Tag Archives: self development

How to Win Against and Be Free From Your Worst Enemy: Your Inner Critic. Part I

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The inner critic. The voice of negativity. The saboteur. Many names describe the self-defeating person inside our heads. It attempts with one rushing thought after another to tear us apart, tear our dreams and hopes apart, and leave us in tatters.

Just when we begin to feel good about a project we’re working on, the inner critic strikes with a sneak attack, dampening our mood and making us question everything. When we stop creating to question every little detail, we make our project appear more complicated than it should be, and this may prompt us to stop working altogether.

We try to be positive, but the inner critic still looms over our heads, sometimes powerful and ominous, squashing our feeble attempts to silence it right away.

As a writer, I’ve experienced the voice of negativity on multiple occasions:

“You’re a terrible writer.”

“Why can’t you describe this better?”

“You’re such a slow writer.”

“No one would read this. What’s wrong with you?”

“You’ll never succeed as a writer.”

These thoughts come cascading one after the other, sometimes freezing my fingers from typing anything new on the keyboard. I almost lose my desire to write and search to direct my energies into some other outlet. What if my inner critic was right? What if I was wasting my time writing? What if nobody would ever read my works?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The saboteur doesn’t just strike at my writing. It harasses me about other aspects in my life: family, work, relationships, and my dreams to travel the world, start organizations to help vulnerable youth, and someday create my own media company. With all these ambitious dreams, my inner critic works overtime to make me feel unworthy, unprepared, and unequipped to find success in my endeavors and my life overall.

After months of meditation and self-introspection, I’ve come to realize what’s keeping in the claws of my saboteur; what stops me from being consistent in working toward my lifelong goals and dreams. My inner critic reflects and gives voice to the deep subconscious fears resting in the darkest caverns of my mind. According to psychologists, painful experiences in childhood such as trauma or experiences with hurtful attitudes toward us help form the inner critic. Without taking the time to pinpoint and separate ourselves from this inner critic, we may allow it to sabotage different areas in our lives.

I found that by identifying my fears, I could shut up my inner critic once and for all and replace it with a more self-affirming voice. My inner critic can no longer swallow me whole and trap me in despair and zombie living.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Here are the first two fears out of four that I’ve confronted:

1. Fear in disappointing my parents.

Being careless with our mental care can allow parents to mess us up. A lot.

Sometimes most of the things holding us back from achieving what we are made to achieve is fear of our parents. We fear letting them down. We fear upsetting them. We fear making their worst nightmares about us come true. We fear their disapproval. We fear losing their support, maybe even their love. We have these great fears because our great love for them.

For some, our parents are a huge part of our lives, especially if we’re the children of immigrants or come from a culture with very strong family ties. This fear, however, can potentially be mentally unhealthy and constricting, and can stop us from taking the risks and steps necessary to achieve the goals, dreams, and vision we have for our lives.

In my life, for example, my parents don’t regard writing as valuable unless it’s tied to a more prestigious profession such as law or public policy. I respect these sectors but for now I want to write fiction, personal essays, and uplifting words that can help others in mental, emotional, and spiritual ways. To me, it’s not always about the income, but about the freedom of self-expression.

Overcoming the fear of disappointing my parents and what they think of me isn’t always easy. It takes hard work and practice in the form of deep introspection, revisiting hurtful past events, and seeing my parents as humans with their own fears, dreams, weaknesses, and strengths.

Parents are not perfect gods. They’re imperfect people who sometimes fear for us in ways that may feel more overbearing to some than others. We know they love us, but some parents have a hard time letting go, and it’s so important they know how to do that.

For us with parents unable to let go, we need to take the first step and jump out to the road waiting before us. This takes bravery, but we all have the courage to do so.

Image courtesy of Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

To wrap this one up, the inner critic can manifest itself as the imagined voice of my parents telling me I can’t do this or do that because I may end up hurting their dreams for me. However, by better understanding this one fear supplying the material for my saboteur, I can shut it down right away without taking the time to dwell on what it has to say to me.

I can say, “I know where I’m going, and I’m going to make it. And when I do, I’ll find ways to make my parents happier than they’ve ever been.”

2. Fear of rejection.

This one is a real doozy. I fear rejection. One more time. I. Fear. Rejection. It’s embarrassing having to admit this but unless we admit our fears, we won’t be able to tackle them. I fear rejection from friends, people I like and admire, readers of my writing, and so on.

Fear of rejection sometimes stops me from engaging with people I find really interesting because I’m afraid they won’t accept me or my quirks. I’m horribly sarcastic, introverted, and extremely mellow, unless I’m excited about something, and then I’m hyperactive. I have this tendency of thinking people won’t get me so my inner critic pops up with these expressions to paralyze me:

“People think you’re weird.”

“You’re boring.”

“Why don’t you have anything interesting to say?”

“Why would anyone like someone like you?”

“You’re a terrible person and should stay away from people.”

The results of listening to this inner critic? I isolate myself and spend long swaths of time alone, which hurts my chest and head because the loneliness is real.

Image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Studies show that loneliness does serious damage to your physical health: lonely people are twice as likely to catch colds; four times more likely to have a heart attack, and four times more likely to die from it. Loneliness negatively impacts your immune system and bolsters genetic activity tied to inflammation, a risk factor for heart disease and cancer! This refers to loneliness alone, not depression. Furthermore, loneliness should not be confused with being alone which is perfectly all right.

I have moments where I’m more than comfortable with being alone, immersed in my work, meditating, or walking around, people watching. However, the saboteur emerges at times when I feel lonely to make sure I stay that way. It also stops me from working on a project because I’m supposedly the worst writer in the world and people will hate my writing.

Knowing my inner critic gets its juice from my fear of rejection helps me find counterattacks to the five negative statements above:

  • Who cares if people think I’m weird. Some people don’t think so and others don’t care. They’re the ones who matter to me. Also, I like being weird.
  • I’m not a clown. I was not made to entertain people all the time.
  • I like breaks in conversation. As an introvert, I value breaks in conversation because too much talking can become overwhelming. I like time to process. It’s who I am.
  • Why would anyone not like me? Next.
  • Yeah, I mess up, but I know I am a compassionate being and seek to do no harm to others.

The inner critic may appear innocent at first, but without proper supervision, it can grow into a beast ruining our lives. As with anything negative thought pattern or behavior we see ourselves succumbing to, it’s always important to dig deeper to find the roots. Without doing so, we may only have surface level solutions that work only for the short term.

How about you? How do you deal with your inner critic? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Stay amazing,

Sammy

If you found this article interesting or helpful, please share it with your family and friends!

Also, be sure to look out for my new e-book coming out soon: The Passionate Dreamer’s Notebook: For Those Who Refuse to Quit!

Be Better and Live Better: #1 Stop Making Plans You Won’t Keep

You finish having a wonderful chat with a long lost friend, and she suggests you both meet up for coffee or tea. Feeling kind, you say yes and set up a date. The date of your appointment arrives and you don’t think you can commit to your promise. A ton of work comes up to swamp you, other social obligations call, or you work it over in your mind that you really don’t want to see this person after all. Feeling shitty, you cancel on her. But she’s not the only person you’ve cancelled on for one reason or another. You find yourself doing this to people over again and again and again. You are a chronic plan-breaker.

via http://www.someecards.com

I am a chronic plan-breaker, and it makes me feel like the lowest scum on the earth when I have to make up an excuse for why I can’t make this or that appointment. This is more than just being a heartless jerk, however. With some deep digging, I’ve come to realize the real reasons why I keep making plans and then breaking them:

 

1. I like to say yes to please people.

Whenever a friend or anyone else asks me to do something, I instantly jump in and reply with a yes. I don’t think things through honestly in terms of my availability or mood. I receive pleasure from making people feel good so I try to do so whenever I can.

OMAHGOSH, LET’S DO IT! via http://www.newgrounds.com

However, this dangerous habit of saying yes is hurtful and disrespectful to people. I want to live by the mantra of doing no harm to anyone, but I fail in this regard when I use people to give myself a small boost of happiness to cover up real dark issues concerning my mental state.

2. I act with my emotions and not my head.

I’m a very emotional person and if I’m not careful, I find myself acting according to my emotions and not my head. This reflects immaturity on my part and a low mental state. I get angrily easily, fall in love too quickly, get too excited and enthusiastic about good things, and feel other people’s pain and sadness too broadly.

My emotions drive my mind crazy

It’s not that I’m not supposed to feel. Of course not. However, when my emotions get in the way of being a better person or end up hurting or disrespecting others, I need to keep them under control.

3. My mood constantly changes

I’m pretty much convinced I suffer from cyclothymic disorder. Cyclothymic disorder is a mild form of bipolar disorder with low-grade high periods (mania) and fleeting periods (less than two weeks) of depression as seen in a major depressive episode (WebMd).

via insta20.com

One week I’m happy and invincible, the next I’m depressed and suicidal, and so on like some terrible cycle. When I’m in my hypomania days, I love making as much plans as possible because I want to feel even better about making other people feel good. However, if my appointments fall on days when I’m depressed and unmotivated, I don’t want to go out. As a result, I cancel my plans because I’d much rather be alone. Sometimes the thought of being with other people on these days makes me want to roll in a ball under my covers and never come out. If my dates fall on days when I’m upbeat and feeling like I can take over the world, I keep my appointments. Therefore, I cancel and keep my plans according to my mood. Not good.

Whenever you find yourself doing things you’re not proud of, it helps to take some time to think through exactly why you’re behaving this way instead of telling yourself not to do it. Unless you dig deeper into yourself and get to the root of the problem, you’ll eventually keep repeating this awful or hurtful habit. You’ll then end up feeling pretty shitty about yourself and reinforce negative thinking, which makes life miserable. The goal is to be a better person so you can live a better life and make the world a better place overall for everybody else.

So, what can we do about our awful plan-breaking habit since now that we know its root causes?

Here are three things we can do to help us stop making plans we won’t keep.

1. Don’t instantly answer questions about making plans.

This should be a simple one, but with instant messaging and impatience flying around everywhere, it can be easy to respond quickly because we believe that’s what’s expected of us: to act fast. However, resist the urge.

If you’re making plans through text messaging, you can pause to check your calendar and check your motivation. If you’re on the phone or talking to someone in person, be honest and tell them you’ll let them know within a day or two. Also, make sure you do let them know; don’t just leave things up in the air because doing so is rude and disrespectful.

2. Ask yourself these two questions.

First, can you do this? Make sure nothing within your control will come up to interfere like work or domestic duties. Don’t underestimate your workload or overestimate your ability to get things done. Again, be honest with yourself.

Second, do you really want to do this? Check to see if your heart is in it. If you’re feeling half-hearted about the plans, don’t make them because eventually you’ll not want to follow through. You’ll feel like you’ve been asked to climb Mt. Everest. Just honestly tell the person you don’t feel like doing this or that. A simple, “Thanks for the invite, but I’m good or I’ll pass.” Or “I’m good but let’s do something else next time.”

Doing so will give the other person a chance to better know your likes and dislikes and to stop inviting you or making plans for things you’re not interested in.

However, if you’re feeling genuinely and fully committed to the plans, then go ahead and make them.

Now this can be a tricky one for someone like me who suffers from a mood disorder. As I said before, I can feel totally excited and motivated about making plans, and then feel like death when the times comes to following through with them. To get around this, I need to follow rule number one: Don’t act quickly and let my hypomania die down until I’m levelheaded.

If my plans do fall on a day when I’m experiencing depression, I need to be out of the house at least a few hours or more before the meeting time. During a depressive episode, I find it’s a lot harder to leave my room an hour or so before an appointment. Instead, I can be at the park, library, or a café getting some writing done on my laptop before it’s time to meet whomever.

3. Remember the awful feelings you felt and inflicted when you broke previous plans.

Don’t neglect one of the most important functions of the mind: memory. Use your memories to help you become a better person. When you broke plans with a loved one, someone important, a new friend or date, you felt bad because you’re a human being. You also hurt the person on the receiving end of your negligent actions. You don’t want to repeat feeling these negative emotions or cause pain to someone else.

And that’s it! We’ll find that with some people, it’s easier to meet them or keep promises to them as opposed to others.

The key thing is we want to become people who keep their word. Since we’re all adults here and everything.

How about you? How do you stop making plans you don’t plan to keep? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Stay amazing,

Sammy

If you enjoyed this article or found it helpful, please share it on facebook, twitter, or wherever! Thanks in advance!

Be Inspired: Post #1

via http://www.catinwater.com

Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing
can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel
that there is something in them
To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.

To think only the best, to work only for the best,
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past
and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words but great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
so long as you are true to the best that is in you

By Christian D. Larson

How I Write and Keep Motivated in the Face of Deep Discouragement: Part I

I feel you, Kitty. I feel you.

Sometimes I’m shocked at how much I’m able to create or write in the midst of all the crap I have to deal with it internally and externally: loneliness, family pressures, unfulfilling job, agent rejections, financial instability, depression, etc. I can’t count the number of times I’ve contemplated suicide or wanted to run away as far as possible from my life here in Boston. Or just give up on living abundantly and resign myself to the 9-5 slog of zombie walking. But I don’t. I don’t stop writing. I don’t stop creating. I never stop hoping for something more than the life I’m living. I keep going, sometimes even without motivation. Without discipline. Without anything. I keep going. How? I’m going to share with you four of the things I do to write and keep creating in the face of deep discouragement. In part two, which I will post soon, I’ll share the next four things that I do.

Getting things done like a boss.

1.) Write down goals for each week, month, and next six months, and follow the progress of these goals.

One of the ways that I make it through life when it feels like a total slump is to write down my goals for the week, month, and the next six months. Looking at my goals every days fuels my day with purpose and moves me to get things done even when I don’t feel like it. Writing down goals drags me out of the la la land of dreams toward reality. I love dreaming, but I don’t want to live in my dreams forever. I want to experience the reality of them coming true, and that happens with making goals that I work hard to achieve every day. Next, I always follow the progress of said goals to see how far I’ve come or how behind I am. Doing so makes me have an active relationship with my goals. They’re not simply words I write down and forget the next day. It doesn’t help to approach goal setting in a superficial, hollow manner. That’s why I use apps like Evernote to help organize my goals and progress so I can access them anywhere.

2.) Meditate every day for at least twenty minutes.

The second reason why I don’t burn my eyebrows off or have what should be my millionth nervous break down is meditation. I can’t stress enough how important meditation is to keeping sane. Those twenty minutes or more of silence, of getting away from the world and technology, just refreshes your batteries to take on whatever comes next. And there’s really no right way to meditate. You just need to sit still; you don’t need to do anything fancy like curl your fingers or cross your feet.

Now that’s my type of meditation. Via betterdoctor.com

And don’t worry if you start thinking about a bunch of things. Let your mind do its thing. When you’re ready, focus on one idea or focus on the darkness when you close your eyes. Listen to your breathing. Breathe deeply. Listen to one of the hundreds of meditation tunes on YouTube while you meditate to help set the mood. I personally love listening to traditional Native American songs while I meditate. I just fly away and forget everything. It’s perfect. I can’t go a day without mediation.

3.) Practice gratitude

Practicing gratitude goes hand in hand with my meditation. I always start my meditation by listing all the things that I’m grateful for. This exercise helps me put things in perspective. Instead of complaining of things I don’t have, I focus on the things I do have, and this chases away negative feelings that would otherwise occupy my mind. In the grand scheme of things, I’m quite blessed: I have a job, a warm place to live during this terrible winter, meals to eat, a loving family, and the function of my limbs and senses. That’s a lot more than a whole lot of people in the world. Practicing gratitude keeps me moving forward without steam.

4.) Don’t be too hard on myself if I fall short of my goals

I don’t always achieve all the weekly or monthly goals I set for myself. When I fall short on making something happen, I choose not to be too hard on myself because that can easily spiral into a vortex of negative thinking. Once caught in that vortex, I may not want to set goals again in order to avoid the awful feelings associated with failing. One of the worst things you can do is fear failure because it stops you from taking action, especially the kind of risky action that can give large returns. Instead of focusing on the things I didn’t achieve, I take stock of what I’ve succeeded in doing. This gives me a much-needed boost to keep going and get to the things I failed to achieve.

I used to think life was this terrible, sadistic monster that tried to trip me up any chance it got. But that picture of life was all wrong. There was nothing out there trying to destroy me or make me feel miserable. It was all in my head. Life is what I make it. Today, I’d like to think life responds to my mindset and actions. I’d like to believe life is something beautiful and I need to flow with it, not against it. I don’t need to fight, I need to create more than anything.

What about you? What are some things you do keep yourself creating or doing what you love in the face of discouragement? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Stay amazing,

Sammy

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Get Over the Small Stuff And Live Better: #3 Road Rage vs. Road Peace

Seriously, people, use it!

When I get behind the wheel, I’m pretty much convinced that I’m the best driver out there (ten years driving and no accidents yet, knock on wood), and everyone else got his or her license out of a cereal box as my good friend would always say. I live in Boston, and the drivers here drive. Me. CRAZY. But not as crazy as before when I suffered from a serious case of road rage. Every drive would be a nightmare because someone would cut me off, drive too slowly, or simply forget basic road rules.

And the rotaries.

OMG, don’t get me started on the rotaries. If you have the fortunate luck of never coming across these circles of perpetual annoyance in your home state, then thank your lucky stars; there are no faults written there. Some Boston drivers do not know what to do around a rotary. Others think it’s the best time to start driving around from another direction at the same moment when I’m driving—the moment when it’s clearly my right of way. I keep driving and dare the idiot to come crashing my way.

via chuck.goolsbee.org

Expletives used to fly out my mouth as if they were eggs hitting the other driver’s windshields. Shaking fists, exasperated sighs, gritting teeth, severe eye rolls, and the long WTF-were-you-thinking stare at the driver upon the red light.

BUT, not anymore.

My road rage was out of control and adding unnecessary stress to my brain and my life. Yeah, people out there were bad drivers, but that didn’t mean I had to lose my cool over it. Why should I let idiot drivers ruin my day and turn me into this angry bird? Why should I sacrifice my peace for something so insignificant, especially when there are no accidents involved? Why should I work myself up into a whirlwind of negative emotions for dumb drivers?

The answer: I shouldn’t have to.

Anger is a powerful emotion that should be reserved only for moments where it can be harnessed intelligently to create meaningful change like in unjust circumstances where people are being physically or emotionally hurt or displaced by others. Anger has no place in our every day lives. Allowing anger to fester in the presence of simple annoyances shows a lack of control and reveals deeper problems from within—problems that should be dealt with so one can find peace, the optimal state of mind.

My poor anger management stemmed from past disappointments and rejections that I hadn’t been able to release. I held on to these failures so tightly because I didn’t know what else I could do. It was as if letting go would nullify all the hard work I put in to achieving the results that I so desperately wanted. When those results failed to come true, I felt stuck, hurt, and angry all the time. My anger seeped out when I drove, interacted with family, or did every day tasks. I had no peace.

It wasn’t until that I confronted my anger head on, unpacking its deeper meaning and sources, that I was able to become aware of how I was hurting the people around me and myself. I finally let go of my failures, rejections, and disappointments, and consciously decided to learn from them and move the hell on.

And with that came peace. So, now when I drive I’m a lot less annoyed and angry. I experience peace and take joy being behind the wheel. But I’ll be honest. Sometimes that one driver will drag an eye roll out of me because Boston. But it’s not that serious. 😉

How about you? Do you have road rage? How do you deal with it? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Stay amazing,

Sammy

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Also check out: Get Over the Small Stuff And Live Better: #2 Commuter Rage vs. Commuter Peace

From College to Today: How I Fought and Won Against Self-Doubt, Disappointment, and Negativity. Part II

In college I walked in a haze of negativity and self-doubt obscuring my vision and crippling my hopes for a future. I longed to hang out with friends on weekends, laugh for no reason, and work hard on a dream motivated by passion. I desired these things because somewhere deep inside I knew that life couldn’t only be the flames and the aches. Although small and fragile, there was some awareness that I wasn’t meant to live this cramped, self-hating existence I was living. I was meant for something more fulfilling, rich, and beautiful. And that small hope pushed me to apply to graduate school in NYC, a city that stole my imagination and heart after a three-day visit with my family. I wanted to live in New York and the universe and God answered my prayers.

My face once I opened up my letter of acceptance to Columbia University

I didn’t know it back then, but I was slowly releasing myself from the throes of negative thinking before moving to New York for school. I was fed up with feeling down, fed up with feeling like I had zero control of my life and where I wanted it to go. Suddenly, it really didn’t matter so much what people thought of me or whether this or that person could perform this task better than I could. I had a desire to truly focus on me without taking the outside world into consideration.

It took going beyond the superficial desires manufactured by my upbringing and society to better understand and be in touch with who I really was and what I could do. I was approaching the edge of this new and liberating mindset, but doubt and negativity kept pulling me back. It would take some great friends to give me the shove I needed into a lake of healing and self-love.

Freedom begins in the mind

When I first stepped out of the moving van to head up to my room, I instantly felt the rhythm of the city humming beneath the soles of my feet and tingling my skin and senses. The beat matched the excitement of my heartbeat and never stopped drumming until I left two years later. The air had something contagious in it: possibility, hope, uniqueness, coolness, and discovery among many things. I couldn’t help but get caught up in the potential for what things in my life could be. It was a great feeling. Like I said before, I was riding on an amazing high. But I would soon find out that the best thing about living in the city was the people.

New York would have been nothing without the incredible bunch of individuals I met from different walks of life. For some strange reason, the shyness that held me hostage in college dissipated in the city. I was outgoing, confident, and supremely cheerful, and it attracted so many cool people my way. Something about being outside of my comfort zone energized me in a way I never thought possible. I wanted to forge new friendships and connections so I dove right in without an ounce of fear. Doing so allowed me to meet one special friend who helped me confront my negativity straight on and embark on a new path: affirmative thinking.

To be continued…

Stay Amazing,

Sammy

How about you? Have you ever moved someplace new and it changed you in some way or another? I’d love to hear about it!

If you found this article interesting or insightful in anyway, please spread the love and share it! Thank you!

Get Over the Small Stuff And Live Better: #2 Commuter Rage vs. Commuter Peace

bus
Why are you always late?

It’s 8:05am. According to my trusty Google Maps app, the 66 Bus to Harvard Square should arrive around 8:13. I eye the Dunkin Donuts to the left of the bus stop and decide that I have enough time to grab a much needed cup of coffee if I am to face my students and not poke my eye out with a dry erase marker. I get my cup of coffee and return to the bus stop. I leave my coffee unopened because I remembered what happened last time I vied for a sip. While on the bus, the coffee spilled all over me in glorious fashion thanks to the most abrupt stops in the world. So I keep the top closed over the scalding black liquid.

It’s 18 degrees. Windy. A smatter of snowflakes falls to the ground. I bury my face in my black infinity scarf. My breath fogs up my glasses and I can’t see. I wipe the lenses my finger and quickly retreat in into the warmth of my gloves. Boston winters don’t play.

Despite the cold, I’m somewhat self-satisfied because I made it the bus stop early this morning, which means I’ll have thirty glorious minutes to do some prep and relax before my classes start at 9am. I smile, a miracle considering it’s morning, and I hate mornings with the fiery passion of a million burning suns. I check the time:

8:15am. Um, okay so the bus is a little late.

8:25am. What the hell is going on? Seriously, why can’t MBTA get its sh** together! Do they know that people need to get to work? Why the hell would they increase the damn fare if they can’t even get buses on the street? I crane my neck and look out for the bus every three seconds.

8:27am. The bus arrives and it’s full to the max, people sandwiched together, touching each other so close that faces are rubbing against faces. I think how there’s no way I’ll be able to get in. Bam! The driver doesn’t allow me in. Just as I thought. I want to hurl my bag into the brick building behind me.

About ready to hitch a ride like these guys.

8:31am. A second bus arrives and it’s just as full. Eff this! I make my way to the back entrance and enter, making space where none exists. I look at the seats longingly but know it’ll be impossible to get a seat. I stand for the whole bus ride, thinking endlessly about how I’ll be late for work. Traffic is bad.

I’m late for work.

My head curses enough to shame a sailor and sends out rays upon rays of negative energy into the air. I hate Boston. I hate the MBTA. I hate the traffic. I HATE EVERYTHING.

All of this negative thinking ends up creating a terrible day.

Pause.

Rewind to 8:15am. The bus is late. It’s okay. I won’t be late for work today, however.

The bus arrives at 8:23am. It’s full but I can get it in, and I won’t even have to stand long because I’ll get a seat soon. I get into the bus and one stop later, a lady steps off and I claim her seat. I sit comfortably in the crowded bus. My mind is at peace and I focus on the music pouring into my ears from my headphones. I’m not worried. I’ll get to work on time. Not as early as I wanted to, but I won’t be late.

8:50am. I get to work with ten minutes to spare. I have a great day.

Both these accounts are true stories. In the first scenario, my mind was full of negative thinking and anger, and it ruined my whole day. When I decided to shift my thinking away from negativity and anger, my world changed, as if responding to my mind.

Don’t underestimate the power of the mind to influence your world. I realized that we all make a choice to accept negativity and reinforce it or reject it by stating affirmative statements and thus, driving negativity away.

Try shifting your thinking at any point in a bad day and let me know what happens.

What are some things you do to get over commuter rage?

Stay amazing,

Sammy

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Also, check out: Get Over the Small Stuff And Live Better: #1 Late Text Replies

Loving without Expectation

It’s been nearly nine months since I received my final rejection from the last school I applied to for a PhD program. I know I bring this up many times but these rejections still have a terrible, emotional hold on me. I scream to my heart, “Get over it, already! Move the hell on!” Although my mind has been content to move on, my heart lags behind, angry and bitter.

And this anger and bitterness has made my love wax cold in terms of how I relate to others. I want something in return for the love I give. Before my rejections, I was able to love without expecting anything in return. I just gave my time, presence, and other expressions of care freely and happily. I was patient, almost long suffering, with difficult people. I had more of a desire to connect with distant friends. I was more uplifting in my attitude, and brighter with my smiles. I wasn’t defensive as I am now because confidence brimmed from my cup. I allowed my anger and bitterness to swallow whole my entire personality and turn me into this person that I don’t even know or want to be around with. I don’t like the person I’ve become. She’s cold. Distant. Angry. Aggressive. Cowardly. And insensitive to people’s feelings and needs.

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Sunset at the Han River, Seoul, Korea

 

In other words, I need to change. I’m not sure if I can go back to who I was five years ago, but moving forward I can take the best qualities from who I was and mold them with the best of who I am now. And what are my best qualities now? I listen more. I’m more aware than I’ve ever been of my faults and possess a strong desire to fix them. I truly love people, but I don’t trust them. Along with the list of weaknesses above, I’m surprised by how much I don’t trust people to be kind. Loving. Caring. Empathetic. Toward me. I have this idea in my head, which unfortunately feels frighteningly true, that people hate me or that I’m undesirable. Small remnants of my depression: that it would be better if I were dead and so on. But I don’t want to die! I want to live, unflinchingly and bravely. I want to savor life and all its beauties before I pass away from this Earth. And I want to love others without fear, without insecurities, without hidden motives, without manipulation, and without the expectation of receiving anything in return. I want to love unconditionally. This is my life’s goal. To perfect my loving.

How about you? How do you love others?

Stay amazing,
Sammy

When Everything Goes Wrong

2014 hasn’t been kind to me so far, which bites because 2013 wasn’t a blast either. I’ve been on a failing streak with one setback rolling in right after the other. Just when I think life has decided to give me a shiny gold coin, it pulls it right out of my reach before I can take it. Lucy would’ve been proud. And of course like any normal human being, I’ve buckled under the pressure, cursed the gods, and experience internal torment. Thankfully it’s not my style to stay broken and buried. Even if I have to claw my way out of this grimy pit, I will get out. Strangely enough misery motivates me to change whatever hasn’t been working.

First thing I did was get a haircut. I have this strange ritual where I cut my hair as some sort of external display of rebirth. I look in the mirror and see the new look, thinking about how I’m going to change. But that’s just 1% of the work needed to transform my situation. Usually my gut reaction to my problems is to leave the country. Runaway and teach English in some far off country where I don’t have to think or deal with any of the demons back home. Sadly, I’ve grown practical and can’t bring myself to do such a thing. Running away won’t help because my problems will follow me wherever I go. They live in my head, which last I check isn’t detachable. So what do I do?

Create opportunities. Work harder on my craft. Remember that the bad times won’t last forever. Be a better person to my loved ones and the people around me. Exercise regularly. Eat better. Get help in the form of a therapist. I’m pretty sure I’m holding my breath underwater and it won’t be long before I drown. So I have to keep all these things in mind to move forward and attain the life I want to live. To remember that life is worth living no matter my environment or my circumstances. Life is worth living.

What do you do when everything goes wrong? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Stay amazing,

Sammy

3 Ways to Be In Sync with Your Life’s Compass

I was teaching English in Seoul, Korea when it happened. The magical moment when I tapped into my soul and listened carefully for what it yearned. I longed for freedom of movement, a strong community of people with unique perspectives on life, students to teach and learn from, and a beach. I think water is the most beautiful thing on earth. My eyes can linger on the ocean for hours and never get bored of its majesty. When nature speaks through the crash of waves, gusts of wind, and roars of thunder, I listen. My heart is humbled, and through that humility, I freeze in awe, appreciating life.

But let me not bore you with words on nature. I want to share three ways that helped me stay in sync with my life’s compass. I used to see life as a list of things to get done to get from point A to point B. My motivations were external and I sought to please my family more than anything else with my life’s choices. I lived for their praise and approval, tying my worth on how they saw me. I looked at the lives of successful people and thought if I went their way, success wouldn’t be too far behind. However, all these things pushed me in the opposite direction of where my heart wanted to go, and thus I felt less excited about living. Things changed when I told a friend about my plans to abandon pursuing law school because my heart wasn’t into it. On the opposite side of the Atlantic, he sent me an email that changed my life.  In a long letter, he talked to me about following your life’s compass and drawing out what an ideal day in my life would look like. I did. And I knew where it was I wanted to go.

So, without further delay:

1.) Take the time to write down an ideal day in your life.

I’m not talking about two sentences here. Try to be as detailed as possible, even if it means describing your meal. Where are you? Who are you with? What are you doing? What do you see? What are the smells, tastes, and feelings? Fill in any gaps and don’t miss anything; free write your heart out. Read it. Save it. And read it again when you’re not so sure about things. Several years later, take a look at it again. Are you close to getting to that day? If not, think about what’s stopping you and what you need to do right now to get there.

2.) Remember that it’s okay to change.

Sometimes we have it set in our minds that this particular path is the one we must take, the only one we must take. But maybe that’s not always true. As we grow, we change. Our souls may be inspired by something new and shift toward a new direction. And so what if we shift twice, three, or even four times? It’s not always easy figuring out how we want to get to that ideal life of ours. It’s not the how that matters so much, but the destination.

3.) Learn to appreciate and lean into uncertainty.

This was a tough one for me to learn. I like knowing things are planned, set, and ready to go. I like stability, security, and knowing what will happen next. Who doesn’t? However, when life decided to throw me in the freezing waters of uncertainty, my reaction was worse than that of a drowning cat. I was heavily stressed, angry, and impatient. I walked around with an atmosphere of hopelessness and cynicism—traits that weren’t part of my character. And then, I took a deep breath and stopped running around. In between my angry puffs, uncertainty pushed me to take stock of what really mattered to me and to work harder on my dreams. I wasn’t even aware that I was growing as a person, until I stopped and thought, “Oh, I’m learning a lot about who I am and what I want to accomplish. This period of uncertainty is in fact a good thing.” So, don’t despair or fear when uncertainty hits. Use it to merge with where your soul is pointing.

How do you learn stay in sync with the dreams of your heart? What are some ways you protect it? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Stay Amazing,

Sammy