Tag Archives: Life

7 Steps Towards Change

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I don’t take credit for this image

I miss being here so much. I have been writing a lot lately, but it all goes to the magazine, its things that unfortunately I can’t post here. Lately everything has been falling apart; nothing seems to be in place. Every time things start to be back in place, something just happens. My life is witnessing a very high rate of turn over. People/Things just keep going in and out of my life. I don’t think bitching about things will get anything better, so I’d rather spend that time working on alternatives.

Today, I realized that change happens gradually. One day you wake up frustrated and you think things got to change. You do your best, and then you realize your best was not enough to make that major change that you expected in your life.

The only way you can realize change is by looking backwards and I quote Steve Jobs here, “connecting the dots”. Today I look at my life and say, wow…things have really changed. 2-3 years ago I was just a completely different guy, someone who has very little resemblance with the man I am today. I am glad I am the man I am today, I am glad I have worked on changing and I slowly did.

Now my life is collapsing again because I have stopped changing. I see this as a wake-up call. There is no going back, there is no staying still, our life is collapsing behind us and the only way to escape is by running forward.

 But how do we know that we have changed? It’s the social mirror, it’s how the people respond to us, the feedback we get. So if you really change, but the people still treat you the same, wouldn’t that make you feel like the same old you?

Now many people (including myself) struggled with that. You try change, but everything around you is still the same. The thought of giving up slowly grows in your mind.

On a side note, the social mirror is the most realistic distortion of reality. It includes the people who we trust the most. It has our close friends and even our family. Those are the people who we get our feedback from; those are the people who reflect our change. But how come they don’t give us the right feedback?

Many of us tend to think that everyone sees the world the same way we do. We expect that they see we have changed the same way we see that we have changed. This gap between what we expect and what they see is what I call “the distorted reality”.

 What we fail to realize is that this gap keeps getting smaller by time, and this is why we can only see change when we look back. This is why many people just quit changing. Because they just cant see any progress going right now.

People who surround us gradually adapt to our change, just like we-subconsciously- slowly adapt to theirs’. So how can you replace that broken social mirror to see your own change?

First, you have to reach peace with yourself. You must be dedicated enough that you really want to change your life.

Second, try seeing change as a form of improvement. Many people start worrying as soon as they hear the word “change”. They just fear losing “their self” a long the way.

Third, to change, you don’t need to change who you truly are. You don’t need to change your values; you just need to find them and align them with your habits.

 Fourth, differentiate between your values and your habits. Your values are the core beliefs that you have, while the habits are the implications of those values.

Usually we have a large gap between our values and our habits, and the whole point of change, is realigning the habits with the values.

 For instance, if “not judging other people” is one of my core values. But when a close friend of mine is sharing a personal story, I interrupt them with my advice and how I see things, instead of really trying to understand them. Then my habits would not be aligned with my values.

Fifth, make a written list of your values and core beliefs. Don’t worry, as you get to change, you will get to know yourself better, so you can add/remove a few items from that list.

Sixth, that list will be your new mirror. You can always juxtapose this list against your daily habits. Every day, wake up and look at your list of values, how close are you to that list? Do you treat the people in a way that aligns with your values? Do you treat yourself in a way that aligns with your values? 

Seventh, make a promise not to your family, not your friends but to yourself; that you will do your best to improve, even if the whole world will try to prove you otherwise.

Finally, be patient, be truthful with yourself and know that we are all imperfect humans. We make mistakes, we learn and we grow; it is part of our lives and human nature.

Moufti 

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Going Around In Circles

ImageSo here I am, wishing I had more time for all the things I love. Unfortunately there is no price on time, it’s one of those thing money can’t buy. Recently I have been doing things completely out of my way; I mean, is this even real? Everything seems stable, a bit too stable… I am craving adventure, a taste of something new; yet, I don’t make any effort to search for this so called “new taste”. I have always thought “oh there is so much to think about, when it comes to over thinking”, but nowadays, there is literally nothing to over think about, it just feels like I am going around in circles, and those circles keep getting smaller and smaller. But it’s all good, and by good I mean neutral, neutral in the optimistic sense. I miss being here so often, having all the time to do all the silly things that I love. 

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Egyptian Men Don’t Cry

ImageA young boy falls out of his bed and starts to cry out loud. The father approaches his son in an attempt to cease the cries. “Men don’t cry”, shouts the father. At first, the boy may not understand why men shouldn’t cry. I mean, to him what’s the difference between men and women anyway? Slowly the boy is conditioned to be the man who does not cry…  Sometimes human nature strikes with a moment of vulnerability, and boys helplessly cry; however, when boys cry they may hide their tears from the people surrounding them so that they do not look “weak” or “fragile”. Yet, not all boys are ashamed of their tears, tears may be viewed differently, based on culture, tradition and gender schema. In one place, tears of men may be considered as an expression of emotion; in another place, tears of men may be considered as an expression of weakness. For instance, in a country like Egypt, real men ought not to cry. That raises a question, Why are tears dependent on culture and tradition to a large extent? 

From the moment babies are born they are socialized into genders. For example, a baby boy is more likely to receive gifts in the color of blue. While a baby girl is more likely to receive gifts in the color of pink. Does pink or blue have anything to do with enhancing masculinity or femininity? No, but the unspoken consensus among people, is that blue is masculine, pink is feminine.  Apart from biological influence, people shape babies into their “gender schema” of how a boy or a girl should look or act. In other words: putting genes aside, people treat boys differently than girls, so babies are treated according to a certain image inside the people’s head. This image is  “what a certain gender role should be”; the image shapes the babies to act in a certain way that is consistent with the way they are “treated”. Yet, the schemas of how a boy or a girl should act, slightly differs from one society to another. For example in one culture, it is okay for men to wear earrings, while in another culture it is not accepted for men to wear earrings because they may be considered as “feminine”.

 

In Egypt, no one goes to a man who is crying and explicitly tells him that it is not accepted to cry. Crying is one of the unspoken norms of the society. Paradoxically, Egyptians may find it more acceptable to cry for the love of a sports team or patriotism for the nation, than to cry because of the man’s emotional side. Many men cry; however, they may find a lot of trouble to share that with someone else. Even when grown up men want to cry, they may move to a different room so that their family do not see them crying.

Men do have an emotional side, but the way of expression remains to be a choice. As an Egyptian I grew up being conditioned not to cry; therefore, I find crying not an easy task. I am not arguing that all Egyptians should hug, let go of their feelings and start crying. I am just looking at tears from a different perspective.

Moufti

 

 

 

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Easier To Advise…Harder To Improvise

Image“Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own” (Coelho 16).This is one of the most paradoxical quotes that I have always tried to uncover. Sometimes we feel like it’s a lot simpler to give good advice to someone, when the situation is not of our own; however, when It’s us who are facing the situation, we feel like we are lost in oblivion. We try to find a way out by thinking in third person view, but we still feel that something is wrong; it’s like there is a mystical force stopping us from making our own decisions smoothly. Our thoughts seem distorted like dark clouds surround them; our sense of rational thinking is present, we acknowledge its existence, but we can’t grasp it; it is just like bubbles floating in the air, we see them, we reach out for them, but once we hold them, they’re gone.

When we think about a situation that is not of our own, we see things from more perspectives; we see the same story, only from different angles. Have you ever noticed that when other people speak to us about their concerns, we tend to give very logical replies? On the contrary, when we think for our own, everything seems to be a little more complicated. Maybe we know others better than we know ourselves? Maybe we don’t care about others, so we think less carefully when the concern is not of our own? Perhaps the previous assumptions are valid; nevertheless, none of them provide a logical reason, because they are based on human nature assumptions. There must be an element that is present when we make decisions of our own, but somehow absent when we give advice, an element that affects our decisions subconsciously, an element that twists our rationality.

This element is the voice inside our head; the voice that wants what we can’t have, the voice that is making us afraid of rejection, the voice that doesn’t know patience and the voice that doesn’t know reason; this voice is the sound of our emotions. We want to follow our heart, but what we don’t realize is that our heart has no sense of direction. When we form an idea about the life of others, we don’t follow our heart, but we follow reason, and avoid exaggeration.

We are always in the pursuit of happiness, we want our decisions to be invincible, but when we try so hard, we lose ourselves along the road and end up over thinking, and thus over-complicating our lives. Life is simpler than what we think; instead of looking for shortcuts, we can sit back and enjoy the journey. So for us to be rational decision makers, do we have to kill our emotions? No, because if we try to stop our feelings, we will end up over thinking; consequently, all we need to do is…“nothing”. Instead of trying hard to make the best decision, we just need to relax, get out of our head and focus on the moment, because only then we are able to see things from all angles, and thus we are able to be rational at all times.

 Moufti

 

 

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