Removing Road Blocks

In some previous posts, I’ve addressed the topics of dreaming big and fighting for our dreams.  Recently, I’ve become aware that my pursuit of dreams was hindered by roadblocks.  I have goals, but it seems doubtful that I’ll make it.  Perhaps the reason is that I won’t reach them if nothing changes.

Whether your own goals are to achieve financial or professional success, or to recover from depression or other mental health difficulty, or whatever they may be, you are likely hindered by a road block.  These road blocks, unfortunately, are usually not so evident.  They can seem harmless: the types of books you read, to company you surround yourself with, a comfortable under-stimulating lifestyle, etc.

My recommendation is to start by making small, concrete changes that will give you a nudge towards your goal.  If you want to achieve your goals, seek advice or read literature by those who’ve achieved similar goals before you.  If you feel there’s a part of your daily routine that doesn’t help you grow personally or draw closer to your goal, then perhaps a small change is in order.

You don’t have to revamp your life, just be open to change.  If the change is uncomfortable, keep in mind that it’s helping you move forward.  If you feel like you’re losing something, keep in mind that something greater is coming your way.

Be a light to your world today!

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Chin Up

As this new year begins, we are given the opportunity for a fresh start and a better year.  Perhaps 2014 was a good year for you, or perhaps it was laden with challenges.  Either way, 2015 is a brand new year.  If last year was great, remember what made it great and carry on.  If it sucked, then learn from it and move on.  This is the time for a fresh start.  Accept that there are things you can’t change and let them go.  Focus your energy on what you have control over.  Just as it takes thousands a footsteps to conquer a mountain, so too it takes many constructive steps to overcome life’s challenges.  Resolve today to hold your head high.  Work hard and work smart, and 2015 will be a better year for you!

Be a light to your world today!

Speak Up!

Recently, I was discussing with a client the importance of speaking up.  It is not uncommon for many of us to bite our tongue instead of speaking our mind, for fear of hurting feelings or some other reason.  It’s much easier to express positive emotions, but do I allow myself to speak up when I’m feeling scared, angry, or sad?  I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve become accustomed to keeping all of those bottled up inside (a habit that I am working hard at changing).  Part of that has to do with my past of being bullied.  Victims of bullying are often intimidated into keeping silent of the abuse, which prevents their fear, anger, and sadness from getting out.  This, I’d say, is the root cause of my bottling up.  For others, those feelings may be perceived as negative and evil due to their culture or upbringing.  We each have our own reasons for not speaking up.

Though the desire not to hurt someone comes from a good heart, it’s important not to let it blind us to the fact that the painful truth sometimes needs to be heard.  Whether it’s to report a bully’s abuse at work or at school, or to tell your partner/spouse how you feel about something that was said, or whatever else you may be struggling with saying, your dilemma may stem from emotions getting in the way of doing the right thing.  Keep in mind that you have a right to make yourself heard.  Your loved ones need to know how their words and actions are affecting you.  The bully needs to be held accountable for his abuse… he has no right to belittle you or make you suffer.

Anger is an emotion telling us that we feel like we suffered injustice.  Sadness tells us that we lost something dear to us.  Fear tells us that we are being threatened.  These emotions are not negative.  They’re telling us something.  Next time you feel any of these, acknowledge them and speak up!

Be a light to your world today!

Echo Bullying

Imagine yourself in a large room with a few other people.  You look around at the wide space and the high ceiling and someone lets out a “hoo!”.  Every second or so, those same words resound back at you.  Bullying has similar effects.  People will direct hurtful comments or behaviours at you, and then you walk away and think nothing more of it or you may repress the memory of it.  Truth be told, if you don’t get any reconciliation or some kind of closure from it, especially if it was more than a single incident, the memory of it can come to haunt you long after the abuse itself ended… by your own hands.  That’s what I call echo bullying.

If you want to know if this applies to you, take notice of how you treat yourself.  Do you treat yourself with compassion or with disdain?  If you tend to be overly critical and hard on yourself, you’re likely repeating the destructive messages that were directed at you, though perhaps not in the same words.  If you always put everyone’s needs before your own, then there may be an underlying feeling that your well-being is not as important as others (here I’m talking about being a doormat for others, rather than being selfless and generous).  This exercise is what lead me to the realization of what kind of impact my past of being bullied had on me.  Since then, I’ve made changes in my behaviour towards myself and others.  As a result, I’ve found new energy and a new appreciation for life that was taken from me while under the bullies’ abuse.

Fight for Your Dreams

In my last two posts, I wrote about changing the world and working smart.  In my life and faith journeys, I have learned another very important life lesson: fight for your dreams.  I found it easy to settle for what’s comfortable and readily accessible, but that doesn’t fulfill your dreams.  Dreams are beautiful and ambitious, sometimes an unrealistic fantasy.  Out of all our dreams that are realistic, how many of these have we attained?  How many of these are we still fighting for?  How many have we given up on?  I spent many days asking God why I could never finally settle with a stable job and a comfortable income.  It seems like every time I got comfortable, something would pull the rug from under my feet.  I honestly lost count of how many times this happened since I left the seminary 10 years ago.  Truth is, I understand today that those moments of comfort were but a rest area on the highway to God’s plan for me.  Looking back, I see that every setback lead to something better, helped me to learn to trust Him more deeply.  Through all of this, I understood that if I am to fulfill my life’s purpose, I can’t settle for comfort or a mediocre life.  These will hold me back.  I have to fight.  I have to push the boundaries.  I have to get out of my comfort zone and brave unchartered territory.

Be a light to those around you today!

Working Smart

I’m a believer that the greatest lessons we learn in life are the ones that we learn the hard way.  Those lessons are the ones that stick with us the most.  The reason being that we found out first hand what happens when we ignore wisdom.

One of the important lessons that I learned the hard way is to work smart.  Will power pushes us to go beyond our comfort, but we can waste time and energy if we lack strategy.  This I realized after I burned out from my call centre job some 8 years ago.  At that time, I was pushing myself to do a job that didn’t fit well with my personality or my skills, and I guilt-tripped myself for not being better at what I did and for being so weak.  Needless to say, I eventually reached the point where I couldn’t keep up and so I started taking sick days from work (went way over my allotted sick days) until I snapped and couldn’t do it anymore.  This particular situation was partly due to the fact that I was in a job that didn’t suit me at all.  However, another big factor in this and in many other aspects of my life, was that I wasn’t taking care of myself properly.  The engine was revving, the car was moving, but I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.

Since then, I’ve been extra attentive to how I take care of myself.  I’ve realized that we easily hold demanding expectations for ourselves that can truly burden us psychologically.  Our present-day mentality of valuing ourselves by our achievements is pushing us to neglect ourselves for trophies and bragging rights.  Let me say that in my line of work as a mental health counselor, I’ve seen my fair share of people with trophies and bragging rights who were falling apart because they neglected themselves for the sake of fleeting glory, or sometimes because they thought that making themselves a priority was a sign of selfishness or weakness.

I’m not encouraging anyone to go to the hedonistic extreme.  That would be just as bad if not worse.  All I’m saying is take that time before bed to unwind, take that well-needed vacation, set time aside to go to the gym or to spend time with your family.  No one can take care of you but you.  Self-care is like a lumberjack sharpening his ax.  If you don’t take the time to sharpen your ax, you will beat uselessly at the tree with little result, and waste far more time and energy than if you took the little time you needed to keep yourself sharp.

Be a light to those around you today!

Changing the World

We’ve all dreamed of leaving an imprint on this world.  Perhaps we dreamed that we discovered a cure for cancer, revolutionized politics, found an answer to inequality or famine.  The dreams are as grand as our imagination.  Unfortunately, after every dream comes the rude awakening that those dreams are just dreams and not likely to happen.  In truth, I believe that they can happen if we first understand what is within our capabilities.  We need to start small, to sew seeds.  We have to accept that the ultimate good we want to bring about may not reach its fulfillment in our own lifetime.  I believe, then, that the key is to build a legacy.

Say that you would love to see a strong anti-bullying system established in all schools and workplaces (definitely something that I would love to see).  A task like that is gigantic and cannot be done by one person alone.  However, for all of us who have a desire to see this happen, we need to begin with that part of the world that surrounds us in our day-to-day life.  The way we treat others is a legacy that we create for our children, our friends, our coworkers, etc.  We can build this legacy further by using each and every God-given qualities we have, like writing books and articles, teaching by words and examples, writing new laws.  If everyone who has this cause at heart would take an active part in taking it one step closer to its fulfillment, I’m sure we would see a difference in little time.  Problem is, in feeling powerless to make any major changes, we can easily neglect the minor changes as though they are insignificant… but that’s where it all starts.

Take a moment to recall your greatest dream.  Found it?  Now think of several ways to reach out to those who share that dream.  Think of every little step you could take together to bring that dream closer to its fulfillment.  At the end of our lives, we may not leave great accomplishments but we can all leave a legacy behind that others can build upon to fulfill our dream.  If any of us do leave great accomplishments behind, it will also be due to the legacy of those who came before us.