Wednesday, 23 December 2015

A Professional still Haunted by Her School Days

I feel very strongly about schools and teachers and their behavior and impact on children.

I have been brought up in Dubai and completed my schooling in an Indian Board school here. While the Indian Board is competitive, with a thorough syllabus, it also comes with a lot of pressure for the students. In fact not just the Indian Board, I find the entire schooling system in general, pressurizing.

School was more of a tension and forced day to day task for me that I was obliged to undertake. I don’t remember ever being happy going to school. My feelings were of fear if I didn’t go, because I would have to show the teacher a leave of absence note and I was scared to get caught if I lied about being sick, when in fact I just didn’t go because I didn’t feel like it.

My other tension would be the notes I would have to copy and complete that I would be missing for that day. Even if I stayed home and missed school by choice (or because my parents felt I need a break!), I would spend my entire day feeling guilty and would keep thinking what would be going on in class at that time and how much work I was missing. I would be more tensed by the end of the day and go to school next day feeling worse. My teachers were always stern and would somehow make me feel horrible about the work I had missed. They would not worry about my health, but just dump all the pending work on me.

I know I am projecting them as monsters here, and maybe they were not so bad. They were perhaps good people, with maybe lack of a genuine value of the word teacher. My definition of them here is purely from my emotional perspective – ‘The way I felt because of them’. I am not saying that they did these things rudely. But they were not caring either, and for someone sensitive like me, that is a big deal. I always felt threatened by them. Like they were waiting for an opportunity to pounce on me, to show me down, to make me feel incapable. So I was forever on the edge. I would just pray to get through each day without being called out by them for something. I would pray to keep me safe and strong each day to get through it.

During summer holidays or winter break, I used to be extremely stressed!
Holidays is a time for children to rest and take a break from the regular school and academic work. But no, our teachers gave us heap-loads of work even then. I wanted to just be lazy and do extracurricular activities during these holidays, along with visiting relatives, but would never be able to enjoy that because of the stress of all those worksheets and projects that I needed to do. I used to carry all my work in my suitcase during our family holiday! My perceived lack of creativity would make it even more difficult to do those projects calmly. The deadlines, the grading system for each and every task and the brutal feeling of being snatched off of my freedom, would leave me in tears by the end of every holiday. This would lead to my parents and sisters doing the projects for me, to help keep me calm. Hence, there was actually no learning that took place. The teachers would eventually not even care for some of these homework or projects, but they always scared us about checking it on the first day back to school.

They also loved creeping us out about exams. As far as I can remember, I have always feared exams. In fact it may be from kindergarten, which I did in India. The environment at school there was hardly child friendly. Their strict rules, and no talking or interacting within the classroom policy, was perhaps the first step to my development of school fear and gradual closure to my creative and imaginative side. As a defense mechanism, I learnt to always be on the good side of teachers. I thought being their pet would minimize the risk of being punished in class. Punished for talking in the classroom, for attempting to ask a doubt or comment on a topic, for coming in late to class someday, for not dressing up in a perfect uniform, for not completing a writing page, for not looking straight ahead during assembly time, for not carrying a certain kind of bag or wearing a certain shade of blue ribbons in my hair, or my hair being too long or too short, and the list goes on and on.

I doubt half these teachers or so called role models are even aware of what they have done to my childhood innocence. I think they can develop a growing child and enrich them with knowledge about the world, while also allowing them to find their own way and build their own self. But they seemed to have a model in their head of what a perfect child should be like and tried every day to mould each of us into that model. Anything different was considered taboo! This mindset of theirs got set into my mind too and I always made sure I hung out with those students who were good at academics, and were liked by the teachers. I counted the rest of the children as not worthy to befriend. Of course I was not aware of this trait of mine, until I grew up and met people from different walks of life, whom I liked and befriended without knowing what their grades were, or whether or not they were favorites with their teachers. It didn’t matter and I believe it shouldn’t matter. Can’t we be taught to be nice to all, be open to all, consider everyone an equal, and accept them for who they are? 

We had the top 5 students in every class, and I was always under pressure to be among them. Every activity in class was a competition to being among those 5. While it is healthy to encourage students to aim high, how can you make the rest of them feel any less? There can only be 1 winner, which does not mean that the others are incompetent or incapable. But that is how the teachers portrayed it and now I realize how unfair it was. I would feel horrible if I ever came 6th in class. It was as bad as being the last on the list. 

I don’t remember loving any of my teachers in any grade, and till today I am only happy to be done with school. I do not ever want to go back to my younger days, because they were the most stressful. I don’t even want to enter a school, or meet a student and discuss academics with them. I get scared even today, just thinking about school, or exams. I get nervous being in a school, being around a teacher, or reminiscing school days. I am scared to meet my old teachers, even though I am quite sure they would be proud to see how far I have come in life.

I am scared to help a student do their homework, even if it is a relative. I am petrified of most authoritative figures in my life. Be it the seniors at work, elders in the family, or the Head of any group or anything I may be part of. I am scared of my gym instructor too! Because the stress of having to be right, or do my best, in any situation/task that can be scored is still there in me.

I recently did a Life Coaching program, and on the day of my final session, I fell sick. Eventually I realized (with guidance from the Life Coach) that it was my stress of exams, and having to get a report at the end of the term, that made me so sick that day. I got scared about what the final comments would be, and how I had fared overall, even though that was not expected, and there was no scoring, since it was all about enhancing my life and myself in a way that I want and that would benefit me. I loved the fact that there is no right or wrong to it.

I guess what I am trying to say here is that school, education, teachers, are a huge part of every child's life. They literally shape us up and form our foundation. If this foundation is filled with stress, feeling of inadequacy, and fear of being wrong, how can a child grow up with courage to take risks and explore the world? Can a child have peace of mind, and enjoy learning, which is what serves us as adults to move forward and succeed in life. I still relate reading a book to homework and stress, which is probably what keeps me behind at being up-to-date with my work today. If education is all about being a topper out of fear of being less able, or out of fear of failure, then education is actually closing many gates for the child. Should it be stopping us from going out in the world and seeing what is out there? It is actually sucking out the fun, joy and passion one has towards a field or subject. Children can be nurtured and taught positively. Yes discipline is important, but not by inculcating fear. 

After I finished school, I had no clue which field I had an inclination or liking towards, because I always treated every subject as a battle that I had to win to survive. I didn’t have the time or perhaps the luxury to develop an interest in anything. I was just a bookworm, with no ambition other than scoring high on the next test. So I obviously had a difficult time choosing my career. Thankfully I had great guidance from counselors to help me with this task, and I finally decided to become a Speech Language Therapist. I went to India for graduation, as they have some very good colleges for this course, and I was afraid to go into a new country all alone at that age. While I was lucky to get into a highly reputed college, I again experienced being subjected to the mentality of acing exams and spending every minute in the library, as only that could provide me a bright future. Though my field is highly practical oriented, we were mostly soaked in theories and books, with very little emphasis on their practical application. So it was school all over again for me. I went through panic attacks, sleepless nights, sacrifice of several road trips, parties, and basically a very boring 4 years. Thankfully, I had an amazing support system in the form of my friends there, or else I don’t think I would have survived the course.

As a Speech Therapist today, my job also involves me going into schools for providing therapy. Yet every time I enter a school, I am overcome with a sense of nausea and extreme fear. All those years and memories of being afraid to stand up and give a wrong answer, or being punished or disheartened or looked down upon by my guides, comes swooping back to me. It still fills me up with tears and nervousness, and then pity for the children who are going through it now.

I was having a discussion with a friend recently, who is from Netherlands. She said that while she would not want to go back to school, she loved going there as a kid and often received appreciation and encouragement for every new skill that she acquired – even something simple like learning to tie shoe laces!

I do see a major change in the education system in schools with American or UK education systems, where children have freedom of speech, movement and interaction, and learning is made fun rather than torture. Schools are joyful rather than prison-like. Teachers are happy and encouraging. Sometimes I envy today's kids and feel like going back to school, and starting again in this new environment with a new aura, which may finally help me learn for the knowledge, and not to score a 100%. I may finally rid myself of this fear, and need to please, or living in fearful anticipation of my seniors. I may take up a task and give it my best, without having to be perfect. While it may be late for me, I do hope that the present and future generation of academics in every country, especially India, realize that perfection does not exist, and that every child is different and learns at a different pace, and should have the freedom to do so!

Ms Mehak Sharma - Speech Therapist, Dubai.

"This article has been written by a confident and promising young professional, after she identified during her Life Coaching with me, how much she is haunted by schools and teachers till date; how her fears are still ruling her life. 
Our education systems have evolved over the years and are doing a great job, however there is a need for them to review themselves, and understand the deep and life-long impact they have on each growing child. 
These children are our future. We need to be empowering them, rather than intimidating them. And yes, even parents play a major role in this." 

Ms Rita Chadha

 #FifthElement   #LifeCoaching  #LeadershipMentoring  #GoBeyondYourself  #BeUnstoppable  #FengShuiConsultant

Thursday, 17 December 2015

ADIEU 2015 - WELCOME 2016

It's mid Dec already. I am sitting and reviewing the year.

2015 has indeed been a great year in my life on many scores, being an important milestone as well.
It brought about amazing facilitating through me, whereby I feel blessed and honoured to have played this vital role in the life of several people within and beyond India. Together the synergy created has been phenomenal. My gratitude to each one of you who put your trust in Fifth Element to take this part of your journey with me. I feel blessed.

One of my challenges has been coaching some people who are very close to me personally. Yet their trust, and the ease and comfort with which they opened up and listened has been commendable, making it easy for me to be detached and coach.

2015 also saw me going thru some major health issues.
I must say it affected me at various levels. For someone who has had excellent health by and large, it made me feel terribly hassled to start with. While blaming myself for having attracted this into my life, I even felt a little fearful. One revelation was that this fearful feeling seemed to affect me more than the pain. Another one that I resisted going to doctors. Yes it took a while to accept these parts of me that were alien to me so far.

As acceptance came in, I decided to move out of the victim mode and move to the creator zone, making a conscious choice to focus on having healing as the only outcome of this experience. And voila, the appropriate doctors, therapies, avenues just started coming into the space as if miraculously.

My doctor advised me to go for aqua-aerobics, and I could not find the facility available in Pune. After procrastinating for few months, one day I just went to the pool to start swimming at least. The very first lady I met there and started chatting with, turned out to be someone who knows aqua-aerobics very well and offered to teach me, in spite of the fact that she is not an instructor but a busy professional in another field. What else could I have asked for?

The entire experience has brought about major learnings and energy shifts inside me.
It has goaded me to deep cleanse some areas of my life, while taking my empathy levels a notch higher.
Self-care has been one of the key learnings. 
My gratitude to the entire medical fraternity for their amazing work. I have started respecting them, instead of resisting them.

Another interesting learning happened when I heard some people say, "You facilitate healing in others. How can you have health issues?"
That set me thinking that how easily we tend to go into judgments and assumptions. I was reminded of an incident from my school days. My interest was in science subjects, yet I almost decided against opting for it just because the biology teacher's sister failed in IX std. So I assumed that science is too tough a stream for even a teacher's sister to fail. My dad guided me to not live in assumptions, and instead make a conscious choice.

We forget that even the best cardiologist can have a heart problem. Can we empathise with the person? We all are in different developmental stages of our human evolvement. Our human incarnation needs us to go through our own life learnings through varied dramas enacted. What matters is do we get affected and carried away by the situations, or do we allow them to pass peacefully through us, while staying focused on our learnings. Often easier said than done, I agree.

It has indeed been a phenomenal year.
Thanking 2015 for all that it brought in, I am ready and willing to move into 2016 with open arms, in awareness, and with gratitude.

Let us celebrate 2015 for the great year that it was, and usher in gaiety and grandeur of 2016 with love, gratitude, acceptance, and equanimity.

Wishing you all a great 2016….

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Relevance of Relationship Coaching

I often hear people asking whether they need to have ‘issues’ in life to register for Relationship Coaching. Well my take on this is that we do not need to ‘wait’ for an issue to arise. At times we are not even aware that the issues or recurring patterns in our life can be addressed. We may be resigned to them, or choosing to be in denial of their very existence.

All of us are Unique Wonderful beings, perfect and appropriate wherever we are in life. Yet there is always scope to evolve thereon, not because there is something wrong, but simply because we are all in different developmental stages of our humanness. Our own low self-esteem in some areas, or certain limiting inherited conversations and beliefs can come in the way of us tapping into our optimum potential.

Relationship Coaching is an investment you make in yourself, for your own evolvement. It is a choice, more than a need. 

During my Relationship Coaching sessions, several couples have shared how they wish someone had guided them to me before they decided to get married, or at the beginning of their married life. Let me share with you some of their experiences briefly:

One couple shared, “Relationship Coaching is such a broad term, brimming with meaning. My husband and I took it at a time when we had almost lost hope in each other and in our marriage.
Nothing seemed to be going right, be it our personal relationship, our careers, financial health, and this was even affecting our physical and emotional health. All the issues were staring us in the face, and had to be addressed simultaneously, and we did not know how.
Each session was a learning experience. The assignments and the guidance brought in new perspectives. By the end of it, we genuinely started communicating with each other, and that led to resolving a lot of our issues. Our relationship has revived, and we have again started trusting and listening to each other. We now seem to be facing things in life peacefully as we know we are in it together.”

Another couple shared, “It has helped us take our relationship and togetherness to the next level.”

One couple who were frequently fighting bitterly for a while, had this to say, “We didn’t think there was any future for us together. We just couldn’t stand each other. Our bitterness had reached its peak. Even being in the same room seemed to be challenging.
Although we had decided to call off our marriage, we still needed to talk some things over, and move forward in life. But with no mature and responsible communication with each other, we couldn’t see that happening.
Going through Relationship Coaching sessions, we gradually started having a listening for each other. Instead of the blame game, our focus shifted to, "How can we amicably part ways?" What could have been a really messy affair, became a mutually agreed decision. It was not an easy call, but we became willing to accept our roles.”

Summing up some of the advantages of Relationship Coaching for Couples:

o        Healthy and empowered communication
o        Movement from ‘dependence’ and ‘independence’ to ‘interdependence’
o        Creating synergy
o        Making conscious choices
o        Co-creating your life, rather than being victims of life situations
o        Exploring your shared values
o        Deepening of your partnering
o        Sharing your goals and vision

Rita facilitates the process, while hand holding you with firmness and compassion.

Simply have an enquiry within:

Ø    Are we truly satisfied with life, or are being resigned to it?
Ø    Do we love and respect each other, and ourselves?
Ø    How fulfilling is our relationship?
Ø    Are there some recurring events and patterns in our life?
Ø    Do we believe life is treating us fair?
Ø    How is our Physical, Emotional and Financial health?

One commonality we all have is that we want to live a better life. That means we do believe we can have a better life, and deserve it too. Then what are we waiting for?

Saturday, 12 September 2015


My dearest humans
E’er since I remember
You’ve been welcomed with
Open arms to my house

Knowing you’re my guests
I shower you with all I have
Air to breathe, water to drink
Grains, fruits, gardens n valleys

Its all thrown open to you
So you can grow n evolve
Adding to my abundant house
Your love, togetherness n joy

Alas, today I’m pained
Far from having gratitude
You take it all for granted
Don’t even seem to value it

What is your arrogance?
You use all my vegetation
Cutting away my trees
Destroying the mountains

You even drain away
My abundant water bodies
And keep digging away
My minerals and ores

You continue dumping
Your trash all over me
I but fail to understand
How far you’ll take this

You’re creating boundaries
Conveniently in the name of
Religion, Nation, Gender
Status, skin color e’en

How have you forgotten
You're but a guest here
Whose permission you took
To disintegrate me 

Calling me mother earth
Is this what people do
To their very own mother
Who provides ‘em selflessly

D’you ever ponder
How I must be feeling
Shorn of all my treasures
Parched to the core

My foundation when shaken
But causes earthquakes
N natural calamities
You've no control over

I feel so shattered
Being a silent spectator
To all the destruction
That but ensues

How do I teach you
To simply learn to co-exist
Can you take care of me too
So I continue providing you

We only have a presence
Because of each other
None of us is independent
We’re all but interdependent


# FifthElement  #LifeCoaching  #LeadershipMentoring #FengShuiConsultant  #GoBeyondYourself 

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Comfort Zone

One fine day
It so dawned on me
Everyone’s comfort zone
Isn’t the same
For some it’s lazing
Action for some

Oh you mean it isn’t
A physical zone
It’s just in our mind
We but keep believing
That its real
Easy n peaceful

Am I really comfortable
In my comfort zone
Or maybe I am
In a quiet denial
While I ain't just
Feeling worthy enough

Could these be then
My limiting thoughts
Joining hands with
Some limited experiences
That but make me
Resist any change

Scared to step out
Of my comfort zone
While secretly admiring
The smart adventurers
Wishing I could be
Fearless like them

And then I remember
My childhood days
When I kept falling
E'er so often
While I was learning
To stand and walk

Doesn't the very fact
I'm walking today
Show I wasn’t fearful
Just chose not to go 
Into a status quo
A comfort zone

For every achievement
I've had so far
I confronted my fears
And challenged myself
Choosing not to be
In a comfort zone

Indeed a revelation
It’s such a misnomer
Comfort zone
Isn’t comfortable for sure
Just a repetitive zone
With no creativity

Tis mere complacence
Evolvement compromised
Loaded with resignation
No excitement either
Tis but a dead end
Where possibilities shrink

A limiting zone
Making me a victim
Engulfed so in my
Fears n insecurities
Thinking I’m alone
Not deserving enough

I finally bid adieu
To days of exile
Going b'yond my fears
N self-imposed limitations
Replacing poor me
With the empowered ME

Lo and behold
As I get comfortable
Outside of my
Comfort Zone
I AM the adventurer

I AM the Creator

#FifthElement  #LifeCoaching  #LeadershipMentoring  #FengShuiConsultant  #GoBeyondYourself 

Friday, 14 August 2015


Joyous celebrations for
Independence Day
When India got freedom
How about you n me

Did we get freedom
From our own selves
Don't we still continue
Our shackled existence

When will we learn
To live freely
Sans those masks
All different ones
For parents, siblings
Girl-friends, boy-friends,
Even colleagues n spouse

This Independence Day
It is my declaration
To simply be MYSELF
Are YOU?

 #FifthElement   #LifeCoaching  #LeadershipMentoring  #GoBeyondYourself  #BeUnstoppable  #FengShuiConsultant  

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

LIFE & Law of Thermodynamics

   Some life experiences 
Felt truly challenging
How I wished 'em
To simply get lost

But alas, I'm told 
Don't be so vain
Wishing the challenges
To just disappear?

My child, don't think
You'll but escape
The Universal Laws
That apply to all

If you pause to seek
Life lessons n gifts
You will be filled
With gratitude indeed

I now see what it means
Those very experiences
Kept pushing me
To go b’yond myself

Persevering firmly
To explore n unearth
My inner strengths
That were news to me

Lo and behold
They introduced me
To higher intelligences
N newer domains

And as I surrender
I'm granted access
To lay claims
To my intrinsic powers

I start being guided
To learn to transform
Every adversity
Into an opportunity

Law of Thermodynamics
Finally understood
Nothing can be destroyed
Can only be transformed

If we so choose....

Monday, 29 June 2015

Man and Woman

Man n woman
What a relationship
So truly dynamic
Their chemistry
Their togetherness
Or differences e'en

Two energy fields
Getting attracted
Pouring a sea of love
Into each other
Their intent clearly
To merge together

What a delight it is
When they come alive 
In the loving moments
Evolving together
While  understanding
Neither's less or more

Nary being dependent
On the other
That doesn't mean
You're independent either
The beauty is when
You're interdependent

This partnering my dear 
Is truly an ongoing
Work in progress
Life lessons to be learnt
At times challenging
Demanding too

Do they e'en know
They're but two pieces
Of a jigsaw puzzle
Struggling so often
To find their niche
To fit in together

And if however
Alas! For some reason
They don't succeed
Why're they being judged
Does anyone e'en know
What happened
Who gave us the right
To sit in judgment
Where’s our sensitivity
Our love n compassion
They've just but failed
To find their niche

How does that make
Either of them
A lesser being
Or not capable e'en
They're simply not
Fitting in together

Why can’t we but see
The pain they're going thru
Aren't they already
Fighting the odds
Whatever the reasons
Tis challenging for sure

They're struggling to accept
It's happened to them
Wondering how come
E'en one piece missing
Could leave the merger
Futile n incomplete

Be a silent observer
Allowing them the grace
To e'en part gracefully
If they so choose
Just be there for them
Till they are healed

Man n woman
What a relationship
So truly dynamic
Their chemistry
Their togetherness
Or differences e'en