Words of Wisdom to My Younger Self: This is What It Took To Become Authentic.

When you finally embrace your authentic self, you end up wishing that you would have begun the search much sooner. The desire to gain validation and my prior addiction to perfection distracted me from seeking my highest self and exploring more of my potential. Therefore, the distance to self rediscovery gets shorter once we begin putting ourselves first and realize that making others proud or happy is not more important than our own well being. While it’s true that everything happens in its own good time and we cannot force personal growth, life only gets shorter with time and we unfortunately spend too much energy trying to find ourselves in the wrong places. Sometimes, we miss growing into our gifts all together because of our subconscious self sabotaging habits. Having the clarity of my hindsight, I have some advice that I would give to my younger self about what it took to grow into the truest version of me. And for anyone else who has dared to ask themselves that million-dollar question of “who am I”, these are my words of wisdom on how to cultivate your most empowered self and authenticity.

Be truthful with yourself. 

I spent my twenties and half my thirties frequently making choices that did not honor the truth within my heart because I wanted approval at all costs. I entered and stayed in relationships that I shouldn’t have, said yes to opportunities that didn’t feel right and outright adopted a demeanor of fibbing to avoid unfavorable reactions or opinions. I assumed that the validation I would gain from the experiences or relationships in question would offset my internal discord. But I was wrong, every single time; living in a lie with myself to appease others has never made me happier in the long run. Rather choices that contradict our truth undermine our own opinion of ourselves, diminishes our self esteem and leads to not trusting our own judgement. The more difficult it is to make a decision that upholds our internal truth then the more esteem and trust that we will gain or lose in ourselves, depending on how we proceed. Living honestly with yourself builds up the confidence and belief in yourself to live your dreams.

Stop waiting.

You are already complete and good enough, so stop waiting for any experience or milestone to determine your happiness. I waited for education, jobs, relationships to feel worthy but until we stop defining ourselves by external expectations, we will waste our whole lives waiting for joy to happen to us. Pursuing our goals from a mindset of inadequacy often leads to playing safe or choosing other people’s version of success. We must already love and accept ourselves unconditionally in order to have the passion and tenacity to pursue our own unique gifts, which may not always be supported or understood by others. The very expectations that you are waiting for either circumstances or others to meet creates your false perception of not already being enough. Self acceptance frees us from the opinions of others, empowering us to follow our hearts and pursue our most authentic desires. Get up and do the things you’re putting off until you lose weight, have more money, have a spouse, a family because nothing completes our happiness if we are not happy now.

Ask for what you want.

The true mark of our independence is the ability to ask for what we want. My naivete associated vocalizing my true intentions as being needy or pushy but when I did not articulate my desires in relationships, friendships or other settings, I became resentful or emotionally dependent. Giving ourselves permission to ask for what we want enables us to take responsibility for our lives, instead of simply expecting others to anticipate our needs. When we do not speak up for what we need, our inherent entitlement diminishes our capacity to nurture a more open and genuine connection with others. You must speak up for what you desire, to receive what you deserve.

Explore your passion.

We begin adulthood determined to make our mark in life but I soon learned that after you leave academia and settle into professional role, life smaller and less fulfilling if you don’t allot energy into a passion or an endeavor for your own enjoyment. Expand your creative horizon if you don’t want to end up like those folks who are not as content in the same careers that they too once pursued with all of their young potential. Exploring our passion heightens our confidence and often expands our personal growth by providing the impetus for us to evolve outside of our comfort zones. When I did not actively engage in my passion for writing and sharing my ideas, I was caught in a limbo of restlessness and boredom. Pursuing our creative interest often requires us to be kind to ourselves, enhancing our self acceptance and sense of wholeness.

Be a champion of others.

We must genuinely celebrate and build others up to personally feel empowered to step out in pursuit of our own dreams. The constant need to be perfect and validated in my younger years led to not fully showing up for others but often meeting them with my judgmental ego. My critique of people’s mistakes or criticism of their imperfect choices contributed to my own reluctance to take risks and put myself out there. When we do not celebrate others, we internalize that it’s not socially safe to be bold and become afraid of also being judged and not supported. We discover our own strengths and bolster our character as we build others up and bring out the best in them. Our genuine encouragement of others diminishes the tendency for comparison, which reinforces our own awareness of also being enough. What we embrace in others becomes a mirror for what we cherish in ourselves and vice versa.

Be more vulnerable.

Without a doubt, vulnerability is the only means to self awareness, growth and experiencing true love. Yet, I avoided it for years because I did not know how to experience the pain of confronting my emotional vulnerability or shame. I would mentally jab at my weaknesses or failures with a ten-yard stick and judge myself through the perceptions of others. Experiencing my difficulties with my mind instead of my heart made me my own worse enemy and I would become less authentic as I tried harder to prove my worth. Now, I delve into my vulnerability heart first, showing myself the self compassion necessary to accept myself as worthy amidst my defeat and disappointment. Our willingness to be vulnerable with ourselves helps us to shed limiting beliefs, make decisions with clarity and become more accepting and connected to others.

Becoming the best version of ourselves is primarily a process of letting go of the conditioned expectations that diminish our authenticity. However, what I had to do more of, was to love. Mindfully choosing kindness and compassion in all my interactions reconnected me to my innate loving nature towards myself.

NI ANANA IS AN ASPIRING LIFE AND SELF DEVELOPMENT COACH IN EDMONTON, AB. LIKE STEEPING JOY ON FACEBOOK  FOR MORE SELF DEVELOPMENT INSIGHTS.

 

Why Feeling Jealous Can Be a Good Thing.

Without judging yourself, I would like you to recall the last time that you felt jealous of someone or a situation and then I invite you to ponder what was the reason for your envy. You probably felt as though you were betraying your pride. Well, what if I told you that jealousy is not entirely negative because our envious sentiments provide clues to guide our self development. I believe that the context of our jealousy reveals an abandoned aspect of ourselves, therefore our envy merely reflects our subconscious desire to reconnect with those qualities within ourselves.

Love All That You Are.

The characteristics that we envy in others represent traits that we once embodied effortlessly when we loved ourselves unconditionally as young children. We gradually choose to conceal these aspects of ourselves to be accepted by others, preferring to adopt the behaviors that are validated by others. This means that experiencing frequent jealousy suggests that we are not embracing our authentic nature and must nurture more self love to celebrate all aspects of ourselves. In the past, I was primarily jealous of women who were not attention seekers, yet their genuinely kind, reserved and self-assured nature still garnered much admiration from others. During such moments of envy, I did not correlate that those attributes matched my natural demeanor as a youth.  I was an incredibly shy child who opted to be the observer, hence being more reserved was my internal setting for inner peace and my subconscious reference of authenticity. A growing desire to be noticed and admired during my adolescence led to adopting a louder and a more attention seeking disposition. Having a kinder outlook towards myself when I felt unnoticed would have enabled me to feel internally validated in embodying my reserved personality. Instead, I felt jealous seeing women who seemed comfortable in showcasing a reserved nature because it suggested that they had a more accepting and liberated relationship with themselves than I did. I was implicitly projecting a positive, yet hidden component of myself onto them and my envy was a subconscious acknowledgement that if I wanted to rekindle that aspect of myself, I would need to enhance my own sense of self acceptance. Consider another example of a naturally outspoken and vibrant friend of mine who purposely adopted a more mild-mannered temperament around a guy that she was interested in. She immediately felt jealous when she spotted him at a party enjoying the company of another boisterous and outgoing girl. Our jealousy indirectly signals a regret for not loving ourselves enough to embrace all of who we are.

Expectation Let Down.  

The aspect of ourselves that is mirrored in the occasions that cause jealousy is typically opposite to the expectation(s) that we adopted in place of those characteristic(s). For example, if you have become attached to ‘certainty’ then you may become jealous of others who display the spontaneity you once had when you felt a greater capacity of self trust. Similarly, seeing boldness in another person may produce jealousy in someone who is attached to perfection because their desire not to be perceived as flawless diminishes their sense of self compassion, which fosters a fear of critique. Jealousy reveals how the expectations, which we have adopted to experience greater social contentment are potentially not as fulfilling as anticipated. These incidents force us to recognize how others who aren’t attached to our expectations are experiencing the exact personal rewards that we hoped to garner from our expectations. A girlfriend of mine expressed feeling jealous of a neighbor’s financial freedom upon noting the neighbor’s lavish landscaping projects in their yard. I asked her to associate the neighbor’s “spending” with a specific trait to encourage her to view her jealousy as a positive projection of herself onto her neighbor. She interpreted the neighbor’s financial freedom as being ‘hardworking’ and before finishing the sentence she admitted that was a quality, which described her former self. This is my friend who is often described as a natural born hustler but sacrificed her innate drive for entrepreneurship in exchange for security after having children. The incidents that make us jealous are merely reminding us that we do not have to entirely abandon certain aspects of ourselves to be happier. The subtle discomfort of jealousy highlights the expectations that we must release to wholly accept ourselves and authentically embody the qualities that we covet in others. So, consider your next incident of jealousy as a cue that you too could experience whatever you envied in another person if you cared less about being a “certain” way and more about being yourself.

Be More You.

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It turns out that extended periods of socializing were previously exhausting for me because I didn’t periodically embrace my reserved side in the company of others. Practicing greater self awareness has led to detaching my worth from external validation and experiencing greater inner peace without “showcasing” myself in public settings. Rather, I recently encountered a lady who was the archetype of whom I would have previously envied and I ironically felt a strong liking towards her. Embracing those neglected aspects of ourselves leads to internalizing our expectations within ourselves, such that we no longer feel jealous seeing those characteristics in others. When we are denying certain aspects of ourselves to be accepted by others then we are unconsciously expecting others and circumstances to make us happy. But having to the courage to detach our happiness from our expectations fosters true self love and offers the genuine contentment we were erroneously seeking through our expectations. For example, if one could accept themselves when they are not in control, then they’ll nurture greater flexibility and patience and feel more “in control” and experience less frustration amidst disorder. Similarly, if a person can accept themselves within the prospect of not being perfect, they will experience greater self compassion, enabling them not to fear judgement during moments of imperfection and become more daring. Jealousy reveals an aspect of ourselves that needs more of our positive attention, so I want you to ponder that your current attachment to being a certain way is opposite of your true nature. That’s because your authentic self once internalized those expectations as natural to who you are and didn’t need to seek or prove it externally to be happy. Challenge yourself to allow the neglected parts of your true nature to shine a little more everyday and have the courage to let the image of who you want to be take a little breather. If you currently always feel the need to prove that you’re right, then this is likely not your true nature. Rather, once upon a time, your authentic self didn’t care what others thought and ‘understood’ your truth without seeking the consensus of others. Therefore, I encourage you to let your “understanding” side shine a little more every now and then. Our gifts, talents and passion reside with your true nature, so we cannot discover our true magic until we love ourselves enough to embrace the entirety of who we are.

INI ANANA IS AN ASPIRING LIFE AND SELF DEVELOPMENT COACH IN EDMONTON, AB. LIKE STEEPING JOY ON FACEBOOK  FOR MORE SELF DEVELOPMENT INSIGHTS.

Implications of Disciplining with Compassion.

The back to school season always reminds me how the scholastic hopes that we have for our children impacts our parenting choices because education remains a gateway to success. In the past,  moulding my son for success admittedly led to expecting him to be perfect lest he succumb to poor choices or judgement. Subsequently, I interpreted my son’s misbehavior as threatening  his prospects of living the good life and erroneously adopted excessive discipline measures with the hopes of training  him to “make better choices”. My ongoing practice of self awareness and unconditional love over the last eight months has taught me that our children’s capacity for success in the ‘long run’ actually depends on the relationship that they are having with themselves. Their ability to be compassionate, self forgiving and graceful with themselves during challenges will impact their ability to remain motivated, passionate and resilient over their lifetime. With so much content to cover on this topic, I will likely write another installment to address a subsidiary topic of giving our maturing children the freedom to follow their unique path to self re-discovery. I will not be able to thoroughly discuss the intricate relationship between self acceptance and the law of attraction as well as manifestation. So I will simply highlight that if we were attracting the external displays of how we want to be perceived then more of us would be manifesting a greater magnitude of abundance, purpose and fulfillment in our lives. After years of using a punitive approach to discipline, I now advocate for more compassionate measures to guidance and correction not only because of the positive results it has produced in our children but because I finally understand that even in our wisdom, without self compassion we remain entitled, unaware and dis-empowered.  

Act with Compassion.

Parents send many implicit messages to children about how they are worthy of love and I believe that how we treat our children models how they come to treat themselves. Therefore, how we respond to their wrongdoings sets an important precedence for their own internal response/dialogue with themselves during their personal mistakes, failures and set backs. Disciplining choices that lack compassion disconnect children from their internal sense of self compassion during the moments that they have disappointed themselves or others. Compassionate discipline choices will vary according to each incident but in my practice I’ve found its beneficial not extend our dialogue/frustration into the past incidents or projecting the current issue as a reflection of their potential to behave differently in the future. This models to children the importance to focusing on the factors that we can control, which is the always the present moment. We all know that consuming our energy with what we cannot control does not enhance our self efficacy. When we begin extrapolating beyond the pertinent occasion then we can begin to implicitly create shame in children. Personally, being a product of the old school mindset of shaming bad behaviors to prevent their recurrence, I wholeheartedly attest that we have little success in learning from and transforming any personal conditions that we are ashamed of. Rather, shame undermines self agency because it leads to projecting blame to other factors and making choices to regain social approval instead of correcting our mistakes. It’s also important to avoid self negating statements that equate the child with a behavior. For example instead of “you are not a good listener” try “I need you to listen more carefully” and provide the rationale as it pertains to the situation.  I believe that disciplining without compassion is ‘one’of the ways we come to perceive that people will “love” us only when we are perfect and thus become afraid of failure and pursuing our authentic goals as adults. Sustaining contentment and success in the very long run requires accepting ourselves as worthy in spite of our imperfect outcomes and each moment where a child misbehaves is an opportunity to teach them how to overcome failure without fear, guilt or shame. Essentially when children can feel worthy despite their transgressions then we are freeing them from caring what others think of them when they would otherwise fear not being good enough, which is the true secret to sustained growth and success.  

Perfection Doesn’t Exist.

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A majority of the parenting advice that I read in the past primarily focused on adapting the parent-child relationship or on how to change our children. However, I’ve discovered that we must first enhance the relationship that we are having with ourselves in order to improve the dynamic with our children. That’s because the relationship we are having with ourselves is the only one that exists and we simply project the expectations that we have of ourselves onto everyone else, including our children. If you are like I was in the past, I was often in a relationship with perfection instead of myself. Our attachment to perfection leads to feeling inadequate or unworthy if we believe that others will judge the imperfections in some aspect of our lives. Therefore, we are expecting our children to be perfect human beings because we see them as an extension of ourselves. I often resorted to non-compassionate disciplining choices because those were my only measures for responding to myself for making mistakes. The way I scolded my son for his mistakes reflected the manner that I criticized  and treated myself for messing up amidst the perceptions of others. Our desire to prove to others that we are good enough heightens our frustrations to any act of imperfection but excessively punishing ourselves and our children to preserve an image for others is truly deserting ourselves  in the worst way. Improving my own self acceptance and releasing the need for perfection had made it possible to respond our children’s behaviors in the same compassionate context that I relate to myself. A majority of our children’s ‘misconduct‘ and behaviors are normal developmental curiosities as they are experiencing every stage of their development for the first time and will naturally explore the full scope of their being and self boundaries. For example, my one year daughter currently puts everything in her mouth during this stage of her development. She doesn’t care if the object is food or paper, yet it would not be reasonable to react as to one of her paper eating episodes as  though she ought to be a perfect one year old and know better. It’s possible to approach every stage of our children’s growth in this compassionate manner if we abandon the expectation of perfection and nurture a more loving relationship with ourselves. Interestingly, every parent is striving to teach their child(ren) not to be influenced by the opinions of others, but without self compassion for their imperfection, children may develop a stronger propensity to seek admiration and validation in their social relationships. Admittedly, many of us were raised in the exact same manner that we are parenting our children to mould us into better people than our folks, yet by in large we turned out pretty much the same, so it’s worth breaking the cycle. 

Changing The Success Story .

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 The consciousness of success is slowly evolving beyond the old model of commencing adulthood motivated to prove ourselves, only to become stuck or complacent in unfulfilling arenas twenty years later. The externally driven approach to success is not sustainable over one’s life time, therefore we must equip children with the self compassion necessary to continue challenging themselves to explore their full potential. Without self compassion, we may complete our post secondary education, get a decent paying 9 to 5 job, own a house etc. But we need to embrace unconditional self acceptance and grace to experience inner peace, make empowered decisions in our personals lives and nurture a positive mental dialogue, which encourages us to explore our inspirations. Our generation minimized that value of the relationship that we are having with ourselves while putting on a good front to the world. It’s now obvious that our degree of self-love impacts every life decision and subsequently shapes the progression of our personal lives. Without self acceptance, we resign to making choices that help us to feel loved and accepted by others. Hence our initial success platform as young adults may simply reflect the conditioned need to be approved and validated by our friends, family, public etc. With time, it becomes less desirable to continue expending excessive efforts in endeavors that don’t authentically fulfill us. Yet, without self compassion, we may remain both afraid of failure and lack the passion necessary to support exploring continual personal growth. Parenting with compassion allows children to internalize their worth as being greater than even the most damaging outcome. Such self grace is what will allow them to detach their happiness from the outcome of their efforts and remain curious about expanding their creativity and potential. More so,  nurturing children to be compassionate to themselves unconditionally enables them to make empowered choices especially when their expectations aren’t met. Essentially self compassion, is the key to sustained happiness because it allows us to feel worthy and accept ourselves amidst our changing circumstances. Positive psychology studies have shown that happier people make an average $600-700K more money over their life time, live longer and are more fulfilled in their relationships (1). When we are happy with ourselves, we tend to make choices from a framework of self expansion, while choices that stem from a feeling of unworthiness are geared at seeking approval and simply appeasing our discontent. The new face of success in the coming generations will continue to be that of creative entrepreneurship, which is primarily motivated by passion and self evolution. The greatest gift we can give our children is modeling the self compassion and awareness that compliments evolving their creativity, growth and potential.

Remaining compassionate when we are triggered by our children’s actions is undoubtedly difficult but we must imagine that if we react excessively from frustration, those responses will likely become the choices that they will also choose for themselves. Rather when our choices always align with love then we avoid the inconsistency of swinging between anger to guilt, which limits our effectiveness. If we teach our children to always feel worthy in themselves then we can rest assured that they will be able to take make empowered choices that support their success and fulfillment. Life will never be perfect, therefore expecting perfection of our children may not afford them with the skills and confidence to gracefully overcome challenges without fear. Rather, when we model self compassion, we teach children not to be ashamed of their mistakes but to forgive their errors and take responsibility for their actions. A child that feels worthy at all times is better able to make positive choices and are less likely to be limited by their imperfect circumstances or the judgement of others. 

(1) Information adapted from Rob Mack, happiness coach, speaker and author.  Interviewed on Earn Your Happy podcast. Aired August 25, 2017

INI ANANA IS AN ASPIRING LIFE AND SELF DEVELOPMENT COACH IN EDMONTON, AB. LIKE STEEPING JOY ON FACEBOOK  FOR MORE SELF DEVELOPMENT INSIGHTS.

 

“To Fly, We Have to Have Resistance”–Maya Lin

A few days ago, a fellow blogger that I follow on here posted a quote that I believe provides a perfect analogy for the magnitude of continual growth that we must be “willing” to consistently embrace in order to succeed. Undoubtedly, our emotional state is the greatest motivation or limitation to our success, because our emotions create our drive and foster the mental dialogue that inspires our decisions and choices. I believe the greatest road block for many of us is recognizing that we must adopt new habits and behaviours to “sustain” a positive emotional outlook. Hence success is essentially the consistent practice of emotional mindfulness, where passion is basically unconditional contentment during various circumstances. To become unlimited in our pursuits, we must first experience contentment unlimitedly in order to conceive the greatest amount of possibilities as desirable prospects. Because I love a good analogy, here is my personal interpretation of this inspirational quote: Continue reading

An Ode to Love: Love is For The Receiver.

Love is our only true freedom because,
To love takes the courage  to live outside of all fear!
Love does not fear loss, it is not afraid of failure, and
Love is not seduced by the clout of the ego.
Love indeed is for the Receiver, so whom so ever receives Love may be graced with acceptance and virtue!
Love is for the Receiver, for
This is the nature of the Divine Love bestowed upon us, which is unwavering and
Does not bind nor possess and is not rationed upon circumstance!
But it sets us free so that we may always feel welcomed, because
Love is for the receiver and as we receive Love, so shall we discover how to Love  because,
Love is for the Receiver!
When we share Love for the sake of the Receiver, then
Love is unselfish, and only
When we are not selfish that
We are set free.

 

“Steeping joy, brewed with all that life has to offer”

On Overcoming Self Doubt And Blogging.

At some point in our lives, we may all confront the challenge of overcoming self doubt while pursuing a goal or project. Doubt often manifests unexpectedly and slowly taints the excitement for our plans and as our passion begins to wane, the crippling fear of failure sets in. Wrestling with self doubt hinders our focus and direction, causing our confidence to steadily decline even if we have invested considerable effort and adequate preparation to ensure our competence. The helplessness from doubt may lead some of us to abandon our goals, while others can regain their motivation and persevere. I personally overcame many moments of doubt while preparing to launch my blog and I discovered first hand why the first step of any journey is often regarded as most difficult to take. Reflecting upon my own personal experience, I believe that doubt does not have to sabotage our efforts but can be a normal pathway to solidifying our passion to succeed.

What is doubt.

Doubt is rooted in our innate human drive for social belonging, which leads us to unconsciously appraise our actions according to socially endorsed values. Even as we possess unique individual motivations for pursuing various goals, the desired outcome of our aim is social acceptance and consumption of the products of our talents. Subsequently, we predict our success by the magnitude that others embrace and validate our endeavours, qualifying their approval and support as a condition of our achievement. Our inability to forecast how others will endorse our pursuits manifests in a fear that they may not embrace our talents, which we define as failure. Even if we are confident in our abilities, we may still doubt our potential success because we cannot predict if others will also perceive us as competent. My sentiments of self doubt manifested as my blog’s launch date drew closer and I began to anticipate the response from the public. As we start to visualize our desired outcome, we suddenly find ourselves wavering between the excitement that others will endorse our efforts and the fear that we may be rejected. I discovered that the following practices were useful in diminishing my sense of self doubt.

  1. Redefine success: passion is your best currency.

I believe that biggest trap for self doubt is defining our success by “measured outcomes” that depend on how others assess of our efforts due to it’s potential to undermine our passion. If others do not validate our performance in the ‘magnitude’ that we expect, we become doubtful, which may distract us from improving our craft. However, maintaining the intensity of our passion will gradually yield measured success because passion boosts confidence, determination and creativity. If anticipating the outcome of our endeavours causes doubt, we should deliberately refocus our thoughts on the positive ‘rationales’ for our pursuit. This is an exercise that rejuvenates the excitement for our goal, enhances our passion and motivates us to move forward. The impact of shifting our focus towards our desire is akin to the analogy of pouring a greater amount of clean water into a small amount of cloudy water, where the overall gradient changes in favour of the clean water. When I experienced doubt prior to launching my blog, I intentionally counteracted each fearful thought with three supporting sentiments for blogging; focusing on my motives shifted my attention in favour of my goal and mobilized me into action. I recommend continuously engaging in the details/art of your craft such that you remain focused on what is enjoyable and positive about your efforts, whereby joy is the best remedy for doubt. Depleting the excitement for our undertaking is a magnet for doubt and the absolute killer of success. Many people are pursuing endeavours with diminished passion and enjoyment because they are chasing measured success and remain perplexed that they aren’t achieving it. It is passion that enables us to invest the hard work necessary to succeed and helps us to remain possibility focused when we confront set backs.

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I correlated the importance of passion with success because I blog through inspiration; my ideas are the only platform of my pursuit and passion is the source that my thoughts stem from. I do not utilize any numerical standards as a basis of my success because this could potentially undermine my ambition and subsequently my ability to generate the very substance of my blog. I define my success only by my continued creative potential and interestingly, as I become more passionate, I discover greater insight and awareness for my posts. Therefore, it’s beneficial to ‘initially’ focus less on traditional measurements of success to lessen doubt and boost our passion/performance.

  1. Success doesn’t imply perfection.

Our expectation is an important predictor of self doubt because it determines how we respond to the elements that are out of our control. One will experience greater sentiments of doubt if they expect their pursuit to proceed perfectly because they may prematurely misinterpret a setback as failure. Rather, if we expect that success is a growth process, we will remain hopeful of our potential and anticipate that we have room for improvement. The assumption that any task will unfold seamlessly leads us to become insecure if perfection does not manifest and our declining confidence incites doubtfulness. More so, it is the expectation of perfection that causes us to presume that unfavourable incidents will impede our overall outcome, an assumption that heightens our fear of failure. This is because perfection implies that there is only one potential outcome for each event, causing us to feel defeated if things do not go as we hoped. I personally fought the temptation of foreshadowing the worst-case scenario a few days before launching my blog, when an entire set of blog pictures were erased from my camera. It would have been easy to misinterpret this mishap as a reason to doubt the caliber of my scheduled posts, but I distracted myself by writing and completed another shoot the following day.  Accepting that a given process will have peaks and valleys strengthens our resolve to persevere beyond the difficulties that we encounter along the way. More so, challenges typically offer insights and lessons that we can use to enhance our subsequent attempts.

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A critical component of relinquishing perfection is recognizing that we will naturally have phases where we become doubtful and experience reduced passion. We must anticipate this as a normal aspect of our journey so it does not entirely discourage us to give up. If we shouldn’t expect the process to be perfect, then we cannot expect perfection of ourselves. However as my parents always cautioned “it’s not whether a bird lands on a tree but if it builds a nest”.  I do not recommend lingering in a demotivated state, rather we should muster the drive to persevere by investing our energy in activities that deepen our passion. Another beneficial practice that lessened my moments of doubt was drawing on my support system for encouragement.

Success is not a one person show.

No one is an island, therefore we must draw on the assets of others who are rooting for our success, where in my case blogging has blossomed into a family affair. Our limited perspective about certain aspects of our goal contributes to self doubt and our support system can be a great litmus to gauge reservations that we are unable to independently rationalize. When I encounter uncertainties about any component of my blog, I have difficulty “thinking it out” on my own but I’m able to get a better grasp of the issue after discussing my ideas/thoughts with my family. I am constantly picking my family’s brain about topics, pictures and their personal experience, where their honest feedback helps to refine my clarity and confidence. If your reservations stem from a lack of expertise, then invest in research and learning opportunities and seek out positive and willing mentors that can guide you. Even the critical opinions of those  we trust can also lessen our sense of doubt by allowing us to gain a broader perspective in a reassuring context. Hence, embrace vulnerability with your support system by being open and honest about the nature of your doubt, so they can offer the neutrality that you need to rationalize your worries. I am also grateful for my family’s support during those moments when I need motivation to believe in the value of my undertaking.

We often doubt our efforts because we are our own worst critics and it’s valuable to have people around us who strive to build you up when you’re knocking ourselves down. We can never get too many pep talks and the encouragement from my husband and children always seem to jolt my passion for blogging when I’m feeling demotivated. The encouraging words of others highlight the positive aspects of our efforts when we are erroneously too focused on what’s amiss. Ironically, my family typically conveys the same constructive sentiments to me that I have offered them on other occasions, proving that we can benefit from the perspective of others even if we already possess the same awareness. We must be grateful to those who love us enough to support us, reinforcing our faith in the good that we are doing. As we are lifted by the encouragement of others, it highlights the value of reciprocating this positivity to others in their time of demotivation.

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I hope that these recommendations will be useful to you as you encounter inevitable moments of doubt while pursuing your goal. If you have committed the dedication to leap into your venture, then you must continually strive to believe in the beauty of your efforts/goal because this is the only worthy measurement of your success. Subsequently, the most decisive determinant of one’s success and deterrent of doubt is the rationale for pursuing your goals. I believe that we only succeed in those projects that we pursue out of passion and love. It is highly unlikely to prosper in an undertaking that you are doing solely to please others, for money or out of fear.

Check out  Steeping Joy on Facebook to read more of my thoughts on utilizing emotional mindfulness as an asset to manifesting your desires.

Which other principles have helped you to overcome self doubt? What recommendation would you add to this list?

XO

Ini Anana

“Steeping joy, brewed with all that life has to offer”

Love in Action: Lessons From Our First Craft Sale.

When I began to write about our family’s first craft sale experience this past weekend, it didn’t take long for the principles of love to emerge and this revelation gave me the idea to start a new series of blog entries that explore my views about love during our everyday moments. I hope to use these stories to highlight the fact that love impacts every component of life and discuss the endless opportunities where we can utilize our ability to love to improve ourselves and circumstances. To summarize my definition of love, I believe that we could all probably agree that love can be described as an exchange because we ‘seem’ to  feel and show it. If love is intangible and can also be exchanged, then I also agree that love is energy. Extrapolating from the scientific premise of energy, I assert that love is our ability to overpower the force of negativity/ego in every interaction.  Similarly, if we accept that our main goal in life is to be happy then we can also assume that our true self enables us to satisfy this purpose, while the ego opposes it. We experience unhappiness due to our unmet expectation of perfection. Therefore, it is our ego that demands perfection of ourselves, others and our circumstances and becomes unhappy when this does not manifest. Subsequently, ‘choices that stem from the defeated ego’ becomes the force that opposes our ability to love.  As I recount the events and lessons from our recent craft sale, I hope it leaves you more convinced that love doesn’t occur only between lovers or those you care about but there’s an opportunity to embrace the energy of love  in every aspect of how we live.

Breaking new ground in the craft world.

A couple months ago, my husband began making larger sized scrabble tiles, adding a new element to his hand crafted reclaimed pallet wood artwork. He quickly generated multiple sales from Kijiji and it was through his advertising that he was solicited to participate in a school’s fundraiser craft sale. We immediately decided that this was a great opportunity to showcase his artwork since he planned on participating in markets and trade shows soon. We had high hopes that this novel décor item would be a hit with craft sale goers. He went to work preparing his inventory and it unfolded into a family affair, with his parents cutting/sanding the wooden tiles in their shop at their country home, my husband drawing/stenciling the pieces, I waxed his finished product and one of our daughters refined the flaws with a fine point pen. We worked so hard that both my husband and I came down with a terrible head cold the day before the sale, but the show had to go on. We got up early that Saturday morning and with our sweet Fraya in tow, we were off to the big event. We quickly discovered that one must arrive earlier than early to get the first pick at the premium tables near the entrance, we selected the best from what tables remained and it didn’t take long before we were set up and ready to sell. And with baited breath we waited and waited and waited some more. Our first sale came a couple hours later, which felt quite anticlimactic amidst our growing disappointment. Though we were both thinking it, my husband was first to express his discontent about the minimal sales considering the tremendous amount effort he invested in preparing the inventory. There we were, with our long faces and innocent Fraya oblivious of our deflated spirit, we were still holding on to hopes that maybe we would lure in buyers with her sweet smiles, squeals and giggles. We tried adjusting our pitch and became more vocal with every passer by, greeting them more passionately, but all that was to no avail. And when the sense of discouragement settled in deep enough for me to feel unhappy, I recognized that this was an opportunity to consciously apply the principles of love.

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Love entails self awareness

Unhappiness is always the trigger that we are confronting the force of our ego and as I made the connection between our expectations and the current state of our progress, I asked my husband why he felt disappointed. He explained that it seemed like he may have wasted his efforts preparing for the sale and there was also the implicit doubt of whether his work was desirable to buyers. I remarked “so we basically expected the sale to go perfectly by making lots of money”. Since he also made the connection with our unmet expectations of perfection, my husband jokingly replied “is that too much for my ego to ask for?” Being aware that our disappointment stemmed from our defeated ego, we re-evaluated how we wanted to proceed. We now had a strong incentive to change our outlook because behaving in a sullen manner would give momentum to the force of our ego, which we understood would indirectly block the flow of love in our circumstance. Discussing our bleak outlook forced us to examine the source of our negative emotions and subsequently revealed how the principles of love could apply to this situation.  In turn, we became more conscious of the outlook we wanted to adopt and more deliberate in our choices. Utilizing the principles of love was the pause button, which allowed us to rewind, examine the details we missed before coming to the right conclusion. Therefore, the principles of love fosters self awareness because we gain clarity while scrutinizing the source of our unsettled emotions . This has proven to be the only way to identify if we are confronting the force of our ego and subsequently recognize it as an opportunity to change the presiding outlook and our course of action to permit the flow of love.

Defeat is just a perception

My husband and I addressed our looming sense of failure by realistically considering our tangible losses. And naturally, there were none to minimal losses and at that point we were only $20 away from recovering the cost of our table rental. I quipped to my husband that we weren’t less intelligent than before the start of the sale since its always natural to feel a bit foolish during defeat. Nothing was physically absent from our lives because we did not sell a lot of inventory so why would we concede to the feeling of failure. In many instances one can only discover that the sentiments of their defeated ego is just a perception by deliberately rejecting it and not acting in the spirit of these emotions. Over and over, I’ve recognized that ‘nothing actually changes’ in the capacity that we feared. Yet we often choose to behave according to the sentiments of our defeated ego (limiting the flow of love) because it provides the comfort akin to leaking our wounds without the healing.

There are alternative outcomes

The conscious exercise of choosing the energy of love affords us the realization that there are multiple outcomes to every interaction, and we can choose the version that reconnects us with happiness. When our ego’s expectation of perfection is not met, the negative emotions we feel lead us to believe that there’s only one possible resolve. Proceeding in the spirit of our defeated ego signals our acceptance of it’s perceived outcome while selecting a different course of actions acknowledges that we are willing to create a different resolution. For example, we typically choose resentment when people disappoint us because we accept that their intentions ‘must’ be bad, we may choose anger when we do not get our way because we accept that control is the ‘only’ means to happiness and we choose detachment when we feel vulnerable because we ‘assume’ that we are unappreciated, etc. My husband and I endeavoured to uncover the advantages of our experience at the craft sale as we applied the principles of love to our situation. We decided that it was beneficial to attend a smaller sale to debut his art as an introduction to the learning curve of such events, where there were less costs at stake. We also recognized the generated potential for future sales as a couple dozen people took his business card and a few more requested to have custom work completed. The best part of this story is that soon after we chose to embrace the energy of love, our luck immediately turned around. Coincidental or not, we had the remaining four out of five sales after our choice to reject defeat but the greatest victory was realizing that our initial disappointment was not the end of the story. Similarly, in other situations, the perception of our defeated ego conceals the alternate outcomes that can afford us freedom from the ego as well as happiness.

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Focus on the gains

The most problematic aspect of the ego’s need for perfection is the fallout when these demands go unmet and we inherently become preoccupied with the conditions that are lacking for our happiness.  However, as we actively negate the emotions of our defeated ego, we begin to look for criteria that validate the choice to be happy despite the ego’s outlook. As we highlighted the benefits of the sale, we acknowledged the fact that we made great contacts with other vendors who shared their expertise willingly and recommended upcoming handmade sales that are more suitable for my husband’s inventory. My husband also felt grateful that he created sufficient inventory to participate in future sales with less preparation going forward and we gained tremendous insight about the workings of such events. And a less related gain was the pleasure our neighboring vendor derived from holding and playing with Fraya. We learned that she works as a nanny in addition to her Arbonne business and it left us feeling content that our presence at the sale somehow allowed her to enjoy her passion for children during the sale.

Driving home after the sale, my husband and I both felt an uncanny sense of success from an event where we did not sell as much as expected. Thus, examining how the principles the ego and love apply to every circumstance is an opportunity to choose freedom and happiness. Once we begin to appreciate that love is not a cliché ideal reserved for stereotypical relationships but it’s an energy that we can enable in every interaction (with ourselves, others and the universe) then we are able to use it’s flow reap abundance in every facet of life. My husband and I chose to show ourselves love when our defeated ego wanted us to concede to failure and in turn we experienced greater love for ourselves, each other and everyone we interacted with that weekend.

Update:

As of today February 16th, we have generated residual sales that matches our total income at the craft show  and we anticipate much more. This is tangible evidence that the science of love is the Law of Attraction because it enables you to recognize the opportunities to generate what you seek.

XO

Ini A.

“Steeping joy, brewed with all that life has to offer”

Enabling Older Children To Experience Personal Failure: How It Helps Them Win.

“There are two lasting gifts we can hope to give our children, one is roots; the other, wings.”–Hodding Carter Jr.


“What’s the point of being on the best team, if you don’t get to play as much…I’m just going to stay put and improve myself with this team”. When my son made those remarks a few days ago, it immediately gave me the incentive to write this post. He was responding to rumors that several of his teammates plan to leave to another team that has a better chance of advancing to the U16 Nationals soccer tournament. As you can imagine I was impressed by his insightful and mature reasoning, yet two years ago, I would not have envisioned his ability to display such logic. That’s because two years ago, he himself was bouncing from club to club determined to be on the best team. He insisted on this pursuit against my rational persuasion but I realized that it was an opportunity to grant him greater ownership of decisions that ultimately only affected him. So, I dared to allow him to fail, because I recognized that it was the only means for him to learn certain important life lessons. And fail he did, after making one of the top club soccer teams during the outdoor season, he was subsequently cut from the roster when the team accepted fewer players during the indoor season. My boy was heartbroken and it was the type of sadness that us parents never enjoy seeing in our children. I scrutinized my decision to allow him to leave his former team as we now faced the prospects of him missing an entire indoor season. Yet, my son’s gradual growth from such scenarios confirms that the teenage years is an appropriate time for parents to give their children wings to navigate some of their own decision making that may cause personal failure. My classification of failure does not refer to a child’s sense of personal hopelessness about circumstances that are out of their control. It is our job as parents during such occasions to take all necessary steps to restore our children’s confidence and positive outlook. Rather I am defining failure as the repercussions in personal matters that the child is inherently more invested in than the parents. Empowering my son to make choices where there’s a potential of failure enables him to learn important life lessons about perseverance, self reflection and personal accountability.

The sky is never really falling.

After he was released from that team, my son did not know how he was going to live if he couldn’t play soccer and he felt more helpless because he burned bridges with his former team. The spoiler alert is that he did not miss that indoor season and made it onto another  club team but not without learning the intricacies of determination. The most critical component of perseverance is establishing your next desired outcome and I recall asking my son “do you want to play soccer” to which he of course said yes. Once he affirmed his intention to play, I then encouraged him to only focus on brainstorming how to bring this to fruition. In other facets of life, we must also employ this same intentional mindset as we decide to move forwards after unforeseen setbacks. It didn’t take long for him to recall that one of his previous teammates had joined the team half way through the season after asking to attend a couple practices. We did not know that coaches often choose to keep a smaller roster for this very reason and so I began sending out emails to several teams requesting for my son to attend a practice with a prospect of being brought onto the team. The approach worked and he found a new team. As we continued to discuss the lessons from this event, he understood that there’s always a way to move forward and interestingly came to the most profound conclusion, stating “mom I feel sorry for kids who have to feel like for the first time when they are older with something that’s really important”. Yes, HE said those words and it was the biggest reassurance that I am making the right choice in giving him more freedom to experience failure. As they mature into adults we would all want our children not give up after rejection and  it’s beneficial for them to become familiar with how to create possibilities after failure while they are still young.

Reflecting on what went wrong.

Learning from mistakes has proven to be a meaningful occasion to help my son develop insight about his choices; our follow up discussions provides him a safe landing place as we utilize his new awareness to improve his outlook on life. Once he was accepted onto another team, I asked my son how he felt about his decision to hop teams in the first place. He explained that he sincerely thought that being on a better team would make him a better player. However, being one of the more novice players on the team (at that time) he received less playing time and became more tentative during game situations, which may have contributed to his subsequent release. He later admitted that as a relatively new club player, it would have been preferable for him to remain on a team focused on player development than winning. I honestly do not believe he would have gained this insight without the fallout from his attempt to seek greener grass elsewhere. We often do not recognize the tunnel vision of our goal setting motives until we discover the multiple influences that impact our desired outcome. Previously, I could not convince my son that becoming a great soccer player entailed more than being on the best team but he gained that insight independently after his expectations were not met. As we continued to talk about this experience, I explained that its important to consider the various factors of each option in any decision and we are now in the habit of creating a pros and cons list in these situations. Hindsight is 20/20 but insight also offers us a broad viewpoint and I am beginning to see proof of my son’s ability to understand his role and responsibility in creating favourable conditions for his own success.

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Been there, done that.

I asked my son why he doesn’t feel tempted like some of his teammates to leave his current team and he responded “because I’ve already been there and done that”. He followed up with an explanation that at his age division most teams have been cohesive for many years and are loyal to their players. Therefore, even if a team expands their roster during the upcoming outdoor season, they would likely release new players before their veterans going forward. If you have children in sports then you may be familiar with the politics of player loyalty, which is a discussion that’s beyond the scope of this post. What I find commendable about my son’s current outlook is his desire not to potentially repeat the same mistakes as before. He knows what it feels like to regret a choice and feels responsible to avoid the same outcome. Failure helps us to become accountable by making us aware of what to do differently to avoid similar set backs. Of course, there is a balancing act of also recognizing when it’s appropriate to step out of our comfort zone and take new risks that challenge us and enable us to thrive. I believe that one’s motivation for pursuing or abstaining from certain goals typically reveals whether it is the prudent choice. And in his case, his motives for remaining on his current team enhances his self development more than the alternative. From bad relationships, wrong career choices to poor judgement of character, we often learn to do better going forward after we understand where we went wrong and enabling older children to implement this skill will be valuable to them as they get older.

Allowing our children to fail is difficult because it contradicts our innate parenting instinct, which desires the very best for our children. Yet success is a continuous journey of getting up after we fall and it is important for children to develop this ability while they are gaining a greater sense of identity as teenagers. If one insists on keeping all the balls in the air for our older children, they will indeed succeed in those moments but unless we plan to micro manage them forever, we must eventually allow our children to experience disappointment and help them to grow from it.

How are you navigating the domain of allowing your older children to make choices that may disappoint them? Is it easy or challenging? I would love to hear about your experiences.

XO

Ini A.

“Steeping joy, brewed with all that life has to offer”

Escaping Chaos: Four Ways to Decompress.

If you are highly sensitive to human plight as I am then you may also be feeling drained by the political duress that is unfolding around us. Being frequently bombarded with images and sound bites of discrimination makes one feel weary considering that we are barely out of the gates with this U.S. administration. Furthermore, our frustration grows as we are geographically removed from the situation and feel helpless about how to affect change. Amidst the chaos, the growing groups of diverse individuals united in their protest for justice reminds us that empathy and love will always be the solution to fear. Therefore, it is important to recognize that our own tension about these matters has the potential to further polarize us. The emotional strain of social turmoil fosters a negative outlook that can also manifests as fear. It may seem idealistic but I believe that (especially for those of us with limited political outlet) we must find ways to periodically decompress from the emotional burden of chaos in order to preserve our capacity to love and remain part of the solution. Here are a few practices that I have found to be useful in restoring my positive energy flow after processing continuous streams of inequality.

1.) Find a distraction.

Its easy to feel stressed about our inability to impact injustice but we can redirect our mental capacity to something else, which allows an influx of positive energy. Traditionally meditation, which quiets the mind is deemed as an effective means to restore calm, however this can be a difficult practice for some of us while we are emotionally tense. Rather I found that engaging in an activity that requires my full attention and mental concentration to be the easiest way to alter my thoughts and subsequently my emotions. Distraction works best when it involves an activity that demands our focus so it helps if it is something that we are not completely proficient at. I recently chose to make a more advanced coconut curry recipe from my cookbook, which had me reading certain lines of directions several times before I understood the preparation sequence. Its difficult to ‘fully’ concentrate on several things at once and I noted an instantaneous change in my energy ; I highly encourage you to take a break from the media and engage in an activity that distracts your mind.

2.) Spend time with people in ‘real life’.

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Let’s not forget that social media is not entirely social since scrolling through stories and images on our timelines doesn’t afford us the same human interaction as engaging with people in real life. The emotional exchange that occurs as we embrace others in actual situations enhances our mood more significantly than reading and liking stories on our newsfeed. During my mommy group play dates, where the most important thing is remembering the words to little bunny foo foo and clapping in tune, I have an opportunity to engage with people at their best. This type of interaction offsets the harmful tone of what is happening around us. Give yourself permission to forget about the strife in the world and connect with people you care about without any distractions.  The chaos will not be made worse by your periodic absence from social media, rather you’ll be refreshed and may gain a greater threshold of tolerance.

3.) Release physical energy

Walk, hike, run, swim, dance, lift weights, regardless the level of intensity, physical activity is a great way to release tension.  Exercise relieves pent up energy so it’s benefits are comparable to engaging in an activity for distraction. More so, physical activity increases our bodies production of endorphins, which helps to reduce stress and aid in relaxation. Better yet, you could invite a friend to participate in an activity with you and reap the added advantages of being with people in real life. I felt exhilarated after a little session of a Tabata work out this morning and it set a uplifting tone for the rest of my day.

4.) Take  favourable political action

It may seem surprising to see this point in a list of activities that is intended to remove us from the tension, however much of our frustration stems from our perceived sense of helplessness about issues of inequality. We can regain a sense of empowerment by engaging in some favourable political action regardless of it’s magnitude. Donate to organizations that are challenging injustice/religious discrimination legally and through advocacy. Boycott services, products or companies that are supported by the proponents of injustice. And of course, if your lifestyle permits and you are geographically able, participate in demonstrations that are building the momentum for equality. Your political action gives you a sense of resolve  because it encompasses your personally stance on the issue.

I’m sure that one could easily think of many more activities to release the tension that many of us are experiencing lately but I chose to highlight a few that offered me immediate results. The key is to consciously set aside time to unplug and take care of our mental and emotional well being. I would love to hear about some of the rituals or activities, which you find useful in escaping chaos and restoring peacefulness.

XO

Ini A.

“Steeping joy, brewed with all that life has to offer”.

Savoury Vegetable Frittata

I discovered this dairy free, vegetable frittata in my “Clean Eats (Alejandro Junger, 2014)” book over the Christmas holidays while searching for a brunch recipe that my pescatarian brother in law could enjoy. It was an instant favourite  with our family and friends and I’m pretty sure it will be a hit with yours as well! Not only is it easy to prepare but it is a versatile meal that I  have served for brunch, supper, and enjoyed the leftovers for lunch as well.  The savoury aroma of the onions caramelizing with garlic and fresh greens would have you believe that something more gourmet was sizzling in the skillet. I hope you enjoy the rave reviews you will receive when you serve this healthy and delicious recipe to your loved ones.

Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3-4 cups of seasonal vegetables such as summer squash, zucchini, kale, spinach and or broccoli
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 6 pasture raised eggs
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh herbs, such as chives, basil and or parsley
  • 1-2 teaspoons of sea salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Heat a large ovenproof saute pan, preferably cast iron over medium heat. Melt the coconut oil, then add vegetables and onion. Cook them, stirring occasionally until everything is soft. Add the garlic and continue stirring until the mixture is aromatic.

While the vegetables are cooking, in a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, herbs and salt.

Pour the egg mixture into the pan with the vegetables, then transfer to the pan to the preheated oven. Bake for 15-25 minutes (the size of the pan will determine how long it takes in the oven). Once the center is firm or “set”, remove the pan from the oven and serve frittata either warm or room temperature.

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My variations

  • I used 8 free run eggs and 2/3 cup of coconut milk to achieve thicker and more pie-like texture
  • In addition to the melting the coconut oil in the pan, I also sprayed the sides of the iron cast pan with Pam Coconut oil spray because I found that frittata stuck the sides the first time I made it.
  • I used a combination of broccoli , baby kale and baby spinach for the greens
  • I used 1 teaspoon of sea salt and found felt it was salty enough, even with increasing my ratio of a couple ingredients.
  • Once you pour the egg mixture into the pan, quickly mix it to create a leveled height in the pan

Source

“Clean Eats” by Junger, Alejandro M.D. (2014) ‘Vegetable Frittata’ (page 56)