Rescue Me…

Do you need a rescue? I’m sure we all do. Some may need it once in a while, some very often.

Not all rescues are healthy. Doing it every time to the same people creates a dependency. It cripples the growth of the person being rescued. It can be exhausting to the one rescuing.  A wise man once said, ”When you’re helping, keep in mind that you’re teaching them how to fish, not training them to be beggars.

To The One Being Rescued

You see, everyone has a load to carry and if everyone helps himself, we  become less of a burden to somebody else.  Of course, we have our down moments, bouts of loneliness, the taste of failures, and it’s a relief to have a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold, a reassuring look from somebody we love to say, “Don’t worry, I got your back”.  

Our support system can only do so much for us. The answers that we are looking for and the ability to make it happen lies with us.

It all starts with YOU.

Our joy, peace, freedom, success, however that translates to us, is not up to anyone. We are on the driving seat here, playing  the main role in the story of our life. The challenge is, we like watching other people run their life including our own.  Life slips through our hands simply because we choose to let it go. 

If things are within our control, taking action is the key, nothing else.

On to the Rescuer

You don’t always have to be the solution to everyone’s problems.  If you’re stretching yourself too thin, you’re not giving 100% to everything that comes up, rather a percentage of you to everything that comes up.

Prioritize. Even the richest, wisest people in the world cannot save the world. It’s not up to one mortal man. 

“Our job is not to fix people, but to love them, as best we could.”

Bo Sanchez

Loving can sometimes be tough.  It’s allowing the person you care about, make their own mistakes because some things are just meant to be learned the hard way. Mistakes help us do that.  We fail, we learn, we know better, we do better.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

St Paul.

I believe we’re not here to be each other’s burden or even so, to be somebody’s crutch, at least not permanently.  Thinking otherwise will only disempower us and discourage us.

When you see an old man collecting garbage for a fee just to feed his disabled wife, your heart breaks and you want to help.  Seeing a fit, healthy 40-year-old man sitting all day watching television and getting drunk while waiting for his son to feed him, I think there’s something wrong about that. I pity the son.

Last Words

Every situation is different and it’s not my place to judge. 

I just believe that we can do better by helping ourselves.

I believe we can be each other’s partner, encourager, cheerleader.

I believe we can empower and inspire one another.

You don’t have to be a teacher, an author, or an actor to do that.

You can be someone who lives his life, not merely surviving, but thriving in it.

Do you Get Tired Offering Solutions To People?

I sure do. 

A friend comes to you complaining about something, venting his frustrations out,  feeling hopeless and desperate. You step in, give him some perspective and suggest something  that might work. He nods and finally gets it, saying, “You’re right. I should do that. Thanks, pal!”.

Weeks passed, you check in to see how he’s doing. Same old, same old, and surprisingly you hear new complaints too, coupled with excuses why he never acted on the things you talked about.

I get frustrated of course. It’s like handing a bottle of milk to a thirsty toddler. He only needs to put it in his mouth and drink it up for the thirst to go away. What happens instead is he keeps on staring at the bottle of milk and continue crying.  

When the student is ready the teacher will appear. When the student is truly ready the teacher will Disappear.

Lao Tzu

Reflecting on my behavior, I’ve seen how this is apparent to me too, personally. 

How oftentimes do we realize that the solution to our predicament is obvious but we don’t take action? I can think of a couple of reasons why.

The pain is not painful enough that we are not yet over desperate to fix it.

Admittedly, like our pets, we like to lick our wounds. We don’t budge, nor move until it hurts too much or we’re kicked out of the door.  No wonder why we stay on a job we hate until we get fired. We stay in toxic relationships until the abuse sends us to a hospital or worse, we end up wandering the streets of who-knows-where.  Complaining is easy. Work is hard. This leads to the second point.

We prefer the current pain over the pain of working to fix it.

This preference though is buried deep in our subconscious. We forget that “something’s gotta give” every time. There are trade-offs in life. Choosing one means we cannot choose the other. In this case, it’s either you want this pain or that pain.

The other day, somebody came to me complaining about someone but fears confronting this person. So I said, “Look, you only have two options here. Either you tell this guy what your issues are and risk him feeling hurt, or you keep it civil between you two but keep your frustrations to yourself.” 

We always have options. We can always work out solutions. We can always find answers. The question is, “What do we do with the answers we get? Do we stand by and just stare at these solutions? What choice do we make?

We regret the things we don’t do more than the things we do.

Mark Twain

There’s never a perfect time to do anything. The world won’t give you that. How many doors have closed in on you just because you waited for the perfect wind to carry you through, or the perfect soundtrack to play in the background as you walk along?  The door is never going to stay open for long. So I’m not sure what you’re still waiting for.

What I tell you, I’m telling myself too. We are a work in progress and I believe it’s good that we remind each other when we need to.  So take this as a reminder. 

And yes, lesson learned:

Don’t offer solutions to people’s problems. The real fix is always within themselves. You just have to help them uncover it.

Supercharged or Regular?

Some days I get so pumped up like I’m in my best element and can achieve almost anything. So I do and do and do. You know, strike while the iron is hot.

Other days I slump and feel uninspired. I want to be lazy and just not care too much about what’s going on in the world.

Maybe it’s just me, but I wonder, do I really need to pursue things and work nonstop, or just do things I love, without the feeling of being obligated or even having to meet any deadline?

We fill our days with plenty of to-do lists that life becomes a project instead of an experience. 

Society dictates who we should be. It defines what success looks like and we succumb to this definition. All along we know, that at the end of it all, what would matter is ours and our loved ones opinion of us, not the whole world. The world can go by without remembering how much we’ve made for ourselves, or how famous we’ve become but perhaps how we’ve made an impact to the lives of the people around us.

And yet, how do we accomplish such a thing?

“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”

Viktor Frankl

A freely chosen task. That’s what struck me the most.

Maybe it’s not the same for everyone. It doesn’t have to be. It can even change at any point in time.  So I guess the question is, “What is it for you?”. “What is your freely chosen task?”. Right now I’m starting to think.

I don’t need to get too hung up with outputs and outcomes. This is my life, my time, and I can freely choose what to do with it.

To Squander or To Make It Count.

More than time being our responsibility, it’s first and foremost an accountability.  It’s a limited resource that reduces in number every second of the day until it finally runs out.  Now what we do with it is indeed our call. It doesn’t have to feel like an obligation, rather, something cherished simply because we’re not gonna get any more of it.

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure… but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”

Francis Chan

In the end, when somebody asks you, “How was your life?”. It’s either, “Well you know, It happened” or “Yeah, I lived it and t’was hell of a ride!”.

Supercharged or regular? I cannot care about your choice any more than I should care about mine. But tell you what. When those white hairs start to stick out , wrinkles and all, come by and see me. Let’s talk about it with a couple of beers. And maybe bring along some pizza! 

What Outside of Your Comfort Zone Looks Like

To amplify your growth, you need to operate outside of your comfort zone.

I know. Preaching about this is easy, but doing it is a different story. There’s going to be a lot of “push and pull” occasions with yourself, albeit the “pull” part is more encouraging.

In late 2018, I lost my job.  Eight months later, I joined a new company. At first, I chickened out because the role was outside my comfort zone.  Instead of finding excuses, I took the job. Looking back, I can tell there’s a lot that I’ve learned in a year compared to previous work experiences.

Was it easy? Picture yourself heading home after school every single day. That’s what I feel until now.  It’s challenging and rewarding. Here is a preview of what happened so far.

Discoveries

  1. I’ve learned something new about myself. I never thought I could dance until my teammates and I had to perform an act from the movie “The Greatest Showman”  with costumes and all.
  2. I never knew baking with teammates via zoom could be fun. Now I could make delicious crostata and lemon cake, plus potentially make money out of it. If not, baking would save me a few bucks too. I can’t imagine myself hanging out in a coffee shop with a slice of pie or cake ever again.
  3. I realized I could get along with different nationalities and discovered we have  a lot of things in common if only I open up, strike a conversation, trust, listen and take time to get to know someone.
  4. I’ve learned it’s rewarding to accomplish something outside of your expertise, especially if you do it from a genuine desire to contribute, help or, pitch in. There’s nothing wrong about doing something for the first time and therefore asking many questions, even when you’re older. 
  5. In a work that continuously encourages you to grow, there’s never a dull moment. There’s no room for boredom. You could honestly say, “I learned something new today” at the end of the day and drive home feeling accomplished.

“Great things don’t come from comfort zones.” 

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

I believe, if we explore more, our growth in day or week would be exponential.  The challenge is, we don’t.  We like hanging on to old ways and beliefs, even beliefs about ourselves, and come up with excuses.  Think about what staying in your comfort zone has cost you.  For me:

The Would-Have-Been Costs

I would have never learned English and be good at it. It’s not my first language.

I would never have launched this blog. Somebody told me my grammar sucks and people don’t care about my opinions.

I wouldn’t have traveled to different countries. Somebody told me it’s expensive and it’s dangerous.

I would never have found a spiritual community. Somebody told me I’m a hopeless case, and it will be difficult for me to change.

I would have never joined and won singing competitions. Somebody told me I couldn’t carry a tune.

I would never have built something for myself. Somebody told me I will always be poor.

Conclusion

I am not sharing things to brag but to remind you that in the past,  you have accomplished things too, not because you were less afraid but because you decided to go ahead and face your fear head-on. You made it this far because you kept on. That’s the truth, even if you say you did it because you had no choice.  The fact that you have accomplished it proves that you’re capable. Now imagine what more you could have achieved had you given yourself a little more faith.  It’s about thriving, not surviving.

Why don’t we dream again like when we were kids? Try new things and be curious enough to learn?  

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore”- Andre Gide.

Once again, light up the fire in your heart. Make no room for fear. Instead, save enough for “what could be’s”.

This Is Why You Never Get To Fulfill Your Dream

My friend’s biggest regret is not being able to pursue her passion.  “Life got in the way”, she said.  I could feel her deep sense of frustration while we were talking. It was a bit disappointing too. Why? There she was, in her 40s, still young, but already giving up on her dreams. In her mind, there is no room for it anymore.

I think that’s the main problem.  We give up on our dreams even before we could even begin to make them happen.  We come up with a dozen excuses, like not having the time, not being ready, not having the opportunity.  All these limiting beliefs come into the surface and  90% of the time these are self-created.  The obvious question is this:

Who would believe you then if you don’t believe in yourself?

“The only person who can pull me down is myself, and I’m not going to let myself pull me down anymore.” ― C. JoyBell C.

At the root of giving up too soon is FEAR.

Fear of Failure

Who wants to be called a loser, right? Nobody wants to be laughed at, ignored, or rejected. Hence, to avoid the pain and shame, we never try. When we don’t try we feel like a failure- frustrated and angry.  Then we pick ourselves up and attempt again only to get cold feet at the first thought of failure. As you can see, the cycle continues.

Fear of The Unknown

For most of us, we like to figure out EVERYTHING before we begin. We like things to be predictable and certain, so we think long, and research a lot like we have an eternity to do it. We spend so much time planning that we never launch. Oftentimes we get caught up in what we call Analysis Paralysis.

Analysis paralysis (or paralysis by analysis) describes an individual or group process when overanalyzing or overthinking a situation can cause forward motion or decision-making to become “paralyzed”, meaning that no solution or course of action is decided upon.   [Wikipedia]

Fear immobilizes us and kills our dreams. Imagine the power we give it.

There are different ways to cope with FEAR but I believe we could start with two.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. 

Life is too short.  Learn to laugh at yourself, and try again. Ask stupid questions if you must and use outcomes as your feedback, to do better, to know better.  Grow. That’s the more important thing.

Give yourself a deadline when making decisions.

Forget about perfection. Clarify your goal. Break down complex matters into smaller actionable steps. That way you don’t feel overwhelmed. Baby steps. Just like the old days.

I believe it’s always a question of how desperate you are to get something. It’s like gasping for air when you’re suffocating. If you want  it bad enough, you know you have to do something and do it.

sundaewrites

Why Having More Choices Can Make You Feel Less Happy

It all boils down one thing. But first, let’s go through a typical day.

From the minute you wake up, your mind would have gone through a long list of decisions to make.

  • What will I have for breakfast?
  • What clothes do I wear today?
  • Which pair of shoes would go with it?
  • What should I prioritize at work?
  • What can I order for lunch?
  • Which flavor of ice cream shall I have?
  • Which coffee shall I order?
  • Should I opt for plan A, D, or F?
  • Shall I have meat tonight or fish?
  • Which brand of tissues should I go for? Brand of shampoo?
  • Which show do I watch on Netflix? Which program do I watch on tv?

And the list goes on, and longer especially when you are a parent, a spouse, and you’re trying to do all things and squeeze them all in one day.

Is choosing meant to be a joy-stealer? No. Then why is it draining our energy? Mind you,

It’s not the decision that’s exhausting us, it’s the number of options we have on the table.

Think about these.

If you only have one pair of office shoes, you’d just wear them every day regardless of the style or color of clothes you put on.

If there’s only one brand of tissue, one brand of shampoo, your trip to the grocery store would be done in less than half an hour.

If there’s only one show on Netflix, you never have to scroll through it for too long. You just decide whether to watch it or not.

If there’s only one school in your town or city, you won’t have to spend time comparing. Instead, you can focus your energy on finding ways to pay off tuition fees.

Too many options lead us to experience what Psychologists call Decision Fatigue. It’s

the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making.

Wikipedia

Why? Because,

We use the same amount of willpower every time we make a decision regardless if it’s important or not.

Having too many options before us can be exhausting. Imagine scanning through a lot of information, choices, and combinations, that you end up feeling like, you don’t know what you want anymore. So when you’re faced with more important decisions, you’re left with depleted energy, no focus, and no wits.

There’s no quick way to fix this, but definitely,

We could start with reducing our choices

Dr. Laurie Santos- Yale University

Perhaps:

  • Have the same thing for dinner every night. Create a routine.
  • Have a fewer set of clothes, or stick to two pairs of shoes.
  • Stick to one color theme at home.
  • Only keep one phone. One tv. One mug, if you’re living alone.

Whatever you decide, keep things simple so it’s easier for you. Remember, you only have limited mental energy for the day. Make sure you use it, where it matters the most.

Where I’m Heading

So last night, I wrote this email to one of the writers I admire.

=========

Hey _____,

I hate you.  

I keep stumbling upon your blogs for some reason. Each and every time, the “what if” about pursuing my passion gets re-ignited.  I’m too comfortable with the security I have in my life right now that I can come up with excuses to not take another shot at things that give my heart wings.

I love writing and speaking.

BUT…

I have a “9-5” job working as a  _____________. I don’t have the luxury of time to work on things that inspire me.

I run out of ideas on what to __________   or  _______   about.

I’m insecure and worry about what _________  would think or say about my opinions/thoughts.

I only have a fair command of the  _________.

I am fascinated about __________, _________, _________, ________ and helping/teaching others what I know but I don’t have a degree on any of these.

Yet, time and again, I dream about becoming “that ________”, “that ________”. This unfulfilled desire leaves a hole in my heart,

A dent in my life, in my own person, that makes me feel like I’m not living “me”.

I don’t believe pursuing these things will give me a sense of security that I sort of value too.

But you, you are living your dream, my dream. And you’re being true to you, and you’re happy, and you’re creating an impact on the lives of people you don’t even know.

I wish I could be you. I wish I have your wisdom. I wish I have your courage.

Frustrated as to where I am right now, I just ______________________.

I’m desperate. I think I am. Where and how do I go from here? I’m half way through and very much aware that life is slipping away.

Help.

=======

Apologies for the “redacted” parts. I think I’m not ready at all to be completely vulnerable.  But I think you get the sense of frustration I am in.  If you’re in this state too, isn’t it comforting to know that It’s not a lonely world for you? Somewhere out there or here, someone else is stuck at a corner, not sure if the right thing to do next is to just turn.

Frustration is good. It helps you see how badly you’re unhappy of what’s happening now, and probably of where things are heading.  Unhappy in a sense that, what you see, may not always be the truth that you’ve always known.  

Someone once told me that in life, sometimes it’s not about knowing the answers, It’s about what you do with what you’ve come to know.

So my friend, what is it that you’ve been wrestling with? Chances are, you already have the answers. You’re just scared of what it’s gonna take.

I am scared too, and yet, here I am.

The Day I Decided To Let Go

Letting go is obviously one of the hardest things that we can do, but at times, stepping into that new kind of freedom is very much worth it.

sundaewrites

The year came like anything normal and in so many ways I have underestimated it. Certainly, you’ll never really know where life would take you. 

During the first few months, inspiration struck. It triggered me to make small decisions and subtle changes affecting very important aspects of my life.

Letting Go of Stuff

    It started with a few clothes, some old, some new, that I’ve never really worn for months. Like most, I’ve held on to those pieces of clothing because I’ve paid for them and I already own them. 

I realized later on that possessing or not possessing them didn’t really affect the quality of my life. Nor has it affected the level of my happiness in the long term. Maybe that’s why you and I call this and similar things as stuff because literally, they’re just that. Most things we can live without and some we can only need enough of. 

On the other hand though, our stuff can be a piece of gold to someone who really needs them. With that, I gave away clothes to friends, neighbors, relatives and some more things to charity.

I was able to sell some of the stuff too and more will be sold in the comings months. I remember meeting this buyer and our conversation went like this.

Buyer:  So how long have you had this?

Me: 6 months

Buyer: how many times did you use it?

Me: thrice

Buyer: It’s in superb condition and you’re selling it for half the price. Why did you buy it in the first place?

Me: Well, I thought I needed it and would do me good. Later on, I realized, it’s bulky and cumbersome. I can actually get rid of it and make do of what I already have.

Buyer: Well, this is a gem for me. Sorry, you had to sell it.

Me: Oh no, I’m glad I did! (“and I met you”! – bonus point that I felt he didn’t need to know – insert “grin”).


Letting Go of biases

    I think you would agree that we all have our biases when it comes to culture, people of a different race or sometimes people from our own race. I for one am guilty about this. In the past, my generalizations about people have hindered the possibility of me knowing them at a deeper level and understand how they see things. 

I’ve come to realize that it was a mistake and a loss on my part. I mean, some of them could have been my close friends. They could have contributed to my growth. Most could have been helpful mentors, teachers, coaches or perhaps role models. I remember a colleague of mine said to me one time. “It’s not you. We’re just not used to saying please and thank you as often as you do. We don’t even say please or thank you to people from our own country”.  Another shared, “We look like we’re fighting because we seem to be shouting at each other, but we’re not. This is just a normal conversation”.

When I decided to finally open myself to other cultures and other communities, I felt like my heart expanded and my understanding broadened. I began to see these people the way I see myself and my friends- just human beings with imperfections like we all have, and trying their very best in life as we all do.  

Letting Go of Who I thought I was

We are who we are. This belief also limited my success as a person. 

I always thought that I’m an introvert and therefore, don’t have the ability to connect with people and actually be energized in the process. I always thought, I could never write, just because I barely passed my first essay in college. My English teacher would always ask me to explain what I’m trying to say. That time I have a knack for tying two words together, not because they mean anything but because they just sounded good. Well, it’s hard when English is not your first language. These are just two of several beliefs which crafted my idea of Me. This same idea pushed me to stay in my comfort zone because venturing out, I assumed,  would lead me to failure.  

After years, a breakthrough came.  I decided I will no longer fear failure. So I started a journey of self-discovery and that meant trying new things and doing things that actually scared me or made me nervous and uneasy. I tell you, when I look at myself now, I like what I’m seeing. Frankly, I still make mistakes but I’m growing and continuously learning.

The good thing about letting go of who I thought I was is that every day I am embracing the opportunity to reinvent myself and expand my horizons. It opens a whole new door of possibilities of what I can still be, and the results usually astound me. What you can or cannot do, is indeed entirely up to you. Henry Ford puts it this way “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right”.

My friend, is there something in your life that you need to let go and why, or, why not?

Ride It Out

Yes, you heard me. There will be days when you’d feel like you’re not getting it. You feel slow, so behind, down, uninspired, even clumsy, and unsteady.  There will be days when you’d doubt yourself and your capacity, question your plans, and beliefs, or how you walk on this journey called life. Yes, the struggle is real. We have our highs and lows and sometimes we find it difficult to handle both.

In this amazing journey that we all share, it’s without a doubt that all of us are eternal students of a real-life university.  We stumble and make mistakes, and at times we reap small wins and victories too. It’s an exciting experience, at least, if you perceive it that way.

You see, we see the world through lenses that we choose to put on.  Some of us wear a pair of blurry ones, some too clear, and some are just about right. What do I mean?

I have met a lot of people who are either too negative or too optimistic.  I don’t judge, I’d tell you that. I’d take the person as he is and get to know him as time unfolds.  Talk about being a realist.

I wasn’t born a realist, but I think I became one as I navigated my way through pleasant and unpleasantness experiences.  If you’ve read past articles that I wrote, ( https://sundaewrites.com/it-all-burned-down-to-the-ground/ , https://sundaewrites.com/the-bitter-pill/, https://sundaewrites.com/make-room/, https://sundaewrites.com/closed-doors/),  I’ve shared an empowering question that most of us fail or fear to ask ourselves. The question of “What Now?”.

This sort of examination is so freeing and empowering as it gives us the courage to let go of what used to be, what we had or have lost in the past, and opens our eyes to the present along with the possibilities that are out there, things that we can hope for and realize. This brings me back to the first three words you’ve read in this piece- “Ride it out”.

Let these words sink in.  Yes, days can be difficult sometimes, just like the weather. But imagine yourself as water, making your way through a river. Surely you will hit rocks but still, you’d flow your way around it. You go on and on, to wherever your strength could take you. 

Next time when you feel like you’re down and weak, don’t feel too bad about it. Don’t sulk in tears. If you must, allow yourself to cry or frown. Feel the feeling, experience it, but not for long. At one point you have to tell yourself, “That’s enough”. You have to pick yourself up and move on.  Others say, “Fake it ‘till you make it”,  but I say, “Fake it ‘till you BE it.- all in a positive context.  Emotion follows motion. Smile and leap instead of walk.  Trust me, you’ll be surprised by how different you’d start to feel.

Light up my friend. Never let a gloomy day or a losing moment, weigh you down too much or too long. It happens to everyone even to the best of the best. Life is too short to let yourself get stuck in that one moment forever. Again I say, ride it out!


Don’t Get Too Hooked Up On The Future

This week, I’ve spent an extra day at home with no special plans. I meant it to be a lazy day. It’s good to have a break every now and then, with no deadlines to beat.  The luxury of time, some may call it. A brief pause from everything.

I didn’t set any intention that day.  Around afternoon I listened to K-love (my favorite station) and all these christian songs started to fill my room.  For a brief moment, my thoughts wandered around what ifs.

I believe most of us get caught up with the uncertainty and mystery of the future. We get so engrossed in “what ifs“ rather than “what is”, in “what could be” rather than “what is now”. That is why the magic of the present gets lost so easily.  

The Journey or the Destination

A lot of influential people in the world, including lifestyle gurus, life coach, and motivational speakers advise us to focus on possibilities, the idea of what can be or who we can be. While it is good, I hope we don’t lose sight of the journey just because we are too fixated on the destination.

We all have these hopes and desires for our future, right? We dream about them, fantasize about them, but only a few of us put in the work.  We avoid discomfort, difficulties, struggles, and sometimes we even avoid change. So I think the big challenge here is for us to embrace these things instead of avoiding them. To love putting in the hours, the effort, the attitude, knowing  that, we are in the process of becoming- the person we want to be, the person that we can be.

Fear of the Future

While some are excited about the future, the rest of the world fears it. Fear of losing a job, a title, a house, an investment, a business, or losing someone close.  Such fear also takes us away from the present- –  what we have now or who we have, or what we can do. I think the challenge is for us to not be paralyzed by fear, and to let go of control:

  • controlling what is uncertain and 
  • controlling things that are not really up to us,

Rather, we can focus on the next best thing that can be done in our present circumstances.

Final Words

If you’re constantly chasing rainbows, you’ll miss the beauty of the rain. If you always set your eyes uncovering the mystery of tomorrow, you will miss the ones that are willingly unfolding before your very eyes, right here, right now.

My friend, don’t get to hooked up on the future. You’re here now. Make the most of it.