By Nancy Kaushik
Success and growth in life has often been measured by the parameters of wealth amassed, fame attained and accolades achieved. It is as if to say our profession speaks almost entirely for ourselves. Seldom does one examine the innermost recesses of their mind and in effect, charting their trajectory of inner psychological progress vis-a-vis their outer, the material.
Interestingly, our growth during the childhood was also determined on similar aspects of ‘Achievement’: how quickly we learnt to speak, walk, read, write, cycle etc. Not that these were wrong but inadequate to comprehend and explore our psyche as well as capabilities. In rare circumstances, were we taught the art of managing our emotions- to identify our feelings and in turn, validating, accepting and coping up with them? The importance of being emotionally healthy has, unfortunately, never been a part of our curriculum, neither personal nor social.
What is the need of this hullabaloo? One who is existing peacefully may ask, ‘What is the need to unnecessarily complicate the simple rituals of life with more labor?’ The answer will be found in the nature but most importantly, quality of our relationships. The longest study, the 80 year old Harvard Study of Adult Development corroborates this.
Our emotional self is an indispensable part of our personality. The ‘stone-hearted’ may just be a case of ignorance in the mind, the ‘insensitive’ may be too embarrassed to display their feelings, the ‘too sensitive’ may feel everything so intimately that it interferes with their daily routine. At the heart of this discussion is an emphasis on the skill of Emotional Intelligence or the EQ. Being a skill, it can be learnt and refined. The Mind is not just a memory or a mute spectator of daily events, it is as much an emotion center with the paraphernalia of the ‘Limbic System’. Dismissing this is numbing a part of our brain which will still keep influencing our decisions, reactions and responses in life. It deserves equal attention like any other faculty of our brain. Although sadly, this region remains largely under-developed and often misunderstood in its functions, even as we flourish and create abundance in our materialistic lives.
We need to start small. We need to start by just paying attention, not the kind we pay on social media posts, mindlessly scrolling up and down but the kind we do while watching the setting sun, or standing at the edge of a cliff or, perhaps, even reading our favorite book or being engrossed in our favorite activity. The difference is in the level of ‘Focus’. By adjusting ourselves, we will eventually understand and segregate the things which need our attention and which do not. Not long spans of that but very tiny fractions of time, maybe a minute-Just stop and ask yourself ‘What am I feeling and why?’ Most of us will struggle with that answer but once we do know, relationship with others and ourselves will be more fulfilling because then we will not act dismissing of occurrences as ‘small’ or ‘big’ but instead on varying degrees of importance. Maybe that issue with your spouse needs immediate attention but that disagreement with your colleague is more about you not being able to accept change.
Start by paying attention and the rest will follow in time as you move towards a fuller understanding of the ‘Self’ that integrates the emotional with the physical, the interior with the exterior.
Nancy Kaushik is an English Literature student at Deen Dayal Upadhyaya College,Delhi University.