Understanding Loneliness and Solitude

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Loneliness is fast becoming a social phenomenon in modern fast-paced times, with a smart phone in our hands, our elite companion 24/7! We are well-connected but it is cosmetic. Texting has given way to talking. Even couples, who bury their heads into their devices after a day’s work and also have to catch up with their favorite programs, have to plan a vacation to connect with each other.

Loneliness has a direct effect on emotions. It is more stressful than work related problems. You feel isolated and anxious, there is a feeling of disconnect despite people around you; you yearn for companionship, which may be there but you fail to recognize and reach out.

Whether it is self inflicted or caused by other factors, loneliness consumes your emotions slowly, affecting your mental and physical health. You start losing touch with your own family and friends.

When there is a conflict inside, which refuses to subside, you feel your friends are indifferent, you feel forsaken even by your own instincts and intuition, you start feeling lonely. When it starts haunting, when it grows on you, when the abyss keeps gaping at you, you enter a self-carved tunnel, which continues to get cramped if you don’t open up.

If you don’t feel like communicating your feelings, the roots of your loneliness could be deeper:
• Lack of love during childhoodLoneliness 2
• Bullying
• Loneliness experienced during adolescence
• Lack of good friends
• Cold attitude of peers
• Embarrassment
• Failure to communicate
• Lack of trust
• High expectations/ego
• Cynicism

Chasing away loneliness through joy, which is transitory, attending parties, which are mind numbing and drowning yourself in the sea of humanity, which knows nothing about your state of mind, is meaningless.

First and foremost, you must understand that nobody wants you to be lonely. It is your own choice. If you stop trusting your friends, if you don’t want to forgive others, if you fail to overlook little faults of people around you and immerse yourself in the sea of your own thoughts, it will surely drown you.

If you suffer from lowered self-esteem, lack of concentration and anxiety, they are the early signs, which might degenerate into insomnia, dejection and suicidal tendencies.
You must wake up to loneliness before it becomes clinical depression:

1. Shatter that glass ceiling under which you found refuge.
2. Start trusting people around you, all are not alike.
3. Share your feelings and thoughts.
4. Respect your emotions, they need attention.
5. Step out of self-pity. Don’t seek sympathy.
6. Read good books, they never betray.
7. Cultivate a hobby.

Let’s not forget another aspect of loneliness. There comes a time when loneliness spearheads detachment – to begin the inward journey to spirituality and for that we have to traverse the path alone.

However, loneliness should not be confused with solitude, which can be cherished by spending splendid time in the lap of nature, analyzing your own self, starting a journey toward self-healing.

Solitude is the privilege of the few: those who choose to halt, to deflect their attention to savor little moments and try to live within them. They are the ones who have tasted success and realized its futility. They love to spend time with their own self.
“Language … has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.”—Paul Tillich

Do you live in the glory of solitude? I am sure everyone experiences those moments of loneliness and solitude. You can share them.

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

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Balroop Singh.

Is it Good to Influence?

Master with puppet

Whenever we try to persuade a person to change his behavior, way of thinking or decisions, we cast the nets of influence on him. Some people do it with love, others with manipulation.

I think none of us can escape them as they are a part of our life, people connected with us in one way or the other. We don’t realize till a particular age, whether being influenced is the right approach. We don’t even know that somebody is trying to influence us.

We agree to follow, out of love, respect or admiration and slowly it becomes our habit. By the time we start resenting the influence, our core beliefs and values are already ingrained in us.

So what we become is, many times, the influence of our parents, teachers, siblings and peers. A lot of people live under the shadow of these influences all their life.

If we try to wriggle out, it is with immense effort and that might affect our dearest relationships.

Is it good to influence?

Most of the synonyms of influence are negative: clout, control, domination, pressure.

“There is no such thing as a good influence. Because to influence a person is to give him one’s own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions.”—Oscar Wilde.

Before arriving at any such definite conclusion, lets consider why do people influence:Personality

  • To win love or trust.
  • To wield their power or control.
  • To show their supremacy.
  • To intimidate.
  • To inculcate values.
  • To emphasize on their culture.

Love?

Friends, let me tell you very candidly that if you get influenced out of love and if you are ready to dance to the tunes of your partner or spouse because you love him/her, such love can never be real love. Love does not demand, it gives. It lets you ‘be’.

Trust?

Trust too can never be won by exerting influence, it is built bit by bit, it doesn’t just loom out of nowhere, it is won through unconditional love, love which doesn’t burden or force to follow a particular path just because somebody wants you to.

Control!

How do they manage to influence? They play with your emotions, pretend love and manipulate you so cleverly that you fail to see their wiles. Obviously, they are trying to control your way of thinking, restrict your activities and hover around you.

Supremacy!

When they want you to do what they like all the time, it is very clear that they try to establish their supremacy. Such people change your personality completely with their surreptitious ways before you realize it. Then there may be no turning back.

Intimidation!

There are such influencers too; who intimidate you into believing and doing what they think is right. Whether it is done with fabricated love or threats, any such influence, which smothers our opinion or coerces us to follow is repressive.

Values?

When you start living under the shadow of somebody, you lose your own personality and your own passions. In traditional and conservative societies, Influencers get an additional argument to impose their despotic views in the name of upholding their values and culture.

Only those who are insecure try to influence others but they wear a mask of tenacity.

Those with weak emotions, tender heart and kind demeanor can be easily influenced with a little potion of love.

Indecisive persons too get influenced effortlessly. Many times they become puppets in the hands of those whom they believe to be their well-wishers.

My own personality, which was molded by the furnace of time and circumstances, strengthened by the touchstone of varied experiences, has changed a bit due to the benevolence and graciousness of people around me but I have never felt trapped in the nets of influence. However, good influence is dwindling.

Do you know such influencers? Have you ever been influenced? Do you like it? I would love to hear all the answers.
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©Balroop Singh     

Are We Selfish?

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Are we selfish? When this question crops up in my mind, I try to seek an answer within myself first. Am I selfless? After much thinking and admonishing myself, I try to extract an honest answer out of my evasive mind…

“Well, we all have selfish tendencies –  it is only human,” my inner voice whispers.

At times I might have offered my services, done something good for others, without expecting anything in return. Is that enough?

I have given unconditional love to my children and family but another question confronts me…”doesn’t everybody do that?”

‘No, everybody doesn’t do that’, says my friend.

Why are children abandoned, abused, killed? Many of them grow up in acute neglect.

So I went on to search…what exactly is selfishness? While it was so confusing and mind boggling, two definitions appealed to me:

According to Wikipedia: “Selfishness is placing concern with oneself or one’s own interests above the well-being or interests of others.”

According to Oscar Wilde: “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”

I again asked myself: Do I fit in here? I have never placed ‘my interest’ above but my inner voice slowly speaks: “sometimes, you have!”

I ignore that voice and tell myself: I have never asked others to live according to my wishes. But these arguments didn’t melt my doubts.

Why did I choose only these definitions? Because they suit me?

This reminds me of a woman who gave up her successful career to look after her ailing husband. She was applauded by everybody and was called selfless, but she admitted that she was selfish because she had placed her own concern over and above anything else.

“A selfless act out of even the purest desire to do for others, will be selfish in the satisfaction and happiness it brings to one doing it.”―Ashly Lorenzana

My friend thinks falling in love is also selfish! Isn’t that absurd? How can the basic human emotion make us selfish?

When I try to analyze further, I agree with the reasoning: Love makes people selfish. It crosses all boundaries, it transcends all values and it drags them away into their own world. “Love is the most selfish of all the passions,” said Alexandre Dumas.

I ponder further…

Even those who work for the welfare of others are selfish as they have their own goals in mind… perhaps they want fame, power, self-fulfillment or are eager to record their names in the pages of history.

So I realized that:

  • Selfishness can be defined according to one’s own perspective.
  • Selfish traits are inherent.
  • Self- interest takes us closer to our goals.
  • Selflessness doesn’t bring any rewards.
  • Sacrifices are mocked at in today’s world.
  • The more you acquire, more selfish you become, whether in terms of money or knowledge.
  • Selfish people are actually weak, insecure and unhappy.

Let’s look within:   

  • Are you kind and considerate?
  • Are you tolerant?
  • Do you listen to others?
  • Do you really understand the feelings of others?
  • Do you respect the opinion of others?

I know we all nod to the above questions without giving a profound and honest thought to them. I also hope these questions will keep guiding us toward better understanding and enhancing our personality.

If selfishness hurts you, don’t forget it hurts others too. A little concern for people around us makes us emotionally balanced and less selfish.

Have you come across selfish people? Do you have a different understanding of selfishness? It’s your turn to share your valuable opinion.

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 Thank you for being here. Sharing is caring.

© Balroop Singh

Religion Or Spirituality – What is Your Choice?

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I am veering toward the thought: “Religion is the opium of masses.” Not that I didn’t try to explore its depths. I approached it with an open mind, I have observed its nuances from a closer angle and have even discussed it with devout followers and youngsters.

Religion is confusing. I have tried to understand it in many ways, most interesting being asking the young and the free minds who thought they were religious. Why – “because they were told to believe in it and follow its rituals.” Why – because “their parents told them to.” But some of them spoke honestly and admitted that they were confused.

To begin with religion may provide emotional security, unknown anchoring may ease angst and promote hope. It may inspire to live a meaningful life. I agree that it offers solace but all that is transitory.

Let’s nor forget the real face of religion:

  • It imposes arbitrary rules and rituals
  • It thrives on fear
  • It tries to control you
  • It encourages you to follow illogical path
  • It blocks freethinking and tries to condition your mind
  • It creates divide and polarizes communities
  • It has been used for accomplishing selfish goals

Religion may be confusing but easier to follow, as it doesn’t demand any understanding.

Spirituality is easier to understand but spiritual awakening dawns slowly; it is connected with our psychological growth, which is quite natural. Within us lies a light, a light of thoughts, a light of sanity, of ethereal happiness the light that liberates, which may become divine at some point of time, if we make an effort.

Spiritual awakening starts unfolding itself when we learn to look within; sometimes it astonishes us with its presence in some unknown crevices of our heart.

Spirituality is just being in harmony with yourself, exploring your thoughts and empowering them, delving deep into what you want and not being led by the so called Gurus. It only comes with understanding people and the world. You can’t expect a teenager to be spiritual, as it is developing your intuitive power and listening to your inner voice.

When we start discarding negative thoughts, when we begin to understand the feelings and emotions of people around us, when we adapt to changes without any grunts, when we adopt a positive approach to life, when self-healing becomes our goal – we may be gearing towards spiritualism.

Spirituality

It is an accomplishment as…

  • It leads us to emotional maturity and a deeper understanding of self.
  • It acquaints us with the darker aspects of our personality.
  • We can recognize the emotions that weaken us.
  • We develop the ability to embrace pain.
  • We learn to bridge the gap between pain and pleasure.
  • We cultivate the resilience to face inner demons, which we flee from.
  • We become sensitive to disparities around us.

Spirituality, as we know today has detached itself from religion and centers around values and humanistic ideas. It concentrates on personal wellbeing and inner peace.

It emphasizes on meditation, mindfulness, tolerance and ethics.

Yes, it matures us; it keeps us grounded but it doesn’t compel us to become another Buddha or his follower.

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Thank you for your support. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

© Balroop Singh.

How To Know Yourself?

Know Yourself

Do you know yourself?

Yes, I know your answer is positive but my next question is: How much?

If you really know yourself, try writing down ten points each about your personality, aspirations and relationships, to understand what I am trying to say.

As we shed off our childhood and adolescent illusions and step into the real world, we realize that life is much more than just dreams and expectations.

First we have to define those concepts, break them into pieces and perceive what is going to work for us. We have to anticipate the range of our flight. It is at such a time that that we start understanding ourselves.

Knowing your real self begins with a journey within – a journey we never dare to undertake! We invent excuses, delude ourselves thinking we have no time; sometimes we may be genuinely too busy to introspect.

We live in compartments, we perform different roles, sometimes we have to pretend to be what we are not and thus we don’t pay much attention to our true selves.

In one of the interview sessions, the one basic question we asked the interviewees was: ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses?’

Invariably, they stumbled upon this question. They paused to think and could only mention one or two of them.

As I smiled at them to ease the situation, a serious dialogue would emanate in my mind. I snubbed it at those times to introspect in my leisurely hours, to understand why this was such a difficult question.

While I could come up with many answers so far as my own strengths were concerned, weaknesses would elude me and I had to think deeply to dig them out.

Probably we try to push our weaknesses under the carpet.

To know yourself, know your weaknesses and your fears even before you know your strengths. Those monsters of fear that we try to shove into the deepest crevices become empowered and keep lurking around the corners. The shadows of those fears dissipate only when we pull them out into light and talk to them.

To know yourself, try to answer the following questions:

  • How many fears are still lurking around you and how many have you buried temporarily?
  • How many lies do you tell yourself to satiate your ego?
  • How much have you learnt from your mistakes?
  • How much wisdom have you picked up from your surroundings?
  • How much of your laughter is genuine?

To know yourself,

  • You have to understand your emotions and capabilities and how far you can go to accomplish your goals,
  • How well you can handle your failures and your unfulfilled dreams,
  • How much you would like to acquire in terms of material possessions,
  • What are your boundaries,
  • How much do you care for the people around you

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.” ~ Lao Tzuknow-yourself

Self-confabulation for knowing yourself:

We often talk to ourselves to clarify our doubts, to form our views and overcome the difficult situations. It is this conversation, which acquaints us with our real self. Our opinions are usually shaped by people around us – our parents, teachers, peers, friends…our own perceptions are drowned in their guidance and control.

Self-reflection melts the mist of this guidance. It unshackles us and encourages us to think freely, to think differently so that we can take the reigns of our real self in our own hands.

How Sharing helps:

The next step is to share your thoughts with your digital partner, which just listens calmly and makes you think further. It doesn’t dishearten or criticize, it lets you relax and reach at a conclusion at your own will.

Earlier I used to write my wishes and doubts in a journal but with the advent of smart phones, we don’t even have to reach for a pen!

Some thoughts just come and go, some dreams are quite impractical and some may be beyond our reach but by writing them down, we can ponder over them, trying to figure out whether they resonate with us and exhort them out of our system to feel better.

Our true selves, our potential and determination get revealed at such moments when we try to dissect our thoughts and emotions with our own self.

How Introspection helps:

Are you capricious? Do you get influenced by others’ expectations? If you feel that you are walking the path, which makes you wonder where you are heading…introspection on daily basis, before you step into the land of slumber, can really help.

At such moments we don’t have the intolerance or the prejudice working against our colleagues, friends and kindred who may have wronged us. We just have a calm and patient mind, free from all ill feelings to understand our reactions.

That inner voice, which we snub in the presence of others, is most active now and we too are more receptive. You can discover the reasons of your indecisiveness; know how much you revere your values and what is your real passion.

Freedom of thought and action lies at the core of knowing yourself. They play a significant role in our development too. I didn’t know myself till I got these opportunities.

If you have liked the above excerpt from my book Allow Yourself To Be A Better Person, please click on the link to read more.

How did you discover your real self? How important it is for you? I am waiting to hear from you.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Thank you for your support. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

-Balroop Singh