Have a strong sense of self

Have a strong sense of self

Dear Madam,

I am a 14-year-old boy. Though I like to hang out with my friends, I get into fights very quickly. Also, if someone hurts me I get an urge to hurt him back. My mother says that this
attitude is not good. Also, I am not comfortable sharing my feelings with anyone else except my mother because I feel that people judge me on that. Is it good or not? Please guide.



Dear Rahul,

I am very happy that you reached out to me for help. It requires a lot of courage to reach out for help, but you have absolutely done the right thing. It is quite normal for friends to fight to some extent because there will always be some disagreements and conflicts. So some fighting is normal, and you can also agree to disagree. Being friends does not mean that you have to agree about everything. However, it is important to be self-reflective and try and understand why you feel the need to fight. Is there another way of expressing your point of view without it ending up in a fight? Do you feel that you are not heard unless you talk loudly and aggressively?  

We cannot control what people say and do, to us and about us. However, we can control how we react and respond to what people do and say. When someone hurts us, we can choose to hang on to the hurt, not forgive them, and let the need to be revengeful eat us from the inside. Or we can choose to let them know that we did not appreciate their behaviour and then move on. Often we feel we should not forgive someone because we don't want to let them off the hook. But the reality is the need to be revengeful actually destroys us more than the other person.  

Also, we tend to feel hurt when someone says something about us. But most of the time what the world says to us is a reflection of what we internally feel about ourselves. And when someone says it out aloud we get hurt because we think that the world now knows our secret reality. However, if we feel strong and capable about ourselves, and believe in ourselves, then we are able to disregard what other people say because we know it is not true. Remember, just because someone says something about you that does not become the truth, unless we think that it is the truth.

I have covered a lot and hope it has been helpful. However, if these are issues you may be struggling with, it will be helpful for you to talk to a counsellor who can help you understand this better. You could either meet someone personally, or even call the Parivarthan Counselling Helpline at 76766 02602 where you can speak to a counsellor for free.


Dear Madam,

I have a son who is studying in VIII standard. He is a smart boy and his IQ was also good earlier. But for the past three years, his concentration and presentation skills have become very poor. I have tried many methods to help him but it has not yielded results so far. He also gets distracted in the classes. I believe he should gain knowledge more than just getting a good score in the exams. Unfortunately, he is not showing interest in anything. Please suggest how I can help boost his confidence.  



Dear Charitha,

Please take him to a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist for an assessment. This may not necessarily be something that is within his control and that he is doing willingly. Please get the help of professionals so that you can truly support him. With the right support and guidance he will be able to get back on track. I am not necessarily saying there may be a problem, just that the path forward is very different if there is a problem and if there isn't, you should know which path to go down. All the best.


Dear Madam,

Of late, my 14-year-old daughter has started comparing her situation with her peers - eating habits, clothing, travel plans, etc. I want to convince her that is not in good spirit as every individual is different. Please guide.

A mother


Dear mother,

It is very normal for adolescents to be influenced by peers in all aspects of life. That is why it becomes so important to give them a strong sense of self and help them build their self-esteem and self-confidence. Getting her some help from a counsellor at this stage can reap rich dividends as it will help her develop a different perspective. Also, be mindful of the example you are setting for her. Children most often do what they experience and see, not what is told to them. As parents are you exhibiting similar concerns and anxieties about your peers.


Dear Madam,

I am a BSc student. Though I am intelligent and liked by everyone, I am very conscious about my looks. This affects my performance in the college, particularly in cultural activities. Also, I am a bit concerned if girls like me or not. Is it normal in this age?



Dear Akash,

It is very normal for youth of your age to be concerned about being liked by members of the opposite sex. The important thing to focus on though is to like yourself, not worry so much about what others are thinking about you. Whether someone else likes you or not, you must like yourself. You cannot control what others think of you, and it is not important. However, you can control what you think of yourself and that is very important. The universe eventually reflects back to you what you think and feel about yourself. Also, it is way more important to be liked by others for the person that you are, rather than for your good looks. Attraction based on looks is short-lived. So, focus instead on being beautiful on the inside.


Dear Madam,

We have put our daughter in an open school. She asks too many questions and sometimes they sound really silly. Also, she has the habit disrupting the discussion if she has some knowledge about the topic. Many times, she doesn't contribute much to the discussion but spoils the flow. While we feel proud about her inquisitive nature many a time, we have many awkward moments as well. So far, we have always appreciated her ability to ask questions, though sometimes we have stopped her from interfering. Please guide me as to how we can go about to use her trait constructively.

Confused parents


Dear parents,

I do hope your daughter does not read this column because the way your question is framed, she will feel badly judged and put down. A child does not always have to ask intelligent questions? And who are we to judge whether a question is intelligent enough or not? In the words of Carl Sagan, "There are naïve questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put after inadequate self-criticism. But every question is a cry to understand the world. There is no such thing as a dumb question." There is no stupid question because stupid people don't ask questions.

What is the contribution that you are looking for from her? What is the flow that she is spoiling? These are questions to ask of yourself and introspect. What is holding you back from accepting her the way she is and celebrating her curiosity, her desire to participate, and her desire to understand the world. Are you able to accept her unconditionally and non-judgmentally, and if not, then why not?

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