Waking Up To A Negative Thought

“It seems like they don’t value my opinion as much as they value the opinions of my peers”.

This thought greeted me first thing in the morning in the middle of my prayer.

I just had to let it out and pray for grace. I couldn’t let this weigh me down as I go through my day. It’s a difficult moment to navigate, but necessary.

I went through it with what I believe are helpful questions.

“It seems like they don’t value my opinion as much as they value the opinions of my peers”.

Is the statement true?  

I might not know exactly. I can open it up in a conversation but the party concerned might just deny it. So this is really out of my area of control. What should I do then? What’s in my control? Ah, yes of course. Just keep on giving my best in what I do while I’m at it.

“It seems like they don’t value my opinion as much as they value the opinions of my peers”.

Is the statement good?

Not at all. It occupies a space in my mind and creating some ill feelings towards someone who may not even care or might not even be aware they’re “presumably” causing a problem. It’s more like a self-inflicted wound. I’m silently “hurting”.

“It seems like they don’t value my opinion as much as they value the opinions of my peers”.

Is the statement helpful?

Perhaps. Helpful in the sense that it allows me to evaluate my actions.  

Am I too friendly?

Do I lack confidence in myself?

Am I not assertive enough?

Is this even a major thing?

What can I do besides focusing on the work at hand?

How do I become kind yet assertive?

How do I become humble yet confident in my abilities?

Well, yes, sometimes I get stuck too. But I throw my questions out there in the universe. Usually, the answers would come. Not in an instant but they certainly do. Other times, it’s useful to reach out to someone for help. Be it through prayer, phone call, private message, or just face to face conversations with a family or friend.

What this particular moment teaches me.

There is something good about not knowing or having all the answers, even in what seems to be a petty thing. If we always do, then there would be no room for others to help, not even God. I know that we were not put in the world to go through life alone, suffer our problems alone, or experience our joys alone. When we reach out to another soul to pour our heart out, the burden somehow splits in two. When we share a piece of good news, the joy doubles.

The negative feeling and thought slowly dissipates as I am writing this. Suddenly it doesn’t seem insurmountable, and not even worth more time and energy than what I’ve already given it.

So here and now.

I choose to focus on what’s working in my life. Things I can be grateful for. After all, isn’t it good to start our days with appreciation? To actively look for blessings and miracles even in the most mundane of things?

So let me start with a few things and hopefully, you’d join in and start to list down your own too.

  • quiet morning
  • something for breakfast
  • a roof above my head
  • family
  • friends
  • work to attend to
  • comfortable chair
  • cold breeze
  • sunrise
  • birds chirping
  • prayer
  • good sleep
  • a passion that keeps the fire in my heart burning.

I know most of us can’t wait for problems to go away before feeling happy and content. But it’s possible. Regardless of the circumstances we’re in, the turmoil in our heart, the doubts in our mind, the pain our body, God doesn’t stop being God, and help is always available. Sometimes they come right away, sometimes we may need to wait. However we look at it, they come right on time. We just have to believe it to receive it.

You Find What You’re Looking For

I had a teachable moment day.

I was preparing to visit the consulate office to obtain a document for my brother. All other forms have been completed and I know I’m all set to go. Just before signing off, I had a nudge to check the website again for office timings. That’s when I saw the glaring notice flashing like a news headline, “All transactions are by appointment. Only those who have booked an appointment on any given day can enter the premises”.

Man! I scrambled to check the calendar, surely there would be a spot for me the next day. Turns out, the only available slot is from two months away! How could have I missed it?

I back-tracked a little bit and tried to figure why didn’t I see this two weeks ago when I was looking up the requirements? I figured all things right but not this appointment. Sort of like a glitch in my processing system.

Reflecting on life, many times we do find what we’re looking for.

We find problems more than opportunities.

We see the glass half empty rather than half full.

We find what we’re missing and lose sight of what we have.

We see lack instead of providence.

Discontentment brews like a cup of coffee served in front of you any given morning.

Training our eyes to get a better perspective of things requires practice. That means we don’t get to master it overnight. It’s a daily choice, a daily act, a daily commitment.

What type of perspectives should we take?

Well, the ones that will help you.

There’s never an absolute response to this but in any situation, choose the perspective

  • that inspires you
  • that helps you move forward,
  • that guides you to find lessons of value
  • that leads you to interpret things in a positive light 
  • that enables you to see things in a bigger picture and how necessarily connected they actually are

Useful feedback that’s often neglected by most of us is our intuition. There’s an unexplainable power behind it that to my experience rewards our “leaning to it” with either opportunities or a sense of safety. Had I not “leaned into it” that one particular night, the missed notification would have soured my plans the next day! But the gap between the “discovery” and the time I had to go, afforded me some moments to explore and evaluate options with the help of friends.

A mentor of mine stressed the importance of leaning into our intuitions. He says that If we don’t, it will stop showing up. It will stop nudging us. Think about losing a strong ally.

The recent experience also highlighted to me the availability of friends and our friends’ friends.

 When you look for them, you’d find them. It’s like this web of connections only that, it’s real and it’s solid. See, we don’t have to go through this life alone. When you have friends like those who show up when needed the most, be grateful for them and treasure them. And when the opportunity comes, be that kind of friend too. You may not be able to pay it back to the same people but we can always pay it forward. That way kindness goes a long way.

My dear friend,

My wish for you is that you find what you’re looking for, but more than that, may you look for what your heart really wants to find.

Sundaewrites

She showed up. She stayed. She trusted.

That’s what Mary of Magdala did.

Hearing these words from a friend’s bible reflection stung my heart.  

How many times did I show up even if I was afraid, worried, feeling small, or “don’t feel like showing up at all?”. And how many times did I get to say, “Why was I having doubts about it when it had done me a good thing!”.

We can be our own worst enemy sometimes. 

Be it by fostering self-limiting beliefs, getting ahead of the situation, or proactively closing every door and locking ourselves in. 

We either tend to overthink or berate ourselves with negative self-talk and wonder why we’ve only crossed a yard when we’re built for miles and miles.

What cripples us the most is imagined fear. It is understandable because most of us desire certainty and control, but showing up can do us good. It may even be the only thing we needed to do to inch forward.  

We need to be active participants in our own lives, not reluctant bystanders.  

This is how it can look like.

  • Praying is showing up.
  • Getting out of bed is showing up.
  • Helping out is showing up.
  • Learning something new is showing up.
  • Being present in the moment is showing up.
  • Trying, doing, and making something better is showing up.

You will only regret the chances you never took or the good things you’ve never put out in the world. Showing up opens doors for you even if, it’s not downright obvious.

Then there’s the “Staying” part.  

Most of us give up too easily. Patience is not always a welcomed guest. But the beauty lies right there in the “wait”. It’s where characters are built, desires are purified, and strengths are perfected. In a spiritual sense, one would realize that staying in the Lord’s presence is the only option there is. This is true especially when all of our strongholds prove to be unreliable.

When we’re stripped of everything we’ve accumulated in this world, from where do we draw our worth?

Then there’s Trust.

Though trust in ourselves and in other people may fail us, it’s still worth giving. After all, you will never know how reliable it is if you never tried. Trust in God, a higher consciousness, the highest good or Being, the universe, however that translates to you, is indispensable. Without trust, there can be no hope or a reason, enough to move forward.

As we get old, we realize that there are only a handful of things that are within our control. It’s easy to throw in the towel and say, “I’m done”. But for every person who said “I can’t do it”, is another who made it happen.

I believe, following the example of Mary of Magdala would take us to higher ground.

We don’t have to be fixated on the outcome. 

SUNDAEWRITES

A wise woman once said, “Do your best with what’s in front of you and leave the rest to the powers above you”. 

Take action on what’s up to you, and let go of what’s not. It’s that simple.

Is This Now?

Do you hear voices in your head?  I didn’t realize it was there until I paid attention to it.

I came across several authors talking about the thinking mind and the observing mind. I am a newbie when it comes to the subject but I have to agree, for most of us, our thinking mind is in fact very noisy.

We are either trapped in the past or in the future, and rarely dwell in the now. It’s crazy because, inhabiting the past brings about regrets, guilt, or sometimes too much comfort, resting on “back in the day” victories. 

Future on the other hand, is sort of a window with a view to “I am not sure, is there going to be another day?”, and you succumb to worry, fear, and anxiety. Equally worse, you “dream” and “hope” about things and you’re stuck in that state without even doing the work.

The past is nothing more than all present moments that have gone by, and the future is just the collection of present moments waiting to arrive.

Eckhart Tolle

What ruins the present is our resistance to it.

I had to come to grips with this truth.  I thought to myself, how many times have I made a job so heavy just because I was resisting the challenge it brings? How many times did I break a relationship just because I was looking too far ahead, and not giving a space for the other person to catch up?

The past has dimmed its lights but I keep on breathing in the dark. The future never really comes but I kept on looking out the window,  anticipating.  If I were “Now” I’d be disappointed with myself too.  The present loses its spark, its gift because we’re not wanting it. We’re really not choosing it.

It’s a shame.

The “Now” passes by every second I write on this page.  I need not fill all the spaces in between these words. Every space is a chance to breathe. To be conscious of the “NOW” and feel it as it slips to the past and brings forth another moment.  This moment in time is when and where we ought to live, because it’s everything there all is.  

I choose to risk my significance, to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom, and that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.

Dawna Markova

My wish for all of us  is to have the ability and appreciation to turn every “Now” into a gift that we can give to our past and to our future.  

I commit to welcome it as it is and to not resist it. Instead, I will do what it demands from me right now.  I can never be too excited about the past nor the future more than I have to be excited about NOW. This moment right here is all there is. It’s the only certainty I’ve got. What I make of it will define my past and what I do with it will complete my future.

How about you?

Supercharged or Regular?

Some days I get so pumped up like I’m in my best element and can achieve almost anything. So I do and do and do. You know, strike while the iron is hot.

Other days I slump and feel uninspired. I want to be lazy and just not care too much about what’s going on in the world.

Maybe it’s just me, but I wonder, do I really need to pursue things and work nonstop, or just do things I love, without the feeling of being obligated or even having to meet any deadline?

We fill our days with plenty of to-do lists that life becomes a project instead of an experience. 

Society dictates who we should be. It defines what success looks like and we succumb to this definition. All along we know, that at the end of it all, what would matter is ours and our loved ones opinion of us, not the whole world. The world can go by without remembering how much we’ve made for ourselves, or how famous we’ve become but perhaps how we’ve made an impact to the lives of the people around us.

And yet, how do we accomplish such a thing?

“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”

Viktor Frankl

A freely chosen task. That’s what struck me the most.

Maybe it’s not the same for everyone. It doesn’t have to be. It can even change at any point in time.  So I guess the question is, “What is it for you?”. “What is your freely chosen task?”. Right now I’m starting to think.

I don’t need to get too hung up with outputs and outcomes. This is my life, my time, and I can freely choose what to do with it.

To Squander or To Make It Count.

More than time being our responsibility, it’s first and foremost an accountability.  It’s a limited resource that reduces in number every second of the day until it finally runs out.  Now what we do with it is indeed our call. It doesn’t have to feel like an obligation, rather, something cherished simply because we’re not gonna get any more of it.

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure… but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”

Francis Chan

In the end, when somebody asks you, “How was your life?”. It’s either, “Well you know, It happened” or “Yeah, I lived it and t’was hell of a ride!”.

Supercharged or regular? I cannot care about your choice any more than I should care about mine. But tell you what. When those white hairs start to stick out , wrinkles and all, come by and see me. Let’s talk about it with a couple of beers. And maybe bring along some pizza! 

What Outside of Your Comfort Zone Looks Like

To amplify your growth, you need to operate outside of your comfort zone.

I know. Preaching about this is easy, but doing it is a different story. There’s going to be a lot of “push and pull” occasions with yourself, albeit the “pull” part is more encouraging.

In late 2018, I lost my job.  Eight months later, I joined a new company. At first, I chickened out because the role was outside my comfort zone.  Instead of finding excuses, I took the job. Looking back, I can tell there’s a lot that I’ve learned in a year compared to previous work experiences.

Was it easy? Picture yourself heading home after school every single day. That’s what I feel until now.  It’s challenging and rewarding. Here is a preview of what happened so far.

Discoveries

  1. I’ve learned something new about myself. I never thought I could dance until my teammates and I had to perform an act from the movie “The Greatest Showman”  with costumes and all.
  2. I never knew baking with teammates via zoom could be fun. Now I could make delicious crostata and lemon cake, plus potentially make money out of it. If not, baking would save me a few bucks too. I can’t imagine myself hanging out in a coffee shop with a slice of pie or cake ever again.
  3. I realized I could get along with different nationalities and discovered we have  a lot of things in common if only I open up, strike a conversation, trust, listen and take time to get to know someone.
  4. I’ve learned it’s rewarding to accomplish something outside of your expertise, especially if you do it from a genuine desire to contribute, help or, pitch in. There’s nothing wrong about doing something for the first time and therefore asking many questions, even when you’re older. 
  5. In a work that continuously encourages you to grow, there’s never a dull moment. There’s no room for boredom. You could honestly say, “I learned something new today” at the end of the day and drive home feeling accomplished.

“Great things don’t come from comfort zones.” 

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

I believe, if we explore more, our growth in day or week would be exponential.  The challenge is, we don’t.  We like hanging on to old ways and beliefs, even beliefs about ourselves, and come up with excuses.  Think about what staying in your comfort zone has cost you.  For me:

The Would-Have-Been Costs

I would have never learned English and be good at it. It’s not my first language.

I would never have launched this blog. Somebody told me my grammar sucks and people don’t care about my opinions.

I wouldn’t have traveled to different countries. Somebody told me it’s expensive and it’s dangerous.

I would never have found a spiritual community. Somebody told me I’m a hopeless case, and it will be difficult for me to change.

I would have never joined and won singing competitions. Somebody told me I couldn’t carry a tune.

I would never have built something for myself. Somebody told me I will always be poor.

Conclusion

I am not sharing things to brag but to remind you that in the past,  you have accomplished things too, not because you were less afraid but because you decided to go ahead and face your fear head-on. You made it this far because you kept on. That’s the truth, even if you say you did it because you had no choice.  The fact that you have accomplished it proves that you’re capable. Now imagine what more you could have achieved had you given yourself a little more faith.  It’s about thriving, not surviving.

Why don’t we dream again like when we were kids? Try new things and be curious enough to learn?  

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore”- Andre Gide.

Once again, light up the fire in your heart. Make no room for fear. Instead, save enough for “what could be’s”.