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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 February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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