Tag Archives: self help

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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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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Thoughts Within Oppression

ImageI know what I feel,

I feel oppressed.

I feel hopeless.

I feel possessed.

I feel love for a nation, a nation that doesn’t know that I exist.

I feel skeptic about nations; I doubt if borders exist.

I feel that I belong to this place.

I feel that to my countrymen, I have no trace.  

I feel that its time to pick a side.

I feel that I don’t care if both sides collide.

I feel ashamed.

I feel that I am not the one to be blamed.

I feel the need to be influential.

I feel powerless.

I feel deep as an ocean.

I feel shallow as a puddle.

I feel free.

I feel locked inside my head.

I doubt if I know what I feel anymore.

I doubt if what I feel is even real.

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Reflection On Perfection

ImageI remember when I was young; my parents always encouraged me saying, “ You did a great job there, next time you will do even better”, this phrase got me really frustrated at many occasions. Although my parents appreciated my efforts, they always made me feel that my efforts were not enough. It appears that my parents were trying to send me a message. I grew up in a small family that each member gave their best at whatever task they were handling; a family that I saw as somewhat perfectionist. My family was neither discouraging nor extreme; nonetheless, the task of perfecting everything seemed far out of my reach. As I have thought of the reasons why perfection seemed unreachable, I understood the message my parents were trying to communicate.

Each one of us sees perfection in a different way; yet, most of us are in the chase of perfection. Sometimes when we lay down on bed to sleep, we try to picture how our perfect life may look like. We wander with our thoughts and play with them like a kid plays with his puzzle; we search for the missing pieces to make the picture complete; we search for what we need to make our lives perfect.

I was not any different; I wanted a taste of perfection. I tried to think of all the possible ways that I can reflect perfection. I was always disappointed, because my expectations far exceeded my abilities. One day, I realized that I don’t desire to be perfect anymore. I felt grateful, I felt human and I felt that I was complete. In fact, I started to see that our imperfections are simply, beautiful. If our lives were perfect, we would have nothing to live for. Hope is the shadow of our flaws; so, if we have no flaws, we will live without hope, and I doubt the existence of a life without hope.

After my realizations, I have reached a stage of my life were everything seemed neutral. I was neither discouraged because of high expectations, nor encouraged to grow and improve. I started to think, “Okay, what should I do now?” I felt lost; I felt unchallenged. I needed middle ground, where both aspirations and acceptance meet.  I realized something more profound; I started to see a tradeoff. When we don’t care about perfection, we don’t grow and change that much, but we don’t feel bad about it either (because we are in a state of acceptance). On the other hand, when we try to be perfect, we grow and change, but we still feel bad about it (Because we put so much emphasis on our unrealistic expectations). So the optimal situation is when we grow and change while maintaining our state of acceptance.

When archers aim their longbows, they don’t aim directly at their target, rather they aim slightly above it, so that when they shoot, the arrow goes further and hits their target. Notice that the archers’ expectation was their target, not the point where they aimed upwards to reach their target. Same thing with us, if we do efforts slightly above our expectations, we will end up improving at our task.

Not all archers have the same bows; some archers have strong bows that can take their arrows further without much effort, while other archers have weaker bows that require a lot of effort for the arrows to go far; yet, all bows are adjustable. Same thing with us, we are not all born with the same potentials. Yet, some of us make use of what they have better than the others.

If the archers’ target was really far, aiming high may still be not enough for them to get their target, but bear in mind that if the archers aim higher, their arrows will go further than they would have gone if they aimed lower. In different words, doing our best may not be always enough to achieve our goal, but doing our best certainly gets us closer to that goal.

Yes, we can’t achieve ultimate perfection; but we can keep getting closer and closer. Every step we take closer is a step of improvement and growth. If we understand the beauty of imperfection, but at the same time we “make the best out of what we have”, we will end up not only achieving more, but also we will feel great about our achievements and progress. My parents were sending me a message that there is no limit for the steps you can take towards perfection; there is always room for improvement.

Moufti           

            

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Letter To Anger

ImageDear anger,

I write you this letter to inform you that things won’t work between us. It’s not me it’s you. You are always there, waiting for me at the peak. You make me do things that I don’t intend; you make me say things that I don’t mean. You promise me serenity but all you offer is regret. Your existence is beyond justification. Your force is beyond measure.  I wish I could tame you; I wish we could be friends. I understand that you want your freedom; I understand that you want to escape, but I can’t let you, because I may lose my self along the way. Every time you show up, I promise myself that things will be different the next time. I put more locks and I build higher walls, but you always find your way. Sometimes I wish you could just disappear, and then I stop, I think and I realize that we are one. Maybe I am blinded by justifications; maybe it’s my fault. I blame you all the time, but I never try to change. My vision is distorted; my thoughts are hazy. I need more time to think.  Sorry, things won’t work between us. It’s not you it’s me. 

Moufti

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