Friendships lost

I’ve always been complemented for having a welcoming, kind face thanks to that I did not have any problem gaining friends. But my temperament didn’t have a lasting effect; I can’t seem to maintain any long term relationships. Friendships end up being another task, hard chore to keep the relationship alive. 
I desperately want to establish strong ties. However, the day comes and I get depressed or unreasonably anxious, my ups and downs after a while drives them away. Everyone is consumed with not catching the negative vibe bug. I get how ‘negative energy’ can scare away new acquaintance, but it shouldn’t when it comes to close family members and friends, or do I have the concept of relationships wrong? According to research from the University of Warwick, depression is not a transmitted disease. Therefore, having a friend who is depressed can only increase the chances of his/her recovery. 
So, let’s rewind way back to when I was in school. I read books that had titles similar to ‘how to win friends’. I had a system, I would read several books about how to have friends and highlight the points that were repeated in every book, points such as smile, be helpful, ask questions and act interested in what they have to say. So I became Ms. happy face, always beaming. I smiled whenever I catch someone looking at me, then asked questions and was very interested in what their answers would be, always willing to help them out with anything. Needless to say I had more friends than I can fathom in a very short time. 
However, what the authors forgot to mention in their books or maybe what I failed to notice then was that if you have a low self-esteem, friends aren’t going to be the solution. I was so adamant in being everyone’s friend and for everyone to love me that I’ve became what they wanted to see in a friend.  
During my university days, I would make up excuses to go sit alone. A friend would see me sometimes sitting on my own and kindly joins me and I tell her that that was ‘my alone time’. I think that’s how it all started. I felt like I was always competing, I wanted to stay relevant. That’s when my gloomy attitude started to leak out. Before that I managed to keep it hidden inside the four walls of my bedroom. 
As graduation came close I knew my days with my friends were numbered. The forced commitment to go to classes was what kept our friendship alive. I am what you would describe as an introvert or home bound. Whereas, all my friends were blown out extroverts and I loved their energy, I enjoyed their extracurricular activities. But what I would normally opt to do is google the meaning of something or the relationship status of someone like Jerry Buting (married man). 
After graduating, I made promises to my friends and I, that I will stay in touch. But after few weeks away. And because I am a creature of habit I enjoyed my routine although at that time I would never own up to it because it didn’t suit my free spirit, hip lifestyle. I did manage to set dates. But setting a date for a meet felt forced I ended up getting charged up so I cancelled them due to my pre-meet jitters. 
Not having university, school to keep us committed I gradually drifted away. At first I blamed their marriage and work but the truth is I didn’t have the energy to stay friends with them. Depression drains almost all the energy out of me, on these days commenting or liking their picture on instagram is all the interaction I can muster. Most days I am left wondering why does it seem like everyone else in the world makes friends and keeps them so effortlessly. Is there a rulebook for relationships that I am missing?
I find that my state of being adopted had a lot to do with how I picked my friends and why I picked that much. I had a lot of identity issues and felt very isolated and I needed friends to fill that void. Although, I clearly enjoyed small crowds, the need to be loved and accepted by everyone was stronger. I ended up being an extrovert imposter. I found myself hanging out with the wrong crowds and when I say wrong I don’t mean bad, but their personalities never collided well with mine.  
I had expectations of how I wanted my friends to be like, I didn’t realize then and after many failed friendships that that is not what I really wanted, I picked fun, funny outgoing friends. I thought if I stick around long enough I might be like them. But I wasn’t, I enjoyed watching movies, reading half a book, listening to psychology lectures and podcasts, I loved spending hours talking about profound topics, losses, life lessons. That was my idea of fun. The kind of friends that would have suited me were sitting somewhere in the middle of the classroom, unnoticed. I wanted to be noticed and loved by many; the middle was out of the question then. 
Another after the fact discoveries about myself was my attachment and boundaries issues, I can be extreme with friends at times I would say intimidating things like ‘I feel like we are sisters’ and I would get a polite smile or ‘you are so sweet’ then abandonment issues rises up. I feel threatened so I will either campaign really hard to make them say ‘me too’ or leave before they ghost me out. 
I had plenty of friends when I said what they wanted to hear, when I heard their problems and made them feel good about themselves. Back then I needed permission to be myself and when I proceeded to unfold I always did it very mindfully. After countless therapy sessions being myself consciously went out the window. But I am mindful of my issues, I no longer feel crushed when a friend tiptoes quietly out of my life. Depression can wreak havoc on a friendship I’ve experienced that time after time. It takes someone who went through it to understand how straining it can get. 

Sharenters 

Parenting in the time before social media held sway, parents used to send pictures of their children to their relatives so they could carry them around in their wallets as a reminder of their loved ones. In those days, no one sent those pictures to strangers – that would have been considered absurd and dangerous. However, that is not the case these days for anyone with social media access and a child.
“Sharenters”, as they are sometimes called, live vicariously through their children, by putting them out there posing in cute outfits and sharing short videos of their children saying witty one-liners. They do this to gain more followers. In this context, “likes” are the modern-day equivalent of rank and status.   
Raising a child can be isolating. Once the first child is born a mother’s life is changed forever. But, by living through their child’s achievements, they bridge the gap that was once was filled with social activities. This is especially true now, when every household is a nuclear family and you rarely find a mother-in-law or aunt living in the same house, helping out with the day-to-day responsibilities of a child and sharing the joyful moments when a young kid says grown-up words. In this context, Facebook and Instagram bridges some of this sense of isolation.

However, sharenting is not entirely about inflated egos and a need for attention. The majority of parents find everything their children do to be special and nowadays, of course, capturing a special moment is easier and more accessible. But that doesn’t necessarily make it a wise idea.
The greater problem with all this is that children may grow up to care more about appearance than substance.
And there is also the dark side of the internet. According to the C S Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, 51 per cent of respondents said they had given out information that could be used to identify a child’s whereabouts. Even the most innocent of posts on social media could make it easier for predators to trace a child’s location.
“Parents are responsible for their child’s privacy and need to be thoughtful about how much they share on social media so they can enjoy the benefits of camaraderie but also protect their children’s privacy today and in the future,” according to Sarah J Clark, associate director of the University of Michigan, who is concerned by the overuse of sharenting and sharenters.
 The American actor Lena Dunham, who has spoken at length about the abuse she has experienced on social media, said that Twitter mentions “creates some really kind of cancerous stuff inside you”.
If an adult in the public eye with mature emotional health can’t handle harsh comments, what chance do the children of sharenters have?
Recently I stumbled across a post online, which contained hurtful remarks about a particular child’s appearance. This post criticised the child concerned for supposedly being overweight and having a weird-looking face.
When a parent unintentionally exposes their child to haters, I don’t think they realise the effect that those pictures and comments can have, particularly when the grown-up child stumbles upon them and read those negative comments, which can play a big damaging role in their confidence and self-image.

My peace was originally posted in the national newspaper

Who is to blame for the high number of divorces among Emiratis?

According to the latest National Bureau of Statistics, the number of divorces among Emiratis increased by 38 per cent between 2013 an 2014. The UAE has one of the highest divorce rates in the world.
This could be happening for many reasons. One is that girls grow up fantasising about marriage. They often imagine the day of their marriage as a day when they will be free from the clutches of their parents.
However, when that time comes, they realise that there is a big difference between perception and reality, and that marriage does not mean freedom but commitment and obligation.
Secondly, it’s possible that progress and development are taking a toll on marriages. It’s worth remembering that a man’s self-esteem can be hurt by his wife’s success.

That’s perhaps because a woman’s success challenges the gender stereotype that the man should be more competent, strong and intelligent than his partner. Traditionally, men expect their wives to look after the household. When these expectations are not met, trouble is inevitable. In other words, misogyny can cut short the life of a marriage. Men who seek undivided attention also tend to feel neglected when their wives devote time to their professions. Friction takes place when women point their fingers at their husband for not paying them as much respect as they receive from their male colleagues at work.

Emirati women’s lives have undergone tremendous change over the years. Aided by the Government’s commitment to empower women and provide them with equal opportunities, the status of women in this country has flourished in parallel with the country’s growth since the union was established in 1971.

It is evident that women today constitute a vital part of the workforce and actively contribute to the economy.
Under the constitution, women enjoy the same legal status, claim to titles, access to education, health care and social welfare and the same right to practise professions as men. They are also guaranteed the same access to employment.

Today Emirati women account for a significant number of the national labour force in fields as diverse as science, technology, engineering, health care, media, law, commerce, politics, aviation and education. This has benefited women in another way – their independence enables them to leave bad marriages.
However, the rising rate of divorce cannot be blamed solely on women’s new-found independence.

Moreover, despite women’s ability to leave a failed marriage, divorce is frowned upon in society.Women are also taught from an early age that if a marriage does not work initially, they need to be patient and allow time to work out the differences.

One bright spot in the entire issue is that the number of marriages in people’s late teens and early twenties is plummeting. Emirati women are wising up to the fact that marriage takes work and having a university degree can be useful in overcoming fears and doubts.

Individuality and financial security allow women to avoid living with dreadful patience or the fear of being a burden on their parents if their marriages do not work out. Divorce is increasingly becoming an acceptable option also because it is financially feasible.

I am not campaigning for divorce, but I would always prefer peace of mind than marrying for the sake of it. Following the endurance narrative in a marriage can waste years, especially if there are children involved.
As the comedian Louis CK said: “No good marriage has ever ended in divorce.”

My article was originally published at the National Newspaper.  

Is a wandering mind destined to be an unhappy one?

Whether we are sipping our morning coffee and dreaming about our ideal job or spacing out during a meeting and thinking about a new life abroad, we are all guilty of indulging in idle fantasy. A 2010 Harvard study found that people spend 46.9 per cent of their waking hours daydreaming.The finding came about after psychologists Matt Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert undertook a research project called “Track Your Happiness”, collecting the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of 2,255 participants as they carried on with their lives.

Exactly how a daydream begins is hard to pinpoint. Vividly imagining a scenario and staying in that train of thought long enough to categorise the genre of the fantasy can be the emotional equivalent of awakening from simple surgery to find your entire hand missing.

Fighting back thoughts takes a disciplined person, especially when those thoughts can creep up on you. You could very well be focusing on the matter at hand, ignoring the voices inside your head and suddenly they close in.

All it takes is a split second for you to turn around to find this full-length feature with you as the obligatory dominant lead.
It’s well-known that negative daydreaming can bring you down and could lead to or be an indicator of depression.

However, negative day dreaming is not always bad.

Author Todd Kashdan mentions in his book Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredients to a Fulfilling Life that “prehistoric men and women who worried a lot were more likely to survive than their carefree, positive-thinking peers. Thinking negatively served as an early warning system.” Negativity could scare the day dreamer into working harder to avoid the worst case scenario.

Envisioning a better future was what was supposed to help us get through whatever abrasive fate life throws our way.
However, the recent study by Gabriele Oettingen, Doris Mayer and Sam Portnow, published in the journal Psychological Science, puts positive fantasies in the spotlight.
Against most common knowledge, the research suggests that positive thinking can have an immediate positive effect, but it can cause depression in the long run when vision isn’t met by reality.

The mantra of “imagine positive outcomes and the universe will conspire to bring it to you” turned out to be a scheme. The universe doesn’t have the time to run through hoops to hand deliver a dream to your doorstep. Between the present reality and the imagined future is a long list of hard work and realistic expectations.

Most times the root of all mental pain is the amount of emotional attachment and time one wastes in one’s own fantasy bubble.

Realising the distance between reality and factoring in a hefty load of expectations and feelings of premature achievements can be devastating.

Oettingen and her co-authors noted that “inducing positive fantasies may indeed produce depressive symptoms by encouraging people to enjoy their success prematurely in their minds, thus lowering energy and effort”.

There are two sides to this coin: excessive mind wandering can lead to depression whether what is being imagined is positive or negative, unless the wandering party remains realistic when it comes to how realistically it will all unfold in the future.

You can’t live your days tilting your head against the window and enjoying farfetched dreams and abruptly going back to reality when the car stops.

Instead, harness the energy to realise your dreams by pursuing your goals. Don’t hinge your happiness and limit it to a few minutes of escapism.
Originally published in the national newspaper

Every failed attempt is an opportunity to try again

Fear of failure stems from an early age, rooted possibly by parents who were not supportive when their kids needed help carrying some of the weight off of them when they got thrown down by the hefty load of failure.Some were mocked at class by their teachers for raising their hand and daring to ask a question. Some were called stupid or were told that they will never amount to anything. Some were told they couldn’t do anything alone. Some were laughed at by their friends.

When a child brain is still developing and is being raised by parents who expect too much or offer them love according to their achievements and performances it can have a substantially negative impact on child emotional and mental growth.

How a child’s parent or teacher chose to view a failure will leave an imprint in the child psyche it can either motivate him/her to learn from their mistakes or view it as an irreparable disaster in that case a child approach to learning can have a negative effect. Parents and teachers need to deliver a delicate feedback when need be to evaluate a child skill.

Dr. Michou said in a study published in British Psychological Society (BPS) that “teachers and parents have to be more sensitive to the rational they provide to children to adopt a goal or engage in an activity. Suggesting children to improve their skills for their own enjoyment and development is much more beneficial than suggesting them to improve their skills in order to prove themselves.”

Short cuts or easy way outs are quite common with kids and adolescences who were most effected by their failures. Unconsciously their purpose is to protect their ego whether by avoiding taking risks or cheating to get to where they want to be. Realising missteps and obstacles are not fatal and believing that time and effort using effective strategies will help them develop their skills without feeling like failures or frauds is pleasurably fulfilling.

According to author David Putwain “Teachers are desperately keen to motivate their students in the best possible way but may not be aware of how messages they communicate to students around the importance of performing well in exams can be interpreted in different ways,” carefully wording the motivational speech to prepare them for future shouldn’t be negatively packed. Offer them realistic expectations without letting them look down the edge, helping their shaken confidence to believe they can make it and shut off their grown internalised fear.

Adopting a more compassionate approach and offering a positive safe house atmosphere to be vulnerable can shield kids when they fall. Believing in them and their aspiration at an early age will help them set goals without backing out of them for fearing that they might get ridiculed and end up to feel like losers.

Perfectionists whether it was inherited or if it came about from disappointing or not meeting our parents’ expectation, have a fear of flaws. Failing to perfect at everything might feed into their doubts that they are not competent.

Excitement and motivation is healthy, almost necessary for the task to reach it desired goals. However, if we weren’t prepared for an undesired outcome then the doubt comes to work and plays into insecurity of being not good enough.

The mantra of shame and guilt starts hamming until you realise that failure is the gateway to growth and innovation.

Originally my piece was published at the column page at the Khaleej times newspaper 

Fear should not obstruct your ambition to go ahead

 

Every failure pushes you forward, quitting is what should define failure.

Fear of failure is so great that it can almost be diagnosed as a phobia commonly known as atychiphobia, a phobia that is ascended from life adversity or from a childhood traumatic experience. Be that as it may, failing is inevitable; everyone got introduced to failure at some point in their lives. Some failures wreak havoc on our self-esteem and confidence although rationally we know we didn’t know better back then or that it is as simple as saying it happens. Failure can range from wetting a bed at age 5 to failing at a course to something with a higher stake like a crumbling business. Avoiding failure can stuck you in a rut while watching everyone around you move forward. Whether it was picking a different career path to avoid failing in what you dreamed of. Ego plays a big rule in shutting our dreams down. Fragile egos can’t handle the humility that needs to be on standby when failure knocks on our doors. Humility is admitting you don’t have all the answer, it also means you still have room to grow and learn. Successful self-made people don’t have big ego they substitute it with strive, they always make room for failures for the lessons that come with it.

Voicing out your dreams and daring to go after them can sometimes intimidate people at your surroundings. Some will feed you doubt that you are not up to the task. Some will ask you to head back to reality because your dreams are all delusional. You are left with two choices, then you either welcome in their feedback and believe them or prove them wrong. If you don’t believe in yourself, then find a confidant who is willing to be your anchor when you feel the tides of doubt and fear drift you away. However, you still have to have a strong belief almost religious like in yourself; no amount of external support can get you to your finish line if your belief was doubtful.

Keep all distractions on the sidestep, we often master at finding ways to distract our racing thoughts to be something that our fear then fights back with emergency sirens mouthing out ‘you will fail’. Success needs persistence in the face of failure. Allow yourself countless of falls, don’t let the idea of failure being absolute creep in and make you quit. Every failure pushes you forward, quitting is what should define failure. You can either get caught on a doom loop of avoidance or seek out your goals that are out of your comfort zone and into the unknown.

Little tasks helps when you feel beaten down and uncertain. Don’t let the anxiety and depression put you on bed rest. One thing I can promise by is baby steps. One task a day; today write a paragraph or two, the next day post it online. If you need help or assistance don’t be afraid to ask. One thing that resonated about Steve Jobs journey to success is his ability to ask. “Most people never pick up the phone and call, most people never ask. And that’s what separates, sometimes, the people that do things from the people that just dream about them. You gotta act. And you’ve gotta be willing to fail, you gotta be ready to crash and burn” Jobs said. There has been numerous times where I debated with myself if it’s okay to ask for help and admit that I tried and failed but I often took the gutless route and opt to bluff.

Fear of failure can get the better of you even after you start to know better. Unconsciously the habit to flight is stronger. For years I have agonised over my failures for not picking what I wanted. I always picked what was safer or what made me look smarter.

When I decided to explore the topic of fear of facing obstacles and failure, I asked friends and family what was that one failure that completely shattered them. The majority mentioned math. And at the risk of sounding narcissistic their comment made me think of my choice of majoring in accounting. I hated math but math was meant to make me look smart. Although, if I was ever asked a calculus or accounting question I would choke under no pressure. Picking what others found smart fed my ego. At the time of my graduation I realised I made a mistake but felt that I was in too deep and there was no way out.

Our biggest failure is our disbelief in ourselves. We easily doubt our abilities when we stumble, we can be very hard on ourselves when we don’t notice little things like getting the time all mixed up or when we let the paranoia get the best of us when the replies don’t come as soon as we expected. We tend to judge ourselves very harshly that it ends up decapitating us; we support our family and friends when they fail but hide in shame when we feel defeated.

My original article is posted in Khaleej Times Opinion Column

Personality tests movement

You might have heard the saying ‘no two snowflakes are alike’, the same goes to human beings. Our personalities are so complex no matter the age. Our likes and dislikes, weaknesses and strengths, fears and esteems and the reasons behind every one of them are hard to pin down.Personality questionnaires used to be conducted only inside the four walls of the psychologist room. Shortly before Sir Francis Galton formed the first personality questionnaire during the 19th century, psychologists used to examine their patients’ personalities by measuring their skulls (Phrenology) and by examining their facial appearances and expressions (Physiognomy).  

In the age of social media you might have noticed how personality tests went viral. According to BuzzSumo data from 2014, 36 million was the estimated number of times people took buzzfeed quizzes like “Can We Guess Your Real Age?” While, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator serves a higher purpose, as reported by CPP, Inc.; MBTI questionnaire is shared over 2.5 million yearly and it is used by 89 companies from fortune top 100 as well as top universities.

Identities are part of us, yet it is arguably the hardest to understand and we find it hard to accurately define who and what we are. Throughout our lives we undergo few stages of identity crisis, because most times our identities don’t live up to our self-perception. From an amateur psychologist prospective, I find that we take these tests because we seek identity fulfillment. It might not be a conscious calculated move by the testee but after clicking at the results button almost all learn something new about themselves.  

Although we are in the age of different is cool we still need acceptance and connection. We take these tests to feel less alone, to feel like our weirdness that some might not understand is not a singular out of the ordinary occurrence. These tests despite their level of accuracy it brings alienated people from all over the world together, creating some sort of a bond. Personality quizzes finds a home to all the lost identities who try to fit in a group or a category. “they give you some feedback on whether your behavior is similar to others, what your niche is, and how similar you are to a sub-group of people,” said Mitch Prinstein, a psychology professor at the university of North Carolina, when interviewed by Keith Wagstaff, NBC News; about ‘Why Do You Love Personality Quizzes – Experts Break It Down’

Moreover, Personality tests could be done as a group or between couples to find out more about each other. It unfolds the reason behind some of the actions you found difficult to comprehend. We can learn which note not to hit, when a family or a friend needs space and why, how they deal with their personal and anger issues. These tests I learned – after taking more than a few – are so much more than finding out who is an introvert and extrovert. It helps in finding a connection, in ourselves when we feel lost and with others when we try to connect or reconnect.

Career personality tests are handy when we feel indecisive about which road to take towards our future. Results of these tests clarify which major or occupation you subconsciously lean toward, and possibly thrive in.

The purpose of the career tests is that it finds the best career path that will maximize your strength. It can also help in finding which aspects of your personality needs strengthening whether it was leadership or group activity. Ultimately these tests do more good, in my book if you look up online for a test that’s been prepared by well renowned psychologists and human recourses then chances are you will get the answers you are looking for.

I often wondered why many took time over time off their schedule to take these tests, when one would suffice. The fact of the matter is we want to understand ourselves more, these questions are asked to gain a better insight. But what is even more shamefully fascinating is that it is solely about who is taking the test and what is best for them, and we as humans crave attention over all us. Christine Whelan a sociologist at the University of Wisconsin said when interviewed by Keith Wagstaff that “People love it when you ask them questions about themselves. It makes us feel good that the quiz is interested in us.”

While I sing praises over how marveling the experiences I had and seen in people who took these tests both in how we found a better understanding or in finding the suitable professional life. I want to go back to the fact that no snowflakes are alike. And while we all love to be sorted out into categories – the OCD cult more than the rest- we are more complicated than being introverts or extroverts. These tests no matter how much they reveal they can never estimate and measure all aspects of one personality let alone two in an assessment database.

In so many ways personality tests are like horoscopes, they both give us insight that are ambiguous and general, the statement made by both can apply to millions of people, many would read few lines from both and say ‘yes that is so me’. Takers of these tests have the tendency to take vague statements and translate them into accurate assessment of themselves; this conduct has a term commonly known in psychology as the Barnum effect. However, when they read few lines down they might read an analysis of themselves that doesn’t confirm to their self-perception, in these cases most testees decide to ignore and take the denial route.

All it takes is typing ‘personality tests controversy’ in any web search engine to find all the arguments against the accuracy and validity of personality tests. However, from a cautious fan viewpoint; I found after sifting through few of them that it might not be 100% accurate but it does narrow down the search of yourself or your job preference. Ultimately, personality tests value is irrefutable especially to the ones who can’t afford backpacking around India to find themselves; the results of these tests can be the quantum leap in just clicks away to self-discovery.  

The truth is, lies are part of life now

“You have like 15 seconds to go: ‘W ait, hold on, stop, wait, I’m sorry, that’s not true.’ If you pass that 15 seconds, now it becomes a thing where you’re like: ‘Now I have to be the guy who is very strange and weird and just said I lied about 9/11.’”

During an interview with Howard Stern, the ­American actor and stand-up comedian ­Stephen Rannazzisi admitted his lie about being in one of the World Trade Center towers at the time of the terrorist attacks on New York.
How many times have you said you were fine when you weren’t? Or that someone looked good when they didn’t? Most would define these as white lies, ones that are harmless and considered civil – a tool used to avoid hurting somebody’s feelings.
As much as honesty is admired and preferred, people have a hard time when someone lifts the curtain completely. No one has tolerance for the truth. The truth is that everyone lies on a daily basis.
While lying is morally and socially unacceptable, it doesn’t mean we welcome the truth. More often than we admit, we find honesty offensive. We’re raised to be honest and not scared of telling the truth. Later on, we start to mask the facts, because the truth can be rude.
In many cases, these lies aren’t premeditated. For the most part, a lie occurs when a person is incapable of confronting a problem – it’s a means of escape.
Lies take place in every relationship, whether between spouses, friends or colleagues. Excuses vary from sparing a person’s feelings to hiding a mistake to save a relationship.
Fear knows no age. A child will lie to their parents to avoid punishment. Adults will lie to avoid the ramifications of their mistakes; to avoid confrontation when they’re at fault.
Lies usually stem from low self-esteem, and the need to gain the attention and approval of others. Such as Rannazzisi, who had moved to California before the 9/11 attack. He was in a strange new city with strange new people, wanting to grab their attention and blend in.
Some lie to gain something in return. Job interviews are a common example. However, like all lies, they only benefit the liar in the short term, because they’re usually caught out.
Self-deception is the worst kind of lying. We use it as a technique to cope with our shortcomings. When we say: “I’ll start dieting tomorrow”, we always mean it, but deep down we’re well aware of all the times we said the exact same line. Self-deception often involves lies that we end up believing.
Unlike the tale of Pinocchio, your nose doesn’t grow when you lie, but your conscience does grow heavy. You carry the shame and guilt, plus the anxiety of remembering the lie. Concealing the truth is more shameful than admitting the truth.

My original article is posted in the national women’s majlis column 
Sara. H

Emotional and physical abuse are as damaging

Parents love for their children can’t be measured. Yet, almost all emotional abuse cases that have been detected were carried out by parents or their caregiver. Some justify it as a form of discipline, and some aren’t even aware that they are harming their children. Most parents were raised that way and the circle continues because they don’t see the harm in it. They don’t notice that their inability to cope with their frustration has a damaging effect on their child.A parent commonly shouts to take out their frustration on their children as they believe that it will teach them how to behave. Children are led by example – if they notice that their parents are violent or shout when they are angry, they will repeat the same in their future interactions.

Parents have a hard time accepting that their way of discipline can be abusive. Another person cannot hit or bully their children but if they do it — it’s because they love them and they want what’s best for them.

Emotional abuse doesn’t hold the same weight as physical abuse or neglect. Pain, like everything else socially, has a hierarchal system. The most disturbing fact is that emotional maltreatment is habitual and unlike psychical abuse, the scars are invisible.

However, psychological and physical pain trigger the same parts of the brain. According to David Vachon, a McGill [Canadian university] professor in its department of psychology, “people assume physical abuse is more harmful than other types of abuse, but we found that they are associated with similar consequences”.

Children who suffer from mental abuse have a long road ahead of them. Most adolescents who grew up in a household that tolerated emotional abuse suffer from low self esteem and prolonged self doubt. As adults, they either end up repeating their parents’ mistakes or allow others to mistreat them.

Communities should offer prevention methods and remedies. An effective way to educate parents is by allowing hospitals and schools to offer parents free lectures on how to deal with children when they misbehave or how to regulate and control anger.

My original article is posted in Gulf news your views page

Sara. H