I grew up with three defining beliefs related to myself and the world around me based on the prevailing family business environment and my response to it: First, to be successful was to become an entrepreneur or businessman, not only because of wealth and lifestyle, but also because of status, prestige, life , Assets in export … General importance is given to people, especially in developing countries. Second, because of my intelligence, my family background, and my willingness to work hard, I was fortunate to have this kind of success, and third, it was a close relationship between personal identity and professional success, meaning to be successful is to be someone and vice versa. No matter how loud or bloated they sounded, these were the main principles for my young soul.
I soon found out, however, that I was not necessarily convinced that the commercial success I had always accepted would come my way. It was for many reasons – my personality, my inclinations, family circumstances and thoughts and my mental and emotional health. I had to start an “inside-out shift” – to find a career that suited my abilities and interests, and I eventually turned to writing and journalism.
So how did I become an advocate for professional rediscovery when it was something I had previously feared and resisted? And how can this be relevant to others who are not from the family business?
Find out your purpose
The changing nature of identity, purpose and meaning, which has made me a dog for years, is universal. Many of us, regardless of profession or career, struggle to find purpose or meaning in our lives – with or without a mental health condition. The lesson I have to give after such a long time is single. What matters is, I believe, the conversation you have with yourself, the story you have created, the story of who you are – your self-therapy. And this is a journey. I have tried to share it in detail to show how tough the self-question can be. A few moments of time, in particular, set the stage for my self-therapy.
I lay on the floor, wearing a T-shirt and track pants, watching my breath, my yoga teacher, Atmapadma guiding me in my practice. She is patient, warm and gentle. We end our yoga session and I start talking to her about my steps from my family business and my uncertain work life. And then she recites a verse from the Bhagavad Gita that changes my life. She doesn’t look for explanations but leaves me thinking.
Even if it is incomplete, religion is good
Absolutely follow the religion of others
It is better to die in one’s own religion
Another’s religion brings danger
There is a difference between the normal struggles he can face in his life journey, when a person tries to be truthful in his path, from “insecurity, fear, anxiety, neurosis and psychosis” when the person deviates from his religion. “It’s very loving, because at different stages, what my religion is in different situations, what my religion is, sometimes it’s fluid. And it’s much harder to live on the inside than what is defined on the outside,” she emphasizes.
My thoughts on the verse reach my journal, a few weeks after Atmapadma read the verse for the first time. I still need to find a way to turn my intellectual interests – writing, film, design – into something valuable, and winning the respect of friends will also meet my needs. It’s both exciting – because there are so many options, and the road is completely open – as well as scary due to the uncertainty.
I suspect that when I think of myself as the offspring or heir of a promoter, I push myself to achieve more in the short term, or similarly, by my own “certificate” and “status”. I feel proven and confirmed, think of yourself as an achievement, because that’s what society expects from me.
However, when I think of myself as a writer / thinker, there is more emphasis on means than just the end. The journey is about finding excellence, competing with yourself, producing good work: perhaps it’s something that is well connected to my personality, its strengths and weaknesses. There is very little confirmation, the field is unknown, and consequently the chances of not being a super-recipient are sky-high. But it is intellectually richer, and more honest. Maybe that’s a good thing for me? What is the story of my life in which I am comfortable? And can these ‘manic’ episodes be stopped while searching for the answer?
This was the beginning of a long line of journal entries on identity, religion and purpose.
Counseling psychologist Tara Mahadevan is telling me a few lines. She presents me a set of confirmations.
I can be free from stress and anxiety
I can be comfortable and balanced
I can be happy
I can be free from my past
I can accept and choose to be who I am because I am enough
May you always move towards enlightenment
I can be happy and fulfilled
I write them on the index cards and store them carefully in my handbag. Wherever I go, they support me to this day. He sets me a reminder on my phone, to tell them myself, every day at 6pm. (Reminder still exists, although the ritual may have ended in the first year or so).
Not feeling well is pervasive in every cell of my brain, although it can only be seen by wise friends like Tara. Coming from a family of high-achievers, and studying at higher education institutions, I didn’t feel that my “achievements” were enough – especially because of my mental illness. The combination of excessive ambition and increased inadequacy, perhaps familiar to many CEOs, is not a recommended recipe for reaching emotional and mental balance.
For Tara, confirmations were important for my well-being. “Confirmations are an effective way to reconnect ourselves. The way the brain works, or the way it is designed, is that the more we tell ourselves, the more we believe it to be true. And we live in a world that is constantly evolving. Giving us messages consciously and unconsciously, we are not good enough, we are not thin enough, we are not rich enough, we are not successful enough, and that becomes the story in which we live. Confirmations are a way to sow the seeds of new, more useful ideas. Saying them over and over again creates new neural pathways that get stronger over time, and then we start to focus and believe instead of old ideas that don’t serve us, “she says.
She understood my need for success – and often had to compensate for my needs because of my illness – and urged me to look beyond it.
I was looking for a definition that was at the head of my success – that I could reach a certain point, and then I would know that I was good enough. It becomes a constant feeling of emptiness inside me, that no matter what I do is not good, because the more you get something, the more there is always this longing for it, which fuels the outside environment.
Confirming the return is also linked to our spiritual practice, because what our spiritual practice says is that the answers are not outside, the answers are inside, the peace is not outside, the peace is inside. It is going to reconnect you with your spiritual self, which goes inside, then seek that peace within, seek that security and with that create that space for you.
July 19, 2016:
What was bothering me? Post-holiday blues, but more than that – the feeling of insecurity or inadequacy of not being successful enough, not being talented enough, not being smart enough, not working hard enough, not working hard enough. I am still plagued by the prospect of success, the promise of talent and its rigorous pursuit. This sense of inadequacy has grown in conversations with high-achieving friends and mentors in the UK, whose intelligence and success have been enhanced by their values, especially compassion and sensitivity, which I would like to emulate. And so the easiest thing I can say to myself is: I’m not good yet. What am I doing to make teeth in this universe? Look at XYZ and see where he / she is, as a writer, as a thoughtful leader, as a creative artist.
However, when I think about it, as Sandhini says, creative work is to look at your own yoga-mat, and not be distracted by the alleged harmony in someone else’s mat. I need to find in myself the balance of movement and stability, the acceptance of both alignment and friction, of brick and zero.
So what is my purpose and meaning? Even though I think I’ve shouted at myself about it, I still find myself surrounded by it. Being able to make teeth in the universe – no matter how small – is part of my DNA.
Discussions with Atmapadma set me on a journey to find my own way out of the family business. Tara’s confirmation inspired me to look inside and be kind to myself. All of these exchanges were important to get me to have a deeper conversation with myself; My self-therapy on purpose, identity and meaning.
(Read more about Piramal’s journey in Chemical Khichdi: How I Hacked My Mental Health. Published by Penguin Random House India)