Predict positive outcomes

Predict positive outcomes

ask your counsellor

Predict positive outcomes

Dear Madam,
I am studying in Class 10. I am really tense about the board exams next year. I have difficulty in studying Maths and Science. I don’t know if I should take up extra coaching. I am an average student who scores between 75% and 80%. I am always distracted during studies. Please give some advice on how to score good marks and concentrate on studies.

Dear Arjun,
I understand that you are tense about your upcoming board exams. It may be useful for you to pause and think about what is your biggest fear of these exams. The reality is that no matter what the worst thing we predict to happen, if we can rationalise our thoughts around it, and learn to think about things a little differently, we will be able to live beyond that episode. What do you believe about yourself and your worth? That is what will give you the confidence and power to succeed in life, not your marks.

So, remember to put your marks into the perspective of your whole life. One week, one month, or one year after you get them, do they hold any relevance in your life? Study to learn, enjoy and understand. Put in your best effort, because that is the only thing you can do. Don’t focus on marks and don’t let the fear of marks drive you to inaction. Enjoy the journey. Anxiety happens when you predict a future negative outcome. Stay in the present. You do not have fortune-telling powers to predict the future. And even if you do, why do you choose to predict a negative outcome? If your anxiety is unmanageable, it will be helpful if you consult a counsellor to develop a more helpful perspective on life. All the best.

Dear Madam,
My son has just turned 13, and I see many behavioural changes in him. He is more into video games and doesn’t do his school work properly. When I discussed this with him he said he wanted to enjoy life and would choose fun over studies. He has become cranky and is always in a lazy mood. He has lost interest in reading too, which once was his favourite pastime. How should I go about to bring in a positive change in him. Please advice.

Dear Kala,
As children grow into adolescents, it is irrational for us as parents to expect them to be the same person that they were as children. Interests change, influences change, priorities change. While we can influence these changes to some extent, the parental influence and control only decreases from now on.

The most important thing you can do is to develop and maintain a level of communication that allows you and him to have meaningful conversations. And to let him know that home is his safety net while he experiences the world; that you accept him non-judgmentally for who he is; that as he grows he will make choices for himself, but with the freedom to choose also comes great responsibility, and that he has to face the consequences of his choices.

You need to be able to set your parental anxiety aside, or deal with it outside of your parent-child relationship.

We often focus on fixing behaviours. We need to remember that behaviour is always a result of thoughts and feelings a child is experiencing. It is far more effective for us to focus on trying to understand the thoughts and feelings that are resulting in the behaviours, than to try and fix behaviours in the absence of that knowledge. And when you are struggling on this journey, please reach out to a counsellor for support. All the best.

Dear Madam,
I have joined my first job recently. I am on many WhatsApp groups and interact regularly on WhatsApp with friends and relatives. Thus, I have the habit of checking the messages frequently to see if people have read my message and responded to it. Sometimes, I feel that it is affecting my quality of work. How do I overcome this?

Dear Usha,
While technology has its advantages, it is proving to be a big distraction and addiction, something that people are struggling with. Try and understand what need this constant checking of messages is serving. Are you interpreting it to be a sign of validation for yourself? Are you seeing it as a way of trying to find out how much you mean to other people? Are you feeling you will miss out on ‘life’ if you don’t check them? Understanding what is driving you to do it will help you change the pattern.
You will probably need to take some steps to change behaviour gradually, maybe by keeping the phone out of sight and reach for small chunks of time and gradually increasing the time you are able to do this. You may want to take the help of a peer to support you. Find your reasons for the addiction, find your motivation to end it, and get on with living your life and doing your work meaningfully. And if you are struggling to do this, take the help of a counsellor.

Dear Madam,
I am a teenager, and until recently, I was an enthusiastic student with many interests, and excelled in most of the subjects. In the last two months, I have lost interest in studies and want to have fun. I want to watch movies, gossip with friends, play videogames. Nothing else interests me. I don’t feel like spending time with my parents. I am in Class 10 and I am worried that this will affect my performance in the exams. Please help.

Dear Manoj,
As children grow into adolescents, they feel a need to create an identity of their own and distance themselves from their parents. Peers become more important and everything peers do and say become a ‘must do’ and everything parents do and say become a ‘must not do’. Feeling that way is entirely normal – the only difference is a question of degree. It is up to you to make choices in your life. Beyond a point, this is, and will be your life to live the way you choose, and you must be prepared to face the consequences of your choices, whatever they are. So you can make choices that have a higher chance of driving you to success, or choices that make your attempt at success more challenging. Whatever your choices, they are choices you make for your future life – they are not choices you make for the happiness of your parents. The happiness of your parents is a byproduct of your happiness and success.

So find your motivation. Discover and recognise your strengths and interests. Maybe talk to some adults and mentors. And carve your path forward, one step at a time.

Dear Madam,
I am a college-going student. Though I have good friends, some people in class ignore me. I feel very low when I realise this. Also, I keep remembering my interactions with friends, thinking if I was at my best or not. This distracts my attention from studies and I am not able to concentrate on anything. Please help.

Dear Meena,
Don’t worry about what others think of you — focus instead on what you are thinking of yourself and what are you telling yourself about yourself. The world ultimately reflects to you what you think and feel about yourself. If you keep doubting yourself, then, you will always look to other people to validate you and tell you that you are good enough, and you will always interpret what they say and do to mean that you are not. If you believe in yourself and your abilities, you will not look for validation from others. Find your strengths. Discover and recognise your worth. Ultimately, it is your assessment of yourself that will determine your path  and its outcome. Don’t let other people decide if you are good enough or not. That is one decision you want to take for yourself. It is helpful to take the help of a counsellor on this journey. If you are unable to access one, please call the Parivarthan Counselling Helpline at 080 6533 3323 and you will be able to talk to a counsellor on the phone.

Maullika Sharma is an MBA graduate with specialisation in counselling. She works with parents and adolescents.

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