As a new year begins, it calls for reflections and I like to set as many personal goals as I do professional ones. Some of these listed below are personal things I’ve either mastered, some I need to remind myself of time and again, and some are mistakes I’ve learned from the hard way. Either way, 2018 was definitely a year of growth more than ever before, and I’m writing this as a reminder to both myself and to my fellow women who could possibly benefit from this. I hope it helps set our minds and our morals on a good path for what I hope is going to be a prosperous year for all of us!
So here we go:
Quit using gossip as a bonding tool.
I’ve had whole entire friendships that were solely gossip-based. Needless to say, those people aren’t in my life anymore and I’m truly ashamed by what I was like when I was around certain people. It’s an irresistable habit at times, but it’s a terrible one, and I always feel SO BAD afterwards, yet the damage is done and I’ve sent out that bad karma already. Yeah, life stories get juicy, but that juice, that tea, is not ours to spill. If you find you’re in company that encourages majority gossip, it’s time to re-evaluate your relationships. Strong friendships discuss ideas, interests, concepts and things that matter, not the lives of others. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming anyone else for my shortcomings, but some relationships are glued together by toxic habits, and gossip is often one of them.
Measure your success in new ways, not just with money or status.
It may be the fact that you’re working out more, you’ve learnt something new, quit smoking, read more books or in my case, become better aquainted and at grips with my mental health. Having a healthy and happy life is a holistic concept and there is more to it than material or career gain.
Listen to understand, not to respond.
This is something I’ve struggled with my entire life, and I’ve lost friendships, caused hurt and animosity with my inability to do this correctly. My issue is, I’d often respond to someone’s story time with “OMG same here!” or I’d reply with a similar story to theirs where something similar happened to me. The intention is always to relate to that person more than anything else. Relating in a way that shows that person ‘You know what? You’re not alone, I empathise with you.’ However, when we do this to the other person, we’re making their moment about ourselves, we’re taking away from the pain/happiness they may be sharing, we may even be hurting them more. I am unlearning this habit and instead, once the person is done speaking and it’s an appropriate time to say something, I respond with things like, “how did that make you feel?”, “do you need anything?”, “that must have been so cool/terrible/crazy!”. This has had such a positive impact on every relationship in my life. I know a lot of people who do this too, and it’s even worse when you’re two people with this habit trying to have a conversation with each other! I’ve learnt the hard way people need to have their moment, and we need to give them the floor 100%.
Impact matters more than your intentions.
How many times have we said or heard the words, “it was never my intention to hurt you”? The tough reality of that is nobody cares what your intention was. They care about the impact caused. They ended up hurt and it was your fault, even if it was an accident or you were misinformed. All you can do is take responsibility for that action and do what you can to repair the damage, if possible, and apologise of course. So before that happens, it’s important to consider the impact of our actions more than our intentions.
Quit trying to fix it.
I’m a Libra. No matter who hurts us, how much we’ve hurt others out of our own pain, we forgive pretty much everything and anything almost instantly. The problem with that is, it’s easy to expect other people to be the same (and on the flip side it’s not easy for me to recognise when someone is taking advantage of my nature). Also, I hate “beef”, longstanding animosity, fights etc and I always try and fix things quickly because life is short and it goes on. Aside from hating tension in the air, it’s a major anxiety-inducing trigger for me and I often don’t sleep as a result, even on the occasions when I’m the party that’s most in the right! However, that’s disrespectful to the emotional processes of others that they need to go through, we can’t expect people to process things in our way, in our pace etc. Often the age-old “time heals all wounds” is the best remedy, and it’s best to trust that process because rushing it can make things a thousand times worse and cause the other party to lash out even more. If like me, you find “beef” sends you into a panic attack, try and remember to empathise with that person as much as you can, tell yourself it’s just their process and remember it’s not always that deep.
Stop limiting your mind about others.
I’ve said this a bunch of times on social media recently because we all do it. We all refuse to see the bigger picture at times and attribute people’s mistakes/actions to equate their whole entire character. But life, and its people, are not as simple as that, and frankly, we all need to get over it. To be unable to see the good in others is a result of your OWN mental limitations. I’m constantly trying to keep myself in check these days to see people beyond the times they’ve hurt me, or done things that don’t coincide with my way of thinking/doing things. It’s a trying practice, and technically common sense, but it’s so important for personal growth, and one of my many mistakes I have to learn from.
On the flip side, there will also be people in your life who will find your faults/past actions, and hold it against you like it’s all you are, in other words, they will be limiting themselves. They’ll disguise what they’re actually doing (choosing only to see a small image of you) and opt rather to do the most to convince you you’re worthless. Sometimes, you’ll partially ruin your own life by mistakenly believing them.
Sometimes we hurt, and sometimes we hurt others, but you are your better self when you choose to see others as better. You are your better self when you remember not to confuse someone’s limited perception of you/your mistakes for who you TRULY are.
If you can’t afford it twice, don’t buy it.
It really comes down to living within your means. If there is something that I’m so grateful for learning from my parents, it’s the importance of not living off unnecessary debt. We live in an age of social media where everyone is flashing all their great things but not revealing how they got it, or even if they do, it can easily make you feel inadequate. I’ve definitely had my moments of weakness where I feel less-than. Here’s something a lot of people don’t know though; I’ve been driving the same Atos for eight years now, which shocks people when they see it because hey, a fashion blogger needs to STUNT, no? No! As much as I’d love to reward myself with an upgrade, and could definitely afford monthly installments, I’d prefer to buy it cash someday. I don’t want the debt of paying it off because I would never be able to handle that stress. I’ve physically been present when people’s cars and houses have been repossessed, and I just don’t ever want that for myself.
This is not intended to offend people buying on credit – I know debt is the only option for some, and everyone is allowed their personal choices – it’s just a way of life that was instilled in me at an early stage and it’s something I intend to maintain for my own personal peace of mind! As the famous line from Fight Club goes, “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like”. I’m at a stage where that peace is far more important to me than maintaining an image, and that is liberating.
Aim for experiences over things.
Of course things are often nice, necessary and important, but so is living your life. And yes, experiences and things can both be costly, but if you had to choose, which is going to make you smile more when you’re old? This is another reason why, time and again, international travel and all the fun things to enjoy have been more important for my husband and I than buying for example, a newer, nicer car or other material things. I love that before we start planning to have a family, we can say we’ve seen, done and experienced so much as a young, married couple! We won’t have our youth and be childless forever (God-willing). Homes, cars, technology, designer clothing and all those other expensive things will always be there, and there will always be a special and flashy upgrade available, and even when you do finally have “the latest and the best”, very very soon after, it won’t be the latest and the best anymore. The most expensive thing that dates faster than material items is our youth. So as much as you can, and where you can afford it, go out and LIVE with purpose.
Something I like to do occasionally is use Hyperli (previously known as groupon) here in SA and purchase some of their experience deals. That way I get help finding a new thing to do, and I get it for a good deal!
Play the long game.
I’ve learned not to let temporary feelings hold me back from something that can carry the potential for longterm success or happiness. Weigh up your future options before making decisions now, this goes for personal relationships, your career, your health etc. Push past the pain period, this is often what separates success from failure. I always believe in going the extra mile because it’s way less crowded there.
Stay in tune with your mental health state.
Mental health too often comes with the stigma that battling with anxiety or depression must mean the person in question is crazy. Your brain is an organ. It is affected by the foods we eat, the quality of our sleep, our physical activity and so much more. Just like an ailment can affect any other organ, the same can be said for the brain. And it is more common than you would think! It doesn’t make you weak, unreliable or dramatic. On the contrary, it could make you into an overachiever and very successful, albeit unhealthily so.
I can’t believe there was such a long time where I thought I was fine, when actually I really, really wasn’t. It was an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, of all things, that made me realise I had an issue with anxiety, since Kim and Kendall shared their personal battles. I could relate to each one of them, and I realised it really wasn’t normal to feel and therefore act the way that I did.
I now constantly check in with myself when something is affecting me, and I take the necessary steps to get to the root cause and recenter myself. And it’s not easy all the time, but the more I know about it, the more I educate myself about it, the more I talk about it, the more it becomes significantly manageable.
Ditch lukewarm relationships.
The sooner, the better. In 2018 I nurtured newer friendships with people who not only truly support me and celebrate my wins, but are there for me, give me space to grow and have little to no expectations. And yet it is so very real. Relationships and friendships that are great aren’t necessarily about being blood related or who has been in your life for the longest time or who you see often. It matters more who adds value to your energy and your heart. It matters that their love and yours is pure. Once you have that and value who you spend your time with, you will never want to settle for lukewarm again.
Stop shaming people.
We’ve all done it. We all at some point, “just can’t understand” why people don’t think/behave the way that we do in various scenarios. I’ve landed in huge trouble for even somewhat implying a shaming statement! If you want to know if you’re shaming someone for anything, be it the way they dress/act/live/raise their kids etc, ask yourself, are their actions hurting me? Is it any of my business? 99% of the time the answer will be ‘no’, but if you still insist on commenting and judging in a negative way, you’re shaming someone, and you’re contributing to a backward-thinking society. Stop thinking or expecting people to share your vision in their lives. If it’s not affecting your life directly in a negative way, then mind your business.
And that’s about it for now. What was your biggest lesson that you’re taking into the new year? Which one of these resonated with you most?