The human heart…

Have you ever thought what our hearts are made up of?

Have you ever tried to look into it and see if it has parts or if it’s a whole?

Have you ever thought what keeps it going?

When the word ‘heart’ comes into my mind, I can’t help but feel this tinge in my chest, this tinge that informs me of its presence. I don’t have an exact word to tell you what it is but it’s this funny, fuzzy feeling as if something is fluttering inside me and is ready to come into my throat. I thought of words for this sensation and more than this, I tried to think of what is in it that is fluttering to get out yet I keep it in by taking a deep breath. What is it that swells with joy, and spills with fear? What is it that calms down with patience, and splashes like a storm with panic?

Unable to make any meaning, I look at different hearts to find them a label. I look at a mother’s heart and in it I see fear, there are fears and doubts about her children’s healthy growth, she has concerns for their safety, she has worries for their exam, their job, their marriage, their smile; there is a dash of pain attached to all these concerns, a pain that you can see in her eyes even when she smiles and beams over her child, and a prayer on her lips to never ever experience this pain.

I look at a father’s heart and I see this fabric of strength held by concerns for the fulfillment of the needs of his children, their education, their wellbeing, their success. He guards the frowns on his forehead with a smile on his lips. And you know what I see in the frown, it’s an effort to escape any and every possible pain.

I look at a lover’s heart and here Shakespeare saves me the effort through his sonnet;

In faith I do not love thee with my eyes,

For they in thee a thousand errors note;

But ‘tis my heart that loves what they despise,

Who, in despite of view, is pleased to dote.

Nor are mine ears with thy tongue’s tune delighted;

Nor tender feeling, to base touches prone,

Nor taste, nor smell, desire to be invited

To any sensual feast with thee alone:

But my five wits nor my five senses can

Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee,

Who leaves unswayed the likeness of a man,

Thy proud heart’s slave and vassal wretch to be:

Only my plague thus far I count my gain,

That she that makes me sin awards me pain

(Shakespeare Sonnet 141)

I found pain in every heart. It seems that as we grow up there are these bits and pieces of pain that come together and form our heart. This swelling, this fluttering, and this tearing are all different moods of pain, it comes and goes as the environment stimulates it. And much of our love arises out of this effort to quell this pain. We hold all these bits of pain together with love and kindness to protect us and others from hurt. A human heart gives me this imagery of maple tree, it has this continuous growth over the years with leaves growing, turning colors, the shedding off its bark, the seeds, and eventually the leaves and then the re-growth and through all this transformation the bark keeps on growing stronger and tougher……human heart seems the same to me, it is constantly transforming, tearing and eventually held together by the warmth of love and care, and strengthened so that it can nourish those around it. The more pain you would find in a heart the more love and kindness it is bound to impart to those around them, i guess this is how and where the humanity is born from…

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The Basic Skill of Communication!!

I was thinking the other day that being a human, in our own capacity what is the most difficult thing to do for us. And it turns out just today that its to listen.

P. S. i love the way in which which nature answers our thoughts.

To listen and not to answer technically goes against the human nature, for all our behaviors are a product of a stimulus response mechanism as explained by Thorndike and Skinner in their S-R Theories. That every human behavior is a reaction to some input from the environment. So if someone talks to us we respond back by talking.

One of the greatest challenges in my training for becoming a clinical psychology has been the struggle to control the impulse to respond by words and to replace my words with non-verbal responses. Beck’s concept of warmth and genuineness are not achieved without the verbal and non-verbal connotations of your attentive listening. So a ‘psychologist has to be a good listener’ is a very misunderstood and mis-quoted term for listening means actually listening and not responding to the verbal stimuli rather responding to the concern behind what has been said.

In our everyday communication if we start responding to the concerns and emotions rather than the words, i guess more than half a conflicts and arguments can be avoided. Relationships are built and broken with words because when in distress we are not aware of the words that we are using but these words do matter a lot in the long run. So being cognizant to what the person is saying and what we are retorting in should matter a lot.

So my communication motto; LISTEN TO THE EMOTIONS and not the words!!!

The Mircales, we call the people of Peshawar

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12th January 2015, a day in Peshawar that felt as cold as the North Pole but was warmed in an instance by the high spirits of Peshawarities. This day was about to mark the resilience and determination of the people of Peshawar and so held great importance for us; the residents. The children of Army Public School Boys, Warsak Road Peshawar were coming back to the school after a month of that heinous attack that shook our entire nation to the core.

Since the day of this attack, people have been questioning the resilience of the people of Peshawar. This city has been in the line of fire since a few years, and has been one of the worst hit cities after the infamous 9/11 attacks.  Social scientists and health workers have been surprised at the way this city bounces back, they have called these people dead, sensitized to trauma, unconcerned with the pain, and it hurt every time to hear this, because making claims from miles apart and being here, experiencing is a very different story. I am glad to be a part of this important day to be witness to the strength of my people.

The day was marked by presumptions but I was relieved to see the turn out at the school. The parents and children came in as the time of the assembly approached, they came in a way that showed that they owned the place, they owned the casualties, the injured, and the incident. They owned it all, they knew it was their grief and they knew that they have to rise above it.

The green uniform shone bright in the cold day and carried the message of strength with it. I kept on looking at them and couldn’t help but think that people of Peshawar are a miracle for they are made to fall again and again but they rise even higher than before. Their strength is in their resilience, in their will to not bow down.

Today I saw the bereaved mothers, who have lost their sons, smiling and I saw the mothers, who had their children safe in front of them, crying their hearts out. And when I asked them how was this happening, their answers made me think on how are they at peace with themselves. The bereaved mothers said that we smile because even though we have lost a child, we have so many safe in front of us, these are all our children; the crying mothers said we cry for the loss of these mothers. I felt at a loss of words for we don’t see this display of emotion too often and look at these people, they own each other’s loss and pain, I don’t know exactly how highly admirable this is but I know that we are not a dead nation, we are not a lost nation, and we have not been sensitized to trauma.

We hurt and we feel, and we go past all that is bleak;

We ache and we scorn, and this is how we mourn;

We smile and we own, and this is how we Pashtoons are known!!!