Friday, April 29, 2011

Who is your subconscious role model?

Each and every one of us has a subconscious role-model in our minds that we all aim to become. Not surprisingly, our behaviours everyday endeavour to shape itself in the likeness of that person.

Who is that “role model” that I have in my mind that I seem to model towards? And does it need reviewing?

My current role model

He is a quiet, reticent, well-mannered but soft-spoken scholarly gentleman wearing traditional, conservative clothes. He leads a stable life – a peaceful life. He wears gentle spectacles. He prefers the company of books than other people, however with others like him, he gets along incredibly well. He is usually the stand-back observer when it comes to life’s activities. He has achieved eminent, scholarly, things in his life, though most people do not understand his works, whilst they still do respect him. He is incredibly polite and does not want to stand in anyone’s way. Overall he is a nice, intelligent – with always a “gleam in his eye”, seemingly thinking of something profound – and gentle-natured person.

Reviewed role model

As for above plus:

Though he is a scholarly man, he does not mind getting his “hands dirty” at all – including to help out, at the lowest level, of those in need. He treasures the activities of daily life in people as well as his scholarly works. With the people of everyday he is able to hold everyday conversations – the courtesies of modern day life. In fact, he strains not to make any distinction between him and “others” – he knows he is “just another human being” out there, but does not feel any less because of this – in fact, he feels empowered, being part of a community.

He is a dynamic person, flexible to adapt. He knows there is a broader world out there beyond the bookcases, whilst simultaneously acknowledging the universes held within the books themselves.

Though he is a quiet man, he doesn’t think of this as a weakness – rather, as a strength. He turns this trait on its head; he is able to maintain all the “manners” of society by engaging in conversation, and also speaking up when it is necessary (and sometimes when it isn’t necessary).

This is a man who doesn’t pride in holing himself up in the ivory tower – but rather gets out, into that town below, and jumps right into the midst, the foray, and sometimes – the chaos. Whilst in the meanwhile keeping the treasures found in his books close to his heartnot throwing them away too.

Amidst it all, he is able to keep a clear head of who he is, what he is doing, and where he is going. He has a clear sense of who he is and is proud of it.

He engages, dances, enjoys the company of other people. Yet at the same time – that gleam in his eye always remains. In fact, some state that there is a fire in his eye now.

His love for the world grows, whilst his intellectual acumen remain as sharp as ever.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Some contributory factors that made me who I am; the roller-coaster ride of life

(in no particular order)

“External” factors

1. Being an only child. Yeah, in itself, being an only child does not lead to me – there are many only childs out there who are otherwise extroverted. However, it certainly is a factor when considered amidst other factors; the fact that you did not have siblings of similar age that you could interact with and hone social skills.

2 . Cultural background. The usual counter-argument to this was that “but you have troubles with both cultures, so surely the issue isn’t cultural”. The counter-counter argument is that it was a crucial factor which affected your development as a person - amidst the other factors, of course. Social exclusion and “racism” based on culture is undeniable; yes, all other people of my culture would have experienced this, however when present amidst the other factors, such experiences of “rejection” and of feeling “abnormal”, “not belonging” certainly played a part.

3. “Unconventional” family environment. I respect my family very much. However, I must say we are indeed an “unconventional” family in many respects – with differing expectations on myself as a person. In a more welcoming society this would have been an advantage; however in a conformist society it is not. I was brought up where the expectations placed on me – especially social expectations – were certainly different. Also, I must say, I had relatively little exposure to social experiences, and there wasn’t all that much “social modelling” that went on. I really, really, do not blame anyone for this; in many respects it’s just how things “played out”. Factors 1 and 2 interplay with this very much.

4. “Troublesome” transition into adolescence. Once again, this is but a factor amidst many. But sometimes I wonder – had I stayed in the same area throughout my childhood and adolescence, affiliating with the same peers – that I may have had a more “normal” adolescence. This is, however, pure conjecture. No one knows how things may have turned out. Perhaps a few lucky draws of the straws during adolescence may have changed things. Once again I hesitate to “blame” my adolescence – for, despite its formative influences on myself, it was indeed, a “good one”.

5. Lack of “proper” social exposure during childhood and adolescence. Once again, this is compounded by all of the factors mentioned. The friendships I had… well they were “normal”, then again “not normal”. I did not have the exposure that many others of my age had as they grew up – that key exposure to learn social skills. But the vicious cycle started quite early on for me – the person who I was prevented me from experiencing more “proper” exposures, further moulding who I am.

6. Lack of positive affirmation. Abundance of negative criticism. Unfortunately, I believe I lacked something so crucial as a child / adolescent growing up – affirmation. Someone who kept cheering for you and being by your side, through your social tribulations. Someone who could continually say “you can do this”. Rather what I experienced was an abudance of negative criticism; the message was mainly that of “you can’t, you can’t, you can’t”. Thus I further cringed away into myself, with no one to “push me from behind”.

“Internal” factors

7. “Shyness”. Introversion. I don’t thing this needs any further explaining. This has been the factor of note. Why do I say it’s “internal”? Because it was present within myself from birth. I know that. I guess the key thing to note that is whilst yes, I was born as a “shy” person, had I been nurtured in a supportive, constructive and affirmative environment, I may have turned out to be a “confident shy” person, if that makes sense; to be “introverted with pride” or “normally introverted” or have “well-adjusted shyness”.

8. Aspergers? I really feel I may have a dose of this. Why? Because of some of the unconventional things I used to do as a child. Those countless drawings of highways; of roads; playing traffic jams. I don’t know – no other child did such things. I don’t know, perhaps I do have this. I wish it wasn’t so damned expensive to get an official diagnosis!


All I can say is this – child development is incredibly interesting; the way in which a person becomes a person. So many interplaying factors. So many things moulding that baby into a person. If you think about it, by and large the things I have mentioned here are non-controllable factors – that is, factors that kind of just “pushed” me into being who I am. I – like a tiny leaf stuck within the currents of a gushing river – was pushed this way and that, powerless (what powers does that leaf have to direct its own way amidst such torrents?). Yet the person such things moulded me to be, is the person I am having to live with, to deal with, 24/7.

Where does my will come into all this? Where does my spirit come into all this?

And this, I guess, is the moment that finally some praise is bestowed upon you. For through such tumultous tides you have travelled – you “held out” with a perseverance, an un-bending will. Perhaps a better analogy than a leaf would be a raft, with you on it, being swept down a raging chasm. You do not know where you’re heading, you’re hurt by everything that has a go at you; yet you persevere; you go on. With your clothes in tatters, you still hold on. You’re swept off your feet, you fall over, yet you still hold on to that raft with dear life – indeed, one could call it the roller-coaster ride of life – as a passenger on it, you do not have control over where the roller-coaster will go, yet you persevere, you go on.

And perhaps, therein lies the beauty – the spirit of who you are. Where you stop wondering why you were put on this rollercoaster, reproaching oneself and the world for every turn it takes, for those crazy upside-down journeys.

But where you sit back – hang on – and even start enjoying, that roller-coaster ride of life.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Letting your true self shine through

For a long while I thought what I needed was “change”, that is, that I myself was inadequate to be who I was, hence what I needed to do was become another person.

I have recently realised that is not the case – if anything, it was I who had shielded myself from truly shining through. It’s like I have this burning fire within, my “true self”. However, I tried to hide it from the rest of the world.

But it is when we sometimes witness the “rays” of our true self shining through, beyond the blankets we have imposed upon it ourselves –

That we realise, the answer does not lie without

But within.

Let’s take the example of a seed. Would we say that the seed “changes” into a tree?

No. We say it grows into a tree. Nothing intrinsic has changed about that seed. Everything – the whole potential of that tree – was contained within that seed. The seed never “changed” – it simply manifested what was hidden within. It became itself, in the fullest sense of that word.

So often we believe we’re simply at odds with this world, that we need to “change”. We so often wish we could be another person. Yet the answer is actually the complete opposite. We have to become ourselves.

Let the light inside you shine through. Grow! Flourish! Unleash the truest potential inside you. No one is asking you to change – we’re simply asking you to become who you really are.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A person

Whilst culture is important

We’re more than our culture

Whilst religion is important

We’re more than our religion

Whilst achievements are important

We’re more than our achievements

Whilst personality is important

We’re more than our personality

Whilst intelligence is important

We’re more than our intelligence

Whilst beauty is important

We’re more than our beauty

Whilst suffering is important

We’re more than our suffering

For a person is a universe unto themselves

Like a jewel with many facets

Each glinting, and sparkling;

Yet the facet is not the person -

The person is the jewel.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The dreaded group-socialising

I find that one-on-one interactions with people are much eaiser than group socialising. When it's one-on-one, I find that people are much more genuine; they aren't there "trying to impress others", so to speak.

Also when it's one-on-one, the pace and the content of any interaction will quickly be "tailored for the pair of you". I have noticed how rapidly the other person "adapts" to the sort of person I am. They quickly realise that I am a shy, quiet person, and so adjust themselves and the interaction accordingly. Thus, even if the interaction turns out "awkward" (which as someone with SA is 99% of social interactions anyway), you feel a bit better because you know the other person has at least tried to pry you open.

Contrast that with the dreaded group-socialising, which to me is a completely different beast. I just find it well, chaotic, hectic and bewildering. Suddenly a whole lot of new priorities come into play, namely each person tries to impress the group, and tries to show that they 'fit in' with other members of that group. Exchanges shoot across all over the place; the topic of talk changes rapidly; someone cracks a joke, everyone laughs, another person says something, everyone laughs again...

And how does one feel amidst all that? I feel like a lost child, an orphan at a busy intersection. You observe people busily shooting past you. You just feel completely lost, and alone. That is how I feel within group situations.

It's funny. I never feel loneliness when I'm alone. I feel incredible loneliness when I'm with a "group" of people.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Conversation is ALL about responding

Here is a truth that no one tells you yet is so very true.

Conversation is all about responding. THAT is what differentiates a conversation from an interrogation.

Conversation is about not ignoring or ‘passing over’ what they have just said – it’s about following it up. Follow it up, follow it up, follow it up, follow it up.

The following is one of the worst things you can do in a conversation:

A: Speaks about something.

B: “Oh ok.” Then a big silence, or asks about something completely different disjointed and unrelated to what Person A has just said.

You see doing that is terrible in a conversation. Conversation is NOT a “frantic search” on your behalf of thinking of what to ask next. Rather it’s all about responding. When the focus is on responding rather than “running down a checklist” – that is when things will happen naturally.

As scary as it sounds – it is only when we let go of that metal bar holding you back to the shore – and be swept away by conversation – that true conversation occurs. It is all about responding. ALL about responding.

And this is where the art of conversation comes in. The fact that you are continually responding does NOT mean you “abandon your own agenda”; no – your agenda is always at the back of your mind – however, it should not be made ridiculously overt like in an interrogation. Things should flow “naturally”; how do you make things flow “naturally”? By RESPONDING. Conversation is ALL about responding. I just want you to get this straight to begin with, and we’ll add the details later.

Conversation is like a game of tennis – you hit the same ball back and forward. A conversation goes like this – you “serve” the ball (with an open question). They then reply to you (hit the ball back, with an “answer”, a “story” or a “comment”). What do you do next? No, you don’t let the ball just fly past you with some feeble answer like “oh ok”. You hit THAT ball back. A reply to their reply. You DON’T serve them a “completely new ball”.

This is what I mean – when I say conversation is all about responding. Responding to what they have said, responding to how they are feeling. It is when your mind is set on responding that any emphatic responses will come naturally and not be contrived.

Don’t be afraid, that because you are always responding that you will not ‘cover your grounds’ – of course you will. Of course you will. But it’ll just all happen more naturally. Conversation is ALL about responding.

Follow up, follow up, follow up, follow up. We all know that in your heart, you do not ignore everything they’re saying. But as the other person, they don’t know whether you’re ignoring them or not. That is why we need to follow up – to make it overt that we have LISTENED to what they have said, and that we are responding.

Conversation is all about responding. You might think that you only need to respond should they ask a question. That is not true at all! You should respond to ANYTHING they say – not just those that end in a question mark.

You see – what differentiates a stilted, unnatural conversation, to that of a natural, flowing, emphatic conversation – is whether you are continually responding to what they’re saying or not.

People are complex. In order to show that you care, you must respond. You could have a heart of gold but if you never respond they will not know anything. Conversation is all about responding.