Wednesday, February 22, 2012

So you think you are a matured person?

Yes. That’s the first thought that comes to my mind and I guess everyone else thinks the same. What about you? I have never heard anyone saying ‘I am not matured enough’!  Have you?
When I thought of writing on maturity, I started asking many of my friends on their views. There were different perceptions and understandings on the topic.  Most of them associated maturity with age which I think is the most common interpretation.  Some of them said it is the way we behave.  Other thoughts were that maturity is the level of our understanding, the ability to adapt to situations, the knowledge about a subject and so son.  All these factors do have its part in maturity.  But there is still something missing out there.  All above answers are correct but certainly not complete.  Let me share my understanding on the topic gained from some reading and some discussions combined with my thoughts.  In order to understand maturity we need to understand some of the characteristics of maturity.  The first question I had was to understand how we could measure maturity. Maturity is a lifelong process with different forms and levels and it cannot be measured with accurate matrices.  It can only be interpreted.
Let’s start with Age.  This is the most common understanding of many that to age is to become mature.  All of us definitely display some levels of maturity in our behavior and we all expect that everyone behave with certain maturity of their age.  But age always does not necessarily develop maturity.  Age is connected with maturity because of our expectation of a behavior at different ages.  If a fifteen year old boy behaves well like a fifteen year boy, we should be able to say that he is a matured boy for his age.  But if a 40 year old man behaves like a 15 year old boy we do not call him matured where maturity has not grown with age. We have also seen cases where some very young people showing the characteristics of much experienced and knowledgeable minds.  In this case the maturity level goes much beyond the age factor.  So it’s not necessary that maturity and age grows simultaneously.  Everyone will become old which is just something that happens physically. Every child grows and becomes old.  But not all of them become mature.  You must be aware of your age and the expected behavior from your age to be mature. 
If a person continually acts in a mature manner we say that he is matured.  Here we associate maturity with behavior.  What if I say: I am always right! I can make better decisions than others! I am a matured man!  I am a grown up man and so I am matured.  Can you agree with this?  Hey, I am really grown up!  But does my behavior justify maturity?  I have heard many friends arguing on being criticized, and finally judging others as not being mature.  But in reality are they showing any signs of maturity in their behaviors or are they signaling towards their own immature nature?  Can we be mature when we cannot accept criticism, when we cannot accept our mistakes?  A mature person must be able to face situations and resolve conflicts.  He must act responsibly and be strong to admit personal issues. Our behavior pattern is just a way to express our maturity.  Maturity is more than our behavior.  If we do not realize the effects of our behavior and the acceptance of our behavior, then our behavior is not maturity.  We must be aware of our behavior to be matured.  . 
Maturity can be related with experience.  We learn things from our experiences which help us to mold our behavior to situations.  But sometimes experienced men do not show the expected maturity in their approach.  There are two forms of experiences.  An experience that passes without much attention and influence on you.  It happens just because you were present in a situation and has created no impact on your astuteness.  In this case the experience will not convert to maturity.  But if the same experience brings awareness to you it becomes maturity. This is the second form where an experience fills awareness and wisdom that will take your maturity to a higher level.  When you apply awareness to experience you become more alert and mature to differentiate the right and wrong and not to repeat a committed mistake again and again.  For example if your anger had caused a loss to you in a situation, and you are not aware of the reason, you will continue to be angry in similar situations.  But if you become aware of the reasons of your loss being anger, you will never repeat the same mistake again and again.  Your maturity will take care of your anger. 
Can our ability to adapt to situations make us a matured person?  I would like to put it the other way.  A matured person will better adapt to a situation or I would rather say to a change. Just adapting to a situation is only a temporary action and sometimes you are forced to adapt to situations for various reasons. It’s just a matter of choice and not an act of maturity.  I would agree more if we say that maturity will help us to adapt to change and become flexible.  Our awareness on the importance of adapting a change is more important than just adapting a change without any awareness just to satisfy someone or some situation.  Adapting does not mean that we have to adjust ourselves to fit into a circle where we do not belong to!  Our maturity will help us in identifying such situations through awareness.  If we are not aware of the impacts of change then we cannot adapt to such change.  We can see many people resisting change just because they are not aware of the benefits.  They are nervous to the change and feel at risk for lack of awareness.  So it is more important to fill awareness than just to adapting to situations. 
There are different types and levels of maturity. A person cannot be matured by all means or master maturity.  If a man is matured by all means, he has nothing more to experience in life.  Maturity stops only when we stop experiencing life; when our inner growth stops.  As long as we live, we experience different phases of life developing awareness on different topics.  Since there is expectations of maturity level set at every age, we can classify maturity levels by age: Infant Level, Child Level, Adolescent Level, and Adult Levels.  In our journey from Infant Level to Adult Level we come across and experience more and more events in life which develops an inner growth leading to an understanding of life and about what life has to offer.  In this journey the inner growth tells us different interpretations for our experiences which influences in our behaviors patterns and ultimately forms our maturity.  And maturity helps us to develop the capacity to find solutions to our disagreements with others.  The more mature we become the more independent we become.  We learn to become more flexible, realistic and practical in decision making.  We tend to think more positives than negatives. We think about quality than quantity. We start thinking for others than for only ourselves.  We learn to contribute to the society. We learn to respect others.  We learn to take responsibilities rather than blaming others.  We are able to balance our thoughts with our emotions, feelings and actions.  We learn to ask wise questions.
There are still so many other factors that mark our maturity.  The longer I write the more boring it will be.  So let me straight away jump to what is maturity.  We all know that at different phases of growth we learn and experience different levels of awareness.  Now we agree that age is only a physical growth and not maturity.  So what is maturity? Maturity is the ability to control anger and emotions; it is the ability to make decisions and stand by it, it is the wisdom to realize your ability, it is the art of living in peace.  In all cases it is the awareness that plays the most important role in our maturity. If this can be accepted then I would say that one who has developed awareness on certain topic(s) is a matured person in those topic(s).  Why I mention a topic is because a person cannot be matured in all areas of life.  A person can be aware of his ability in a subject and his understanding of the surroundings where he lives or has access to. That’s why we see and accept certain people as politically matured person, socially matured person, professionally matured person, technically matured person, culturally matured person etc. 
To conclude maturity is something that happens within us – an ‘Inner Growth’.  To be more precise we can define maturity as an ‘Inner Growth’ combined with awareness and understanding’.  In fact it is this inner growth with awareness that controls most of the human features, that includes being flexible, adapting to situations, accepting reality, developing feelings and emotions, developing behavior patterns, analyzing experiences, controlling thought processes,  persuading positive thinking, and helping decision making.  If we have developed self-awareness then we are becoming matured.  It is said that a matured person never commits the same mistake again.  But an old person can make the same mistake again and again.
‘Age is the acceptance of a term of years.  But maturity is the glory of years’ (Martha Graham)
Bye for now until we meet again. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Are you feeling 'stressed'?

Recently I happened to see couple of video clippings showing how stress can take us mad at certain situations.  Watch these videos on

Though the videos were funny and interesting to watch, when I thought about the real situation which leads to such scenes, I decided to explore and understand more on this topic ‘stress’.  There are several types of stress and several factors that can lead to stress.  In today’s fast world due to overload of work or due to multiple tasking or due to the aspirations not met due to competition  or being unable to reach with existing pace of life, all can create stress.  We can see personal stress built from relationships; professional stress occurring from work atmosphere; social stress mounting from political and social surroundings and many more.  There are also negative and positive stress factors.  Positive stress is generally caused by added energy levels or increased anxiety and it can be sometimes good for us.  Think about a planned vacation date nearing and we start preparations for our trip, or receiving an employment offer as per our expectation.  What will happen to us if we happen to win a lottery? How exited one we be if his/her marriage is fixed?  Of course if we are a normal human all such situations will inspire us to become more creative and active.   We generally do not interpret them as ‘stress’ as it is good for us.  Stress is commonly associated with negative feelings occurred from unacceptable or unexpected situations.  In fact we all go through some kind of stress on a daily basis: like when we get stuck in traffic, not being able to reach for work in time, not being able to meet some of the family demands, thinking about raising kids, not getting along with spouses, finding difficulty in managing finance and daily budget, etc. 

‘Stress’ is not something new.  It has been there ever since man evolved and everyone has a different verge of stress or approach to stress.  Like feeling, stress is also a response to events.  When feeling is a response to events occurring through our mental stature, stress is a physical response to an event that can create an imbalance to our body and mind.  We feel vulnerable and sense nervousness, which can be real or mere imagination.  Sometimes stress becomes very common and we get habituated to it and feel normal, which is actually not good sign for us.  When too many thoughts bounce around our head, and when we are unable to prioritize or focus on our thought process, it is likely that stress can clasp us.

‘Stress’ whether it is negative or positive has to be in our control.  Controlled stress can be good for us and it may help us in meeting challenges and/or taking impulse action in traumas.  But when the ‘stress doss’ increases beyond a point, we tend to lose control of our thinking ability and eventually can lead to major damages and even to physical ailments.  Please remember that ‘stress’ can accumulate and blast.  It can bring variations to our body pressure!  It can affect our thought process! It can affect our behavior pattern! It can even lead to heart attacks! So it is very important to try and keep ‘stresses’ under control.  “Stress is the trashes of modern life – we all generate it but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life” (Danzae Pace).

The symptom of stress can be anything like memory problems, bad judgment, constant worry, short temperedness, feeling loneliness, and depression.  Physical symptoms can be like body pain, headache, rapid breath, chest pain and moodiness.   Some other symptoms are sleeping problems, getting addicted to drugs, differences in eating habits, getting nervous etc.  So how can we control our stress?  To control stress first we need to recognize what type of stress we are going through and if is affecting our mind and body in any way?  It is not easy to judge what quantity of stress is good or bad.  We have to find our own limits.  And how do we find our limits?  Through self-realization!  Through ‘Questioning’! Try and stay calm. Ask wise questions when under pressure or when we sense stresses. Stop worrying! We can manage stress if we keep our expectations realistic, if we plan properly, and realize our abilities.  Take appropriate stress relief measures.  It’s not even a bad idea to consult a counselor or a doctor as there are also several scientific ways to control stress.  Remember ‘stress is not something that happens to us.  It is our response TO what happens.  And RESPONSE is something we can chose” (Maureen Killoran). 
That’s it for now.  Hope you enjoy reading this.  Please do send feedback and suggestions.  Will see you soon with another topic!  Have a wonderful day!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Feelings & Emotions

What are feelings and emotions? Feeling is an experience we go through and emotion is the way we express our feeling.  On many occasions we experience difficulties in identifying our feelings and expressing our emotions.  Sometimes our feelings go out of control and remain enigmatic, confusing, unclear and hard to express.  There are also times when we are incapable to understand or name our feeling.  Sometime even more difficult circumstances arise when we are not able to express our emotions in line with our feelings. Our emotions are mostly the responses to our feelings.  Try thinking on some of the common feelings we experience and the emotions we use to express them: like anger, fear, disappointment, guilt, happiness, sadness etc.  What are our emotions when we express these feelings?  Is our emotion always expressed as a response to our feelings?
Our feelings and emotions play an integral part in our behavior.  Emotions help us in decision making.  It helps in predicting behaviors: not only our own, but of others as well.  Our feelings will also help us in communicating a wide range of emotions.  Emotions can be conveyed through words, sound, body language, and/or facial expressions and each emotion will communicate some message.  For instance our emotions conveyed through facial expressions will carry our feelings to others without essentially citing anything.  While doing so we also give signals on our expectations.   Let’s see some scenarios:  What is the signal we send while expressing pain when we are hurt?  Obviously seeking some help! When we cry on the loss of a dear one we send a message of expecting some mental relief.  What facial expression and emotion will be sent out when we achieve something or when our expectation is met?  A smile, laugh and happiness!  Even here our facial expressions will send signals of expectations.  Do we expect some recognition for the achievement?  Probably a wish or a congratulation note! Imagine about other occasions where emotions communicates through facial expressions. 
On some occasions our feelings alert us to set boundaries with others with whom, we are not comfortable interacting.  What is the solution to this?  For me it is simply to express my emotion to protect my interest.  Some people might not agree with this and I have seen many friends expressing wrong emotions in response to their actual feelings to strangers.  While writing this I called a friend (Salim Palakkuniyil) to find out his views.  According to him people might think negative about us if we express our emotions to set boundaries.  I do not totally agree or disagree with him on this topic as it needs more study and understanding.  It’s a matter of how we want to set our expectation and how we want to interpret to the situation.  What I want to say is that emotions are the mediums to communicate our feelings and we have to express our emotions to do that.
How can we set our emotions to respond to our feelings?   First step is to identify our feeling through wise questions.  Ask wise questions to control feelings and understand our expectation and need. Let’s take an anger emotion situation.  We can ask questions like:  Why am I feeling angry? Am I expressing anger for the right cause?  Is anger the right emotion for my current feeling?  Am I angry because something did not meet my expectation?  Who is responsible for the expectation not being met? Did I think of an alternative?  Is there a way to overcome the situation or how can I control my feeling?  If we are able to find answers to our questions, our emotions will be positive.  If we have a negative or positive feeling, please try asking as many logical questions as possible that can be associated with the feeling so that we will have the right emotion expressed. 
Love is one subject which would best explain the impact of feelings and emotions.  What happens if we do not express our feeling of love to someone?  The feeling goes unnoticed and has no value and probably adds stress to us.  Neither we nor the person whom we love will benefit.  Love request expressed might be rejected for various reasons, but it will still give us the satisfaction of being expressed, help us live in reality, and comfort us to understand situations better and set our expectations accordingly.  Untold or unexpressed emotions can always lead to complex situations and uncomfortable feelings.  Expression of emotions also has an important role in our family and relationships.  A good understanding of our feeling and expression of right emotions will help our associations flow smoothly.  And to reiterate, the only key to find correct feeling and emotion is to learn the art of asking wise questions.
We might have experienced or we might have come across people behaving indifferently on certain situations.  Our common tendency is to immediately categories such people into a ‘bad’ listing or judges him as rude, arrogant or some similar feeling adjectives.   We need to learn to combine our feelings into our life in a healthy way and express emotions encouraging healthy associations.  We are all humans and feelings are an important aspect of us being human.  Feelings and emotions can be set based on our expectations, needs, interpretations, concerns (both personal and social), and other factors.
Mostly our feelings are directly linked to the events in our life.  Our interpretation of the event and expectation set is also very important in classifying our feelings.  An incorrectly acknowledged feeling might be expressed with a wrong emotion, which can be perceived negatively by recipients.  Sometimes we also interpret an event according to our suitability or with false knowledge, and shape our feelings and emotions to justify it.  In such cases we are actually going out of the actual event path, ending in a confused state of mind and wrong expectation.  Let’s take an example: Suppose two students go for a test and achieve the same grade, say B.  One student might interpret it as a good achievement if his expectation was set to pass the test.  The feeling generated will be expressed through positive emotions.  The other student might interpret the same grade as below his expectation.  In this case what would be his feeling and what would the type of emotion expressed.  Why is this difference in feelings?  Why two different emotions are expressed for the same scenario?   It’s just because the expectation set from the same event were interpreted in a different manner.  So it is important to understand and set our expectation in a realistic manner and to interpret our feelings positively.    
Extreme thinking on a subject or event can lead to extreme interpretation which is not a good sign and can lead to false emotions.  Too much of personalization or too much of generalization can also have influences in controlling our emotions.  One best way to control our feeling and emotion is to ask questions like: What am I feeling now? Is my feeling telling something? Why am I feeling this now?  Is this the right time doing it?  Can this be done in a different and better way?  Am I expecting the right thing? Will this harm or hurt others?  The type of question we ask will have to be logical depending on the type of situation, event or expectation. We need to focus on ourselves and our feelings to ensure control of emotions. 
Expression of feeling is very significant in developing our character and portraying our confidence.  As mentioned earlier, ‘Expressing an emotion is actually responding to our own feelings’.  If we do not respond to our own feelings we cannot respond to others feelings.  So start thinking, start asking, start talking, start sharing, and ultimately start expressing.  ‘Emotions are to be expressed.  Suppressed emotions will always bring undesirable results’.  Let your head and heart work together: to create positive feelings with logic and emotions! Remember the well said quote by Carl Buchner, “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel”.

Take care until we meet again with a new topic.  Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Welcome back friends!  So did you find some time to ask few questions to yourself? Did you get your answers?  Did it make any difference?  Fine let’s continue.
We discussed about asking wise questions and its implication in decision making process.   But how do we know whether we are asking a wise question?  For me there is only one answer for this.  It’s your ‘confidence’.   You have to be self-reliant to be wise. 
I have come across several situations where people say that they are not getting enough attention or they are not getting what they deserve or they have been left behind and so on.  This might be true.  Our performance might be better than others.  We might have accomplished the given task within the timeline.  And still we are left behind.   Why?  Did we ever try to find out the reasons for this?  Was something lacking in us?  Did we miss asking something?  Did we not meet all required standards?  There must be a reason!
I think we might have missed asking a confident question or possibly exposing our confidence level, which is the key to our success; and an elucidation to our achievement!  Our success and failure is directly attributed to the way we ask questions to different situations and how confident we are.  We can’t always say “I’m like a cat.  Throw me up in the air and I’ll always land on my feet.”  Don’t blame others for the situation and make statements like ‘it is due to discrimination’ or ‘he is lobbying against me’ and so on.  I am not saying that there is no discrimination or lobbying in organizations.  However, we will be able to overcome these and come up with better answers or solutions, if we ask a wise question at the right time with ‘confidence’.
Like any other art, I believe questioning skill is also an art, and everyone can develop this by practice.  Likewise self-confidence can also can be learned and built on. One way of developing our personal skill and confidence is through meditation, which means identifying one’s self through concentration.  I do not want to go into the details of meditation and its effects now.  We might probably at a later stage consider discussing this topic.  For now let’s revert to confidence. 
What is self-confidence?  We can come up with different definitions for self-confidence.  Is it about speaking in public, or being confident in social situations, or being assertive on getting what you want?  I think it is more than all these?  I think it’s about us being in control of ourselves.  When we lose our control we lose our confidence.  And this happens when our sub-conscious mind stops asking right questions to prompt our conscious mind to ask wise questions.  Self-confidence will help us to be positive and realistic and to trust in our abilities.  People who are not self-confident will always wait for approvals or be dependent on others for making decisions.
Please note that being confident does not mean that we will be successful in all subjects and in all situations.  If we are able to analyze our own aptitude and altitude, we will realize the areas where we can perform.  And the best way to do this is to ask ourselves, whether we want take up a task or not.  If we are confused we should not hesitate to contact a good counselor.  There are different studies which gives ways to improve self-confidence.  Some of the main areas I found interesting and useful are: Keep smiling and speak slowly as it will make ourselves feel better and definitely increase self-confidence. Make eye contact while maintaining a smile and it will reinforce our feelings and confidence.  Hold to our own standards and forget other people’s standards.  Remember that however hard we try, we cannot always satisfy others.  Try and present ourselves as well as possible: our physical appearance will have great impact in our confidence levels while interacting with others.  Be honest and try and keep calm in unexpected situations.  Think positive!
Remember the quote by Virginia Woolf an English author and writer: “Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle”.
In the coming days we will try to discuss how the power of questions or art of questioning works in different situations in our daily life.  Until then enjoy and have a wonderful day!