Shyleswari Mohan

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Good Boundaries make Good Relationships


A boundary is a limit or space between

You and the other person. A clear space,

 Where you begin and the other person ends.

It is to protect and take good care of you.

Today, I took a phone call that I did not intend to. I had just returned home after a long travel. I made my first cup of coffee and sat down, to relax and unwind.

When the phone rang and I answered, it was from a bank, she said perkily “I’m  in your apartment complex and can I drop in?”. I was constricted for a second , and no sooner than I had said “Yes!” The doorbell rang. The young manager of early thirty and another younger man stepped in and she said chirpily, “Hi Ma’am, so pleased to meet you” etc. I was annoyed at her nonchalance and decided to take the gauntlet head on. I said “Yes, March is nearing and I’m sure you’d like to meet your targets, I’m very sorry I have no interest in insurance or investments”. There was an awkward silence.

I invited them for a cup of coffee and spoke about inane stuff and then they left.

Now they were offended and ruffled, they were the injured party.

The question I’m left with is, Have we forgotten to respect a client’s time and space? When I said I could have appreciated an appointment request, she says you could have said “No”, “I would have gone to the next client”.

Something within me left me jolted at this careless approach. It then seems a logical step to create boundaries. Boundaries, which help in safe guarding one’s own time and space.

In our country, which is by and large a collective, community living and saying No! is a deeply difficult task (no it’s not that we lack Self-Esteem, it’s a cultural DNA). Boundaries are a healthy way of taking care of oneself. It facilitates a space of our own and a way to tell our self that “I matter”.

When I set a boundary, I am telling the world the truth about myself. I take responsibility for how I feel, what I want and who I am right now.

A  boundary gives me a chance to hold a transparent communication, with myself and then with others.

No! No! I’m not setting a boundary because you are wrong or you are to blame , but that I would like to  take responsibility to keep myself in care . To listen to oneself instead of somebody else.

In a nutshell, it is a transparent declaration that you are unable or unwilling to go any further, at this time. This concept of “Boundary setting” is a relatively new one we were not taught to take care of ourselves  first, we were told to obey our parents, teachers, then bosses and so on. This is no longer a privilege it is about autonomy and choice.

Deciding to create your own choice and learning to deepen your relationship with yourself is a primary task of spirituality.

Imagine “Freedom” to be a space where you do not agree/obey to do something because you are “supposed” to or because of how others will perceive you. But because you want to. Do you savour the difference? That’s the taste of autonomy.

Never having to feel bad about yourself or your choices instead, accounting to yourself first, before you do it to someone else.

Most importantly, setting boundaries honors and recognizes you as a living, breathing human being. It frees you and acknowledges that you were born and your are worthy, because are alive.  

 

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Inspired by Ubuntu

I came across the word “Übuntu”, two years ago where I read about the story of youngsters in Africa, when they were asked to run a race and one of them fell down and the runners al,l stopped, ran back, helped him up and ran together till the finish line. All the runners were physically challenged. This was an inspiring story - it said “Ubuntu”.

It got me interested in “Ubuntu”.

What is Ubuntu? I thought it was acts of kindness.

It’s apparently more than kindness.

“Ubuntu is when we are able to see ourselves in other people, our experience in the world, will inevitably be a richer, kinder, more convinced one. If we look at others and see ourselves reflected back, we inevitably treat people better”.           -Mungi Ngomane

Interestingly, Ubuntu starts with yourself. It recognises the inner worth of every human being and it begins with yourself.

Let’s take a close look at some of our , collective beliefs that we are taught at a young age that are gaining priority, even before we can question it.

Example,

l  I am a self-made made

l  He has crores of money therefore, he is successful.

l  Competitiveness leads to success and fulfilment.

l  You are a winner, if you are declared the best. 

 

What is the subject of these few statements?

Individuality, moneyed success, winning, and competition at any cost that leads to your being the best.

Though the word “Best”is questionable.

Now, let’s rewind, some of 25-30years ago.

I’m sure many of our parents have rags to riches story, and it is recorded in our family history.

I know that my Dad was one of them, but he journeyed along with this younger brother and his family or 8 of his brother-in-law and his grandparents. That is easily like some 20 people. He often used to say if it weren’t for people, I could not have led the way. They supported me.

Nothing can be erased in a vacuum!

They understood , that collaboration , give and take, sharing and inclusion were all part of life.

He did not win any awards, he merely extended the table, he founded sabhas and other spaces where he could provide more on an annual basis or monthly basis, through organisation for religious, educational or social reasons.

I understand how he lived his life through “Ubuntu”. He saw others reflected in himself and him reflected in others.

We lived as a community we lived with relationships.

Today, we have already experienced, “My space”, “My life”, slogans and the pendulum has swung to the other extreme.

We need to find neutral ground, we need to regain collaboration and inclusion for us to see ourselves in others.

Before I leave I’d like to leave with a thought.

Think about the people in your life who have contributed into making who you are today.

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WALK INTO YOUR INNER SPACE

Very often people are conditioned to binary thinking.

Good and bad

Right and wrong

Should and should not

Normal and Abnormal

I am sure many of our parents have advised us to ask yourself, Is this the best you can do? If in your heart you hear a Yes ! Then do it, if you hear a muffled voice don’t do it.

Two things possibly happen, you ended up not knowing whether it was your Fear speaking, or whether it was really your conscience speaking.

The second thing that could happen is, that you probably became very Self Righteous, and that led to judgments about others who in your eyes were not “doing” according to what you would do.

When I started my journey with Indian Society Of Applied Behavioural Science , I came across the statement “There are no right or wrong” ! Huh? How’s that?

As I observed and processed, yes, there were many many shades of grey and my own levels of deeper understanding of human behaviour grew. I could see that people acted differently because of various factors like, values, beliefs, situations or needs. The quality of relationships became more meaningful.

Let’s take a look at Right and Wrong

When I am stuck with my strategies, this is the only way to do it , this is the only way to think , this is the only way to behave “My way or the high way”. It makes a person Self Righteous.

The person exerts a certain positionality, that slowly becomes rigid and inflexible, add virtuousness and it is the best masala for being a spicy opinionated know- it- all Alec .

Righteousness emerges and stays with three friends Being Right, Resentment and Rigidity . These three big fellas live in a house where there are others who also live together. Sometimes they interchange their rooms, sometimes all of them live in the Living Room, making it difficult for Shy , Sensitive or Respectful to stay in Harmony.

Let’s take this episode where Rajesh and Rani, a happily married couple I know, seemed to suddenly have broken off. Reason? Rajesh did not approve of Rani’s ability to shower her love on her nieces & nephews. So much so when her sister passed away , she wanted to take one of her nephew’s a (6 years old) as a foster child. After rounds and rounds of dialoguing even mediating Rajesh could not flex in any way. They broke up.

When the three R’s (i.e, Being right, Resentment and Rigidity) dominate, the slow erosion of Comfort, Joy and Spontaneity evaporates, leaving behind Discontent, Dysfunction, and Distrust.

For instance, a confused mind lives on the chaos, scatters chaos , and breeds more and more Rigidity.

The spaciousness, the respect and ability to see another’s view point is gradually vanishing, that is missing in our lives. I sometimes see it being taken over by earphones and other gadgets , like a ready beckoner , we rarely have a no feed time , we are constantly being fed, with live streaming, of someone or something. That those moment when we used to stare blankly , listen to our thoughts , and understand another are totally mired into the social media.

Being right makes you just that-Right! Not happy.

How would it be if you looked beyond binary thinking and saw shades of grey?

Food for thought indeed. What do you say??  


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You are more than what is seen

Consider this usual everyday introduction.

Hi!

My name is Ashok, working for Global Landscape, as an Asia Pacific-HR.

Hi!

My name is Vani, and I am a home-maker.

It’s become an unconscious speech, that we introduce our role, that we carry in our work or other spaces. It is as though our name and who “we” are , has not got enough significance, and that there is a strong urge to tell what we “do”, therefore we add where and what role, title, position, we carry-into our work. Otherwise, we are nobody.

Last week, I bumped into an old friend, Jineesh, he looked so lost, thin and spaced out. Over a cup of coffee, at a small cafe called “Finger Fries”, he shared how he was now without a job. He spoke about the financial vacuum, identity vacuum, and a social vacuum, that he felt. I could feel his loss, pain and diffidence in comparison to how he was in his factory 18 months ago, when I worked with his colleagues on a Coaching assignment.

When I left him, it made me think, at several levels we believe that the roles that we play, the career which we choose, and the social perception of us- is Me!

Like my Guru says “If a monkey sits on a tree, will it become a monkey tree? Or a crow sits on a car, will it become a crow car?”.

This realisation surfaced, that we can draw a boundary to the roles we play and hold a reasonable perspective.
Just because I wear a hat, I don’t become that person. It is useful to remember that it is a hat I choose to wear and I can remove it and become Jineesh again.

As long as I wear that hat, I can be true to my role, once I take of that hat, I am free to wear another color, size or shape, of hat I choose, but I do not become that hat.

In a person’s life, there are several roles that we play, the question to ask is “Am I doing justice to all the roles?” Am I happy and satisfied with the value and quality of the roles I play? .

For a deeper understanding , let’s look at the Wheel of life and the roles I play.


Wheel of Life