A feeling of having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong.
In Latin, “culpa” means guilt. You may have heard the term “mea culpa” (my fault).
Guilt can be an emotion that comes and goes, or stays based on when someone feels like they have (accurately or not) compromised their own standards of conduct.
Guilt can give rise to a feeling which doesn’t always go away easily and is driven by our conscience.
Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, described guilt as the result of a struggle between the ego and the superego.
Superego is the internalisation of cultural or traditional rules often taught by our parents and the ego.
RIGHT OR WRONG
To some extent it would be our elders, parents, mentors, teachers and eventually our own conscience that plant seeds of ‘good and bad’ and ‘right or wrong’ in our minds. We are taught a lot of things when we are young and while growing up. These concepts could be influenced by cultural, societal, generational, familial factors and more.
As adults, our own interpretations of these teachings lead us to apply the learnings to our lives and decisions.
It’s estimated that an average adult makes about 35,000 semi-conscious decisions every day (Source: UNCTV).
Most of these (small decisions) will be based on automated responses by our subconscious, but some of the bigger decisions could require more thinking, weighing up of factors and perhaps having to tap into our belief systems, values, situation analysis, past experiences and more.
Sometimes we make bad decisions, which by the way are retrospective, as I don’t think most of us do things when we think it’s a bad idea.
When we’ve done something and the result is good: “well done for being brave”; if the result is bad: “why am I so stupid, what was I thinking?”. These may be a familiar chatter in our heads, with many of us having tendencies to find accountability for events, and if these are negative ones, feeling like blaming someone, something or even ourselves.
We must remember that although we are often advised to go with our ‘gut feel’ when making tough choices, our brains, hearts and guts can all make miscalculations.
There’s something called ‘false guilt’ which is an idea that what you feel must be true. If you feel guilty, you must be guilty.
Sometimes we feel guilt because we should have done something differently or not done something, but maybe in someone else’s eyes it wasn’t that bad or it was the right thing to do etc. It’s all very subjective.
Some of us can feel anxious when our feelings of guilt become overwhelming.
Others could try to reduce their guilt by blaming others, or even sharing their guilt with people who have similar experiences to feel better.
Those who have high levels of psychopathy lack a sense of guilt or moral reasoning for any damage they may have caused others and they could justify their actions. However such people are less likely to develop deep emotional connections with others.
SHAME VS GUILT
Ruth Benedict, a cultural anthropologist described shame as the result of a violation of cultural or social values, often projected on someone by others.
Guilt on the other hand is an internal creation when someone’s own morals are violated.
Therefore shame comes from a negative perception from others and guilt comes from one’s own thoughts or actions.
Feeling guilt is very normal and makes most of us more human.
Many of us have empathy for others and guilt often helps us make sure we don’t intentional wrong others.
If we have done wrong to others or ourselves, it’s important to train our minds to forgive, to learn from the past and not to dwell on the guilt or let it grow. After all, we are imperfect and we make mistakes.
Accept and Reject are antonyms but if we combine the two words, they can become quite meaningful and useful.
If you’re a bit like me, you detest rejection.
After all we may have invested time, emotions, effort, money, hope and more towards something or someone, and then it all stops. Whether this is a job interview, promotion, potential or existing partner, a competition... often the outcome is out of our control and we don’t have a choice but to accept what is.
This is when accepting rejection can be essential. By surrendering to the results as something that is not in our hands and hoping that at least one positive thing will come out of it either way, imminently or in future, we can save ourselves from unnecessary pain or stress.
My Physics teacher once told me:
“Remember that you did what you thought was right at the time, and if you did your personal best then, that’s all that matters. Forget about the outcome of whether you pass or fail.”
As soon as I sat my exams, I told myself that I would forget about it and enjoy my summer holidays, rather than stress about the results until they were published.
Although this advise is more about accepting 'failure', rather than 'rejection', it's applicable to other aspects of our lives.
REJECTION: JOB INTERVIEWS
Turning the spotlight onto job applications and interviews, there may be times when we feel like we have met our career-soul mate i.e. the perfect job.
I remember interviewing at a boutique company a while ago, when I met almost everyone in the company except the cleaners, including the CEO. After five rounds of interviews (for a graduate role...), I was convinced that they loved me and I would get the job.
I didn’t hear from them for a week, then another week... I actually never heard back from them.
In those few weeks, my heart felt increasingly heavier and I wondered “why wouldn’t they give me the job?”; “did I say something that made them change their minds?”; "maybe I shouldn't have cracked that joke...".
The truth is that often we will never know the real reason behind other people's decisions.
Reading rejection letters from job applications also never failed to amuse me over time, with the standard:
Thank you for taking the time to interview.... blah blah..... Unfortunately....." and that's when I stop reading. I remember when reading the word "Unfortunately" would make my heart sink.
Over the years, having interviewed at many other companies, I have finally seen the benefit of accepting rejection as soon as possible. Sometimes, on the same day.
The sooner we accept rejection, the less time we waste by thinking about it, minimising unnecessary stress building up in our lives.
Sometimes when we are in a relationship, we can feel like we’re sat on a see-saw and no one is at the other end, and all the effort is one-sided. That is one form of rejection... a small, regular one that can eat into our confidence over time, if we dwell on it for a long period of time.
With relationships, it’s obviously not as easy to forget about people and cut them out, like we can with other forms of rejection like from a job interview. Sometimes we have to live with rejection, especially if there are longer term implications or potential for improving the situation.
In relationships many of us have experienced a break up or not feeling like a priority for someone we deeply care about.
I have noticed that there is often the temptation to feel like the world revolves around us. It's natural for us to think about ourselves, our hurt feelings, the impact of rejection on our future. However, it is also crucial to remember that rejection from someone is often personal and has more to do with their own reasoning of right and wrong, than it being all about who they have rejected. It's best to think of such situations as a 'mismatch' of things like traits, habits, beliefs, etc.
Now, you can decide whether you want to change yourself or things you do, every time someone rejects you or something you do...
While taking feedback or criticism on board is an important source of growth, I strongly believe that we need to have a filter where we weigh these up against our own beliefs and then accept the final outcome.
Some may think that acceptance of situations is 'passive' behaviour, but it doesn't need to be.
For instance we can accept our bodies for as big or small, tall or short that they are, but still work towards improving them. We can accept feeling our emotions and know that they are temporary and still get on with life when we are ready. We can accept rejection or failure one day, but also take notes on what you would like to improve and change in future.
ACCEPTING OR REJECTING 'REJECTION'
Personally, I find that rejecting rejection is usually tiring, upsetting, a waste of energy and time.
People usually make choices believing that it’s the right thing to do. Only retrospectively can we look back and judge whether it was right or wrong. That too, varies from person to person.
Accepting rejection is therefore a way to minimise our suffering and be at peace for as much of the finite time in our lives, as possible.
ANTICIPATION & PURPOSE
A video that was part of ‘Small Thing Big Idea’, a TED original series, debates how progress bars make waiting more exciting.
According to a survey mentioned in this video, people care more about the fact that there is a progress bar, rather than the actual number on it. If there is a percentage, people get some fulfilment from the sense of achievement and hope there is an end goal in sight.
Watching a webpage load, food until it is cooked, noticing a plant grow, watching our children stand, talk, walk, run, graduate, all of these give us a feeling of purpose over different periods of time. Some people even use tally charts to count up or down days, like prisoners in cells who scratch the days spent in jail and hence towards the end of their potential sentence.
So, all in all, progress bars could be literal, or metaphorical.
The opposite of the previous concept is when a progress bar is working backwards.
Sometimes I feel quite anxious when I see that the battery power on my ancient iPhone 6 is under two per cent, especially if I am not home or somewhere close to a charging point, although I’m sure that wasn’t the intention of telecom companies or other electronics manufacturers. Or when my car is low on fuel and it's on its last bar, the least clever thing to do would be to go for a long drive without fuelling up.
This reverse progress bar is therefore, more of a preparation for when to start thinking about a situation and acting and finding a source of power, fuel, energy etc. It teaches us how to pace ourselves. So, next time your mobile phone is on ten percent battery and you have a two-hour journey home, you may choose not to listen to music or watch a video and switch it off for some time. Unfortunately, for running out of fuel, there isn't much of a practical solution apart from fuelling up or suffering the potential consequences.
The battery charged on your phone, the amount of petrol in your car, the amount of milk left in the fridge, the number of pages left in your notebook... these and more status checks on various parts of our lives are just early warning signs that prepare us for the consequences of running out.
Similarly, if we find ourselves running slightly low on energy ourselves, although we don’t have a clear electronic display of our remaining power, we should try to detect and remember the triggers for having low energy. These can act as our health progress or status bar, which we can consciously act on with remedial action, such as finding energy sources or reduce the level of physical activity or exertion.
Equally, as we grow older, it's recommended that we get regular health checks for things like our Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, Sugar levels and so on. These are so that we keep an eye on our body's progress bars, so we can maintain our health and if we act appropriately, watch the progress of any improvements.
We can't manage projects efficiently in life or at work without having a project status report. This could qualify as a detailed progress bar, or perhaps a collection or project bars, which can create accountability within the project team, with given deadlines and dependencies.
So if Person A hasn't completed the task by Day 5, Person B can't start their job, which will have an effect on the whole project, with a possible domino effect. So, no pressure on Person A...
These visual representations of situations can also come in handy for businesses and their customers, for example.
When you return something that you purchased online and hear nothing from the seller, you may feel some uncertainty and annoyance. Yet, if you receive an email status update, that they have received the returned item or are supplied with a 'link to track' the return or delivery, it makes you look at the seller as a professional and you're likely to do business with them again. Your mind is put at rest, that something is happening and the end result that you want i.e. getting your money back, is close to happening.
If people or companies didn't communicate to others, this could result in unnecessary frustration and possible complaints.
We all secretly love the occasional pat on the back for a job completed, and on a less human sense, those big green ticks we get when we complete an online form correctly or completely.
Humans fuel their motivation levels on validation, in different ways. Whether it involves producing a checklist or a To-do list and ticking every job that has been completed, or when you receive a certificate.
When we receive a certificate or prize for completing something, it gives us a sense of accomplishment, at the end of an actual or virtual progress bar that you were working through. For example, for a course on flying a plane, getting to the top of a mountain, a qualification for your career, a marriage certificate for giving your relationship a new(ish) name... most of these are feel-good moments and well deserved.
Well done, you.
An article called the Tail End, really made me think about the amount of time doing things I love or spending time with those who I love. The author compares how much of their own life has passed and is left, assuming a generous 90-Year Human life.
The purpose of this article wasn't to scare us, I'm sure, but to remind us to periodically check how we are progressing through life and how much of our time we are planning to give different aspects of our lives, including to those who we love dearly.
How are we prioritising our priorities, within an approximate, but finite time frame of just one life time?
These progress bars are only ways of managing our psychology and behaviour, to have a clearer idea of situations, in order for us to make better informed decisions, to the best of our abilities.
How much we use them, how we use them and when, all depends on how we, as individuals benefit from them over time.
A word is a sound or a combination of sounds, or its representation in writing, that symbolizes and communicates a meaning.
A word can have a completely different meaning to us today, compared to what we thought it meant when we were younger.
There are words that we hear and use, some of which go through an evolution process, often based on personal experiences as we go through life.
In this article, I analyse my past and present definitions of certain words that have resonated with me on several occasions.
A severe headache or other after-effects caused by drinking an excess of alcohol.
In all honesty, I had no idea what this meant before going to university.
When I was around sixteen years old, I remember studying my older brother who was slouched on the sofa for an entire Saturday, without uttering more than a few words like: 'Pass me the remote' or 'What's for dinner?'
It puzzled me. What could have possibly happened that had the ability to turn someone into a vegetable, that isn't a serious illness?
I asked my brother to explain himself, which appeared to be the only thing we could talk about that day and he told me that he was hungover. To me, this meant that someone is hanging over something... what was he hanging over except the sofa?
Not long after, once I experienced Student Union bars, Happy Hours (that make you happy until the next morning), pounding headaches and what feels like a shrunken brain playing pin-ball within the boundaries of my skull... I can now define a hangover.
Feeling weary and impatient because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in one's current activity.
When I was bored as a child, I complained but did nothing about it. I got bored of studying, because I wasn't interested in the subject, or bored of being at a party because I had to play with all the other kids who were my parents' friends' children, whether we got along, or not. Sometimes everything was boring.
What I didn't realise was that when we are bored, we are not doing something that interests us much (or at all) and we could look for something else, that does. In fairness, we didn't always have much say in deciding what we wanted to do back then, but as adults, we should look at boredom as an opportunity for learning, growth and exploring unexplored territories, interests that we never pursued and so on.
For instance, I started srtravels.co.uk when I was bored and now I have confirmed my passion for writing and sharing my thoughts - even if it is about boredom itself!
"When you pay attention to boredom, it gets unbelievably interesting." - Jon Kabat-Zinn
Feeling pleasure or contentment.
To some extent, I feel like I was happier as a child, in the sense that I worried less, enjoyed every moment that made me happy like having my favourite chocolate ice cream... and didn't let that become more than what it was: a temporary feeling.
As adults, we may ask ourselves or others, perhaps more often than necessary: Are you happy?
The answer could be based on that moment: yes, because my best friend is getting married, or no, because I just got robbed. But we could be inclined to dwell much deeper into the search for 'happiness' and start worrying unnecessarily if we are not happy all the time or most of the time. As human beings, and probably many other living creatures out there, we have good and bad days and ups and downs or else life would become uninteresting (i.e. boring: refer to point 2).
On top of that, we start worrying about whether we will be happy in future if we did X, Y or Z. The reality is that we don't know, but we can make informed decisions to keep moving and take calculated risks so that we experience as much as we can, in this life.
In my blog about Work-Life balance, I mentioned a TED Talk by Emily Esfahani Smith who highlighted four 'pillars' to living a good or meaningful life:
Note that she doesn't call it a 'happy life', because maybe there isn't really such a thing?
Pressure or tension exerted on an object or person.
Stress balls were as far as my understanding of the word stress was before I stepped into my mid-twenties.
To me, the implications of persistent stress can cause permanent damage to our mental and physical health, be it our bad posture resulting in muscle spasms or crazy working hours, which could slowly eat into our mental health.
Difficult situations and environments can put people through varying levels of stress.
According to the American Institute of Stress, there is good and bad stress. As shown in the diagram, increased stress could result in higher productivity, but only until a certain point, after which things could go downhill.
However, that turning point is different for individuals so we need to be alert to symptoms of when the mental stress is going from good to not-so-good (distress).
An intense feeling of deep affection.
At the age of two, I remember telling my mum, dad and brother: 'I labba you' and that was as far as love meant for me.
Since I was a toddler, I watched several movies, especially Bollywood movies, which are almost always love stories and I still didn't understand what all the fuss was about and why people did stupid things for someone they just met.
For instance, a typical Bollywood plot in the '90's would involve a daughter of a rich man falling in love with a poor guy and when the parents are against the relationship, the daughter ditches her platonic love of twenty years and picks her romantic love of a month or so.
How ungrateful is that?
Everyone has a different definition for love and some people may have amazing love stories of eloping and living happily ever after... however, personally I feel that romantic and platonic love should be held accountable on equal principles, with different types of 'feelings' associated to them.
Romantic love is often described as being accompanied by 'butterflies', excitement, passion and desire, while platonic love is secure, comforting and probably a bit more boring.
From what I have experienced, a combination of traits like the below are (or should be) common in either types of love:
“Let love be genuine; hold fast to what is good.” – Romans 12:9
An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.
I still remember a recurrent nightmare that I used to have as a small child, of an angry brown bear that chased me down the stairs of an apartment block (like they do...). I was also afraid of spirits possessing my favourite baby dolls, to the point that I locked them up in a cupboard for several years and didn't go near them, thanks to a not-so-considerate uncle and his terrible horror stories.
In my case, fear back then was based on superficial stories which disappeared over time as I came to realise how bears don't really like living in cities and spirits probably have better things to do than to haunt young children.
Nowadays, I feel like fear is more about the future or about failure. This comes in different times and is amplified by situations, but there is an unseen level of societal pressure of living the 'perfect life', which could make a perfectly normal and successful person in their own rights, wonder if they're 'on track' or not as successful as others.
Sometimes we also try to predict our future and have fear about things not going as planned, when the reality is: we really don't know what will happen, even if we do everything we think is right to get the outcome we desire.
I covered this topic in more detail in my blog about freaking out.
As an adult, I have been afraid of change (fear of lack of control), leaving past jobs (fear of failure), leaving relationships that didn't work (fear of being alone), traveling on my own (fear of safety)... but what I have noticed is that, for all of the things I have mentioned, once I found the courage to overcome that fear and move forward, good things came out of them and I was a much stronger person than I was before then.
There are more philosophical discussions around the fear of death of ourselves or loved ones, but the only 'medicine' for this topic, with death being inevitable, is: acceptance of the impermanence of everything.
“Above all, don't fear difficult moments. The best comes from them." - Rita Levi-Montalcini
These are just some words that I have learnt to explore a(nother) side to, over time, but who knows, the definitions could change again as we experience more of what life has to offer, molding our past and current understanding of words and the importance they hold in our vocabulary.
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The indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole.
Speaking of time, the one good thing that comes out of my long-haul plane journeys is the time to think about my next blog post. Over the years, I have observed the behaviour of others and myself and noticed a few things that I thought is worth taking the time to write about.
Sometimes life does just come in the way: as we grow up, have new goals, duties, move around the world, get jobs, priorities change or we want to achieve new heights. All of which often result in even more responsibilities. The opportunity cost is often: our time. Although we are all apparently meant to live until 90 (so I have heard), we do not know how long we will actually live, so time is in fact limited, so we need to spend it wisely. Sorry to lower the tone...
When you do not or cannot give something (or someone) your time, it is worth asking yourself if you have genuinely prioritised them in your life in the first place. Sometimes, we are genuinely spread thin and it is impossible to give our time to others or our long to-do lists, but a routine check is always helpful when it comes to ensuring we do not neglect vital people or duties etc. with further consequences.
Physical vs. Virtual time
Sometimes beggars cannot be choosers. We all know that there is nothing better than a good catch up with someone close to us, in person (in most cases), but some contact is better than none, right?
Despite how much the media and even mobile software tell us to get off our phones and minimise screen-time, technology has enabled us to stay close to people, much faster. Whether it is one emoji or GIF or photo via instant messages, text messages (for those dinosaurs out there), video or audio calls, we have plenty of ways to share our time with those we would like to (or have to). Although it is not quite as having dinner with someone or the hand-written letter from your grandma, it is something.
If we look at the time we give ourselves, I know at least three people who have gym memberships for several months, but have not been more than a few times. Apart from being a total waste of money, it shows how they are not giving time to themselves or their plans to get fitter or healthier (or generally feel good).
Determined to do (something).
âWhere there is a will, there is a way.
This modified version of a proverb from the 1600s was hammered into our heads by our father, when my brother and I were growing up.
It is true, though.
If you really want to make an effort with a project, a challenge, a person or relationship... you will do everything you can to make it happen. If you become complacent about it, and your intent is weak, it probably will not happen or may not happen soon, and if it happens, it may not be that great.
The reason behind that could be that the intention was not strong enough, or was not really there in the first place.
The process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim.
We need to have the intention to give time, then we need to act in order to make things happen. Whether it involves keeping our loved ones happy, or becoming healthier, getting a promotion, changing our lives around to do what we love, we can act on it by:
1. Writing it down;
2. Giving ourselves a deadline;
3. Doing something about it.
When someone prints out a list of flights for your next trip and leaves it on the table, or cooks your favourite dish the day you come back from a long journey, or bakes you cake when you are sad, or puts your name on their university coursework when they know how busy you are interviewing for a job... they are acting on their intentions to give you their time.
They do not always have to come to you and say: Look what I do for you. They just do it. They act.
Once we have figured out how much time we intend to give something or someone, we could use the SMART rule for these goals to actually (or be more likely to) happen:
To conclude, I hope I have been able to go slightly beyond stating the obvious, that when we seriously want something, or someone, or for something to happen, we should do anything except nothing.
The equation is simple:
Time + Intention + Action = Outcome
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A strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.
There are several causes of anger and it’s important to know how to understand it and manage it. When something doesn't go our way or feels unfair in life, inevitably many of us can become angry.
You know the feeling of a ‘switch’ that flicks itself on when something happens and all you can feel is an excessive build up of (negative) energy. Muscles tense, hearts race and there’s the urge to do or say something with immediate action. In extreme circumstances, people can shout, break things, do or say things that they may regret in future and more.
In moments like this, I wish I was a monk. But I’m not, and if you’re not either, what we can do is learn how to try and manage ourselves and our reactions when we become angry, while living a normal life so we use our misplaced energy and actions correctly.
There’s a book by Dr. Gary Chapman: Anger: Taming a Powerful Emotion, which highlights that when you’re angry, you should:
If we take the necessary time to keep our anger under control and ask the right questions, we could be closer to a more positive and constructive response. At least more often than never.
keep calm and speak up
Not everyone reacts positively to this idealistic behaviour, even if we were to follow the steps we mentioned here.
Sometimes people can continue to be unfair, rude, hurtful, etc. This is when we should say what we think is fair and if it’s not reciprocated well, we should step away from the situation and make peace with the fact that it was unproductive and ineffective to try and resolve the issue, at least for the time being.
Having said that, it’s important that we do confront some situations. Whether this is done at that moment or at another point in time, soon after the event. We should aim to remain calm and if need be, assertive (not aggressive).
Another approach that could help us calm down is visualisation or meditation, which I'm sure our monk friends would agree with.
Visualising a positive outcome (rather than the worst case scenario) and avoiding a vicious circle of more negative, angry thoughts that could add fuel to an argument, as well as meditating with deep breaths (this could work alongside counting till ten), even for a couple of minutes, can help diffuse the flame inside us.
This obviously takes some time and practice. I have personally felt the positive immediate effects myself (probably just once or twice... but it's a start!)
“Imagine yourself being grounded as the energy passes from you into the earth below and is transformed from negative to positive, from dark to light.” - DailyOm
I don’t believe anger is always wrong and it’s often likely that our values and beliefs have been violated, which is why we react automatically and also when we should decide to do something about it.
Some of the positive outcomes of anger could include:
We’re only human, so as long as we try to manage our natural reactions to external events, we have done our bit.
Maybe even monks get angry, after all, but probably less and they are most likely to be better experienced at dissolving the anger quickly and turning it into positive energy, acceptance and so on.
We just need to decide: when or what we say or react and how.
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Recently, when we were video calling my brother in Dubai, he said that his two-year old walked into a room, saw too many children, screamed in disgust and said: Bye Bye. This is how my nephew is able to clearly communicate what he wants to walk away from.
As we grow older, and especially if you live in the U.K. and adopt the usual British diplomacy, saying no or walking away from things and people you are not sure you like, is probably not done as often as it should be.
Knowing when to stop, or when to stop someone, when to say no, all of these could help minimise complexity and negativity in our lives. Without realising, being nice can prolong dysfunctional projects or relationships. Selfishly speaking, anything that we think affects us negatively, we should be cut-throat about and aim to eventually ween them out of our lives. From personal experience, I feel like I have had situations where I built up anger towards people, situations and even myself, which could have been avoided if I just walked away earlier, or just said no.
AVOID 'BAD HAIRCUTS'
I stole this from Legally Blonde 2, which is about a lawyer who is stereotyped as a Blonde but is actually intelligent in her ways. She mentions in a classic chick-flick style speech, that the reason for her bad haircut at a salon was not the fault of the stylist, but her own. She could have involved herself earlier in the process, trusted herself in what she wants and spoken up to stop the stylist from ruining her hair.
This applies to manicures, pedicures, massages and everything else we pay for but do not necessarily get the best service out of. I know I sometimes still say it's fine when a masseuse asks if the pressure is ok, when I am actually in borderline pain (I am working on it). There have also been times when a beautician would file my nails unevenly and I would not say anything because I would just bear with it and do it myself later. In my mind, I would rather not make the situation uncomfortable then, even if it would make me angry later.
This is something I need to learn from my dad.
In restaurants I wish any waiter luck when they ask him how his meal was, if I know my dad really did not like it. He tells people, to their face, that their service was not up to scratch. But often I notice that people appreciate honesty and take feedback on board, while my dad does not build up any negative feelings in his mind as a customer.
Although, he has also told one restaurant manager that he won't be coming back again, which perhaps I will never do, but it does make me laugh.
NO MORE 'ONIONS'
We all love a checklist, right? This article highlights s 10 signs that you may be ready to let go and calls those that make you cry: Onions.
I can talk about this now, but in my previous job I was feeling almost all of the above for about a year, which is a long time, but it could have been longer if I didn't take some action. It's crystal clear now, but it wasn't then. Until I resigned, I did not know how much being at the wrong job, five days a week, was sucking my energy and life out of me. To the outside world, and with the help of social media, I was living my life and traveling, drinking, socialising. But all of these activities, as much as I still love them, were only helping me avoid what I was feeling about myself. In this case the onion was in fact my job.
Applying this to relationships and friendships, there have been times when I bottled up a lot of things that I have wanted to say to someone, when certain things about their behaviour annoyed me, or when they were crossing the line. The end result has usually been a delayed emotional outburst or arguments, and sometimes they had no a clue about how I had been feeling.
My view is that when there is an imbalance in the effort put into a relationship, or if someone has crossed the line more than once, you should not refrain from telling them how their behaviour made you feel, as soon as possible, in the right moment, calmly and politely (not after 20 years). If possible, a healthy discussion, face to face or at least a phone call, could clarify whether either of you are willing to look into your actions to make the relationship work.
Personally, I find writing emails or text messages easier to articulate, but this has backfired a few times, and it's inevitable that the other person may misinterpret what I wrote. Texting is never ideal, but my opinion is that communication is better than not saying anything at all.
Having said that, if we can see and feel that a relationship has lost its base, is broken, hurtful and doesn't involve mutual trust and respect, maybe it's time to say Bye Bye âin the interest of everyone involved.
'JUST DO IT' (IF YOU WANT TO)
I will caveat the below with the fact that I truly respect those who have the dedication and will power to challenge them to do physical challenges like marathons, triathlons, mountain climbing or train for competitive sports and so on. Especially if you're a crazy French Spiderman (Alain Robert) who free climbs skyscrapers like Burj Khalifa.
By all means, if anyone is passionate about something, there probably is not a better feeling than achieving certain goals related to it. However, what I have now learnt about myself and what I disagree with is: trying to physically challenge myself because others are doing it, or they expect me to, or because I want to fit in, or I want to prove something to the world... etc.
It is good to push ourselves, but not at the expense of what we really value for ourselves. For example, I wanted to do something to mark my 30th birthday so I decided to attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. I am glad I trained for it, attempted it, and enjoyed my journey up. However, on the last day (summit day) I struggled to breathe and I was close to crying in frustration that I cannot even take a few steps. In that moment I decided to turn back. I could not give myself a single reason why I should put myself through the self-imposed torture (emotional and physical) to get to the top. What was I trying to prove and to whom?
No doubt, if I made it to the summit on that day, it would have been an amazing feeling. But in that moment in time, I said Bye Bye to the situation and did what I wanted to do (go to my tent and sleep, and no I am not a lazy person).
F*** THAT SH*T
You can make many meanings out of this, but I had to maintain the PG rating of this website.
This was something our guide, Fabio in Peru said to me, looking bemused when I asked him if we needed to dress up in smart clothes to go to a certain bar in Lima: F*** that Sh*t. Ever since then, it has become a regular thing I say to myself when something or someone is not worth a headache. In kinder words: Bye Bye. Try it, it feels good and is liberating. We rocked up at the fancy bar in our usual 'holiday clothes' which for me involved my fading t-shirt, capris and sports sandals. We had a great night! Thanks Fabio!
linear career paths
There is a Bollywood movie called 3 Idiots (and yes, they do start singing and dancing, but within context...sort of). The movie has a strong message about pursuing what you truly love and you will probably be very good at it (eventually).
For instance, where I am in my career is probably a hybrid of what I love and do not love. It is a combined result of my interest in marketing and being taught to be practical.
The linear models for education and career paths have been suggested to every other child for generations. For example, having a real job to many parents would include being a Doctor, Banker, Engineer, Lawyer, etc., which is great if you genuinely love sciences, maths, law, etc. But if you really do not and instead you love singing, painting, writing, running, pottery etc., whether it's now or in ten or twenty years, you should consider saying Bye Bye to what you do not love and say Hi to what you do love.
It is something I am telling myself and I know it is harder than it sounds and may involve foregoing elements of my current lifestyle and money. I am not sure if I am brave (or stupid) enough to quit my job and become a painter, but maybe being in the middle of my career, a fine balance would be to have a flexible job doing what I do not mind, to make more time for things I love doing i.e.: travelling, painting, photography, swimming, writing and eating!
I am guilty of this myself: filling up my diary with something to do for most of the week after work and ending up stressed, tired and grumpy. I have gotten better with cancelling and declining meetings (or 'tentatively accepting' which basically means, I won't show up). Being busy gives me a buzz and I love meeting new people and sharing ideas and talking in general, but being too busy can cause stress, anxiety, depression, headaches, insomnia... and in extreme cases heart attacks! Having a good social and professional life is great for our personal growth, but not to the expense of our physical and mental health.
Here's a few things I plan to say Bye Bye to:
Everyone has priorities in life which are unique to them, so what you bring to your life or remove from it, whether it is a situation, a person, a job, your colleagues, your boss, your fears, challenges, qualifications, labels, tasks, or even yourself - is all in your hands. We just need to learn when to say Bye Bye.
The BBC cartoon: Ugly Ducking has been teaching children life lessons since it was first written in 1805.
The Plot: a loving duck-couple is expecting a number of baby ducks and when they all hatch, there's one duckling that looks: different. Not ugly, but just different. However, the duck-parents disown this 'ugly' duckling, who then travels around the ponds and jungles, looking for people who would just accept it and be its friends. It was searching for somewhere to call home, but fails repetitively.
The 'ugly' duckling is obviously heart broken and feels ugly, unloved and has nowhere that it belongs.
Until one day, other ducklings who look and behave just like it, turn up and welcome it to the family. The 'not-so-ugly-anymore-duckling' finally regains its confidence, feels loved and realises its worth and starts living its life happily.
Meanwhile the duck-couple who rejected this duckling for being ugly (different), notice that it's found friends, and accept its existence. Not like the duckling cared anymore...
I don't know about you, but apart from my heart going out to this sad, lonely (fictional) duckling, I can personally pin point quite a few parts of the story to reality.
ACCEPT BEING DIFFERENT
Ducks aside, humans can be shallow. Whether its generations of building up images in our minds on who is beautiful and who is not, or just our preconceptions... we judge. Since 1995, online dating has been commercialising our shallowness. Nowadays we can take a whole 2 seconds to swipe left at the first sight of 'unpleasant' or 'ugly'. Meanwhile, the health and beauty brand: Dove fights back with their Self-Esteem Project for adults and children.
Children can go through a lot of self-doubt while growing up, leading to possible health risks from skipping meals or even being accustomed to bullying and mental pressure and even depression... just because they're different. According to Dove, 9 out of 10 girls in the UK have low body esteem. We can blame media as much as we want, models, celebrities, the internet, or Instagram, but we can't change what is.
It all starts with acceptance. Over the years, I have personally tried to embrace being different by accepting my 'flaws' as part of who I am. I've had a huge complex about my teeth, my height, my weight... the usual deal for many. But with time I have learned to accept it (or work with what I have). Only then, was I able to build on my confidence and most importantly, I stopped comparing myself endlessly to the rest of the world. This doesn't mean that I sit on the couch and eat all the food I want and walk out of the house with no make up and frumpy clothes (okay, sometimes...). I believe in being the best version of myself, and then loving that version of me.
If we work on improving our own image of ourselves, respect our efforts to be our best, we feel better and the same life will start looking beautiful again. When the 'ugly' duckling wandered around and was reassured of its beauty as a duckling, it finally started to see the same life it has, differently.
In short, be the Swan that you are!
We can feel lost if we don't know where we belong.
In a TED Talk: 'There's more to life than being happy', according to Emily Esfahani Smith, 'Belonging' is one of the four virtual pillars of a 'happy life'. Personally, I know when I am at home or with my family, I feel safe and at peace. There's no judgement, no make up, no fashionable attire and yet there's warmth and a welcoming feeling. Family for everyone is different. For some, family is not always blood-related. It could include your colleagues, friends, dog... it's where the heart is. Home is also where you reflect, feel grounded and recharge on your confidence, self-worth and energy to deal with the Big Bad World out there.
According to Teachings on Love by Thich Nhat Hanh, a well-known Buddhist saint, the four qualities of true love are:
3. Joy (to ourselves and the ones we love)
4. Equanimity (nonattachment, non-discrimination, even-mindedness, or letting go).
Clearly, the duck-couple who rejected the little duckling, had none of these four qualities and unfortunately, the world has quite a few people who don't have these traits to share true love.
If the duckling never ventured out to look for a home or friends, and decided to cry to its own misery in a corner of the jungle, it would never have known its worth and wouldn't have learnt about different types of ducks and birds around the ponds. It would not have found its family either.
Travel brings us insight, opens our minds to appreciate different places, people, nature, food and ourselves. So occasionally, if we get 'lost' in life or during a journey, we can see where it takes us and try to learn from the journey, rather than despise everything and avoid the whole ordeal altogether.
The sooner you stop caring, whether its about what your neighbours or distant relatives would think about your career choice, what your colleagues would think about how you work, or how much fellow commuters stare at you for wearing your favourite bright yellow dress... the sooner you will do more things that make you happy and become a better version of you.
The little duckling was only just born to find out it was unwanted by those who looked at it as different to them. However, with some wandering, some rejection, acceptance and some life experience, it would have known whose 'judgement' to take on board e.g. the opinion of close family members or friends who show it true love, versus the shallow opinion of others, who don't matter.
And while you're at it, why not commercialise this story as a TV advert for a car brand? (Well done Audi!)
You'll be pleased to know that this article is not about Galileo or Isaac Newton's 'Law of Motion' (unless you actually liked Physics in school).
Many of us resist change as we get used to our lives being on 'autopilot'. Whether it's because we prefer not to venture too far beyond our comfort zones, or we just don’t like the uncertainty of unfamiliar territory, or we start to feel like we are losing control over situations, routines, or even our lives.
when things change
Your job changes, your best friend starts dating someone (slowly putting an end to your regular nights out), you change schools, you become a parent, you get married, or divorced, someone leaves you, or you leave them, you relocate, or someone close to you relocates... all of these (and more) could impact us as individuals in different ways and can require additional mental and physical effort. Not knowing what to expect or do after times of change, could raise the temptation to resist it all and simply cling on to what we already have or know.
I personally hate change and resist it like the plague, but over the years, whether it's change that happened voluntarily or involuntarily, I have learnt one thing: change makes us learn, at least something, if we look hard enough.
1. learn about ourselves
When things change, we could learn more about ourselves and how we manage our emotions and situations in such times.
There are times when I may not even like how I behave with change, which is when I have learnt that trying to ground myself to my original principles and beliefs, sense-check them with reality and speak to my trusted sources (close friends, family, mentors, etc.), really helps bring me up to speed.
Part of me believes that once we come out of a lot of changes, our endurance, mental strength and ability to deal with future changes improves. As per the saying: Practice makes perfect.
From a personal development point of view, change could be a blessing in disguise.
2. learn about others
Change can also teach us a few things about others. Sometimes it can be a test of our relationships with, and our understanding of, other people, including those we think we know very well, and those we don't. Someone you barely know, could come and save your life or help you during times of change or difficulty, or someone (you think) you know very well could either help you when in need, or disappear and disappoint. We can't control how others behave and feel about us, but events and changes can make us learn more about the people who were, are and will be in our lives.
Change can also be exciting! It could open the doors to new opportunities for personal growth and experience, that you wouldn't have even thought were there.
To give some personal examples, for instance: my brother, sister-in-law and my two-year old nephew recently relocated from London to Dubai. Initially, the idea was just a 'let's see what happens if I apply' situation. When this materialised, it was a shock to the system: coming to terms with the fact that they won't be a fifteen minute journey away anymore (more like seven hours...) and we will miss our weekly live entertainment from my two-year-old nephew).
For them, this was a serious decision to get out of their comfort zone after almost two decades, including important lifestyle changes such as foregoing the luxury of having easy access to the pub, to needing an alcohol-license for the nominated male of the household (no, not my nephew). Jokes aside, I can only imagine how scary it could be to work somewhere so different (so hot!!) and adapt to their culture, save money and also live a fulfilling life, while they are out there.
Having said that, they overcame the inertia of preferring to stay where they were in life, based on a comprehensive SWOT analysis, and decided to relocate as the opportunities to experience a 'new life', to learn, and to meet new people from all over the world outweighed the sacrifice of their 'comfort zone'.
As a sibling, from my point of view, I see this as an exciting opportunity to come up with a new routine, travel to Dubai more often, explore the city and the surroundings of the U.A.E and also get to hear all about life in the Middle East through them.
the low point...
Having said all the positive things about coming out of inertia and the benefits of going through change, we can't ignore the fact that not all changes are good or work out well for everyone. Sometimes we could be left in a serious situation if say, we suddenly lost a loved one or we lose our jobs and have nowhere to stay. At that point in time, there may be little or no reason why that would be a good thing. However, if there wasn't hope, there wouldn't be a life worth living. I have mentioned 'optimism' earlier, and I believe that it's all about how we try to gradually turn the situation around, to the best of our abilities, with the given circumstances, over the long run. I have to admit that some of the most memorable things I have experienced in my life so far, was either a trigger for change, or because of change.
The moral of this article, at least for me, is that we all experience inertia in different levels and forms, whether it's physical or mental. However, we can look at it as an opportunity, find ways to adapt to make them work for us and also accept 'what is’...
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