All posts by Indrani Goradia

When the system freezes and you accept blame… think again!

blame imageMy I phone was working well one minute and the next minute it was not working well.
Being the kind of self-blaming person that I am, I immediately assumed that I was doing something wrong. The phone was still making and receiving calls and I could still text and email and I could do an Internet search but when I clicked on a link, the phone would freeze. I recognized the “freezing,” but could not fathom what was going on. I assumed that I was at fault and all of a sudden I had forgotten how to use hyperlinks.

Why would I blame myself so quickly about something so “out of my control?”

The answer to this question is easy. I am used to being blamed for things that do not go well.

In my family of origin, it was always my fault if one of my younger siblings did something wrong. I was the oldest and it was MY responsibility to keep my siblings in line. No one had ever asked me if I wanted the job, I was simply given the responsibility without the power. In my own home I was also blamed if things did not turn out as they should have. I cooked the wrong food if the kids did not eat, or my cooking was not good enough. If a family member became upset with me and I defended myself, then I was somehow to blame for the rift in the family.

People would tell me, “That’s just how the family is.” But no one ever told me, “Well, we know how YOU are, and the thing that happened was NOT right.” Finally I got sick and tired of being blamed for things that were not my fault, and I began to set some boundaries. I have become really good at setting boundaries with others, but not so good with setting boundaries with myself.

Hence, I still succumb to self-blame.

This was the trap I fell into when my phone began to freeze at unexplained moments. I finally took the phone to the Apple Store and sheepishly asked if they knew what was happening. I never expected them to have any answers. I was wrong. The Apple helper immediately recognized the issue and said he could fix it. It would take five minutes. It was a software glitch that was causing the freezing behavior.

I was shocked. I was sad. I was sad because I had so easily accepted the blame of the phone issue. This issue that had absolutely NOTHING to do with me. I hope I remember this lesson the next time I accept blame for something that is not my fault. I encourage you to look at the blame that is freely given to you, and the blame you readily accept. You may even grab blame from others because it’s more comforting to put yourself down than build yourself up.

I hope you give yourself permission to investigate the relationship you have with blame.

 

Love and light,

Indrani

 

 

 

Playing Coy is SO Outdated

UndecidedRecently, I was attending a meeting with some pretty influential folks.  I was only a guest and I was so happy to be included.

During the course of the meeting as the participants went around the table offering solutions to the issues at hand, I noticed there was one woman who absolutely refused to answer questions directly.  She giggled and acted coy (dipping her chin and batting her eyes), and would not give a straight answer to some very simple questions.

The questions were as simple as, “Do you want lunch?” She would dip her head and make a surprise face as if to say, “Who me, want lunch?…. giggle, giggle!” And, still would not say “Yes” or “No.” The person asking the questions was getting quite frustrated with the way it was going.

This behavior really bothered me and I had to think long and hard about why I was so bothered.

Everyone has their own way of decision-making. Some people need lots of thinking time while others can jump right in. This was not a meeting that required thinking time. It really was a quick get together of many partners to decide how an event would go.  It really was a series of yes and no questions that needed to be asked and answered so that people could know what to expect and how to prepare.

I decided I was frustrated because the woman who was being indecisive was holding up all the rest of us. Everyone was staring at her for ONE simple answer.

The more people stared, the more coy she became.

She did not stand in her power. She acted like she had no power, or even like she never heard of the word power. She had no agency. She wanted others to read her mind, or infer from her behaviors what her response would be.

It was really frustrating.

The next time you are involved with a group trying to decide something, ask yourself if you are standing in your power.

Are you bringing all the parts of yourself to the meeting?

Are you there to make it easy for your other team members or to complicate things? Are you holding back information that is crucial to the team for one reason or another?
This meeting is still fresh in my mind and I can still feel the frustration. It was just ONE person acting like this who was holding up the whole show.

Don’t be “that” person.

Be the person who wants to be part of an effective team. Life is so much better with people who show up to make things easier and smoother. We have enough obstacles in our lives that we cannot control, so let us control the way we behave, and show up to participate in helpful ways.

 

Love and light,

Indrani

Can you hear me NOW?

UntitledWe are all so familiar with this line, are we not?
Some brilliant marketer created these FIVE words that mean what they say.

Can YOU hear me now?

I am sitting down today, it is a bright sunny day where I am, and my heart is heavy.
My heart is heavy because of the reason I am writing this post to you.

I NEED your help.

I need your help so we can give the Privilege of saying these FIVE words to someone in need.  There are women who need to be able to say these words and many more words like:

“HELP, he is going to KILL me! Send the Police.” 

OR

“This is Johnny’s Momma, do not let his father take him out of school, he is threatening to kill him.”

OR

“Hi Mom, just wanted you to know that we got out, we are all safe.”

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Here is where I need your help ….

I need your OLD and UNUSED cell phones.  Indrani’s Light Foundation is teaming up with Verizon HopeLine to put cell phones into the hands of abused women so they have a lifeline to emergency services.

Will you take a few moments to:

  1. Look around your home and gather old phones for us?
  2. Send this email to your friends so that they can do the same?
  3. Send the phones to:  http://vz.to/1pumJWm

Please help us to help many others.  Can you hear HEAR me now? We want to hear her…… We want to see her….. We want to BE there for her.

Love and light,

 

Indrani

 

When it’s NOT your fault…Do not accept the blame.

stop-565609_640I know how to use a pump at the gas station. I have been doing it for 33 years.  So when I pull up at a pump, exit my car, open my gas tank and insert my credit card, I KNOW what to expect.

This is what happens

Is this credit or debit?
Push the button next to the choice.

Enter Zip code on the keypad below
I punch in the Zip code that I have had for 20 years!

I know what happens next ….
The screen tells me to fill up with the fuel of my choice…
Except when it does NOT and kicks me back to the “Insert Card Here” screen.

Oh, I think to myself I must have made a mistake, my brain says, you did not make a mistake… But the screen tells me to start again, so I start again.

Credit or debit?
Enter Zip code.
Screen again kicks me back to “Insert Card here.”

Dear Reader, now I am perplexed, so I try again 3 more times and on the third time I slow down my process at a  s n a i l’s pace.  And I am intentional about each choice and I read the screen out loud, so I look like a crazy person but I am already feeling quite crazy!

I begin to enter the Zip code
Let’s say it’s 12345
I enter
1
The screen says
1
I enter 2
The screen says 12
I enter 3
The screen says
12
YES you read that right
I enter 3 again
The screen says 12
I enter 3 4
The screen says 124 but it should say 1234
Oh, I see, the fault is in the screen and the system NOT with me.
I smile.

Jump into the car, go to another pump and now we are good to go.

As soon as I get into the car, I make notes to myself so I can remember to write a blog about what is and is not our fault.

This is what I wrote…
“Gas station keypad bells and whistles work but numbers are wrong. ”

It occurred to me that this is often what happens when there is miscommunication that often leads to violence.

Person A says ONE
Person B hears Won
Person A says TWO
Person B hears TOO

The sounds are the same but whatever person B is hearing makes NO sense at all…

Won Too?

Who won what? Somebody else also won something, somebody else, won too?

Person A continues to speak and says THREE.

Person B is still wondering about who won what and who else was there and what did they win too…

Person A says EIGHT

Person B hears ATE

Who won what, who ate what, what the heck is going on?

We must be able to recognize situations where things LOOK like they  work, or should work, but in reality things are really quite broken on the inside.

We cannot know that the brand new shiny man approaching us is broken on the inside or that he has a tendency to hit and curse at his “loved” ones because they don’t follow his commands.

Why do I use the words “command?”

I use the word Command, because a true question allows the responder to say a full and complete NO without need for explanation or guilt.

When we say NO, and the receiver of that NO becomes enraged and abusive, it is exactly like that electric screen at the gas station… You have input a value, in this case a NO, and the person who is hearing the NO, cannot receive it or process it, and things get crazy.

Something is broken in that person AND and it is NOT your job to fix it.

It may be your job to RUN!

I do hope that this makes sense to you, let me know what you think.

 

Love and light,

Indrani

Hope

sky-1107952_640According to C. R. Snyder, hope is the trilogy of goals, pathways and agency.

Brene Brown says, “Hope happens when we can set goals, have the tenacity and perseverance to pursue those goals, and believe in our own abilities to act.”  In other words we choose to say something, do something and be something.

Aristotle says, “To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”

Lots of people who witness abuse choose this trilogy… Do nothing, say nothing, be invisible.

The Buddhist saying, “what we resist, persists” applies here as well. When we resist naming our hurts, when we resist new pathways out of the pain, when we resist claiming our agency… the old pains and stuckness of thought and deed will persist.

Snyder says that “hope is learned.”

If we did not learn hope in our families of origin we must teach it to ourselves as we age and mature. We must, it is not an option.

Brene Brown says, “We have to resist and unlearn old habits and the tendency to give up when things get tough.”

I know I have quoted everyone here, but they say it so much better than I ever could.

I would love to know:

What old habit or hurt do you need to unlearn in your life so you can teach yourself hope?

 

Love and light,
Indrani

What do I do after the beating?

via Pixabay“What do I do after the beating?” She asked.

She was only 16 or 17 years old.  I had just given a short presentation to a group of students and I asked for questions.

She was brave.

She asked what she could do after she had been beaten, and still had to stay in the house.

My heart hurt for her.  I knew her pain at a cellular level.  I knew her well. I WAS her.  I remember being beaten so badly and having welts all over my body, and having to dry my tears.  I was told to “go wash your face and when you come out I better not see any crying, you asked for that beating.”

Of course, dear reader, I did not ask for any beating. I had made some childish mistake and I was whipped like I had murdered someone.  I remember going to the bathroom, and I was not allowed to shut the door, the abuser needed to “see” that I was not going to have any more “crocodile tears.”  I had to suck up all my pain and come out smiling like a good girl.  This behavior lasted well into my 50’s.

Don’t let them see you cry those crocodile tears. “They don’t care “…was the voice in my head.

To this day, I still have a hard time owning my pure emotion and I have to fight really hard to not push them down, allow them to morph into anger or rage, or blame.  It will probably be a life long lesson.  Some days I win and some days I lose.

I told the young lady to try to find a place of solitude in her home and tell herself that one day, she will be out of the house and the abuse will stop.

She could not tell her parents, her parents would be angrier that she “embarrassed the family,” and she would be beaten even more.  I told her to use school as a respite.  I wish I had someone to tell these things to me.  I did not.  I had no one to tell me that the abuser was wrong, even though they were caregivers, and said they were beating me because they loved me.

They were wrong.  They were telling lies.

We do not hurt what we claim to love.

I deserved love and attention and guidance, not rage and anger and beatings.  I have a clear memory of being about 12 years old and kneeling at the side of my bed, praying.  My abuser came into the room and asked what I was praying for, and I said for strength.  The abuser was pleased.

Yes, I was praying for strength, but strength to live in my hellhole called my childhood.

If I could not get the strength, I prayed that God would take me that night because I could not go on.  I was praying to die, at 12 years old.  I was not taken, so I guess I got the strength …… and that strength has been parlayed into the work I do now.  We are resilient beings. We can stand a lot of pain.  If you are in a hellacious situation, and you are an adult, reach out to your local shelter for confidential help. Even if you don’t leave, there are services you can access. They can help you with a plan.

There are people who care that you are in pain.

If you know a child living in a hellacious home, try to be a point of comfort to that child.  They need to know you will keep their confidences and that you are a safe place to lay some burdens.

Be that safe place for someone.  Someone needs you.

 

Love and light,

Indrani

Have you earned the “look” in your child’s eye?

child-636022_640The look of love
The look of fear
The look of contempt

Those looks you hate?

It may not be their fault.

It may be because of the choices you made, the choices WE made as parents of these incredible children we have been given.

As a child, sustaining repeated and persistent abuse, I had a significant thought…

Why did you have me?

This took many other word forms such as:

Why did you have a child?
Why did you have another child?

I am not blaming the way children turn out on their caregivers; I am reminding caregivers to make better choices so that we can say that we tried our very best when our children have the “looks” that are “cringeworthy.”

We must try our best every minute of every day.

It is on us. Every ONE of us. All the time.
 

Love and light,

Indrani

She was stealing food…

Image terimakasih0 via PixabayI spoke to a social worker when I was in Trinidad in October, and I heard about a child who was brought to her office by her guardian with a bag of clothing. The guardian is the legal guardian and a very close family member. The social worker was told that the child was stealing food. The child was a very young teenager and was emaciated and clearly hungry.  There was no place for the child to go so the child was sent back to the house with the guardian.

A few weeks later, the whole scene repeated itself.  The social worker again sent the child back.

This story really left me feeling helpless.

Often times I am talking about past abuses and guiding the teller of the abuse story through the pain, and into a deeper understanding of their present power instead of a powerless past.

This was so very different.

This is clear and present danger and pain that was being experienced by a young person that I could meet. I could make a significant difference here. Yet, I choose to keep working at the global level and to use my time and energy to try to make changes at a different level.

I will reach out to that social worker to see how I can contribute to the care and feeding of that child, but I must do this from a safe distance. If I get too personally involved I stand the chance of derailing my whole path because I will get way too deep in the problem, and can potentially make the situation very much worse. This is very hard to accept.

Unless I am willing to step in to legally adopt this young teenager in a different country and devote my life to her future, I can only help in different ways.

When we face situations like this in life, we can only really do what we can do. If we need to work from a safe distance, that is the decision we must make.

If we can do something deeper and significantly contribute to the situation we can choose that path. The option is NEVER to beat yourself up about what we “could” have done or “should” have done.  To be this centered in difficult decisions like this we must practice this centeredness in other less difficult aspects of life.

Luckily for us, life gives us many opportunities to practice centeredness …. from ordering from a menu, to choosing an internet provider, to dealing with the technical advisor of said internet provider who has such a thick accent, we just want to bang our heads with the device we are trying to trouble shoot.  You get the picture.

Look around you and attempt to deal with the next small irritant with a deeper level of groundedness and presence.

Maybe it requires you to use your ears more than your mouth. Maybe you get to use your mouth but in the complete opposite way, like whispering instead of yelling, or smiling in the face of the instigator instead of scowling, pouting. Maybe you decide to use your feet and leave a hostile situation instead of staying and begging the others to please, please, please see it your way.

Only you can decide what to do.

Expect to make mistakes and expect pushback. Pushback is really good because it tells you that you are making waves in the status quo.  If you want to quick start this practice, look at the status quo of your life and see what you would like to change then start there.

In my case, the status quo of my life was that of a “stay at home mom,” very little travel and a very confined, albeit very comfortable, world.  These days, my status quo is a far cry from yesteryear.

Take a breath.

Make a small change.

 

Love and light,

Indrani

Going BIG and Going Small

UntitledOn a recent flight from Trinidad, after doing my TEDxPortOfSpain talk in October, (watch my talk here: bit.ly/1OGFcX5) I saw the movie, “Ant Man.”  I am not usually a fan of these superhero movies, but my brain was tired and I decided to watch.

There were tons of great computer graphics, no gratuitous sex or badly behaved teenagers… just an old fashioned action movie with a good old-fashioned ending, where the blended family lives happily ever after.  Okay, it was formulaic and predictable and I do not really recommend it.

Here is what I DID enjoy.  Ant Man can move from “BIG” to “small,” and each size has its drawbacks and gifts.  The best thing about being “small” is that the strengths don’t get smaller. They stay the same.

So just like an ant can lift many times its body weight, Ant Man has amazing strength and can do amazing things even when small so he is still a formidable opponent.
When he is his usual size, his powers are ramped up and he is the hero we want him to be.

Here is what I took away from Ant Man.  We can choose to play big or play small and it needs to be our choice. When we choose to play small we still need to bring all of our skills to the stage.

Recently I was on a panel of six people, all of whom had their specialty jobs. The panel consisted of a judge, a police sergeant, a district attorney, etc.  We were all there acting as one body and we all had small jobs in support of that one body.  We each showed up as one hundred percent of our larger selves even as we treaded lightly, and did not hog the microphone.  None of us felt like we had all the answers.

We had never met each other and I was so proud of how we played nicely together.
Any one of us could have been plucked out from that panel and been asked to do an hour presentation to the audience and we would have stepped up.

I like going from big stages to smaller stages, it helps me to practice my skills in different ways.

While speaking at the United Nations, and on the TEDxPortOfSpain stage, I played to a global audience. My thoughts were more encompassing and I used imagery that could resonate with a more expansive audience. I was introduced in a formal way and some of my achievements were read out loud. The audience in those venues wanted the bigger picture of me.

I also had the great fortune to speak on a much smaller stage at my high school Alma Mater, and when I heard how I was being introduced, I realized that the kids did not need that version of me.  They needed to hear I used to be “one of them.” They needed to know that my “big,” started “small” and they needed to resonate with my small.

When I began to speak I said this to them:  “Those words are things I have done over the past 35 years but I am really just a big eye coolie girl.” I could see them relax. They understood that term. “Coolie” is a derogatory term for people of East Indian descent in Trinidad. That was a phrase they had heard and could digest.

It resonated.

From that small position I began the story …. and I built on it to get bigger and bigger, and told them they could do it also.  I ended with reminding them I was still a big eye coolie girl and I always remember my humble beginnings.

The ability to move between big and small is something we humans can do, and it helps us to stay grounded. It helps us to know that our heroes, whom we hold in high regard, also put on their pants one leg at a time.

My question to you is this… How big are you when you are small?  Stay strong and use your “big” to your advantage, and help people accept you for all the talent you bring to the party.

 
Love and light,

Indrani

Why Did I Speak at TEDxPortOfSpain?

I have devoted a large part of my life speaking up against abuse towards women and children. I am so grateful to have been invited by TEDxPortOfSpain to speak about this unspeakable topic. Children are beaten with impunity in Trinidad, as in other places.

You can watch my TEDx Talk here.

And adults even boast about the beatings they HAD to give.

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I spoke to a group of local high school students from 11th and 12th grades, and one of the girls said that her little 10-year-old brother “asks” for abuse when he annoys or frustrates her. This allowed me to address the statement, “You asked for this” when (insert behavior of person being beaten) takes place and the abuser then gives themselves absolute permission to abuse with impunity.

These very adults will even go to work the next day and openly tell about the beatings they “had to give” because the offending person was “asking” for it because of the offensive behavior that was displayed.

Children are expected to know all manner of mature behaviors …. to never make mistakes or have accidents like spilling milk, or breaking household items.  But adults do not expect themselves to exercise mature restraint when dealing with children.  Children, therefore, by their very nature of being a child and being childish, will be accused of having “asked” for a beating.

We must have public dialogue and discourse if we are to change attitudes about child abuse.

One mother came up to me after the TEDxPortOfSpain talk with tears in her eyes and said she beats her 12-year-old and wants to stop.

She asked me how to stop.

I told her very clearly that the only way to stop is to STOP.  We cannot “phase out” abuse. It is not like trying to stop drinking too much coffee by drinking one less cup per week until the body gets used to less caffeine.

A child who is being beaten needs to feel a complete ABSENCE of the beatings for them to understand that abuse has ended. Furthermore, the abuse has to stay GONE and must be replaced with positive behaviors from the offensive caregiver. Children must be taught that they are worthy of love just as they were taught that they were unworthy and therefore abused.

The adult who is doing the abuse may be able to say they are ” hitting less,” but the child cannot comprehend “less.” Only “NO More Hitting” makes sense. I could see the pain on the face of the mother who came up to me. She carried on the generational abuse because she thought it appropriate.

If we can all speak up in favor of measured responses and alternate ways to address the behaviors of both children and parents, we may have a bigger chance of ending this disease of abuse.

We must mainstream this conversation.

We need to educate girls who are being abused to not accepting abuse as girlfriends and wives.

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We need to show how abuse in childhood links those abusive behaviors to the populations in jails and to the prevalence of abuse in their childhood homes.
One other young mother I met said she only does a small slap to the leg of the 3-year-old and only once.

She said she can see the child’s face, and see how shocked and scared she becomes. The mother even sees “the slap comes out of the blue” as far as the child is concerned because she can see the surprise and the subsequent hurt in the child’s face.

I know, from personal and persistent experience that abused children learn very quickly that the offending caregivers are NOT safe people and while we say we still love them, we know in our hearts we do not trust them.

The adult in me wonders if we can truly love those we do not trust. Perhaps we simply “mouth” the words, “Love You” because the words are culturally acceptable and it is not so acceptable to say, “I am unsafe with you and I do not know what I feel about you.”

I know as an adult if I have a history of people treating me inappropriately I keep them at arms length and always have an exit plan. My trust in them as a safe place disappears and can never return.

Children are not sophisticated enough to have this skill and they are also powerless to do anything about their environment.

We really have to keep the dialogue alive and we all have to be a part of ending violence in our own homes.
Indrani-photo-1170x780

Let us step up.  Share this story AND my TEDx Talk with your family and community.  We are all in this together.  Together we are mighty!

You can watch my TEDx Talk here.

 

Love and light,
 

Indrani