Monday, November 28, 2016

Dear Zindagi ……. A Therapist's Perspective

Dear Zindagi …….
          A Therapist's Perspective

Indian Cinema has matured over the years, and certain topics which were taboo, are openly and sensitively addressed through movies. Mental health has been one such topic which has always been shrouded in stigma, shame and embarrassment. Add to that, the depiction of mental illness in our mainstream cinema, has been less than sensitive, to put it mildly. Along came Tare Zameen Par, a few years back, a movie which boldly addressed the issue of Learning Disabilities. Other movies that addressed mental illness followed – My Name is Khan, Barfi, and so on.
Dear Zindagi is yet another bold and beautiful step forward in this direction. Bold, because it does not address mental illness. Rather, it takes a look at deep seated issues that each of us seemingly ‘normal’ people carry around us, how we allow these past patterns and issues to influence our behavior and decisions, and most importantly, how therapy is not just ‘for the crazy’! Beautiful, because of the sensitivity and poignancy with which it is written, directed, and executed by the lead actors.
The movie makers have done their research well. We see Kaira’s (Alia Bhatt) character emerging right from the outset – her restlessness, her constant search for something, her relationship issues, her problems with parents. Slowly how she moves toward therapy, her building trust on her therapist Dr. Jehangir Khan (SRK), the catharsis of her emotional trauma, and its resolution – all of this is depicted in a flowing manner.
The movie has many poignant moments, that, from a therapist’s point of view, do immense good for erasing the stigma associated with counseling and psychotherapy:
·      Kaira’s friend, openly stating that he has to leave for an appointment with his DD (Dimaag ka Doctor). On being asked, is he crazy, he counters, isn’t everyone a little crazy? Bravo!
·      Kaira asking this friend whether he is going for therapy to be able to tell the world that he is gay. Her friend’s reply, “No, it’s to be able to tell myself that I am gay.” So many of us find it hard to accept parts of ourselves, and so important it is to accept yourself before expecting the same from the world.
·      Kaira overhearing discussions from a mental awareness conference, where pertinent questions such as, “how do I know whether I need to go to a psychiatrist or a psychologist?”. So very pertinent, as many people are truly lost as to whom they need to see for their issues.
·      Kaira’s maid, expressing surprise that there are doctors that deal with your emotional issues and her statement, “then all of us need to visit such a doctor”, showing her wisdom and understanding.
·      Kaira’s initial awkwardness when she comes for her first session, she is almost about to bolt from there. How her guard is initially up, and how she presents her issue as that of her friend’s, and how eventually she lets her guard down and begins trusting the therapist.
·      The therapist’s use of stories and fables, in the initial stages of therapy, to get the client to see a difficult situation with sudden clarity. When he winds up his seemingly ridiculous story of Popatlal the mountaineer, with the conclusion, “sometimes we think we HAVE to choose a difficult path. But we very well have the choice to go for the easy one, especially when we don’t have the resources to deal with the difficult one”, it’s like an A-ha moment to Kaira. He doesn’t have to even relate it to her situation overtly, she does it all by herself. The very premise of therapy is clients can help themselves, all they need is a supportive environment. I felt this scene brought it out very beautifully. Armed with this knowledge, she takes the decision that she was struggling with at that point in time.
·      Often, we get bogged down by what we think people will think about us, and this stops us from leading our lives the way we want to. Dr. Jehangir’s innocuous question, “who are all these people who are watching you all the time” helps us see this angle as well. How he slowly guides Kaira to take steps toward self-love and self-acceptance is subtly but heart rendingly depicted.
·      Kaira’s final confrontation with her childhood trauma, and her resultant fears of abandonment. Years of practice have only gone on to show me that childhood traumas, whether real or perceived, remain frozen in our personalities, and guide and shape our decisions and behaviorus all the time. The way this happens with Kaira , how she finally faces it with an emotional showdown with her parents, and later, in the therapy session, is often, how things do happen in therapy. And when a client finally manages to break down the self-inflicted walls and shutters, and allows himself to fully experience those feelings, it is beautiful to watch the gradual dissolution of the client’s sorrow. Giving clients space at that time is all a therapist needs to do, and that is exactly what Dr. Jehangir does. He allows her to cry, vent, talk, without any intervention on his part.
·      It also brings out the issues of transference, when a client feels dependent on the therapist and may at times confuse this attachment for romantic feelings. The way he wards off this without compromising her dignity is a joy to watch.
·      And last, but not the least. Many times, when clients finish therapy, or a particularly difficult session, when the frozen emotions thaw and the real personality starts emerging, clients experience an immense sense of gratitude for the therapist. In that moment, many clients, regardless of gender, will want to give the therapist a hug. That is what Kaira spontaneously does at the end of her last session. For the way SRK has handled that hug, his expressions, his body language is so completely that of a therapist; for that alone, SRK, saat khoon maaf! I forgive you your Fan, your Happy New Year, your Ra One, just for that one scene!
Sure, the movie is not without its flaws. For instance, the way SRK analyses her trauma and concludes about how it has affected her, is not how a therapist would do. As I have said earlier, it is for the client to apply the learnings to his situation. Also, he does engage in a lot of advise giving, which again, a therapist would refrain from. Lastly, his unconventional means (taking sessions on a beach, on a bicycle) would probably not go down well with most therapists. But these flaws, I think, are forgivable under the name of cinematic license. On the whole, the movie does a fair amount of justice to the spirit of therapy, and for that alone, kudos to the entire team of Dear Zindagi!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Digital Detachment

These are paradoxical times we live in. As we continue to drift farther and farther apart from people who matter to us, we keep getting more and more ensnared in all the non-human entanglements of today’s world. While we have no time to catch up for a cup of coffee with our closest friends, our friend list on Facebook and Twitter keeps increasing! Indeed, we are well into the digital age, and while man has always wanted to be the master of his Universe, he increasingly finds himself a slave of his gadgets.
So how do we deal with this overload – of information, of e-mail notifications, or calendar reminders, of WhatsApp group messages, of smses …… the list is endless.  I am in no way against the digital revolution! On the contrary, I am quite a gadget and technology freak myself. I think all the tools that technology provides go a long way in helping us lead a fulfilling life, provided we know how to utilize them!
And therein lies the catch. It is so easy to get hooked to all our digital extensions, that without our realizing it, we become slaves to them, rather than remaining their masters. The challenge is in continuing to retain our power, our free will and now allow ourselves to be driven by technology. So every time your phone beeps to tell you that there is a WhatsApp message, or a new mail notification, you don’t need to drop whatever it is that you are doing and attend to it. Most of us, by now, have already become slaves of technology. So how do we reverse this pattern? How do we go about reclaiming our power from these innocent looking devices? Here are a few steps that will help you do so:
  1. Go for a Digital Detox: This is the latest buzz-word. In simple words, digital detox means taking a complete break from technology. How do we do it? There are many ways. Go for a holiday with your family, and leave all your gadgets behind, including your mobile phone. Especially your mobile phone! Go for a 10-day Vipassana meditation, or a naturopathy course, where the pre-requisite is no gadgets. Go for a trek in the Himalayas, where there is no network. Whatever you opt for, the idea is to practice self-discipline and stay away, physically and mentally, from your devices.
  2. Build a System of Responding to Messages: Set up a system that works best for you. So for instance, tell yourself that you will look at messages on your phone only every one hour, you will respond to mails every morning and evening, rather than every time a mail pops into your mailbox, or you will access Facebook only once every two days. Whatever works best for you. Don’t make drastic changes, go slow. The idea, again, to build in self-discipline and teach your mind the art of delaying gratification.
  3. Practice Breathwork: One of the best ways to to disconnect and reconnect to yourself is to engage in some kind of breathwork. You can choose whatever works best for you – yoga, meditation, brahma vidya, art of living kriya, vipassana, mindfulness – there are many breathwork techniques and practices, you can choose what suits you or appeals to you the most. While ideally, you should do this at a set time in the day, if your schedule does not permit that, no worries. Do it whenever and wherever you can – in the lift, in the car or train, while waiting for a meeting to commence, while standing in a queue. All those times which you use fingering your phone needlessly, practice breathwork in those times. It will give you a quick-fix of alertness and quietude.
  4. Get out of Virtual Life, and Get into Real Life! Connect to your friends in real time, not on Facebook. Spend more time with your family and less on your phone or computer. Instead of sending a happy birthday message to a relative, pick up that phone and actually talk to the person. See the difference it makes in your relationships, and in the amount of satisfaction you derive from your human interactions rather than focusing only on virtual interactions.
  5. Remember, Technology is to Help you Connect, not Disconnect from Others: At every opportunity, remind yourself, and others, that technology was created to help you connect better and more efficiently to other human beings. Whether it was the phone, the e-mail, or any of the social media platforms, they were to help you make connections and join the missing dots. NOT to distance yourself from people that matter the most to you.
  6. Slow Down! Relax. Every day does not, and I repeat, does not, have to be a race against time. It doesn’t matter what high profile job you are into, what responsibilities you have at home or at work, learn to set your own pace. Sure, there will be emergency situations that call for quick action. But for the most part, learn to stay in control. Stay in charge. Everything does not have to be solved right here, right now. There is a time and place for everything, and as long as you move along with the flow of life, things unfold beautifully. This one is the most difficult and the most challenging of all, yet, if you learn to do it, you will be amazed at how much it sets you free.
  7. Have a Screen-Free Weekend at Home: Plan a weekend at home with kids where all of you go screen-free. That means no phones, no computers, no I-pads or tablets, and no TV. Initially, you will feel stuck as you slowly realize how much of your entertainment is screen-dependent. But slowly, you will come to realize that there are so many fun things you can do together as a family – play board games, play carom or dumb charades, just talk to each other, rest and relax, go to the beach, or simply laze around.
The more you start doing these things, the more you will be able to handle the avalanche of digital data and information that keeps coming your way 24/7. Instead of getting overwhelmed by this digital overload, you will be able to allow yourself to focus on things that really matter. So go ahead, make a beginning, and get yourself out of this paradox of connecting virtually and disconnecting in reality.
 First published on 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Balancing Act

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
-          Gautama Buddha

We have all heard and read a lot about living in the Now. Each of us, undoubtedly, interprets it in our own way. Yet, living in the present is not something one achieves and is done with! It is an on-going and everlasting exercise one engages in, and a rather challenging one at that. One of the reasons for this is the fact that at any given point in time, we are either busy doing something, or thinking something. Come to think of it, Human Life is all about swinging between either Thinking or Acting.
Needless to say, any task in life calls for some amount of thought and some amount of action. Finding the right balance between the two becomes a key determinant of your efficiency. At one end of the continuum are situations that require 100% action, thought comes later. This may be true when someone is getting a heart attack, and you simply need to call the ambulance NOW. There is no time for thought; you simply have to DO IT. Here, instant action is paramount. At the other end of the continuum are situations where 100% of thought may be applied, with no or negligible action. Take for instance the philosopher who spends years thinking about a theory and working it out in his mind. All his ‘action’ happens only on the fertile grounds of his mind; no ‘real’ measurable action takes place. Most situations, however, fall somewhere in-between these two extremes. There may be some tasks that call for more action and less thought, and vice versa. For a person to be efficient and effective in any task, he needs to be able to strike the right balance between the two.

Temperamentally though, we tend to have a preference for one over the other. Some of us are thought oriented, we prefer to mull and ponder, gaze and wonder, think and ruminate over the way things are. Thinkers are often seen as dreamers, star gazers, philosophers, or even as lazy good-for-nothings. It is the thinkers who make us see the world from a new light, who question age old customs, who ask Why? What? How? How come?

On the other hand, some of us are more action oriented, who believe in getting out there and taking charge. These are the actors, the ones who can move mountains, who can get things done, who compel the rest of us to move out of our comfort zones. These are the ones who lead by their example, who believe that actions speak the loudest.

Having a perfect balance between these two frequencies, arriving and remaining at the center of this spectrum, is probably what meditation is all about……

The Buddha is the one who mastered this to perfection. Think of the Buddha and what comes to your mind is his serene expression, his equanimity, his meditative posture.  The Buddha achieved the peak of the thinking frequency; he questioned established patterns, he came up with a whole new philosophy of Life. Yet, the Buddha is also the epitome of the actor, the do-er. While he practiced renunciation and detachment, he did so in the midst of people. He acted, every minute of the day, to communicate his thoughts, his views and his philosophy to people, he was seen constantly engaged in some service to humanity or other. He was a tireless worker, a do-er to the core. Thus, he mastered both these seemingly disparate frequencies to achieve perfect equanimity.

This, then, is what each of us needs to aspire for. No, not all of us can become a Buddha. Yet, it is equally true that the potential to be a Buddha lies between each of us. Life, then, needs to be a sincere attempt at always remaining in harmony with our thoughts and our actions, always ensuring that one feeds into the other, and, most of all, that they are both helping us reach the same destination. Knowing our natural temperamental inclination, and then working consciously toward also inculcating the other, is what will help us achieve this goal.

Article first published in the Inaugral Issue of 'Just Let Go' in September 2015.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

‘Back to School’ Blues

June ……
The start of the blessed monsoons
The fragrance of wet Earth
The relief from heat and grime

June …….
The start, also, of the new school year
The smell of brand new books
The end of lazy sleepy mornings

As a mother of school-going kids, June is a month pregnant with so many things, most of them to do with the resumption of the school routine after a relaxed summer break. While most of May is just whiled away enjoying the relaxed pace of life, the appearance of June is a reminder of sorts. With old raincoats to try on for size, covering of the text books and notebooks, ensuring the bottles and tiffin boxes are intact and in place, and uniforms and shoes to buy, the first week of June passes off in a flurry of activity, and before you  know it, the first day of school has arrived!

For many mothers, this can be an extremely stressful period. But it need not be. With a little bit of planning and creativity, you can not only make this a stress-free time, but also one where the family bonds together and has fun. Really? How?

Be Organised
Well, some of us are naturally more organised, while some of us are not. However, where school is concerned, it certainly pays to be more organised. So on that last day of school, make sure you put away all the things that won’t be needed for the next two months ready and in their regular place. This makes it easier to retrieve them. I remember a first day morning filled with panic when we could not locate my daughter’s shoes one of the years when she was younger. I learnt my lesson then. Taking that extra bit of effort saves many a nerve-wracking moments later.

Make Your Kids Responsible
No matter how old, or young, your child, communicate to her or him that it is his responsibility to ensure readiness for school. Empower your children to manage their stuff, be it ensuring all books are ready, all projects are done, the bag is packed, the uniform is ready and so forth. Of course, you are there to step in and help them wherever they require help, but making them responsible from an early age will go a long way in fostering lifelong self-reliance in them.

Have a ‘Getting-Ready-For-School’ Day
About a week before the school is about to re-open, get the family together, encourage all members to brainstorm and come up with a list of things that need to be in place for the first day of school. Encourage the children to come up with various aspects. Make this a fun brainstorming session, you can even have prizes for the one who comes up with the most valuable suggestion. Together, allot responsibilities for who does what. Put up the list in a place where everyone can easily access it, and tick off tasks as they get done. This makes the entire activity a fun and family thing, and also creates positivity in children about going back to school.

Avoid Leaving Things for the Last Minute
This one sounds pretty obvious, but let us be honest – how many of us have left buying the raincoat till the day it actually starts pouring? How many of us have sat late into the night on the last day of the vacation covering books? Trust me, doing a little bit every day is far better than getting into a crisis at the 11th hour.

The First Morning
Often, getting kids to wake up after late mornings becomes a task for most mothers. What has worked for me is preparing the kids from at least a week in advance, by talking about the school re-opening day, and slowly getting them to wake up earlier with every passing day. Most importantly, talking to them positively about school on the night before and getting them excited will result in them waking up with a positive frame of night the next morning.

Most importantly, learn to remain calm and centered. Waking up 15 minutes earlier than you normally do will give you that extra space to start your morning in a relaxed and calm manner. Remember, your kids pick up your moods and energies, so make sure you vibrate with peace, love and harmony as you send out your kids on their first day into the new school year!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Elusive Equanimity

As a therapist, a healer, and a spiritual seeker, equanimity is quality that I have always tried to cultivate. People who come for therapy, come, literally, from every emotional walk of life. Every possible shade of negative emotion is manifested in therapy, and as such, one learns to take it in one’s stride. Or so I deluded myself! Until one fine day, not so long ago, in walked Mr. Y, a parent of a teen I was working with, an angry soul, whose anger and negativity was so palpable, so impacting, that it pervaded his aura, the physical space around him, and everyone who came in contact with him. Including me.

Once in a while, we all come across such people. People who are so full of angst and anger, that they leave us completely shaken, uncentered and disturbed. As a healer-therapist, I make it a point to ground myself before my sessions, and cleanse myself after my day is over, to ensure that I do not carry any unwanted emotions, thoughts or energies with me into my personal life. But with Mr. Y., I could not do so for a long time – a couple of weeks, in fact. He affected me, made me angry and upset with his accusations, and the general way in which he was treating his kids. It took me considerable time and effort to re-center myself and continue to interact with him without getting affected.

This incident got me thinking. It made me wonder how I, or anyone for that matter, can go about clearing one’s own space of such extremely strong and negative emotions that others may unknowingly dump on one. Based on what worked for me, I would suggest some or all of the following steps if you ever find yourself in such a situation.

·    Recognise & Acknowledge Your Reactions: Accept that you are reacting to the behaviour, words, body language, or simply the emotional charge of the other person. Take ownership for your own emotions. Instead of saying, “He made me feel depressed”, say to yourself, “I am feeling depressed because of what he said.” Acknowledge that you have unwittingly allowed yourself to be dragged into a game that you do not want to play.

·       Breathe! Practice deep breathing and allow the emotions or feelings to just flow through your body. If you are familiar with any kind of formal breathwork, like Yoga, meditation, Vipassana, Mindfulness practice, prioritise that. If not, then simply close your eyes, and breathe in deeply. As you inhale, feel yourself breathing in peace and calm, and when you exhale, blow out with your mouth, breathing out all the negative emotion that you are experiencing. Do this for at least 7 times, and then check how you feel. Keep doing this breathing work in cycles of 7 until you feel the discharge of the emotion.

·       Practice Forgiveness: Forgive the other person for behaving the way he or she does. You don’t know the battles he is fighting, and what viewpoint he is operating from. Also forgive yourself for all the negative feelings you have developed toward him or her. Accept your human-ness, accept that you are reacting with negativity. Again, there are many beautiful ways to actively practice forgiveness. Hoʻoponopono is one such simple and beautiful practice. It is an ancient Hawaiian technique of practicing forgiveness. Vipassana meditation also teaches you the practice of giving Metta, or waves of friendship, warmth and goodwill to people. If nothing else, simply taking a few moments to express gratitude to the Universe for all the good things in your life will also go a long way in making it easier for you to forgive the person who has impacted you so much.

·         Actively Move On: Lastly, make a concerted effort to move yourself out of that emotional zone, and into something that is constructive and positive. Get started on some task that has been long pending, even if it is something as trivial as cleaning your room, sorting your closet, or calculating your accounts. Engage your mind into tasks that truly require your energy; this makes it difficult for your energy to be available for unhealthy emotions and thoughts.

My experience with Mr. Y. has taught me many things. First and foremost, it has taught me that I do not need to be part of anyone else’s dramas or stories. It is up to me entirely, I can disconnect, cut-off, refuse to be part of his or her life issues by choosing to not respond to any mind-games the other person may knowingly or unknowingly engage in. But more importantly, it taught me that it is up to me to maintain my inner balance, my equanimity and my sense of being centered and grounded. People, situations and experiences may pose challenges in different ways; but ultimately, my peace of mind is my priority, and unless I take active control of it, equanimity will always remain elusive. Last of all, I realised, all over again, that the quest for equanimity is an on-going one. It is not a destination…… but a journey full of important lessons along the way!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Knock Off the Family Fights!

Article was first published in Complete Wellbeing in 2010
Within two years of marriage, Mala and Rakesh found themselves sitting in front of a marriage counsellor, making a last-ditch attempt to save their marriage. Their relationship had started floundering after just three months of their marriage.
Rakesh found it hard to accept that Mala disliked cooking, wanted to eat out every weekend, and was not really passionate about keeping a good house. Mala, on the other hand, felt ‘suffocated’ by Rakesh’s ‘old-fashioned’ expectations, despite the fact that she herself was a working professional.
They both found it hard to tolerate each other’s shortcomings, and these seemed to become greater and greater with every argument they had.
One of the key reasons why the structure of the family unit is crumbling at its very foundation is because people today no longer demonstrate tolerance toward each other. Our grandparents told us that families were founded on patience and tolerance. However, tolerance is an unfamiliar word in the dictionary of today’s generation. And, with good reason.
Increasingly, our society has been egging us on to focus upon ourselves—our goals, our dreams, our ambitions. While earlier, people were brought up to think of their family first, today’s children grow up on generous doses of ambition and competition.
Increasingly, the ‘We’ is getting replaced with the ‘I’. An unforeseen casualty of this shift of focus on oneself is the institution of family as we knew it. In our search for our identity, we have lost touch with that part of ourselves that needs to connect to others.
We have become so self-centred that we often see only our needs and expectations, and fail to realise that these are intricately tied up with the needs and expectations of others in the family.
So what’s the big deal about tolerance? To answer that question, it is important to understand what tolerance means in the context of the family.
In simple terms, tolerance means acceptance—of the unique personality of every family member; of the differences between them; of their quirky, whimsical, idiosyncratic likes and dislikes. Most importantly, tolerance means acceptance of every family member as he or she is.
Let us look at how lack of tolerance can impact our relationships:

1. Impatience towards another’s flaws

Intolerance makes you impatient toward the flaws of your family members.Rima couldn’t deal with her son Deepak’s poor academic performance, and this made her impatient and irritable towards him. She criticised his study habits and his intellectual capabilities all the time.

2. Inability to understand differences in members

Often, tolerance is created by lack of knowledge. Whatever is known and familiar to us becomes good, and whatever is different creates a sense of disharmony.
Shilpa’s son fell in love with, and got married to a girl from another community. While her new daughter-in-law Juhi made every attempt to establish a relationship with her, Shilpa found it hard to relate to a jeans-clad, fashionable and modern girl who barely knew what a kitchen looked like.

3. Lack of openness to differing perspectives

Increasingly, individuals today feel that their ideas, opinions and approaches are correct and those of others are not.
Deepa could not tolerate her daughter-in-law’s cooking because, coming from a different community, her cooking style was different—or in Deepa’s eyes, completely ‘wrong’.

4. Build-up of conflict and tension in relationships

With intolerance, people feel misunderstood and not accepted in the relationship, and this creates a feeling of resentment and negativity, which, in turn, results in frequent conflicts.
In the above example, Deepa criticised her daughter-in-law Trupti, who retaliated. To this, Deepa criticised some more and the argument escalated.

5. Breakdown in communication

Gradually, over a period of time, communication channels start breaking down, resulting in the erosion of the very foundation of the family structure.Nancy’s decision to make modelling her career alienated her from her mother, who was highly conservative. After daily arguments, tears and recriminations, it came to a point where Nancy felt it was too much to take any more, and soon, there was no sharing or discussion between mother and daughter. The only communication was in the form of criticism and counter-criticism. Eventually, Nancy moved out of the house.
OK, so we have made a case for tolerance. Does that mean a wife should allow her husband to come home drunk and abuse their kids every night? Or does it mean that you give your children the message that it’s okay to fail in their exams?
Does tolerance mean you agree to do everything your mother-in-law tells you to do? No! Tolerance is not equal to submission. Nor does tolerance mean that you put up with unacceptable behaviours of your family members.
However, what it does mean is that we try to understand these behaviours in the context of their personalities and experience, and then help them see your point of view. Tolerance means being able to discuss irritating habits and behaviours in a calm and patient manner, such that a solution or compromise can eventually be worked out.
Following are some tips that will help increase your tolerance:

Celebrate differences

Each of us is wired differently, and respond to situations in a different manner. The moment you understand this, you will not only learn to tolerate certain behaviours of your family members, you will be able to appreciate the uniqueness they add to the family.

Put yourself in their shoes

When you find yourself losing patience with any of your family members, it will be helpful to put yourself in their shoes and view the situation the way it appears to them. You will be surprised at the difference in perspective. While you may still find the particular behaviour irritating, you will at least understand where it is stemming from.

Acknowledge your weaknesses

Take some time out to think about your shortcomings and flaws. This will give you a chance to appreciate the tolerance that others in the family demonstrate towards you. After all, it works both ways; if you have to adjust and accept certain things, so do others in the family.

Visualise your life without family

When your patience in running thin, try and imagine a scenario where you are completely by yourself, with none of your family members around you. how does that make you feel? For all your irritation and impatience, ask yourself whether you would be happier without your nagging wife or your demanding daughter. Your answer might surprise you.

Reduce your stress levels

Poor tolerance often stems from being overworked and stressed. Find ways and means to de-stress yourself from time to time. This can be done by engaging in a hobby, working out, meditating, meeting up with friends…. anything that helps you loosen up mentally and physically.

Bond with your family

Besides building tolerance, bonding with family can go a long way in helping you stay together as a unit, especially in difficult situations. So go out on weekends, play board games, watch a movie together, play with your kids… anything that the family as a whole enjoys.


One of the best ways to increase tolerance is to communicate your thoughts with your family members in a non-critical manner, and invite them to share theirs. As discussed above, intolerance often stems from lack of knowledge or understanding.
If you communicate with an open mind, and make a genuine attempt to understand and relate to what your family member is telling you, the foundation for an increased understanding is instantaneously laid down.
So, in Mala and Rakesh’s case, this was exactly what their therapist worked on. All she did was encourage them to communicate their perspectives with each other in a calm, non-critical manner.
She further encouraged each of them to be open to the other person’s viewpoint, accept the differences between them, and eventually move toward acceptance of each other’s opinions, upbringing and way of thinking. Ultimately, this resulted in better understanding and tolerance, and they were able to save their marriage.