Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 2, Issue 34, Tuesday March 1, 2005






Interpreter Of Maladies

Dr. Nighat Ara, Psychiatrist

Q. I am a 30 year old female working in an international organisation. A devoted professional, I like to do everything just right, and it is because of this that everyone at work, from my supervisors to my colleagues to other professionals I come into contact with, like to knock on me for help on various matters. However, somehow these favours I do are rarely returned. Because through the years of work, I've built up a rather strong rapport with my co-workers, it feels awkward to complain about my situation, even though the feeling that I'm being exploited is growing every day. So much so, that it has become tedious to go to work, and office seems like a prison to me.

Could you tell me how I can balance a cordial relationship with my colleagues and superiors without letting them take undue advantage of me? Confused

Ans : The way you have described yourself, it looks like you are a perfectionist with a high need for approval from others. These are important qualities to become a competent worker though take its toll on other aspects of life. Your sincerity and efficiency is no doubt an asset for the organisation you are working for. However the flip side of this is that if your organisation is not supportive enough to this kind of dedicated workers and puts them under too much work load, "burn out " is the natural consequence of this situation. " it has become tedious to go to work, and office seems like a prison to me."- It looks like a red flag that is signalling you to stop and take a break. If someone fails to take action in time, he/she is putting herself into risk of further deterioration of quality of work and relationship. Early signs of burn out includes- inability to enjoy the work any more, feel crappy, resentful, don't look forward for another working day to achieve something new, feel stressed out, feel monotonous, productivity decreases etc. Burn out rate is pretty high in workers who try to overstretch themselves and can't easily accept their limitation as a human being. Accepting and honouring that limitation and not feeling guilt or shame about it is the core issue here. By denying this limitation, workaholics and perfectionists tend to over do to a point where they finally crush. Many organisations recognise the impact of "burn out" and "compassion fatigue" and have a policy in hand to prevent it. If your organisation is not aware of that, you have a right to speak on your behalf. It will be a loss for the organisation too (financial as well as skilled manpower loss) if they don't help you out of this situation. Strictly following Job description, rise in salary, promotion etc. are some effective means that could be explored. If a bunch of narcissistic people who have no respect or appreciation for others unfortunately surround you, it is now your job to uplift your spirit by some innovative way. You can pat your back, treat yourself with your favourite food, tell yourself how proud you are of your own self- etc. (do it secretly!).

It is important that you take enough self-care and put your need as a priority over others (who are trying to use you as a dumping ground). Take a vacation, go to a place where you won't be reminded of your work (don't take cell phone with you!), do something that you would really enjoy doing (music, art, movie, exercise, cooking, massage etc.), do something funny (be creative!), add humour in life. It would be wise if you can come up with a routine where emphasis is given to all aspects of life (social, spiritual, physical, emotional etc.) and not work (intellectual and financial part of life) alone. Besides, it is also fair to say "no" to others politely (feeling always obligated to keep undue requests- is an issue that needs to be addressed as well). Pleasing EVERYBODY is an unrealistic goal and can create unnecessary stress in life. Perfectionist people have a tendency to convert them in to "human doing" (performance is everything in life) instead of "human being" and eventually lose touch with their inner self. Workaholics are people who become addicted to work (although consequences are not initially as grave as chemical dependency particularly if someone is in a paid job) and find work as an effective distracter from their inner discomfort. However, this tunnel vision later creates an imbalance can be potentially damaging to other aspects of life. What is your definition of success in life? Is it worth to put all your energy in to work and expose yourself to this risk of "burn out" and feel like a failure at the end?

Style Files

By Maheen Khan Fashion designer, Mayasir

Q. I am only 5' 1" tall and I almost never wear flat sandals. I like to wear high heels it improves my posture tremendously and gives me the extra inches. Could you please recommend some new styles? Preeti.

A. The support on heels generally will provide better posture to your walk. There are many different kinds of heels in fashion now. Wedge heels: these are elevated flat heels, which are very popular with espadrilles but are also used on leather shoes. It has very good comfort zones and widely used by shoemakers. Block heels are square heels widely used by sandal makers in the Indian subcontinent. Generally it goes 2.5inches--3inches high. Pencil heels are very popular in closed coat shoes as well as open toed shoes, and the height can extend to 4 inches high. I would recommend ankle straps with them as you can easily trip on them. Kitty heels are always small pointed heels which are wide on top and pencil like at the bottom, but these are short heels and never exceed 2 inches in height. All these styles are in and out of fashion; you should try them on, but buy only if you feel comfortable wearing them..

Q. I work in the marketing division of consumer company and I am required to make field visits to the markets often monitor the sales of the products. Can you please tell me what I should wear so that it can be cleaned properly and re-used? Seema.

A. You are a person who is constantly exposed to all weather situations. Come rain or shine, you need to be out there. I assume you are working in Dhaka, you need to wear long salwar suits. I think you should wear wash and wear fabrics; these can be easily washed and normally does not fade in colour. Try to avoid light pastel colours as they tend to get soiled very easily. Wear dark colours that reflect a formal sombre impression.

Q. I love to wear churidar kurta but find that in Dhaka it is not so common to find people in them anymore. Popular culture has never influenced me, but I would like to know what styles look best with churidar. Meena.

A. Kurta paired with churidar is a very nice ensemble. This style is classic and will never go out of fashion. Kurtas come in kolidar and straight one cut styles. You can accessorise it with silver or fancy buttons to enhance the look. Try striped kurta's or a variation of plaids. They look best long sleeved with fitted wrists.

By The Way

The first impression is the most influential

We have always known that our appearance plays a major role in how another human being will perceive us. We also know that some people are much more adept at making a first impression. The clothing, hairstyle, jobs all make up how people react and respond. The subtle play an even more important role. Tone of voice, posture, eye contact, overall confidence; all of these things make up who we are. If you look well dressed and confident, you will attract others who are well dressed and confident. You will find yourself more attractive and so will others. This is not about acting macho or about acting feminine. It is about being an intelligent, well-rounded, fashionable person. By taking a proactive stance to our wardrobe and lifestyle, we can cause dramatic changes in our lives but no need to try hard to look intelligent and fashionable.





Thoughts from my Bengali Skin

I'm not sure whether it was while driving by a gruesome accident with many a dead lying all over the high way, or while the rain abruptly poured on me during my evening jog, but I know it was somewhere between those two instances that I came face to face with the insecurity that each of our body experiences from the first day we stumble and fall, or cut and bleed.

That was when I realised how thin and unprotective our physical self is, how the world we created around us is layered with mediums to end our lives, fall flat and die than live under millions of subconscious fears and pressures to save ourselves.

It is actually that apparent; death is so clear and on our side. The proud day a 16 year old receives his/her driver's license also signs up to donate organs… the chances are so obviously solid and possible, a license to drive, an additional license to die and a license to be an organ donor…past organs in present bodies waiting to be buried once and for all…it's just that easy.

Is this why our insecure bodies are so selfish? Is this why our bodies crave attention, need the pleasure of exploration, finding comfort in another unknown body? Is this why we bungee jump, and pierce our navels?

Is this why we thrive to look our best while we are living, is this why we give up, because after all, you only live once? Is this why we want to reproduce before our bodies diminish… parents infecting new borns with the same fear, the unsaid inheritance for the cycle to go on. Is this why with age our bodies only get closer to the ground, our heads stop turning, our bodies stop flexing, the stress curls us up, we give in to the pressure and wait for our natural or unnatural deaths…the end and the obvious.

Is this why we take risks, why Bengali village men sign up for DV1s leaving behind all they own to jump into yet another unstable airplane, why people become suicide bombs, why gory movies are so thrilling to watch and know that it can happen to us too…

Is this why we get jealous when a well toned body stands in front of us, knowing that body will probably outlive our out of shape ones, why if the same strong and toned body stands next to us and holds our hand we feel protected, as if in the shadow of something supernatural, it will bring us back one step towards life. Is this why we fight and create weapons, the most insecure amongst us creating the deadliest ones, and wars to kill before being killed.

Is this why a naked body demands to be covered, a covered body longs to be uncovered? Is this why the prince's best friend dies in fairy tales, and the older brother in a Hindi movie takes the bullet with his last minute jump to cover the hero?

Is this why we long for touch, for unconditional love, and why Deepak Chopra makes his billions, getting the mind and body in touch with each other, insecurity +insecurity = security…
is this why yoga is so popular again and skiing down black diamond slopes still remains a daredevil's favourite?

If this is the reality, I strongly urge our Bengali selves to now stand straight, find fresh air, be proud of our shapes and shades. Our eastern values have taught us to hide our temporary beings, to be modest and mild.

I urge us to slowly break out of our unnecessary restrictions, to breathe through pores, to live through foot prints and hair strands, to grow out, grow up, to flaunt and cry out while we are alive.

By Iffat Nawaz


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