Sophrosyne

How do you want to live your life?

Be a good memory

Today’s post is going to be a fairly short one because like the others that I have written before; I find that spoon-feeding does not benefit readers as much as having them come to the realisation themselves.

This is what I am going to leave you with today:

One day you will be only a memory for some people. Do your best to make it a good one!”

Is it easy enough to understand? Alright I will help out a bit. We come in contact with people everyday! Some become our friends; others we brush pass. But no matter in what context; we have the power to make a difference. A kind word can change someone’s day which in turn have the power to break their chain of unhappiness.

Maybe you can be the catalyst for that one person that you have chosen to be kind to; and their life will never the same again! (In a good way!)

 

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How to harness negative energy

I was reminded by a good friend today who is also my very first yoga teacher (although she wasn’t even aware of it!), that people who are negative to us are actually our buddha in disguise. Thanks Andrea, for yet again showing me the other side of the coin.

We often react instinctively to people who are negative and have nothing nice to say to us. We get upset by their so-called ‘thoughtless’ comments and spin into a downward spiral. The simple message that was shared to me today was this: When someone upsets you; be it out of jealousy or just plain nastiness, take a moment to reflect on your immediate reaction before you take action. If you got angry or defensive, ask yourself why? Is it because they hit a sore spot, and it was something that you wanted to avoid or you are upset because you were hurt by the thoughtless comment.

If it was something that was worrying you, and instead of finding a solution to it and fix it; you have been sweeping it under the carpet. Along came this person and started to stir up the dirt under the carpet, and causing all the old issues to resurface. Perhaps then, it is a reminder that you really should fix it.

If the former wasn’t the case; you were hurt by their callousness, then maybe ask yourself this: in the big scheme of things and with other sources of love and support; does it really matter what this one person thinks or say? Aren’t you discrediting other people’s beliefs in your capabilities and belittling their judgment of you? Am I making sense to you?

We have a choice in who we allow to influence us on a daily basis. Just a short psychology lesson here to help you understand this better. We form impressions of ourselves via many sources, and one of the more influential and commonly used sources are our friends and family. They are our mirror; through them we see who we are, which is the reason why people often say if you want to understand someone, observe the company they keep. Having said all these; when people pass comments about us, be it positive or negative, we use their comments to add-on to our understanding of ourselves. With these information, we then adjust ourselves to become closer to who we want to be (Our true selves).

Good friends who support us and provide positive energy reaffirm that we are lovable. Others who can only afford ill comments can be used to help us understand ourselves better. If what they say is true; and you wish to make that change, good for you! But if what they say is plain poisonous and useless; just ignore it. Take back the power! Like I said, we have been given the gift of freewill! Exercise that! Don’t let them spoil your day!

Enough said about that; the keynote of today’s post is ‘mindfulness in the presence of negativity’, use that to your advantage! I know it is not easy; I am working on it myself as well! But at least try; in everything there is something to learn.

I leave you with this: “How people treat you is their karma, how you react is yours.” – Wayne Dyer

 

 

 

 

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It is the person, not their race!

In view of the latest news about racism in Singapore; I feel that I need to make a stand with regards to racism and its linkage to race. Having lived in both Australia and Singapore, I daresay that it is a misinformation when people think that it is a particular race of people who are nicer or more considerate.

That is not true at all! All cultures and races have their strong points as well as their peculiarities. Notwithstanding social and cultural influences, we also need to consider the person’s individual personality. Some traits are innate and not entirely affected by external influences.

The single incident by Amy Cheong has caused disgrace and brought shame to Singapore. I assure you that I have met many wonderful people as well as not so nice ones in Singapore. But not every one is living in Singapore is a racist, and not everyone is rude and obnoxious like her. There are some really nice and down to earth people here as well. We all have a stereotypical impression of people from different countries; it is human nature to use these mental shortcuts. In many ways, it makes our lives much easier.

However, I urge you to try to not jump into conclusions about people just because they are from a particular country. People are still human beings at the end of the day; there are more similarities than differences.

Consider this today: It is the person, not where they come from that determines who they are.

 

 

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Emotional Vampires

Emotional Vampires

I saw these 2 words when I was strolling through a book store yesterday. Then it got me thinking. Admittedly, this post may not be drastically different from another one of my previous post (who to avoid) but it may help to clarify this topic to some readers who did not quite get what I was trying to say the last time or I did not quite hit the nail straight on.

Have you ever experience the company of people who drains you? You are exhausted every time you see them? I am not surprised if you did, and very happy for you if you haven’t yet. These people take from you emotionally; meaning it is always about them and they are so much better than you and everyone else.  They can be characterised in the following manner (in my personal experience):

(1) They like to talk about themselves; past achievements or future adventures.

(2) When they ask you about you; it is usually to create an opening to talk about themselves. They dismiss your achievements but adding on their own glorious details.

(3) They ask for your opinion about something but quickly dismisses it.

(4) They are the expert in all the areas that you are good in.

Are you getting the gist of it? The reason why they drain you of your emotional energy is because they are unable to validate you as a person. The constant underhanded behaviour and inability to give back positive feedback creates a black hole within the relationship. Before I came across the term emotional vampires; I used to refer them to as black holes. They suck you in and you get lost in this limbo of nothingness.

Sometimes, you are able to recognise them and get away as quickly as you can but other times they are linked to other parts of your life that you are unable to extract yourself from. I have yet to find a solution to handle those that you cannot avoid because the best way to handle this issue is to stay away. But remember this, we have a choice, we can choose not to let anyone trample through our minds with their dirty feet. This is the very reason why we must be very careful about who we choose to have in our lives. The more ego boosts we get the better! Honest ones of course! Life with its precise and odd timings already present us with many challenges and the world around us is already sad enough. Why hang around those who weaken us?

All relationships are different in nature; some to make us stronger, some to nurture us in times of need. But remember this, they should all serve a positive purpose in the end. If it doesn’t, get away from it as quickly as you can!!

Consider this another tip on: Choose to be HAPPY!

Have a great week ahead!

 

 

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Be proud of yourself!

‘Don’t wait until you’ve reached your goal to be proud of yourself. Be proud of every step you take toward reaching that goal’ – Source unknown

I am posing this statement to you today as a challenge. Why do I say it is a challenge? Simply because it is human nature to be overly critical of ourselves. I am definitely guilty of it! It is hard for me to accept that every step I take towards my goal is taking me a step closer because I am so used to celebrating outcomes only. The reason why we only celebrate outcomes is because that is the time when we have actually attained our goals!

Let’s see if I can paint you a clearer picture using this story: A rookie salesperson is trying to sell a brand new TV set to a customer, the customer seemed very keen. But until the customer actually pays for the TV; there is really nothing much to be really excited about, isn’t it? But if you allow me to apply today’s theme into the story: Yes, maybe the sales guy did not manage to sell something today, but instead what he achieved was the following: (1) He was able to approach the customer with less apprehension, and he gets better at it every time he talks to a customer. (2) He provided a lot of useful information as well as great service to his customers. In the long run, his capabilities as a sales person will improve and those customers who had previous contact with him would come back to him when they are ready to buy something. Am I making sense to you?

Therefore, if you can see things in this way, you will begin to see that every step you take towards achieving your goal is indeed bringing you closer. Then why wait until you reach the end to celebrate? Celebrate the mere fact that you have the tenacity and determination to take that every step. Okay, this is going to sound cheesy, it is the journey not the destination that matters. Although the destination is the reason for the journey. But sometimes our goals and directions change and we do not end up where we originally plan to be at. Then what? Imagine how miserable you would be if you only celebrated outcomes but you never really got there?

How about this – I suggest that we (including me) start acknowledging all the hard work we have put in so far to attain our goals. I am not saying break out the champagne every day, it is good enough that we give ourselves proper credit so that we are encouraged to push on. We are our own hero, remember? Before anyone can believe in us, we need to first believe in ourselves! So, let’s stop being so harsh on ourselves; instead be proud that we have already come so far. Remember that we could have given up somewhere along the way but we have not and that is something we should be so proud of!

 

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Gaining personal insight

Someone said this to me years ago: ‘When you dislike someone or if there is something about them that really irks you. Look inside, chances are it is a reflection of yourself that you dislike.’

Over the years, I have applied this thought process whenever I meet someone and I experience very strong dislike for that person. It was amazing how true this sentence was! It had helped me realise why I dislike certain traits in some people. It wasn’t really them that I was annoyed with; I just didn’t like to be reminded of what I didn’t like about me. Seeing them reminded me of that; that was why I had such strong negative reactions.

Of course this is not true all the time. There were instances that I could not relate at all and I just attribute it to a lack of chemistry.

Have you ever had such an experience when you meet someone and you instantly dislike them?? Well, if you haven’t or you have forgotten about it; try it the next time it happens to you. More often than not, the reason why  you dislike the person is because they remind you of your negative points that you are trying to ignore. Being able to apply such insight can help to create more self awareness and self understanding. Use them as your observation point, try to pinpoint what is it that was annoying and remind yourself not to do that. Once you are aware of your own flaws; it will be much easier to make improvements. So instead of staying away from them; use the opportunity to better yourself.

Allow me to give you an example in case you are lost: I love to laugh and I don’t really care how I look like or sound like when I laugh. I reckon that laughter is a happy sound so it really shouldn’t annoy anyone. Then on that fateful day, I heard a girl laugh really loud, I mean really loud. Then I thought to myself : “Geez, that is so loud and annoying!” Then it suddenly dawned on me that I must also be annoying to other people around me when I laugh so loudly. It was actually more distracting than annoying. I hope that this example was clear enough to demonstrate that when we see certain behaviour and personality traits that we do not like. A little self-reflection can help us improve ourselves. Or it can also help us see the other person in a different light. We might realise the shared similarities and become good friends instead.

It’s worth exploring.

 

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Our inner voices

As you know by now that my posts are inspired by events or personal experiences. The post today was the result of a conversation I had with a friend awhile ago.

Admittedly, not everyone had the most supportive or positive parents when they were growing up. Some of us rise above it to become better people; while others find it difficult to pick up their crushed self-esteem to move on. As a result, they live their lives with a constant inner voice that sounded very much like their parents; constantly telling them that they can never achieve their goals or that they can never be good enough. We all know how we become who we are today. We learn through modelling the people around us from the day we were born. One may not have positive influence at home but sometimes, their turning point comes when they meet someone later on in their life who believes in them. And again, not everyone is so lucky.

How did we learn to parent then? Yes, you’ve got it! From our parents of course. As well as parenting books, friends…..etc. But the main style, if I may will be from our parents.

Right, you are thinking, okay, what is she trying to drive at? I am simply saying this; yes, we parent the way we were raised because that is our learning style. But it is possible to change if we teach ourselves to recognise the signs. I am sure people did not have children so that they can inflict pain on them because they were not treated nicely when they were children. We all want to do our best for our children.

The main aim of this post is to draw attention to your parenting voice. If it is positive, then please carry on the good work. But if it is always negative; ask yourself why do you sound like that? Was it habit because that was what you grew up with? If yes, then ask yourself, is that how you want your child to grow up? Having this negative inner voice for the rest of their lives.

I agree that habits die hard; but I have seen many great parents who overcame their personal obstacles to become wonderful. loving, and supportive parents! It is a matter of choice and intention. It is all up to you to break the vicious cycle.

Remember this: “The way we talk to our children will become their inner voice.” – Peggy O’Mara

 

 

 

 

 

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Teaching children people skills

I have been asking myself this question: At which point in my life did I learn how to ‘fix situations’? By this, I mean that when I cause someone grief or have upset them in any way, how did I know what to do? The reason this question came to mind was because a few days ago, my son did something to upset me and of course, I told him off for that. He reacted like any normal child; he was hurt that I was upset and went to hide in his room. Well, did that make me feel better? NO! Because he was the one who was in the wrong, and now he had turned the tables around. Instead of him pacifying me; now I have to go and make sure he is okay.

Yes, I did the ‘right thing’, I went into his room to make sure that he was alright. I know that he hates it when I get upset. That was when I realised that he needs to learn how to ‘fix the situation’. This was what I told him:

“When you upset someone, you do not get to be upset. The first thing that you need to do is to make sure that the other party is okay. Apologise for your mistake, then ask if there is anything you can do to make it better. You need to sit on your pride because that is the reason why you are upset when someone gets angry with you. Hiding and shutting down because your pride is hurt does not make it all better. Instead, it makes things worse. Swallow that lump of pride in your throat. Even if there is nothing you can do, people will appreciate the effort.”

As adults, we somehow instinctively know what to do. I do not quite recall if my parents taught me these skills. But I have witnessed children lacking in the basic manners department, and I suspect that it is because their parents never really reminded or taught them any. Human beings may be born with some survival instincts. I doubt being empathetic is one of them. Even manners, I had to remind my children to use nice manners every once in a while. Eventually, it becomes a habit. I believe that the ability to admit one’s mistakes and willingness to make amendments are the same. It is something that we need to instill in children, over time it becomes natural.

I am not sure what your hopes and dreams are for your children; but at the very least, I hope my boys will grow up humble and caring. I hope that this post will give you something to think about. I leave you with this quote from Ann Landers:

It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.”

 

 

 

 

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Listening or Hearing

Today’s post is based on an important aspect of human communication, but it is not that easily achieved. I am sure you have heard of these two words: listening and hearing. Although they sound like they mean the same thing but they don’t.

Listening encompasses an intention to pay attention so as to understand the content; whereas hearing is just your ears telling your brain to register that you are receiving noises. This is of course the simplified version and is by no means how the brain and ear works. But in context of this post; listening and hearing has been defined simply to aid in the understanding of this post.

We hear noises all the time; we only pay attention when we are interested in what the other party has to say and we want to understand what they are saying. Ask yourself if you have the experience of listening or hearing someone; and have the same done to you. Allow me to give you an example of hearing: we choose to hear when our parents nag or when our children are whining. It’s boring, so we mentally switch off. We listen when our bosses tells us about the new salary scheme or when someone is paying us a compliment (Don’t want to miss that one!)  Sounds familiar?

The key point of this post is that it is important to not let hearing become our default setting. It is an automatic response when we communicate to certain people. But what if that day, they have something important to say to you and you were ‘zoning out’?? I’m sure you have been annoyed before when people are not really listening to you (either their eyes are glazed over or more obviously, they are fiddling with their mobile phones!)

I am not saying that there is no use for hearing; everything has a purpose. Hearing allows us to multi-task; and we can jump back into the listening mode when we pick up a keyword. Hearing also helps us deal with mean people who are only capable of making snide and hurtful comments; we look like we are listening but in fact we are filtering out all the nasty stuff.

Unfortunately, we practise hearing so well because we want to maximise our time in order to get everything done that we are sometimes unaware that we are doing that. We ask someone how was their day and as they are recounting the day’s events; we are off in our mind, thinking about what to buy for dinner; was the laundry due for pickup….etc. Nothing is more annoying and disappointing than trying to share something with someone who does not put in the effort to hear what you have got to say. We credit alot of broken relationships and failed business ventures to miscommunications. But ultimately, we are the ones who can make that change.

So, the challenge for today is to really pay attention and listen when the other person is talking. It will help if you put whatever might distract you; e.g. ipad, phone, bills away and just focus on what they are saying. It will change the quality of the relationship because the other person knows that you are really listening and really cares. It can also improve your overall communication skills.

 

 

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Keeping your heart open

If anyone has been watching masterchef U.S. you can roughly guess what today’s post is all about. In season 3 of masterchef US; one of the contestants named Christine is blind. I think she has progressive blindness; meaning she was born with sight but she gradually lost it over the years.

So, what is so special about her that is worth a mention? She is no different from the rest of us; she has more insecurities because she knows that her blindness is a huge disadvantage during the competition. Her insecurities was plain to see because she would tell the judges almost everytime that she is the one who is going to lose the challenge. And she was also the slowest because she needed to be careful so that she doesn’t cut herself or get burnt by the stove.

The thing that stood out for me was that she always makes the best dish!! One of the judges jokingly commented:”Are you sure you are blind, Christine? Because you cook like an angel everytime!” Wow! Isn’t that a huge compliment. Not only that, the dishes that she cooked was also unusual.

Then, what is this suppose to teach us? The rest of the abled contestants cooked food that they were familiar with; they have stoppped listening to their hearts and have stubbornly chose to remain in their boxes. Because Christine cannot see, she can only trust her instincts and do what her heart tells her to do. She was able to tap into another resource that many of us have lost the ability to use. We allow rules and past histories/memories to guide our future moves.

I urge you to think about this today; are you stuck in the same spot for a long time? Then ask yourself, why?  I am not asking you to blindfold yourself and see if you can get inspired. This is not about sight; it is about using the current resources you are given and making the best of it. It is about allowing yourself to explore possibilities without self-perceived restrictions.  You will find that when you find the courage to come out of your box that is filled with past histories and expectations; you can then hear what your heart has to tell you. It has worked for her; it might work for you. What have you got to lose anyway?

If you still cannot get what I am trying to tell you. Look at the picture that accompanies today’s post. Have you seen rainbow cakes? They look ordinary on the outside; but the magic can be found within the cake. Finding your inner voice is abit like that; dare to look in because the rainbow is always  there; it just needs to be discovered.

 

 

 

 

 

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