I had always believed in the power of making sacrifices for others. I observed this with my parents, as they didn’t get along so well but decided to stick with each other while we, their kids, were still dependent on them. I saw how difficult it was for both of them. Their children were their top priority, like most parents do. However, I saw how they struggled. I knew, not because I observed it, but also that both of them were very much open with me about their feelings. They forgot that I was still young then to be able to understand them deeply but I listened every time they share and asked questions. I think they appreciated it.
As an outcome, unfortunately, I became scared and untrusting. I could tell how difficult it was for my previous relationships to deal with me because I was difficult. I had so many assumptions about the other person to the point of paranoia. I never trusted words and often was critical even over good actions shown. I would always get hurt by the spite of their words, and there were times, by how physical they could get. However, I’d stick to the relationships for as long as I could because at that time, I believed that it was my way to show love. I sacrificed my happiness and their freedom because it was my only language of love. In the end I got tired, stuck in huge debts and broke not by my doing; also lost my business, my work got impacted badly and worst, I have had series of wrong decisions thereafter. It was not healthy at all- physically and mentally. I developed eating and sleeping disorders. I was always depressed because I knew, in my mind and heart, that I wasn’t doing it right and wasn’t caring and loving for myself.
My solution was to only engage in a commitment with myself and not with others. I just focused on how I could fix my messed up life and how I could be a better person for myself, for others and please God. I locked myself up for a day, had music on, candles lit, had a pen and notebook on my hand and just listed down what I want to achieve in my life. I identified what I needed to stop doing and start doing. I meditated through prayers. I talked to God. I talked loudly so I can hear myself too. I cried. I cried long and hard. To the standard of the society, I was insane that day but truthfully it was the best day of my life as I found my mission (of which I am writing a book for).
I started reading all the self-help books I could grab. Few of my favorites were: “The Alchemist” by Paolo Coelho, “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela, “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell, “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren, etc. I also started writing down my thoughts in a small notebook that I’d carry around everyday. It helped me capture great thoughts and realization along the negative thoughts that would sometimes pop in my head. I read the Bible daily. I’d pray first that He talks to me and I’d reach for it every morning before I’d go my daily grind. I often go to coffee shops or parks to watch people and observe my thoughts and write them down. I love having chats with anyone who is also interested with talking about life, science and spirituality. I learned how to sketch which led to my leadership blog (Leadership Project) where I would sketch portraits of the leaders I feature with a blog of how they lived their lives and inspire other people.
Music healed me. I told a dear friend who had a daughter that if there is anything she could teach her daughter to survive the challenges of the future, it would be to (1) learn how to pray and (2) learn music or art. Something about art and music that will help you forget the noisy and harsh world and learn to focus on one beautiful thing. It always comforts and warms the heart. I learned chords on the keyboard. I remember, I bought a very cheap keyboard that had bad sound quality but it got me through the sad days.
I had God, writing, music, family, chosen friends and myself- I was the happiest. I began to know myself more and stop trying to be someone else. I began to appreciate myself. I began to discover more about what I can do and that made me truly happy. I have summed up my tips below and I hope that it will help you.
TIP #1: FORGIVE AND BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF
You are not perfect. You can never be. That is not how you were designed to be. If you committed mistakes, know that it is a milestone. You committing a mistake leads to a whole new horizon in your brain, knowing what you know now from the mistake you committed. Be patient with yourself. Nobody will but you. You are a work in progress. You have to accept that you were wrong and know why you were wrong and how you are going to change it. Abraham Lincoln ran for the senate twice and congress twice but didn’t win until he ran for president. He was one of the great leaders United States of America ever had. Your time will come and while we are still waiting for the moment, we sharpen our saw. Know that the key learning you gathered will benefit other people if you share about it. People no longer need to experiment, you had been there, you can tell your story and spare them from committing the same mistake.
TIP #2: TRY NOT TO GET ANGRY
During my high school years, I was blessed to be closed with one of the nuns at school. I adored her so much. I would go to her every after school and we’d either practice songs or just talk, along with my other classmates who were also close to her. One afternoon she told me that someone had hurt her and it was sad. I quickly asked, “why didn’t you get mad?” Her answer shocked me and remained with me forever. She said that getting angry will not change the situation, but what can heal her is to spare herself from getting angry as it is stressful. It struck me as it was totally new to me. I have seen my father and teachers getting mad at any mistakes we did so I thought that it was the proper reaction when someone had done wrong.
In college, while I was in my Physiology class, I learned that strong emotions are stressful to the body and stress is the number one cause of many illnesses we know, like cancer. If we loved ourselves and valued our health, we must first breathe and exhale all the negative emotions in our body. Air provides oxygen to your brain and will allow you to think clearly. Try to understand where the other person is coming from. Try to understand what led to the mistake. If you got angry at someone you may possibly break the person, instead of building the person up.
TIP #3: KNOW YOUR PURPOSE
Knowing your purpose allows you to fine tune your focus. It also helps you avoid experimenting on many things when you can just put your time and energy onto 1, 2 or 3 things you are passionate about. Knowing your purpose will pave the way to a greater appreciation and gratitude over the life you live. You feel that you belong to this world and that you matter.
Try to see what you are good at. It is something that you love to do and that you’re happy to be able to do for the rest of your life. However, life is not only about the life you live but more so with the life you live for others. Given your interest, you ask yourself about how can others benefit from it. Do you make them feel happy or do you inspire them to also find and pursue their purpose? Do you help them hone their skills relevant to their job?
You will feel fulfilled and happy in knowing that you are able to help. It is the best feeling ever. This bliss is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
TIP #4: STOP COMPARING YOURSELF WITH OTHER PEOPLE
The beauty about knowing your purpose is that you will have a deeper understanding of what your life is about and why you live your life the way you live it now. You will want to change what you need to change to achieve your purpose. The truth is that someone will always be greater or lesser than you are but even that can be subjective. If I want to achieve a minimalist life then greater would mean having less! Spare yourself from the detrimental feelings like jealousy or envy, greed and depression, focus on yourself and what you were born for.
I remember one conversation with my father in my younger years when I told him that I wanted to be a scientist. He said not everyone can be doctors or scientists. Someone has to till the land and plant food for people. Someone has to sweep the city streets or defend the country from enemies. He was right. We can’t be all super stars. However, we have heard of stories people living a poor life but were rewarded of their great contribution to the society. This is what matters the most. This is what life is all about. Your calling is unique and the only measure of your success is how you define success.
TIP #5: TAKE SPIRITUAL RETREATS
Retreats help you pause from the buzz of life and just stay in a place where there are people who could guide you in assessing how your life had been and then heal the wounds that came along with it. Just be in a quiet place to pray, heal and love again. Every time I came back to the real world from my retreat, I feel as if I was reborn and that another updated version of me had come out.
You can search online about the schedules of retreat programs in the retreat houses near you. Take one every year or one in two years. Also, search for leadership programs that focus on self-leadership. This is the best investment you could give yourself. The learning is lasting, it cannot be stolen and it flourishes through time.
Self-worth was something I struggled with. It was difficult for me to share my light to people because of fear of judgment. I found this quote and Bible verse that gave me strength.
Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. MATTHEW 5:16
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”Marianne Williamson
I have been blessed to be married with someone who is great but was on wheelchair then, who used to be a successful Engineer and had so many aspirations and things he wanted to create and share but couldn’t because of limited mobility. He made me realized that I have an able body so I have got to optimize my capacity. It was then when I started blogging, sharing music to people and creating contents for my YouTube channel, Projects by Fran, so I could share my light and my Creator is glorified.
I hope this helped you. God is faithful.
Check out this video I made.