The 6 Pillars of a Healthy Relationship

As a child, I actually preferred to spend time alone. I did not understand why I was bullied for wanting to spend time by myself. I was called ‘saddo’, ‘loner’ and ‘boring’. Of course it hurt, but I look back on those days and pat myself on the back for being so comfortable to be on my own. Why? Because I believe, at such a tender age, I spent a lot of time building a relationship with myself and getting accustomed to my own company. Therefore when I started to choose and form my own long-terms relationships in the form of friends and family, I felt more comfortable and it happened a lot easier than we all make it out to be.

I am not a relationship guru, but I have been through my fair share of experiences in different kinds of relationships to know what works and what does not. Now when I talk about relationships, it is not just isolated to romantic ones. When I talk about relationships, I mean every single relationship we form with every human being we encounter and bond with. This includes friendships, romantic partners, business partners, family, and work colleagues, to name a few.

Maintaining a positive and healthy relationship is just as much a test of you as it is the other person, so I want to talk about how we can and should be in a relationship to ensure it is beautiful, healthy and long-lasting.

1. Honesty, openness & trust. I never understand how any bond can form without being honest and open about yourself. The more honest and open we are, the more trust we will be able to build with the other party. I am a firm believer of being honest and open about our past experiences as much as our future; we need to know that the other party knows enough about us to understand where we come from and why we are the way we are, and exploring those past experiences is crucial in understanding each other. Let’s not dwell on the past however, but use it as a foundation to build the relationship.

2. Communication & intimacy. When I mean intimacy, I mean emotional and mental intimacy. Just knowing that we can comfortably drop our guard really does strengthen the relationship. It makes us value and appreciate how comfortable the other person makes us feel – this kind of intimacy is precious, and no amount of physical intimacy can replace that. To have that level of intimacy, we need to be able to communicate comfortably. If there is anything on our mind, we need to be able to communicate it in a respectful manner. If something bothers us, we need to voice it. If we feel judged by the other party, we know they are no longer worth being in our life. Period.

3. Kindness, love & respect. I think this is a basic human quality. It surprises me how little I see of this in society. Every relationship is built on genuine kindness, and a love for someone or something. From this kindness and love comes respect. When someone is kind, loving and respectful to themselves, they will naturally be able to shower those around them with the same kindness, love and respect.

4. Understanding, loyalty & humility. We are in no position to change the other person. Instead we need to invest our time into understanding them to their fullest. Let them be free and live their best life. We need to be humble and give space for each other to grow. When we understand an individual and why they are who they are, we are able to appreciate them better and love them even more for who they are. Yet none of this is worth it if we are not loyal. Our loyalty should always remain with that relationship; to go outside of that relationship and talk negatively about the other person makes us less of the humans we were born to be.

5. Friendship & laughter. No matter what kind of relationship you are working on, there needs to be a lot of friendship and laughter. Being a person who makes others laugh, or being around people who make us laugh, really elevates our frequency. We are driven to have even more fun, which in turn strengthens our relationship.

6. Having an identity of your own. We should not be defined by the relationship. We need to ensure we have an identity that goes beyond that relationship. This is how we can boost our self-confidence and therefore be the best version of ourselves for that relationship. Just knowing that we have our own life and goals, makes the relationship stronger because of how much more value and wisdom is added to that relationship.

Ultimately we need to feel comfortable being our true self. If we are not valued and cherished for the person we are, it is a sign that we need to bid that relationship farewell.

Mental Well-being During Lockdown

I wish there was less negativity around lockdown. I am so happy at the moment. I have so much control over my life, and I feel so in touch with my inner self. I really want more people to feel this way. This feeling is truly addictive, and the moment we figure out ways to feel so, there is no turning back.

I’m going to get straight to the point and describe ways in which we can help improve our mental well-being during lockdown.

1. Keep a gratitude journal. I have been reading about having a gratitude journal for years, but I only started practicing it one month ago. Every morning, I spend 10-15 minutes writing about what I am grateful for. There is no better way to start my day and I am so happy to have finally got into the habit of doing so. (If you do not like writing, then voice note it to yourself and listen back to it at the end of the day!).

2. Learn to breathe. As a human beings we are terrible at breathing in a nourishing way. This only worsens our states of anxiety. I personally have been focusing on breathing more regularly throughout the day. Every time I feel my mind wonder, I try and focus it back on my breathing. It is making me realise that our breath is the only real thing at any moment in time. By taking control of our breathing we are claiming control over how we respond to the external situations.

3. Be present. Being sat at home is apparently ‘brain numbing’ and ‘boring’. I think the complete opposite. We can add value to every moment of our life if we are present. We need to focus on what is. We need to focus on the now. We may never get such an opportunity to spend again with our family. We need to relish it and use it to reconnect with our loved ones. We need to learn to be present in each of our endeavors big or small, throughout our day.

4. Learn to do things on your own. Workout alone. Dance alone. Cook alone. Clean alone. Sing alone. Enjoy your own company. Enjoy getting to know yourself. The reality is, not many of us know who we really are. Our understanding of ourself has unfortunately become what we think society thinks we are. This is the prime time to change that. When we get comfortable being alone, we are unstoppable.

5. Take a break from social media. This is potentially the hardest. Everyone is bored at home and using social media to entertain themselves (thanks Instagram and TikTok). It is just proving how much we are seeking for external validation to define our happiness. Such happiness is short-lived. This applies to any distractions we may have. We need to break free from this escapism culture and face our real self. Take a few days off, maybe a few weeks – I took a month off! I stripped away everything I thought I was, to find out I am just a human like anyone else.

I have said this before and I say it again. I honestly believe we have been blessed with lockdown. We have come to realise how much our excitement and joy has always relied on external factors/events, rather than from within. This is the time for us to make peace with our inner selves and just enjoy being, instead of complaining about everything that we could have been doing if lockdown was not in place.

Stay home. Stay safe. Learn about yourself.

Take off your social mask

We all have a social mask. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all do. Most of us even have our social mask so well defined so we can rally it out on our CVs, LinkedIn profiles, social media bios, or when someone asks the golden ‘Tell me about yourself’ question.

Want to hear mine?

‘I am a 26 year old Sri Lankan Tamil girl, born and brought up in the UK. I am currently working as a junior doctor for the NHS. I am also a Bharathanatyam and Bhangra dancer. I am a dance choreographer, events organiser and blogger. Above all, I am a daughter, sister, lover and friend.’

Fancy right?!

In the last 2 weeks that I have had to self-isolate, I have reflected a lot. During these two weeks, I was not any of what I described above. I was a human being in bed, confined to one room, taking regular paracetamol to bring my fever down, rubbing Vicks onto my chest and nose to aid my breathing; I hadn’t showered in days; I was not eating. Ultimately I was an unwell human being. That’s all.

I looked at myself as a human being. That is what I am. I am a human being. We all are the same. We are all human beings, trying to survive in a world that so desperately wants us to have a definition for ourselves.

This desperation is what pushes us to make decisions, say things, build stories that may not be hundred percent true to who we truly are, and what we have achieved. Why? Because we want to fit in. We want to feel validated. We want to feel like we have a purpose.

This forms part of the reason that I bid Instagram farewell. We are all so tuned into to thinking so two-dimensionally. We are all looking at ourselves through social masks, rather than as human beings. I found it all so fake and untrue. I found myself moulding into this 2D person. I saw people lie about their lives so openly, for attention. I was scared I was falling into this trap. The funny thing is, if we all used such technology as mere human beings, it probably would not be as exciting as it is. I needed a break from such superficiality. I needed a break from mindless scrolling. I need a break from creating dance content just to create a ‘buzz’.

It was a really hard decision. I have been going back and forth on this decision for at least a year now. I was scared of deactivating my Instagram accounts because I was scared that I would no longer be defined as a dancer, because I did not have an Instagram page that said I was one. It made me realise how much I was relying on social masks to define myself. That is when I told myself, enough is enough.

Socially I am living a life that every girl/boy my age could only dream of. Spiritually, emotionally and mentally, I was losing myself to social conditioning. I decided to snap out of it and here I am. Thank you to social distancing, self-isolation and self-reflection.

One hard good-bye

So this weekend, after ages, I drank quite a bit of alcohol. I got drunk to an extent that I was vomiting and passed out. I can’t remember the last part of the night. All I remember next was waking up in my friend’s flat.

I honestly have not got that drunk in ages! I have actively been staying away from alcohol for some time. I drink small amounts when I go out for meals, but that is about it.

Honestly, this experience has been an eye-opener (no pun intended). I feel embarrassed, and that feeling of what could’ve happened when I was completely out of it, gives me anxiety. I’m getting mini-panics every time I think about what others would’ve thought about me. I know these thoughts of what others think do not define the person I am, but I cannot help it can I?

I just thought to write about my thoughts and feelings. In the past 2 days, I have been doing a lot of self-reflection about what I want out of life. Alcohol is not on that list anymore. Having fun with alcohol is definitely not a priority for me. I have realized that I have so much to achieve and accomplish, and alcohol is proving to be a hindrance to that. It is slowing me down. Most importantly, it is the biggest barrier to my current spiritual growth.

I am not against alcohol at all and I will definitely have a glass of wine socially with a meal. However, drinking to get drunk and have fun is definitely not me. I’ve been there, done that. I’m turning into a different person, and I’m proud of this self-reflection and awareness of my spiritual, emotional and physical needs.

Don’t take for granted freedom of speech

Words are so powerful. They have the ability to make or break any situation.

I’ve seen so many use words so powerfully to create such an impact in society. That is what I call inspirational.

In contrast, there are people who use the term ‘freedom of speech’ to talk bad about others and harm/hurt others. This is what I call an embarrassment to humanity.

If more and more individuals understood the power of their words and how to tailor it to meet the needs of society, we would all be growing at an exponential rate!

Judgements – A Default Weakness

We have judged, and remain to judge. This may come in the form of judging others. However, more often than not we judge ourselves, and we are not even aware that we are doing it.

We judge ourselves based on the judgements others pass on us. Let me give you an example of this from my own life. I have several relatives who have made sweeping judgmental statements about me. This, at one point, tore me apart. One day I looked in the mirror at the girl staring back at me and told her, ‘You are not a bad human, your way of approaching life maybe different to many you know, but that’s okay. You do not have to conform to another’s norm. You need to find your own norm, for which you need to find yourself and be comfortable in being the person that you truly are.’

I have also had moments where I have not had the confidence to say ‘No’ to certain situations, just because of the fear I had of being judged. This brought upon me a lot of mental clutter because I did not know what I truly wanted out of life, I was just floating around and getting by life. I started losing focus on my goals and passion, and most importantly myself. This began to change for me when I separated myself from my own judgments. I accepted myself for the person I am. I am an introverted person, who is very task orientated. I do have a social life and that social life for me is dance rehearsals/training – I am not ashamed of admitting it anymore. Yes I do take time to just not think about anything medicine or dance related: once in a blue moon. I do it to re-nergise myself when I do get back into Medicine and Dance modes the following day, and not to escape that life I have chosen.

Anyone can be and do whatever they want. I will not judge, neither will I judge myself. By witnessing my judgement and taking control of such thoughts, I am one step closer to being judgement free.

This blog is platform via which I am making this promise to myself:

I am me. You are you. I define who I am and who I want to be; you define who you are and who you want to be. Life truly is simple.

Hula Hooper since the day I remember

When I tell people that hula hooping is a way in which I workout aside from dancing, people start laughing.

‘Hula hooping?! Hahah!’

Yes, hula hooping!

Maybe people find it funny because it has always been associated with 6 year old children playing in the playground at school. Therefore it is understandable why they may find it amusing to hear a 24 year old adult hula hooping to keep fit.

This is a short piece explaining the reasons for why I hula hoop so regularly and the benefits I have found:

1. It is super fun! And I mean it. I find going to the gym to work out, or even working out at home an arduous task. Hula hooping however gives me an opportunity to watch a movie whilst my abs are working at their 100% to keep a hula hoop at my waist. It’s so convenient and brilliant because this way I get to catch up on any missed TV shows whilst I am hula hooping – multi-tasking at its finest!

2. It has definitely helped tone my abs. I’m a Sri Lankan Tamil girl which means rice is incorporated into every meal of mine at home. This then predisposes me to developing a ‘rice belly’. By hula hopping regularly, I have been able to keep my abs quite toned and my central control is pretty amazing if I say so myself.

3. For some bizarre reason, hula hooping has greatly helped with my stamina. I never sweat or am out of breath when I hula hoop, but I have realised that when I do spend half an hour to an hour hula hooping everyday, it does improve my stamina quite a bit.

These are all merely my own opinions by the way, and I do not whether or not scientific research has been done into its efficacy.

Ultimately, hula hooping has helped me elevate my mood and therefore I feel so much better in myself.

Daily Musings

Social media has helped me a lot with my professional dance career. I do not of course depend on it, but it has for sure given me a portal through which I can interact with fellow lovers of dance which I never had before. 

I use my social media now not just to post about my dance work, but to also to use it as a way to convey my thoughts about general life, in the form of inspirational, motivational, thought-provoking quotes. Everything I post has a reason but I never share it so here goes with some of my favourites. 

‘Are you really happy or just really comfortable?’

This is the deepest question one can ask themselves. Do not settle for a life that looks good on the outside. Do not settle for a life where a roof over your head, financial security and everything materialistic are set out for you. Work for it. When you work for it and can say to yourself, ‘This is something I have built’, that is when you will feel truly happy and accomplished. Until then keep hustling. 

‘Success does not come from what you do occasionally; it comes from what you do consistently.’

Especially in the scene of performance arts I’ve come across many who pursue something for a short while and call that success. For me, success is a journey and there is no end point. You need to practice something consistently to really unleash your potential in it!

‘You can speak spiritual eloquence, pray in public, and maintain a holy appearance…but it is your behaviour that will reveal your true character.’

I call such people hypocrites. I say this very confidently because I used to be one myself. Until 2 years ago I realised I need to own up to what I really feel and act on it. It is no good saying that ‘I am this…I believe in this…’ when your actions say the complete opposite.

There are several people who just act in a way to seek public approval. With social media, the number of likes and followers seems to be used to quantify whether you are being approved by society or not.

How many of them will, including myself, actually practice what they preach?

‘Generally people like to bring up your past, when your present and future appears to be better than theirs.’

I dislike people who bring up another’s past. But now, the more they do it, the more I am like ‘Is that the only thing you have against them?’

Some people are so stuck in their bubble they refuse to accept another’s success in any way, shape or form. Therefore to bring another down they use their past.

Just think. If I did that to you? How would you feel? How ‘clean’ is your past? I can guarantee that those who act in such a way do not have the best of pasts. So if you believe you have changed, then give others the benefit of the doubt that they have changed as well. It’s that simple.

‘A private life is a happy life.’

Over the past few years I have become more and more aware of people who use social media to post about there private drama and unhappiness.

Question 1: Is posting on social media going to resolve that problem? Will it give happiness?

Question 2: Are you the only one in the world who is going through problems?

Question 3: What is the purpose of you posting your personal problems on social media? If you feel like that is giving your control over the situation, look at yourself and your attitude towards life.

Question 4: Do you actually think people care when each and everyone one of us is going through our own problems? I mean some may acknowledge by liking your post, but what does a ‘like’ mean? If a ‘like’ is the validation you need, then go ahead and keep posting. But I am secretly feeling sorry for you for reasons other than for the ones you wanted me to feel sorry for.

‘A lot of people want to make the institution of marriage a substitute for a real relationship.’

Marriage is not something which should not be a result of convenience.

Do not enter marriage because the current situation you are in warrants a marriage, so it is considered socially and culturally acceptable.

A marriage is a process which should occur at the right time, with the blessings of the right people, for the right reason which is nothing but true love!

Final thoughts:

Each of these thoughts are ones which I started to think more about based on the events which were taking place around me. I am not perfect, but I’m working on myself to think bigger and wiser so I can constantly reflect and grow myself. That is what life is about. Have a reason for every action and make sure you do not hurt anyone!

‘Fake’

So I am one of the wider global Tamil fraternity who watches the new Bigg Boss Tamil. There have been mixed reviews about the whole show, but I am not here to provide my review on it. All I am going to say is that I very much enjoy watching the show, and it is another great platform through which I can analyse human behaviour.

This post is about one constantly spoken concept by the participants of the show – being ‘fake’. Everyone seems to claim that everyone is ‘fake’ on the show. This made me think deeper about what ‘fake’ actually means, and when we can actually call one ‘fake’.

There is a general consensus that being ‘fake’ means that one is not being genuine, which I agree with. What I do not agree with is to call someone fake without having real knowledge of how they are in person.

This term is a very negative one which really has the ability to bring one’s confidence down. To therefore constantly use it to describe someone is horrible. However, what I find most shocking is that the participants are so easy to judge another and easily disregard another’s whole personality as being ‘fake’ just because they do not conform with what they believe is right or with the people they are used to interacting with.

I believe that calling someone ‘fake’ is harsh, but it is especially so when you hardly know the person. How can you call someone ‘fake’ when you do not know them well? One needs to accept that individuals act differently with different people. No one person has the same relationship with two people. Therefore I believe it is wrong to completely disregard their personality using one very pathetic word.

No one is perfect, so instead of hammering an individual down for it, help them to the best of your ability to grow and improve themselves rather than impose labels on them.

‘I am not be perfect but at least I am not fake’ – Thought for the day!

What does it mean to be ‘Strong’ and ‘Independent’?

I recently read an inspiring blog written by none other than one of my closest friends Gowri, which addresses something which I never thought to pay that much attention to – the notion of a ‘strong, independent woman.’

I am not here to summarise what she wrote because honestly I want each and every one of you to take your time to read her blog yourself, so below is the link (please do read her blog before you carry on to read mine):

https://gowrispage.wordpress.com/2017/06/30/on-the-strong-independent-woman/

This piece I write is one in which I would like to demonstrate my own opinions regarding this topic.

Firstly, I completely agree with what Gowri discusses in her blog. I would also like to put my hands up and say that I have fallen victim of seeking mythical validation through this notion as well.

Men do not validate themselves by calling themselves ‘strong’ or ‘independent’. If we are living in a gender-equal society, then women should not need to seek such validation either; yet the issue here is that there are still several women who are doing so.

The number of girls and women I have seen who keep posting on social media that they are ‘strong’ and ‘independent’. Why? This is my burning question. Why are you seeking for constant validation or needing to prove your worth to people you hardly know? By doing so, you are merely making several people question whether you are actually ‘strong’ or ‘independent’.

Secondly, towards the end of Gowri’s blog she opens it to the floor to define what ‘strong’ and ‘independent’ means for them. Therefore, that is what I am going to do.

I have come to realise that I am truly strong when I come to terms with myself that I do have weaknesses and flaws. I never try to paint a picture that I am perfect, because I definitely am not. My strength, however, comes from addressing my imperfections. It gives me total control over myself and this is why I really value ‘me-time’. I spend a good few hours a week just on my own, in my own little bubble. I am not ashamed of it at all. This is my time to look at my life and grow; work on myself and find ways of becoming a better person whom I can respect and love day by day.

In my opinion, independence is nothing more than a myth. Whilst many think that to be independent and successful is a one-man/woman job, I think the complete opposite. I am truly independent when I have identified that to grow I need to identify when I need help, and hence seek for it. I very much rely on a good team who support and advise me, yet give me space to work on it on my own as well. My team is why I am able to grow day by day, understand my own potentials and push myself further and further.

I am truly strong and independent when I am not defensive when people turn around to me and say that I am wrong. I am truly strong and independent when I sit down with these people and work through their mind-set. I am truly strong and independent when I explain my standpoint and we, as a team, find solutions where the final outcome is nothing less than something positive.

I believe that regardless of whether you are a man or woman, you do not need to constantly seek for validation from people you hardly know, especially through social media, in addition to other mediums as well.

One’s actions should speak a lot louder that their words. Do not keep saying out loud that you are strong and independent, instead prove it through your actions to an extent that you do not need to constantly validate yourself.