just because they enjoy football as well as being with you, doesn’t mean they have to deal with the pressure of choosing between the two each time and being bullied into making choices.

Learn to draw boundaries. Let the guy enjoy his freedom and have his space. He’ll be glad to have someone who values his choices. He’ll be glad to have someone who does not seek to control him. This is something men look for in a woman and it could influence his decision to commit to you long term.

Relationships need to be nurtured with care. Things don’t work out if one partner is more giving than the other or one person completely dominates the other. Mind games weaken relationship and unless each partner respects the other as a person and provides space to the other to grow and live independently, the affection can get very suffocating.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Book review- Shikhandi and other tales they don't tell you.

Sexuality has become a much debated topic these days. Homosexuality is a taboo, and the so-called upholders of morality of the society would not hesitate to pick up cudgels against anyone who dares raise a voice in favour of it. Was our society always like this? Was it always a crime to come out openly and admit one’s sexual orientation?

Apparently, not. Our ancient civilisations have rarely been moralistic about sex. Neither has discussing about sex ever been a taboo. In fact our epics are replete with stories about homosexual relationships, transgender encounters and queer behaviours.

Devdutt Patnaik’s ‘Shikhandi and other tales they don’t tell you’, is based on this premise. It explores ancient stories from literature in India and also from around the world, which shows that queer behaviour has been accepted as normal in societies since time immemorial. His collection of 30 stories capture the essence of ancient Indian society’s approach to sexual behaviour.

The collection begins with the story of Shikhandi, who was born as a girl but raised as a man; struggling with a dual identity of a man trapped in a woman’s body and who beacme a man to satisfy her wife. There are stories of men who become women, and women who become men, of men who create children without women, and women who create children without men, and of creatures who are neither this, nor that, but a little bit of both. Stories such as Vishnu, who became a woman to enchant the Gods, demons and hermit, Mahadev who became a woman to deliver a devotee's child, Chudala, who became a man to enlighten her husband, Narada, who forgot he was a man, Samavan, who became the wife of his male friend, Krishna who wore woman's clothes, and many more stories that give us an alarming insight into the unique Indian way of making sense of queerness.

With patriarchal systems gaining prominence, codes of conduct, behavioural attitudes, morality and puritanism began to take root, laying the foundation for a judgmental society. What was normal became against the norm!

What is refreshing about the stories is that the author does not impose his own judgement or prejudice about the relationships neither does he thumb his nose at the order of things. But he does manage to take us back to the times when queerness was not frowned upon, and the society was comfortable with the idea of it, making us contemplate on the ignorance and rigidity of our thoughts right now.

My rating- 3/5

Monday, November 23, 2015

Book Review- Many Lives, Many Masters

Many religions talk of reincarnation. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and even followers of minority religions like Kabbalah, believe that our souls are indestructible and re-inhabit the earth again and again assuming different bodies and identities.

In his book, Many Lives, Many Masters, Dr. Brian Weiss, details a past life hypnotic regression therapy with a troubled patient Catherine, which changes and challenges the way he has looked at life until then.

This particular case turns the author’s life “upside down”, transforming him from merely being a psychologist who believed in standard textbook treatment backed by scientific methods to a believer and practitioner of past life regression as a more holistic approach to the treatment of a patient.

The recollection of the past lives of Catherine make a vivid and compelling read. It is intriguing how a past life can influence the issues that we carry in this life. It is even more fascinating to know that the answers to our present life traumas can lie in resolving unsolved issues with a past life. Every experience that we undergo, be it traumas and pain, or happiness and peace, they are all rooted and recorded in our mind. The author says, “The experience is necessary to add emotional belief to intellectual understanding. But the impact of experience always fades to some degree.” With the help of past life regression, it is possible for a person to recollect the memories of their past life and learn the lessons that would help them progress in their present life. 

Life has always been a puzzle of sorts, people often wonder what happens to them after they have passed over. Does the concept of a heaven or hell really exist? Are people really reborn? If they are indeed reborn, how long does it take for them to do so? What happens in the in-between state, or the time between two lives? The author attempts to find answers to these and many more questions through his patient Catherine.

There are also messages that are conveyed by master spirits through the hypnotised Catherine, revealing to us the way to live fruitfully and knowing our purpose in life. The lessons from the masters also forms an inspiring part of the book.

Life is indeed not as simple as we think it is. Irrespective of whether you believe in an afterlife or not, you should read this thought provoking book. If you are a believer, it will take away your fear of death and teach you how to make your present life better. It will change the way you look at yourself and at others. It is quite a relief to know that one is not meant to have to all the answers, we are just supposed to learn our lessons and move on. It also teaches you not to compare your life with another, because each person is learning a different lesson.

And if you think this is a figment of someone’s imagination, you still risk losing nothing reading it. You don’t have to believe all that is written here, but you will learn to appreciate the intricacies of life along with lessons on living to be a better person.

My rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Book Review- A Dog Eat Dog Food World

This has to be one of most intelligent books I have read in a long time! Add to that the generous heap of humour- nope, not ‘in-your-face’ kind of humor, not slapstick humor, but the classy Wodehousian kinds…AND immaculate grammar (I haven’t seen people use such grammatically delightful sentences these days either!!), and before I forget, there’s almost the entire Philip Kotler…dipped in gooey chocolate.

The writing is smooth, the ideas flow uniformly, uni-directionally, and that is so important because one can tend to go all over the place especially when humour is such an integral part of the book and gets incorporated along with a story and lots of management lessons! The author gives us some great insights into his characters and life at the same time, tinged with subtle sarcasm and classy humour.

The story is enjoyable, in a certain ‘have-been-there-have-done-that’ or ‘have-experienced-that’ kind of way- be it as the dumb boss Spike, to whom even concepts in plain English sound like Swahili, the poor subordinate Jerry who’s suddenly thrust into limelight, except without any light, or as Tyke who is intelligent enough but yet, not enough to make any sense to his boss! And then there’s Tom the rival, unwillingly dragged into the game of one-upmanship and his even more unwilling subordinate Jasper. People who have seen the ugly underbelly of corporate life will tend to nod their heads assertively at every scene.

The plot is hilarious to say the least, Kotler would probably now be wondering why he didn’t think of such an innovative and humourous way to teach us his principles! Be it a satirical face of the society or the basics of marketing management, the plot smacks you hard on your head before leaving you to contemplate in solitude and then…contemplate some more!

I’d say pick up your copy right away, and savour the delight of some exceptional writing, but leave the hot coffee behind, lest you scald your behind, laughing long and hard. Yeah, that’s what this book is, a complete laugh riot!

Title- A Dog Eat Dog Food World
Author- C.Suresh 
Price- Rs. 150- in paperback, Rs.99/- on Kindle
My rating- 4/5
You can buy it on Amazon or download the e-book or get it free on Kindle Unlimited.

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