Alter Ego

An alter ego (Latin for “other I”) means alternative self, which is believed to be distinct from a person’s normal or true original personality. Finding one’s alter ego will require finding one’s other self, one with different personality.

Wikipedia

The Story

Recently I published an article that was written in a way that is reflective of how I used to write. That’s when the concept of the alter ego came to mind. I think I have lived mine for quite a bit and forgot to return to my old self. I don’t mean to freak you out but allow me to process this for a bit. Let’s call the old self Mist and the alter ego, Star.

Mist is shy, quiet, dreamy, innocent, sentimental, someone who likes to be alone and feels a very deep connection with everyone and the universe.  Of course, Mist isn’t perfect. She’s not confident, not a leader, not outspoken and not making decisions based on what she thinks but how she feels.  This is where Star comes in- vibrant, goofy, extrovert. She knows what she needs to be to succeed in the real world, though like Mist, she has flaws too.

The Realizations

I confided with a friend about these two characters and what came to me were these realizations.

1. I must embrace the fact that I have these two personalities.  That I don’t need to prefer one over the other because both together make up the same Me.

2. Mist and Star do complement each other. It’s not a competition. One takes the lead when the other feels weak or seemingly out of place.

3. They are born to thrive in either of two worlds, the Dream world and the Practical-realist world.

When I look in the mirror now, I am not seeing Mist anymore and I miss her. I must have abandoned her totally and I think that was a mistake because there are things about Mist that I loved and still do.

Having lived my alter ego for years made me feel disconnected. It’s like looking at an old photo and wondering “where did all those years go” and “who’s that little girl and what was she like”?  

Somebody once said, “Read the entire book and pick up only those things that work for you”. 

Going Forward

When it comes to Mist and Star, I think I can embrace and play their own unique strengths, whenever the circumstances call for it. As to their weakness, it’s also part of the package, so I will have to embrace these “flaws” too and work on improving the things I can.

Making peace with this means that Mist and Star can show up whenever they think it’s best for Me. They’d be best friends now, knowing they belong to the same team. 

I am no Psychologist and call me crazy but there are real people who have adopted alter egos too just like our superheroes. Think of Batman, Superman, Spiderman and then think of Lady Gaga, David Bowie, Beyonce. Even writers have done it too, take Charles Bukowski, Ernest Hemingway and Philip Roth to name a few.

Now that I mentioned that, I’m wondering if there’s any alter ego reading or writing in this platform. If there are, well, this is Mist saying “Hi”.

Drifting

I don’t want to wander aimlessly through life, not knowing where I wanna go, not doing what I need to do. I don’t want to waste a lot of years trying to get by an ordinary existence.

This, is my ideal stance. Reality however was a bit different.

I enjoyed myself too much in the past. Most days were spent reacting to things instead of taking charge. This went on and on through my late twenties. I thought I would grow old just like that- a byproduct of luck. Then circumstances changed – –

loved ones lost,

career took place,

people moved on and chased their own big dreams,

while I got stuck in my own little world trying to hold it together.

I loved the idea of things being constant, unchanging and predictable. I resisted everything that atttempted to disturb my familiar state. I guess we all did at one point in time. We built our own walls and thought it will never crumble only to realize we’re actually disrupting our own growth.

When you stay too long in what’s comfortable, you start to feel just like that, comfortable-

too afraid to see the outside world,

too afraid to try anything new,

too afraid to start again,

to afraid to rebuild something from scratch.

Is this really all? Aren’t we made for something more?

Divine discontent is experienced by most of us. It’s that subtle sense of unrest that’s aching for something true and real to a person and his very existence. When it hits you, don’t ignore. Know what it wants to communicate and act on it. Ultimately, it will connect you to a divine purpose. And that purpose can only be served by no one else, but you!

Today, don’t be afraid to say yes!

Don’t be afraid to fail.

Don’t be afraid to open yourself to the countless possibilities around you.

Don’t be afraid to tread on unfamiliar waters.

Don’t be afraid to discover what you’re really made of!

Live life and fulfill your dreams with the intensity of a visionary,

the passion of an artist,

the joyfulness of a kid,

the gentleness of a child,

and the love of your Maker.

You have been set apart.

Fulfill your destiny.

Make yourself proud.

Make your creator proud!

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.

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! 

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.

How To Discover Your Passion

Some of the people I know are lucky enough to have figured at a young age the things that they’re passionate about.  But for most of us, the journey to discovery wasn’t easy.

A mentor of mine once said that if you’re into music and thinking about learning to play an instrument, you have to experiment with at least one from different classes: percussion, wind, strings, electronic, and determine which one feels more like you. Playing an instrument is supposed to be an expression of the music in you, so you have to pick up one which best translates the colors and shapes you silently see or the symphony that rings beautifully in your ear.



Once you have chosen an instrument, you have to go on full gear. Work on learning and improving your skills and fend off any temptation to be good as well in any other instruments. Good is the enemy of the best. Remember that. Don’t try to be a jack of all trades and a master of none. If you want to command a high level of proficiency at playing one instrument then dedicate all your time, energy and wits to it. That way you get to focus on one thing and one thing only.  This is the way of the champions and the path of the people we call experts in their chosen fields.

Proponents of multitasking teach us to do so many things at the same time. While this may fit in some circumstances like household chores or tasks which are more routine, mechanical or predictable, this won’t work if you want to immerse yourself in deep work. The latter would require intense focus to a point where you are oblivious to the world around you. This is where you get to experience the flowa state where you are no longer outside of what’s happening, rather, you are in it, intricately woven into the fabric of what’s unfolding: the process of creating, learning, imagining and expressing.

The flow, is more like being, instead of doing.  Any deep, meaningful work would give you that experience. If any of your work gets you in the flow that reveals one simple truth- that is where your passion lies, the one thing in this world that’s true to you, that speaks of who you are, what’s important to your soul, and what your very core is truly made of.

Discovering your passion takes a lot of time and a lot of trial and error. But the more you open yourself to possibilities and explore the world around you, the sooner you will find your calling.  Allow yourself to get lost so you reach unchartered territories. Your inner compass will point you home.  You see, passion is like a homing device. It will beckon you like a lighthouse when you’re caught in a sea of options, desires, wants or wishes.

Explore. Get out of your comfort zone and your limiting beliefs of what you can or cannot do. It’s only in the process of discovering, that you will liberate your true self. Once you find your passion, know that it is your gift not only to the world but to your self. So take responsibility to nourish it, hone it, and refine it ‘till it feels like you’re holding ounces of silver in your hands.

In The Zone

Five years ago, I had a couple of friends who would come by my place to jam.  With guitars and portable amps, they would arrive at seven in the evening. We would catch up a bit before kicking off our sort of rehearsal with “Hosanna”, a song by Brooke Ligertwood, and play a couple more pieces. That makes three songs in a row, played and sung on repeat mode. Call it passion in action.

These sessions went on for almost two weeks and every single night, we’d finish past midnight. No breaks but just focused work and the occasional exchange of ideas on how we can deliver better.  My roommate would quip, “You guys are definitely in the zone. Anybody could see it”!

In the zone. Wow! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to experience that every single time?  Unfortunately, we don’t.

Many people don’t get to find their passion as easily as maybe you and I. So for us, we have a responsibility to keep it alive and burning. To have the constant eagerness to strike while the iron is hot. 

 

 

A good friend of mine told me once, “If you stop singing, you’re going to explode. So don’t ever think about quitting”.  She was right. When I did quit, I exploded.  

Letting go of your passion, may not cause you to burst into pieces as fast as fireworks vanishing into thin air. But slowly it will leave you dry, dull and bored. Imagine a canvass with nothing on it, no lines, no shapes, no color, just plain, white, empty space.

 

Yours can be the hand of a painter who could bring colours to life.
Yours can even be the wits of a comic who could make people laugh with peculiar jokes.
Yours can be the words of a poet who could melt any maiden’s heart with a lyrical prose.

 

Whatever that passion is, you are alive because of it. It’s your GIFT, and it will lead you to you’re unique CALLING.  

We are all pieces of a puzzle. If we don’t fit in our piece, the whole puzzle will never be put together. Think about it, in God’s grand design, you are part of it. Quite a responsibility isn’t it? But quite an honor too!

Friend, my desire for you is to find your passion. Nurture it, and share it with the rest of the world.  We’ve waited long enough for you.

 

 

“How do I find my passion”?  You ask.  

Get to know your self.

Explore the many things you’re curious about.

Try. Make mistakes, and fail forward.

Be true to who you are. Stop pretending to be someone else. Stop living somebody else’s life.

Go out there. Get out of your comfort zone.

Get a coach, a mentor or have a role model.

Talk to people you trust and ask them what they think are you good at.

Take heed of compliments freely given to you.

Fill a gap, a void, a lack, or solve a need, a problem, or answer a call.

And to nurture it? 

Find your tribe.

Focus on your WHY.

Yes, it’s always hard at the start. There are many roads out there and it can be confusing and frustrating. But the one who searches, the one who looks, will have increased his chance of finding his true north.

 

Passion. Let it burn you. Leave a glow or better, dazzle the world!

 

Why Care About A Morning Ritual?

It’s important.  At first, I wasn’t a believer myself. But as I got older, life became more demanding. I realized then that we have to be more intentional of our days instead of allowing others to rule it for us. This is where a morning ritual comes in. You have to set up the tone for the day. It’s more like conditioning your mind, body, and spirit before embarking on the day’s journey.

Morning rituals can differ from one person to another. Designing it should correspond to your need. For example, If you’re days are stressful, you might want to start your day with some relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation. If you feel spiritually weak, then maybe you can dive into your Bible or tune in to a Christian radio station first thing in the morning.  If your typical day, however, involves more physical action, then maybe you can go for a run before the dawn breaks to pump up your adrenaline. 

 

Most people would combine these morning activities with things like having a healthy meal, share meaningful conversations with loved ones, or goof around with kids, anything that sets up a positive mood or fills the air with positive energy. Of course, doing these entails waking up early, which further means not resisting an early nightcap.

Some people start the day planning and writing down priorities.  That way, no matter how chaotic, busy, or demanding the day goes, they go to work with a strong intention and commitment to accomplish what they have set out to do.  This allows them to end their day with a sense of fulfillment.

Morning rituals would do us good especially during these times when most people are stretched out to thin. With lots of responsibilities and expectations to meet, a sense of balance is getting harder to achieve.  Regardless of what your circumstances are, you have to be deliberate in determining the course of your life instead of going with the flow. Else you will find yourself wondering where the years have gone by. You’d regret knowing you’ve missed out a lot in your own life mainly because you became too occupied meeting other people’s agenda.

You don’t want to fall victim to a busy world and a demanding environment. You don’t want to go through your days completely detached from what you want to accomplish meaningfully for yourself and the people who matter to you.  To truly live, you have to be purposeful, and you have to set out that purpose at the start of each day.  

There’s no blueprint for a perfect morning ritual. You can create it and make some improvements along the way. You have to adapt it to your needs. Discover what works for you and continue doing what gives you results.  The purpose of these rituals is to enhance your life, improve your days, increase the quality of your relationships and fulfill your reason for being.

Now the challenge:  Think about a morning ritual that you can start. Create a simple one that you can accomplish every single day and see how it improves your life.

Once

I never appreciated the value of gratefulness until I woke up one day to realize that in my pursuit of happiness it was the missing piece.

Knowing and being thankful for your blessings is one thing.  But naming your blessing and calling them out one by one in the face of sadness and despair is another.

Lately, I’ve been so absorbed with the discomfort of a body pain. I’ve been dealing with it for years. I would whine about it in my mind and blame it for things I couldn’t do, for my short temper, and intolerance to just about anything. Though I never blurted my dissatisfaction out loud nor acted on the annoyance I get to contend with every day, the inner struggle was real and was taking its toll on me. Depression set in, to a point where I questioned, “Why am I even here if I’m up to no good”. Believe me, it wasn’t always my narrative. At at a young age, I already believed I was special- just like everyone else.

My appreciation of every person as being unique and innately good, made me sought and believe in the undeniable gift that every human being can bring into this world- the gift of being their own authentic self.

But though inherently pure and innocent, we cannot deny the truth that as we grow old, our minds get corrupted, we get tempted, we grow frail, and of course, we retire, for good.  Often times we forget about these realities and wonder why people do hurtful things and make bad choices.  We get worried when we start to feel physically weak and we get drawn into the illusion that our strongholds will always be there, till they betray us or leave us.

A time will come when these truths will sink in and find their way to unsettle our steady hearts. Some realities we can change, and some we can’t.  And because not everything in our lives is perfect we have to take the good with the bad. When bad gets overwhelming, we have to start reminding ourselves of things that are actually working in our lives. Mastering this power will help us focus on what we have, instead of magnifying the things that we lack.

“Once I get that gold medal, I will be happy”.

“Once I get a raise I’ll be more passionate about my job” 

“Once I hit the lottery, I’ll be generous to every person I know.

“Once this sickness goes away, I will work to achieve my goals.”

“Once I have everything I could ever want, I vow to love everyone I meet”.

Conditions. We attached them to promises, to our purpose, and to our goals. But do these conditions need to be satisfied before we start doing the things that we know we’re supposed to do?  What if we remove them and declare that starting now,

“I will be happy”.

“I will be more passionate with my job”. 

“I will be generous to every person I know”.

“I will fulfill my dreams”.

“I will love all the people around me”.

Anything is pretty much doable, don’t you think? Getting rid of conditions we set for ourselves, rewards us with the freedom of making our own deliberate choices, regardless of our circumstances.  And that ultimately defines the person we become.

We can only go as far as we allow ourselves to go. So enough with conditions and excuses. The world doesn’t owe us anything. But we owe one thing to the world- – a better us.

 

Question.

What conditions have you set for yourself? How did it limit you in any way? What big decisions did you make? Share your thoughts. Love to hear from you.