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The Flip side —Self-Righteous

“Enjoy the process!” —they said; “Don’t worry about the results!” —they said. It is nice to hear it; and to read it, but applying it in a reward-centric world is a different ball-game. We always want to make the right choices that lead to the outcome we want. Achievements have always been glorified in all of history because isn’t that supposed to make us feel good about ourselves? Being good at something and our laurels— they put us above others; give us an edge AND… on the flip side make us a little self-righteous.

A few days ago….

I was given two choices by my friend and depending on what I picked I would get rewarded. I picked the right answer and to my surprise the wrong answer was apparently more rewarding. Twisted right? It perplexed me, the idea of getting something extra for the wrong choice. Does that happen in real life? It could right?

You could reach faster, inspite of taking a longer route to a destination (less traffic); or wing-it in a recipe and it could taste fabulous. You could call someone by mistake and it could end up in a great conversation; or forget to save a file (happens if you’re technologically challenged like me) and get a whole new way of doing the work again.

What taught us to chase results and to get gratification from achievements then? I think it’s a generational curse! We’re praised as a kid for doing something good; given extra stars on our notebooks for good handwriting— glorified for good choices and reprimanded for bad ones. Some of us are still chasing those stars, a.k.a being self-righteous.

I always took pride in waking up early. Sure it has a great deal of health benefits but sometimes when I had to sleep-in late, I would begrudge myself the extra sleep that morning. Self-righteousness is like the card that sneaks in up the magician’s sleeve. You saw it but didn’t really look at it.

How do you catch yourself being self-righteous?

  1. Start acknowledging your pitfalls and rewarding them. Make the wrong choices look good too. I have started appreciating the fact that I break my routine sometimes. I woke up late the other day and decided to talk about it like it’s a great achievement, so that it felt as gratifying as waking up early.
  2. Self-righteousness can lead to being self-absorbed if not checked. You could end up talking about yourself a lot. (This I’ve covered on my Instagram handle @mycoffeeweather on Monday Real Talk highlights). When you start asking open-ended questions, it helps you learn that there is a whole word out there that you don’t know about and that can humble you from being too self-absorbed.
  3. Keep asking yourself- “Am I judging them/him/her?”; “Am I being too critical?”. Self-righteous people have high standards for themselves and they always want to live up to it. They can become too critical of themselves. It doesn’t allow them to be accepting of others. (Even if they’re not vocal they’ll totally judge you). Personally, I’ve come a long way from being judgmental, but there are times I slip. Tell your friends and family to stop you if you’re being judgemental.
So needed for a tolerant society

Each one of us can be self-righteous in some way. Self-righteousness is an attitude that can be fixed only by yourself. If you can’t see you’re being self-righteous, no one can make you see it. From high up there, anything anyone says feels like it’s coming from a noob, because you’ll have a ‘been-there-done-that’ attitude. All you need to see is how this attitude can affect your life?—

When you are being self-righteous, you’re probably pushing everyone away. You will stop you’re own growth by limiting your channels of learning. There will be a lot of anxiety of slacking, and keeping up might feel exhausting at times. You might not have a balanced life- investing too much into the things that make you feel above everyone. Confidence in some areas of life could be low, if you feel highly self-righteous in other areas.

If you know someone who is a little self-righteous—

Just know you need to appreciate their smallest efforts in doing things unconventional to their forte, (like if they are too obsessed with their work life and they put together a meal -clap hands);

Avoid glorifying the things they already gloat about. (“OMG! Samantha you’re beautiful!”-they probably already know);

Encourage them to be in social settings where they can learn something outside of their world (“Why don’t you meet the neighbours today?”)

Small things go a long way!

There is a Yoga Sutra by Patanjali which speaks about discrimination. Finding the opposite of what is too intense- “Pratipakshabhave”. I feel I somehow found this connection after reading that. Yoga isn’t just asana- it’s a way of life and it’s the google maps for life’s journey; and I’m “Enjoying the Process” —like they said!

Insta post!

If confidence is something you’re struggling with— Watch this TED talk below and know you got it! Brittany Packnett!

Even the self-righteoud need to know what is confidence.

Self Care‘ connected to this topic; might give you better clarity if you read!

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Chasing Beauty

Spinning on the dresser chair with half my body hanging in the air, I would eye my mother’s cosmetics, every time she was setting her room up: one of my time passing activities as a kid (because there were no gadgets and the television was timed). I loved fiddling with all her stuff, especially the musical trinket box, turning the key and leaving it to play some tune I don’t recall now. What I clearly remember is, there was a make-up brush stand with a porcelain face almost completely white. Every time she wasn’t around I would flip open a few lip shades and colour the porcelain face, my own master piece of work. I was pretty fascinated by it, ironically I hated any make up on myself. Maybe because my mom never encouraged us to use any products forget about make-up, or may be that was just a 90’s thing (things are pretty different with ‘kids these days’- saying that makes me feel older for some reason)

Introducing my childhood house helps and Tamil tutors, Jaya ma, Kuppu and Mary amma. Every morning they walked in with a bright smile flashing their crooked teeth, sporting a flower garland on their hair buns, and wrapping their ‘pallu’around to completely block any skin show. Sun-burnt skin, scaly palms and cracked feet, but they hardly ever let their difficulties show on their faces. They worked hard and toiled all day for their families, they made it look fun, chit-chatting and giggling away at intervals. I thought they were really beautiful people for all that they were. No make-up or style sense needed to impress. (Dress to Impress? really?)

There are more people I’ve met in my life, who’ve been such amazing sources of light by just their vibes; my Dad, he barely cares about his looks (I took that from him) and still manages to impress me with his confidence; my Yoga teacher DJ with her ‘haven’t you brushed your teeth?’ every time we frowned in a posture; My Gymnastics Master Gangadhar who made everything seem funny and still got us the results with his dedication; and the watchman uncle Selvaraj who always greets people like he’s younger than them. All these people didn’t make looking attractive their goal and they still got me feeling so happy.

Mr. Selvaraj captured in a candid moment

I guess that’s why my idea of looking attractive was not defined by the way I looked, but by the choices I made and the way I thought. Even those adolescent years never let me get used to the so called ‘girly stuff’. Until only recently the whole idea of looking presentable became an obligation. I still had this mind block that I didn’t want to make an effort to look attractive. Running after looking attractive is like living in a beauty pageant-cum-truman’s show where a panel of people are always scrutinizing and scoring us. Wearing powders and tints, I thought, was for the shallow and insecure. This thinking was so wrong. Some people look at it like art, like fashion can be art too; while some look at it as tool to achieve attractiveness.

Attractiveness and beauty are not synonymous because Attraction is more about physical features and not personality. Attraction is like an animal instinct that all creatures have, to fulfill sexual needs, however only human minds can appreciate beauty. Mobula rays (fish) fly out of the water and land on the surface creating huge sounds, which attract the opposite gender. If you’ve seen the Wilson’s bird of paradise and how the male birds need to work hard to attract the female, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. So if I’m trying to be like these guys I’d probably make an effort to look attractive. However, make-up is not something I would use to express beauty, because beauty is a lot more than that.

(Honest confession- I did buy some vegan make up only last week, but I’ve mostly got it all sorted now in my mind, that… ..I’ve just wasted my money)

What is the expression of beauty and how do you see it? Real beauty cannot be captured on camera, and the verdict of beauty cannot be passed by a few pictures on social media, print media or digital media or any virtual artificial medium. Remember? it is in the eyes of the beholder— and what if we all are blind? Hence it’s not literally about seeing physical beauty of an individual face. Beauty to me is a feeling of Godliness, like a fleeting emotion of belonging to this existence and creation.

Something like this..

Soul touching music, the sound of birds in the quiet of the dawn, cool breeze scraping your skin and that earthy smell in the air just before a heavy rain; stories and memories are beautiful they have such an impact on our lives; Hugging someone and sharing your thoughts can be beautiful. Watching the little sapling in your garden grow into a big tree is beautiful, we can’t create that but we are a witness and that’s the glory of it. When babies smile to a silly peek-a-boo, the red colour of the rising sunrise, a stranger ending up becoming your best friend, raindrops crashing on the ground, making of airplanes or even watches, creation of garlands, a simple painting, a poem that means something to you, culture and there isn’t a dearth of beauty so I’ll stop there. Something having the power to influence us to feel like the sparkling in a drink, bubbling with joy (oye bubbly bubble oye) and a jumpy heart—could be exclaimed as beautiful.

Are you chasing beauty? Good news, you don’t need to; you just need to own your raw self. The one who is confident, takes pride in their flaws, spots beauty outside themselves with ease, feels kindness in their bones and has an undying spirit to enjoy life with a smile. Make it rock solid by reaching that person inside yourself, everyone has a shard of beautiful inside them. The magic is if you put some focus light on it, it prisms on everyone who meets you. So what’s your new standard of being beautiful?

You is kind, You is grateful, You is ‘Beautiful’

If you haven’t seen this movie, watch it for good perspective- THE HELP

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When Curiosity Strikes

I thought I heard this girl scream a name as she flung the ball at the bowling pins. On my recent bowling game, I was very intently watching a few teenage girls play on the neighbouring lane; reminding me of my teenage years. They were dancing after every shot and were cheering for the others noisily even if it meant a humble score of five. I had just hit two gutters in a frame and would try anything to get back in the game, so I followed suit. I scooped the ball up and said someone’s name, who I believed in, under my breath. Gutter again! So the second attempt I picked it up and said my name “C’mon Sneha!”. It knocked off eight pins. 

Its hard to be confident sometimes, forget about believing in yourself. Some people fear getting over-confident and under-play it. Some have an unhealthy image about themselves. Some fear not being accepted if they be themselves. A few over-think it and miss the bus.  Why do we develop these notions and things that make us want to second guess our own abilities? Retrospection is good, but can it lead to over thinking? When do you know is the right time to jump into the rabbit hole and are you ever going to be ready? Alice wasn’t ready, but she was curious. 

Curiosity is like this tiny spark which pushes us into trying new things out and gives us the courage to go beyond our doubts. Without curiosity firing the minds of Thomas Edison, The Wright Brothers and Einstein, do you think they would overcome any of their insecurities and doubts? No. Curiosity is the key to getting out of the web of low self-esteem. Curiosity leads us to making an attempt and even when we fail, the curiosity sits like a spike on your chair; not letting you sit till you have an answer. It leads to inventions, revelation of ideas, and might lead to huge shifts in market. On a personal level it changes you to believe in yourself. Once you learn from your mistakes by feeding your curiosity, you get the knowledge of how not to do things. This knowledge feeds the curiosity— “How else then?” 

Believing in yourself doesn’t come naturally if you’ve not explored all your qualms and made some mistakes. Getting a few bad cakes, the first few times you bake, will make you a good chef; Getting a whole lot of bad batches, before you hit it off, will make you excellent. For baking the bad ones, you only have to go out there and attempt it. Fall and learn. 

Have you read about the man who gave up trying to go to the moon or who gave up trying a new recipe? There are no ballads about people who stopped trying. Even if you don’t want a song about you, you do want to live a meaningful life. So how do we end up unhappy sometimes with our situations? — we stop being curious. We have a split and we just roll the bowling ball down the lane hoping it hits at least one pin. We don’t ask “how do I get both?” Somewhere in our minds we shut ourselves from experiencing the answers, confrontations or any discomfort and don’t let our curiosity be expressed. 

Other times you have enough knowledge to back up your faith and you go ahead with feigning it. Affirmations is the ability to program your mind into believing. This is because the mind doesn’t know the difference between what is real or fantasy. You can make-believe yourself into thinking you’ve got this. That’s how people who lift three times their body weight, do it. Envisioning things mentally prepares you to have it; then when you work for it, it doesn’t seem like work. Of course back it up with knowledge, I don’t suggest you envision wings and try foolish things. 

What’s even more foolish is to think we know it all; that’s a place you don’t want to be in. Curiosity doesn’t live there and you might be proudly getting average scores and dying of insecurity inside. Get down, keep engaging in the same thing over and over till you’ve learnt. Then our scores will do the talking. 

We are programmed to see life through a certain filter. Through the influence of social media, news and politics, we like to see life through those pretty lenses. Sometimes our curiosity can become very clouded with questions that bring us in loop to the same answers. May be we keep asking the same question. If you keep testing a blue litmus with an acidic solution it will keep turning red. We have to use other tests. De-clutter, speak to people, get some air, travel, workout the creative side of your mind and see if you’re asking better questions. 

Confidence is then just an over coat that people see, and you don’t even realize. You only have the knowledge of having been there, done that; and that becomes a part of you that no one can take away: self belief. Knowledge is the only handle we need to pull and curiosity is the key. Even after all this you will have moments you won’t believe in yourself, because there is always scope for more learning, there is no end. Learning is the only curve we need to care about in our lives. So jump right in, scream your name out loud and throw the ball, watch it roll.