"I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free."
Michelangelo
Welcome! This blog is about my random thoughts, colourful pictures and paintings, some of my pencil drawings, reflections on things I feel strongly about and my experiences as I journey through life. Hope you enjoy it. Feel free to add your comments and suggestions, but please refrain from spam, racist or uncomfortable comments. Thanks for visiting!

Monday, 4 May 2020

Depression Help

The previous posts describe how our life is a series of decisions, our mind that makes the decision, the two states of thinking or minds which are the emotional and rational mind. I am writing these new series of posts to help understand our mind, the thoughts in an effort to understand the science behind the thinking and feeling process. All these are an attempt to help a mind that is depressed, to aid in understanding the emotions, to realize that it is definitely possible to overcome the negative aspects and lead a healthy, positive life and to become a better person.

There are plenty of people around the world who have mental health issues but are not aware of it. They do not have the knowledge that the feelings they experience (maybe due to the hand they were dealt with in life, trauma etc) is a mental health condition which is curable and they do not have to necessarily live with it. There are several ways to overcome these challenges and with the right treatment, various coping strategies and mechanisms, they can bear the hardships of mental health conditions and be happy. An awareness of what a mental health condition is, what are the symptoms and how to seek help is sadly not common knowledge.

What are the symptoms that there maybe a mental health condition?

Unexplained changes in eating habits and weight - weight gain or loss within a short period of time
Unexplained changes in sleeping habits - oversleeping or insomnia
Unexplained deterioration in performance - school, work, sports or professional
Feeling of loneliness, when you are alone or even amidst friends and family
Withdrawal from social activities, friends, relationships, family which you enjoyed earlier
Emotional outbursts and mood swings
Intense fear and constant worry about the future - anxiety
Inability to let go of the past mistakes, events, relationships
Inability to cope with daily activities - Unwillingness to get out of bed, inability to do daily chores etc
Feelings of sadness, anxiety, laziness, fear quite persistently and often
Often angry, rude, loud (shouting), annoyed and sarcastic tone
Inability to maintain an even temperament and calmness often
Unexplained physical pain
Substance abuse - alcohol, excessive drinking, drugs, pills
Thoughts of hurting yourself - self harm and hurting others
Thoughts of suicide
Confusion and memory loss, delusions, hallucinations
Thoughts of stealing, defying authority

First and foremost, we need to believe that it is normal to experience these conditions, there is nothing inherently wrong with the person who experiences these symptoms. We need to accept that help is needed. We need to understand that these are curable.

When there is a physical ailment such as a broken arm, we do not think that with passage of time, an arm can be healed or an appendix can be fixed. Similarly, a mental condition is not some random symptom or a feeling which (always) can go away with the passage of time. If any, they tend to worsen with the passage of time.

There are several ways one can seek help. Talking to a trusted friend, close relative, an understanding spouse or a loved one will help. It is important that the person you choose understands depression, loves you unconditionally and is willing to actively listen you and help you. There are several online depression chat forums, support groups available where we can meet people who go through similar problems, who can relate to what you are going through and offer guidance and support. The most effective is however, seeking out a professional.

It is a daunting and often a disillusioning experience when we go about seeking a professional for a mental condition. This is because of the nature of the problem and the way remedy is given. It does not involve just a set of already established, tried and tested procedures, anesthetics, drugs, surgery etc. It involves talking to a person during the consultation process and goes much beyond the usual doctor - patient trust and confidentiality. An ability to connect with the health care professional, a willing to expose the vulnerability on the part of the person with mental condition, a mutual understanding, respect and trust takes time and does not happen easily. We need to be willing to speak to as many professionals as possible until we find the right one we are comfortable with. The explanations of the symptoms, analysis and repeating the past events to every new professional you see is emotionally draining. Nevertheless, we must persist for our own good and seek help from the person who is right for us.

With help from a right professional, the problems can be solved, underlying root causes can be identified and with the right kind of treatment and support, changes in lifestyle and attitudes can be achieved and we can go on to become a better person and lead a happy, satisfying life.

As always, please remember love yourself and life can be much more rewarding.

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Which is better? Rational or Emotional


Humans have two systems of thinking - The Rational brain and the Emotional brain.
In the last post, the features of both the brains were explained. Intuitive / Emotional brain is responsible for decisions that need to be made fast and instinctively for our survival. Ration brain analyses all the data that is available and logically concludes to arrive at a decision. While the intuitive brain aims at immediacy and sufficiency, rational brain looks for optimization, reasoning and explanations.

Given that, which is better? Should we act intuitively trusting our impressions and gut feeling or should we analyze the situation and act rationally? Is it better to act rationally or is it better to act intuitively? If we act rationally, does it mean that we are devoid of emotions? And if we act intuitively does it mean we give up reason?

The answer is we need both Rational and Intuitive brain and apply both to our decision making. Even we apply rationality, our emotional brain still provides its inputs in the form of tacit knowledge, pattern recognition, past experiences. There is no 100% rational decision. There can be 100% intuitive decision where we can purely based on instinct or our emotions. This is because we need to apply our fore brain for emotional control. In situations that threaten our survival, we do not think rationally but act emotionally out of pure instinct to avoid the threat. Why? Because, we evolved from animals, our natural urge is survival. While the intuitive brain has existed for millions of years, our rational brain has evolved only over a few hundred thousand years.

Intuitive brain makes rapid decisions for sufficiency using heuristics such as recognition heuristics and Tacit Knowledge. Though effective in several ways it has the disadvantages of Sensory illusion, Rational anomalies and Cognitive biases. (More on these in future posts)

While our instincts are often accurate, acting without a rational thought is not always wise. The reason for this is our current way of life. In a civilized world, there is no immediate threat to survival. The perceived threats to survival, except for a few life threatening situations are not a threat to our life. They do not warrant the same reaction as a life threat that triggers a fight or flight mode.

We will not lose our life during an argument with people who we come across, a difficult situation that we encounter, a conflict that needs to be resolved. Several of the other emotions that arise in our intuitive brain and cause extreme distress such as fear of things, losing our savings, losing love, anxiety about the future, past events that can no longer be controlled, lost love, grief, an abuse that was encountered in the past, a traumatic event or experience are extremely painful and can lead to serious difficulties. What we need to remember is they are not life threatening if we do not let them to control us. This is where we need our Rational brain to control the emotions of the intuitive brain, indicate that they do no threaten our life, we can survive without any of these and thrive in the future. We are here, now and the past or future do not control the present. We can think things through logically, we have all the time in the world to work out things, apply reason and take decisions.

Thus both Intuitive and Rational brain are necessary for our survival. When we look at the basic activity of our life, which is decision making, we need both rational and intuitive brain. However, we need to be aware of the limitations of our intuitive brain and let our Rational brain be more assertive and control the emotions of Intuitive brain.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Know your emotional brain

Have you ever asked yourself the existential questions such as Who am I? Why do I do things I do? What are my thoughts? What is a gut feeling? 

All these can be explained by understanding the most fascinating organ in our body, the brain. 
It all starts with evolution. As we know today, human brain has three parts - the fore brain, mid brain and the hind brain. 600 million years ago, the first fish had evolved followed by land plants, forests, amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs, birds, flowering plants, bees, great apes and homo sapiens (Humans).
From the first fish, the mid brain and hind brain were functional and much more evolved than the fore brain. Only with the evolution of mammals, were the fore brains sizable. 

Fore brain is responsible for functions such as memory, planning, organizing, problem solving, analytical reasoning and emotional control. Mid brain is responsible for functions such as vision, motor control, sleep, awake, temperature regulation.Hind brain is responsible for functions such as movement, balance, coordination, breathing, heart rate, swallowing. 

The fore brain is what we call Rational brain while the mid brain is what we call Intuitive brain.

From the study of evolution, it is obvious that as living species, it is sufficient to posses mid brain and hind brain for our survival. Animals and fish and various other species have evolved and survived without an actively functioning and much developed fore brain as it is in the humans. Thus the objective of mid brain is Reproductive survival. Our Intuitive brain makes decisions that ensures our survival. It is a natural process that has evolved over 600 million years and works at a much faster pace. The decisions are made with an unconscious effort with a non verbal language using tools of evolution and tacit knowledge (more on this in another post). It uses the approach of sufficiency and does not aim for best decision but rather an immediate one with available knowledge from evolution and past experiences. 

So what does our fore brain do? It helps us to think, rationalize, organize and ultimately achieve fulfillment. The approach the fore brain employs is optimization which means arriving at a best decision with a conscious effort using the languages of speech and math making use of tools such as data, logic, analysis. 

The functioning of intuitive brain is still a black box and largely unknown. However, it is clear that it is the part of the brain where emotions arise and to which the sensory organs transmit their signals. 
We often say that our heart wants something while our mind tells something else and tries to reason with us. The mind that reasons with us is the Rational brain or the fore brain. The heart that wants what it wants is the mid brain or Intuitive brain or the emotional brain. Intuitive brain is the gut feeling that we possess. As humans, we have the power and ability to form rational thoughts and control our emotions with the help of fore brain. It is a daunting exercise that requires patience, deliberate practice and understanding. It is however, definitely possible. 

With that thought, I end this post. Here is a beautiful poem.

Thunderstorms

My mind has thunderstorms,
That brood for heavy hours:
Until they rain me words,
My thoughts are drooping flowers
And sulking, silent birds.

Yet come, dark thunderstorms,
And brood your heavy hours;
For when you rain me words,
My thoughts are dancing flowers
And joyful singing birds.

- William Henry Davies

Love yourself and life will be much more rewarding!

Friday, 20 March 2020

A new beginning

Learn to love yourself and your life would be much rewarding! Here is a painting as a visual treat. 

Asher B. Durand, Landscape, 1850
When I began writing this blog, I wanted to share the beautiful paintings and poems that I like, some thoughtful questions as I attempt to sift through my ideas and frame my opinions and paint a view of perception, some of my drawings, sketches and paintings. I have been remiss these past years with my posts. 

I am now starting to focus on a different direction for my online journal. Recently, I studied and tried to understand why we do the things we do, why certain things affect us so much while we could be least bothered about the rest, what makes us act a certain way, assimilate certain set of choices and the reasons behind the decisions we make. As I learn, I hope to journal my understanding of these subjects and share this knowledge. 

Everything we do starts with a decision. A thought arises in our mind. We either choose to act on it or not. Thus we have thought and action. A thought is merely an intent, There can be thoughts that do not result in action. There can be actions without thinking. Once we act and commit an irrevocable allocation of resources, we have made a decision. 

There are several thoughts in our mind. Not all result in action, however several thoughts impact and influence our decision. Some decisions are good and some are bad. How do we decide which ones are good and which ones are bad? Some decisions have excellent outcomes and some not so much. Are those decisions that have good outcome good and those that have bad outcomes bad? Are the results solely based on the decision and are we the ones who are 100% responsible for our decision? Is a decision good because it had the expected outcome? Can we always predict the outcomes?

Whether a decision is good or bad does not depend on the outcome. Nor are we 100% responsible for all our decisions. An actionable thought and thoughtful action would possibly contribute to a better decision. However, there are several factors that influence a decision. We, the decider, the way we frame the question of our decision, the choices we have or the alternatives, our values that have been formed, the information we had at the time of making the decision and the reasoning that was applied (or not applied) contribute and impact the quality of the decision. All these aspects have their own blind spots, biases, perspectives and we may not be aware of many of them. 

Hence, there is no good beating yourself up for any decision. The best we can do is accept that we made a decision, the outcomes were either good or bad, understand the learnings and use it while making future decisions.


Friday, 27 December 2019

Reflections




Another year comes to an end and its time to reflect on where we are at.

You've likely accomplished and grown in ways you don't realize.  Stay away from toxic elements and cherish the loved ones who have always been there for you! I hope everyone remembers that the fact that you made it here is incredible in and of itself. And this is huge.

Irrespective of everything, the survival itself is radical. And it is enough. And what you have accomplished is enough.

With that thought, I wish all my friends in blog land a very happy new year!!!