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Sometimes NOTHING Makes Sense

Does this sound familiar? Are there times when life seems to fall apart? It is at these times, more than usual, that we try to wrestle some sense in the situation, but nothing makes sense. We ask ourselves, why, but in vain. Things seem to happen randomly, especially the ‘bad’ things, and this lack of order and predictability throws us off completely. There are things we believed would always remain the same – a job we thought we would always keep, a loved one but who died without warning, a serious illness we never expected to contract – we try to understand why, but nothing makes sense.

This is when, it is easiest to fall prey to depression, easy to give up – all your efforts seem to be in vain – seem to be nothing. You replay events in your mind, obsessing over them, driving yourself insane – yes, this happens.

When this happens and nothing makes sense, believing is the hardest thing to do. Life seems to be a collection of nothing makes sense occurrences, which become a reality making us abandon every kind of belief. When we face these ‘nothing makes sense’ realities, we feel most vulnerable and bare. We feel incredibly ignorant, helpless, and stupid, but yet when we see others faced with similar ‘nothing makes sense’ realities, we are tempted to ‘guide them’ with the clichéd spirituality and pious modes.

Make no mistake, that in these tough times, the typical pious statements make no sense, offer no encouragement or comfort, and are at best judgmental and a show of being ‘superior’. You or a loved one or someone you know, may be going through the ‘nothing makes sense’ phase, please refrain from making these pious statements, and instead reflect on the ‘reality’ of the ‘senseless phase’.

We have and will continue to find ourselves sucked into the ‘nothing makes sense’ phase, and for me, asking ‘why I am unable to find some semblance of sense in the situation’ seems to help. Of course, the answers do not just start pouring in, but it encourages me to gather information to understand why nothing is making sense. Sometimes no one has any information – for instance, why did I lose the love of my life of 24 years, in a matter of seconds?
At other times, we lack information since in our ‘nothing makes sense’ phase, there may be someone else who holds the solution that would bring sense to things but the person may be unwilling to share that solution. Seems cruel, mean, and heartless – but this is true. At times, we get the information, but we fail to understand it, making the information useless and taking us back to ‘nothing makes sense’.

Whether we accept it or not, these ‘nothing makes sense’ phases will remain, and we need to make peace with it. Some of you might read this and think “what a load of rubbish”, while others may concur and think about what sense they can make when ‘the phase’ does strike. The idea was not to resolve my own or your ‘nothing makes sense’ phase, because many a time, I find my own musings and resolves rather absurd and utterly ridiculous. However, I do know that several times I am able to gain some degree of peace by ending the relentless pursuit of trying to uncover all the factors that would allow me to make sense of all situations and the mysteries that life continues to throw at me.

Writing is An Art Form

The appreciation of the art of writing came early in life. I read countless books, fascinating stories, and tales woven together with exhilarating content. I translated my desire to write superlatively, into my school work – essays, spelling competitions, answers to questions in literature, and more.

Writing is an art form – it sometimes has structure and other times it is free flowing. Sometimes it builds to a conclusion from basic assumptions and premises, while other times it is purely about how one feels. I love the variety.

I know there is a lot to learn – the mechanics of what makes a great piece. Words that click and teach me how we humans make sense of our world – we do not remember arguments but cling on tightly and long to stories. Stories make our lives meaningful – not because they may be technically correct – but rather what they mean to a person. Narratives make for great content – else they are just facts strung together in words.

As a child, I spent a lot of time alone – my life became the stories I told myself during these times I spent with myself. The stories were my internal narratives – my deepest desires and my darkest fears. Every letter somehow coalesces into words, become a fundamental building block and then build a story and– it is how we see and define ourselves, gain some semblance of sense of the world and the people in it.

Until Death Do Us Part….

There are many of us out there for whom death has played the mean separator from the spouse! Well, I am not going to tell you how to grieve for this irreplaceable loss since there is really not ‘A’ particular way to grieve for this particular loss. Yes, I do know however, that this permanent loss brings very definitive barriers, challenges, and even secondary losses. Your life suddenly has several questions – some ugly ones – raising their heads and staring you in the face. There are not even a few days to process what has just hit you, because you need to take care of ‘life’ and work.

When a spouse dies – your world changes in more ways than you ever thought possible. You feel extreme grief, shock, acute fear, and numbness – all at once. There is both physical and emotional pain and trauma – you find yourself crying a lot from both. You feel anger – anger at him / her leaving you, whilst feeling guilty about the anger and regret that you could not keep them alive. These are all feelings – myriad and normal – so there is no right or wrong when it comes to grieving and mourning.

These feelings are burdened further by the anxiety of ‘getting life together’, earning a livelihood, and caring for the children such that they cope better. This is hard work – herculean. This is when most people can either break or emerge – the ones who emerge quickly wear a mask of ‘I am fine’ and a smile (even though their heart might be bleeding and smiling feeling like torture). You feel dead on the inside. Of course, life continues to hit you – the economic hardships become a reality. This is true for both sexes – the other ‘wheel’ is broken, so it’s a lot harder to pull the ‘cart’ – the home. The nucleus of support is gone.

Time passes – you continue to miss your spouse and that ‘sharp’ pain never does quite go away. You will still have bad days amidst days where you seem to feel better. There is an inexplicable guilt that sweeps over when you might laugh, or eat a tasty meal, or even dress up for an important meeting. These are all common with which only those who have lost a spouse would identify.

Then there are the romantic dilemmas. Should one move on and find another partner / lover? Will it be acceptable to continue to be in love with the deceased spouse while feeling love for another? Would the new person adjust to this ‘double love’? Would you be able to adjust with another person? Romantic love is an essential aspect of one’s life – life does seem worthless and without meaning, since romantic love is a strong expression. With the ‘sunshine’ of your life snatched away, it is natural to feel that there is only death, misery, and decay all around.

The death of a spouse is a new situation – it is the end of several aspects, and this is true irrespective of whether the relationship had been extremely happy, or average, or even bad. The ending of such a close personal relationship changes a person, changes the circumstances – it’s akin to starting from scratch.

So if you have gone through this in the past or recently, know that those who have also been torn apart from their beloved, understand how you feel. For those of you who have not experienced this, feel blessed and also be kind and understanding. The feelings of pain and trauma NEVER REALLY GO AWAY!

Are you Really Interested?

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie

Have you ever been that person or been with a person, who kind of just asks “How are you”, without any real intention of actually wanting to know more?

Would you change your mindset if you knew that words actually should mean something and choosing better words could change the way people comprehend you and form opinions about you?

“How are you” is way better than the unbearable “what’s up” or “How you doing” – how am I doing what? I mean seriously – if you were really interested and wanted to know the truth about another, you would make the time for it. Social convention might demand that we ask these questions, but the truth is that certain phrases say and mean very different things and in fact they reflect avoidance of actual interest.

The world today is rife with problems of myriad types. Insecurity, the unhealthy yet fervent desire to prove others wrong, a genuine lack of interest in others, and narrow selfishness – seem pervasive. When was the last time we asked someone “how are you” and really meant it – as in actually wanting them to tell us what is actually wrong? Most often the question ‘how are you’ is aimed at making people feel better about themselves – “I always ask another how they are”, kind of scenario!

This article isn’t being penned down to get people to agree, because most won’t since it hurts to think that they may be wrong. Most of the time we don’t ask another person “How are you?” because we want to hear the truth, but instead we want to hear “am good and hope the same for you”, such that we can then move on to spilling out what we actually want to talk about.

Anyone with high emotional intelligence would always follow up the initial “how are you”, with a question that might elicit an honest and I dare say protracted response. Without such ‘intelligence’ most of the time ‘how are you’ comes from self-centeredness – the need to fulfill social convention without being genuinely interested or patient to hear the honest answer. There is so much that we can solve and make better by genuine listening, understanding, care, and substantiation of another’s point of view and or mindset.

Today, with the pandemic and intense economic recession, a genuine ‘how are you’ is rarer. The presumption that the answer to this question could either make a conversation dull and somber with the truth, or elicit answers that would clearly be a lie, beg the question “what should we ask another?” “How are you” is best only when you are genuinely keen to know about the other person, and not if you are already dreading what the other person might say – the capacious truth that you really do not want to hear.

A simple greeting such as good morning or hope things are well with you, would work better – these greetings are positive, not selfish nor are they overly intrusive or beg a response. If you are not interested in knowing more, it is best to avoid ersatz conversation beginners such as “am sure your weekend was good” – do you really know this about someone?

This is not meant to be a critical piece but a reminder that while you must be kind to yourself, remember that others might be fighting uphill battles or might not be in the mood for falsities. Remain genuine, be truly interested and actually care if you want to ask “How are you?”

The Quintessence of Goal Setting

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“Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement”. – Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog

The quote amply explains why having and setting goals are so vital not just for companies but from an individual’s perspective too. There are a plethora of tool and methods currently in practice and a number of tools that claim to help with goal setting. For me, I believe that goal setting is all about personal development and each person must follow the method and apply the tools that will help them grow personally through the achievement of their goals.
I have been around long enough and seen a lot professionally and personally to know that goal setting does not need to be a daunting and intimidating exercise and a few pertinent strides will suffice to help one grow in all aspects of life.

 Start at the beginning – that is common sense. Analyse the root-cause that has persuaded you to think about this particular goal. Make a list of the things that you consider to be stumbling blocks to the accomplishment of the goal and pit them against the actions required. For instance, when my doctor told me that I needed to lose weight, the first thing I did was to figure out what I did wrong that contributed to the excess weight. My goal was to get fit and stay healthy rather than following mindless diets that would crash the weight but rob my body of essential nutrients.

 With a clear goal in mind, it was much simpler to put down a set of methods and practices that would help me achieve my goal. When the goal is clear and the stepping stones are in place, the chances of success are much higher.

 Enlist the help of someone who has had a similar problem and overcome it. This not only helps you stick to your plan to achieve your goal, but also provides you with the necessary support and determination required in attaining what you have set out to do. Such a person will serve as an inspiration, a stimulus and an encouragement – call it what you will – it is crucial to the success of your own personal goal.

 The reality however is that no plan or support will help, if you lack focus and steadfastness. The determination of making something happen must come from you – from the deep desire to accomplish your goal. Weave the plan in to your everyday life – make it a habit – we all know that habits are hard to break and therefore easier to stick with.

Goal setting for personal development or professional growth means that you are already committed to make changes in your life for the better. I believe that the achievement of anything is a mind-set – positive and resolute. This perseverance and a single-minded focus will be the cornerstones in the achievement of these goals. Take small steps and as you overcome each one, your confidence will steadily build and each subsequent step will become easier and more achievable as you move along. It’s been working for me!

Self Motivation

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“When you do what you fear most, then you can do anything.” – Stephen Richards

When I changed my thought process to understanding what I need and want right now rather than what I hoped would happen in the future, I added a new dimension – self-motivation. This term means taking ownership of one’s destiny now and calls for initiative and drive. Self-motivation is the fire that pushes someone forward helping to get closer to their personal and professional goals. A lack of self-motivation, in my opinion, would sound the death knell on progress and the achievement of anything and relegate the person into nothingness and maybe even abject failure.

Self-motivation is more than just a skill – it is difference between moving forward and hitting a plateau that will interfere with every aspect of the person’s life. It is a life sustaining attribute then. Self-motivation pushes us mentally even if we may feel physically spent and tired. It is proven that people who have strong urges and drive, will be more passionate, organized and have the zest to get more done in a shorter period of time. This leads to higher and sustained levels of self-confidence and enhanced personal esteem. Do you understand your self-motivation?
Why is self-motivation so important?

Self-motivation works as an elixir for life. It helps you accept and take on challenges and struggles head on, safe in the knowledge that you will be able to tide over.

– It keeps you focused and also provides new ‘leads’ and direction to your life. You feel more in control and are able to plan ahead with more ease. Life’s difficulties become a given and yet are unable to deter you from your chosen path.
– Self-motivation lends eagerness and interest in everything you undertake. Be it cooking up a tasty meal or completing an important project – self-motivation will let you go at it with gusto.
– When you are able to complete whatever you undertake with a high degree of excellence, you feel satiated and fulfilled. This feeling is probably incomparable to any other.
– Self-motivation empowers you not just in the face of tough times but also tough people and their barricaded thought processes. It keeps you positive despite negativity that may surround you thereby ensuring that your mind remains balanced and focused only on what you have set out to achieve. Over time, sustained use and understanding of self-motivation becomes your trademark and a robust habit.

Self-motivation is like fuel, the more you use it the faster you will move towards your chosen destination. Each person needs to have some kind of motivation – for some it is achievement or affiliation, others thrive on competing and power and yet others are motivated by reward or fear. The desire to attain a goal and advance in life is achievement motivation, being liked and to build cooperation with like-minded groups is another kind of self-motivation known as motivation through affiliation. For some others being ahead of others while competing, being masters of their chosen field and being known as leaders are motivating factors and is known as competence motivation. Yet others are motivated when they are in positions of power and influence – able to control others and bring about changes while taking calculated risks – this is power motivation. Some people are motivated when the situation answers the question “what’s in it for me”? Awards and rewards drive such people and this is motivation by incentive. Fear is another great motivator – it pushes people to doing things instantly and speedily. However, this kind of motivation is not long-term, since people eventually learn how to deal with their fears.

Self-motivation as an attribute may seem like common sense but the reality is that motivation changes depending on the situation and a person’s needs and wants. A clear understanding of what will drive and motivate you is the key to moving ahead and overcoming your own biases and the prejudices of others.