The universe is so much bigger than me. I humble myself before that realization. The more inward I look, the less my situation matters and the shorter I dwell on thoughts of insignificance. I am part of something much bigger than myself or you. If I have ever been upset about something, it doesn't boil up inside of me or lie dormant...I have it let go. Today. Moving Forward. Winning introvert life.
Conflict and fear do not reside within me. You radiate that which is within you...not that which is within others.
It's not time to hide. It's time to survive and thrive with your head held high the entire time. Through chaos, uncertainty, fear, and disappointment lies opportunities that can benefit all people. Let us not bury our heads. Don't abandon your ship because you can't see the horizon. Be a visionary and become the master of your fate, become a more skillful sailor, and even pick up a few people lost at sea and teach them how to sail. Then one day the horizon will be in plain sight again. Let us all rise and be our best. And remember, when in doubt, be the change you want to see in the world.
Watching the show Extreme Weight Loss, Bob, a former football player and current police officer hadn't weighed 220 lbs since he was 14 but he was up for the challenge. He lost 228 pounds in nine months and proved that the near impossible was indeed possible even when enduring a knee surgery during those nine months. Mental and physical grit got him there. As I rang in 2017, this testimony reminded me of all the people who have told me that I put too much on my plate, that my goals are too aggressive, and that my goals must be conservative. I have been guilty of telling others these things too. Fear drives us to doubt our abilities, set small goals, engage in comparative thinking, stumble on mental blocks and lose focus when truly transformational opportunities present themselves. Weight gain is an adversity for many, financial debt is an adversity, being in an abusive or unfulfilling relationship is a adversity....we face so many adversities. My wish for you...and for myself...in 2017 is that we will swallow your pride and tackle some areas of adversity in our lives with an unprecedented fervor. The word fervor means an intense and passionate feeling...it's possessing passion, intensity, earnestness, enthusiasm, excitement, energy, zest, or FIRE in our approach to accomplishing the impossible. If you want something bad enough, there are NO excuses. And when our Chris Powell shows up to motivate us, let us not turn them away Instead, let us hold ourselves accountable to them and thank them for their willingness to be there by our side as we tackle our adversities. In 2017, I am determined to be a better writer, to share more, to be a better partner, friend, mentor, example, and mother. I am committed to healthy eating and fitness. I commit to loving myself more and to tackling the self destructive habits I engage in. Join me in living in the present and making each day in 2017 a day where we believe in ourselves and one another a lot more.
My health is both within my control and in control. I can maintain this through intentional acts. I can achieve fitness beyond any previous state. I will not limit myself. I will not make excuses. I will make better choices. I will prioritize myself for this is no one's responsibility but mine alone. I will not hide behind peer pressure, comfort, self doubt, laziness, being busy, getting older, and other unspoken fears and barriers.
What is best for me is already on its way to me. I move in confidence into my destiny through the peaks and valleys. Whenever life has shown me challenges, it has also presented opportunity. When life has shown me opportunity, it has shown me the needs of others. I claim and share my abundant blessings.
Ms. Nora has been busy moving around tonight...which has me thinking trying to get back into the gym. Just haven't had the energy to get back into it. This pregnancy I haven't had the morning sickness like most people think - but the extreme fatigue has been kicking my butt. I have never been so tired in my life and sometimes I wish for the energy but I know that my body needs the rest. I do the best that I can with what I have. Reminds me of when my ex told me I needed to get into better shape to be pregnant. While I am sure it is a good idea to be in good shape when you do conceive, I am not in horrible shape and I felt so depressed/defeated in that moment - body image is a major issue for most women I know. It was a low life moment for me for sure but it made me grateful for the man I have now who has never doubted the timing of our blessing. At my healthy weight, this isn't about whether or not I can bounce back into model shape so a man can look at me with lust and desire after childbirth. It is about trying to eat healthy and keep my mind in a positive state despite the mental and physical fatigue I must overcome on a daily basis. It's about the miracle of life and the opportunity to impact/shape a new life in a way that I hope will be a positive and net gain for the world.
Does your paved road lead you to places of fear, stress and worry or to happiness? When we decide to practice gratitude in place of expectations, we can focus on the present instead of a place that does not exist. Let go of suffering immediately by stepping back and recognizing what is going on. Obsession with self causes suffering (frustration, guilt, fear, stress) because in this state when you think you will be less than due to something that occurs. Life is too short to feel sorry for yourself, to be angry, to be sad, to be guilty, to blame yourself or to blame others. You can't make real change or progress in those states. Being grateful is a survival framework for the toughest of times. Consistently find something to appreciate. Trade expectations for appreciations. Always come back to the moment of gratitude before you make important decisions so that you can be calm and collected. Navigate from places of ease. Care less and love more. Caring is fear based.
Do not be afraid to UPGRADE the decisions that set who you are and who you aren't. Spontaneously try experiences out of ordinary to create amazing and unexpected moments. Then decide to let these moments drive meaning into your soul.
Most people live lives in consistent and complete distraction...because it is easy...distraction from themselves because to think about who you are is hard and uncomfortable. They can't let go of people, possessions or experiences because then they'd feel alone and have to face themselves. If you keep doing what you have always done, you'll keep getting what you always got. Isolate yourself and discover your truth. For me, I enjoy the isolation because I like myself but, now, I struggle with connecting to people, possessions and experiences. Is this worse than not knowing my truth? What am I protecting my heart from? Perhaps I feel that if you are not even vulnerable with yourself, then you don't deserve to be vulnerable with me.
When we say everything is possible, that means that both evil and good are indeed possible. Some people view their evil acts as a path to good. I bring this up in context of trying to explain the violence and the racism that has been highlighted recently but that has always existed throughout the world. We struggle to explain it. We also cannot explain atrocities such as the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide.
What we can do is focus on individuals. We can focus on ourselves and rather than looking outward, we can look inward to ask a few simple questions. Have I evolved? Have I learned? Why must we divide our species like this? What is the cost to humanity of my thoughts and subsequent actions?
Eliezer Wiesel says we must always think higher and feel deeper. Where have your thoughts gone today - where do your thoughts go as you live? What do you do? The key is to simplify your thoughts and actions to small kind acts. Don't allow complicating thoughts to confuse you. You have a responsibility to simplistically act in manners that increase human survivability.
Start by simply saying or acting like you care. The moments I look back on the most (with regret) are the moments where I communicated to someone that I simply did not care. And in that moment surely they thought, does someone care? Does anyone care? The thought that you don't matter can lead you to think that you are invisible and your memory is non-existent to others.
With the recent violent events in the news, one might notice that death has become a business for news agencies. Death is sensational and everyone wants to have an answer, but what questions do recent events present YOU with? What do you ask yourself about yourself? Do you listen to the experiences of both sides? Do you watch the experiences of both sides? What do you choose to become a witness to? What do you claim as your answer? Do you engage in open discussion about the blatant indifference to anyone? Are you indifferent to others in your day to day experiences? Are you indifferent to anyone - the drug user, the felon, the poor?
Human beings matter and we all bear witness to the experience of the human being. We can all be a little less demanding and a little more caring. Every moment is the beginning of something and we can choose in each moment to be a part of something good. We can think higher and feel deeper.
Being everything for someone or multiple people can sometimes feel like being the nothing for yourself. Do you know someone who is empty and abuses the meaning of love is selfless and the meaning of love is not selfish? They stretch it to mean you will also have to make up for all the areas they have failed to do the work in. You may notice that this person is always unhappy no matter what you do. They seem unfulfilled and always left wanting more. Is it you?
So see, when you are alone sometime, ask yourself - who am I? What makes me happy? What about myself am I unhappy about? Answer the questions relative to you - not anyone else. Then establish an action you can take to address your area of unhappiness. You may need to write several actions for more than one area.
I am a beautiful, confident, intelligent, and determined woman.
I am happy when I take walks.
I am not happy when I don't take a little time for myself.
I will schedule time outs for myself for at least one hour per week.
Put yourself in the driver's seat.
You could have said - I am a wonderful wife and mother. I am happy when I spend time with my husband. I am not happy when my coworker tries to boss me around. I will find a new job.
But that's too relative. Take control back and do the work. No one can replace the lack of self love.
Sometimes I feel like running away from everything good. Some days my vision doesn't extend past my singular thought. The responsibility is too big - too grand for my comprehension most days. My to-do lists keep getting rewritten. I keep coming to the edge of missing deadlines. The bills stack up and the spending bleeds. I hide. Everything is on the edge of falling over. It's a real game of Jenga where you try to pull something out to see what happens to me. You ask me to prioritize things differently because it will make you feel better about my choices. You make yourself feel better. My existence motivates some and disgusts others. I choke on my history and admire it too. My confidence rises and I push my insecurities down to my feet. In painful moments, I crush them. I stand tall in the midst of doubters because you have no idea where the veil is or how think it is. I am in your blind spot. You see my reflection.
I do not lie but I do not tell. The judgment comes from those closest when trouble walks through the door. The thought of my offspring suffering bothers me most. But it bothers others in a way that makes them question my best. I own my best but it is a derivative of everyone I have encountered passively or actively. My best is not your best but you mind my business so you judge me.
Why don't you just take my hand, join me in honesty about your struggles, your vulnerabilities, and your TRUTH? In the midst of all of this, your confidence can still rise to the top and we can walk instead of run. We cannot race to the finish because that point is unknown. We can walk steadily moment by moment in the open knowing that even if judgment points in our direction, our best moment is now. No my best moment is now and you must mind your own business lest you run and miss your own best moment.
In Lean In: Women, Work, and The Will To Lead, Sheryl Sandberg discusses seeking and speaking our truth. She expresses hope that someday the expression of authentic emotion can in fact identify natural leaders. Recently, I took a break from writing because I was afraid to write about the experiences I had been having. Even in the workplace I was afraid to discuss them. Coworkers and friends saw me teared up for many days over the past two months and inquired why. There were times where I either broke down or came close to doing so when I normally would not have.
At this point, what I am willing to say is that someone close to me passed away and someone close to me desired to die. In the two months that I experienced these two very serious things, I also gained a promotion at work, watched a good friend get married, another friend had a baby, a niece was on the verge of arrival, I continued the best relationship of my life, and enjoyed a 10 day vacation (just to name a few positive experiences). We often hear others say that life is about balance and while I believe that to be true, sometimes experiences remove that balance for a period of time. Are we more vulnerable to judgment when we are off balance? Absolutely.
What most people are not willing to admit is that the line between our personal and professional lives is often blurred. We are encouraged to keep them separate and to not be vulnerable at work. I was encouraged when I read about choosing authenticity over perfection and showing up with your whole self. To build meaningful relationships with other human beings, we have to share the meaningful parts of ourselves. We must be empathetic, honest, and vulnerable.
Barbara Kingsolver says that "the very least you can do in your life is to figure out what to hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope".
I hope that I can continue to exist in places of vulnerability without judgement. I hope that the whole me can show up most of the time and be accepted. I hope that I am able to share the most meaningful parts of myself with benefit to myself and others. I hope that my authentic communication and my truth makes me the natural leader I long to be and that all of my efforts serve to positively benefit others.
The society we live in is largely unforgiven...it is a society that wants people to live in their past of wrongs forever...to continuously suffer until the day they die. But the truth is that most wrongs/mistakes are not even known or admitted. And none of us deserve to suffer for a lifetime as a result of our wrongs. We all deserve a chance at our redemption so that anyone who should make a mistake has hope of still creating a better version of themselves.
We never ask ourselves - what did that person experience that contributed to that mistake? That never matters...all that seems to matter is that they made the mistake. The story of Shaka Senghor highlights what is within the realm of the possible for the majority of people who have made a mistake.
I myself am unwilling to admit all the mistakes I have made. So, who am I to judge others whose mistakes are in the open?
Shaka describes solitary confinement as an experience that will literally crush the human spirit. Think about the ways you crush the human spirit. What drives this behavior? Is it laziness, selfishness, greed, fear, the need for control?
Should we be more willing as a society to give others a clean slate or a second chance? If you believe in forgiveness or you believe in God being the ultimate judge, then why do you support the practice of peoples' mistakes being penned into their lives for an eternity so that a mistake made in a period of seconds crushes their spirit for years, even decades over and over again? Does it have to get PERSONAL for us to care about changing this status quo? Or is it easier to just look for a way out to say that people who make mistakes don't deserve the same chances we are afforded?
Read about Shaka Senghor's life - read his testimony - open your eyes - challenge your perspective.
While watching Nightline, I watched a segment on the website about www.wherewhitepeoplemeet.com. It got me thinking of how I met my ex-fiance. It was on the dating website Plenty of Fish. On this site, you can filter matches based on religion, body type, race, age, sexual orientation and other factors. Many people turn to online dating to find love nowadays. It may not be your style, but it does work for many people. After four years of dating, I realize now that perhaps it was that initial filtering that made us incompatible - those things I had established filters with weren't actually important to me, but they remained emphasis items throughout that relationship. Even when the initial signs of incompatibility were present, I still went back for more - more control, negativity, depression, judgment, etc.
Without any connection to these men, I decided to initiate online contact in an effort to find love purely based on a filter and photos. Now I know that for me, establishing a connection and then pursuing love based on that connection is best.
With some mistakes made, some self compassion administered, a long transition and some lessons learned, I moved forward with my life. A break up doesn't have to set you back - it can launch you forward. I learned that from previous relationships.
Today, I am with someone who makes me very happy and I didn't use a filter to find him. I knew him for several years prior to dating him and had a connection outside of romanticism. He would have never been included in the filter I had established before...not one of the 100s of men that I searched through online to find "true love". After a year of dating, we have a high degree of compatibility for many reasons that cannot simply be detected by a filter. For that, I am joyful and grateful.
Replace the fear of the unknown with curiosity which is the beginning of discovering and knowing the truth. Have an appetite for seeking and wondering.
My curiosity throughout my life has taught me so many lessons and brought me so much joy. Do not lose your inner kid spirit.
As you live each day, look for signs, paths, off ramps, shortcuts, scenic routes, and newly paved roads. You do not have to just stay on the straight and narrow path. Trust the timing of unlikely events. Do not be afraid to go off the normal highway; you never know what you might find. Do the work all along to prepare yourself for the good and bad that could happen and take acceptable risks.
Much of my inspiration to write and share with others can be traced back to my rural Mississippi roots. Hearing the story of Oseola McCarthy in the 9th grade was memorable. I hope it will inspire you as much as it inspired me to work hard. The article below is from The Philanthropy Hall of Fame.
Oseola McCarty was born into the world in 1908, and it was a raw start. She was conceived when her mother was raped on a wooded path in rural Mississippi as she returned from tending a sick relative. Oseola was raised in Hattiesburg by her grandmother and aunt, who cleaned houses, cooked, and took in laundry.
As a child, Oseola would come home from elementary school and iron clothes, stashing the money she earned in her doll buggy. The three women relied completely on each other, and when the aunt returned from a hospitalization unable to walk, Oseola dropped out of sixth grade to care for her, and take up her work as a washerwoman. She never returned to school.
“Work became the great good of her life,” explained one person who knew her. “She found beauty in its movement and pride in its provisions. She was happy to have it and gave herself over to it with abandon.”
McCarty herself put it this way: “I knew there were people who didn’t have to work as hard as I did, but it didn’t make me feel sad. I loved to work, and when you love to do anything, those things don’t bother you. . . . Sometimes I worked straight through two or three days. I had goals I was working toward. That motivated me and I was able to push hard. . . . Work is a blessing. As long as I am living I want to be working at something. Just because I am old doesn’t mean I can’t work.”
And hers was not a standard-issue job. McCarty scrubbed her laundry by hand on a rub board. She did try an automatic washer and dryer in the 1960s, but found that “the washing machine didn’t rinse enough, and the dryer turned the whites yellow.” After years of boiling clothes and then doing four fresh-water rinses, that wasn’t good enough to meet her high standards. The machine was almost immediately retired, and she went back to her Maid Rite scrub board, water drawn from a nearby fire hydrant, and 100 feet of open-air clothesline.
Asked to describe her typical day, McCarty answered:
“I would go outside and start a fire under my wash pot. Then I would soak, wash, and boil a bundle of clothes. Then I would rub ‘em, wrench ‘em, rub ‘em again, starch ‘em, and hang ‘em on the line. After I had all of the clean clothes on the line, I would start on the next batch. I’d wash all day, and in the evenin’ I’d iron until 11:00. I loved the work. The bright fire. Wrenching the wet, clean cloth. White shirts shinin’ on the line.”
This extraordinary work ethic, pursued straight through to her retirement at age 86, apparently produced results her customers appreciated. In 1996, Hattiesburg businessman Paul Laughlin wrote that “I know one person who still has several shirts that were last cleaned almost two years ago by Miss McCarty. He says that he does not intend to wear them; he just takes them out periodically to look at them and to enjoy the crisp fabric and its scent.” McCarty, concludes Laughlin, was a walking object lesson “that all work can be performed with dignity and infused with quality.”
“Hard work gives your life meaning,” stated McCarty. “Everyone needs to work hard at somethin’ to feel good about themselves. Every job can be done well and every day has its satisfactions. . . . If you want to feel proud of yourself, you’ve got to do things you can be proud of.”
Shortly after she retired, McCarty did something that made many Americans very proud of her. She had begun to save almost as soon as she started working at age eight. As the money pooled up in her doll buggy, the very young girl took action. “I went to the bank and deposited. Didn’t know how to do it. Went there myself. Didn’t tell mama and them I was goin’.”
“I commenced to save money. I never would take any of it out. I just put it in. . . . It’s not the ones that make the big money, but the ones who know how to save who get ahead. You got to leave it alone long enough for it to increase.”
Of course that requires self-control and modest appetites. “My secret was contentment. I was happy with what I had,” said McCarty.
These sturdy habits ran together to produce McCarty’s final secret. When she retired in 1995, her hands painfully swollen with arthritis, this washerwoman who had been paid in little piles of coins and dollar bills her entire life had $280,000 in the bank.
Even more startling: she decided to give most of it away—not as a bequest, but immediately.
Setting aside just enough to live on, McCarty donated $150,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi to fund scholarships for worthy but needy students seeking the education she never had. When they found out what she had done, over 600 men and women in Hattiesburg and beyond made donations that more than tripled her original endowment. Today, the university presents several full-tuition McCarty scholarships every year.
"I can’t do everything. But I can do something to help somebody. And what I can do I will do."
Like a lot of philanthropists, McCarty wanted the satisfactions of giving while living. And she succeeded. The first beneficiary of her gift, a Hattiesburg girl named Stephanie Bullock, was president of her senior class and had supportive parents, but also a twin brother, and not enough family income to send them both to college. With her McCarty Scholarship, Bullock enrolled at Southern Miss, and promptly adopted McCarty as a surrogate grandmother.
Like a lot of philanthropists, McCarty felt a powerful impulsion to act in her home region. When asked why she picked Southern Miss, she replied “because it’s here.” The campus (though she had never visited) was located just a couple blocks from her home.
Prior to making her gift, Oseola’s one long trip had been to Niagara Falls. Here is her recollection:
“Law, the sound of the water was like the sound of the world comin’ to an end. In the evening we spread blankets on the ground and ate picnic dinners. I met people from all over the world. On the return trip, we stopped in Chicago. I liked it, but was ready to get back home. I missed the place where I belonged—where I was needed and makin’ a contribution. No place compares to the piece of earth where you have put down your roots.”
Like a lot of faithful philanthropists, Oseola McCarty was forgiving. Reminded that the university she was giving her money to had been white-only until the 1960s, she answered with equanimity: “They used to not let colored people go out there. But now they do. And I think they should have it.”
Like a lot of philanthropists, Oseola McCarty had a strong and virtuous character and good habits. She lived frugally, walking almost everywhere, including more than a mile to get her groceries. When she stayed in a hotel for the first time after coming to public attention, she made the bed before checking out.
In addition to the dignity of work, McCarty’s satisfactions were the timeless ones: faith in God, family closeness, and love of locale. One friend described McCarty’s faith as “as simple as the Sermon on the Mount, and as difficult to practice.” She was baptized at age 13, dunked in a local pond while dressed all in white (a mixed blessing for someone who washed her clothes by hand).
“I start each day on my knees, saying the Lord’s Prayer. Then I get busy about my work,” McCarty told one interviewer. “You have to accept God the best way you know how and then He’ll show Himself to you. And the more you serve Him, the more able you are to serve Him.”
“Some people make a lot of noise about what’s wrong with the world, and they are usually blamin’ somebody else. I think people who don’t like the way things are need to look at themselves first. They need to get right with God and change their own ways. . . . If everybody did that, we’d be all right.”
Like a lot of philanthropists, Oseola McCarty knew that giving is its own pleasure. When a journalist from People magazine asked her why she didn’t spend the money she’d saved on herself, she answered with a smile that thanks to the pleasure that comes from making a gift, “I am spending it on myself.”
“I am proud that I worked hard and that my money will help young people who worked hard to deserve it. I’m proud that I am leaving something positive in this world. My only regret is that I didn’t have more to give.”
Like a lot of philanthropists, McCarty hoped to inspire others to similar acts. And she did. In addition to the local outpouring that more than tripled her endowment, cable TV mogul Ted Turner decided to donate a billion dollars to charity after hearing her story. He was quoted in the New York Times saying, “If that little woman can give away everything she has, then I can give a billion.”
And like a lot of philanthropists, Oseola McCarty knew she didn’t have to save the whole world. She cast her buckets down and fixed what was at hand. “I can’t do everything. But I can do something to help somebody. And what I can do I will do.”
Recently at a lunch to celebrate Black History Month, a choir sang a simple but powerful song by Israel Houghton "Going to Another Level".
The lyrics are minimalist: I'm going to another level. Don't stop reaching. Keep believing. Come on. We're going to another level. Don't stop pressing for your blessing. Come on. We're going to another level. Gotta keep pressing on.
It got me thinking...what if this was my response to life? What if I encouraged everyone, those for me and those against me, to take it to the next level?
The next level is subjective for everyone, but the point is that we can encourage one another to make progress towards positivity. This might require some work on our part...we may have to work hard to get to the next level. But sometimes, a little encouragement is exactly the boost we need. Sometimes a little constructive criticism is the boost we need.
It is about using WHATEVER you are given to advance yourself for the better. This is not a selfish act but rather a selfless act. No one may ever recognize your improvements but you have to keep pressing on, keep believing in yourself, and keep reaching. Say it and mean it - I am going to another level.
The pufferfish is the second most poisonous vertebrate in the world. Some organs of the fish, such as the liver, are extremely toxic, and can be deadly. The poison in the fish, known as tetrodotoxin, can cause numbness, high blood pressure, and muscle paralysis, which is what leads to death as the diaphragm muscles become paralyzed, disabling breathing.
Pufferfish cannot be found in the United States but many in Korea as well as Japan find some parts of the fish to be delicacies (as fugu).
Why am I writing about pufferfish?
Some people in our lives are pufferfish. No matter how we treat them, they will be toxic to us. They will numb us, paralyze us, and can even kill us. We simply lack the patience for processing them or cannot learn the proper technique.
Do not be afraid to let these people go. You may have caught them on accident but rest assured, there is someone in the world who will be happy to consume them - they will even consider that person to be a "delicacy", the "one", the "best". You do not have to keep struggling.
We do not all have the time to specially process the pufferfish. Let someone else exhaust themselves through the careful processing of the pufferfish and present them as the perfect delicacy.
No needs to point out how close to toxicity those are who deal with the pufferfish are on a daily basis. Everyone knows it. Even in its beautiful state below, the puffer fish is in the shape of a Chrysanthemum, otherwise known in Japanese culture as the symbol of death.
In 2008, Lance DeViney said to me "Bhakti...well, despite how things might have been going, you often had a great smile and were a breath of fresh air."
It is amazing how quickly the compliments of others can fade away. Life starts to happen and someone comes into life and chases away the memories that should sustain us forever. It is true. There are so many people whose memories have lasted with me and this was not one until I looked back at some early Facebook posts. One good thing social media can do for us is create a time capsule of memories - good and bad of what others said to us and what we said to others.
It has been over 8 years since I have seen or talked to Lance DeViney, a experienced and respected engineer in my professional career field. Looking back on his simple words made me smile. During a period of my life when I was stationed overseas for the first time, newly married, extremely far from home, a new mother, learning a new job, achieving a masters degree amongst other new and strange things, I learned many hard lessons and I still managed to thrive. I always believed in the possibility of today and tomorrow.
This same spirit has carried me through some tough times - some self imposed and others simply endured. It is the idea that we keep trying no matter what. Regardless of what is going on or what has happened or what is about to happen, find a way to always learn and be excellent. Harness your meraki and find a way to survive and to live to thrive in another moment. Never give up!
When life is off balance, it is hard to enjoy it. Sometimes just the smallest action can reset things. More often than not, we refuse to awaken and act and then wonder why things have generally stayed the same or gotten worse. Tipping the balance in a positive direction requires mindfulness, self analysis and ego dismissal. Begin your balancing act now. In this moment, be more awake, aware, and unafraid than you have ever been. Look around you and assess your surroundings with clarity. Recognize whether someone or something is part of the solution or part of the problem. Then act. Time is of the essence....victims are dismissed, warriors welcome!
In Chapter 3 of Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg discusses the levels of likeability experienced by successful women. Unfortunately for most women, achieving great success comes at a cost to likeability. But as Mark Zuckerberg told Sheryl Sandberg in her first review "If you do please everyone, you aren't making enough progress".
What is important to you? How do you define success? Will being liked hold you back?
Women temper their professional goals so they can be liked by others. They question abilities they have worked hard to develop and they doubt the achievements they have earned as a result of their abilities.
Can women be both nurturing and competent? I argue that the role of nurturing may be applicable in the home but in the professional realm, competency is what should really count. Our minds are not programmed to separate the two.
How do you perceive a successful woman? What does she wear? What does she say? What does she do at work? At home? Do you like her or resent her?
One thing is certain. To increase our chances of success, we must develop the requisite competency and we must do the job. We must use criticism to motivate and correct our path. We must be open to jumping, taking risks, seizing opportunities, and creating opportunities around ourselves.
In Chapter 2 of Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg discusses the most common reaction of women to praise: self-doubt. Self-doubt is a form of self-defense. We doubt ourselves so we can beat others to the punch and so we can increase the odds of being liked. We shy away from praise due to feelings of guilt about the accomplishments we have worked so hard to achieve.
The #NowBelieveIt video shows how to respond differently and confidently to praise. Instead of underestimating ourselves, we can choose to believe the praise being offered and use it to propel us even further.
As women, we tend to attribute failure to a lack of ability and credit success globally. We have to learn to assess our abilities in a realistic manner Credit women for their achievements instead of always looking for all the external contributing factors.
Guide yourself with an affirmation:
I believe in my skills and abilities. Although I face scenarios that may stretch my capabilities, I am not always headed in a negative trajectory. My success comes from hard work. It also comes from help from others. I am grateful to those who give me opportunities and support me. I believe in myself! I will welcome those who encourage, promote and champion me and I will demonstrate this behavior towards others.
Challenge the notion that you are always headed in a negative trajectory. Be confident in taking risks and put yourself forward.
Sit at the table!
I am thankful to no longer be surrounded by chronic and destructive criticism. Looking back, constantly expending energy to protect my self esteem was exhausting over the years. Now I am free to pursue acts of compassion, happiness, self-love, and connections with positive friends and family. (2016 self realization)
Now how did I come to be in a place where I had to protect my self esteem and where negativity was a daily part of my life?
In my particular situation, I was romantically involved with an individual who was chronically critical and judgmental towards himself and others. I am not here to rehash all the ways he exhibited this behavior; generally it seemed that fault finding was his behavioral pattern. I am here to learn from this experience and share those lessons with you.
In order to sustain a happy life, you must establish and then protect your self esteem. I had to protect my self esteem during these difficult times. Everyone must protect their self esteem from the judgment that you and others impose provided they have established a sound and positive foundation of self.
At the time, I thought I had a healthy self esteem but upon further examination, I had some work to do to attain an optimal level of self love. Once I was no longer in this relationship, I felt free to be myself. Why did I stop being myself? In so many ways, I was trying to please someone else. While this can be an important mission, there is balance between pleasing someone and losing yourself.
In order to feel good about ourselves, we have to stop the habitual criticism of self and others. This can be difficult if we are closely involved with someone who exhibits this behavior. Incidentally, this guy also thought that others were always criticizing him or looking down on him. This is what he did to others and it was not true that everyone criticized him, or berated him, or wanted to somehow destroy him.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." But that is easier said than done. Some of us learned as children to reaffirm what people told us about ourselves. If our parents criticized us all the time, we then thought what they said was true and perhaps that habit has migrated to adulthood without you actually realizing it.
Make negative (nonconstructive criticism) irrelevant to your self-esteem. There is a reason it is called "self" "esteem". You must build yourself up! Every day, someone certainly can make us feel small but we must strive to stop the permanent endorsement of negative labels and judgments. Stop watching others and critiquing them! Stop enabling others to exhibit this behavior towards you. If you exhibit this behavior towards yourself, commit to changing. Insert a compliment for every criticism until you break the bad habit.
Certainly use constructive criticism and sound advice to become your best self. Surround yourself with people who drive you to be your very best. Don't be naive to the patterns in those you choose to surround yourself with. You can do this any number of ways but I recommend writing as an effective way to remember experiences and to connect the dots.
What happens when you are excited to embark on a journey and your family does not support you or even encourage you?
Your family and closest friends are the people you count on to be there for you no matter what. But sometimes, we have to take some personal steps and do things a little bit differently when we are embarking on a new and positive journey.
1) FIND A LIKE MIND. Seek out someone who is already doing what you want to do and ask them to be a mentor or adviser. At some point, this may turn into a friendship, but initially it just helps to talk to someone who knows what you are trying to do and can relate to it. They can be that positive sounding board you are looking for.
2) CHECK YOUR REACTION. Examine how you react to this lack of support and strengthen your inner core (your mind). Find a positive way to process the lack of support such as meditation, working out, etc. Remember you can't control their response but you can control yours! You will emerge a stronger person if you can negative inputs into positive outputs.
3) HONOR YOUR INTENTION. Write your thoughts down. By the time you are done writing, you will be in a better space to move forward. This also allows you to track the trends in someone's behavior towards you and your reaction to their behavior. Finally always write an intention for going forward at the end of each entry and try to keep this intention in mind for future interactions.
4) EMPOWER YOURSELF. Be decisive. Sometimes friends or family feel the need to help you make a decision and this can be confused with just supporting you. How many times have you told someone something and you just want them to listen instead of trying to always provide advice? Just make a decision and then discuss your decision. Make it abundantly clear what path you are on.
5) ELEVATE YOUR UNDERSTANDING. Try to understand why the person is behaving the way they are. It may have nothing to do with you and the sooner you understand that, the sooner you can frame their perspective as it relates to your journey. As a part of this, reflect on why you desire their support and if you really need it. Is a lack of self-love driving your need for support from others? Ask the hard questions. This understanding can help you change your approach to the important people in your life.
Ms. Bhakti Mary
I am an optimistic, positive, generous and driven author who is passionate about self-improvement.
The essence of who you are does not lie in the past. What matters is what you are willing to do NOW. You are the presence.