A difficult conversation on mind? Here are few things to remember

Can you recollect a recent difficult conversation that you had? How did it feel? It must have felt like a gush of emotions – anger, anxiety, guilt, confusion. None of these are healthy emotions and imagine what they do to your body and mind. There has to be a way to handle difficult conversations. Following are a few points that facilitate this handling. All these points concern only you and have no bearing on the other person with whom you are conversing.

Calmness

Here calmness is needed at three levels –

  • In mind
  • In choice of words and
  • In gestures and expressions

This helps you balance the negative emotions that tend to overpower you at the time of such conversations. Calmness keeps your mind and body healthy despite the gravity of the situation. Also, you attain a position of respect in the eyes of the others. They may not always admit the same but regardless it holds true.

Pragmatic references

Difficult conversations have a background that usually concern past and future events. In most of the cases you have either suffered in the past and kept patience or you foresee trouble in the future and feel anxious. This leads you into starting the conversation. While you refer to these events to make your case stronger, be pragmatic.

A subtle mention of your feelings and focusing on facts helps in holding a confident conversation. Facts make it easier to get the other person on the same level of thought.

Empathy

The other person is as powerful as you are and at the same time as affected. Empathy enables you to hear the other side. It lets you accept the other’s perspective. You never know if you have done wrong unintentionally.

Do not try to demean or dominate over their feelings because you can never force a person to feel your way. It is their own choice. A compassionate conversation makes it possible to find a mid -way out where both the parties have something to take away.

Progressive mindset

Progress happens in consensus. Progress is a product of mutual understanding. Progress is seen when you keep the bigger picture in mind. In both personal and professional areas, a progressive mindset creates a positive vibe at the time of a difficult conversation. It eliminates the vice of self- centeredness and changes the course of an otherwise bitter conversation.

If you think that handling diplomatically will hide your internal chain of thoughts, then you are mistaken. Even with average intelligence a person can see from where you are coming. This point lies at the core of making a tough conversation easy.

Courage

I deliberately kept this for the end. To initiate and to conclude a difficult conversation, you need courage. Courage to face the consequences physically and emotionally. Many times, it happens that you are about to confront and you tame down. You rehearse how you will approach, and you turn around. Why? Due to lack of courage. Have the courage to see it through the end and also have the courage to change course if you were wrong.

Difficult conversations are a part of life. Shying away from holding them is not a solution. The next time you have to give a negative employee feedback, or tell your partner about your individual growth plans, or approach your boss with a better alternative try to keep the above points in your head. I conclude with a final thought – “Most of the difficulty is an imaginary creation of your fears, it is not real.”

The art of prioritizing

‘The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities’ – as said by Stephen Covey, an American educator and speaker well known for his bestseller 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Your mind is a maze that creates multiple options for utilizing every minute of yours.

For instance, a period of 30 minutes in your schedule can be used for a run, social interaction, project work, sleep, social media scrolling and many other activities. How to determine the perfect time-activity combination? Now that’s what we call the art of prioritizing. What understanding do you need to prioritize well? Here are some underlying factors –

Peace in sight

Quite often you experience that despite a long busy day, you feel incomplete. You feel a sense of lack. That is because work that gives you peace of mind, work that matters to you did not get the required attention and your day was consumed by other commitments that were of lesser importance. You should clearly identify activities that enhance your sense of self and make sure that you give them top priority.

Work-energy match

Energy is infinite but the levels vary during the day. Develop the habit of matching work to energy levels. Understand yourself and know at what time of the day your energy is at its peak and schedule intellectually and physically demanding tasks for that time. Leave the tendency to set everything in order before you start with the important stuff (more applicable to working women). Prioritize by your energies and you will find at the end of the day you will be a happily busy person.

Master the mind switch

Mind shuffle is when you switch from one task to other, each one requiring a different perspective and a different format of working. For instance, you are in an important meeting that needs presentation skills and immediately after the meet you have a get together that requires social skills. Prioritizing involves doing away with certain commitments to maintain a healthy mind switch. Trying to take up everything every day creates an illusionary sense of accomplishment. If you master the art of scheduling your priorities you lead a genuinely resourceful day.

Keep your mind light

Some activities take up a lot of space in your mind. Logically you know that it is no big deal but it lingers in the back of your mind till you do it. For example, activities that are not urgent but important like – Updating yourself about the latest innovation in your sector, evaluating the ideal extra- curricular option for your child, getting that small repair work done and much more.

The way to tackle this is either get the work done or know that it will get done and release precious mental space. Don’t let these activities clutter your to-do day after day. Don’t let it give you a feeling of you being a perpetual procrastinator by repeating it to yourself and others over and over again. Know that currently it is not your priority and thinking about it won’t help.

Each one of us has the same 24 hours. Yet there is vast difference in where we are in life. Where does the difference lie? The difference is not due to the family, or the position, or the society. It is due to an innate sense of prioritizing your day, ensuring that you put your time and energy to the best possible use.

3 Habits to Help Energize the Present Moment

The present moment is all you have

How does the present moment feel? To me, it feels like attempting to put my thoughts into words. That’s it. The now is always simple. What makes it complicated is the past and the future. You spend a lifetime brooding over the past about which you cannot do anything, or you keep anticipating the future which you cannot live until its time. So all you are left with is the current moment, the present, and the now.

Experiencing the now is not an alien experience. We all felt it when we did that adventure sport or sat by the river looking at its flow. When in the middle of the traffic, the bright orange setting sun caught our eye, while dancing to our favorite song in the pub, while leaving in the wee hours of the morning to catch the early morning flight, or after a deep noon nap. The instances are many but are short-lived. As you try to gauge the profoundness, the moment just slips away.

What if there is a way to make this state of mind permanent? The following are 3 habits that can help you energize the present moment and live it to the best of your abilities.

1.Give Yourself to the Task at Hand

Tasks are of two types – one which you need to do as a part of your role and responsibility. The other which you do is out of passion and love. The former takes a major share for most of us creating a sense of boredom. One way to make the mundane interesting is by giving yourself completely to the task at hand. This habit enables you to get creative with your routine and you no longer function in autopilot mode. You are more aware of your current action which makes it a good experience.

2. Bring Your Mind Back to the Moment Again and Again

The mind is a monkey – is a light phrase that indicates that the mind is always jumping between the past and the future. How do you train the mind to be in the resourceful present? You simply bring your mind back to the present moment again and again. You watch your thoughts and make sure they are concentrated on the now. Gadgets and people around often make this difficult but it is the only way to exercise your brain to let it focus on the moment.

3. Journal Your Thoughts on the Above

Journal your thoughts and feelings on the above two habits at the end of each day. This will give you a solid understanding of the technique. It will also boost your confidence in the newer better way of living. The journal may read as follows –

  • I enjoyed making my cup of coffee
  • It was a struggle to bring my attention back to the presentation in the office.
  • For the first time, the red flower in the park looked so beautiful to me.
  • I made sure to be completely involved in the conversation with my colleague.

The above are 3 simple habits but their impact is enriching. Once an energized present moment becomes our way of life, everything feels effortless. The lightheartedness associated with being in the now will make your life joyful.

5 reasons why speaking less is powerful

Speaking less is not just a quality of introverts, it is often a habit. People who speak less pause before they speak whether it is an opinion or a discussion. Speaking less requires power and control. It has its own benefits that have a direct impact on your wellbeing. Why speaking less is powerful?

A quiet mind

A lot of mental clutter is created through conversations with people around. Reading between the lines, superfluous exchange of words, toxicity lead to a messed-up mind. Silence on the other hand quietens your mind. You learn to internalize your thoughts and sort them thus reducing the chaos in your mind.   

Increase in confidence

When you talk less, you explain less. You have faith in your decisions. On the other hand, the one who speaks more divulges trivial details, seeking continuous validation. Your confidence lets the other person comprehend your perspective without you having to say much.

Makes you stronger

You gain patience by not reacting verbally to situations and individuals. You tolerate and reserve your response for selected situations. This behavior makes you stronger, you develop a precious skill of calming your self in tough situations just like an ocean calms itself.

You have better energy

If you notice you breathe better when you speak less. Your inhalation and exhalation are deep and mindful. This helps generate more energy. Your degree of self-awareness is high because you wait for people to approach you with their thoughts and you listen to them with complete concentration rather than responding quickly. This gives you better energy and purifies your aura. People enjoy being in your company.

You learn better

This one goes without saying. You learn better because you observe more, feel more, and listen more. Speaking less becomes a powerful habit because it focusses your attention on learning rather than application or quick sharing. You first understand the concept in its entirety before discussing it with others.

Speaking less helps you listen more intently, which is a meaningful way to honor the other. You fare better in every aspect of life because you are more mindful and energetic letting you accomplish more in your day. Speaking less is one of the most powerful habits that will lead you to a more holistic way of living.

5 Tips to Enjoy a Big Fat Indian Wedding

It’s wedding season and you just received an exclusive invitation to a big fat Indian wedding. The invite is designed by the most creative minds with the perfect colors and templates. You feel happy because it is an outstation wedding, a well-deserved break from the routine. You set the dates in your schedule and book the tickets almost immediately to get them at reasonable rates.

After this, the visit to the wedding lies in your subconscious mind and you end up mentioning it to colleagues, friends, family, and so on. As the date approaches it dawns upon you that you are yet to see the invite in detail. Once you open the 10-page digital invite (the physical one being too bulky and artsy), you realize there is a detailed dress code for every event. There are days when you are changing clothes almost thrice a day.

The prominent and latest outfits in your wardrobe flash before your eyes and you allot as many as possible. Aahh!!! You take a sigh of relief, that you are at least 50% there. As the wedding gets closer, you try, buy, choose alternatively, accessorize, and discuss with others who will be accompanying you. Admit it or not, it does get tedious at one point in time.

Is there a way to simplify and make the process of preparing for the big fat Indian wedding enjoyable? Are there some tips to maintain reasonable enthusiasm levels while you spend weeks planning for a 3-day wedding? I have a few for you –

Be Comfortable in Your Skin

The pressure to look the best is a worthless pursuit. Be comfortable with

  • What you already have with you
  • The patterns that suit your personality and
  • The expense that your pocket can afford

Play Around With the Theme

Adhering to a theme in a function makes you feel a part of the celebration. It also makes the host happy. You can

  • Accessorize to gel in the theme
  • Mix and match but with confidence and
  • Scan your wardrobe thoroughly before buying

Choose Comfort Over Style

This overlaps with the first point. But the former was about the inner dilemma and this is about the weather conditions. If the place is hot, carry lighter wear even if it looks semi-casual. If the place is cold, carry good overcoats and zippers. Pack according to the weather and chances are you will enjoy more.

Set a Minimum

In your quest to get an authentic look, do not forget to set a minimum. Multiple footwear, cosmetics, and alternate outfits will only add to the time you take to pack, unpack and get ready.

Do Not Overthink

Once you have finalized an outfit for a function, at the max you can rethink once (twice for women) and that’s it. Don’t overdo it because it makes you feel tired even before you depart and also you lose confidence in your decision.

I would like to leave you with a light thought, as you plan your perfect look, please do not forget to smile because that is what will make you beautiful. Even pre-wedding as you shop and pack don’t stretch yourself too much and be sure that you will be in for some good fun. The host is happy to know that you will be there keeping your commitments aside and you too should be happy for the same reason.

Sunsets and me

What do you like about sunsets? The shades, the breeze, kids enjoying their play time or a cup of coffee. My reply is – A sense of pause. A sunset surrounds us with vibrations that lead us towards closure – Shutting that file on which you are working, keeping an incomplete task aside for the next day or simply not reverting the call or email for the time being. One can pause and keep gazing at the vast open sky that looks nothing less than a vivid painting.

I live in a cosmopolitan busy city like Mumbai. Is an article on connection with sunset appealing? I feel it is more relevant because city dwellers seek peace in possessions and people. Materialistic happiness is conditional, but nature is always present subtly, unconditionally. A moment with nature has the power to heal deep. It’s hard to imagine an early wind up in our city, but we can definitely lower our guards once the sun waves a goodbye.

Following are 5 things which one should take up after sunset:

  1. Reading your favourite story. It helps you feel enriched after a long day that felt consuming, constantly asking for your time and energy. Keep some stories (in books, magazines or online) in line always so that you don’t get irritated searching.
  2. Meditation to relax your breathe. It lets you reflect on your day so that you don’t carry anything unnecessary in your mind as you prepare to sleep. It clears your subconscious mind and has a positive effect on your vitals. Keep at least 10 minutes aside to meditate.
  3. Planning your next day. This does not take much time because you know your task line up. A little thought on the task flow sets an enthusiastic tone for the next day. You rise more confidently, ready to take the new day in your stride.
  4. Spending time with friends and family. The exchange of vibes and stories, lets you understand that you are not the only one who had a ‘not so’ great day. Contrarily, you get a chance to share the other’s happiness if they have experienced something good. Both ways it is healthy for the heart and mind.
  5. Gratitude journaling where you list at least 3 things that occurred during the day for which you are grateful. This lets you appreciate the good which gets easily overlooked. A person in gratitude is a good company for the people around.

The intention behind this article is motivating you to take up at least one of the above 5 things. All the activities are purely self- driven and do not take up too much time. With some inclination, one can easily engage in them. If not, we have our lovely sunsets to remind us!!!

Make sharing worthwhile

Sharing of thoughts and feelings is a vital emotional need of every human being. Is sharing unavoidable or can you do without it? You might be wondering in times like today where we are already so isolated why this perspective? That is because we seldom share goodness. Most of our time is expended in sharing the unpleasant. You don’t agree?

Let us spare a few minutes on recollecting how and what we share? Usually it’s a gush of bitter emotions where the words flow without barriers. Emotions like disappointment, helplessness, anxiety… Nothing stops, nothing curbs the flow and in the process all the mental clutter is out. For that moment you feel light but the relief is short lived. Because as you share you have spoken about the flaws in a person, or in self or in a system.

Yes, you may find it difficult to agree but please keep a hand on your heart and ponder – What have you spoken about? The answer is – You have spoken issues but not improvements, problems but not solutions. Sharing the negatives is an emotional rollercoaster where you experience a mix of rage and self -pity. And how would one feel at the end of such a ride? Miserable.

Another unique thing about this process is, you always share from your point of view, empathizing more than ever with self. The listener’s conclusion is thus, skewed keeping you from getting a clear picture.

So it goes like this – you share, you waste your valuable mental resources and you get nothing worthy in return. Hence an alternate idea came to me that when sharing consumes such valuable energy and time, why not make sharing worthwhile? Why not seek ways by which you can make the process of sharing more rewarding? A way by which you better your days with every single instance of sharing. I could come up with the following points:

  • Follow the rule of right sharing with the right person. This is compartmentalizing your support system. There is no point discussing your workplace problems with your neighbour, similarly its futile to share with your co-worker, how you had a rough morning as that time is already gone. However if you think they can value add given their personality and background go for it.
  • Narrate the incident as it is. Do not add your thoughts at the end of each statement. If you need genuine suggestion the listener needs to know the facts not how you felt.
  • Keep the conversation crisp and limited to the latest issue. Do not dig the past to establish a correlation. This enables a meaningful conversation where the focus is on the present.
  • Try hard to speak without heavy emotions. For instance, when you are angry, your pitch is high, when you are very sad, you sob as you talk. All this does not let the listener help you. Rather most of the time is wasted in pacifying.
  • Be open to the analysis. Many a times when the fingers point towards us, we go in self -defence mode. In fact we even end up saying – ‘Put yourself in my shoes. What wold you have done?’ Now this is like forcing the desired response down the other person’s throat.
  • Accept and implement. Only discussion leads you nowhere. Put the learning in practice from the next moment itself – both physically and emotionally. That way you will feel good about all the time and energy that you spent in sharing. It also makes the listener feel better.

So here we are – some simple ways to make ‘Sharing – an impending human habit’ worthwhile. Trust the process and repeat it across all your shares – related to work, family, self –doubt, society. The more you repeat the more it becomes a habit. With this, every time you share you take one tiny step towards self enhancement because the solution is within you already.   

Trek to Kalu Waterfalls

We completed a pleasant easy level trek to Kalu Waterfalls – monsoon beauty at its best. It’s the highest waterfall in Maharashtra with the water level and force so high, that on merging with another waterfall called Mahuli, it forms the Kalu River. The waterfall originates from the Harishchandragadh mountains, it can be seen from Malshej Ghat but its beauty is such that 90% of it is not visible.

We started early at around 6am from Thane. The trek is short but one takes about 3.5 to 4 hours to reach Malshej. About breakfast, one can find a few decent places after you cross Murbad because if you leave that early, many joints en-route don’t even open.

Malshej Ghat is a trekker’s paradise, with lush green roads, numerous waterfalls and how can we forget the fog. The road to Kalu Waterfall trek is a diversion to the left, just before H2O Boating Club. The road is not an ordinary one, it feels like it’s a road to heaven. A lake runs alongside and the narrow well maintained road, seems to have no end – the only end being when it merges with the open sky. The road itself sets the tempo for an extraordinary experience – 1km on the road, you find local villagers who are willing to be your guide for the trek for an amount of Rs.400 to Rs.700. It’s a short trek of about 2.5-3 hours including the walk time and the time that you spend at the point.

The point is where the waterfall takes full speed and drops from high altitude, the force of wind being so strong that the fall reverses. I had an inhibition that we will not get a chance to get wet in the fall, as the trek will take us to the point where it starts. But I did not know that the fall welcomes all its visitors with a splash, which is similar to how an elephant fills water in its trunk and sprays it. It feels like rain, but it’s actually the reverse waterfall.

When the skies clear for a few moments you can witness the steep valley, with the Kalu River flowing below – a scene straight from a child’s drawing book, a picture showing two mountains and a river in between. The only precaution required is when you step on the stones that have gathered green slippery moss due to being wet all the time. One wrong moment, you lose balance, slide and meet an accident. So one needs to be very careful while trying to capture it all in the camera.  

We had also taken our kids along and apart from the precaution that I just mentioned, kids above 6 years of age can easily do it. The trek by itself is a long stretch of flat land, as if you are walking in the fields. The fog is thick so you can barely see trekkers ahead and behind but the guides keep it real safe. There are big puddles, and muddy sludge that you cross so better to prepare the kids beforehand for the mess. No attempt to jump over or take a big step can prevent you from stepping into wet mud that takes your foot in.

However for any trekkers who are reading the blog this part would not matter at all. Simple corn, Maggi and tea is what you get at the starting point of the trek, and in case you wish to relish a good spread you can opt for a meal at Saj by the Lake which is 10 minutes away – a well maintained property with a running restaurant and warm staff. 

You don’t feel like coming back and wherever your eyes go, you see small and big streams of water flowing. The breeze though harsh, heals you as it embraces you tight and refuses to let you loose. The walk is easy but the wind and water make you feel tired because you cut across these powerful elements of nature to successfully complete the trek.

Bikers have their fair share of fun though it requires quite a bit of patience to ride the bike through the rough smudgy terrain. We came across many bikers but all were cautious and careful with indicator lights on so that we can spot them even through the fog. There was a moment where I imagined myself also on a bike with my better bitter half. I am not a pro at trekking but all I know is that trekking requires a match of spirit from co trekkers and you can pull off  – especially simpler treks like Kalu Waterfall.

My thoughts after completing the trek, on our way back were – it’s so easy to be one with nature with treks like these that require only willingness and time planning.

For a quick view copy and paste the link below –  https://blogbynehamittal.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Kalu-Waterfall.mp4

Series Review – Maid

I recently finished watching a series by the name ‘Maid’ on Netflix. It’s about the intriguing journey of Alexandra (played by Margaret Qualley) from a disoriented young mommy to a confident mother to three year old Maddy. The husband/father Sean (played by Nick Robinson) is a bartender, is good looking and loves Alex – but when under the influence of alcohol loses control. 

One gets mistaken in the initial few episodes to think of him as a physical abuser but soon it dawns, that it was never physical but always mental. His behavioural extremities shook Alex’s faith in him as a reliable partner.

The series kicks off with Alex leaving with her child in the wee hours of the morning with a meagre $18 in her pocket. From here on it’s a long road with sharp curves as Alex struggles to become an independent woman. With no qualifications and zero support system, she is out in the open with her tender baby to make a living for both of them.

Her parents are divorced, father an abusive alcoholic and mother who is undiagnosed bipolar. The director has given many shades to every character almost every shade being gravely dark. If all is grave, what keeps a viewer glued? It’s Alex’s hope for life, her faith in self, her perseverance to break the cage, her dream to fly.

Do dreams need a degree? The answer is no. She was a passionate writer adept at writing stories of grit and truth. This one skill proves enough to give wings to her mind – which lets her fly miles away. Her passion for writing keeps her soul alive. She envisions doing a writing course at Missoula with the help of a scholarship. A distant dream, but one that gave her peace in hard times.

To meet her day to day expenses she opts for what she is good at – house cleaning that requires minimum education and embarks on a hazy road to financial independence. Her day is long involving hours of travel, irritably dirty toilets and a cold world but her poise inspires throughout. As she reached the end of the day full of sweat and stink, she finds solace in scribbling voraciously in her notepad about her experiences in every new home that she went to clean – and mind you, a maid indeed knows a lot.

A realistic social situation vividly highlighted in the series is that a maid is always there but the owner doesn’t regard her presence as significant leading them to     lower their guards and coming out all exposed – because after all who cares, she is just a maid. Alex’s random notes turned out to be a masterpiece that eventually let her win the once lost scholarship.

During this process she had a weak moment when she goes back to Sean. Quite a few episodes are dedicated to this part of the story. That’s a point when everyone watching the series would be torn in two – one saying yes, he deserves to get a chance courtesy his truthful appearance of sobering for Alex’s sake. While the other side saying, ‘No, no please don’t fall into the trap. Don’t go back.’ Unfortunately the latter seems wise as she loses her freedom, slowly, steadily, once again becoming a victim of emotional abuse.

What next? She rebounds – and this time with full awareness. With government aid, a student loan and a spree of cleaning jobs she makes a solid plan. One of her loyal clients Regina, a rich black woman with a complicated life helps Alex get a good lawyer and she manages to win back full custody of Maddy from Sean. One major reason behind this also being Sean going on a self -realization trip that led him to accept that he will never be able to raise Maddy better than Alex. 

There are many intricate characters in the series but their roles are so neatly defined that they hold a short but impressive span in the series. 

What is surprising is that I am a homemaker, mother to two beautiful kids and a freelance content writer – I lead a life of complete emotional and financial security. I could not gauge why and how could I connect so much with Alexandra. We don’t have any life situation in common, yet I partially felt her pain, also her elation. Probably a strong reason is that hers was not only a story of escape but one of self- discovery. 

Alex’s wishful eyes had a vision and as she patiently manoeuvred, I felt as if I am about to reach my state of ultimate freedom. Freedom from dependence in any form – that allows you to reach your optimum potential.

Even as we live a life of abundance that quest to optimize burns inside each one of us. With titles and properties, with assets and gadgets, there is still some emptiness and that vacuum demands self -discovery.  The series has a woman as the central character but this inner turmoil is also experienced by men.

The way out is to understand what makes you weak? Make a systematic plan to convert the weakness into strength. What binds you the most is your own inhibitions, and the only way to let go is to attempt genuinely and consistently.  And that’s the message that I took from the series. 

Kudos to Molly Smith Metzler for creating this beautiful American drama series that comes real close to the realities of life. The series is inspired by Stephanie Land‘s memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive. A viewer’s delightwith important life lessons to learn.

Wish to be a child again

She revisited her childhood
Her building, those bi lanes
Everything had redeveloped
Drastic changes felt insane

She looked around smiling
As if searching for some clue
Her friend’s window pane
The shop with the board in blue

She went to the spot where
Some grains made pigeons flutter
A high rise had come up and
Oh my!! The road, so cluttered

She went to her bus stop broken
A new bench had been put there
She wondered whether her name
Still lied scribbled somewhere

The small garden where she played
Was nowhere to be seen?
Instead a stylish school stood there
With gadget stricken teens

She walked ahead to the spot
Where she first met her first love
A tea vendor served tea
Small cups and a big stove

Mindlessly she walked, reached the end of the road
A big banyan tree felt like her lost abode
She grinned as she saw the tree
She hugged it, felt so free

Yes you are still here not everything’s gone
I finally found something after searching for long

She sat below the tree and gestured her son
This is where your mother hid from the sun
This is where she ran to escape the heavy fall
The only memory from my childhood that still stands tall