Nix the Quick Fix

Posted by Lachmi Deb Roy on Sat, Feb 26, 2011  
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More and more of us now take to consulting experts or gurus to sort out feelings, problems and dilemmas.


The shy era seems remote. As globalisation has shrunk the world’s continent and lifestyles, some of Indian society’s traditional strengths have also given way not only to stress and vulnerability, but also to quick fixes. While family ties and support system have not collapsed for all Indians, metropolitan India is experiencing a rapid decline in family ties. Youngsters who move to cities in search of jobs find themselves less rooted and less capable of delving into their own or their family support systems. The isolation and anonymity of urban life have also added to the seductive charm of ‘gurus’.


For those living in cities, a solution to any emotional need is just a phone call away. For hundreds of rupees a minute or hour, young men and women on the cusp of emotional, romantic or occupational burnout are trying hard to find reassuring answers and solutions to their problems. But is this greater reliance on problem solving experts and counselors a healthy trend?


While millions of self-help programmes and lifestyle coaches or therapists can effectively walk us through some of our dilemmas and anguishes, they also diminish our link to our own self and to those around us. In earlier years, women met around the village well and men around the grocer’s to gab about their lives and current affairs. Inside the urban home, elders and peers were our main support and source of guidance.


The nuclear family has dissolved much of that caring and sharing infrastructure. As recently as 1980, before multiple TV channels and video games parceled out the family into individual rooms and viewing preferences, everyone including the cook and the maid- sat around the single TV to watch popular soaps. Sunday mornings were family time. And each show watched together brought us closer to how each one of us felt about what. Around my own paralyzed grand mother, all the family sons and daughters-in-law took turn to visit and be near her, making her feel she was still the centre of the family. Today, she would be consigned to a neat room, with two paid workers attending on her. Even with more medical and therapeutic care, deprived of the emotional quotient in the care package offered to her, she would be more aware today of her isolating disability than ever before. This is not meant to denigrate today’s therapists and care givers. They obviously have a role to play in restructuring our fractured lives. What is intended is to encourage some re-think on where our inner self is headed when we let it out to unknown professionals and self-proclaimed gurus.


Psychologist Dr. Anjali Chanbria says that from the time we are born, we are told what we should or should not do, and what we should or should not be. We are encouraged to believe our parents have all the answers, or our schools friends or society. We have learned to look at everything outside of ourselves in order to live our life ‘right’. Inevitably, we start to seek out others to walk us through each and every situation. When parents are gone youngsters turn to external help for paid or unpaid advises.  “When youngsters come to me for help, I tell them that we are the ones who, if we try, know best what we need in order to be happy and fulfilled. Our inner voice is what can guide and lead us to our own recovery and self discovery,” says Dr. Chabria.


Counsellor from Vizag Sugatha Menon says, “The trick to understand your own problems is to narrow things down as much as possible. Be specific. This means stating your fears in terms of ‘I feel self conscious at parties, for instance when I do not know anyone.’ Or I feel tense at a meeting or ‘I feel awkward around a particular colleague’. Such specific statements make it easier for you to cope with and overcome your fears, anxieties and awkwardness. You also need to break the cycle of despair with enabling solutions and replies such as ‘Then I will do… to handle the situation.’ Also get over the ‘Savior Syndrome’. For each difficulty you face, new remedies have to be found. And the key for many answers may often lie within you. Seek help to the extent it can serve you as a catalyst.”


Instead of being too reliant on- and giving control to-others, ask yourself if you can do it on your own. Is there a relative, neighbour or a friend you can turn for help?


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