Some have mastered the art of keeping their thoughts to themselves whilst others just cannot hold it in otherwise they will burst!
When I was around six or seven years old, I was out shopping with my mum and sister and a woman walked passed. I blurted out “Mum, that woman smells like fish”. Apparantely my sister and I proceeded to hold our noses. My mum said she wished the ground would open and swallow her up but admitted the woman did smell of fish. Whilst the woman probably felt embarrassed by our words, she would have been more likely to forgive two young children as oppose to an adult who should know better.
As adults we should aim to soften our words when speaking to others. Some conversations are awkward and bring discomfort but must take place whether for the benefit of the speaker or the recipient or to resolve a situation.
I tend to be a straight talker. Generally I do not say much but when addressing issues I keep to the point. There are times that straight talking is warranted and times where an element of softening is required.
Just before my husband and I married we visited his family member. A cousin of the family member (not related to my husband) also visited. We spent time talking about the forthcoming wedding and my husband began to explain in large depths that we could not extend an invitation to the family member’s cousin due to venue numbers etc. I think I piped in to round up the conversation and added that invitations had gone out and we have no more spaces. When we left to make our way home my husband mentioned I was a bit harsh. I asked why he felt the need to over explain to someone he had only met for the first time. Needless to say my husband was far more of a people’s person than I!
Thankfully since then I have learnt the art of humouring people. Believe me when I say I have to work at it because it does not come naturally. I find staying quiet is a good way of avoiding putting your foot in it. In my opinion, the more you speak, the more likely you are to say the wrong thing.
Do you operate with tact?
Have you always been this way inclined or do you have to work at it?
What was your last ‘I have just put my foot in it’ moment?
We should arrive at a point in our life when we are content with who we are today. We may not like everything about ourselves and could decide to take an action to change a particular aspect. However, we must like who we are and accept ourselves. Failing to do so will lead to self hate, insecurities, low self-esteem, self sabotage. All of which can leave long term scars and greatly affect the way in which we interact with others and view ourselves.
Though I know I am not perfect whether in my ways or my appearance, I am more content with who I am today. There is no such thing as a perfect person but an impressionable, misunderstood teenager would struggle to grasp this as I did. It has taken me an awfully long time to get here but I did. I recall allowing the words others spoke over me to penetrate into my mind and greatly affect the way I viewed myself. I believed I was not enough as I was and needed to be improved upon. I disliked that I was shy and avoided being in large groups. I was completely unaware of the term introvert and who I was as an individual.
In order to stay current we all improve on ourselves in one way or another. Whether by appearance, our skills and knowledge. We are all led to a certain extent by society’s standards; what we watch, what we wear, the music we listen to, the books we read. If we feel we are gaining too much weight we can cut back on food and up our exercise. If we want to improve on our IT skills we can sign up to an online course. There is nothing wrong in doing what others have done or are doing. What is wrong is when you lose yourself in this, when you lose who you are and try and model yourself on another person who I might like to add, is not perfect.
It is important to look at our motive for wanting to change. Is it to be accepted and approved by others or is it to be an improved version of ourselves?
Are you content with yourself?
Did this come easy or did you have to work hard at it?
If someone had asked me this question two decades ago, my answer would most certainly have been half empty. I was negative and saw the worst in everything. I had little expectation of myself and others. I ran with the idea that if one does not expect much, one can rarely be disappointed. I was almost fearful of being openly excited just in case my plans did not come to pass. I was of the opinion that others would laugh at my expense and I could not bear the disappointment.
Plans will work and plans will fail but expecting the worst helps no-one. We have nothing to lose by being hopeful and much to lose by having low expectations. The well known saying ‘you get what you expect’ rings true to me. It is almost impossible for you to receive more than you expect. Whilst lowering our standards may bring an element of comfort to our lives, it is unhealthy and self destructive. It is damaging choosing not to go for what you really want. We must be honest with ourselves about what we want. We must not feel embarrassed or ashamed if we do not yet have those things.
Our overall outlook on life affects our relationships, mental health and the way in which we deal with disappointment and challenges. I admit that I struggled greatly with handling disappointments and have come a long way through using various strategies that were appropriate for me. As individuals we are wired so differently and it is important we identify the areas in which we struggle, in order to deal with it. It is likely to be a long, painful process but far better to address these issues than to bury your head in the sand.
With the greatest intentions in the world, I accept people will disappoint as will I. This does not mean we should go searching for disappointment in the hope to becoming well acquainted with ‘it’.
Do you look for the best in people and situations or do you expect the worst?
How has this impacted on your life?
I recently read a quote by the late Christian Evangelist, Myles Munroe;
“Our life is the sum total of all the decisions we make everyday, and those decisions are determined by our priorities.”
We make decisions every single day of our lives; some are minute and some life changing. Even when we procrastinate and cannot make up our mind, we are making a decision to do so. Decision making is not always easy, particularly if it will go on to impact the lives of others around us.
Fear can mean we struggle to make a decision. The very idea that we will be wholly responsible for the outcome of the decision can make us step back in the hope that everything will sort out of its own accord. It rarely will. Decisions made today can go onto impact our lives in 20 years time. Therefore it is important we are well informed and non emotional when making decisions. We cannot afford for our emotions to influence our thinking.
Our priorities will change according to our stage in life. The decisions we make in our early twenties will greatly differ to those made in our early 40’s. As we mature in age, we should also mature in wisdom.
I recall when I was a teenager, I yearned to be am adult, to come and go as I pleased, to stay up until whatever time I liked, to be independent. My mum would say many a time;
“Enjoy your youth as being an adult is not all it is cracked up to be”.
I thought my mum just wanted to spoil my fun and hinder my moving from a child to a young adult. Looking back my mum was right. As a child and teenager I rarely had to make decisions. I was certainly responsible for a number of activities as I grew up in a single parent household. However, I was spared from having to make decisions. This was my mum’s territory and she did us proud.
What is your approach when decision making? Do you face it head on or procrastinate?
How has this impacted on your life?
Just when we believe we know enough, a situation occurs to remind us that we are still in learning mode. In order to have wisdom we must be willing to accept we do not know everything. We must be willing to learn from others and yes, this will mean eating humble pie now and again. It can be difficult admitting you do not know or understand a process or concept but you may miss an opportunity to learn if you stay silent. Some people are far easier to learn from whilst with others it can be a truly testing experience.
In my eyes making a mistake is not the biggest fail, falling to learn from the mistake is. If you do not do or say the wrong thing now and then you must live a very cautious life. There have been times I strictly told myself first thing in the morning I will not do or say the wrong thing and this lasted all of 30 minutes. I did not even make it to work! My heart was willing but my flesh had other ideas. Wisdom was not applied here.
Wisdom is knowing yourself and putting strategies in place to help you deal with challenges. We can fool others but not ourselves. We should take time to gain self awareness, to be more in tune with others, to look beyond our own situation and into how others are feeling. Wisdom is having the right words to say in sensitive situations or perhaps not even speaking at all if the situation does not warrant it.
I enjoy listening to the more mature. Life and experiences have taught them. They have a less uptight outlook on life and tend to see life as less complex than the younger generations. I love the simplicity they bring to conversations. I wonder how they view life today as compared to when they were younger. How do they get their head around technology, how fast life is moving today?
I hope I will leave myself open to learning and never feel I have ‘arrived’. No matter how intellectual, successful, people focused one is there is always room to learn more. We are all on a journey, albeit on different pathways, and at different paces but none of us is above being taught something new.
What is wisdom to you?
Do you believe it grows with age?
Are you open to learning?
With less than five months to go until 2019, how has 2018 faired for you? At the start of 2018 you would have had plans and ideas – some have come to pass and others are still outstanding. At times we can underestimate just how long it will take to complete a project and therefore we set unrealistic timelines. Setting the goal is rather easy, putting in the work not so much so. We could also go to the extreme of setting very few goals in the hope that we achieve them but where is the challenge in that?
Life in general impacts greatly on our plans and we need to expect delays, challenges and distractions along the way. Disappointments can be disheartening and make us question whether we are on the right path or putting our energy into a project that has little hope. Disappointments can throw us off track particularly when running to tight deadlines. It is therefore important to work with an element of flexibility.
The years really do seem to go fast. I am unsure if this is due to my age as when a teenager time moved far more slowly. The five years of secondary school (high school) seemed to last forever. I wondered on occasion if they would end. Now, I constantly feel pushed for time and am forced to prioritise my load. Either this or I just drift along waiting for life to happen to me which is not recommended at all.
I tend to reflect on what I learnt even if the outcome was not as expected. Once I have something to take away I know I have grown. It can be a painful way to grow but taking something from a situation highlights it was not done/said in vain. It always helps to bring an element of consolation for me, believing almost all experiences having a learning element in them.
I have several long term goals, one of which has been lingering for some time. There is no pressure or actual deadline so I have the leeway to move the goal posts. This has had its advantages and disadvantages. It brought me time when I needed it but now I must knuckle down before the year is out. There is a time to stay still and a time to move forward and it is knowing which to do at each stage of our life that matters.
How has 2018 been for you so far?
Have you changed direction or put a goal on hold due to personal circumstances? What have you learnt?
IT is a wonderful feeling being confident in who you are and showing the world what you stand for. It takes boldness to turn left when everyone is turning right but it is important that we do not feel pressured into hiding who we are. There are many elements that make up our character and we should embrace those which do not impact negatively on us or those around us.
If we are not careful we can allow ourselves to be heavily influenced by those around us. Taking on their opinions, lifestyle and beliefs. Our opinions, values and beliefs are just as important as those of others and vice versa. Once you are sure of your standing you have no need to impose these on others. As a teenager I was quiet and appeared to have little opinions. This could not be further from the truth; I held a lot of views and was and still am rather passionate about particular topics and causes. I did not feel the need to infringe these on others as there was no real benefit to this. Also I had this belief that people in my life at the time were not wholly interested in me or my views.
Sometimes coming into our own is accompanied by maturity. We have long surpassed the peer pressure stage and comfortable with who we are. We are more likely to be confident in our roles at work, in the home and amongst friends and family. It can be liberating in so many ways. There tends to be less focus on how we are perceived by others and more on the plans we have for our lives. A time to choose to put ourselves in the company of those who accept us rather than changing who we are to are to accommodate them.
In order to be ourselves we need to avoid making comparisons with others. We need to accept ourselves even when we are aware of the areas that require improvement. We need to be confident in sharing our views if asked. We need to be willing to stand even if it means standing alone.
The saying “Be yourself because everyone else is taken” comes to mind.
Have you always been true to yourself or did you have to work on this over a number of years?
What advice would you give to someone struggling in this area?