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It’s Okay To Be Unsure About What You Want In Life Once In A While

It’s Okay To Be Unsure About What You Want In Life Once In A While

Perhaps it comes with growing up.

Feelings that used to be simple became a myriad of complications. Directions that used to be clear gradually merged, twisted, and dispersed into thin air.

We used to whistle a tune before we head to work and get there feeling refreshed. Now most of the time we just feel numb. Apathetic, even. Work is dull, boring. We operate like a machine, never sparing more effort than what is needed.

Sometimes we feel drained, exhausted. It ceased to be “us”, and became “you” and “me”. You and I say the same things, only they come without the tinge of love or happiness.

We tried so, so hard to be perfect, and now we are lost, unsure about how to go on.

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We got lost when the harsh reality hit us.

Perhaps we lost ourselves when we stopped believing in the beauty of dreams, stunted by the harshness of reality, the burden of responsibility and locked them up with maturity as the jailer. So we started working at a place that constantly fills us with dread with our red, tired eyes staring back at me from the slightly reflective screen as our fingers flash over the keyboard.

Perhaps we lost ourselves when we started to care less about the person we love. What used to be a time to talk and share was filled with arguments or complete silence. We withdrew into ourselves, staring at the dying embers of love because we don’t know how to rekindle the flames anymore.

I am terrified. We are terrified of these gradual shifts in our lives when things no longer seem to make sense. That’s because deep down, we don’t want to give up. We all want to do something and change. We want to live happier, become someone important and create something of value. That is unanimous.

But taking an initiative could be just as scary. Could you live with yourself if what you did and changed, in the end, was a mistake?

To that, I would say boldly – so what?

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Cheers to our mistakes.

Years from now, we will be more disappointed with the things we didn’t do than the things we did. If we don’t have the courage today to explore, dream and discover new things and choose to stay in the depressing cage we are in right now, then what is the point of living?

Remember what got you here in the first place.

Ask yourself: why did you start doing what you are doing now? Is it because you enjoyed the thrill, the challenge of your job? Or is it because it has a decent pay, good benefits, and everyone else feels like you’re the perfect fit for this job?

“Oh God, the terrible tyranny of the majority. We all have our harps to play. And it’s up to you to know with which ear you’ll listen.” —Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

If you started off being passionate about it, figure out what changed and find out how to take it back.

If you are doing something because it was what everyone thinks you should do and you don’t necessarily agree, then take a deep breath, and drop it. Life is too short to be doing what you don’t like.

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Once you decided to do something, do it till it’s done.

“Don’t try. Do. Or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars.

Commit yourself fully. It is too often that we leave buffer after buffer to make sure we are safe even if we fall. Adult eagles would push their kids down a cliff so they could either learn flying or die. It may sound cruel, but sometimes we need to just close our eyes and learn to take that leap of faith. Whatever it is that you have decided to do, do it cleanly and don’t look back.

It’s okay to be not okay.

Asking for help is often portrayed as a sign of weakness. But who is strong all the time? So many of us mask our insecurities, our fear of being lost and confused with a stony façade and an iron will. Unconsciously, we have pushed the ones who care about us further away with this twisted strength.

But perhaps being weak occasionally is what makes us human. It’s okay to feel unsure about what you want to be. It’s okay to fall and sob. It’s okay to be vulnerable and tender after being hit by a sudden loss.

No one should carry the burden of being strong all the time. So share your story with your family. Shed some tears with your friends. Find your direction with your partner. It’s okay to say “I’m not okay”.

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It’s all about being honest to yourself.

We’ve all been lost and come across crossroads before, not knowing which way is the right way to choose. The thing is, it really isn’t about being right. It’s about being honest to yourself. It’s about doing what you want to do deep inside your heart. It’s about looking at what you have and who you have and be grateful. It’s about being proud of yourself no matter what you chose in the end.

Therefore, there is just one more thing to say –

Good luck.

Featured photo credit: Picjumbo via picjumbo.com

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Eamon Suen

Student, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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