Ask your Counsellor - 1

I Like sports and I play well in tennis, I want to become a national level player. My mother supports me but my father wants me to become a doctor, he wants to crack the NEET exam after 12 th grade. I like sports but my parents wants me to become a doctor or an engineer.
What can I do?
Counselor’s Response: We all have dreams and aspiration to fulfill which may be not be approved by our parents. It is very challenging when parent’s dreams for you are different from ours. Here are some tips to communicate with your parents:
In calm manner share your aspirations: After you have narrowed down on a career path you want to pursue, write down a quick note in your journal before talking to your parents. This can include the things you need to do in order to achieve your dream, like taking a course or talking to teachers about your options. Writing notes will help you prepare, which in turn will make you feel calmer about approaching the subject.
Try to understand your parents’ concern: We all need Plan B! You can understand your parents concern by acknowledging the risk and letting them know that you are prepared to handle it! Your parents are likely to support you much more if they know you have weighed your options and are being realistic!
Explain to your parents about different career options: Most parents still believe that a degree in engineering, commerce or science is what drives you to success. Give them examples of others, who followed an “unconventional” path like the one you want to embark upon, and tasted success.
Let them know your back up plan: Not to de-motivate you, but if your career has few opportunities, long hours or low pay, you might need to convince your parents about having a fall back career. The chances of them supporting you will increase if you are realistic and explain that you might fail and how you can avoid that.
Find an adult and share your plans: Often, your parents might trust a close family member more than they trust you. Go to them with your dilemma and ask them to approach your parents. They might explain what you were unable to, in a soothing manner.
Action speaks more than words: Your parents will never really understand your choices unless you show them results. Keep them updated with every positive feedback you get. When your parents will see your work assignments or hear about how your work changed someone’s life in a positive way, they will know that there is nothing to worry about.

Ask your Counsellor - 2

I am 15 years old, my family is troubling me so much especially my mom. When I had parent teacher meetings, she was talking only about my male friends, why she has to talk about my personal life to an outsider? She is also forcing me to pursue a career of her choice which I am not interested in. I do well in academics and want to pursue career of my choice. Please help Counselor’s Reposnse: It can really difficult when your parents don’t respect your privacy. Your feelings of anger and frustration is reasonable as we expect our family to directly communicate. Here are some of the tips that can help you to set a boundary with your mother without disappointing them.
Be assertive and compassionate: Being assertive involves stating how you feel and what you need without trying to hurt the other person. This includes maintaining eye contact, maintaining a sense of calm, being open to having a conversation, actively listening to the other person, monitoring your tone, having a straight posture, and being direct. At the same time, being compassionate is also important. This means understanding where your parents may be coming from and understanding the difficulties they may be experiencing in letting go of the role they once had in your life, while also simultaneously honoring your needs. Practicing compassion helps us stay grounded and come from a place of love versus defensiveness.
Communicate directly: Your parents probably still consider you as a small child, regardless of your actual age. You might find it challenging to get them to recognize your independence when you maintain your own household. Telling yourself, it’s just temporary and resolving to avoid conflict by biting your tongue is one way to handle the situation. This could help keep the peace if the tensions you’re dealing with are, in fact, only popping up due to the close quarters you now share.
Be clear and specific: Avoidance, vagueness generally doesn’t do you any favor. Unclear or confusing boundaries leave plenty of room for misinterpretation. You might know exactly what you mean when you say things like: “Please don’t buy me junk I don’t need.” Your parents, however, may not. So it’s more helpful to give specific examples of unacceptable behaviors, along with acceptable alternatives, depending on the situation. For example: “Your gifts are always so generous, and I appreciate the thought, but I don’t need new clothes or shoes. If you’d really like to help out, I can always use a gift card to buy something I like or I need.”

Ask your Counsellor - 3

“I am 17years old and I feel very lost these days. My parents have good expectations of me. I have been a bright student all my life but now my friends pressure me to do uncomfortable stuff which I end up doing because I want to fit in and not be made fun of. But then, later on I feel very guilty. What do I do?”

Counsellor’s Response: -
It is common for teenagers at your age to seek the validation of their peers. I understand how important your friend’s acceptance is for you, and to have to constantly keep up to your parent’s expectations can be quite challenging. Especially when it’s conflicting, which is where the guilt is coming from. You clearly mentioned that your “friends pressure you to do uncomfortable stuff ”, which you “end up doing to fit in”. Well, if it makes you uncomfortable, you have every right to say no to it or to politely decline. Consent is not just for romantic relationships. It also holds true in friendships. So, each time you realize that your physical, emotional, sexual boundaries are being overstepped or violated even if that is under the pretext of fun, you have the liberty to object to it. And if that comes at the cost of losing some demeaning “friends”, so be it. I’m sure there are youngsters out there who seek well- meaning, healthy friendships. Perhaps, not in your immediate peer circle. But, if you are willing to put yourself out there and meet new people, you will certainly find some like-minded folks who are also good for your mental health

Ask your Counsellor - 4

“I am in my college 2 nd year and I feel very anxious thinking about my future. The constant conflicts and fight between my parents makes me very disturbed. Sometimes I’m afraid I’ll end up like them. I don’t want to become like them. I love coming to college and being with friends. But, I hate going back home.”

Counsellor’s Response: -
Growing up in a conflict-stricken home can be very challenging. I appreciate your decision to seek help. A home is supposed to be a safe space for a child. It is disheartening to see how a child denied of this basic right to a home: a safe space, can be rendered emotionally homeless. Many children grow up victims to such situations and later end-up making decisions revolving around the distorted thinking that emerges out of it. However, the very first step in breaking this cycle is to become aware of this dynamic. “I will never become like my parents”, “I will never get married”, “I have no faith in marriage” and a great aversion to the things that remind them of home, are some of the effects of growing up in a conflict-ridden home. The fact is that none of us choose our parents or the families we grow up into. But who we choose to become is our choice. We can either surrender ourselves to the natural flow of our situation- unhealthy or healthy. Or actively make choices and decisions that help us to not just break the cycle of unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors, but also inculcate healthy patterns of living which may then feel pointless, but will in fact end up becoming the very stairway to a bright future.

Parents are also human-beings. This is by no means a justification to the damage that may have occurred growing up in a volatile home. However, this does mean that not everything a parent may have said or done in the heat of the moment (eg. “You are good for nothing”, “You’ll never amount to anything”) has to be taken to heart or believed. If the environment is getting too toxic, try moving out to a hostel or PG. If not, try engaging yourself in academic and extra-curricular activities that would keep you away from home. Know your parent’s triggers to start a fight and refrain from it. Lastly, know that this too shall pass. Over the course of time, either they may have changed or you’ll be in a better and more independent position to move out and take care of yourself. As a student, try to avail the free counselling/ therapy sessions offered by your school/ college. This way, your counselor who is a competent authority will not just be aware of your situation and help you heal, but will also, guide you correctly and keep you from stumbling into risky situations and people.

- Anu John, Counselling Psychologist, St. Joseph’s University, Bangalore

Ask your Counsellor - 5

“I am a very hard-working and ambitious boy with big dreams and aspirations but I cannot count on anyone else for any support. My parents don’t support my dreams. I often get upset at how unfair the world can be- how much more easier life can be for someone born with a silver spoon or atleast family support and how much more harder it can be for someone who has to fight against all odds to make it big.”

Counsellor’s Response: -
The best part about being ambitious in your late teens and early twenties is that it is neither too early nor too late to build the life of your dreams no matter what your circumstances may be- privileged or unprivileged. It is true, that sometimes life can be unfair. But there is something unique about someone forged in fire. It is their grit. Life can be unpredictable- calamities and disasters take place, accidents happen,…your health, wealth, everything can topple overnight. But what determines whether you would be able to survive it all, is your resilience and that is often forged in the fiery ordeals and challenges of life. To be born with a silver spoon or not is something one has no control over. But what you have control over is what is it that you do in your given situation, using the resources available to you. Each day we are presented with countless choices- starting from what we choose to eat, who we spend time with, to the careers or professions we take. These are the very choices that will often lead us either closer or away from our dreams. Maybe sit down with your parents and try to understand why your parents won’t support your dreams. Is it because of the risk involved or financial constraints? Or is it a path less travelled? Or do your parents already have set plans as to what career you should take or who you must marry? Or is it because they think you cannot do it?

Parents are, generally, our greatest well- wishers. And trying to understand the why to this, would help bring better clarity as to whether this dream you wish to pursue is worth the pursuit. Discuss it with your well-wishers and supporters, but also try to get a neutral and objective perspective from acquaintances. Above all, know this that no dream is unattainable when combined with the right help and diligent execution. Look out for the right mentors who have already walked that path before you, who can be that guiding light on your adventure. Surround yourself with the right people who would help nurture your dreams while also give you a reality check from time to time. The market keeps fluctuating and the industry is constantly evolving. Make sure, there is enough and relevant scope to your line of work even 10 years down the line so that it does not become redundant by the time you have formally entered the professional world

- Anu John, Counselling Psychologist, St. Joseph’s University, Bangalore

Ask your Counsellor - 6

“I am in my final year of college. Both my parents are working. I am popular and mostly surrounded by my friends. Yet, when I come back home I feel lonely. It’s as if at that moment, all my worries about the future takes over and overwhelm me. It’s that feeling of being surrounded by a sea of people and yet feeling lonely. What do I do to overcome loneliness?” -AK


Dear AK, College years are often portrayed as some of the most vibrant years of one’s youthful years where you’re constantly meeting new people. Youngsters often tend to compete as to who has more number of friends and social media followers. However, these numbers are in stark contrast to the reality. “But, who is my true friend?” one could reflect. Perhaps, it’s time to go beyond the superficial numbers to see, with how many of them do you really share a deep, solid connection with- a safe space where you can be yourself without the fear of being judged or misunderstood. And if you’ve been caught up in the race of numbers, perhaps now is the time to check who you share a real connection with. “The salvation of man is through love and in love”, writes Victor Frankl in his book- Man’s Search for Meaning. Take time out to establish deep, meaningful and lasting connections. As for your worries about the future, its okay for a 20 year old to reflect about their dreams and aspirations, and be concerned when they are met with obstacles and challenges. It’s healthy. However, one must be watchful when excessive worry begins to disrupt your daily life to the point it becomes dysfunctional and starts affecting your sleep, health and diet. Reach out for help from a mentor who could bring more clarity into your career path, a support system comprising of supportive friends and family, a group of fellow aspirants- with whom you could collectively achieve the goal. Practice stress-relief techniques that would help calm you down. Seek professional mental health help whenever required. And lastly, know this- You are not alone. This too shall pass.

- Anu John, Counselling Psychologist, St. Joseph’s University, Bangalore

Ask your Counsellor - 7

I am a 26-year-old female who is currently working. I am the only child for my parents and my father has always been strict in different ways. Sometimes there was a lot of financial control, and also control in terms of who I speak to or what I wear. I have always felt like I had to walk around eggshells with him and now that I’m financially independent, he tries to demean me. How do I go about this?


Firstly, it seems like it could be pretty difficult to live under these circumstances. Autonomy is something we all seek but culturally it’s not widely accepted to feel this way especially in the Indian context. This can often lead to situations of control in one’s life. Due to having grown up in this environment, anxiety is definitely going to be an issue that would require conscious effort and time. Something that could help would be setting boundaries, however this would be a slow process with the guidance of a counsellor. Secondly it is important to have tasks that keep you occupied and happy. It can be difficult to sit through this the first time, but eventually it could become your “safe” routine.

- Maria Senora, Counselling Psychologist, St. Joseph’s University, Bangalore

Ask your Counsellor - 8

I am 32 years old and work as a consultant for which I travel a lot. Recently I have been feeling quite lonely, I’m unmarried at the moment and feel low on confidence when I think of interacting with a man. I have friends but due to traveling I hardly make time and catch up with them. Sometime I also feel it doesn’t make a difference if I’m there or not.


Sometimes what happens with us is we project how we feel. In this case it sounds like you are not too confident in your own skin, and with who you are. If you aren’t happy or confident with yourself the chances of you feeling good with the people around you is also going to reduce. You might find yourself constantly worried about their judgments of you. What helps to know is that only you can change how confident you feel about yourself. Nobody else can help with that, which means if you are low on confidence right now, you can also help yourself build it up. This helps in knowing your value in a social setting, which could make interacting with people easier.

- Maria Senora, Counselling Psychologist, St. Joseph’s University, Bangalore

Ask your Counsellor - 9

I’m a 28-year-old male and I’m currently in a serious relationship for the past 2 years. We often have arguments about how she feels like I’m being distant or aloof. I come from a family where we don’t talk about emotions much and my partner is the opposite. So it tends to become hard for me to communicate when it comes to feelings.


Every relationship is going to require a lot of learning and sometimes unlearning as well. Since you’ve lived your life without having to talk about your emotions, it can seem challenging to be asked to do so now. As it looks like your partner like communicating about emotions it can make her feel like she is on the outside when you don’t share what you are feeling with her. This will take time to eventually get to a point where the both of you can find a balance. As you have dealt with your emotions alone for most part of your life, you will need the space to process emotions alone sometimes. Finding a balance between sharing and processing by yourself will need open communication and patience.

- Maria Senora, Counselling Psychologist, St. Joseph’s University, Bangalore

Ask your Counsellor - 10

Hello I recently finished college, I’m 20, and I’m not sure what to do next. My friends keep patronizing me about my skills, and what I can do. But even I don’t know what I want to do, and everyone is already sure. It makes me feel lost and I wonder if I’ll be able to find what time genuinely good at.


Graduating can come with a lot of mixed feelings. It can feel overwhelming because now you have so many options and making the right choice is your responsibility. However, it’s also important to understand that this is normal. It is okay to be confused and lost now because this is where you explore and see what works for you. This is the age where you try and test out new opportunities, learn new skills and grow as a person so that later in your life you can feel more settled. Try not to shy away from new things, this is where learning happens, and at this age you don’t have to be sure, you just have to be ready to learn and grow.

- Maria Senora, Counselling Psychologist, St. Joseph’s University, Bangalore

Ask your Counsellor - 11

I’m a college student and I’m 19. I don’t think I’m conventionally good looking, and while I still think I’m attractive, I find myself wanting to change how I look. I’m embarrassed of pictures that are taken, I sometimes don’t even like standing for pictures because I don’t think I come out well. It bothers me because I feel restricted sometimes, I hold myself back because of these thoughts.


What you are feeling is not uncommon given your age. It can also especially be difficult since you are in the student community for most part of your time, this can because you to feel like you need to stand out. Or live up to a certain socially acceptable standard. Something that helps to understand is that all beauty quite literally comes from imperfection. If you notice closely you will see that some people are beautiful because they embrace their large forehead, or big nose. Being conventional doesn’t make you stand out, having unique features does.

- Maria Senora, Counselling Psychologist, St. Joseph’s University, Bangalore

Ask your Counsellor - 12

Q: I am a 25 years old woman working in an MNC. I have been an achiever and best student throughout my school and college days. My dad passed away when I was six and ever since it's just me and my mother. I have always had my mother pressuring me to do well and I have done well. However ever since I started working, I feel very low. I have changed 4 to 5 companies but everywhere I felt rejected and discriminated. Can you help me!

Counsellor's response:
I appreciate your effort to seek help.
It's very heartening to know that you have been an achiever all along and I'm sure you have such abilities even now.
As a single mother, your mother must have wanted you to be a success in life and hence the pressure.
You may also have missed the presence of your father in your growing years which could've created a sense of insecurity in you.
Your feeling of rejection in your work place could be the result of your expectations for validation from others of your ideas and thoughts.

1. Before you expect validation from others, you validate yourself and try to build your self- confidence.
2. Reflect on the pressure your mother has been exerting on you. Does she still want you to be the best? If so, try to have a healthy conversation with her and explain the difficulties you are facing in the work place.
3. Try to analyze your approach and attitude towards your coworkers and higher-ups and change the method so that they would be convinced of your ideas. Since you have experienced difficulty wherever you went to work, there could be a problem in your approach. In a hierarchical set up people could be opinionated and judgmental. Validation may be derived by a humble and more acceptable approach.
4. Reach out to a professional counsellor/therapist for a one on one session so that you may feel reassured of how you can help you

Vanitha Kumar
Counsellor, SJPUC

Ask your Counsellor - 13

Q. “I am in my second year of college. It’s frustrating- this constant feeling that I’m not doing enough.
I’m surrounded by plenty of opportunities- dance, music, art, sports, etc. But I’m not able to make the most of it. The fact is, I do not have the time. It leaves me angry, dissatisfied and upset. How do I overcome this feeling? ” -JP Q. Dear JP, Let me firstly applaud you, for having earned your admission into a prestigious academic institution which has opened several doors of opportunities for you. It can be quite a dilemma to be spoilt for choice. While you may find yourself good at several things as you’ve mentioned, the fact is- we all have only limited time and energy during the day. It’s about making the most of it. If you try to multi-task too many things, you may find yourself to be ‘a jack of all trades but master of none’. You may be good at multiple things, but trying to put yourself all over the place would eventually lead to a burnout both physical and mental. Juggling can sometimes be exhausting. Anyways, there’s work, academics and personal life you’ve got to juggle with. I’d suggest that you prioritize and pick a reasonable set of opportunities you’d like to explore and give it your best shot. The reason is that each of these opportunities will come with its own set of requirements and commitments, sometimes even clashing with each other. In that case, to be able to do justice to a given opportunity, you may have to let go of the seemingly not so important ones and focus on the ones that truly matter. I know that may feel like walking into a candy store and wanting to hoard it all. But, let’s be practical here. Take what you need and go for it! This principle will help you navigate the many cross-roads of life by making healthy choices that may not just seem right at the moment, but will eventually help you in the long run. All the best!

Anu John
Counselling Psychologist
St. Joseph’s University, Bengaluru

Ask your Counsellor - 14

Q. I am 19 years old, and I often experience feelings of exclusion, loneliness and rejection. Despite being surrounded by people I call friends; I question the authenticity of these relationships. I constantly seek validation from those around me; without it, I descend into negative self-thoughts. I even ended a relationship because I doubted its sincerity, fearing my boyfriend’s presence resulted from pity.

Counsellor’s Response:
It seems that you’re struggling with feelings of exclusion, loneliness, and rejection despite having people around you whom you consider friends. The fact that you question the authenticity of these relationships and constantly seek validation suggests that there might be underlying issues related to self-esteem, self-worth, and trust. Exploring your past experiences and any potential triggers could provide valuable insights into why you’re feeling this way.

In the meantime, there are some steps you can take to address these concerns and find a sense of stability:

Self-Reflection: Take some time to reflect on your own values, interests, and strengths. Building a stronger sense of self can help diminish your reliance on external validation. Positive Self-Talk: Challenge those negative self-thoughts by actively replacing them with positive and affirming statements. This takes practice, but over time, it can lead to a more positive self-image.

Mindfulness and Grounding Techniques: Engaging in mindfulness exercises and grounding techniques can help you stay present and reduce anxiety. Breathing exercises, meditation, or even engaging in activities you enjoy can be helpful.

Social Activities: Engage in activities you enjoy that also involve interacting with others can provide opportunities to meet like-minded individuals and build authentic connections.

It’s important to recognise that the feelings you’re describing might be rooted in deeper emotional patterns. Given the impact from these emotional experiences on your relationships and well-being, I would encourage you to reach out to a trained mental health professional. Therapy can provide a safe and non-judgmental space to explore these feelings, help you understand their origins, and provide guidance and strategies to overcome them. Meanwhile, you can talk to a trusted friend or family member about what you’re going through. Sometimes, sharing your feelings with someone close to you can provide comfort and offer a different perspective.

Priya Pakerathan
Student Counsellor | SJCC Bengaluru, Karnataka

Ask your Counsellor - 15

Q. I am an 18-year-old and I’m grappling with a situation that's really taking an emotional toll on me. My best friend, someone I trusted deeply, has recently done something that feels like a betrayal. What makes it even more challenging is that she’s now in a romantic relationship with the person I had feelings for. It’s hard to put into words how upset, hurt, and angry I am right now. What should I do?

Counsellor’s Response:
I’m really sorry to hear that you’re going through such a difficult situation. It’s completely normal to feel upset, hurt, and angry when someone you trusted betrays you, especially when it involves a close friend and someone you had feelings for and shared a close bond with.

First of all, know that your feelings are valid and it’s okay to experience this range of emotions. It’s important to give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling without judgment.

Do give some time for self-care. Engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation or spending time with other friends who support you, can help lift your spirits and mood. In terms of the situation with your friend and your crush, it might be helpful to talk about your feelings with someone you trust. Sharing your thoughts and emotions can be a way to process what you’re going through and gain some perspective.

If you’re comfortable, you could also consider having an honest conversation with your friend. While it might not change the situation, expressing how you feel can provide you with a sense of closure.

Keep your focus on your own well-being and your personal goals. This experience can be an opportunity for growth and self-discovery. If you find that your emotions are becoming overwhelming or impacting your daily life significantly, it might be beneficial to reach out to a counselor or mental health professional who can provide additional support and guidance. You don’t have to go through this alone, and seeking help is a sign of strength.

Melwin Canute Dsouza
Student Counsellor | SJCC

Ask your Counsellor - 16

Q. After a 9-month relationship, my girlfriend ended things with me stating she needed time for herself and that we have communication issues. Despite being close friends for 3 years, I cannot understand her behavior. She appears carefree with her friends but when we’re in a group, sometimes she ignores me and sometimes engages intimately, it's very confusing. I feel sad and angry. How does she get to be happy?

Counsellor’s Response:
I understand that you’re feeling very confused, it's a mix of emotions. It’s important to acknowledge and understand that breakups can be challenging, especially when it involves

someone you’ve been friends with for so long and you’re part of the same friends groups. Her need for space and the communication issues could indicate that there might have been underlying tension in the relationship which were not addressed or resolved. Her carefree demeanor with friends and her behavior with you could be a reflection of her own coping. To address this, it might be beneficial to give each other some space for now. Focus on y

our own emotional well-being and take time to heal and work on yourself. Try to spend more time doing the things you enjoy, spending time with your loved ones and reflecting on the relationship, exploring what you’ve learnt from it. Understand that this is a time of vulnerability but also an opportunity to learn and grow.

Remember, healing takes time and seeking support from friends, family or a professional counselor can help you navigate through these emotions and it's okay to prioritize your own happiness in this process.

Lissiue Maria
Student Counsellor | SJCC Bengaluru, Karnataka

Ask your Counsellor - 17

Q. I feel powerless and inferior when my friends bully me. They intend to have fun however; it makes me think I’m useless. I get angry when I see myself in the mirror. I easily cry. My weakness is I either stay quiet or I tend to become very aggressive. I want to work on this, what can I do?

Counselor’s response: This might be stemming from the lack of love and compassion towards yourself. Therefore, there is tendency to get easily hurt by what others say and personalize and it turns into an inner dialogue. Here are some things you can do to begin with:

To recognize and catch irrational thought pattern cognitive distortion such as global labeling and personalization
To record automatic thought, replace and reframe it with positive self- talk.
To be aware of the strengths you have.
To learn to improve communication skill.
Define healthy boundary with friends.

If you consistently find it challenging to be assertive and to be compassionate to yourself, and if you are scared about facing rejection or criticism, please reach out to a professional for more support and help.

Cliona D’ Costa
Counselor, Loyola composite PU college, Bangalore.

Ask your Counsellor - 18

Q: I am not comfortable with a good friend of mine for last year and a half, how do I respond to his inappropriate touch? I feel that if I communicate this it will affect our friendship.

A: First of all thank you for the question, appreciate your courage to openly talk about something that makes you uncomfortable. I understand that you must be conflicted because one side you want to protect your friendship and at the same time you are trying to protect yourself. Do you want to consider why there is difficulty in being assertive? I sense that there may be a sense of abandonment. Recognise your strength and your own self-worth. It is important to practise healthy boundaries and consistently assert yourself. You could also seek the support of your trusted companions or family members if possible. What could also be helpful is to have an open conversation with your friend about why you experience the discomfort with his touch. If you have experienced similar situations in the past it may be beneficial to communicate that as well with your friend once you have processed it. Finally, ask yourself what is the worst that can happen if you are assertive or arise from this situation. This can help you understand whether your friend is respectful of you and your feelings. If not, and you continue to feel uncomfortable it would be a good idea to distance yourself from your friend.

Lydia Rachel Francis
Counsellor, St. Joseph’s Boys’ High School

Ask your Counsellor - 19

Q. I am 23 year old struggling with a heavy sense of feeling dumb and ugly. These thoughts are persistent and affect my self-esteem, relationships, and overall well-being. I constantly compare myself to others, doubting my intelligence and appearance. What shall I do?

Counselor’s Response
I commend you for opening up about your struggles with feeling dumb and ugly. It's important to acknowledge that these persistent thoughts can significantly impact your self-esteem, relationships, and overall well-being.

These persistent thoughts of feeling dumb and ugly, and their impact on self-esteem, often have deep-rooted origins. Early childhood experiences, such as teasing, bullying, or critical parenting, can leave emotional scars. Societal and media influences that emphasize unrealistic beauty and intelligence standards contribute to self-comparisons and feelings of inadequacy. Negative self- talk, where individuals repeatedly criticize themselves, can further shape self-perception. Perfectionism, driven by a fear of falling short of idealized standards, plays a role too. Social comparison, traumatic events, and past criticism or rejection all contribute to these challenging feelings.

I encourage you to prioritize self-compassion, treating yourself with kindness and understanding. Be mindful of your media consumption and social circles, distancing yourself from sources promoting unrealistic beauty standards or body shaming. Develop and repeat positive affirmations about your body and self-worth. I encourage you to take some time to reflect on your qualities and strengths that have nothing to do with your appearance or intelligence. Think about the aspects of your character, your values, and the skills you possess that you appreciate. Creating a list of these qualities can serve as a valuable reminder of your intrinsic worth. Refer to this list when self-doubt arises. To explore these issues further and develop long-term strategies for improvement, I recommend reaching out to a trained mental health professional

Stevena Lobo
Counsellor, St. Joseph’s College of Law

Ask your Counsellor - 20

Q. I am 17-year-old. I feel my life is at its worst right now. I feel drowsy during class hours and most of the time I will be sleeping during the class. Teachers have been repeatedly reminding me of my unacceptable behavior in the class but I find very difficult to concentrate due to drowsiness. I also have noticed that I have become very lazy. I don’t study at all. I frequently bunk the college. If I go to college, soon after coming from college, I just sleep for 1 to 2 hours and I hardly attend tuitions. Instead of going to tuitions I just sleep off. I feel I am not on right track. Can you help me to get out of such bad life style and get on to life that is more productive?

A. At times life can be at its worst due to the negative environmental (family, friends, social media, etc.) influences to which we are exposed. Your life seems to be at its worst due to the disturbed sleep patterns as you feel drowsy during class hours. You feel upset that you are not able to overcome this drowsiness and focus in studies in spite of several admonitions from the teachers. Moreover, you have also noticed that you are not actively engaged in academic activities. All of this seems to be worrying that you are not able to live life more productively.

I understand that you might be going through internal conflict within yourself to overcome your defilements and it seems to be ok to go through that internal conflict as it will find a way to better future (life that is more organized and meaningful to carry on) I appreciate your desire to overcome your defilements and to focus on life that is more worth living. I hope the information that I am about to share here will be of great help and will serve your purpose. Paying attention to the quality and quantity of the sleep at night is more important. Having a sound sleep of minimum 6 to 7 hours will help you to overcome drowsiness during the day. Use of gadgets such as mobile, tab, laptop or any other more stimulating activities at night especially before going to bed needs to be avoided. Focus more on relaxing activities before going to bed such as muscle relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, mindfulness activities, etc.

Laziness that you mentioned can be overcome by setting academic achievement goals - short term goals such as completing work sheets and class notes on time and long term goals such as achieving high percentage in final examination etc. Setting goals can be great motivator to be regular to the college and to focus better during the class.

If the above mentioned information doesn’t suffice your question, you are always welcome to seek for the professional guidance from the recognized and experienced counsellors who will be able to provide with better support and guidance.

Stevena Lobo
Counsellor, St. Joseph’s College of Law

Ask your Counsellor - 21

“I am drained. No matter how much I try, no matter how much I give my all, no matter how much effort I put in, I can never be good enough in my studies. My mother and my teachers tell me I don't give enough effort, but I have been trying hard. I have cut out sports just to focus on my studies, I’m always on my study desk, I’m totally exhausted.

I understand how you are feeling. When you give your all, it results in being empty, and when you keep giving all of what you have, you’ll continue being drained and empty. Giving your all has no boundaries and uncontrolled. Instead give your best. I know you have given a lot of effort in improving your studies, you have given your all, you have done all you can. In this process, an important thing is finding the right approach. And to find the right approach, you have to explore and find out what is working and what does not. Try different strategies and reflect on the trials and errors. You can try strategies like making a time-table to stay organized, summarizing your notes in your own understanding, revising whatever you have done in the day when you’re at home, breaking down your tasks into small manageable goals, and many more.

It is normal to feel stuck sometimes, trying the different strategies and experimenting may take time, it is important that you keep an open mind and to not give up on it just yet. You may be feeling discouraged about your studies, but remember that everyone has their own unique learning journey. Focus on progress and celebrate your achievements in the process. You can reward yourself by treating yourself with your favorite snack or by doing something you enjoy. Acknowledge yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, your accomplishments and failures in the process.

When you are drained and exhausted, remember to recharge and take care of yourself by going for a walk, spending time with nature, resting well, listening to music, going for a workout or doing a hobby which you enjoy, and prioritize your well-being.

Crystal Lalthakimi Sailo,
Counselor, SJPUC, Bangalore

Ask your Counsellor - 22

Q: My biggest problem is procrastination. I have so much to study and catch up. When the time comes to do the tasks, I tend to get lazy and not do anything. I’m lagging behind on most of my subjects and I feel really stressed. I need help.

Counsellor’s Response: Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing tasks until the last possible moment. People tend to procrastinate due to various reasons- they find the task uninteresting or there's this constant need to achieve perfection. And by avoiding, one could go through a phase of unhelpful emotions such as guilt, shame, anxiety, fear and stress which could impact your daily routine.

Following suggestions could help you tackle this issue:
Create a To-Do list: Jot down all the pending tasks. Create this list before you go to bed, so that it’s convenient to plan the next day.

Prioritize them based on deadlines or immediacy: Make a simple and realistic list for each day. Example: Work on assignments based on submission dates or prepare for tests according to your exam timetable.

Allocate a particular time slot to study every day: During this time your sole focus is to study only. It could be 2 hours per day (or more, as per your bandwidth). Try to incorporate different studying strategies that would effectively help you- reading out loud or writing down notes, etc.

Begin with completing simple tasks: Often, the problem is with starting the work or you simply dislike doing them. Same goes for studying. Therefore, start your week with your favourite subject, then move to challenging ones by allocating more time to subjects/topics that require extra effort.

Remove distractions that could hinder you from completing the task: It is important to identify triggers around you and take active steps to avoid them during your designated study time. For example: If mobile phone is your distraction, then keep it far away from your reach while you study.

Reward yourself after a task completion: When a task is done, tick that off your list! You will feel a sense of achievement by doing this. Appreciate and reward yourself by taking a break, doing something you enjoy or even using your phone.

Note: Do not pressurize yourself to complete the entire list. The list is to guide you minimize your workload. If you’re unable to complete the task that day, tweak your list and get done in the near future.

Shalini Maria Jose,
Counsellor, SJPUC, Bangalore

Ask your Counsellor - 23

Q. I feel angry and frustrated every time my parents compare me with others when it comes to the marks I score in my exams and tests. They keep nagging about my past mistakes. This makes me feel I am not enough and hated by them. It makes me question why am I on this earth. It would be so much better for them to live without me. I tend to become very aggressive and rebel and the situation gets even more worse. I want to work on this, what could be done?

Counselor’s response: I empathise with how you feel about the whole scenario and your struggle to overcome this especially when your parents are nagging you and comparing you with others over and over again. I can sense that you are hurt. I suggest you to take some time for yourself and recognize that you are here for a purpose. You are important, you are uniquely blessed with your talents and gifts and no one can replace you. I would strongly suggest you to be kind and gentle with yourself. Your parents might be going through tough time to manage several challenges as well. Here are some things you can do to begin with: Recognize and catch irrational thought pattern such as global labelling, over generalization and personalization and jot it down in your journal.

I suggest you to channelize your anger in a constructive way, express you anger by punching a pillow, exercising, walking in nature, scribble on a paper, write it down.

I would like you to consider when your parents are talking affectionately with you, recognize one of their love languages such as words of affirmation and acts of service. And respond to their language politely.

Take at least 15 minutes time alone in silence as you wake up in the morning, try guided breathing exercise and guided affirmations.

Using the power of humour would help to ease and respond to them rather than reacting in aggressive manner.

You could seek professional help to define healthy boundary with your parents. Considering a counselling session with your parents which could be coordinated in school.

when you consistently find it challenging and struggling to manage these situations, or feeling overpowered and let down by your parents’ nagging and constant criticism, please reach out to a professional for more support and help.

Cliona D’ Costa
Loyola composite PU college.

Ask your Counsellor - 24

Q. “I am a 19year old guy and I struggle with anger issues. I love my girlfriend but she constantly keeps triggering me. I feel helpless and fed up seeing my girlfriend make poor choices. What do I do?” -RK

R. Dear RK, Anger is quite a prevalent concern among boys and girls of your age as you set out on the pursuit of dreams and aspirations but are met with obstacles and challenges along the way. While anger is only a symptom, it is important to attend to the root of the concern here- is it that you are incompatible, struggling to accept each other’s differences? Or are you dating a red flag?

While falling in love is easy, staying in love can often prove challenging especially when neither or either of you is willing to put in the effort, commitment and dedication it takes to make a relationship work. Maybe try to sit together and talk it out- address your concerns gently. At the end of the day, each one is a master of his/her own life. You can express your concern to her, give her perspective and show her the way. But if you find your girlfriend stuck in a rut of making poor choices and refusing to come out of it, then perhaps it’s time for you to step back, work on yourself and heal by seeking professional help. And then, move on.

If it’s meant to be, then maybe someday your paths will meet and life will give you another chance- but this time perhaps you’d both be better and wiser. If not, then know there’s something better in store for you.

-Anu John
Counselling Psychologist St. Joseph’s University, Bangalore

Ask your Counsellor - 25

I am 20 years old. I feel lonely and misunderstood, nobody understands me. I have strained relationships with my parents. I have abandonment issues. I was bulled in school. I would be alone during lunch break, I was lonely. I never told my parents.I feel if I get close to people, they will not like me. Recently I had a fight with a close friend. I think I have a problem. My mental health is deteriorating.

I understand that you feel hurt and overwhelmed. Our family and friends are very important for you. It is a human instinct to want to connect with others, feel heard and be understood. Sometimes, when we are misunderstood it can be very disheartening. It may cause you to feel insecure and worry about being judged. An unhealthy parent chld relationship impacts the child negatively. It affect the child's thinking, behaviour and cause social problems like withdrawal and trust issues. It is also a contributing factor when the child gets bullied in school but does not disclose it to the parentsdue to trust issues. These past experiences give rise to abandonment issues tat make the child feel that, ‘You can’t trust people’. And children grow up having low self esteem and a core belief that they are not appreciated or valued.

As a result the individual’s overgeneralisatise and igore their abilities and focus on their perceived flaws.This makes it difficult for them to set boundaries with others and it can be challenging for them to form satisfying relationships as adults.

Acknowledge your feeling of loneliness as they can help you work through the factors that may be contributing to it. You may talk to your friends and family and let them know you are struggling with loneliness. You may work as a volunteer at local neighbourhood or community. This would provide you opportunity for social interaction and help you feel less lonely.

Reach out to a trained professional for further assistance. Therapy can help you understand your self better and break the downward cycle of negative feelings. It will help you overcome your challenges and form healthy relationships.

Zehra Ahmad
Couselling Psychologist, SJU Bangalore

Ask your Counsellor - 26

Q. I am a 19-year-old student, I currently face difficulty in sleeping. I often find it very hard to fall asleep I keep thinking of the many things and I get very anxious.

Counsellor’s Response:
I understand the difficulty you are facing; I can only imagine the exhaustion and lack of control that you might be experiencing.

It would really help to examine our lifestyle and habits which could be leading to this issue. Addressing the issue by planning a sleep routine would be a practical and effect first response to the situation. Spend time is planning a routine, start with fixing a sleep time (ideally one hour before the time you are falling asleep recently). The last hour you spend before you sleep should be spent in a way to help you relax and prepare to sleep. Exposure to bright light especially phone light should be avoided, spending sometime engaging in breathing exercises and yoga is a good way to help your body relax. Reading a light book, listening to light music or even bedtime stories are good ways to help you as we naturally take time to fall asleep. Preparing for sleep would be a great way to deal with the anxious thoughts, as anxiety is often induced when there is an influx of thought highlighting is a lack of certainty and control over the outcome of the situation.

Journalling about your day, spending time with family and friends discussing about your day and problem you are facing are other healthy measures you can look to incorporate into your lifestyle. Give yourself time to adapt the process of change and seek the support of your close ones and consult a qualified professional counsellor who would help you work through this problem.

Ryan Peter
Counselling Psychologist, St. Joseph’s University.

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