How To Be Successful By Being Yourself

“When you understand yourself, you’re able to navigate the world,”

– Gary Vaynerchuk

Oh but where to begin. One idea. How about getting a bit curious about you. Instead of wondering why others aren’t liking your most recent Instagram post, spend just a little time learning more about what’s going on inside your head.

Here are a few practical questions to kick off the project of getting to know yourself a bit better and here a few deeper ones if you really want to dig in.

  1. What am I good at?
  2. What am I so-so at?
  3. What am I bad at?
  4. What makes me tired?
  5. What is the most important thing in my life?
  6. Who are the most important people in my life?
  7. How much sleep do I need?
  8. What stresses me out?
  9. What relaxes me?
  10. What’s my definition of success?
  11. What type of worker am I?
  12. How do I want others to see me?
  13. What makes me sad?
  14. What makes me happy?
  15. What makes me angry?
  16. What type of person do I want to be?
  17. What type of friend do I want to be?
  18. What do I think about myself?
  19. What things do I value in life?
  20. What makes me afraid?

These questions remind me of The Proust Questionnaire. The Proust Questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature.

So, what helps in the process of opening yourself up to yourself? How about getting out there and interacting with the world.  However, one must proceed with caution.  First we must remove all the emotional blocks and drop all the baggage.  The grudges, the resentment and the anger that holds us back from really connecting. It begins with forgiving those that have hurt us.

forgiveness

Forgiveness is like a breath of fresh air, a lighting of the load you’ve been carrying, a softening of the heart, a soothing of the mind and a releasing of the soul. Compassion follows forgiveness because you have genuinely felt your own pain and getting close to your pain is an excruciatingly freeing experience. This is how we grow to understand ourselves and appreciate others. This is how we begin to truly build relationships.

prime purpse

We connect through truly understanding the human condition. With forgiveness and compassion we have the capacity to feel each others pain and with the right intentions and words, we can help each other release that pain and open up our hearts.

good

I truly believe we are here together for a reason – I mean we work together, we live together, we suffer together, we smile together and we experience each and every moment together.  How could we possibly be so in our own heads?

Our growth expands the closer we get, the great and kinder the connections we make as we move away from the false and painful fantasy of isolation. We are not meant to be alone all the time.

mother

Feeling for our fellow, showing care and concern, warmth, love and tenderness. To be sympathetically conscious of each other.  To hold space for one and another.

The emotional ability to picture ourselves with the same problems in a non-blaming, non-shaming manner.  Reading: Pema Chodron “When Things Fall Apart

On a side note: I am on my seventh day of receiving motivational text messages from a chat bot on Shine Text. It’s a fun way to start the day. Kind of motivating.  Check it out – daily shine. 

final

 

The Benefits of Becoming More Self-Aware & Emotionally Intelligent

educating heart print

Have you ever thought back on some of the most important decisions you’ve made in your life and wondered “What was I thinking?”  I certainly have. When we are reflecting on how we got here, perhaps we should be asking “What was I feeling?”  What state-of-mind were we in, that led to the some of the poor decisions made?

You see, when we make decisions based on emotions from fear and anxiety, we create a recipe for disaster.  Deciding to do something because you are afraid of doing something else or fear you will have no other choices or options at all, will get you absolutely nowhere.

Better decisions are made when you arrive at conclusions with a sense of strength and courage. The outcomes of those decisions will help you grow and evolve with increased clarity and self-improvement. The more thoughtful your decisions, the more quality you will have in your life.    I promise.

feeling

You begin by becoming more emotionally intelligent – while understanding the role that your emotions play in everything you decide to do. Allowing any and all of your emotions to channel the way you move forward is not the best course of action. You don’t just listen to your gut. That is not enough. You must first think, feel, consider all options and then make a plan. A plan to deliberately move in the right direction.

heart

When we make decisions, like where to work, who to marry, who to befriend based on deep-seated emotions of fear, insecurity, and anxiety, we never make the best choices.

Morrison

And please don’t doubt this one bit. The more well-thought out decisions you make today WILL lead to an improved life tomorrow.

deliberate

Bike riding around Greenpoint, Brooklyn yesterday, this quote, in the window of Word, the bookstore, really resonated with me.

audre

Oh and these emotions and feelings we speak of, they are so complicated, aren’t they?

feelings2

So how do we begin to understand our emotional triggers, the things that we feel that scare us, make us feel useless or violated, maybe even shameful and guilty?

Galatea-of-the-Spheres-1952-Salvador-Dali

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in an effective and positive way. A high EQ helps individuals to communicate better, reduce their anxiety and stress, defuse conflicts, improve relationships, empathize with others, and effectively overcome life’s challenges.

Our emotional intelligence affects the quality of our lives because it influences our behavior and relationships. EQ is synonymous with self-awareness because it enables us to live our lives with intention, purpose, and autonomy.

emotions

Why Running Away From Your Feelings Will Keep You Stuck in the Same Place

Running away from intense emotions of pain, anger, and resentment is what we do sometimes.   We numb these feelings with a smoke of this and a sip of that. It’s such an easy way out, but only temporarily.  Why do we stuff our sorrow and run from our feelings? I truly believe not many of us want to feel our suffering, but suffer on we must.

drugs

If we would just consider that inside each moment of suffering is a superb amount of life teaching. A whole world of emotional education to help us grow.  It begins with learning the process and ability to express,  dismantle and adjust as you strengthen your locus of control.

locus

pain

What you need to do is understand that what is actually happening is your world right now and how you feel about it are two DIFFERENT THINGS COMPLETELY.

Life

You must urge yourself to develop the ability to differentiate your feelings from what is actually happening in any given situation.

reality

Life is what it is, not what you think, feel or believe it is. That is just you painting the dark cloud of your emotions on top of the situation and changing it into your story. Your emotions are just a response to what is happening at any given moment, they are not what is actually happening.  Whatever you are feeling about anything, whether it be good, bad, sad or pleased has absolutely nothing to do with what is going on at that moment or what the outcome will be.

It is up to you to understand what issues you have inside that are trigging your troubled (or pleasant) emotions.

product-od-my-decisions

This applies to everything. For example, your spouse may be drinking too much, getting sloppy and lashing out at you. That is what is happening. How you feel about this situation may be sad, angry, frustrated and deeply concerned, which in turn will have you creating a story in your mind. A story of victimization and loss. Those feelings may or may not drive you to do something, but they are not healthy for you.  When you remove your emotional responses, you will realize you have options. You have an option to remove yourself from the pain your spouse is causing you.

The-Dream-Caused-by-the-Flight-of-a-Bee-1944-Salvador-Dali

A Better Way to Navigate Your Emotions

Sometimes it is a good idea to overcome your frightened emotions by meeting them head on in order to improve. This would include things like forcing yourself to speak in front of a group in order to get over the fear of public speaking. Yes, the obstacle can become the opportunity, but on a day-to-day basis, it is wise to do the following as you learn more about how you can manage your emotions.

Know What Triggers Your Emotions

Place yourself in favorable situations and avoid those that trigger heightened responses.

In other words, stay away from people that get your angry, places that make you feel uncomfortable and situations that somehow have the power to upset you. Become more aware of what makes you “fly off the handle”.

Make Things Easier for Yourself

Especially when you are learning something new in the beginning. For instance, if you are trying to learn how to draw, sing, act or run your own business. Look for ways to simplify the process. Make it easy to start.

Implement with Strong Intention & Attention

The key to any transformation (read: change) in your life, is to focus on your intention and attention on what you are trying to achieve. Keep your eye on the goal and don’t let your competitive nature get in the way.  This will help manage things like jealousy and resentment as well as perceived obstacles in your way.

book

Inspired by 10 Things Emotionally Intelligent People Don’t Do 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think by @BriannaWiest

 

Crucifying Ourselves & Rising From The Dread

Four weeks into The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity and I am drowning deep in dark emotional pain. Ugggghhhhh, I have protected myself from this real work for way too long. I knew it would be hard, I have avoided facing the truth about what I really fear for a very long time. Looking for short cuts, life hacks. . .rushing through self-repair is never really possible. And damn it, I knew that.

2ca20e2f1bd5dea323f58f1d9ce321ee

I raise my face to the sky, my mouth wide open, gasping for air. It feels like I am flailing about in the dark, deep cold water, like a helpless, frightened child that has yet learned how to swim confidently through life, exposed to the unwelcome and unknown that I have hidden from myself and the world around me. I do all I can do to avoid facing what is real,  my own dark unknown vulnerable mind.

Let-Today-Be-The-Day

I don’t want to to do this real work. I don’t want to know that I am broken. I don’t care to admit that I am confused, anxious, uncertain, vulnerable, frightened and angry. That’s not who I want to represent me. I want to skip past these ugly emotions. Run from them, crucify them. So what do I do?  I strive too hard to heal. I don’t want to do the real digging, fear-facing work. I don’t want dig too deep into my truth to find a fearful young child who must let got and feel all of these unwanted emotions.

summer

Who the hell wants to do that? Yet, I am inspired by the possibilities, by the words of Albert Camus

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger — something better, pushing right back.”

black-and-white-underwater-nudes-by-harry-fayt-01

It’s not easy being real with myself. It doesn’t feel good to actually observe the thoughts that ruin my plans each day. To actually accept how much pain I feel and inflict on myself each morning, as I awake with feelings of lack, insecurity and an incredibly raw feeling of being very, very lost and uncertain about where my life is going. It hurts me and in turn, it hurts others. Some how, some way, I must bring these feelings along for the ride, learning to befriend the parts of me that I find undesirable.

quote-Fulton-Oursler-we-crucify-ourselves-between-two-thieves-regret-169094

The key to reaching our potential while feeling less shut off and shut down is linked to the ability to be able to see clearly who we are and what we’re doing. Going even beyond that, to the why we do what we do. What triggers our emotions and actions. What pain is behind the purpose.

It could possibly begin with opening up to the Five hard truths you need to accept about yourself.

Our inner critics negatively control the outcomes of our decisions. Our critical and suspicious thoughts place a black cloud and huge road blocks before our well-intentioned plans. We ruin the day before it begins when we don’t become honest with how we really feel and who we really think we are.

Underwater photography by Harry Fayt.

What Are We Meant To Do?

Why do we need one another?

kindness-banksy

What does it mean to be absolutely human?

What is our purpose in this world and how is that purpose related to our responsibilities to each other?

What are we meant for?

What are the deeper things we are meant to do?

11

If you wish your heart to be bright,
you must do a little work.

– from Be Lost in the Call, a poem by Rumi

 

Featured Mutated Swamp Girl by David Choe

Kindness  and 1+1 = love  –  Banksy

Why We Fail to Become Our Best

Doubts don’t kill dreams, delusional thoughts do. Our half-beliefs and uncertain thoughts are trying to tell us something very important and it is our responsibility to listen up and act.

Negative mind chatter

These annoying worries that wake us up early and keep us from moving forward, hold the power to help us grow and become stronger.

While most of us tend to drown out the worry, anxiety and concern, I am interested in finding out what happens when instead of tuning out self-doubt, I give it an ear. What is my self doubt trying to tell me?

self-doubt-illustration

Listening and questioning about my worry and ruminating thoughts of . . .

Guilt.

Do I have my priorities straight? Am I doing what is most important to me? What is best for all? What have I been ignoring? What should I take care of now?

Dissapointment.

How have I let others down? Am I treating others and myself in a caring and endearing way? What have I neglected to do?

Irrelevancy.
Am I continuing to keep up with my skills? Will my work actually effect the lives of others?  Will it make an impact? If not, what might I do instead?
Inadequacy. 
Am I practicing what I preach? Am I as loving, patient and compassionate as I could be?
Undeservingness.
What am I not doing enough of? How can I bring more value? How can I contribute more? Where am I needed?

Self-doubt reminds us that we have work to do. It nags at us -we need to improve.

goethe_quote_doubt_can_only_be_removed_by_action_ceramic_ornament-r52b449071ead46c3b17ae28edcde3f18_x7s2y_8byvr_512

It tells us that we are not finished, that we can and we should try to become more . . .thoughtful. . . honest, intelligent. . .loving, patient, wise. . .compassionate, empathetic. .

The uncertainty and apprehension of self-doubt, the emotions that ride along, that keep us fearful and manifest into worry and anxiety can really improve us. If we listen and take action.

These feelings don’t have to drown us and we don’t have to drown them.

drowning

Yet and while we are at it, we must hold on to some confidence. Anxiety and worry should push us to power on, to move forward and to hone our skills, better our behavior and become an improved version of our former selves. Not break us down.

BUT. . .

self-esteem

First things first, we must cease and desist the ongoing self-delusion.

honest-end

isahia

 

“you think I’m crazy,” she said.

“no,” he said, “you’re not crazy enough”

 

Few people nowadays know what man is. Many sense this ignorance and die the more easily because of it . . . I do not consider myself less ignorant than most people . . . I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teachings my blood whispers to me. My story is not a pleasant one; it is neither sweet nor harmonious as invented stories are; it has the taste of nonsense and chaos, of madness and dreams like the lives of all men who stop deceiving themselves. (Hesse 105)

Hesse, Herman. Siddartha, Demian, and other Writings. Ed. Egon Schwarz. New York: Continuum, 1992.

lies-deception

I am deceiving myself every time I . . .

  • underestimate the amount of time it takes to do something.
  • continue on with conflicting behavior that does not align itself with my ideals.
  • set goals that I don’t yet have the tools, skills or talent to reach.
  • think I got my point across, when I believe I made myself understood but the other person did not listen- did I use the right words, the best tone, how can I command more respect, get others to really listen?
  • tell myself that was my very best – I gave it my all. Push on.
  • blow things out of proportion – thinking that problems are bigger than they really are.
  • make excuses for bad behavior -lashing out, behaving poorly or treating others in a way I would never wish to be treated.
  • tell myself something is going to be easier than it actually is.
  • have an idea, that I think it’s a great idea, even though I haven’t tested it.

living-with

Those who are slow to confess their errors are busy constructing lies to conceal them. – Unknown.

real-eyes

 

 

Sometimes we must detach as we question.
let-go-or-be-dragged
detach
& remain cautiously optimistic, which is fostered as . . .
no blind faith.png
. . .a feeling of general confidence regarding a situation and/or its outcome coupled with a readiness for possible difficulties or failure.

Directions for listening and acting on self-doubt and delusion.

Take inventory. List what must be done and then take deliberate action. Self doubt will dissipate and melt away with each attempt you make, measure you take, routine you practice, habit you build. . .  the stronger you will feel, the more confident you become. Taking action to improve your behavior will soothe away the worry and concern.
Remember it is thoughtful and deliberate action . . .
busy
continue on with dedicated practice . . .
20-deliberate-practice

 

Featured image 

Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach, 1938 by Salvador Dali

Endorsing Our Human Skills

I have become so wildly obsessed with staying on top of technology, trends and the critical skills for my career and profession that I somehow have forgotten about the most important skills of all. Human skills. Hell, LinkedIn should consider endorsements for human skills. Imagine. What does Jane know about kindness? Consideration? Compassion?

Building Trust is a Skill

In the middle of reading Kevin Kelly’s book The Inevitable something really important resonated.  While technological advances in artificial intelligence and robotics will replace many jobs, careers and professions, trust is something very difficult to replace. Trust between you and me. No amount of AI instances can reproduce this in bulk. No you simply can’t cut and paste someone’s faith and assurance.

Human skills. It takes practice and talent to be human. I even wonder if we are born with the essential skills of empathy and kindness or if some of us are just smart enough to learn them.

The Human Skills Workout Routine

Regardless of how we become aware of our human skills, it wouldn’t hurt to practice, to train each day. Much like hitting the gym or a spin session at Soul Cycle we can develop a human workout routine. Unless you are a hermit bunkered down somewhere waiting for the apocalypse to announce itself, than you are given opportunities throughout the day to practice these skills. Some obstacle courses are harder, some weights are heavier. The cranky husband, the entitled child, the angry mom. The nasty passenger on the train. Yes, they are all there for us to develop our human skills and strength.

Oh and how we are blessed with the circuitry currents and tools to practice these human skills.

  • hands to hold on tight
  • hearts to give patiently, freely and compassionately
  • ears to listen intently
  • lips to speak softly and gently
  • a mouth to smile wide at the world
  • eyes to see behind the masks and hardened armor

Empathy is the current that connects us all. To tap into the sympathetic nervous system that is wired to feel each other’s pain.  To feel it effortlessly.

Empathy is the engine that powers all the best in all of us. It is what civilizes and connects us all. For more of this wisdom, listen to Meryl Streep’s 10 Life Lessons here.

Who knows, maybe these skills will even outweigh, out run and succeed any technological disruptions in our lives. The more human you can be, the more sympathetic and compassionate, a human of good character, then the more relevant and necessary you will become.

 

Somewhere along the line, in this thing called life, I believe I have suppressed my true human skills in order to be accepted, liked and maybe even appreciated. Sometimes protecting my heart, so I won’t get hurt. How mixed up can it be. I’ve held back so much in order to attempt to keep the chaos in order. To control things beyond my grasp. Trying to keep the waters calm. This has not served me well.

It is  time to wrangle up the pieces of me for a reassembling. All the humanness that is me. The time is now, to begin again. To retrain my human soul.

Perhaps to even soar.

About the artist.

Born in 1975 in Seoul, Korea, Choi Xooang works in sculpture and installation. 

To Choi, the body is a vessel through which we perceive and express ourselves, and one that provides him with an ideal medium to explore the possibilities of the human condition. What might seem brutal at first glance is actually Choi’s method of dealing with life’s wounds and scars, and even in his most grotesque work, his figures seem to evoke our awe and sympathy.