Monday 22 February 2010

Controlling your life!

You know while writing Sushi, I suddenly realized that for each of us there are one or two aspects in our lives which are out of control. While making up stories about Sushi and her shopaholic urges, I most often giggle. I can afford to giggle because I have never been one of those mad shoppers and it is one area of my life which is strictly under control. But there are some areas which are not and which I cannot afford to laugh about.
There are phases, periods when being in control is more difficult like for example immediately after loosing a loved one or a job, a nasty break-up, recuperating from a sickness, really stressed out etc etc etc. But then on the whole, in our lives there are almost always some problem areas which remain steady. In these spheres however hard we try we just cannot be in control.
Who knows what triggers these patterns in our lives? It is very difficult to pinpoint why we started over indulging and how it became a habit hard to break. Maybe some experience or some incident or maybe we turned to shopping, eating etc etc for comfort or to hide a shame or feel less lonely or less bored and before long these become our vice! I know some people take the help of therapy to overcome these, which is not a bad idea, provided you have the money.
Let me try and jot down some of the problem areas. These are just my personal ideas and in no way am I am an expert in the field. Enjoy and maybe you could also detect some patterns in your lives.

  • Emotional needs: We, women of 21st century India are really proud of ourselves. And so we should be, we are ground breakers-- we are doing things which our mothers never imagined and doing them well too. But with so much venturing into uncharted territories, we often time get confused about our emotional needs. Mostly we tend to think that we are all powerful, non vulnerable, do not need any support. Fighting for independence or to create a name for ourselves, we often build up these images of ourselves for the world-- that we are strong, independent, feisty, take no nonsense and many more. While all this is true, it is equally true that we are human beings and like the rest of our species we need love, care and attention. We are often lonely and love crying our hearts out, but feel afraid to acknowledge this in public, lest that makes us less look strong. Because of our image we attract men who seem to think that we can take care of ourselves, they need not be involved in any way. And we let these men think in this way, it satisfies our egos, but it does leave us sad, lonely and aching for love many a times. As a result these relationships mostly do not survive and then we move onto someone else who again has no clue what we want. How secure are you in acknowledging your emotional needs? I know I wasn't till very recently and used to fall for all the wrong men. Somewhere along the line this becomes the norm and however much we rationalize, we tend to go for the wrong men or give the right men the wrong signals.  I think sometimes we even delude ourselves in thinking that we are strong  enough, when in truth we are actually not. Over the years I have seen many of my girl friends struggling with this.This is one area we need to watch out for girls.
  • Finance: With us all being financially independent, we get to do a whole lot of stuff-- shopping, indulgences, hobbies, holidays, gifts etc etc. We often disregard our parents when they urge us to save. I am including the men also in this, both my husband and brother being glaring examples of non savers. The logic is 'oh well we earn, so we can spend and money is not a priority in our lives, experiences or what money can buy are". I completely agree but even then I think that we can very easily save/put aside 10% of our salaries for emergency/rainy days/future. You never know what ugly surprise life has in store for you in which corner. I can manage my finances well and can save a part of my salary easily. Being the post office saver kind, I agree my saving would never translate into millions but they would be there when I need them. I can never understand when people complain that they do not know where their salary vanishes.  I am someone who plans for every money that I spend. But then I know many people who are really scattered when it comes to expenditure. To someone like me all it takes is a little control, but obviously to those who cannot do it, it is much more graver. I think this is one area, where our control often slips, for some perpetually, for some occasionally.
  • Eating: Ah here comes my vice. I love eating. But I do not like exercising to burn all those calories, also my hobbies are sedentary like reading, writing etc, to top it I was born in a family where hereditarily our structures are fat and short. So all these factors make me one of the fatties of this world. I know it is not good for health, neither is it in fashion. I know I should stop eating, I have identified that I eat many times cos I am feeling lonely or bored and most of these times I am not hungry. I tend to go for deep fried, quoted in sugar, crawling in calories types of food. I know I should eat salads, fruits, veggies more and more. I know, I know, I know. I try and I try and then I fail, so after sometime I try again. During all this I gain some more weight. I know all it needs is a little discipline, a little restraint. Just the kind which I apply on my spending but this is one area where my control is fragile at best and lacking most of the times. It took me a while to work this out, also this realization illuminated why no diet, or exercise regime ever works. Many of my friends suffer from this same problem, while some are extremely conscious about their eating habits and can amazingly restrain themselves. I have come a long way in that while before when I used to see a chocolate goodie all I thought about was the amazing taste when it hit my mouth, now I do spare some thoughts as to what it would do to my body. I have started playing an interesting game to myself-- every time I eat something really high in calories, I try and think which part of my body will this fat settle/ snuggle in. Believe me it automatically slows the pace of eating and also many times stops me from going for the second helping! All said and done, I do have a long way to go.
  • Shopping: This is related to spending I guess, but not totally. Shopping can wreck havoc in many people's lives. I remember the first time I read a shopaholic book. I was amazed thinking how people can shop this much. Soon I realized that there was a pattern to shopping and people who actually shop like mad least needs all that they shop. In fact I have a friend, who before when she used to feel depressed used to eat, then she controlled her eating binges and now instead goes shopping. Her philosophy is that shopping can hurt her wallet but it helps her to lift her mood. Given a choice between eating and shopping, she has chosen shopping. Again I am one of those who knows the upper permissible limit very well, sometimes I do go over it a wee bit, especially if I am in a silver shop or craft's shop. But most times my control is superb. I just do not sway. In fact in these days of tight budgeting, often I stop my husband from buying silly, not necessary stuff. I can see that it frustrates him sometimes. But I just do not see any point of spending money at a whim when that money could be spent for essentials. I know it is not the same story for everyone. Many people I know struggle to control their shopping urges and often fail.
  • Drinking/smoking: These are the known vices and most of us indulge once in a while, some of us indulge often and other everyday. In case of smoking it can be even an hourly thing. I used to smoke quiet regularly at one point, now for the last 3/4 months I have completely stopped. I was reading a book where there was a character of a beautiful aspiring model who worked out for three hours in the gym every day, almost ate nothing. I was about to get impressed when her character revealed to be addicted to smoking. Ah I thought here comes her vice. Even though she had complete control over her eating, she could not control her smoking. I wonder if cigarettes had calories, would this girl ever smoke them?
This triggers another thought. So do we need to over indulge in something or the other to be happy in our lives? We all know that the things we indulge in are often bad for our health, harm us in some way or the other. Yet we cannot stop. I do not remember our parents or our grandparents' needing external stimuli to feel happy or fulfilled? Is this the result of the new life style brought about by globalization? The more busy and stressed we are, the more we need those chocolates or the coke or that cigarette or drinks on Friday to forget the stress of the week. In fact life without these de-stressers have become kind of unimaginable!

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