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Jul 06, 2019

‘Why be an escapist?’

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DEEPAK CHOPRA offers healing advice to readers suffering from unhealthy habits, self-doubt and low self-esteem


My question is regarding my drinking habit. I am not an alcoholic, but enjoy one or two pints of beer two-three times a week. If I have company, then my beer consumption goes up. I am also a yoga teacher and have been on the spiritual path since I was a young girl. The harder I try to stop drinking, the more I want to drink and then, I don’t feel good. Of late, I have been facing financial problems and I want to stop drinking and smoking, because I want to be spiritual and improve my selfesteem. Sometimes I feel connected to God and at other times, I can’t feel Him at all. Maybe someone is practising black magic on me and my family? I feel depleted. Please guide me. —Dolly Singh, 49 years


■ Dear Dolly, Everyone has to find a way to cope with life, and so we fill our days with a range of behaviours. In your letter, you touch upon two ways that you use to cope. The first is alcohol and smoking, even though both are bad for your health. The other way is through fantasy, which is why you mention black magic.


These two coping behaviours have something in common — they are escapism.


Reality feels like too much for you — and millions of others — so you crave distraction, a moment of pleasure when you take a drink or smoke a cigarette, and little journeys into daydream and fantasy.


Beneath these distractions, you are afraid to face reality, so your real problem is fear and anxiety. There is nothing wrong with distractions and no need to judge against yourself. Stop struggling to change. Stop thinking of yourself as failing all the time, and falling behind.


Of course it is much easier to say, ‘stop,’ than to carry it out. Without knowing you personally, it is hard to tell you where to begin. But I am afraid that spirituality is not the answer, because you use this word to beat yourself up and also as another fantasy. Perhaps the best thing for you is to find someone stronger to whom you can turn. Think hard and look around. Find someone you can trust, whose words can guide you.


If there is no close friend or family member who fits the bill, explore the possibility of counsellors and support groups. I know that these may not be in your location, but there are many online support groups. You need a guiding hand to help you come to terms with reality in a positive way. I hope this helps.


Religious places are holy places where devotees visit and pray and miracle cures take place. Still, terrorist attacks, natural and man-made disasters, robbery, looting and desecration take place at such places, sometimes killing a number of people.Why can’t God protect people and prevent such happenings? — G Gonsalves, Mumbai


■ Dear G,
The important thing here is not the question of God but your own motivation for asking. God isn’t an idle issue. The deep spiritual questions about how human life relates to higher consciousness, the soul, the afterlife, free will, and God have been asked for centuries. If you are seriously interested, there are hundreds of books to read. But I suspect that this is not your real concern. You are soft-hearted and worried. You wish that a divine hand would reach down to save and protect the innocent. This is wishful thinking, and it applies to you personally. God has disappointed you I am sorry to tell you, but you must become mature, face reality, and take responsibility for your own life here and now. The path to the truth begins there, not with wishful thinking about God and his imagined shortcomings.


Whenever my colleagues are appreciated for their work, I feel envious as I work so hard but I am never appreciated, and I am always at the receiving end of my boss’ wrath. What do my colleagues do that I don’t do, I fail to understand. How can I earn my boss’ appreciation? — K Mehta, Baroda, 26 years


■ Dear K,
 I wish I knew more about your situation.Your question could revolve around lack of skill compared to your colleagues; you might be a woman and suffering from sexist discrimination; or you might simply be in the wrong job.


Without these specifics I can’t give you the answer you want. But let me say a few things. Your letter has a tone of helpless self-pity, and you see yourself as a victim. Victims find it very hard to take responsibility. People walk all over them because they allow it to happen. In fact, they feel safer playing the victim and feeling sorry for themselves than in taking responsibility for their situation.


 Let me introduce you to the possibility that you are being treated like a victim due to your own actions and attitudes. You give other people the impression that you don’t think very much of yourself, and therefore, they take their cues from you. This is not an easy thing to turn around. But the first step is to realise that you need to turn around, not worrying about others and how they see you, but how you want to see yourself.


Take no new action, but let this new idea sink into you. Everything will improve once you take the first step towards realising that you have real value that no one else can take away. I hope this helps. ■


Do you have a question for Deepak Chopra? Please write to st.editorial@timesgroup.com and state your age
 

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