It’s okay…

I’d like to reiterate on the topic of toxic productivity that I discussed last week (you can click on the hyper-link to read the article). It’s a strange time for us all, it’s okay to feel the way you feel.

I’ll briefly talk about a few key components of emotional intelligence and how that’s relevant to us today. I’ll focus on why acceptance is key, how to ask the right questions and understanding how temporary this all is.

Acceptance

If you can master the art of acquiescence, you’ll truly find peace with all that happens in your life. Acceptance seems to work like a charm, yet it’s so difficult to attain.

One of the key aspects of self-awareness is learning to accept your emotions after you’ve acknowledged them. Learning to become present with your feelings and thoughts is a life-long process, but we’ve got to start somewhere.

Once you’ve learned how to accept a thought or feeling, it no longer holds any weight over you. It sounds incredibly simple, but it genuinely works. Some of you may have more serious circumstances, so it’s not necessarily an immediate remedy. But the concept itself still holds true. Learn to accept.

It’s okay to be confused. It’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay if you’re scared. It’s okay if you’re a little upset. It’s okay if you’re uncomfortable. It’s okay if your schedule is a bit messed up. It’s okay if you’re uncertain.

Don’t judge yourself. Don’t give up on yourself. Don’t think that this is the end. Our patience and resilience are truly being tested. Notice how your body reacts to those feelings and take in a few deep breaths.

Write it down. Accept it. Let it go.

We need to ask ourselves the right questions and gently work on our state of mind.

Questions

I’d like to offer you a few important questions again. Remember that questions are answers. If you can master the art of asking yourself the right questions, the answers will come finding you. That’s the power of your subconscious.

  • How am I feeling right now?
  • What can I do about this feeling?
  • Why am I finding it difficult to deal with this?
  • Have I always felt this way?
  • Is this temporary or permanent? Will I always feel like this?
  • How have I previously overcome difficult emotions?
  • What am I grateful for right now?

There are so many more important questions to ask, these are but a handful. Think of questions for yourself, aspects that are critical to your well-being.

Your mind works really well when you’re not constantly occupied. If you ask a question before going to bed or before going for a short walk, you’ll be amazed at how the subconscious processing works. Another cool exercise would be to answer these questions in a journal.

“Writing is closer to thinking than speaking.”

Temporary

Another incredibly important component of understanding emotions is that they’re temporary. If you contemplate on that fact, it naturally brings peace to your train of thought.

We too are temporary. We’re not going to be here forever. That is something that really makes me feel humble. Things are going to end soon. I may not know when, but I know it’s inevitable.

Meditate on how short-lived natural beings truly are. Everything is cyclic; change being the only constant. There’s no point swimming against the tide, we just need to focus on where it’s heading.

“Change is inevitable; resistance is futile.”

Everyone is on their own journey. Don’t compare yourself to the rate of other people’s growth. Focus on your own growth. Focus on helping others to your best ability.

It’s okay if you’re not okay. It’s okay if things aren’t going according to plan. It’s okay if you’re lacking motivation. We’re in a cocoon. We’re exactly where we’re meant to be. This is part of the healing process. Embrace it.

Don’t quit. Don’t lose hope. Don’t give in to your impulses. Stay strong. Stay present. Stay grateful. We’ll get through this; stronger, smarter and more resilient than ever before.

5 tips to help you with tough decisions

When was the last time you were stuck making a difficult choice? Do you feel like there’s a decision that will change the rest of your life? There’s always going to be a point in our lives when we’re going to have to make a sacrifice between several options, to move forward.

This post will deal with how to approach difficult decisions. Not in the sense where you’ll figure out exactly what to do, but rather a guiding tool to help you understand your situation better.

Better awareness, leads to better choices which ultimately leads to better result. So let’s try and enhance our self-awareness skill-set. I’ll dive into asking the right questions, starting with why, walking, then finding time to sit with your thoughts, praying & writing.

It’s like another collage of all my favourite topics. But again, reminders are extremely important, especially when you can use the concepts in every aspect of your life.

1-Ask the right questions

Questions are the answer. Every thought you have is a result of some question you’ve asked yourself. Once you realize the impact that has on you, you’ll be able to start asking yourself better questions.

I’ll give a few examples of what you can ask yourself in face of difficult decisions, but you should try and find what works best for you. Use them according to your own needs & circumstances.

  • Will this be in line with my values?
  • Why am I doing this?
  • Will this help me serve others?
  • What do I feel passionate about?
  • If I were to die tomorrow, will this really matter?
  • What impact do I want to have on the world?

Ask those questions relative to the options you have & use the most relevant answers to guide you.

I know some of these questions are rather vague, but you shouldn’t be expecting an immediate answer either way. It’s about giving yourself something to ponder over, and assisting your intuition to serve you.

2-Start with why

Another key aspect that directly relates to questions, ask yourself why you’re doing this. Find out the root cause of your indecision. Remember that the Golden Circle has 3 components, as introduced by Simon Sinek.

If both decisions are in line with your WHY, then you’ll have to do a lot more work. This would require some introspection and self-awareness. This comes in the form of meditation (or sitting in stillness) and journalling.

3-Go for a walk then sit in stillness

Walking as many of you may already know, is one of the healthiest habits to have. Not only does it serve as a mild form of exercise -which in itself has tremendous benefits- but it also does wonders for the brain.

Walking specifically helps you digest thoughts, get more creative, and deeply reflect. These mental benefits can’t be attributed to other forms of intense exercise (such as gyming or running), as those will distract your mind.

After giving yourself a topic to ponder over, go on a 15-20 minute walk (preferably in nature). When you’re back, find a safe space to sit in stillness. This would also be a lot better if you’re surrounded by nature.

Allow thoughts to come and go, without judgment or force. Focus on your breath initially, to immerse yourself in the present moment. Then allow yourself to reflect over the decisions you need to make.

You can also use your previous experiences to help you with the thought process. We’re feedback machines. We’re constantly learning from our mistake (hopefully), and using that knowledge to make better decisions in the future. So think of aspects in your life where you needed to make tough decisions and reflect on how it turned out.

4-Identify pros, cons and alternatives

Part of your introspection can include identifying the pros and cons in your decisions. Don’t dive too deeply into this, but use it to see if a certain decision would be far better than the others.

We often hold onto a tunnel vision and see things from one point of view. Look for alternatives (if possible) and try to identify other perspectives.

Asking people for advice can also work, but don’t rely too much on their opinion. Remember that it’s you who’ll have to live with the decision for the rest of your life (no pressure).

5-Pray, write & choose what feels right

Pray for guidance and constantly remember your purpose in life. We haven’t been created randomly. We’re here to each serve a cause greater than ourselves.

Time and time again, I bring up the notion of death. That’s because this life isn’t going to last forever. Don’t give decisions too much weight over you. There’s always room for learning and forgiveness.

Keep a tab of your thoughts by writing in a journal. This will allow you to easily notice patterns and aspects of your life that you wouldn’t otherwise see. It also gives you a bird’s eye point of view, seeing yourself from a completely different perspective.

At the end of the day, choose what feels right. The aforementioned tips will only serve as guide to help your intuition.

There’s no right or wrong. Life is full of lessons. Whatever you end up choosing, embrace it fully and live your best life. We can’t determine the outcome, but we can always choose our response. So choose optimism. Choose growth. Choose to learn.

Now is all we have, so let’s be thankful for that and strive to contribute to our best ability.

Thinking out loud ~1

So I’ll take a different kind of approach here. Not any sort of book review, rather just a post where I’ll blab out some thoughts. “Writing is closer to thinking than speaking”. That’s a quote ingrained on one of my journals. Quite true I’d say, things are much clearer when you get to write it out.

If you think about it, every time you write something, you’re just narrating a story of some sort. When I read back over previous journal entries, it made me realize how much of a time-machine it is. The story is always remembered in some vivid way.

Speaking of memory, whenever we think of past experiences, the version of the story slightly alters. That’s purely because, the less you think about a certain experience or event, the less likely it is to stay in your mind. Kind of like an old trail, if it isn’t used enough, it’ll get covered up. Just realizing how easy it is for us to re-wire our own neurons. However, certain experiences do trigger a longer-lasting memory, especially if they’re unpleasant. We could go on for quite a while about this, but let’s move on.

Getting back to narrating a story. I recently joined something called the Student Leadership Program at UCT, which is essentially a weekly course on becoming a better leader in your community. The first session I attended was about thinking through your own story (and leadership). A few of my peers from the program went up to speak about their story, which I found incredibly inspiring and motivational.

We all have a story, whatever that means to us. What I realized while I was trying to articulate my own story and listening to others, was how important it is to have some sort of self-awareness.

Being self-aware enables us to see the patterns within our self, that may or may not be serving us. Identifying with our own journey is something vital, because we need to have some sort of driving force. If we don’t know where we’re going, we’re never going to reach the destination.

I believe that if we can start asking ourselves the right questions, it’ll automatically allow us to reflect on what matters most to us. Let me just jot down a few:

  • Who am I?
  • What are my key values?
  • What is my purpose?
  • Where am I going in this current direction?
  • What am I trying to achieve?
  • What do I believe in?
  • What is the impact I want to have on the world?
  • How can I be of service to others?
  • How do I want to be remembered?
  • Why do I care about certain people?
  • Am I surrounding myself with people who encourage and motivate me?
  • What is the greatest ideal of myself that I can be today?
  • Why am I here?
  • How can I learn from this?
  • How can I do this better?

Some of these questions might be a little foreign or even ‘too deep’, but they’re critical to having an idea of our own story. When we spend time thinking about these things, we’ll start getting answers we didn’t even realize we needed. This will be probably be through the change of habits and behaviours; unconsciously.

These are also questions that aren’t static, they’re dynamic and continuously evolving. We’ll never have the same answer to those questions everyday, because our story changes each and everyday.

The more experiences we have, the more we’re exposed to, the more interactions we engage in, the more we’ll inevitably change. Don’t forget that we’re just a bunch of neurons firing different pathways. Those pathways are re-constructed with every single thought!

“Reasons reap benefits.”

I didn’t intend on making this a long post, just wanted it to be something quick and meaningful. I hope I’ve managed to offer you a different perspective.

Ask yourself the right questions, and the answers will become clearer and clearer. When we have a better sense of where we’re going, we’ll find more effective ways to get there. So think about your story more often, and allow yourself to be. We’re all here momentarily, so let’s make it legendary.