Category Archives: advice

Have the Conversation and Don't Bottle up Stuff

Sometimes keeping the peace means having a difficult conversation to get some things off your mind. It takes courage but the weight that falls off after the conversation is a thing of wonder and beauty. This is self-care because bottling up things inside cause stress levels to rise. Most of us are wary of approaching someone who has offended us in some way to have that conversation. However, if you are anything like me your attitude towards that person will reflect your feelings. These feelings can weigh on you if it is someone you truly care about or see regularly.

How to Prepare for and Approach the Conversation

Pray. Ask God to give you the right words and attitude to effectively convey your points. If you go into the conversation angry and hostile the outcome will not be good. It’s important to show respect for the other person who has wronged you. After all, ‘two wrongs don’t make a right.’ Treat others with the grace you expect to be treated with. I know this is the last thing we want to do but doing what we want to do, in the heat of the moment is counterproductive.

Write down the things you want to address. Approach this formally since it helps to ground you. Also know that you will need to be bold and make eye contact with the person. It is also important to meet privately if it is a friend or relative. For coworkers, for example, get a third person in the room. This is important for accountability. Ideally the person should be in a position of authority and neutral to best serve both of you.

If you can, get to the room before the meeting starts and do some deep breathing exercises and pray to keep a calm composure. Remind yourself about how you would want to be treated if the shoe were on the other foot.

How to Engage in the Conversation

Get to the point. Start off with the person’s name, make eye contact and state why you asked for the meeting. Ask to be allowed to say all you have to say without being interrupted and wait for confirmation on this. Then speak calmly and moderately while making eye contact. If you are someone prone to being nervous in such situations keep a pen in your hand to help with this. Twirl it or do something to help you get through.

Allow the other person to also speak uninterrupted and really listen. You may be surprised to know that in many cases they didn’t mean to offend you and may even be unaware that they offended you. THIS IS WHY THE CONVERSATION IS IMPORTANT INSTEAD OF BOTTLING UP FEELINGS. Believe me, I am talking from experience.

Being Afraid of Confronting Others Sometimes only Gives you Stress

Confrontations are never good. We often think of speaking with someone about something they do to us as confronting them. I see confrontation as approaching someone in anger to try to right a wrong. This is something that often causes more issues.

I believe it is important to approach an individual respectfully, to have a mature/grown conversation about something they have done to you. Timing is key, so we often need some time to cool off before we can do this. We encourage kids to talk it out. We know communication is important in intimate relationships to resolve disputes. Why is it then that we learn to be afraid of telling someone they have offended us? There are some things that can’t be let go of easily. A five minute conversation can do a world of good.

I did this recently and it did a world of good for my peace of mind. Interestingly, we both got to find out things about each other that we did not know. In addition, we also understand our boundaries better. This is self-care in action.

Instead of bottling up stuff, try having a conversation to clear the air. Even if the other person isn’t receptive you gain peace and that is paramount.

How are you Working on yourself to be your Best you?

Working on yourself to be your best you doesn’t only pertain to academic pursuits. It is wonderful to get different certifications and equip oneself for different opportunities. Here I am talking about focusing on the intangibles that pay you an a deeper level.

Do you love yourself? Do you also like yourself? Being the best you requires that you answer to these questions in the affirmative. If this isn’t the case then you should do the work needed to get to the place where you state an emphatic “yes!” to these questions.

So, you are in love with who you are and you like yourself, lovely. I do too, as we all should.

Do you like how you communicate with others? Do you walk away from an encounter feeling frustrated that you couldn’t get your point across? Do you know how sometimes, it is only after having a conversation that you know what you should have said? Listen to really hear what is being said, do not rush to answer, give yourself a few seconds to frame your thoughts and deliver them appropriately. With practice this becomes easier to do. It is quite a task to control our emotions especially in heated moments. Explaining yourself clearly in different settings is something worth mastering.

Do you find it hard to say no to others? If you do, take some time to assess who you find it particularly hard to say no to. Be honest with yourself and try to get to the bottom of why this is the case. Often this stems from a fear of disappointing someone who you think will form a negative impression of you. The people in our lives who care for us will understand when we tell them no sometimes. If you only say yes to someone every time because you feel pressured, that is something you need to work on. Every time you say yes to doing something in your free time, you may be saying no to yourself. Therefore, the things you say yes to should interest you.

I know exercising and being active is of vital importance for me to be my best self. Since, I enjoy being a couch potato after being on my feet most of the day, I walk the 1.3km to and from the train station everyday instead of taking the bus. I also take the stairs in the station and forego the escalator. Every little bit helps. In the same way, I try not to eat too much crap and eat light in the evenings. Fruits, veggies, nuts, beans and water are staples. Chicken makes a cameo appearance once in a while and fish has its time to shine. I really like grilled salmon. My body feels good fuelled by these things. When I cheat and eat some other stuff my body sure protests.

Are you an empathetic person? Do you try to help others as needed? I know we can’t help everyone. It is easy for some people to give others money to help them but not their time. Everybody is busy in this fast paced world. Being your best you may mean giving more of your time to others. Meet friends and talk without distractions. Set aside 30 mins to call up someone, schedule it if needed. In certain places where people have all their material needs met, the gift of someone’s time can be precious.

How are you working on yourself to be your best you? No one is perfect. Each day is an opportunity to improve in some way. Something as simple as deciding to change your outlook on some things in your life is a step closer to being your best you

We are all works in progress and by being intentional we can become who we want to be day by day.

Develop the Habit of Spending Quality Time Alone; it’s Self-care

“You live alone!? Don’t you feel lonely?”

Many a conversation has this interjection because the person to whom I am speaking, discovers I live by myself. It happens quite often. (Perhaps it’s a cultural thing here.)

Is living alone synonymous with being lonely?

I wonder if people realise that you can live with others and still be lonely. Loneliness and being alone aren’t two peas in a pod.

Some people like being alone and may even need this for their sanity. There are also others who thrive on being with other people and still others who fall somewhere in the middle. At some point we will be alone. Being alone is great for taking time to develop yourself. Here are some positives from spending time alone:

  • You learn to hear your own thoughts and take the time to reflect and unpack things mentally. This gives clarity and helps you to learn important things about yourself.
  • You take time to do things that help you to rest. This is, if you learn to enjoy the times when you are alone. I mean, to just lie in bed and scroll through the internet or read a book or just be. I gift myself this opportunity on the weekend. It’s self-care.
  • Write down some goals and plans.
  • Dance, sing, clean, cook, take yourself out or just do whatever you want to (responsibly of course).
  • Develop a routine to pamper yourself in your alone time. This is self-care.
  • Go on a retreat by yourself to unwind and relax.
  • You can work on creating a peaceful atmosphere in that time as you de-stress.
Taking it slow…

Indulging in self-care doesn’t mean spending a bunch of money. Something a simple as taking a bath or lying on clean sheets at the end of a long day or eating that meal that hits the spot, soothes you. It’s nice to enjoy being alone at times. If you can’t be at peace when you are with yourself how can you be with others I wonder?

Being alone can be addictive. It’s good to strike a balance.

What do you Need to Stop Procrastinating about ?

Procrastination is really the thief of time as the adage goes. I mean there are so many sayings cautioning us not to procrastinate but alas we do it. What are you procrastinating about? Why do you procrastinate and what do you need to stop procrastinating about?

All of this is easier said than done. However, the first step begins with honestly facing up to what makes you procrastinate about that one thing? You know that thing that you want to do but leave it hanging…

Are you afraid of failing? Remember failure is a part of the process to learning and growing.

Are you afraid of being vulnerable. Pray about it and try to step out in faith.

Is it that you don’t have the finances necessary to bring this thing to life? How about sharing the idea with someone who may be able to help by investing in your dream?

Write the book, or finish it in my case.

Research, plan, save and go after the new job/career etc.

Do some free online courses to learn about how to run and manage a business if it’s your calling. Platforms like Coursera and Future Learn, offer loads of courses from different universities around the world for free in some cases. Spend some time investing in your dream in this way and less time on social media.

Sometimes you have to do some things without knowing how it will all end. This is faith at work. I remember a few years ago I was just not liking the atmosphere of one place where I was working. I took to applying for different jobs. interestingly, the job that on the surface seemed to pay the least worked out to be the best with a good salary. I am happy I took the leap. I caution you to save and have a buffer while enjoying life, to enable you to do something like this.

Some people want to travel but put that off usually because of money. This is valid. However, you can have a ten year plan where you save as little as $20 – 30 USD a month for a dream trip. Do the math. The trick is to think about how much a trip like that would cost in that period of time and start saving for it now. Have a separate account and let it mount up. Even if it takes more than ten years, your reward will be the dream trip.

You may be at the stage where your first step to stop procrastinating is to write down your ideas, goals, dreams etc. Put it somewhere so you can see it often and remember it. You will be more likely to do something about it. Also, don’t be shy to ask for help. Speak to people who can help and know that yes, someone may not be open to helping but keep knocking on doors.

Keep pushing and going after what you want. Life is best lived as an active participant in your own life. No one else can do your life like you can. Fix your eyes on your path and don’t be distracted by what others are doing. What’s yours is yours and vice versa. Rejoice with others and don’t cultivate envy… nurture positive thoughts especially when things seem to be falling apart. Again, this isn’t easy but it’s worth it in the long run.

The Importance of Reflecting as you Look Ahead

As a teacher, I talk with my students often, about the importance of reflecting, as they go throughout their time in my class. There is often much focus on looking ahead to accomplish different goals and dreams. There is also merit in taking the time to reflect and look back as we prepare for what’s ahead.

What are some merits of reflecting?

One thing that reflecting does is to show us how we have grown. This can be physically or mentally; let’s focus on mental and emotional growth. I am gratified to see my growth in these areas. I can look back at past relationships, experiences and things that were very hard spots in my life. I have grown through them and learnt how to be a better me. I have developed and honed my critical thinking skills and effectively manage how I react to different people and situations. When you look back at your life, how have you grown?

I am learning to be content with where I am in life. I don’t have all the things I desire but when I see what I have accomplished in the last few years, I have peace. I am reminded that I have what I need and different things come at different times. This also reminds me that I will look back at where I am now and see some changes as time passes by. I tell myself be patient, remain hopeful and keep moving.

I also learn to value the people I have around me now because they may not always be here. I lost my mother a few years ago and I am glad I went to be with her often, though I live on the other side of the world. There is nothing like spending time with those near and dear.

Reflecting also helps me to remember that things may seem hard now but time will pass. Like the other unpleasant things before, they won’t last forever. My response to them and how I handle them is what is important.

I remind myself to be open-minded, flexible and positive despite what is happening in my environment.

Reflecting as you look ahead

Reflect to seek out the positives and negatives that you have learnt from life. Use this knowledge to prepare for the future. Know how you approach and deal with different situations and people in the past. Be proactive and think about how you can make necessary changes to benefit you as you look ahead.

Mistakes are great learning opportunities. What can we learn from some colossal mistakes to avoid pitfalls as we forge into the future? This can be anything from spending crazily at certain times of the year to trying different diets; just about anything. One mistake I made was to have developed the habit of buying clothes just because they are on sale. Have I learnt from the folly of my ways? I sure have. When you live in small Japanese apartments this can be quite a nuisance, so I have cut back on that.

From reading this blog, you have probably noticed that I am passionate about living on a budget and being debt free. I reflect quite a bit on how I spend and think about how I can save and reward myself more meaningfully. Travel is my extravagant hobby, so I make certain concessions for this. I travel differently now than I did a few years ago because though I enjoy it, I have other priorities like saving for retirement. You are never too young to begin saving for retirement.

Take time to reflect to understand yourself more, make some changes to benefit yourself moving forward and to see your growth. There are far more benefits to reflecting on your life as you plan for what’s ahead. I hope you’ll enjoy these as you reflect.

Keep Long Held Dreams Smouldering, Don’t Give up on Them

Do you have a dream that seems to become dormant as time passes?

Is there a dream you have that you are afraid of pursuing because it seems too big?

Has life just come and made you forget to dream or keep going after a dream you have had for a while?

Keep your dreams smouldering. You may have to expand the dream or tweak it in some way but look for ways to feed the fire for your dreams. A dream dies only when we lay it to rest.

Learn to unpack that seemingly impossible dream and look at it with new eyes. How can you shape it so that you can accomplish it step by step. Remember to look at how to build something you dream of and not only think of the final product. Dream, research and plan well to enjoy success. Remember to season your expectations with time – some things take time.

Do you want to go back to school, travel the world, start a business, live abroad or whatever other dreams you have? What’s holding you back from pursuing this dream and breathing life into it? Knowing this, is the first step to bringing a dream to life. Interestingly, many of us never take practical steps to birthing a dream before giving up on it or trying to do so.

There are some dreams though that take hold and won’t give up on us. We try to tamp down this dream and live around it but it is there smouldering. That one may be the very one to pursue. Don’t let fear hold you back or thoughts of what others will think. I know sometimes a lack of finances may be an hindrance. However, we should find ways to cut back and save up to pour into such a dream or find a side hustle to get funds to invest in it. Dare I even suggest borrowing a modest loan with a low interest rate to use for this purpose? Think about it.

Finally, never stop dreaming. It can be a simple thing such as wanting to be more active and outgoing. The dreams that I am talking about here aren’t fairytale things. I am talking about goals, short term and long term that add value to your life. Essentially, at every stage of life we ought to build on old dreams or generate new ones as we grow.

Go ahead, take the first step to bringing that smouldering dream to life. Do the research, set a timeline and map out different paths to bring it to fruition. We often think, “what if I fail, but what if you fly?’

Slow Growth is Growth, Go at your OWN Pace

We all have dreams and goals as well as aspirations. There is nothing wrong with having lofty ones as well as small safe ones. We also want to accomplish or fulfil these at specific points. Unfortunately, life often has different twists and turns that may mess with our timelines. This means that we may not be where we thought we would be and certain points. As a result, we may feel disappointed and even lose motivation sometimes. What do we learn at these times?

Even when we do not meet certain goals on our timeline we are growing. It may not be in the way we envision and we may not be ticking off the goals we want to, when we want to, but…

How about other positive things that are happening that are helping you to mature and be a better you?

What can we learn through reflection about things that do not happen on our timelines? Embracing this is a part of growing. Something as simple as being flexible and changing how you view that situation is beneficial.

Remember to go at your own pace and remind yourself of this, when you feel like you are not where you want to be. Each person has his or her own journey. It’s so easy to forget this from time to time amidst expectations set out by society, family friends and even yourself. Give yourself a break. Applying that mindset when needed is a a part of personal growth.

Be on guard about mapping your timeline based on what others are doing or have done at a certain time. They are not you. You are not them. There is much growth in moving forward amidst disappointments and the unexpected events that delay dreams and goals coming to fruition.

There are some things that you can accomplish by yourself just by being disciplined and working hard, yes. There are others though that you can’t control – even though some people tend to differ on this. I am talking specifically about finding a committed partner for marriage and the ability to have kids and do so at a particular time or at all. It’s best to be open-minded and live life fully. Unfortunately, many people allow these disappointments to take away from the beauty of their lives.

My growth and the pace at which I grow looks different from everyone else’s. That’s life. Focus on finding another way to accomplish a dream. Embrace singleness, being childless or adopt a child (I know this sounds simplistic but getting into this mindset brings so much peace).

If you get nothing else from my diatribe, remember slow growth is still growth. Keep going and learn to be content where you are as you plot about how to move forward. Go at your own pace. This is something I remind myself of often. We all do well to remember this.