Lessons I’ve learnt from not having a Plan!

Featured Image -- 849

I’ve been a bit quite in the past months, while I’ve wanted to write, I instead took time to be a bit introspective. For the past 2 years I’ve been single, and have decided to be a bit more intentional about getting a better understanding of my personality. I’ve learnt so much, and I’m also very excited to see what comes next. I’ve always been the type of person who has a plan (5 yr, 10 yr, 15 yr…). Despite my best plans my life hasn’t worked out how I thought it would. With a bit of a mix of frustration and wanting to change things, I decided to forgo any new plans, and just live and see what happens. In the past that would have scared me to death, not having a plan is going against every fiber of my being. What’s remarkable is that first of all I’m still here, I haven’t succumbed to failure, and I’ve also learnt a lot more about myself and have rediscovered my faith along the way.

What is SUCCESS!

Everyone talks about being successful, yet we all have varying meanings for what success looks like to us. At it’s root success is a kind of a Social Agreement, in order for you to be successful, it doesn’t just depend on your definition; others have to agree with you. For me my success is tied to my childhood, and family upbringing. Although I consider myself as someone who follows his own decisions. My past also determines what I see as success, the messages I’ve heard as a child back home in Guyana play a big role in my definition. Despite what I may say, having a family of my own, having a stable career, are all tied into what I consider successful. For the past several years it’s been a bit of cognitive dissonance, I know what I want, but despite my best efforts I can’t seem to quite get there. For the first time in a long time, I feel as though I may finally have the tools and drive I need to push ahead.

Fear of Failure my Nemesis

I’ve been recently reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. In one of the chapters Brene talks about how shame and fear can hijack us. Sometimes it seems that my greatest enemy isn’t others, but how I think of myself. In my mind sometimes I ask “what will others think if…” That shame of letting others seem ME is sometimes paralyzing. Of course the other thought is “will they like or approve of what I have to say?” There’s a hidden danger to that type of thinking. For example when I first started this blog, it was because I saw how my words could encourage those close to me. So I thought that if I reach a larger audience, I can help and impact more people. Somewhere along the way I became more focused on whether I received any likes, or if anyone read or commented to my posts. So I stopped writing for a bit, at least until I can write based on my initial motive. I will admit that I’m not immune to other’s impression of me. I’m learning to not attach my self-worth to what others think, that seems a quick way to end up down the negative self-talk and depression roads. Sharing something that is special to me with others without regard for whether they like it is a way to be more authentic. I have to learn how to not let my worth be dictated by how others perceive me.

Not everyone will like or agree with you!

I tend to be a bit more logical in my thinking, I’m an INTJ on the Myers/Briggs if you follow those types of Personality Inventories. Making decisions based on emotional appeals doesn’t usually work on me. As a result I can seem a bit stubborn to most people, where others may have a strong emotional connection to a decision; I tend to be more logical and practical. With each passing moment and day, I think carefully about decisions I make. I decide what is best for me, and I know that others will disagree with me. I’m ok with that, afterall I’m making the best decisions for my life, while they’re doing what’s best for them. Of course the hope is that with those close to you those decisions will overlap.

(It was a few weeks since I originally started writing this post) I’d like to end with another quote from Daring Greatly

Perfection is the enemy of done.”

For me that means that regardless of whether I think this post is good enough, I should post it. I got the opportunity to visit New York for my lil sister’s Graduation, it’s funny that I still think of her as a little kid, but she’s a grown woman. Being back in New York, served several purposes. Of course the most important was to see my sister Graduate College. I also had a few brief moments where I was able to relish in the thought that, I’m at a stage in my life where I can take off for a few weeks to go to New York. Despite what I may think of myself, or my lack of career progress, I still have the time, energy, and resources to take trips like that. For that I’m grateful and feel blessed.

image

Advertisements

Ahh! If only I can do it all over again!

Hindsight

I think one of my best qualities is that I can be a bit of a Romantic, sorry but I don’t mean in the ‘give flowers’ or  ‘writing love ballads’ or even ‘saying sweet nothings into your ear’ kinda way. Well it’s not that I don’t like doing those things. I’m talking about the thing many of us do, we look to the future or back at the past, and we see things through those wonderful rose colored glasses. Where you said the right words, and got exactly the outcome you were looking for. You saw that cute girl/guy, came up with a witty comment, and now you have a date set for a few days. Of course reality looks a lot different, the witty thing got you blank stares, and worse yet, you don’t have a date set for next week. I’m talking about that kind of romanticizing. While it could be as a result of Movies, or Society, or my upbringing, or a whole range of things. I think it’s just another part of my personality, and it can me used for good or bad. Growing up back in Georgetown, and not the Brownstones of Washington DC, but in Guyana (please refrain from thinking I’m talking about Guinea in the continent of Africa). It was common for me to pass the day at the window at the front of our house looking out at the world beyond. This lead to not only my love of Airplanes, but my ability to look to the future, and imagine it in all it’s glory and potential. My imagination was my virtual playground, sometimes I wonder if I should have been an artist, but then again I was never good at using colors anyway. Today my life doesn’t look anything as I had imagined, I barely recognize myself. Sometimes I wonder if I’m watching a movie, and think that I’m going to wake up at any moment.

Would I really had done it differently!

I’m sure that this isn’t an isolated problem in my wild imagination, but something that most people recognize in themselves. I find myself thinking those famous words, “if only I had a chance to do it all again!” I found myself thinking about where I am today, and as if on que, I asked “what would I had done differently?” But that’s the joke isn’t it, that’s the fallacy we often find ourselves believing don’t we? The truth is that at the time, whether it turned out to be a good or a bad decision; I made the decision that was best at that time. Meaning that with all the information I had in front of me at the time, I made a calculated decision, and I went with it. So to say that if I could go back in time I would do it any differently, well that’s just a lie I’m telling myself. Even if I was to wake up tomorrow and be 10 years younger, would I know then what I knew today?

It’s idiotic to think that I some how decided to make a bad decision in the past, which led me here. When in reality I made a decision at the time based on all the facts. Now that I’m in the future, I can look back and see the product of my decision.

Am I doomed to repeat past mistakes!

My active imagination also works overtime, I find that I compare myself to other’s all the time. Sometimes it’s not even an active thought, but something that seems to have a mind of it’s own. I’ve mentioned in many posts that I’m not where I’d like to be. Meaning that @ 34 yrs old/young, I didn’t imagine I’d still be un-married, no children, no career to speak of. Then again I always did things at a different pace. With each day I’m growing and learning, while I do look back, experience is showing me that I’m making the best decisions I can. Looking back now I can say that I felt strong emotions about not taking the step I took. So I can say with certainty that I made the right decision, the truth is today I’m older and wiser. Given the same choices today, I know that I would do things differently, but that’s today. No use romanticizing about the past or the future, in the future I’ll know more than I did today, so those decisions will be different too. I can say that my life today is different than it was 1 year ago. I’m learning to forgive myself for past mistakes. While they serve as a reminder, and a testament to by growth, my past is just that. I’m thankful that I have the gumption to learn from my mistakes, and that I can stop myself from romanticizing too much about the past, to learn to be grateful for these moments I have.

Asking WHY isn’t the right question

I was not planning on including this section, but after reading a few posts, and reflecting from the Church sermon from this weekend. This section seems to add a few more layers. Thank you SingleStrides for your post that also coincided with what I was writing, and is a good segue to a conclusion. Tragedy, pain, and heartbreak are not isolated to some people, but it’s a shared experience we ALL have. Sometimes things happen and we ask WHY? I think it’s interesting that even though we as humans have a limited understanding, we try to explain away everything to just one finite answer. The problem is that sometimes there are so many treads and outcomes that results in something bad happening. I’ve learnt from my personal experience and those around me, that sometimes when we experience pain, it’s not always a direct result of our actions. What I have come to understand in my moments of reflection is that although I experienced pain, what came out of it made me stronger. In cases where I experienced personal pain or heartbreak, I was able to either connect better to my faith and core values, or I was put on the right path if I was off. Of course I recognize that this simplified explanation is exactly what I was talking about earlier, trying to make simple the complicated. Now what I’m not saying is “EVERYTHING happens for a reason.” Sometimes terrible thing happen and there is no explanation, why did someone have to die, why is there so much violence, hunger, etc in the world. Instead of focusing on the why, I’ve learnt through my experiences that focusing on whether a particular event is an opportunity for growth, is a better focus for my attention. An opportunity to increase in my faith, live closer to my Ethical Compass, or become a better version of myself. In some of those instances my prayers were answered, it’s just that I didn’t like the answer. I’ve also learnt that despite my own desires, I’m Exactly where I need to be. Of course there could have been so many other versions to my story, but today I’m here, and so are you. If you’re reading this and it resonates with you, then we’re both in the right place. It’s not really beneficial for me to question whether I’m where I should be. If I’m too busy asking questions, I’m not living, I’m not experiencing my full potential.

We only have this life to life right now, all we can do is our Best. If you approach each day giving it ALL that you’re capable of that day, no one can hold that against you. I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to share the same space with people who are out there living their lives. To those who don’t take no for an answer and let others define you. To my fellow bloggers, you’re an inspiration to me each day. To my friend S. yes you do inspire me, and I’m writing this because you kept nagging, pushing me to keep writing.

If you’re willing to Listen, Life is willing to Teach you

Last week a friend of mine wasn’t feeling so chipper, so I wanted to do something nice for her. We agreed to meet up at the end of the week, when both our schedules seemed to align. So the day came, and I wasn’t sure of exactly when we’ were meeting. You know how it is, you text someone, then when they respond it’s about something else. Before you know it you’re chatting, and important details get forgotten. Eventually I didn’t end up meeting my friend, we were definitely not on the same page about the timing. At first I was upset, because lately it seems our timing is always off, someone is always unclear about when we’re supposed to meet.

Sometimes it’s not always about ME!

While a communication faux-pas would be a great topic to write about, it’s not the focal point of what I learnt from that experience. I started by saying I wanted to do something nice for my friend, but at some point I made it about me. In my mind I was going into it with my own agenda. It had been some time since I’d seen her, and there were questions I had, and wanted to ask. So when we weren’t able to meet, I was upset, because I was feeling “why does this keep happening to ME?” While the timing was off, my friend no longer felt like being social, so this worked in her favor. So that brings me back to my central question. If it was supposed to be about her, about how to help improve her mood, how did it become about me? You see Life had a way of interjecting here, and I’m thankful for that. Had I met with my friend, the evening would have been about getting my questions answered, instead of listening to what she had to say. Of course men this is a critical lesson for you, sometimes a Woman just needs you to listen, sometimes it’s not about solving a problem. Sometimes she needs to FEEL like she’s been heard, and that you care about what she’s experiencing.

Your light shines through no matter what

As luck would have it, life wasn’t done giving me lessons this weekend. I’ve shared from time to time about my faith, it’s a central part of who I am, my guiding light. I’ve never liked those people who stand on their soap boxes and preach about what a sinner you are, it always seemed so judgmental and boastful. So when it comes to my faith, I take a different approach, if you ask me why I have certain views, I’ll tell you about how my faith has molded that view. I’m not comfortable in pointing out all of your flaws, because the reality is that I’m struggling to live my life a certain way everyday, and I do have my flaws and secrets. I mentioned in a few previous posts that I constantly doubt myself, I doubt my purpose and my influence on others to live a positive life. My roommate came to me last night because he felt that he needed to share something with me. Generally I’m the one sharing positive things, and inspiring others, so it’s a bit weird receiving it. What he had to say was that he can feel that I’m a positive person who has the ability to lead others in living a similar life. He wanted me to know that I’ve been a good influence, and that he can see my light shining through. I thought this was interesting, because as I said earlier, I haven’t been feeling so confident about myself lately. What this showed me though is that my values and beliefs that are at my core are strong. Despite how I may feel on the inside, on the outside I can can still influence and encourage others to live a positive life. As I think about that, it’s important to glean this key out from everything I’ve said:

“when you embrace who you are, others will see THAT, despite how you may feel about yourself.”

So what you ask? What’s the WIFM (what’s in it for me).

  1. If you’re doing something for someone else, make sure it’s about them. Sure you’ll feel good and get a benefit from helping your friend. However if it becomes too much about your needs, then you’re not serving your friend well. Try to be more about ‘what your friend would like have done to them’ (platinum rule) rather than ‘what would I like have done to me’ (golden rule).
  2. Despite how you may feel on the outside, what’s in your heart is what others actually see. So the good news is that others will see the real you, the bad news is that others will see the real you. Your light will always shine through especially when it’s dark.

I’d love to get some feedback, no seriously I’m asking for it! How will what I said change the way you interact with others. Are there any strategies you’d like to share on how you overcome this obstacle?

I’m Longing For…!

Optimist

 

I know the last time I wrote it may have been a bit unexpected, but part of living more authentically is being transparent; I wanted to be able to show what’s in my heart. Not to worry today I’m back to writing about things in the abstract, and I won’t be bearing my soul today. I think of myself as an optimistic person, I choose to focus on the good in life, and in people. There are times when I sit back and observe people, and I’m always fascinated, we are remarkable creatures. Whether you believe that we were created by a supreme being, or that all of this came from nothing, we are still very remarkable. Of the billions of stars, as far as we know today, Earth is the only planet that has life like we do, wow that means we are very remarkable. I suppose that I’m passionate about psychology because I think about this all the time. Look at all the amazing things the human mind has created, like this laptop I’m writing on, there are so many parts that have to come together to produce this product; and somewhere it was all in someone’s head. Although we are capable of so many great things, there’s still this driving force that drives us to create, to love, to build, and a deep longing for something. I’d like to take some time to expand and explore that, I think it’s a topic we don’t give much thought to. What drives us to do the things we do, what’s our motivation?

Our planet is filled with billions of people, of various origins and cultures, yet we all share that deep longing. At our core there’s a deep longing for relationships and that longing leads us to seek connection, to be understood, security, satisfaction, value to name a few. That deep longing by itself isn’t bad, it can compel us to do so many great things, but it can also manifest itself in destructive ways. When people don’t feel that connection they turn to many things like money, sex, drugs, alcohol. Like anything in life, even in moderation those things aren’t bad, but abusing them leaves you not only empty but physically hurt. Talk to anyone who is spiritual, and they’ll probably tell you that finding yourself, and doing what feels good to your soul is the only thing that comes close to filling that longing. Interestingly even religions don’t even fully satisfy that longing, because even with religion people still turn to things that are destructive.

So what’s the answer? Just as life is a journey that you’ll never find an end to; you just enjoy it as you go. I feel it’s the same with this deep longing, we’ll never be able to quite say we’re completely satisfied. Take myself, I’m currently on a path that I’ll be able to work on something I’m passionate about. I’m choosing to not let money be the deciding factor in my life, satisfaction with what I’m doing, and how much I can help others are my measures of success. Even on this path I may still long for things like a family, a better car, house and things like that. Accepting that I’ll not be fully satisfied, but taking the time to enjoy what I have seems like a better use of my time. To bring in some context, take Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, imagine a pyramid if you will, at the bottom is physiological needs, then safety, love and belonging, esteem, and lastly self-actualization. The needs at the bottom of the pyramid are basic needs, every human wants food, water, air, and want’s to feel safe. As you get higher on the pyramid you work on other needs. As we go higher on the pyramid we find things that help satisfy that deep longing, we are more easily satisfied with things at the top of the pyramid. I feel that many people struggle in life because they’re more focused on the bottom of the pyramid. Since it takes more of the things on the bottom to feel satisfied, they are constantly busy doing things, but yet they’re not satisfied with life.

By no means I can say that I’m even close to being self-actualized, but instead of spending all my time on the bottom. I’m choosing to put my energy on love and belonging and esteem, to be happy with who I am, and what I can do to make the world better. Life Hopeitself is hard, if you start working your way up from the bottom to the top, completing each level before you move on to the next, it’s possible to get stuck. Not having a house, or a car, or enough money to by food are really good reasons not to go higher. In contemplating my life and my purpose, I evaluated where I was on the pyramid, I’m still working on many of the safety needs. If I never move out of that area, does that mean I can never find what my purpose is? Contrary to that I believe that life offers us opportunities, it’s up to us if we take it. A few weeks ago I decided to quit my full-time job, ooh scary, but an opportunity was presented to me to still work to at the least pay my bills. I’ve also gotten an opportunity to take a course that’s directly related to the filed I wanted to go into. I have many people around me who have been providing me with emotional support to move forward. Quitting my job wasn’t a bad thing, all it did was create space, space that the Universe filled with things that intrinsically motivating to me. I think that’s incredible, sometimes we have to just get out of the way.

I can’t say that I’m completely satisfied, on a scale of eeh to satisfied, I’m definitely closer to being satisfied. If you know me, you’ll know that my personality doesn’t operate on any other level than 100%, feeling that I’m 50% on anything is a definite sign that I’m Glass half fullin the wrong place. So where am I? I want to become a Counselor/Life Coach, and I’m taking steps that leads in that direction. Will I ever become that, I don’t know, but I’m happy being in a position to help people with their life. Feeling that I have a purpose and my life has some meaning is enough to get me up in the morning. So I don’t have a family of my own, don’t have much money to my name, don’t have a career to show for, so what! Despite all those things, I’m happy with the current path I’m on, I’m taking time to enjoy the time I do have. I could have stayed in bed all day today, or go hiking, or for a drive, the possibilities are endless. Here I am writing this though, and it feels like a great use of my time, and just having time itself feels really good. I consider myself a well adjusted adult, and based on the various personality inventories I’ve taken, the data concurs with my thoughts! So my point is this, you could do many things to help fill that deep longing. Understanding that you’ll never be 100% satisfied, and enjoying the satisfaction you are able to experience, helps to live a happier life, besides it’s a lot less stressful living this way.