“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” Maya Angelou
I wanted to have a baby.
I don’t mean me personally, but you get it – to father a child (Modern medicine hasn’t quite allowed men to carry another human yet!!).
At one time in my life, not too long ago, the desire to have a baby was a life priority for me. And not having a child was a serious loss in my life. I can’t tell you why I wanted one or if I was ready to have been a father, but it seemed like the right thing to do.
After not having a child in my life, I was fraught with disappointment and sadness.
My marriage ended. There was no baby in sight. This image of a laughing child in my dreams became blurrier and more distant than ever.
I could have been devastated by a dream lost but I have chosen to follow a different path.
Believing that everything happens for a reason, I let go of my attachment to this unborn child.
I let go of my desire to have a child.
I let go of my timeline to have a child.
And most importantly, I let go of my desire to know if a child was in my future or not (the demands, expectations and urge to know and make plans).
Over the last couple of years, I’ve gone through this arduous personal development journey, many parts of which I write about, realizing that I may not have been the ideal father in the first place, or much less a prepared one or even a competent one.
If I wasn’t emotionally healthy myself, nor had the patience or ability to care for a baby, was I really ready to be a parent?
A baby then would have been ill-served having me as their father.
Since the time that the possibility of a baby abruptly disappeared from my life, I chose to forge ahead without knowing what the future holds.
Instead of being stuck to a specific timeline over something I have no control over, I spent a lot of time with my adorable baby nephews and try to visit them at every chance I get.
My nephew and I.
Not knowing my future brought me to where I am today.
I’ve had similar experiences with my career path.
I had NO IDEA what I wanted to do with my life in college. Like many students, I didn’t have the answers to what my future held or what I should be doing with my life.
I never received any clear calls from the Gods as to my life vocation. (But my Indian parents did call me a lot to let me know about the benefits of becoming a doctor – service to humanity and beach-front property!)
What do you do when you don’t know what the future holds?
Well, I did something that I was weak at and wanted to improve on. Public speaking. Although I enjoyed writing speeches and speaking in public, it wasn’t my strongest point. I spoke too fast, sometimes too slow and I never understood the mechanics of effective public speaking.
Near campus, I joined a Toastmasters group which was dedicated to helping people improve their public speaking skills. I participated in this professional group for 3 years, being the only student in the group.
I never knew exactly where public speaking would take me the entire time I was in Toastmasters.
It was only when I was nearing graduation, when having the public speaking skills and confidence inspired me to consider going into law (That and my parents who had sadly come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to be a doctor).
Ultimately, law was not a career I stuck with. On the plus side though, my legal background has brought me to a place where I am able to speak in front of large groups of people. Whether it’s at a community meeting, workshop or even a family get-together, I have no hesitation when standing up to speak.
My point is that I had no idea what I wanted to do but I forged ahead anyway, without knowing the answers.
Doing something that interested me and helped me improve, like public speaking, is now an integral part of my destiny.
How do you move forward when you don’t know how or when you’ll get there?
How do you create the life that you’ve been envisioning and the life your heart seems to be longing for?
When you feel like your whole life has turned upside down and you’re a long way from living the dreams you created in your mind years ago, it’s easy to feel paralyzed.
When you feel frustrated by your life’s current circumstances or just plain stuck, you might feel like throwing your hands up in the air and saying, “I give up”.
Your career isn’t moving along. You have no idea where your business is going. Your partner isn’t showing up. The baby you’ve bought baby clothes for isn’t quite here yet.
I notice that many of us tend to clutch to our end goals. When we cling on to the desired outcome, we are left with the feeling of not having achieved it. We feel a lacking in our lives.
But fortunately, you don’t have to be paralyzed by the thoughts of not achieving your dreams. Nor do you have to feel frustrated by the lack of movement in your life.
Instead of being stuck on the fact that you don’t have what you want, try this.
1. Be OK with not knowing.
Be perfectly comfortable in not knowing the answers or having clarity in your life.
Let waves of uncertainty and confusion wash over you without attaching yourself to the frustration of not knowing.
Practice sitting with uncertainty. Learn to be comfortable not knowing the answers of where your journey is going to take you.
2. Do something. Anything at all.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” declared Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu.
Whatever your dream or desire is, take some small steps daily towards that goal without being paralyzed by or fixated on the end result.
Meet people if you want to be in a relationship. You don’t need to meet “the one” today.
Look for a compatible partner who also wants children if you’re firmly set on having kids.
Start learning new skills, attending more training, do some volunteer work or freelancing if you are keen on transitioning into a completely different industry.
Take small concrete steps towards your goal.
Bombay wasn’t built in a day. It was built one brick at a time, over centuries.
3. Listen intently.
As you’re taking small steps and moving forward, listen to your soul’s messages. Your feelings and your inner voice will be conveying messages to you.
You’ll hear these messages through your mind’s subtle messages, repeated internal thoughts or feelings that will guide you in a certain direction.
The inner voice, or intuition, will sometimes tell you to continue. Or it may tell you to stop. Alternatively, it may advise you to change your game plan. Or to perhaps even to abandon your dream.
It might convince you that something that you’re chasing isn’t right for you and you’ll be better off with something else.
Whatever it is, be mindful of your inner voice and be willing to listen to it.
4. Be open to life’s gifts and timelines.
No, you may not get exactly what you want and at the time you want it.
Instead of demanding a certain result at a certain time, be open to whatever it is that unfolds before you.
If Prince Harry doesn’t knock, but a short banker with a stable job and a loyal spirit does, open the door!
If your dream job working for Facebook doesn’t materialize, consider the job at the small start-up as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Be open, be patient, and be confident knowing what is meant for you will come to you in due course.
5. Every circumstance is a lesson in disguise.
Although you’re not getting what you want right now, know that every situation has a message for us.
Every life circumstance can become our teacher.
If you start viewing every twist, turn and hiccup as an opportunity and lesson, instead of an unfulfilled dream, you’ll have a much healthier and happier journey forward.
Ask yourself what a delay means?
Or what can it teach you?
Where is the blessing in this circumstance?
What can you be grateful for right now?
There is a soulful tranquility about not knowing what the future holds and simply being OK with it.
Embrace uncertainty and welcome the magic of possibilities unfolding in your life.
Your ability to manage the unknown can be the ultimate source of your strength and wisdom in life.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”― Siddhārtha Gautama
“I’m a flop.”
“I loathe everything about me.”
“Nobody loves me. I’m not worthy of love.”
Have you experienced similar thoughts where you felt like you weren’t worthy or good enough?
You might have felt some of these emotions when you confronted traumatic life events at work, home or in your relationships.
You may have even had the recurring negative talk and thoughts of inadequacy when growing up.
Especially so if you grew up in a mob or KGB family. Or attended religious boarding schools with disciplinarian teachers!
Confronting my self-worth.
While I didn’t grow up in a mobster family or the KGB, I’ve had my fair share of self-hating reflections about myself.
Growing up, the barrage of critical and negative comments from family takes a toll.
There’s also no experience which tests a person’s self-worth like a divorce.
When someone who you love rejects you, you begin to feel like you’re inadequate and unworthy of love.
Like you’re not fit to be loved.
You’re not whole.
More than the breakup and separation, it were these reoccurring thoughts which filled my mind and my life. As time passed, my self-pity and sorrow turned more towards reaffirming self-loathing and hatred.
“Why would I want to live with myself when even my former wife didn’t?”.
I questioned and scrutinized myself with these unhealthy thoughts.
Of course, none of these thoughts were an accurate reflection of myself . They may have described how I was feeling in life but they were skewed and far removed from reality.
These were thoughts that I was expressing to myself because of some of the painful circumstances I was experiencing.
You may be going through something similar. Or you may have had emotionally scarring experiences and a rough childhood which created your negative self-image.
Self-loathing isn’t a permanent condition – you have the power to shift your mindset.
Thoughts of self-hatred and loathing can arise from painful life events. Or simply a recurring pattern from growing up in a negative and critical environment.
Such thoughts can come about before you slide into a state of depression. In fact, psychotherapist Drew Coster says “depression often happens when people feel like they’re not good enough, or a failure.”
Regardless of how these thoughts arise in your life, you can take action to turn around this self-imposed mindset of negativity.
Your thoughts and feelings are not etched in stone.
Instead think of them as rain drops sitting on the railing after a heavy rain. When the sun comes out, these raindrops, like your negative self-talk, have the ability to dry up quickly and evaporate.
A simple mind-shifting strategy to call out your negative self-talk and love yourself more.
Let’s start with this premise.
You don’t have to allow these thoughts which control your mind to control your life.
You can help boost your self-esteem to shift the tide of disheartening thoughts.
How do you develop self-esteem? According to Dr. David Burns, in the best-selling book, Feeling Good, The New Mood Therapy, says “you don’t have to do anything especially worthy to create or deserve self-esteem; all you have to do is turnoff that critical, haranguing inner voice.”
Here’s a very simple, yet powerful, mind-shifting, practice you can employ to turn the tide on the thoughts and feelings which arise from this emotional load you’ve been carrying around.
1. Identify these thoughts of worthlessness you may be experiencing.
Catch those irritating critters like how you would pursue pesky mosquitos: patiently and mindfully.
Self-reflection, journaling, talking about your thoughts to a friend or professional, and mindfulness practices are some ways to come to observe and recognize your negative thought patterns.
As these thoughts arise, acknowledge them by writing them down.
2. Examine and evaluate your thoughts about yourself.
Are these thoughts and feelings valid? Ask yourself, “what if this thought wasn’t true?”
Look at these thoughts objectively – are the negative thoughts valid? Or are they simply inaccurate reflections created by your past?
You may have performed poorly in a task or had a failure at work, but does that make you an overall failure at life?
You could have bombed your last interview for a job but, does that mean you’re incompetent and not hireable by any company?
Play devil’s advocate with these negative thoughts to question their validity.
3. Challenge the thoughts and feelings you’re experiencing.
Counter your thoughts. Challenge them.
For the thought, “I’m good at nothing”, counter with, “well, I successfully navigated to work and back, completed my job duties on time and effectively completed another day at work.”
For the thought, “No one likes me,” think about the friends you do have, the solid relationships you have cultivated and the people who enjoy your company.
When you think you’re not worthy or deserving of love, counter with the thought that you were born as a bundle of love. You were loved unconditionally as a baby, loved by many people in your life since then and have many people today who love you.
You’re both capable of receiving love and giving love.
Look for any small or large achievement of the day to show yourself that you’re not what a self-defeating thought is rattling to you.
View these thoughts through a lens of gratitude instead of lack and negativity.
This practice can be a challenge because your conditioned mind and emotions will try to prevent you from embracing more positive and loving thoughts. Your mind can feel uncomfortable experiencing something new and positive.
If you can’t carry out this exercise on your own, seek the assistance of a trusted friend to help you examine and challenge self-defeating thoughts.
If the thoughts and beliefs are more deep-rooted, seek counseling so a licensed professional can help you identify, evaluate and help you reject those disempowering and deep-rooted thoughts.
Once you do this practice once, like unruly weeds, harmful thoughts will crop up again. Each time, they do, be prepared to confront them and practice self-love.
Come up with counter-examples to destructive thoughts of how you’re capable, worthy and loveable.
Take out a sheet of paper and capture those self-hating thoughts running through your mind. I’ve included a sample worksheet for you to use as a guideline – you can click here to see it: Selfloveworksheet.
Divide the paper in three.
On the left side, capture the harsh talk and thoughts running through your mind.
In middle column, write down why these negative thoughts aren’t objectively true. Poke holes in these undesirable thoughts.
On the right side, take away power to those negative thoughts by replacing them with contrary and more empowering thoughts.
How is every thought you noted on the left side of the page inaccurate or false? Allow those thoughts to evaporate and allow the empowering thoughts on the right side of the paper to replace them.
Continue this practice until you can successfully confront, challenge and turn around harmful thoughts and feelings.
A quick note before we get to authenticity. If you’re stressed out, you owe it to yourself to check out the Living with Ease course offered by Sandra Pawula. The course promises to teach you practical stress-relieving techniques and help you identify your stress triggers. Lessons start on September 9th.
Do you live your life for yourself or for others?
Are you more bothered about what your husband, your parents, your in-laws or your grandparents want rather than what you want? Are you overly-conscious about what your neighbors say about you?
Spend too much time caring about what others want you to do?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be living your life for others. You may have been conditioned to to conform to social expectations and family demands.
But what if you’ve had enough? Had enough of living for other people?
To start living a more authentic authentic life, stop caring so much about these 10 factors.
Join me over at Zeenat Syal’s blog at Positive Provocations to share your thoughts about living an authentic life.
Zeenat Syal, the founder and writer, is not only an inspirational blogger but someone who is filled with compassion, kindness and service towards all.
Please join me on Zeenat’s blog and leave a comment over there on how you live an authentic life. I look forward to hearing from you in the comments.
Should you ‘find the world’ in another person, as Alicia harmonizes? If you say, no, read on mis amigos.
We are all looking for love in our lives.
Not only to love others but to be loved. Without fear…conditions…limitations.
Love songs, classic movies and today’s blockbusters provoke us to find that ideal love we watch on the big screen.
Alicia Key’s tune above sketches a love so deep that a lover’s arms around you are worth more than a kingdom, more than gold and diamonds!
(If you’d rather have the $bling$ than the hug, raise your hand friends)
Movies depict undying and eternal love. Music serenades the perfect lover. Books depict the depths of love between two souls.
While we’re caught up in fairy tale weddings, passionate romances and soulful love stories, there’s one person we’re ignoring.
The person we should be loving first.
To love ourselves is a process of complete acceptance, compassion, forgiveness without limits or conditions.
But how many of us ever reach the place where we are truly in love with ourselves? How many of us even try?
We cannot love others until we fall in love with ourselves first.
Loving ourselves is a prerequisite to loving others.
We cannot complete others, as Tom pronounces in the clip, below until we complete ourselves.
Were you loved?
For some of us, the people who were supposed to love us never understood the way to show us love.
Perhaps they never knew how to love themselves either so loving you was an impossible feat.
The people who are supposed to love us made us feel inadequate, incompetent, inhuman or broken. Unloved.
4 Ways to Love Yourself (in a non-sensual way – ha!)
We tend to be harsh and merciless with ourselves.
A practice of compassion is the first step to loving ourselves.
Compassion doesn’t judge and doesn’t put conditions on our love. Compassion sees our shortcomings and faults and accepts them anyway.
Practice empathy. Feel your pains, fear and guilt without wallowing in them. Be loving towards your past hurts and sorrows. Be gentle.
To be able to truly love ourselves, we have to accept who we are as people.
To love ourselves, we have to accept our good and bad traits, qualities, characteristics and life experiences. We must learn to embrace our pains, sorrows, fears, shame and inadequacies.
We must come to term with our histories, biographies, upbringing, personalities and our quirks.
Self-acceptance is the road to self-love.
3. Show yourself that you care.
How do you treat yourself? Is your life balanced, healthy and fulfilled?
Are you running around every day being ‘busy’? Not eating well? Working too much? Not exercising? Not being mindful? Stressed? Worried?
Are you treating yourself the way you want someone who loves you to treat you?
If you love yourself, take actions in your life to show yourself love, gentleness and kindness.
Look at the things in your everyday life that bring you physical discomfort, stress, worry, and emotional pain. Take steps to eliminate and reduce those factors.
Look for work that allows you to truly love yourself. Eat foods that shows you that you love your body. Be around positive and caring people. (Don’t talk to your mother-in-law – joke!) Create a daily schedule that allows you to spend time with yourself.
Take small steps to show that you’re important, that your health and body matter and that you’re worth taking care of.
4) Take action.
Romantic relationships fail when you stop working on them. So does the relationship you have with yourself. If you’re not actively taking actions to show yourself that you care, you’re not loving yourself as you’re capable of.
If you’re not removing caustic and harmful people out of your life, you’ll find it harder to love yourself. If you’re not doing work or a career that suits your personality, you’ll find it harder to be joyful and treat yourself well. If you’re not taking care of your body, you’ll feel less healthy and positive about yourself.
Accept yourself and strive be good to yourself.
Not only will you fall in love with yourself and be a loving person be but you will be able to share that love with all those around you. You will be love, can give and receive love.
The secret to loving others and being loved the way you want is to love yourself first. (Here are 17 additional ways how. Thanks Evelyn!)
My friend Wendy Irene talks about the importance of loving yourself in her weekly videos. Watch to learn more.
To pick up my book, Self Romance Manifesto: Fall in Love With Yourself and Live From Your Heart, click here.