Tag Archives: Reflection

Never-Ending Business

Every once in a while, I go back to some old journals, and never fail to be amazed by what I find.

Did I really think that way? Did I really write these things?

It’s always a useful glimpse into the past, present, and even the future. Because I am then reminded that even this “mind”, which we think is our constant, this “me” that we think has always been consistent…

Are far from it.

And the journey of knowing and changing continues.

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Liberation from Fear

From the one and only Mandela, who certainly had plenty to fear in his life.

As I reflect on this quote, one particular fear that I’ve always carried around comes to mind: The fear of judgement from others.

In a recent MBCT session, we were asked to write down a possible stress/depression trigger. I wrote:

“When I feel that others are watching and grading the quality of what I do”. 

What sort of thoughts run through your mind then?

“They can tell I’m acting. They will be able to tell I’m not that good. They’ll be able to tell I’m trying to fake it. They’ll see me for who I really am, with my weaknesses and all. I won’t be liked as much after this.” 

What happens in your body?

“Lightheaded. Heart racing. Adrenaline rush.”

What do you feel like doing (after)?

“Tell a trusted friend about it. Pray. Seek validation from myself or from others. Journal about it. Process. Change environment so that I can get a different perspective on the experience (and I usually do, thankfully).” 

Are there any old habits of thinking or behaviour that might unwittingly keep you stuck in feelings of depression or stress?

“Replaying the scene in my head, over and over again.” 

 

While I was told that I have pretty good coping mechanisms, it doesn’t change the fact that we will still face plenty of scenarios in life that would make us fearful. Slowly, I see how our way of BEING (being mindful, being aware of our old thought habits which may be unhealthy) can affect the way we DO things, and that in turn might have an effect on how we are SEEN. While changing our behaviour to cater to the approval of others is never a good idea, we ourselves would certainly benefit from a better quality of doing, doing from a place of non-fear.

And who wouldn’t benefit from a presence of non-fear?

The Inevitable

As I mused to someone before… We who tend to be easily affected by the opinions of others and who hold ourselves to high expectations would likely carry these traits with us wherever we go.

So no matter which job you do, which country you move to, it’s probably unlikely that you’d be able to get away from yourself.

Which is why, as always, the most important work has to be done within.

Free From Ego

A recent read (this) led me to contemplate about how much I let my ego get in the way of the things I do .

“Over-investing your ego in your results is unproductive and unnecessary. If you think the failure of your ideas is a personal failure, you’ll take too few risks, risks that could ultimately pay off. But if you can learn to separate yourself from your ideas and your work and see them as something separate from yourself, you’ll feel you truly have the right to be wrong.” – Steve Pavlina

I thought this was really poignant because it very closely describes and articulates why I fear failure so much. Why I even fear responsibility to a certain extent, because with more responsibility it means that there is also a greater chance of… you guessed it, failing.

Recently, as a member of a local professional body, I was tasked to help out with editing of the association’s newsletter. It was a job I thought I’d be well-suited to do. I’m generally organized, communicate well with people through emails, and make sure everyone keeps to their deadlines to make sure the publication makes it out in and on time.

What I did not forsee was… when the time came for final rounds of edits to be made and a few colleagues kindly offered to help me look through the publication one more time, I was aghast to find that… there were MORE things to change. Things I had not noticed were inconsistent, things I had not thought of looking at until they were pointed out to me. The horror. It totally collided with my view of myself as an organised, on-top-of-everything, time-keeping freak.

Then I came across the podcast/article on OLD, and the quote above, in particular, struck a deep chord with me. I had been over-invested in my ego when I accepted the role, that was clear enough to see. And because of that, I linked discrepancies and perceived lapses in the job as personal failures, as personal flaws. When it does not have to be this way. It could be simply a job everyone is tackling together, for the ultimate goal of getting the publication out.

And when I think deeper, I see how much I have learnt from placing myself out there, from accepting that I have missed out these details, and from re-organizing my perspective so that I look out for such things better in future projects. Without being “wrong”, or flawed, I would not have had the valuable learning experience.

And now I have a beautiful, wonderful opportunity to work on something for self-improvement: To do my work wholeheartedly without necessarily seeing them as an all-encompassing part of who I am. The work may fail, we may stumble and trip and fall along the way, but it need not define who we are 🙂 Yay for that.

 

On a separate note, it’s off to Bali for the mother and me for the next 5 days. Perfect time for rest, reflection and recharge!

“That Was Hard.” – a Lesson in Self Compassion

“That was so hard! You did amazing for what you were given to deal with!”

These words meant a lot to me for 2 main reasons.

  1. It’s not our cultural norm for someone to acknowledge how hard the things we have to do sometimes may be. I mean this in a widespread sense, not job-specific sense. But when your job is sometimes seen as nothing more than “having fun” and “making music with kids”, it can be even harder for people to understand why you feel like you have a hard time. So, having someone who understands when we have a difficult session, and acknowledge that it was hard, can be enough to move me to tears.
  2. I learnt that acknowledging and accepting when something is hard does not necessarily include admitting that I’m incompetent, which is one of my greatest fears. I learnt that acknowledging and accepting when something is objectively and naturally hard actually opens my mind to think about what can be done to overcome the difficulty of the problem, without getting too personal about it. Without thinking that if this doesn’t work = I’m a complete failure. Simply acknowledging the mountain-like nature of the tasks we have to do (Eg: Engage 6 kids at once on the same task, each of which have a different developmental delay diagnosis and/or have ASD and a cognitive age estimate of below 12months..) can go a long way in accepting that sometimes we don’t get the kind of completion and success we want, but can still learn and grow from the experience.

After that line was said to me, I felt so touched that the challenging nature of the situation was acknowledged, and I felt myself become more open than ever to take in suggestions for change and improvement. And some of the suggestions given were really good.

Of course I would have accepted the suggestions given anyway. But if not for this line, I don’t think I’d feel as confident about moving on, and might have even internalised some negative messages about myself. Not exactly the most healthy thing.

So today, I am thankful for this lesson in Self-Compassion. May all be well and happy!