Shama Patel is a Post-Graduate in Counselling Psychology from Bangalore University.
As a Psychologist, she has more than eight years of experience dealing with the problems faced by adults, teenagers, married couples, senior citizens, alcoholics, drug addicts, victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking and so on! She consults clients on prior appointment basis at The Family Doctor clinic and Olive Health Center (Pune).
She has been associated with Tech Mahindra as a visiting Psychologist and is currently associated with ZS Associates India Private Limited as a consulting Psychologist.
Shama has successfully executed several workshops on mental and emotional well-being at various leading companies & organizations like Mahindra & Mahindra, Schindler India Pvt. Ltd., Zamil Steel, Sigma Electric Manufacturing Corp. Pvt. Ltd, Prescient Technologies, Emcure Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd., Gagan Properties, Touching Lives, FICCI Flo, Rotary Clubs, and has been invited as a key note speaker at various leading institutions across India.
She is often referred as Happiness Coach/Chief Happiness Officer (CHO) by the company heads, after they witness her workshops.
Shama has authored two books. In her first book titled ‘21 Ways of Being Happy’, she reminds the reader that it is in one’s own hand to overcome guilt, self pity, regret, anxiety and other mental-emotional barriers that one builds around oneself that drives happiness away. According to her, happiness can be defined as the ability to be in love and at peace with oneself every minute of consciousness, whatever circumstances one may experience.
She believes that as human beings, we are bound to have ups and downs in life and hence, believing in the terms like ‘a state of perpetual happiness’ creates unnecessary pressure on our Being. Instead of seeking that perpetual happiness, she reinstates the art of embracing one’s self, even at the times when happiness seems long lost.
Her second book ‘Alfaaz (Between Love & the Beloved)’ include poems, shayaris and nazms that celebrate love, passion, longing, unfolding the richness of human heart.
Shama is an ardent believer in the trinity of the Body, Mind and Soul and her practice and writing strongly reflects this philosophy
Tell us about yourself, your background and what you do currently:
It’s funny how each time someone asks me in an interview to tell something about myself, I know the identities I have been carrying and yet, each time I am asked that question, I allow myself to dwell deep on this aspect of ‘myself’. It’s like I continue to be same and yet growing & evolving at so many levels that words often don’t do justice to describing that Self:)
I was born and brought up in a small town of Wardha, where I feel I lived an uncomplicated life. Even at times when things were tough, it didn’t seem out of place! Its like being in a small pond where you get so used to things around that you don’t realize if you are settling for less or more. It was in 2002, when our family moved to Bangalore that I realized how lost I was! From being in a place where everything was familiar, friends around, Hindi & Marathi were flaunted, to being in a city where everything seemed different – the clothes, the culture, the people, the language (I did not know how to communicate in English as a primary language) – The change shook me completely, and it definitely did not seem positive at that time! You know the old saying ‘whatever happens, happens for good’?
Yeah, it did not feel good at all. To add to my so called trauma, it was my 12th board year when we moved. And as I say, sometimes the Universe loves to pull our leg just when we begin to feel we are losing the entire leg all together, I failed in my 12th board exam. In those days, at least in my head, failing in board exam wasn’t a small thing. Even though I hated Science stream with all my being, I had taken up Science after 10th because all my friends were taking up science and I didn’t want to be the one who was left out.
Even though I was good in fine arts, I didn’t take it up because it was a trend that anyone who didn’t get in science, commerce and/or have percentage below 45, took up Arts. To add to it, in Wardha (then), arts was only about fine arts and home science. I didn’t even know there’s something called Psychology as an option under Arts. So, when I decided to follow the herd, taking PCMB combination and moved to Bangalore, it was like I pushed myself with my own hands to fall off the cliff.
That entire year was a time when every wound, every scar and every shadow aspect of myself surfaced and I didn’t have any tools to cope with this chaos. I eventually cleared the supplementary (Math) exam and took up Arts for my graduation, opting for Psychology as one of the subject. It was in the first year when I encountered a person who was studying Counselling and asked me if I could be her subject for a project she was doing. That encounter came like a blessing and I ended up pouring every bit of my helplessness in those therapy sessions.
It was then that I discovered there’s something like Counselling Psychology that exists and it was then that I decided to be on the other side of the table and do exactly what she was doing – assisting others in healing their precious self.
Its been since then that I started believing in embracing my own scars and continuing to assist others in embracing their scars. Its this journey of becoming a Therapist that taught me how to value differences & embrace the uniqueness in every experience and beings. It was this journey that taught me the importance of standing up for myself and being my own knight & shining armour. I continued learning, growing, evolving, losing, falling and faltering in the later years of my life. Each time I tripped and fell apart, I allowed myself to patiently sit beside my ruined self, instead of demanding to dust myself up and be all strong about everything.
The following years brought out the writer in me and the book ’21 Ways of Being Happy’ came into existence (in 2015), where I shared ‘how’ I journeyed from being ashamed of my vulnerabilities to wearing the same vulnerability as a medal.
It’s been eight years now that I have been contributing to Mental Health industry as a Psychologist. I am currently based out of Pune and consult client on regular basis. I also conduct mental & emotional well-being workshops across companies/organizations, assisting people in their well-being. I recently launched my second book titled ‘Alfaaz – Between Love & the Beloved’.
While my first book focuses on embracing the ‘Self’ with unconditional love, the second book is aimed at allowing readers to embrace the divine lover within that precious unique Self.
When I am not consulting or writing, I spend my time creating black & white sketches, mandalas, reading, and diving deeper into the realms of Self & Life:)
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
It started with lack of Self-belief. You know we all (or at least most of us) are brought up with this notion that we have to strive hard to be perfect, that we are not OK to begin with and have to continue achieving something or the other to be acceptable. Everyone, including we ourselves, we celebrate our existence when we achieve something (as per society’s or family’s standard) but, when we fail or falter or get lost, we hardly ever empathize with ourselves. One of my biggest challenge was that I continued to seek this acceptance & approval from everyone around me and in doing so, I often allowed myself to be the doormat. For a long time, I lived the belief that we have to do something to be worthwhile. Once I began to understand that it is me who’s been rejecting this self all throughout, the shift began. The biggest challenge then became the biggest lesson I’ve learnt in this life!
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
Falling in love with the best and the worst of my Being continues to be one of my greatest achievements. This achievement multiplied when I was able to share my journey with others through the book and it reached thousands of readers, where they shared their journey of embracing their unique selves after reading the book. Each time I feel there’s a shift in the way I accept and honour myself, my life, it gets added to my list of ‘greatest achievements’:)
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
I have always seen myself as a person who’s contributing and assisting people in their growth & transformation, bringing balance and love, both within and around. So I believe, the roles may change but the core of my purpose will remain the same, now and in the future. The doing has become the Being:)
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
The Universe! It has, and it continues to be my biggest inspiration.
What does the future hold for you?
I see myself contributing more in the field of Wellness & Mental Health, assisting humanity at large, in their journey towards well-being.