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Embracing Your Most Painful Memories Can Empower You

Embracing Your Most Painful Memories Can Empower You

Today I met and chatted with a woman who is what I call an “old soul”. You know how sometimes you meet someone and when you look into their eyes, you can tell there is so much depth to them? They have the biggest smiles and can light up the whole room with their radiant energy, but deep down, if you look close enough, there is a lot of pain. “Old souls” are said to have lived many lifetimes, full of wisdom and hearts of gold. I honestly think I was meant to chat with her.

She probably has no idea. but she has inspired me to write this article. I always talk about how tomorrow is never promised and we can’t take life for granted. Well, I gotta practice what I preach and stop waiting for the right moment. I need to make the moment right and grab the bull by the horns, so here goes.

Where I came from

Now I know there are a lot of other people on this planet that have been through hell and back and are still experiencing circumstances a lot worse than I can ever imagine, but seeing I am spilling my inner most thoughts to the world, I may as well have the courtesy to introduce myself properly and  allow you to get a better understanding of my background and where I’ve come from. I was born in Manila, Philippines.

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My parents weren’t exactly rich or even well off. Safe to say we were considered “lower class”. I still remember being 3 years old and terribly hungry. I was with my Papa and there was no food to be had. All we had in our shoe box home (imagine a tiny tin shed that barely even fit a car), was a bowl of rice that had been sitting there for days. Millions of ants crawling through it. My stomach was eating itself and as much as I didn’t want to eat the rice, I was famished. As I am writing this, I can remember the feeling of the ants crawling around in my throat. My mother worked hard and eventually brought me to Australia. I’m extremely grateful for all she had done and so unbelievably blessed that I have been able to grow up in such a wonderful country. The culture change at first was tough, but I settled in fine. I lived a pretty normal life.

It wasn’t until I was fourteen that my life took a turn. Life as I knew it changed for me at this age. Everything I knew was turned upside down. To try and fit most of it into one sentence, I have lived on the streets, couch surfed, stayed between multiple friends’ homes, been raped, molested, found myself in some very abusive relationships, been a drug addict, stripped, tried to commit suicide a few times and there was even a time my heart stopped beating and the doctors actually declared me “dead”. This was due to the night before when several men gang raped me and had put too much Rohypnol aka roofies into my system, causing my heart to stop. I actually still remember the out of body experience I had when I was supposed to be “dead”, but that is another story. Actually now I think of it, I’ve escaped death quite a few times. My time ain’t over yet! Lol.

Understanding who I am now

Now in saying all of that, I am not your typical case of “girl with messed up issues”. Only a couple of extremely close friends know this about me. Some of my close friends don’t even know any of this. My family have only just started to learn a small portion of what happened to me all of those years. Any one that knows me now would not even guess that I had been through half of the things I have. They would say that I’m bubbly, outgoing, and full of life. It took me a long time to come to terms with everything that has happened.

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It took me falling down on numerous occasions for me to wake up to myself. Looking back, I never did see the light at the end of the tunnel, there were times I just wanted to give up. I never thought I was worth much and it has been a journey to learn to embrace and love myself. As much as some of the things in my past was crazily painful at the time, I can honestly say that I don’t regret a single thing. If it wasn’t for being abused by men, I wouldn’t have the courage and the guts to stand up for myself as I do now. Ask anyone that knows me, I’m a tough little cookie and I won’t take crap from anyone. I know when to keep my mouth shut, but I know when the push comes to a shove. I know my worth, what I deserve and will no longer accept anything less. I have been manipulated by the best and for that I am thankful, as I have learnt to read and see straight through people and their deception.

These days, I choose my friends wisely. Only the genuine, positive and ones that add value to my life are who I spend my time with.  If it wasn’t for knowing what it was like to have nothing, I wouldn’t know how to appreciate the life I have now. I am like a child eating cake for the first time. Little things make me so happy. Watching the sunrise and set makes my heart skip a beat, hearing the waves of the ocean, chasing waterfalls and admiring it’s beauty, strolling by the water, eating a simple meal, snuggling on the couch in the warmth, all of these things that can easily be taken for granted is what brings a smile to my face.

I know what it’s like to be alone and to feel that there is no one on the planet that gives a damn. So when it comes to anyone in need, I am the first to offer assistance. If someone wants to talk about their problems, I will be their shoulder. I know what it’s like to make the wrong choices and do things that other people would frown upon and because of that, I am anything but judgmental. I do not discriminate on race or status.

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Only look back to see how far you have come

I realise we are all flawed in our own ways and that is what makes us unique. It’s a messed up kind of beautiful. Each and every single one of us have a story. We have all felt pain and happiness in different ways. Everything that has happened to us has helped shape us into who we are now. Don’t let the past define you. Take all of that pain, all of those tears, all of those sleepless nights, all of those times you never thought you would get through and use it as motivation.

You made it through, you were stronger than you thought. Use that pain to your advantage, use it to become a better version of you. Use it to win. Not against anyone else, win against yourself. Beat that voice inside of your head that is filled with doubt. You are better than that. Embrace those painful memories, take a second and reflect on how they have shaped you and look at just how far you have come.

You are strong, you are courageous and you are beautiful. How good does it feel to look at how much you have grown? Think to where you were last year, how about 5 years before that? Look how far you have come. Be proud. I think you should feel empowered.

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Don’t you?

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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