Where Does Your Focus And Attention Rest?

Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say “so what?”

Andy Warhol

There is no magic combination of personal circumstances (relationships etc), finances and career that automatically lead to happiness. It’s up to you whether your life is one that makes you happy or miserable, because it’s a matter of perspective. It comes down to your life experiences, needs, wants, desires and how they make you feel. In short, life is what you make of it.

This really is as simple as it sounds, but we often forget it. We forget the power we have to forge our destinies and shape the world around us. Instead, we look to outside sources for inspiration or guidance on how to be happy and lead a fulfilled life. We seek advice or support from family and friends, and look to social media for an idea as to what we should have in our lives, or what we should be aiming for, in order to feel happy and accomplished.

It’s never a bad thing to seek the advice, or be inspired by, others. We shouldn’t, however, rely on it completely or follow their lead. We have to listen to ourselves first and foremost. The problem of looking to others for guidance or approval is that we assume that we can automatically replicate their results by copying them and following their lead. This is pure fantasy, though, as there are factors such as circumstances, opportunity and timing which are not taking into account. Most importantly…Why on earth would you just want to copy others and live as their clone? Would you rather not just be yourself, and live your life in a way which makes you happy?

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is perspective, not the truth

Marcus Aurelius

The above quote should be displayed everywhere, so we never forget this simple truth. Social media is make-believe. It’s simply not real. People show you only what they want you to see. As for our friends and family, all advice and guidance from others is never impartial, it’s a reflection of their own experiences, fears and insecurities. That is why the path to happiness lies in self awareness, learning about who we are and what we really want and adjusting our perspective accordingly.

In my life, I have met people with very little, struggling to support themselves and their families. They were genuinely happy, though. Speaking to them, I learned that they were happy because they felt loved by their families and friends, they were grateful for the little that they had and they felt blessed that they had opportunities to improve their circumstances if they worked hard enough. I have also met people with the best educations and careers, able to afford anything their heart desired, who still feel unfulfilled and unhappy. Their unhappiness largely lies in where they let their attention wander. Rather than practice gratitude for what they achieved this far, they focus on what others have and that they lack. So, they constantly postpone their happiness until they have a bigger house, faster car or better job. In this way, they will never be happy because they are always comparing their lives to others and always one step behind in cha. sing after what they have

Do you sit and beat yourself up about not having a big house, flashy car or millions in the bank? Or are you grateful for what you have, and constantly striving to become, and achieve, more? It’s a question of where you let your focus rest. This is why it’s important to reflect regularly on what we have in our lives for which we are grateful. It serves as a reminder of how far we have come,and what we have to be thankful for. It also grounds us and stops us from getting carried away by social media’s distorted reality. It reminds us who we are, what we have achieved so far and what goodness we already have in our lives. From here, we can focus on what we still need to improve the quality of our lives, and go after it.

Mind Your Own Business

Attack the evil that is within yourself, rather than attacking the evil that is in others

Confucius

 

Minding your own business is one of the keys to a successful, happy and fulfilled life. Of course, we all want to help others and contribute to our families, friends and communities, but..You must focus on yourself, before all else. When you manage this, then you can focus on serving others. Reflect on who you are and what you want, find your purpose, define your goals and take action. Simple, right?! No. Not quite. Unfortunately, life is rarely this straightforward.

Life has its downs as well as ups. In order to do the above, you need to be in a good place mentally. This is easier said than done because we all have our demons to face. These may be fears, or negative behaviours caused by trauma or loss. Or perhaps something that, left unchallenged, has worsened without you realising. Whatever the pain or trauma that you carry within you, you need to face it and deal with it, or else it will always rear its ugly head at random intervals to sabotage your progress.

The easy option is to bury your head in the sand and pretend that there is nothing wrong. Better yet, focus on the faults of others to deflect from what is going wrong in your life. Thing is…taking this route may make you feel better in the short term, but bottling up whatever is troubling you will only make it worse. At its worst, it could damage your relationships and send you on a downward spiral through depression.

Why wait till you hit rock bottom and lose everything before you tackle whatever it is that is hurting you?! Take action now. Just as you do when you set yourself fitness, career and personal development goals, identify the evil which ails you, and do whatever it takes to tackle this source of emotional trauma.

While you can set personal development, fitness or career goals mostly by yourself, when it comes to tackling whatever ails you, I would strongly advise seeking help. I found myself in this position as recently as last November. Previously, i’d tried tackling the trauma within me by myself. It would work for a while, but then stop and send me back to the start.

This time, however, I sought the help of a psychologist. The transformation was incredible. The simple act of talking to someone helped me to put everything into perspective and make sense of the thoughts and feelings which were so harmful to me.

Naturally, a psychologist can’t do everything for you. They are not magicians, but rather highly skilled mental health professionals. They can help you to understand and become more aware of what is happening within you, and what triggers negative thoughts and emotions. The hard work, however, is something which only you can do.

In my case, I did all the reflective work, and logged it in my journal. It was tough, but also rather exciting to be facing my sources of pain head-on. I still have my moments, when the fears and pain threaten to return and take hold again, but now I am able to identify the warning signs. I know what is coming if I don’t act, so I put on some music, go for a walk outdoors, read a book or phone a friend because these are the little things which keep all the bad stuff away.

Since taking action to deal with the evil within me, life has been wonderful. I am full of drive and positivity, which helps me to keep taking meaningful steps towards my goals every day, constantly learning and growing. I no longer look for the bad in others, in order to feel better about myself. I don’t judge others, or measure my life against theirs.

While you reflect on what you want in life, and how you plan to get it, take some time too for reflection on what you need to rid yourself of. I sought the help of a professional, and was able to rid myself of judgement, jealousy, self-doubt and pent-up anger. Since then, I have a new lease of life and have achieved an awful lot in a very short time.

I want this for you. As you chase your goals, put some time and effort into cleansing yourself of the bad thoughts, feelings or behaviours which are sabotaging your progress. Your future, massively successful, self will thank you for it.

 

Stop waiting, and start creating

“Purpose is that feeling that you are part of something bigger than yourself. Purpose is what creates true happiness. JK Rowling got rejected 12 times before she finally wrote and published Harry Potter. Even Beyonce had to make hundreds of songs to get to Halo.The greatest successes come from having the freedom to fail. Ideas don’t come out fully formed, they only become clearer as you work on them. You just have to get started.”

Mark Zuckerberg

 

I love the above quote, as it contains so much wisdom in a short call to action. Zuckerberg wants us to just start doing whatever it is that we are contemplating. This could mean writing a novel, making music or starting a business.

Most important of all, though, the above quote describes the process which we must undergo if we want to create something meaningful and achieve success. It is commonly accepted, but often presented in a different order, that there some unmistakable ingredients in the recipe for success;

  • Purpose. This is your WHY. Having a clearly defined purpose will keep you inspired and motivated, even when things do not go according to plan. It also ensures that your work, or message, is consistent. Reflect on who you are and what you value in life in order to discover your own purpose.
  • Embrace failure. Failure feels like a kick in the teeth. It makes us question what we are doing and why. It hurts. We tend to take it personally and feel that we are not good enough. We get tempted to give up before we embarrass ourselves any further. Failure, however, doesn’t have to be fatal to your progression. It’s all in the mind and how you view it. Failure can actually be a very valuable learning experience. Painful as it may be, when you reflect back on the actions taken and decisions made when something goes wrong, you will likely find some valuable indicators as to how you can improve. Whether it be through addressing your decision making process, seeking information or learning a new skill, take that lesson and act on it to move forward stronger and better equipped for success.
  •  Ideas and their development. Overnight successes do not exist. They are a myth, used to sell books, magazines and expensive training programmes. The truth is that before a writer, artist or entrepreneur tastes success, there will have been plenty of drafts, plans, sketches or ideas which fell short and probably didn’t see the light of day. The end product or service, which propels its creator to stardom, is usually the result of learning, adapting and improving after much trial and error. So, be realistic about your expectations.
  • Get started. Once you have the purpose, plan, strategy and ideas you have to take action. There is no right moment or perfect time. You just start. Then, you learn, adapt, develop and grow. This is the process, and it doesn’t start until you take that first step.

To this I would just add reflection, which is priceless in personal development. If you are serious about learning, growing and leading a successful and fulfilled life then regular reflection is essential. After all, you won’t know where you are going or how you will get there without self-awareness.

We all have ideas, passions and a purpose. Without action, they are merely desires or dreams which will lead to disappointment and unhappiness if left unfulfilled. So, as the father of Facebook advises, take action. Learn, adapt and grow but most of all enjoy the journey. Who knows where it may lead?!

Mistakes and Imperfections

All experts, leaders and gurus were once beginners. Like everyone else, they had to start from somewhere, and undoubtedly made mistakes. It would be fair to say that many of them would’ve been far from perfect right away, but they persevered and learned from their mistakes. They acted on what they learned, increased their knowledge and sharpened their skills, eventually achieving the successes for which they are known today

The same, then should be true for us. We should have the courage to take action in the pursuit of our goals. If mistakes are made, they should be seen for what they are; proof that we are trying to improve our lives and also an opportunity for learning. Lessons could then be learned, if we reflect on our mistakes instead of shying away from them, allowing us to move forward wiser and stronger.

Should…Could….

There is, however, a problem. Too many people want to wait for the right time or perfect circumstances before they take action. They wait and wait for a golden opportunity to present itself, but miss out on so much while they wait. Even when they finally summon the courage to act, they lose heart at the first sign of trouble.

The problem lies in our obsession with perfection, to the point that it seriously hinders our progress. We fear that if we fail to attain perfection, we will be ridiculed by others. We will be seen as incompetent, a fraud or an impostor. Our mistakes are, therefore, not learning opportunities to be embraced but rather sources of embarrassment to be covered up. Perfection, however, doesn’t really exist. It’s a myth.

Despite its bad reputation and negative associations, imperfections are actually very good. They show that we are only human, and that like everybody else we also make mistakes. This makes us more likeable and can help us to connect with others, increasin the size of our networks.  Imperfections, more importantly,  provide a learning opportunity which can lead to greater self-awareness.

It’s perfectly acceptable not to have all of the answers right away. Just as its ok to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them. When you find yourself in this situation, here are a few suggestions as to how you can move forward;

  • Re-evaluate the situation and your goals. Where do you find yourself right now? How can you move forward? What led to this mistake? What lessons can be learned?
  • Seek help. If you’ve identified a gap in your knowledge or skills, seek help from a friend, a mentor or a coach.
  • Be patient. While you seek to address one area in which a learning need has been identified, do not put everything else on hold. Continue to push yourself, ask questions and pay it forward by helping others.

Life is a journey of continuous discovery, learning, development and growth, after all.

Regret

“When you are 80 years old, and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story.”

Jeff Bezos

When you reach a ripe old age and are reflecting back on your life, what would you rather be filled with; the satisfaction of a life well-lived and full of achievement? Or the regret of unfulfilled potential and missed opportunities?

Regret is a very powerful emotional state, but also has within it the potential for good. It is far too late if you wait until you are approaching the end of your days to reflect on how your decisions and choices affected your life. Regret, in this case just intensifies as hindsight reveals missed opportunities which time has now left you unable to take advantage of. If, however, you are self-reflecting regularly as you go through life and setting goals to be aimed for, then regret can be used to your advantage. 

When you reflect back at regular intervals (monthly, for example) on your progress, it is inevitable that you bring to mind elements which fill you with a sense of regret. These could range from a missed business opportunity to an interaction which you could have handled better. Regret is uncomfortable, and our default reaction is to pretend as though it never happened. You can, however, choose to confront the source of your regret. In this way, regret is a positive force as it can spur you into action. It provides a learning opportunity, so that you may handle a similar situation better in the future, but it can also motivate you to search for a way to rectify the error or salvage the situation. The key message to take away here, is that you have a choice whether to let regret motivate you or defeat you.

The life we ultimately lead is the result of our choices and the limits that we have placed on ourselves. Of course, there are always outside forces and unforseen circumstances which may force us to change direction. It is, however, up to the individual whether they allow these challenges to derail their progress and force them to give up, or they find instead the courage to keep going. 

Reflecting on your life’s direction regularly and taking action is one of the most effective ways to fight off regret in later life. Stop letting outside influences dictate how you live your life, but rather make the choices and decisions which take you closer to your dreams, ambitions and goals. If your reflections do reveal sources of regret, don’t shy away from them but muster up the courage to challenge them.

 Authenticity and Integrity

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different”

Coco Chanel

We all want to stand out and to be seen as unique or original. The irony is, that in order to achieve this, too many people simply adopt a new persona based on how they’d like to be seen by others. Or they copy those celebrities whose lifestyles they wish they had. However, in going down this path we end up, unintentionally at first, becoming part of a group and blending in, achieving the complete opposite of what we intended. Once this persona has been adopted, we find comfort in the company of like-minded people and further mould our identity to conform with this new group. All the while, we suppress and hide who we really are, our true selves, for fear of getting expelled from our group. So we persist with the act and lead, what amounts to, a double life. In private, we lead our lives on our terms. Until we are next with our social groups and the herd mentality kicks in. We find ourselves spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need in order to maintain the respect of our peers, when we would much rather have invested that money in ourselves to take us closer to our goals. We say and do things that may go against what we truly believe, for fear of expulsion from the group. We stop doing what makes us happy and our focus shifts to gaining the acceptance of others. All in the hope of being regarded as unique or original. This is tiring, to say the least.

This begs the question…Can you be unique or different without compromising who you really are?!

Of course you can. By staying true to yourself, you are already standing out from the crowd. Have strength, courage and confidence enough to resist conforming to the expectations of others or following their lead. Stay true to your values and your beliefs. Do what makes you happy and takes you closer to your goals, instead of trying to please others. Have the self-awareness to know who you really are and the self-respect to live accordingly. These are just a few of the ways in which you can be different, but in a good way. 

 People are very good at spotting a fake, so drop the act. Instead, make it your goal that there be congruence between your true self and your outward words and actions. In other words, just be yourself. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, gifts and flaws, so embrace them. They are what make you who you are. Reflect on these long enough and you will become more self-aware. Once you have a good idea who you are, what drives you and what you are passionate about, adjust your life accordingly.

If you want to be different, unique or stand out from the crowd…just be true to yourself and live your own life, not anybody else’s. People will recognise and respect you all the more for it. Give it a go and see how happy you become as a result, you won’t regret it.

“Today you are you,

that is truer than true.

There is no-one alive

that is youer than you”

Dr Seuss

Know your worth..

..and the value you bring to the world. People only respect us to the extent that we value and respect ourselves, and this applies to all areas of our lives from our personal relationships to our businesses. 

When we lack confidence and self-awareness, this is reflected in our body language and interactions with others. We then get treated accordingly. The negative behaviour of others towards us affects our confidence further, and it becomes a vicious cycle. Furthermore, there will be unscrupulous and manipulative individuals who will be looking to take advantage of a weakness which they perceive in us. This is why knowing our worth and having a healthy amount of self respect is so important, as it provides an effective defense mechanism against these situations and circumstances. 

If, however, we think and behave as though we are confident and know our worth, people will behave more positively towards us. “Faking it” has its limits though. If we really want to live the lives of our dreams, we need to work on becoming more confident, more self-aware and having more self-respect. In order to achieve our goals and taste success, we need to know our worth, our strengths and the value which we bring. Then we need to let the world know about who we are and what we can offer. 

How can this be done?

  • Reflect, then take action. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Determine where your passions lie, and define what success looks like to you. Set goals, make a plan of action, and get to work. As you make progress towards your goals, you will become more confident and more aware of your worth which will show in your behaviour and speech.
  • Learn a new skill. As you master a new skill, your confidence will grow. Furthermore, as you master new skills, you become better equipped to provide value to the world around you.
  • Invest in yourself. Read books, attend training courses or go to conferences. However you do it, invest some of your time and money in your personal development.

As you reflect on yourself and identify your strengths, as you learn new skills and take steps towards your goals, your confidence will grow. In turn, there will be a positive shift in your behaviour and how you carry yourself. In turn, people will respond to you in a far more positive manner and you will find more opportunities presenting themselves to live a more fulfilling life.

Profiting from your passion

Turn what you love into a successful business, and quit your 9-5 job!! This is the new dream which we are being sold. It’s everywhere we look from magazine articles to social media. Is it really possible, or just too good to be true? I am not about to try and find fault with this proposition, but rather urge caution. So yes, I do think it’s possible, but you need to be smart about it.

We read and hear of plenty of success stories in which people have turned a hobby or passion into a very successful and profitable business. They subsequently quit their jobs and are now wealthy entrepreneurs. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who gave up everything to pursue their dream only to be brought back to Earth with a vicious bump. Countless people are staking everything on their passion project and losing badly. This begs the question, as to why there are such extremes.

Having helped a number of people launch small business over the years, I would like to share a few pointers on what I have learned. I’ve said it before, the world needs more beauty and positivity, so we should create art and music, or launch businesses which will bring value to people and brighten their lives. However, too many people are rushing in to their new ventures blindly and leaving too much to chance, and it is this which. I would urge against

Your passion must be mixed with practicality. You must also be realistic about your expectations. Yes, you dream that you will take what you love and turn it into a very successful business. You can envision it. You can reach out and touch it. You can taste it and smell it BUT in order for it to go from dream to reality, there will be a lot of hard work involved. Your passion needs to be mixed with a strong work ethic, a well thought-out plan, a strategy of how you it will unfold, resilience and an incredible amount of hard work.

If you are serious about profiting from your passion and turning it into a viable business, there are a few things to bear in mind;

  • Research and Plan. You need a well-researched plan. Look at the market and who you might be competing with. Look at consumer trends and research the forecasts for the future within your chosen market or industry.  Use this information to plan wisely for the future.
  • Be financially savvy. Save enough money, or secure enough funding before you take your first step. It is a hard fact that many business run at a loss in their first year. This is because it takes time to establish yourself and build a customer base. Naturally, there are exceptions, but I would strongly recommend that you plan for this outcome. Plan for the best and work to make it happen, but have enough money in the bank to support yourself if it takes longer than expected for success to come. The last thing you want is to have to abandon your business and take a full-time job to pay the mortgage and bills. Worse still, you might keep your business only to be maintained by funding from an investor who pushes you to compromise your values. Give yourself a financial safety net, and remove one of the big pressures when starting a business.
  • Determine your strategy. You have a plan, a financial safety net and the drive to succeed. Next step? Work out how you will go about launching your business. Who is your audience? How will you grab their attention? What is your story? What value will you offer them? What is your marketing plan? How will you promote your business?
  • Hard work. You are now clear on what you want to do and how you will go about it. Now, just put the work in. Give it your full focus and attention and put in the relentless work. Take advantage of any networking opportunities and use social media to raise awareness of your brand. As you work, though, you must also reflect on your journey. Learn from the positives and negatives and use this knowledge to adapt and grow. This is a fluid process, and as you work towards making your business a success you need to keep learning and adapting. You need to have a plan and execute on it, but you also need to be able to respond quickly to any challenges or expand on what is working well.
  • Perseverance and resilience. There will be bumps in the road, challenges and rejections. This is unavoidable. The key is to keep going. When disaster strikes, reflect on it and see what you can learn from the experience. Learn from it and then get yourself back on track, stronger and more determined than before.

Having witnessed the struggles of people as they launched their new ventures, I would ask you to please reflect on the above so that you can avoid the same challenges. Research thoroughly, plan well, develop an effective strategy and go for it. Give it your full focus and attention, but don’t forget to take advantage of any learning opportunities on your journey and use them to adapt and grow. If the entrepreneurial route is the one for you, I wish you the very best and pray for your success.

Perspective

Too often, people unwittingly sabotage their own success and fall short of their goals. They fail to fulfill their potential, but the problem is that most don’t even recognise that they are doing it. This is because the cause is not openly visible for them to see. The sabotage comes from somewhere internal and hidden from sight; the mind. Your own worst enemy can often be found in the space between your ears.

The mind is as wonderful as it it complex. In good times, its positive voice can keep up the momentum and keep us motivated and inspired. It can identify opportunities for more success, or just identify things which we should be grateful for. In short, when times are good, our mind instills in us a positive outlook and we become happier and more determined to do well. This has the ability to attract more positivity and good results into our lives. Today I would like to focus, however, on the negative voice which can sometimes take over and bring our progress to a screeching halt.

When things are not going so well, though, our mind can also work against us. We find ourselves almost paralysed by fear or insecurity, being held back by thoughts of what others will say or do. We also tend to dwell on our misfortunes, or get so accustomed to a certain lifestyle that we are filled with terror at the thought of losing it.

The difference between these 2 scenarios is perspective, and the ability to take a step back and look at the overall situation, not just the snapshot in which we find ourselves. Whether times are good or bad, we should still be reflecting on our journeys. This helps us to keep everything in perspective. In times of success, maintaining a sense of perspective is what keeps us focused and motivated, but also humble. We realise that, in order to maintain our momentum and stay ahead of our competition, we need to keep learning from our experiences, putting in the work and taking steps forward.

In bad times, a sense of perspective is what can help us to turn the situation around. Again, you need to reflect on your current situation and identify opportunities for learning. Ask yourself where it went wrong and what you could’ve done better. Identify areas of weaknesses which need attention, and areas of strength which need to be taken advantage of. Use this reflection as an opportunity to learn, but also as a chance to rediscover your hunger, motivation and passion. This is how you put a setback into perspective, by using it as a chance to learn and bounce back wiser and hungrier to succeed.

Focus on the important aspects, such as your journey and progress, and not on things which you can’t control, from the approval of others to the lifestyle you wish you had. This is how you will develop the ability to put situations into perspective, and stop a bump in the road from totally bringing your progress to a halt.

 

Love your haters.

“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks”

Winston Churchill

Haters. Doubters. Naysayers. Critics. We all have them. Most have good intentions and mean well; just family and friends urging caution as we chase our big goals and dreams. They urge us to be realistic, play it safe and think smaller. They do it because they care, though. They want to see us succeeding and doing well, but fear that we might overreach and fail. It comes from a good place and they mean well, but it’s also a reflection of their own limitations. Perhaps they too chased big goals once, only to fall short, become discouraged and give up. Out of respect we should listen to what they have to say, as their experiences could provide priceless opportunities to learn from, but be careful not to let your spirit and passion be dampened.

Sometimes, however, criticism can come from a more sinister place. This is a dark place inhabited by curious lifeforms known as trolls, where the air is thick with the pungent smell of spite and jealousy. These people seem to exist solely to discredit, discourage or abuse people online. Maybe they resent the happiness of others. Perhaps they are jealous of the success of others. Perhaps they are unhappy with their own lives but too weak to address the cause of their misery. After all, it is easier to point out another’s flaws, weaknesses and shortcomings than to admit that you have your own and tackle them. Or maybe they were never taught kindness, respect and compassion. Who knows?! It’s not your responsibility to diagnose their ills and try to fix them. If you have worked on becoming more resilient, then this is one area in which it will pay off handsomely. With the increased self-awareness and confidence which you have developed, you will be able to see trolling as a cry for attention. You will neither take it personally nor give them the attention they so badly crave.

If the criticism is constructive, welcome the opportunity to learn and develop. If it isn’t, just do your best to ignore it and move on. In order to succeed, you need a thick skin. Most important of all, though, is not to lose your focus, passion, desire or drive. In order to persevere and stay on course in the face of criticism;

  • Remain open to constructive feedback, and act on that which you feel is relevant.
  • Keep reflecting on yourself, your journey, your work and your progress. Keep updating your targets and adapting to circumstances wherever necessary.
  • Just keep going.

 

Monday. Your Time To Shine

“Everyone has his day, and some days last longer than others”

Winston Churchill

Monday. Its mere mention is enough to instill fear in some of us, while filling others with eager anticipation. Why the contrast? In a word, outlook. Whether a person regards Monday positively or negatively, is largely dependent on their mindset, vision and attitude. Those who welcome the first day of the working week, are those who sense opportunity. These are the people who view the traditional working week as a chance to make progress towards their goals. Those who dread it, however, see the working week as a necessary evil. To them it is simply a means to an end; they suffer through the drudgery of the week so that they can enjoy themselves in the evenings and weekends.

Social media, and Instagram in particular, is slowly working to change Monday’s bad reputation though. How?! Through the humble hashtag, #Mondaymotivation. People are starting the week by sharing positive quotes which motivate them, or by simply declaring their determination to work tirelessly towards their goals. This, in turn, inspires others to change their attitude towards work and strive for more. After all, who wants to be left behind when everyone else becomes successful?!

Here are a few truths i’d like to remind you of. If you work hard enough, smart enough and for long enough you will succeed. If you are patient and persistent you will succeed. If you can bounce back from setbacks and bumps in the road without a loss of enthusiasm you will succeed. With self-awareness, passion, drive and purpose you will succeed.

Your time will come. If you want it badly enough, visualise it so well that you can reach out and touch it, and are constantly striving to learn, grow and improve, it will happen. For some this might last for no longer than a fleeting moment, but for others it may last much longer. There are various factors which can affect this, many of which are outside of our control, and there are no guarantees that we will be able to extend our 15 minutes of fame when it comes. That said, there a few steps that we can take to help prolong our success;

  • Keep going. The hard work and effort which brought you success…keep it up! All too often, people ease up when the good times come and turn their attention to enjoying their time in the spotlight. We should, of course, celebrate our successes but this is the perfect opportunity to make even more headway. If we stop innovating and making progress, we allow our competitors to catch up and overtake us.
  • Keep evaluating. Even when your hard work and effort is finally recognised, the work doesn’t stop there. In order to remain successful and relevant in your chosen arena, you need to keep reviewing and reflecting. You need to reflect on yourself and decide whether you need to set new goals and targets for yourself. You also need to reflect on your work, and what you have learned so far; is there anything that can be improved upon? how do you move it forward?
  • Keep networking. Markets, trends and fashions are constantly changing and evolving. What was popular yesterday might be seen as cringeworthy and to be avoided at all costs today. You need to stay relevant in your chosen arena if you want your success to be lasting. You need to do what you can to ensure that people continue talking about you, and the best way to do this is by networking. Connecting with your clients, suppliers, stakeholders, industry insiders or fanbase will help you to keep abreast of developments which may affect you.
  • Keep telling your story. People relate to each other best through stories. It’s our oldest form of communication. The way you tell your story, or market yourself, is crucial. As other competitors challenge you in your chosen industry or area of expertise, your story will help you stand apart from the crowd. In selling a story, people will feel as though they know and understand you better. This in turn fosters a sense of loyalty in your consumer or fanbase which can in turn translate into lasting success.

If you don’t take control of your life..

…someone else will. This is why I feel so strongly about why we should become more self-aware, set goals in life and pursue them. It’s why we need passion, purpose and drive, or else life can become uneventful, dull and repetitive.

That is not to say that we need to have it all figured out, but we do need a certain level of direction in our lives. We need to know, roughly, where we are headed. With this awareness, we are less likely to be led astray or manipulated by others. We become stronger mentally, more focused and wiser. We are, essentially, better able to position ourselves to live the life of our dreams.

We also need to have interests which we are passionate about, as this gives us a break from the stresses of life. Being in control of our lives means that we will be immune to the doubts and criticisms of others, and have the strength to do whatever it is that makes our hearts sing. After all, when we follow our passion and share that which we create, we are inspiring others to have the courage to do the same.

Humans are creatures of habit, though. We like that which we know. Hence we develop routines which feel safe and also provide a source of comfort. We also don’t need to think too much when something is familiar. But there is a downside to the comfort of habit and routine, which is best summed up in a quote from the inimitable Charles Bukowski;

“How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 8:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so? ”


The unconquerable spirit

We all face challenges and go through difficult times. It’s a hard fact of life, but also a formative opportunity.  The way in which we respond to adversity can forge our character and make us stronger.

The truth is that each of us, alone, is responsible for our own life and the direction it takes. The power really is in our hands, and the sooner we realise this, the better. I’ll say it again; you are in control of  your life. When you realise this, wonderful things happen. Chief among these positive changes is the shedding of the victim mentality. You no longer feel helpless and powerless in tough times, and that things just happen to you. Simply put, you gain a new perspective. You become stronger mentally, more resilient and more confident. You then begin to see challenges as a small bump in the road which you will overcome.

When I am going through tough times, I revisit one of my favourite poems, Invictus by William Earnest Henley, which I would like to share with you below. Invictus itself is a Latin term and means to be unconquerable or unbeatable. It’s about an indomitable spirit and a refusal to accept defeat. It is also strength and perspective in the face of adversity, which makes it perfect for times when you find yourself lacking courage or strength after a setback. Take ownership of, and responsibility, for your decisions and actions…..then watch the magic happen as your life changes for the better. Things do not simply happen to you. Understand that you make things happen. You have the power. Use it wisely.

Invictus 

Out of the night that covers me,   
  Black as the Pit from pole to pole,   
I thank whatever gods may be   
  For my unconquerable soul.   
   
In the fell clutch of circumstance 
  I have not winced nor cried aloud.   
Under the bludgeonings of chance   
  My head is bloody, but unbowed.   
   
Beyond this place of wrath and tears   
  Looms but the Horror of the shade, 
And yet the menace of the years   
  Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.   
   
It matters not how strait the gate,   
  How charged with punishments the scroll,   
I am the master of my fate: 
I am the captain of my soul

	

Passion, and doing what you love

“Anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing”

Hunter S Thompson

Passion is a powerful emotion and, when it’s controlled, it is a beautiful thing. It can bring untold joy and satisfaction, or simply provide an antidote to feeling lost or unfulfilled. It can inspire and motivate us, or provide a welcome respite from the trials and tribulations of daily life.

Passion is more than just an emotion, however, but also a very popular topic for conversation and debate. Business books, journal articles and blogs are increasingly advising us to chase our passions. After all, if we are passionate about something, we will be more inclined to devote a large chunk of our time to it, as it won’t feel like work. We are told that we should think like entrepreneurs and find a way to turn our passions into businesses. Many people are doing exactly this and have become incredibly successful in the process, but it’s not for everyone. It’s not easy, either.

Not everyone wants to turn their passion into a business. Some people just want to enjoy the benefits of doing something which they love. Their rewards come from the happiness, inner peace or adrenaline rush which they may experience. Monetising your passion and turning it into a business, on the other hand, can take away some of its shine and enjoyment. Your passion then gets tied up with the added pressure of financial gain and this can blur the lines between work and fun. That thing which you did simply because you loved it, you are now doing it for money.  Some people are successful in this pursuit, but others find themselves unable to turn their passion into a sustainable or scalable business, or simply lose interest.

Before you even get to the stage of deciding whether to turn your passion into a business, you need to know what it is that makes your heart sing. Many people just don’t know. Their lives become routine and comfortable, and almost seem to run on autopilot. This is why we need people to rediscover their passion, whether it’s to become a business venture or just for personal enjoyment. Passionate people are, after all, happy and can create wonderful things. This all starts, as with most things, with reflection and becoming more self-aware. You have to know yourself, in order to know what truly makes you happy.

So, as you ponder your passion and what it is that makes you tick, i’d like to leave you with a few prompts for reflection which might help;

  • What did you enjoy doing when you were younger?
  • What do you feel that you would be unable to live without?
  • If money were not an issue and you were finances were comfortable, what would you spend your days doing?
  • What would you be prepared to do full-time without being paid?
  • What subject could you read 20 books about without getting bored?

Well… what are you passionate about?

 

Duty

“Man’s happiness lies not in freedom, but in the acceptance of a duty”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Duty is a word which we often hear in our daily lives, from the workplace to the church and everywhere in-between, but struggle to define. What actually is it? It’s sometimes interchanged with the terms purpose or responsibility, but is it really the same ?

There are a lot of similarities. Responsibility, as with duty, can mean being accountable for someone or something. It can also mean an obligation to successfully carry out an action. While there is a lot of interchangeability here with duty, the difference is that I regard duty as being the more powerful driving force of the two. Duty is intrinsically motivated. With a sense of duty, you become involved in an activity not out of self interest and gain, but rather out of compulsion, commitment and a drive that comes from deep inside. Duty is stronger than purpose too. Purpose illuminates the path towards a goal or aim, on which you will focusing your thoughts and actions. Purpose helps you to remain focused when things are going well and to get back on track when faced with challenges. A duty, however, runs deeper.

Duty is something which we feel morally obliged to do, but it is born within us only after we become more self-aware. In essence, duty comes from a clear understanding of the principles by which you will live your life. To be able to fully understand and define those principles, however, you must first have a good understanding of who you really are. If you truly hope to embark on a journey of achievement and discovery, at the end of which you fulfill your potential, inward reflection is the logical starting point. Once you have a good idea of your strengths and weaknesses, what drives you and what you hope to achieve from life, you are then in a good position to define your goals, purpose, duties and responsibilities.

In defining our duties and devoting ourselves to them, we can find fulfillment and a sense of inner peace. Subordinating and sacrificing ourselves to our duties can also give a deeper meaning to our lives, or simply make us happier.

 

 

 

 

Don’t hide your talent from the world

All of us have our own special skills or talents, unique to ourselves. The problem is that the world doesn’t get to experience much of it, because we are often reluctant to share our work for fear of rejection or ridicule. Today, I want to ask one thing of you;  please, just put your work out there. The world will be a richer place for it.

Whether your burning passion is to write, draw, dance or whatever else it may be, that is not important in the grand scheme of things. What matters, is that you share your passion with the world. In the current climate of fake news, and the fear and scaremongering peddled by the media, we need more beauty in the world. We need more people to have the courage to introduce the world to their talent.

This is not easy. At all. In publishing your work, you open a window to your soul. You expose your true self to the world, and this is scary. Nobody likes rejection. and in putting our work out in the public domain, that is exactly what we open ourselves up to. Moreover, as we are exposing our true selves through our work, it can feel like a personal attack if our work is not initially well received. This is actually a good thing, though, because, as we learn to overcome rejection we become resilient. When we become resilient, we develop the ability to better recover from setbacks but we also become more confident in ourselves and our abilities.

Putting your work out there can help you to connect with people who share your passion, and get feedback. It can inspire others to follow their passion too. Or it might just bring a little happiness to someone who was having a bad day before they came across your work. Yes, the response might not be overwhelming once your work is in the public domain. Just be patient. Some people may even be unkind in their feedback, but you have a choice, and can choose to focus on those whose feedback is positive and constructive instead. Who knows, your work might be viewed by someone with a wealth of influence and experience, and in turn could open new doors for you. Unless you try, though, you will never know for certain.

You may even hope to turn your passion into a new career or business. Again, i’d plead with you to put your work out there. Let people see and understand who you are and what you are passionate about. Give them a sample of what you can create and keep them hungry for more. Then, slowly expose them to more of your work, and if all goes well, you may find yourself able to scale it up and get paid to do what you love. Even if, after doing your homework, you feel that the market/ public is not ready for your work, put it out there anyway. Opinions change. Markets move. People embrace new ideas. You might find your work gaining popularity among the general public, or it might be welcomed by a niche market. Either way, you have to put your work out there and see where it leads. Don’t wait for others to dictate when you should share your passion. If nobody else is doing what you do, then put yourself out there and be the first. As business guru Peter Drucker once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it”.

We have previously looked at planning and preparing for success. We have also looked at the benefits of taking action. I strongly believe that you need both in order to succeed, in healthy balance. Plan and prepare, but be careful of overthinking or waiting too long. Sometimes it pays to be bold.

Discipline

“In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory was over themselves. Self-discipline with all of them came first”

Harry S Truman

When exploring the multitude of factors which have the power to influence or contribute to our happiness and success, there is one which reigns supreme. Discipline. Mastery over the self, and a certain level of control over our emotions and impulses, can bring serious benefits to all areas of our lives from our health and fitness to our relationships with others, our professional lives and everything in-between.

There have been a number of studies over the years which have explored the power and benefits of discipline in depth, and if there is one common theme, it is that those who practice self-discipline are often happier as a result. Better yet is the fact that discipline is a learned behaviour. It is not something that you are born with, but rather it’s within reach for all of us. So, if you want to become more disciplined, it is entirely possible as long as you put the effort and hard work in. And hard work it most certainly is. In order to become disciplined, you must master the self. This means becoming more aware of who you are, what motivates you, your hopes and fears and your vision for the future. Furthermore, you become more acutely aware of your emotions and what triggers them, leading you to becoming more effective at controlling them as well as your impulses. This culminates in a person developing a sense of balance and becoming more able to make better informed and more rational decisions, which are not governed by impulse and emotion. Your decision-making process becomes proactive and guides you towards your goals as you spend less time and energy simply reacting to the world around you.

Becoming more disciplined requires constant practice and reflection, but the results are more than worth the hard work and effort required. Alongside the increased self-awareness and impulse control, as you work on becoming more disciplined, you will find bad habits being broken and replaced with healthier, more productive ones.

When it comes to the “how” of becoming more disciplined, there is no singular, winning formula. This stands to reason, as we are all unique and on our own individual journeys towards our vision of success. There are, however, a few proven and popular methods, and i’ll end with my top 4;

  • Expressing gratitude. We live in an age of consumerism and are relentlessly bombarded with messages about things that we need to buy in order to be happy. The result is that we spend a ridiculous amount of time and energy focusing on what we lack, and how important it is for our future happiness to have it. Essentially, we are allowing our impulses and actions to be manipulated by clever marketers and salespeople. If you want to become more disciplined, you need to take control here. This starts with a shift towards appreciation and gratitude. Focus, instead, should be switched to what you already have and are grateful for.
  • Eating healthier foods, sleeping well and exercising regularly. Fighting temptation and cravings in order to lead a healthier lifestyle will build a healthy mind as well as a healthy body. As the saying goes, “Mens sana in corpore sano” or “a healthy mind in a healthy body”.
  • Organisation. This is one area which you can practice at work, as well as at home, in order to become more disciplined. In becoming more organised, you become better able to prioritise tasks and manage your time effectively, as well as your emotions and energy levels.
  • Resilience. Discipline is also about willpower and mental strength, and the one area where this guaranteed to be regularly tested is in our response to setbacks. As you develop the ability persevere through hard times, you will find yourself becoming more disciplined. This, in turn, will help you to develop the strength to bounce back from challenges and get yourself back on the path towards your goals.

 

 

 

 

Ego

Recently, we looked at the beauty of humility, but today I would like to discuss its arch-nemesis, the ego. The word “ego” comes from the Latin, meaning “I”, and unless it is kept in check, it is a powerful force that has the potential to undo much of your good work.

Ego often gets confused with confidence but it is important to understand that these are 2 very different concepts. Confidence is a belief, and faith, in your skills and abilities. It is something that, when we work on it, can improve our lives and open the door to opportunities. Ego, on the other hand is about self-interest. When the ego takes over, we crave the validation and approval of others in order to justify what we do and how we do it. Ego is a very destructive force.

The problem with ego is that it doesn’t like feedback. Ego assumes that you already know everything and have nothing to learn. To the ego it is a sign of weakness to admit that you don’t have all the answers. In turn, the egotistical overestimate their abilities, skills and knowledge and miss opportunities. In opening yourself up to feedback from others, you also open the door to potential opportunities for learning, growth and progress. The ego, however, makes sure that this particular door remains locked, bolted and boarded up.

As we become more self-aware, some are taking it to the extremes and becoming self-obsessed and self-centered. If this is not addressed, it can wreak habit our our personal lives and relationships as well as our professional lives and businesses. There is a balance between humility and confidence, which we should strive to find. In order to keep the ego in check and stop it from taking over, I have found the following very effective;

  • Allow yourself extra time before making decisions or taking action. Wherever possible, stop and think first. In this way, you are more likely to be calmer and more focused as you take your next step.
  • Practice gratitude. Be thankful for what you have achieved and experienced so far. Celebrate your successes and achievements, but also acknowledge others who have helped and supported you on your journey so far.
  • Take responsibility and ownership. Just as you celebrate your successes, take responsibility for setbacks and failures too. Rather than complain, or ignore it altogether, focus on how you will recover and bounce back. Share your experiences, negative as well as positive, so that others may be inspired and learn too.

Life itself is a journey of learning, discovery and development, so admitting that we don’t have all the answers just makes us human, and humble. More likeable too.

 

What is your driving force?!

You may have heard of it referred to as your “why” and if you want to lead a successful and fulfilled life it is important that you know exactly what it is. Everybody has goals and dreams but it is your “why” or reason for being that has the power to set high-achievers apart from the crowd.

Your why is your purpose. It’s your reason for being. It’s a cause that you believe in deeply, to your core. Furthermore it’s a source of inspiration and motivation which will help you to rebound strongly from setbacks and problems and keep you going when times get tough. When you know why you are doing what you do, and find yourself on your chosen path, there is less likelihood of becoming disheartened and quitting when faced with adversity. On the other hand, it also keeps you grounded, humble and focused when you do start to make real progress.

There is a catch, though. I can’t tell you what your why is. Nobody can. For every individual it will, of course, differ. Only you can figure that out for yourself through honest reflection. There are, however, some questions which anybody can benefit from asking themselves;

  • What does success look like to you? Before you embark on your journey, you must know what it is the you are aiming for. If you don’t know where you are headed or what you are aiming for, you can’t possibly know when you are making progress. What does the end result look like? What do you want to achieve through your journey? Are you driven to bring about social change? Are you looking to start a business? Are you looking to strengthen your personal relationships?
  • What issues are you passionate about? What motivates or inspires you? What keeps you up at night, occupying your thoughts? What is the burning question that you want to answer, or change that you want to bring about?
  • If money were no object, what would you do? Put aside the pay check for a moment and the bills which need paying. If your finances were comfortable and you were in complete control of your destiny, how would you spend your time? What would you focus on?

Your why is your mission. Use the 3 questions above as prompts to help you find your own. It gives you strength in testing times and keeps you humble and focused when things go well. Find it and you will discover strength and ability which you may not have realised that you possess. Coupled with a deep belief in what you are doing, and a dogged determination to succeed, you will soon find yourself on a journey through life which is as fulfilling and meaningful as it is successful.

If you want to be happy, be true to yourself

Recently, we have looked at authenticity  and being yourself from several different angles. Why do I feel that it is so important to address this issue? In short, I am sharing my reflections on authenticity because I strongly believe that knowing who you are and behaving accordingly has the power to lay the foundations for happiness in your life.

Too many people live in fear of the judgement of others, be it the disapproval of a parent or sibling, or a negative comment on social media. As a result, people live their lives seeking acceptance and fearing rejection. In effect, people are allowing others to dictate their lives, and their happiness. This breeds frustration, misery and inner conflict. 

The time has come now to stop complaining and making excuses for your unhappiness and why your life may not be  progressing as you’d like. The truth is that you alone have the power to address this. Once you have progressed far along enough on your journey of self discovery to have a good understanding of who you are, act accordingly. There may be some resistance from friends and family at first, but that will fade and they will accept the new, happy you. If social groups reject and ostracise you this is a sign that it wasn’t meant to be, but another group will welcome you with open arms and accept you as you are. After all, as one door closes another will open.

We only have one life. Wouldn’t it be a terrible shame to spend it living up to the expectations of others while denying our true selves?! This has the potential to breed regret later in life, which is a powerful and painful emotion. The good news is that this scenario is avoidable if you can find the courage to be yourself. It’s not easy, discovering and accepting who you truly are, but the rewards make the  effort and hard work worthwhile.

I’d like to end this post with some food for thought from the philosopher Carl Jung;

Whoever looks into the mirror of the water will see first of all his own face. Whoever goes to himself risks a confrontation with himself. The mirror does not flatter, it faithfully shows whatever looks into it; namely, the face we never show to the world because we cover it with the persona, the mask of the actor. But the mirror lies behind the mask and shows the true face.

“Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious” (1935). In CW 9, Part I: The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. P.43

A call for Congruence

In exploring the importance of authenticity and being yourself in the modern digital age, it is wise to consider congruence. Congruence, in this instance, refers to the harmony or balance between our self-image and the version of ourselves which we present to the outside world.

This post is inspired  by a Japanese proverb which I have encountered numerous times on social media outlets. The proverb in question states that we have 3 faces. The first face is the one which we present to the outside world. The second face is the one which we reveal to family and close friends. The third face, which we never reveal to anyone else, is the truest reflection of who we are.

I interpret this as the first face being a mask which we wear when engaging with others outside of our immediate circle. In essence, this face represents the regulation of our behaviour to ensure that it is in line with what is socially expected while also being accepted culturally.

The second face is the mask we wear when interacting with family and close friends. This represents the way in which we modify our behaviour when with our nearest and dearest. We often do whatever we can to let them know that we love, care for and respect them. We often prioritise the happiness of those closest to us over our acting according to our true selves.

The third face is our true reflection. This is our authentic, true self which we often keep hidden from others for fear of ridicule or rejection.

Is it really necessary, or even healthy, to live like this?! There must surely be a better way.

In the last post, we touched on Aristotle’s “Golden Mean”. According to this rule, authenticity is a perfect balance between honesty and discretion, which also takes into account the context and circumstance.

Why can’t we apply the Golden Mean here too? If there are to be 3 versions of the self, why can we not work to ensure that there is congruence, or harmony between all 3? 

In doing this, we relieve ourselves of any inner conflict. Thar is not to say that it is easy. Far from it. In order to achieve harmony between our 3 faces, or selves,  we must first have a good understanding of who we are and what drives us. Self-Awareness, however, is a big part of the journey we are on towards success and something we should be working towards anyway.

On the other hand, maintaining several different personas is tiring. Unless you are an entertainer, it can also be conflicting and tiring leading to wasted energy which could be better directed elsewhere

So, is congruence a possibility? Are we able to find harmony and consistency in who we really are and how we present ourselves to the outside wold? 

Just be yourself

In the last post we looked at being kind, and being yourself, online. Today I would like to explore further the topic of authenticity.

Everywhere we look today, clever marketers and social media influencers are trying to manipulate us, albeit subtly. We are constantly bombarded with messages about how we should be thinking, acting, dressing and working. And we follow blindly, without stopping to question why we are being gently coerced in a particular direction. 

The alternative, authenticity and being yourself, has been heavily criticised in numerous blog posts and journal articles but I for one strongly believe that this is the most appropriate way to lead your life.

Everyone seems to be “faking it” until they “make it”. At the same time, they also strive to stand out from the crowd and be the exception. How is this supposed to work? They are complete opposites. You either join everyone else in faking it, in which case you will just be another body in a sea of fakers, or you stay true to your beliefs and values, be yourself,  and be the exception to the rule.

Faking it does have its merits, though. The commonly held belief among young people today is that, in order to succeed or gain approval, they must alter their behaviour and effectively become someone else. In this respect, faking it is a successful defence mechanism. After all, fear of rejection is no longer an issue when you conform to the expectations of others. It is, however, a less than ideal blueprint for how to live your life.

Of all the definitions of authenticity (and there are so very many!), the one that rings truest in my humble opinion is that of Aristotle. Aristotle, the great philosopher,  advised that we should strive to find the “Golden Mean”. This is the perfect balance of honesty and discretion, which are reliant on the context and circumstances in which you find yourself. 

In this respect, authenticity is about resisting the urge to become someone else, while staying true to your values. It’s also about self expression, but in moderation. That is where discretion comes in. Others do not want to hear all of your opinions and justifications, and everything that pops into your head. You can be yourself AND be discreet. It all depends on context and circumstances. 

I’ll end here with a quote which is particularly relevant;

In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act”

– Caroline Caldwell

The shortcut to greatness. ..

…is a myth. There is no secret, special formula or anything else. Sorry to burst your bubble. This may come as a surprise, because we are constantly being told that there is. Then again, those who usually claim to have all the answers usually have a book or a training course to sell too. Coincidence?!

The hard truth is that, in order to achieve success and greatness in your chosen arena, there must be hard work and effort. An awful lot of it. You have to do what others are not willing to. Consistently. Sacrifices and compromises will need to be made, and you will need to become resilient and persistent if you hope to persevere and overcome the obstacles and problems which you will encounter.

If you can do this, you will make progress. Progress not only with regards to your goals, but also your self awareness. You will, through all of the ups and downs and lessons learned, grow as a person.

Business publications and social media would have you believe that success can come quickly and bring tremendous riches. All that they are showing, though, is just the glamorous and appealing  end result and not the journey or the process itself. This is a shame, as the journey and process are what truly matter. This is where we are challenged to learn and grow, and discover who we truly are and what we are capable of. Gary Vaynerchuk tells us that “life is a marathon, not a sprint” and I couldn’t agree more. If you are going to be successful in pursuit of your goals, you will need patience and dogged determination. And you absolutely must fall in love with the journey and the process. 

Why are we so averse to certain traits in others?

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves”  ~ Carl Jung

I recently read this quote from Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, and wanted to share my reflections and what we can potentially learn from it.

Essentially, Carl Jung believed that, when we reflect on that which irritates us in other people, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, which leads to an increased self-awareness. This can only be a good thing as we continue on our journeys towards our goals. Achieving your goals is a wonderful feeling, but the most important part of the process is the journey itself, in which you learn who you really are, your strengths and weaknesses and your likes and dislikes. The more self-aware we become, the more we will learn and grow as we strive towards our goals.

Being naturally social creatures, we come to understand ourselves best through our relationships and interactions with other people. Therefore, it stands to reason that, whether consciously or not, we surround ourselves with people whose characteristics and behaviours are a match for our own.

That said, it is often the case that certain characteristics in someone’s personality trigger a negative reaction us, and we often find ourselves at a loss as to why we experience such an aversion to these traits.

Why does this happen?! Is our subconscious sending us a message?!

It can be argued that we experience an aversion to certain traits in others because we see things within others which we recognise within ourselves and are not happy about. In this instance, there is a message being sent, that we need to take some time for reflection. We can only be triggered by something we know, understand and have experienced ourselves, whether we admit it to ourselves or not.

The traits which we tend to dislike in others are the ones which we dislike in ourselves and may be suppressing. We then tend to judge these characteristics harshly in others, but when we stand in judgement of others, we inadvertently expose our true selves.

The people with whom we interact are showing us who we really are, and are presenting  an opportunity to learn, reflect and grow. Every person we come into contact with is showing up at the perfect time in our lives to draw attention to something we need to reflect on within ourselves and learn from.

Rather than focusing on the negative feelings which the traits of another might stir within you, look for an opportunity to reflect, learn and grow.