Blogmas 12 – What I learned today

I was thinking recently about the content that I consume online. I was reflecting upon the teachings I obtain out of that. And it turns out, the majority is something similar to fast food – it tastes good, but it depletes you of energy and it’s not teaching me much.

So, I decided to stop consuming specific trendy or popular Instagram peoples that were not filling up my learning cup. Rather, it was taking me, my time, which I can use to better myself and to actually gain something out of that content consumption. So, here we are. I realised, much as I realised a couple of years back, when I was left stranded with no internet in the middle of the December holidays – Lessons of digital Detox link, that a lot of what I watch or see or read online is superficial. Super superficial. And in 2020, I want to make sure I consume content that makes me better or strive to be better, that teaches me something, that is helpful and useful, much as the content I want to produce and the mission this blog has, and not just content that is enjoyable, beautiful and catchy. Because, we all know, we are all, more than just, clothes, beauty and the so called “lifestyle” which concept, recently has lost its core. It is becoming increasingly connected to a certain luxury living and spa style life. Lifestyle is not what it used to be associated with, and the culprits are Instagram people and Youtubers that have transformed the meaning, because of what they promote or show through their videos and because of the perception we obtain based on that “show”. Unfortunately, we are all, also behind this lessening of the power of the word, because we are strongly condemning the concept in favour of other notions we are more close to, such as minimalism, and the reason behind that, in my humble opinion, is the fact that most of us relate to the normality of minimalism, daily struggle and frugal living, rather than a lavish lifestyle that we see portrayed everywhere around us, and of course, we desire it, it’s normal. But it’s not normal to stop relating to what truly deeply lifestyle is all about. It’s not just about food or healthy food or about exercising or about yoga and fitness, that we mostly define it by with, more and more, it’s about having a life that we enjoy, a life that we want, a life that keeps us going, that is sustainable to maintain and that keeps other people want to join in not because it’s “fashionable”, but because it is truly connecting us, as humans, it’s creating a community of like-minded people. But, it’s not this, which I have learned today.

Today I have learned that I get consumed by the content that I consume. And that happens because it’s easy to get in the “desire mood” of stuff we see online and we get fickle about things afterwards. I wrote about consumerism many years ago in this blog post named “A minimalist journey” and I realised that, once again, if you stay too much in the realm of people that are like that, you end up believing that’s what you need too. It’s the same as the saying “you are the quintessence of the top 5 people you most surround yourself with“. It goes the same for social media. Who do you constantly follow and how does that person influence you? The influence is subtle, is invisible, it’s clever. You may not realise but the coat you bought could have been triggered by a coat you saw at one of your favourite social media persons, and it does not need to be recent, it could have been seen 6 months ago. It’s still in your subconscious mind. Remember the trick with the subconscious mind and working pattern? It’s in this blog post.

I have learned today that there are people that lie and create a life based on that lie and they are able to live comfortably for a very long time. It’s hard to spot a faker because he has been faking it all his life. A faker is an expert in lie. He’s lied ever since he was younger. How can that person not be a professional in keeping up a mask that hides the fact they are not who they show the world they are, they do not have the knowledge or expertise of what they portray to have, and they are not the humans they say they are. It’s hard to see the missing pieces, because their flaws are hidden in plain sight. Sometimes so well, that you mistake the flaw with a quality. And the problem is this people are making YOU believe you have a problem, when in reality, it’s the other way around. Be careful, who you surround yourself with. You need an observatory spirit and you need lots of NUNCHI.

That’s the second thing I learned today. NUNCHI.

Nunchi is the Korean secret to happiness and success. The core of this view to life is reflected in a motto belonging to Arthur Conan Doyle and it goes like this “the world is full of obvious things that no one notices ever.”

Why people fail to observe these obvious things? Because people are more concerned with the rationals they hold in their heads and their cognitive distortions – see info on that here – link – and in this smartphone age we cannot notice it anymore because we have no time. Nunchi is something like a signal for intuition. Intuition is something we feel based on a variety of factors and brain shortcuts we have accumulated in time and that serve us as a life situations guide, more like a “how to” way of acting and behaving. Nunchi is from what I understood, a way of reflecting this side of the intuition in a mindful manner. If intuition happens more like a spark, something we feel all of a sudden and we interpret it as something we must or must not do (based on those factors appreciated briefly above), nunchi happens mindfully because we decide to pay attention, closely to things around us. If intuition is more like interpretation based on similar stuff that happened in the past (which is recorded somewhere in our memory and our survival brain is sending subtle signals to help us), nunchi is bringing this unconscious ability into the conscious realm.

When we experience intuition, is usually connected to a random situation in space and time, to subtle behaviours and words and non-verbal communication, to impulsiveness, in a way. When we want to feel nunchi and approach this on a day by day basis, we collide the intuition into constant present time, we force it to happen all the time, because we DECIDE consciously to be intuitive, to be observant, to notice, to care, to open our eyes and clearly see. I feel, nunchi is something we mindfully decide on experiencing.

It’s like the mindful version of intuition.

The third thing I learned today is in connection to nunchi and introversion. When I first read the book “The power of introverts” by Susan Cain, I felt that finally, here is something I can relate to totally. Well, in my opinion, nunchi is a form of power that mostly, introverts have acquired in their lifetime, due to their ability to be more patient with themselves, to be observant, to notice things that would normally be unseen by other people. An introvert is in a native manner more inclined to connect to his or her inner compass and that inner compass is this way of living, named by the Koreans “NUNCHI”. Nunchi is about understanding when to shut up, when to not disclose YOUR views, YOUR experiences, YOUR everything and why it is important to listen to the person that is giving you all these information. Observe what information you are being given. When you observe that, you will notice that you will be more careful with what you disclose, because you know what people can guess about you based on your disclosing thoughts. Nunchi is about being more present in the day to day life, about being mindful regarding our life experiences, about accepting the day to day “moods” and capturing in our inner compass all those subtle movements, words, gestures and sayings, maybe colours, situations, surroundings and details to better serve us for the future and to help us understand ourselves better.

When we pay attention, we select information. When we pay attention we are interested and when we are truly curious and interested, we remember better. Nunchi is about remembering all that and applying it every single second. It’s truly mindfulness overload. It’s living in the present moment. It’s more like Eckhart Tolle’s “the power of now”. Nunchi is the power of now.

Forth thing learned today is WORD OF 2019. Did you know that starting 2004, Oxford Dictionaries is designating one word per YEAR as the WORD OF THE YEAR? If in other years, words such as “selfie”, “vape” or “unfriend” have been on top, this year the first place was occupied by “climate emergency”. The oxford word of the Year is a word or expression shown through usage evidence to reflect the ethos, mood or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance. So 2019 is marked by climate emergency. Read more about the reasons behind this decision here, although I am sure you can relate to the reason this has been selected, as we all have been impacted this year by the impact of the climate itself and can easily relate to its significance.

The main thing to culminate my learning for today is this quote I found on my curated social media following list:

“DON’T LET ANYONE RENT SPACE IN YOUR HEAD UNLESS THEY ARE A GOOD TENANT”

Blogmas 7 – Cognitive Distortions to Restructure by the end of 2019

People will do anything, no matter how absurd to avoid facing their own souls, once wrote Carl Jung. We are all biased with different thinking patterns and brain shortcuts that we created in time to have time to cope with life and change. Sometimes these cognitive distortions make it hard for us to progress in life, and the universe keeps throwing at us the same lessons in different formats, and we still don’t get it. So, this December, and Blogmas, by the end of the year, let’s work together to restructure those mental biases we all deal with.

There are 13 common cognitive distortions that I will be briefly explaining and you could work on one at a time until the end of 2019 to make sure you step into 2020 with a new fresh thinking.

1.Overgeneralising – You see a constant, negative pattern based on one event. Maybe you think that if you did not get the position you applied for, you are not good enough and you think there is no point in applying to a future job ad. But, you base your future thoughts and eventually behaviours around a single event. Step out of your mind and don’t take your thoughts so seriously.

2.Blaming / Denying – You blame others for your problems or mistakes OR you blame yourself when it wasn’t entirely your fault. You could say that you did not obtain that job because you did not have connections or because the company liked a specific type of personality or that you did not prepare for the interview. If you indeed did not prepare for the interview, that’s easily fixed, next time, you know what you need to focus more on, since you passed the CV screening. If you believe that the company or another person is to blame for your failure, think again, maybe you should consider that when you put the blame entirely on others for something you did not achieved, it could be that you are avoiding to feel the real emotions behind your lack of success. The real emotion behind that could lie in the truth that you did not prepare enough, did not have enough experience, did not have enough of confidence to show it, and so on. Always try to see beyond the surfaced emotion and train of thoughts.

3.Shoulds – you have a rigid code of conduct dictating how you and others should behave. You criticise yourself harshly when you fail to follow these rules. Should lists are so dangerous to the mind. They are transforming you into a perfectionist, into a critic and that’s not at all equal to self-love and mindfulness and good judgement. On the contrary, shoulds are infectious and must be replaced with something more kind to ourselves: the right to make mistakes, the patience to learn from one’s mistakes and the determination to challenge an existing no-longer serving belief, such as the “should theory”. Also, to gain more understanding on the topic, have a read here on the crossroads between should and must in the pursuit of happiness.

4.All or nothing thinking – You see things as absolutes, no grey areas. This ties very well with the one above. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and to understand that all things come and go. There is no white or black, as much as we would all want to shortcut things that we go through, and categorise it to make our lives easier, life is complex, so, so is our thinking.

5.Negativity bias – You notice all the negatives, but fail to notice the positives. For this one, sometimes, our parents have raised us with their own biases as their own knowledge to keep us safe from the world and to protect our future reckless choices by implementing a fear emotion in us every time we might get attracted by adventurous thoughts or behaviours. It’s ok to let go of that. Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo and even if a positive attitude does not spare you of negatives happening in your life, you should know, we need negatives too to develop the positives. There is something good in every bad, and something bad in every good. There is no white or black.

6. Catastrophising – You always expect the worst. As much as this could be a self defensive mechanism, and sometimes it turns out to be good to have this idea in your head, as you actually get surprised by life, and something resplendent is thrown at you, this should be rarely thought or used. You cannot always expect the worst. You are made up of an energy of your thoughts. If you only believe bad things will happen, guess what will you be attracting in your life? Remember, you are energy. I will share with you a secret. Remember when you tell yourself or to others: “Don’t forget to… something?”. Do you remember what actually always happens? You forget or they forget. Why? Because you have trained your mind into a NO suggestion. Do NOT remember to do that. Instead, use the phrase “Remember to do this/ I will remember to….”. Use it and let me know how it worked for you in the comments! Also, to change this thinking pattern, I will give another example. Let’s say you think – “I can’t stand this” – to restructure this cognitive distortion you could say “I am severely distressed, but I will handle it. I can manage it!”.

ONLY GROW THOUGHTS IN YOUR BRAIN THAT YOU WOULDN’T MIND PUTTING IN A VASE.

7.Labelling – You label yourself negatively. You always speak of yourself with use of negative words. Sometimes we do this, because we lack confidence in ourselves and we tend to use less than positive thinking and sayings so that whoever hears us, can actually demount our beliefs. But when you are alone, there is no one to tell you otherwise. You never believe the mirror, and if you did, it would anyway tell you the opposite of what you want to actually hear, because you are saying it to yourself, in the hope you can cling to something that can save your day. Again, as Carl Jung pointed out, “people would do anything, to avoid facing their own souls.” Stop using bad words, such as poor, inferior, unacceptable, imperfect, defective, faulty, careless, miserable, rotten, incompetent, inept, awful, appalling, terrible, pathetic, useless, lousy, deficient and start replacing them with superb, jubilant, adorable, alluring, attractive, blooming, celestial, classy, dandy, elegant, divine, enchanting, exquisite (my favourite word) fancy, fabulous, gorgeous, incomparable, irresistible, magnetic, mesmerising, ravishing, splendid, sublime, top-notch. Because you are all of that and beyond. You are beautiful. And you deserve to live your life knowing that.

8.Magical thinking – You think everything will be better when … (you’re thinner, smarter, richer, get a new job, etc). You will not be better if you live believing something that has a potentiality to not come true because you are not acting upon it. Even if you do act upon it, a lot of the times, this magical thinking relates to not really being practical about what could lead you in the spot you believe it’s going to transform you into this queen of happiness. Again, you should refer to the above, but do not believe your thoughts, and don’t take them so seriously. All things come and go in life, and practising mindfulness and gratefulness is more achievable (see my Blogmas 3 – link here and 4 – link here ) and can break down these thinking patterns of magically becoming something you think you want, when deep down, there is something else you need to focus on. Remember Carl Jung: “People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.” What are you avoiding by making use of magical thinking?

9.Over-personalizing – You make things personal, when they aren’t. You believe other people’s opinions are facts. You think what other people do or say is in reaction to you. I used to be a daily user of this destructive habit. Working in a call centre, you get a lot of people annoyed at the service or product and they say things such as “You do not understand”, “You think you know it all”, “You must listen to me, I am the customer” and I would easily get demotivated, annoyed, angry and sometimes even believe of myself of being incompetent. But I guess, you need to go through it to get out of it. Just be aware of this cognitive distortion and distort it in your favour. Instead of thinking of yourself to do everything well because you cannot cope with another negative feedback, say something like “I would prefer to perform well, but it’s not a disaster if I don’t.”

10.Mind -reading – you make assumptions about what other people are thinking. And we all are culprits on this one. We make assumptions because we are judgemental. And this is hard to get rid of. To reach that though, you first need to acknowledge there is a problem. That way you are half way through. For this, you can train yourself when speaking to people by listening in a mindful way, being fully present, without trying to control the conversation or the person you are speaking to think your way or convince them of something and to be free of judging their perspective. Rather, try understanding their perspective and see through their glasses. What do they see? What would they want to hear from you? What would you like to hear if you were in their shoes?

11.Double standard – You hold yourself to a higher standard than anyone else. I am the personification of this cognitive distortion. I am a perfectionist and I am still figuring out how to restructure this distortion in my mind. A lot of the times, people experiencing double standard demand a lot of themselves, are severe to themselves if they do not stand up to their own elevated expectations of what they should have accomplished and they may surround themselves with people who aren’t that professional. Sometimes they do, but they immediately feel the person and when they see that everyone that they’ve met so far fails their standards, they might start to overgeneralize and more biases are born. Be careful what you tolerate, you are teaching people how to treat you. If you demand a lot of yourself, and show this to others, they might start asking more from you, because they believe of you being capable of delivering more than anticipated. This puts you in a position of stress and pressure to accommodate your standard to even higher ones, because for a person with a double standard, nothing is ever good enough.

12. Fallacy of fairness – you think things should work out according to what you think is fair. People do not have the same standard as you do. People have their own level of fairness and correctness and consciousness. I get a lot frustrated by the fact that people do not see things as I see them and this thinking pattern falls into this category because I expect them to think the same way regarding specific general topics, such as cleanliness, as an example. The truth is, people are unique and so is their viewing on the world, and so is their behaviour. What you think is trash might be someone else’s treasure and vice-versa. That’s how you need to think all aspects of life to heal this cognitive distortion. Also, do remember that “everything that irritates us about others, can lead us to an understanding of ourselves” as Carl Jung said.

13.Emotional Reasoning – you think your feelings are reality. In fact, they only portray your perception of the world. They are unique and they do not mean they are highlighting the reality around you. If you feel crap, it does not mean you are horrible. That’s just your interpretation of an emotion. Step out of that behavioural pattern and be kind to yourself. Appreciate what you have and who you are and who you are becoming. To reconstruct this cognitive distortion of emotional reasoning, you have to start thinking that your mental health is to be treated with the same importance as your physical health. When you think “I am worthless/ I feel worthless” do believe that YOUR EMOTIONS DO NOT DICTATE YOUR REALITY and say it to you out loud: “My emotions do not dictate my reality”.

Be patient with yourself as nothing in nature blooms all year round.

More words to heal you and start the transformation process until the end of the year: GATHER COURAGE LIKE WILDFLOWERS. (Jak Major)

Sometimes, when you’re in a dark place, you think you have been buried but actually you have been planted.

I would like to end today’s Blogmas with one word, this is EQUANIMITY.

Equanimity is a mental calmness, composure and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation. I believe that all these cognitive distortions are ways we use to cope with life and the experiences we face. We need mindfulness and lots of self-care to achieve this equanimity thinking pattern and I am confident with enough information and explanation and exposure to uplifting content, we can all be examples of challenging our existing beliefs and restructuring our most common cognitive distortions that stop us from truly come to terms with tranquillity and peace and our own unique story of life or career success.

Which cognitive distortion do you find yourself hard to overcome?

Blogmas – Demanding too much of oneself

I know it’s late, it’s the 8th of December and I decided I wanted to discipline myself with my blog writing by actually documenting this December, through Blogmas.

I will want to recover the previous 7 days by writing or sharing other insights and I will want to do it next week, because I have some days off. But today, it’s Blogmas No.8 :D. Hello! I want to touch the subject of demanding too much of oneself, or in a way trying to be more than what you should focus on, because there’s so much competition and, if you’re like me, you strive to attain sometimes, the same objectives, that actually, define someone else’s life path. But, because we live in this consuming society and social media is all over, our friends or people we follow make us want to need things and this makes us, sometimes demand too much from ourselves. Or at least, that’s how I feel.

I realised that I am getting inspiration from reading about a diverse range of topics. I am really motivated to write and share all these aspects I find enjoyable, useful, futuristic and engaging, but rarely actually get myself disciplined into jotting down the ideas I want to cover and actually start blogging. This Blogmas I will do this. This should not be taken as a demanding activity I ask of myself, rather, it’s a form of disciplining myself to be blogging and start living what I see at others that I aspire to be like.

I am hoping this would serve as a catalyst for you too, to discipline yourself with one thing only at a time in order to get what you desire.

We usually demand too much of ourselves because we feel we want to be the best, or better than someone else, with whom we compare ourselves. From my own humble existential experience so far, I have gathered in my thoughts cupboard that I tend to compare myself with either a person that I admire or a person that I am jealous of. And, the truth is, a lot of the times, we believe we are better than the person of whom we are jealous, which makes us be in a love-hate relationship with our own goals and with the discipline we know we have to work on to actually be in that spotlight that we so much admire and believe should be ours. Or maybe it’s just me. When I compare myself with someone I admire, I am inspired to share similar content or knowledge to what I see and enjoy, because I am drawn to that. Usually, when I admire someone, it’s because they are at a stage that I am striving to attain and I know it’s not going to be easy, and that person shares views or opinions very similar to mines.

When I compare myself to someone I am jealous of (because they have reached a point in their life that I wanted too, but I feel that person got it way too easy – of course, that’s a misconception – because they do something that I want to do too, but it feels like, that person stole my idea – again, there’s plenty of space under the sun – because the person is suddenly saying, doing or sharing things or stuff I know better than themselves, and I feel they share that for the money, for the trend, and not because that’s something they really believe in) it’s very toxic. I get demotivated to do things because “What’s the point?”, because that information or knowledge or idea was already shared in a quite good format and I, deep down, liked it too, but at the surface, my ego is saying “No, that’s not that good! I would have done it better!” and this idea of “I would have done it better” is extremely poisonous to our souls. We start thinking we are better and more talented than the persons we are jealous of and we believe of ourselves we still have time to do what we wish to work on, yet we never do, because we are subconsciously demotivated by that person’s success or what we believe and perceive as success (as this is experienced differently and uniquely by everyone) and we are actually jealous that they do “just do it” and a lot of the times, this jealousy does emerge from a quality or physical thing that we want very much for ourselves. As an example, a person I am jealous of is a Youtuber, but she is Romanian, and admitting to myself that I am actually jealous is a big thing and the first step in recovery, but I feel that I am actually jealous that she has the courage and the persistence of doing what she wants. I guess I started on the wrong foot because I could have had everything I wanted but I got myself into some trouble with loans and debts when younger and it’s taking me to a point that I had to work whatever (sacrificing my desires and my soul path) just to pay off the debts. Because I was working in a field I had no interest in, I worked a lot and overworked just to pay the bills, this has eventually hurt my motivation and got me to a point that I had no more energy left to actually pursue my passions and this job I had that paid the bills and helped with money budgeting began as a helping hand but it was supposed to be temporary and it became permanent which in turn made me a slave to the lifestyle the job was offering me. This comfort is hard to give up and I suppose it is easy to be jealous of someone that you think they got it easy because they did not have to struggle with something you had to struggle with. It’s a vicious circle. But the thinking pattern is wrong, it’s poisonous, it’s soul crashing. To get out of this, you need to gain perspective or rather, to re-gain it and re-think and re-group yourself from everything you had been through. To actually stop being jealous of that person, you need to forgive yourself for not doing more to reach that destination you think you should have been at by this point in time and not feel jealous of the person that did reach it because they had a different experience. They have other struggles and your own path is unique. So, to stop demanding too much of oneself, I believe, it is important to recognise the pain you hold inside, the poison cocktail made up of regrets, comparisons with the wrong persons, society and family expectations of you, your own erroneous perceptions of your future self, your hate towards your past decisions, your unwillingness to forget yourself which is transforming into perfectionism and this idea, an unconscious idea (just like in Inception, the movie, a small thought) that you do not deserve more because you have not reached those expectations you had of yourself. Maybe this jealousy is actually connected to the fact that you do not feel you deserve more because you have made big mistakes (which may again be a subjective perception) and you need to punish yourself, and because you followed that path which did not lead you to the desired outcome, you do not trust you could make a better decision in the future and you feel jealous that someone, similar to you, has actually managed to forgive themselves for their own mistakes and moved forward.

Maybe we are jealous because we do not think that the person we are jealous of deserves to forgive themselves, because we cannot forgive our own selves and we have this subconscious belief that we need to punish ourselves to deserve something, to be worthwhile of abundance. When someone that we engage with seems to have similar ideas as we have in a certain area that we are interested in and we want to reign it over, but they dare to do it and do not ask for anyone’s permission to do it, we might feel betrayed because “hey, we are the same in a way, why are you not punishing yourself anymore?”, “I still need to punish myself” and “I am not happy you left me here, I now hate you” but, there are times “I still love you” because it’s still a part of us in that person, we resonate with the person we are jealous of, we have common grounds too and we used to be in the same spot, it’s a love-hate relationship with the person we are jealous of, career wise, in my insight, anyway.

Something else, that I feel, is that, when we start doing what we want and what we dream of doing or buying, and we let ourselves experience that which we refrain from because we deep down feel we do not deserve it, we start having this tolerance towards the person we are jealous of, it’s like the jealousy diminishes and we actually go back to the initial relationship we once had with the person, of acceptance and “I vibe with you, I like you now”. So to stop being jealous we have to follow our dreams and wishes and work on something we are passionate about in the midst of the storm. That’s what makes us free of this jealousy.

Whenever I do a little more from that of which I want to accomplish, I feel less jealous of that Youtuber I was giving you the example with. And that happens because I know I am on my own path, and I am happy with my path.

If you are not happy with your path, you will start demanding a lot of yourself to cover for the fact you are not actually at peace with that, which you know you should be doing, but procrastinate because it’s harder to work on something you desire and on something you are passionate about than it is to go work. Self imposed discipline is quite hard to stick to because you do not see instant results, whereas at work, you get paid every month. It’s like a constant cognitive dissonance between what you know you could do and want to, but lack the energy and discipline to focus on tangible aspects that can be altered to divide that energy into activities that take you closer to your destinations and the actual 9-5 work and the other thing that creates this distress is the fact you kind of enjoy your current mood and comfortable lifestyle, generated by this external imposed 9-5 discipline of the work you do. I wish I could say, I know how it is because I had been there, but … I still am.

When I demand a lot of myself, I realise I also demand or expect a lot from the others around me. I expect the same level of excellency I offer. I expect the same level of conscientiousness and seriousness and I most of the times form a level of expectancy higher than the norm and higher than what can potentially be offered. We are human beings prone to mistakes and errors and we all struggle in a way or another. We need to remind ourselves more often that we are doing the best that we can at this moment in time, with the knowledge we have at this particular point in time. We are doing enough. But not enough for our egos. It’s our ego who is jealous, it’s our ego who is demanding. It’s not us.

This December, remember this more often and be more kind to yourself, to actually be kinder to the others. 🙂

The way you describe your work reflects your inner self - how your job is related to your hidden self
Photo By Chris Liu