“Recover your innocence, for she is an endless well of wisdom” .–I. Anana

I’ve always had an innate desire to make sense of everything but when I saw life from my ego, I directed my inquiry outward instead of understanding myself. But the answers that guide our personal journey reside with our authentic understanding/alignment with our highest self, therefore deciphering others is like writing the wrong test during an exam. We must know ourselves beyond our ego’s expectations in order to gain the true wisdom for our lives. After years of supposedly knowing it all, it was when I began seeing life through the lens of innocence that I discovered the wisdom and passion laying dormant in my consciousness. In what felt like an ordinary moment earlier this year, during my own sullen experience of misalignment, I briefly mourned the eventual loss of my angel’s innocence pondering the day that she too will shed her innate knowing that she is already enough. The sadness that followed that moment was the catalyst for my spiritual awakening and self rediscovery. I now understand that I was actually being inspired through divine intervention to mourn the loss of my own innocence and to rescue her from the fog of my ego mind.

You must mourn the loss of your innocence and commission a search party for her return. Put out her missing posters and knock on the doors of those who still remember her. Let them tell of how she was bold or gracious, knew what she wanted and went after it without fear. They will remind you that her imagination bore the greatest fantasies, she was full of curiosity, love and zeal. She sprinkled beauty and kindness everywhere she went and lifted the spirits of all those around her. Let them recall how she galloped with pride in her being and spoke her mind freely without doubt. Let your heart be moved by her legacy and weep that she has been buried alive. And as a loving parent who wouldn’t rest until the safe return of their missing child, you must find the courage to recover her. Fight for her in every waking moment of your day, knowing that when you choose to see life though the lens of love, you are one with your true and highest self.

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.

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”