(Featuring: Psychologist Malini Shah)
September is an important month for me. It’s a month when I round-up my year, take a closer look at my priorities, dust my dreams and renew my relationships. It’s also a month when I let go of things that serve no purpose except weighing me down. What I call ‘things’ here are actually the intangibles like the failure fragments, the melancholic bits, the pessimistic moments and the doubts that have been borne of unfortunate events and circumstances and that have stayed inside of me as residue. It’s in September, that I let them go, I speak them aloud, share them with somebody, write them down and move on.
This post is for those of you who bottle things up. It’s time to talk!
In William Blake’s words-
I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
Negative thoughts and emotions have a way of fermenting in closed spaces and before long, the unexpressed feelings and sentiments have the power to consume the space it’s in, so talking to friends, family members or if need be, an expert becomes crucial. Let this be known that seeking help is not a sign of weakness, instead, it takes great courage to acknowledge that you need help.
According to Psychologist and Behavioral Trainer, Malini Shah, “every person needs help at some stage of life; we do seek help or advice from elders or friends and don’t feel bad about it. Similarly, taking professional help from somebody who is more equipped to handle a situation is better than struggling and taking a wrong decision. Early treatment helps to overcome an issue much faster. Therapies like CBT, Gestalt, Transactional Analysis help understand and cope with our personality traits, or lessen the intensity of negative emotions. Many past experiences condition our mind or create prejudices and this can affect our current behavior and interactions. Therapies help us understand and cope with our personality traits, or lessen the intensity of negative emotions.”
Here’s the rest of my Q & A with Malini Shah, co-founder of AasthaChrysalis (Mumbai):
Malini: AasthaChrysalis means Transformation through Faith. It is the mind, body and heart, which can create this transformation. Our centre’s motto is believing in others’ potential, expressing that faith and then motivating them to believe in themselves. An attempt without any one of these three will always be incomplete.
Question: What’s the biggest challenge in your line of work?
Malini: Time management as well as the feeling of helplessness, especially, in personality disorders when the scope of therapy and counseling is limited to the person’s way of implementing.
Question: The current generation faces issues regarding body imaging, bullying and stress at schools/ colleges. Is this a concern?
Malini: Yes, these are the concerns that tend to harm, and not just mentally and physically, but also because it shifts our energy and concentration from studies and things that are actually important for self development to other negative and self-demeaning thoughts. It can lead to self-absorption, self- pity, and obsession about body image and can cause withdrawn behavior, low self-esteem, and low confidence. It can also create unhealthy coping patterns like dominance, indifference to others’ feelings and emotions, as well as difficulty in being sensitive to others’ needs.
Question: Let’s talk about Eating Disorder. How can parents/ friends recognise the symptoms of eating disorder in their loved ones?
Malini: Any change in the normal eating pattern, like, if a child avoids eating with the family or vomits soon after eating, changes in weight –increase or decrease, changes in appearance – dryness of skin, hair, redness in eyes, general behavior of the child in terms of unusual sadness/irritation etc. should be paid attention to.
Question: What are some of the subtle signs to look out for in people undergoing stress or depression? When you say ‘talking is essential,’ are you implying that there is a lack of communication now?
Malini: Subtle signs could be changes in behavior: excessive moodiness, getting irritated on small things, remaining quiet, lack of interaction with others or preference to staying alone, changes in diet and sleep patterns, weight gain or loss. Any other unusual behaviour patterns like crying, sleeping issues, nightmares, being too cautious or being hyper vigilant, avoiding people, unusual reference ideas (like I will lose myself if I go there) or incoherent speech and expression can be noticed as early warning signs of issues.
These days, communication is more impersonal or superficial; trust levels are decreasing. People are comfortable sharing without face-to-face communication AND THIS CAN LEAD TO IMPERSONALISATION. The ability to sustain and tolerate frustrations is less now and this is giving rise to reactive behavior pattern. People are confronting rather than sitting down and discussing the issue. In most of these cases a clear and good communication can help resolve any misunderstanding or confusion and can help to build a good & trustworthy relationship.
Malini’s final advice to the youth of today is: “Have your own identity as well as co-exist with others. You can stretch your limits and learn and grow from your mistakes.”
(This has been a ‘guest feature.’ I would like to thank Ms Malini Shah for her time and expertise and most of all for her commitment to spreading awareness. Ms Shah is an Affiliate Counsellor/Trainer PPC and the Co Founder of AasthaChrysalis, where she is also the Senior Psychologist and Counsellor/Behavioral Trainer.)
Leaving you all with the image of Mark Webber riding on Alonso’s Ferrari at the Singapore Grand Prix. It seems, Webber broke article 30.9 (b) of the sporting regulations with this act, which is a pity because I found the sight very endearing. Guess that’s life! And in case, you are wondering why September is the month, I start afresh, let me give you the answer. I was born in September.
Reading list- Midnight’s children by Salman Rushdie, The lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Movie- Naukadubi (Bengali selection), Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
On the discussion table- Multifaceted education
Featured Organisation: Children Cancer Foundation, Singapore.