Why you Should Be Thankful for your Difficulties

How many times have you found yourself cursing for all the bad fortune around you? How many times did you wonder why something had to happen to you? Did you feel sorry for yourself at the time?

If you ask me I would have to answer that it has happened many times. Yes, I have gone through some really hard times in my life. I remember myself crying, complaining to others, feeling sorry for myself for what I had to go through and wondering what I had done wrong to deserve all this bad fortune.

Anyway, I am sure I am not the only one. Actually, I am sure most of you have gone through hard times. Different experiences, different situations, different problems but you went through something. Even if you didn’t, you will. Count on it!

Feeling Bad for Your Difficulties is Normal

Sometimes we might be the victims in one situation and we might deserve, or even seek for understanding and sympathy from others. That is absolutely normal and understood. This is a human need.

“Each one of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm, when we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other and empathize with each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.”

Maya Angelou

Feeling bad when a new difficulty comes our way is normal. Difficulties are in fact challenges that shake our world and make us feel uncomfortable. Sometimes people around us understand how hard this must be to us and even encourage us to continue feeling bad and sorry about ourselves.

Man sitting down on a chair feeling sad

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But, does the fact that our bad response to difficulties is understandable by ourselves and others actually help us?

Don’t get me wrong. We all understand that facing difficulties makes us feel uncomfortable and of course there is no reason to feel happy about it. Doing so would mean that we lose the whole point. That we overlook the problem, show denial and even feel some kind of toxic positivity. None of them is helpful in any way.

Difficulties will Never Stop

One thing is for sure. No matter how much we want to, no matter what we do, we can never avoid difficulties from coming into our lives. One way or another we always have challenges to deal with.

man climbing up rocks

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We have no choice whether we will face them or not because we just cannot escape from them. The only choice we have is how we will choose to deal with them when they show up.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Winston Churchill

Some people choose to step away as much as possible, choose to play the victim, don’t deal with them nor search for a solution.

Some others choose to face the difficulty, embrace the new experience, understand the feelings generated while doing so and grow themselves through this.

Everyone has a choice to make.

You might also want to read “What is the right decision and how to be sure you make one” or “How to Identify Whether You Have Adopted a Victim Mentality and How to Stop Being the Victim

“The future rewards those who press on. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I’m going to press on.”

Barack Obama

Why Facing Difficulties is Important

1. Helps us Become more Self-aware

Going through difficulties helps us to understand ourselves better. We come in touch with our feelings, our true needs and internal strength. We understand who we are, where we are, what we are doing and what we are capable of.

“Expecting difficulties is wise, if that usually gives you the strength to continue, and foolish, if that usually takes away the courage to begin.”

Mokokoma Mokhonoana

2. Inspire Gratitude

When a difficulty appears we have the chance to appreciate everything we have and we were not paying enough attention to. Difficulties sometimes are a good wakeup call to understand all those we are missing when they are just right there but we are far too busy to see.

Man feeling gratitude for life and difficulties

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“When you meet obstacles with gratitude, your perception starts to shift, resistance loses its power, and grace finds a home within you.”

Oprah Winfrey.

3. New Experiences – Chance for Personal Growth

Difficulties are new experiences through which we usually learn new things, grow wiser and stronger. Difficulties come our way and help us evolve to a better version of ourselves.

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.”

Napoleon Hill

4. Identify / Appreciate the Easy

Going through something really difficult helps us to identify the easy when we see it. We will be able to understand when things will get better since they will be easier.

5. Teach Responsibility

To successfully deal with a difficulty we should take responsibility for our actions, our thoughts and our emotions towards it.

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

Michael Jordan

Appreciate the Difficulties

Difficulties in life no matter how hard they are can work to our advantage. Identifying difficulties as challenges and seeing all the opportunities they can offer us can change our way through life. Situations and circumstances will no longer have the same power on us.

stormy day as difficulties in life

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Without difficulties and obstacles to overcome life would be a boring flat line. Life has everything, sunny days and stormy days, pleasure and suffering , beauty and pain. Surviving the stormy days of our life can only make us stronger and ready to enjoy the sunny days to the fullest.

And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.

Haruki Murakami

How Anger Affects Your Life and How to Deal With it

How often do you find yourself getting angry about something? Is it just now and then or is it more like a constant status? The reason behind your anger is always justified or you think it is?

What is Anger?

Anger is a normal and in fact healthy human emotion. As an emotion anger exists to let us be aware of a threatening, an unjust or an upsetting situation. Anger should not be considered as either negative or positive emotion.

Getting angry when someone mistreats you or when something unjust takes place in front of your eyes is normal and healthy.

However, it is the frequency we experience anger, along with the way each one of us uses to express this anger that could turn it into something negative and harmful for ourselves or others.

angry man yelling while hitting his fist on table

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There is this common belief that anger should always be expressed. Some people think that it is their right to express anger in any way they like because in their mind their anger is justified.

There are people who might believe that expressing anger with shouting, breaking things or even by hitting others shows their power and rage and eventually will inspire respect to others.

The actual opposite is correct, meaning that expressing anger in such ways has a negative outcome for you and others. There is a negative impact on how others feel about you and also on how your judgement is affected.

Identify what is Causing Your Anger

I usually get angry when I understand that someone else does not listen to my opinion, suggestion or point of view and tend to ignore me or not take me seriously. I get angry when there is a long line in front of me in the supermarket or when I am stuck in a traffic jam.

cars stuck in traffic jam in city road

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Sometimes when I am really tired or stressed I might find it really easy to get angry over nothing. I think this stands for most people.

It is really important to identify where the anger comes from because most of the time losing your temper or acting in rage has nothing to do with other people’s behavior and words or with external circumstances. It is our fault that we do not manage to stay cool and keep ourselves under control.

Look For Possible Solutions

Understanding what makes me angry in my case means that I can change my daily routine, choosing another route or different time to avoid traffic jams in peak hours. It could mean that I decide to take advantage and enjoy my time stucked in traffic through listening to some audio book, learning a foreign language or just listening to music and singing along.

When it comes to supermarkets I could choose a supermarket with less people or try to shop online.

When it comes to specific people that make me angry I could choose to take some time to discuss with them in a calm way the impact their reactions have on me. They might also have their issues and use this kind of behavior as a defense mechanism. Well, if this does not work I could choose to share less with them or avoid seeing them that often.

If none of the above are enough I could look for and practice some anger management techniques or seek professional help and advice.

man and woman having a fight, both looking angry

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The reason why we should all look for solutions is because anger as an emotion will not be able to fix anything. As a matter of fact feeling angry and expressing it in a bad way usually will only make things worse.  

Is Anger Your Enemy or a Friend?

In case you are witnessing a human or an animal rights violation and you get angry about it, expressing your anger and using it to change the situation in front of you, means that you use your anger to take action for a good reason.

When you are in an abusive relationship and get angry with what you are going through, anger will help you to take action and get out of it. Same stands for any toxic friendship, getting angry with the friend who mistreats you or makes you feel bad about yourself will give you the courage to step out of this friendship.

In all the cases above anger is your friend because it gives you the courage and strength you need to change an unhealthy situation.

woman screaming to express her anger

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However, when your anger makes your loved ones suffer and feel distress it means that your anger is harmful for your relationships. If you find yourself regretting things that you have said or done while being angry this is also a sign that your anger is working against you. These are cases where your anger is your enemy and you should take some action in order to control it.

Identify Anger Warning Signs

Have you ever noticed your body’s physical reactions when you get angry? I don’t mean when you have already started expressing that anger in some way, but those few moments before you act.

Speaking for myself, when I start getting angry I am feeling an intense pain in my head and I am feeling like my head is burning. I start breathing faster and deeper. Other signs might be a faster heartbeat and clenched fists.

When these signs appear and you are able to identify them, you could do something about it to prevent yourself from words or actions that you might regret later. It is important to be able to understand how you feel each moment because it helps to identify any warning signs.

“Don’t hold to anger, hurt or pain. They steal your energy and keep you from love.”

Leo Buscaglia

Anger Effects

Human Relationships

Anger expression in unhealthy ways could be harmful for every human relationship. It could leave physical and mental scars to the people around us who we love most. It could destroy love relationships, friendships or work relationships.

Physical Health

If anger is something we experience regularly it is possible to give us heart related problems, high blood pressure, weak immune system, diabetes and insomnia.

Mental Health

Feeling anger all the time does not allow people to feel joy in life. Anger could also cause stress, depression and other mental health issues.

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

Mark Twain

Conclusion

When we come to the point to realize that our anger is a problem for us and the people around us we are not helpless. There are several anger management techniques that could be used to calm the rage, and even if these don’t work, professional help from an expert could be taken.

Truth is that we all have more control over anger than what we might think we have. There are always alternatives in the ways we can express our emotions, without hurting other people’s feelings, damaging things or creating problems to our own physical and mental health.

“The best fighter is never angry.”

Lao Tzu

Helpful links

Additional information about anger as well as anger management techniques and strategies could be found at the following links:

https://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/how-to-control-anger#1

https://www.verywellmind.com/anger-management-strategies-4178870

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships-communication/anger-management.htm

 

Redemption

Peaceful night. Indolent. Everyone believed that this peace
Would last forever.
Desperately looking for something to happen.
Intense lights, loud music. People. Lots of people. Paying attention to nothing.
Searching for one another.
How can they find others when none of them has ever found himself?

They say they know. They pretend they know.
They don’t need anyone else.
Stories of a life and dead memories.
Nothing is enough to thrill them.
Nothing is enough to awaken souls.
Souls buried in the dark.

Music comes out of instruments not tuned.
Their songs sound stupidly.
Their lights even when they are on, they are off to their eyes.
Voices without soul are heard like screams.
Screams coming from far away.

Yet, it is you who screams “Help, save me”
You are next to me. You try to reach me.
That is what I am here for. I try to reach you but I can’t.
You pull yourself back.
Why?

Night gets deeper. Your face is pale.
White.
Your look is terrifying.
I shudder to the sound of your scream.
It is not you calling me.

What calls me is that what makes you be afraid of yourself.
Only you can find yourself.
You can be saved by you,
Only.

How to Identify Whether You Have Adopted a Victim Mentality and How to Stop Being the Victim

When something bad happens to you do you always think that it is someone else’s fault? Do you feel like no matter what you do you have no control over what is happening to you? Do you usually blame others or your bad fortune for every negative thing that happens?

From time to time we may all act like drama queens, feeling like the whole world is against us, seeking for attention and sympathy. However, there are some people that seem to adopt this kind of behavior and mentality permanently.

I recently found out that there is a term to describe this kind of mentality which is called the “Victim mentality”.

“Victim Mentality. Some choose to believe that there is nothing they can do to solve their problems, even when they in fact could. Victims seek to blame others for their problems or blame outside circumstances.”

Mark Manson

What is the Victim Mentality?

Woman almost crying while making negative thoughts
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This term is not officially accepted as a medical term and actually most health professionals even avoid the use of it due to the stigma surrounding it. However, there are specific beliefs that people with victim mentality share and all of them are related to negative thinking:

1.       Lots of bad things happened to you in the past and lots of bad things will also happen to you in the future.

2.       Your bad fortune is a result of other people’s actions.

3.       Trying to change your fortune is worthless since nothing will finally change.

Negativity is so much easier to people with a victim mentality than trying to actually take action to save themselves.

Experts claim that the root of this mindset is in many cases an old trauma experienced at the hands of others. People who have experienced something similar are instinctively taught that they are helpless and unable to change something through their actions.

They tend to feel vulnerable and afraid. They don’t take on responsibility, instead, they blame others and refuse to take action while they prefer making excuses.

“I have no physical symptoms, but psychologically there’s this burden. I’ve got to get rid of it somehow. Of course, when I first went back to work I was scared the same thing might happen again. It takes positive thinking to overcome fear, otherwise you’ll carry around this victim mentality forever.”

Haruki Murakami

Benefits of Adopting a Victim Mentality

A woman is holding another woman's hands while trying to show her sympathy and support
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It seems that some people who get by as “victims” are not willing to do anything in order to change even if they realize that other people around them are getting tired or annoyed by their constantly negative behavior. This happens because it seems that there are some benefits when somebody adopts the role of the “victim”.

1.       You are not accountable for your life: You take no responsibility for what happens in your life. Your life is the result of others’ people choices and actions and there is nothing you can do about it.

2.       Secondary benefits: “Victims” receive attention and sympathy from other people. In some cases they may also receive medication or funds. People who receive these benefits may not even realize it and keep feeling truly distressed.

3.       Satisfaction of unconscious needs: When you have a victim mentality you are in unconscious need of other peoples’ help, while you also seek for their validation. You play the “poor me” card which results in help and sympathy from others.

4.        No risks: Everything is other people’s fault so there is no need to actually take risks and be vulnerable.

How to Identify Whether You Have Adopted a Victim Mentality

As stated above it is absolutely normal to feel dissatisfied from your life from time to time and to seek other people’s attention and help. However, this is totally different from having adopted a victim mentality.

This is a list of signs that indicate that you might have adopted a victim mentality:

·         You believe that your life is against you

·         Your life is this way due to other people’s choices and actions

·         You cannot deal with the problems of your life and feel that you have no power against them

·         You have adopted a negative attitude and feel like your life is stuck while you can do nothing to change that.

·         You somehow even feel relieved and pleased when you feel bad and sorry about yourself

·         When somebody says an opinion about your behavior, even if it is an honest feedback you feel like you are under attack.

·         The people you attract are those with similar beliefs and attitudes towards life. They are those who complain about their lives and blame others.

·         It is hard for you to examine your life, make decisions and changes.

“I was a redhead and a middle child; both can make you feel excluded. It’s like fighting to be included, in the swim of things. After a while you start to develop a bit of a victim mentality, which isn’t great for a happy life.”

Shirley Manson

What Can You Do to Stop Being The Victim?

A woman is thinking her next chess move
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What experts say on the issue is that the victim mentality is not something you are born with but instead it is a learned behavior. People learn to adopt a victim mentality through their social life and family. It could also most commonly be a result of a trauma.

There are some steps that could be followed in order to overcome the adoption of the victim mentality.

1.       Learn to be responsible: Take responsibility for your choices and actions. Of course you can never control others but your reaction to their choices and actions is still your choice. You are the person responsible for your life and her potential and nobody else.

2.       Practice compassion and self-care: The victim mentality is in many cases adopted subconsciously after a trauma in order to cope with it. Be compassionate with yourself and practice self-care and self-love while trying to recover. Use journalism to better understand your feelings.

3.       Say No: Learn to prioritize yourself and your needs. When you feel like you don’t want to do something it is totally ok to say no even if others feel like you’re letting them down.

4.       Learn more about the victim mentality: If you identified the signs pointed above across different areas of your life, you might consider learning more about it and how it affects your life. This could be done through reading articles or books or you may even consider seeking therapy. Educating yourself about the victim mentality will help you recover and prevent you from returning to the old way of thinking.

“Defeat is a state of mind; No one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.”

Bruce Lee

Have you identified any of the signs on yourself?

Have you met others with victim mentality?

References – Resources

Further information about the victim mentality could be found at the following links:

1.    https://www.healthline.com/health/victim-mentality

2.    https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-victim-mentality-5120615

3.   https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-a-victim-mentality

4.   https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/managing-victim-mentality.htm

What is Happiness and Will I Ever Reach it?

How pleased are you out of your life? If you were asked, would you answer “very pleased” without even hesitating a bit?

Honestly, I spent many years of my life without even being able to understand that I was not pleased with what my life was like. I guess the everyday routine took me with her and I did not even have the time to stand still and think.

The “Dream Job”

A woman presenting her work on a laptop screen
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For the last thirteen years I had been working as a business consultant. It started as a nine to five job with great career and financial prospects. I never felt really enthusiastic about it but, hey, the money was good and clients appreciated my work, so it felt like a reward.

Friends and family were happy and proud of me and my career in this “dream job” as it might seem like in their eyes. Finally, I could rent a bigger apartment in a nice neighborhood, I had enough money to travel and no need to have second thoughts if I liked something and wanted to buy it.

I guess you would say that that was great. And yes, I definitely liked the fact that I finally could live without thinking of my finances every single moment. That I finally could live in an apartment that I like, that I could travel and shop whenever I wanted to.

But I just couldn’t do it whenever I wanted to.

When the “Dream Job” Turned Into Nightmare…

A woman exhausted fell asleep on her desk while working
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The nine to five job schedule very soon became nine to whatever time the job is done. Considering the fact that most of the clients I was working for were situated at least one hour driving away from home, that also extended my working schedule.

And the deadlines, oh the deadlines…. So much stress and pressure because we had to stick with the project plan and deliver on time.

So, I had a job that offered me financial security and the prospect of a better life.

But, I was renting a great apartment which I was actually using as a hotel since I would use it only to have a shower and get some sleep. I could travel, yes, and I would travel every time I had the chance. And this is something that I loved and I am grateful about.

The thing is that I constantly had the need to travel because I needed it as an escape out of the life I was living. I would shop and spend money not because I needed the staff I was buying but because I could.

And then bam!

The Coronavirus

coronavirus
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Coronavirus arrived and changed everything worldwide.

To all of us it was and in some aspects still is a shock. But the greatest change it brought to my life was that I stopped traveling and started working from home. Everything related to work was set up in just a few hours so the transition was quite fast and sudden.

There was no need to drive to the other side of the city, not even need to take off my pajamas in order to work. I found it as a great chance to finally enjoy my apartment and get some “me” time.

The isolation that came along with the lock down to me was not that horrible as it was to others. I have always enjoyed solitude and having such a busy schedule as I used to have did not offer me enough time to recharge myself.

Time to Stand Still and Look Inside

A woman is standing still like a statue among statues
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It was at that time that I found the time to stand still and think about myself, my life, my needs and feelings.

Another thing that I did not mention, for which I am really grateful since my job financially allowed me to take it, was a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. I had really studied hard due to lack of time but by the time Coronavirus arrived I had already finished all my lessons and there was only my master thesis that I had to submit.

If it wasn’t for Coronavirus and the lockdown work from home status I don’t know if I could have ever made it on time and submitted my master thesis. While spending my time equally to work and studying during the first lockdown I realized even more how fulfilling writing is to me.

Time to Blog

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Even after the lock down had finished I never got back to the office, I kept on working from home. It was at some point during last March that I felt like I needed to communicate my writing with others and thought of starting a blog.

I had tried it again in the past but quit within days. I never stick to it long enough to understand whether I liked it or not. This time was different. As I said above I needed to communicate my writing. When you understand that you do something because not only you just like it but also because you feel that you need it, you do it under totally different terms.

Of course the job did not become less demanding, tiring or stressful just because I was working from home. But something had changed. Even if I felt exhausted I would still sit on my laptop for a few hours after work trying to find out how blogging works, write a post etc.

It was something new. It was engaging and it was related to what I love most, writing. I would spend hours trying to figure out things but the amazing thing was that I would not feel like getting tired.

I read about bloggers that manage to make a great income out of their posts and I honestly admire them. I hope I will be as good as them one day!

I know I know…. I have a million things to learn and should work really hard to get there.

The Decision For Change

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My job went crazy the last few months. There was a point that I felt like I was ready to collapse due to stress and too much pressure, so I decided to resign. After all, it was not like I ever really liked the life I was living the last 13 years of my life. I am grateful for all the things it allowed me to do and have but no, I cannot recall even a single moment that I felt happy in it.

I am also grateful about some people I had the chance to meet but I strongly believe that you never really lose those you care about. So I am not sad about it. I will be in touch with them. Not every day in touch because I have to but now and then in touch because I want to.

I don’t know what I will be doing from now on. I will definitely be blogging more because every day I realize how much I like it. Apart from that, whatever happens I decided that I will not let myself be carried away again by any routine. I will be sitting still and listen to myself and its needs.

Time is precious to be wasted in things that don’t offer us any joy at all.

“Happiness is a constant work-in-progress, because solving problems is a constant work-in-progress – the solutions to today’s problems will lay the foundation for tomorrow’s problems, and so on. True happiness occurs only when you find the problems you enjoy having and enjoy solving.”

Mark Manson

What is the right decision and how to be sure you make one

Was there a time you had to make a decision which, at least at the time you had to make it, seemed as if it was a matter of life and death?

How to identify the right decision

You thought about all the alternatives and tried to figure out which choice would be the best one. You even made scenarios of what the outcome might be short term and long term.

That is something that is always stressful and I think is always doomed to failure.

We usually try to collect all information available, we ask for other people’s experiences and opinions. What would our friends and loved ones do if they had to take this specific decision?

And then what?

Is there anyone who can reassure us that this is the right choice for us? And after all, what does the right choice mean?

Usually, most of us are carried away by what other people usually do in similar circumstances, by what other people advise us, by what we think that other people will think about us once we make a specific decision.

But, I think that if you ask the same question to 100 different persons there is a good chance you get lots of different answers and then it gets even more confusing.

What did each one of them have in mind when giving a specific answer? What were the experiences they had that led to this answer? What was the emotional status at the moment the answer was provided?

Truth be told. Nobody, but nobody, can really help us in taking the right decision.

Each one of us is so special and different. And that is good. It is great actually!

Even if we try our best to make sure we have collected all the data available that would probably help us in making the best possible choice, we can never be absolutely sure that this was it.

Honestly, how much could we ever know about something that has not yet happened to us? About something we have not yet experienced?

Right. Nothing!

“When making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons”. Sigmund Freud

The meaning of feelings and decisions

There is only one thing we can tell for sure related to feelings and decisions and that is how we feel the moment we finally make that decision.

Happy? Relieved? Excited? Frightened? Anxious? Terrified?

All the above and even more are possible post decision making feelings and usually more than one of them simultaneously. Do they indicate whether the decision was right or wrong? I would say not necessarily.  

They indicate exactly what they are and nothing more. Our feelings the moment we made the specific decision. Whether the decision was right or wrong is something that only time can tell for sure.

Embrace your choices

Whatever the choice made, what we have to do is embrace our choice and move on as if we are absolutely sure that this choice was the best. Because it was the best at the specific moment.  No need to question the choice. This would only cause unnecessary suffering and fear.

The important thing is to make a choice. A choice that could save your life, change your life, change you and your relationships with others.

Our life becomes what we make it, through the choices we make each and every day of our life. Even the smallest ones can lead us somewhere we have never imagined.

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Theodore Roosevelt

“If you take too long in deciding what to do with your life, you’ll find you’ve done it”. George Bernard Shaw

What about you? What are your thoughts about the decision making process?

Now is the right time for mistakes

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In one of my previous posts I referred to daring decisions and how they can help us to overcome our fears (https://weirdlifestyle.com/2021/06/04/how-to-overcome-your-fears-through-daring-choices/). When I wrote that post, which was actually just a few weeks ago, I had no idea that I was about to make another daring decision. Although, I think I wrote it because I had a hunch or something.

I knew for some time now that I was doing something wrong with my life and I desperately needed a change. The thing is that with everything else going on at the same time I could not realize where and what was actually that that was the root of my problem. Financial insecurity, lockdown psychological side effects, long term work from home with the least possible human interaction. I think everything had something to do with it. 

The daring choice

I was working at the same company for more than 12 years now. The reason I say “was” is because I decided to quit last week. I know what you must be thinking about. She just mentioned financial insecurity just a few sentences back.  

Yes, financial insecurity still exists. I did not win the lottery or something.

The thing is that I was in this job for 12 years and realized that some things will never change. I will not suddenly wake up one day and love a job that I physically hated all these years. It is a job that gives me too much pressure and stress and I get no joy out of it at all. Not only I don’t get joy but I am even underpaid for what I offer. No, it just isn’t worth it.

The future plan

Honestly, I need to take some time away from working, at least in the same kind of industry. Maybe I will try something new that I like and get some joy out of it. I don’t know.

Do I worry?

Of course I do. But you know what?

The minute the words “I resign” came out of my mouth, I felt like a huge weight was removed off my shoulders.

I think the feeling shows something about the impact this job had on me. 

Maybe whatever new I try will turn into failure. Maybe I will eventually prove wrong and have to get back to work for the industry I hate just because I have to make a living somehow.

Yes, maybe.

But what if maybe I manage to find something that makes me long for working on it. What if I find something that might not offer me lots of money or recognition but gives me joy and makes me happy?

I mean, life is short and we will all die eventually. Why shouldn’t we at least try for this little time we have available on this planet to make it something more than just surviving?

After all, if I don’t take action now, when should I?

And what if it turns into a mistake?

At least I will not have to wonder what would have happened if…

A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” Albert Einstein  

The tyranny of excellence

I don’t know how many of you are able to make a living out of your writing. However, I don’t. Actually in order to make a living I work in a company which implements Information Technology related projects to several customers. I am the analyst, the developer, the project manager etc in every project I am involved in. Is this a good practice you might ask? If I have to be honest the answer is definitely no. But this is not the subject of this post.

Well, this last month of my life turned out as a living hell to me. And let me explain. 

I was assigned to implement a project which was of really high standards. A complicated algorithm which everybody else seemed they were trying to avoid in every possible means. But, no, not me.

I thought that no matter how complicated something is, I could just try to break it down in smaller pieces and reduce the level of complexity. And that is what I did. I had completed almost 85% of the project and it was working as expected. There was only this 15% missing and the project would be successfully completed and delivered to the customer.

Sometimes you just are not enough

I was working on this for more than two months. Constantly trying to squeeze my brain, break the big problem to smaller ones, thinking of ways to overcome each one of them and produce a solution. I was really happy about it and my superiors were happy with the results. 

Until one day I just could continue working in the same rhythm. I might have gotten tired, I might also have had other personal problems that were just distracting me from the project. I also had some health issues that were considered as more important, since they were.

The struggle with myself

The thing is that I did not want to admit that I was going through something like this, that I was unable to produce results. I wanted to convince myself that I could continue working as I did for so long. I got extremely stressed. I could not think of anything clear and make a good decision. Even when talking with others about the project I had a feeling that there was a black sheet in front of me and I could not hear, see or process anything that was discussed. 

I started having those terrible headaches and in order to make it through the day I had to take 4 painkillers a day. My heart was beating like I was constantly running. At night I could not fall asleep. These last few weeks the maximum night sleep I could get was 2 hours. And even within these 2 hours I would jump out of bed due to dreams or thoughts related to this 15% of the project that was missing.

I was longing for the weekend to come when I would finally find some time away from everything. I thought that I would use this time in order to relax and take my mind out of it.

But, I didn’t. Instead of that, I spent those two days fighting with myself because I was not good enough. No matter how much help I might have been provided I just couldn’t finish the project I had started. My head was ready to explode and my nerves were stressed to their limits. I was crying every time my thoughts went there, which was almost all the time. I even called my director on Sunday afternoon to submit my resignation, just because I could wait until Monday morning.

I was advised to take some days off just to relax and take care of myself. This is what I am still doing until I get my final decision.

Now that I think about all these I had to go through, I realize that my expectations for the excellent performance of myself were the ones that actually caused my problem.

Why did I have to put myself into this?

And ok since I did, when I realized that I could not proceed anymore why didn’t I want to admit that I just couldn’t?

Because I was afraid to admit that I was not enough.

Sometimes we just are not enough, and you know what? I think it is OK!

We should not struggle and make ourselves suffer. Our body sends us a message and we should be able to hear it. When we try to ignore it we make it even harder to deal with.

We are humans. Most of us are mediocre. And that is also OK. Thinking that we must be excellent in whatever we are working on could be just an illusion. Could be just a way to make us suffer because we realize that we are not excellent at all.

Do you try to perform excellently in whatever you work on? How often do you make it?

How do you react when you realize that you cannot make it as good as you thought you could?

How to Overcome Your Fears Through Daring Choices

Let me start this post with a personal story of mine.

The story begins almost 20 years ago. It was before I had my final exams to enter university. It was then that I had a bad accident and had to spend 3 months in hospital with my doctors questioning whether I would ever be as I used to be and whether I should ever walk again. It all happened around Christmas and my final exams to enter University were in June.

As you can easily understand, I was not in the condition to take those exams. However, I did. As expected I scored really low. I did not take those exams at the time because I thought that I might get a high score. I did it because honestly I was terrified that I might not even be able to get to the exam center. I was afraid that even if I finally got there, I might not be able to climb up the stairs to the first floor. That I wouldn’t be able to write at least those few things that I had managed to study, and that would happen because I would get too tired sitting on a chair for too long. My physical condition was really bad back then.

Once I finished the exam, I felt exhausted, but so happy for myself just because I did it. I went there, climbed up the stairs and took those exams. I could have decided  not to do it. I was excused. But at the time it felt like I would be giving up if I didn’t. It proved that even if my score was low I managed to be accepted in one school. It was of course one of my very last choices but it still was one school of my choice.

The school was “Landscape architecture” but I decided not to attend it. Lots of things would have been much different if I had attended it. But I didn’t. I decided to take the exams again next year, as I did, and entered a school that was my third choice. Computer Science and Digital Communications.

It was a year and a half after my accident, but I still hadn’t recovered completely. The school that I entered was 450 Km away from my home city. My parents were terrified even at the thought of me moving so far away. I was still in need of medication and medical supervision. Who would be cooking for me? Who would be looking after me?

Well, they were right. Moving so far away from home and living alone at the age of 18 and having all the issues I had at the time, ment only one thing. That there was nobody else to take care of me, but me.

I have to admit that at the beginning it was hard and scary. I knew nobody. I had never been to this big city before and I had no idea where everything was. I felt like the fish out of the water.

At this point I have to mention that in my home town is situated one of the biggest universities in the country. And as a matter of fact, it also has the same school I entered back then. The thing is that I never chose the school that was near. Not because it was not good enough for me, but because if I stayed I would not have become good enough for me.

All the schools I chose back then were at least 300 Km away. I wanted to challenge myself to do all those things that my parents were afraid of. I wanted to challenge myself to do all those things that I was terrified of.

There was a chance that they would prove right. There was a huge chance I would be unable to manage it on my own. It could have been a wrong decision, a mistake. Maybe I would have to give up and move back home. 

But I didn’t. I stayed there, I fought and finally made it. All by myself.

4 Steps to Overcome Your Fears

1. Identify the fear

What is that that is causing you fear? To me when I decided to take the exams for the first time was my bad physical and medical condition. The second time was the fear of the unknown. The fear that I will not make it on my own.

2. Identify the logic behind the fear

Is this fear a logical fear or something else? For me when I decided to take the exams for the first time I was afraid that I might collapse during the exams, but it was a logical fear since I was still in really bad condition. I also used to be afraid of heights but this is a phobia not the kind of fear I am talking about. My second fear, the fear of the unknown, had no actual logic behind it since if you think about it better every single day of our life includes the unknown.

3. Create a safety net

Let us be reasonable. I would never suggest you jump out of an airplane without a parachute. Even at the most daring choices you must have a little plan in case everything is fucked up. For my first fear of collapsing, what I made sure of was that I took my exams in a special examination center for kids with health issues. This meant that there was an ambulance in front of the building and a nurse inside each class, just in case something happened. It was a reasonable fear and had to deal with it accordingly. For my second fear I just believed a bit more in myself and showed some trust in the universe. Ah, and also tried to find doctors and health check centers within the first week I moved, also just in case…

4. Take that daring decision and trust yourself

Nobody knows if a fear can be left behind until they actually try! If you know what is that that you are afraid of and why you are afraid of it you can start creating your safety net. Once you are done just do it! Worst case scenario you will just fall on your safety net. Best case scenario …..Who knows?!

Looking back at my story I am so glad I made those choices. 

Yes, fear of the unknown is huge and always our decisions might turn out as big mistakes, but, what are we if we do not make mistakes? If we do not make hard decisions that might change our life forever? If we don’t push ourselves to our limits?

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain 

What about you?

What was the most daring choice you had to make in your life?

Are we turning into some kind of social weirdos?

I believe that all of you would agree that the Covid-19 pandemia brought huge changes to the way we all used to live our lives. It has also made us change the way we act, and react, in several cases. Most of all, I think that now we all, more or less, try to avoid several things that we wouldn’t do so in pro Covid times. I am sharing my personal experience regarding the way that my social life and behaviour has changed during this last year.

Avoiding the office

Since March 2020 I have been working from home. It was not my decision, but it happened. To me this was a huge change since I would normally spend more than 12 hours a day at the office, or on the road, going to, or leaving from it. To be honest this change is not that bad. The job itself can be done from the comfort of my own apartment. What I do miss is the social part of my job. I haven’t even seen any of my co-workers in person since March 2020. Even though we have daily zoom meetings it feels cruel cause the interaction is not the same. I miss our after work Friday night drinks. Actually, I miss going out and having drinks in general but that is another story.

Avoid supermarkets and stores

If I can shop online then this is what I do. Back in the old days I would visit the shops without even wanting to buy something. Just to walk around, see the shop windows, maybe even try some clothes just for the fun of doing it. Well, I don’t anymore. I might spend hours browsing but it should be something really extreme for me to go out and actually look for it. 

Avoid public transportation

I used to love moving around using the subway. It always gave me the feeling that I was able to feel the pulse of the city and of course it is so much faster than driving through traffic jams. Now, even the thought of it repels me. Too many people, too close one to another. No, not for me. Not anymore. At least for now.

Avoid social events

Just a week before my country entered a lock down for the first time I had a party. I used to plan social events and now I choose not to attend to any of them. Yes, back then I used to be a social person.

Avoid meeting in person with someone unless it is absolutely necessary

I used to turn every phone call to a meeting. I always felt that meeting someone in person helps to deal with every possible problem. Even if something is hard to deal with, meeting someone would somehow make things easier and smoother. Now, the prospect of meeting with someone when I can avoid it seems that makes no sense.

Avoid getting too close to other people

Even when I meet with close friends and relatives I don’t get too close to them, I avoid shaking hands, hugs and kisses. Every kind of human relationship is important to me, but I feel that I am somehow getting trained not to be as demonstrative as I used to be. 

Avoid others out in the street

When I go out for a walk or running I try not to get too close to strangers. I would even choose another route just to avoid the crowd. I used to be the person who would go for a walk just to see other people moving around and now I feel like I run away from them.

All the above came as a result of the fact that social distancing was the master rule in order to protect myself and others from Covid -19.

Sooner or later, we will get rid of Covid, but I honestly don’t know how socially weird I might have become since that day.

Did you have similar changes in your social life or behaviour?

I would like to learn about your thoughts on this.