The moment you realise…

As individuals, we are all unique. We got our own way of seeing the world, approach the world and behave. Due to that uniqueness, it can be quite hard to find someone you can connect with. When you do find someone who can, you wonder where has this person been and why he or she hasn’t enter your life earlier. And then, there are some people for some reasons just hate you as a person and their obnoxious interactions with you can make you wonder why do they exist. They just do and have their own clique in life.

And what’s my point?

I’m getting there…

Throughout my life, I have lived a pretty sheltered life and taking very little risk when it comes to my finances or education. As much as I tried to make my life my own, trying to be a trailblazer of sort, I kept falling back to making the “safe” decisions or choices because it all boils down to: how did it make me feel? And usually, after I made the decision, I feel like crap. When that happens, I had to backtrack to make another one. In part to make me feel good again. It’s especially so if it is a brand new decision that has repercussion on my life and it requires me to use information that I have yet acquired through experience.

For people who are more rational and has been through enough adversity tend to be able to stick to their guns and follow through on their decision. No doubt they have fears and anxiety of what the future holds, but they are better prepared mentally to deal with that due to what they have been through.

In my case, this flip flopping nature of my decision making process causes a lot of misunderstanding with people around me. And I don’t blame them. I simply don’t have the life experiences enough to toughen up my mind or gave me enough data points to make a good decision. And my mind never fails to worry about thousands little things that could go wrong…this is why I can suffer from insomnia relatively easy.

So if you don’t call that neurotic, I don’t know what to call it.

But that’s not to say I have not make decision that make me uncomfortable and then following it through. It’s just that I’m a little slower than most.

And you see what I just did?

Explaining myself to the world. Apparently, this act tend to piss people off. I have been told to just shut up and stop.

When it happens enough time, I have to wake up and realise I’m the square peg in a round hole due to my life circumstances stemming from nature and nurture. Most people, which isn’t a lot, I know found it irritating or frustrating when interacting with me. But that it’s all in the past. I have the power to change that.

For a start, I’m going to make a conscious effort to catch myself before I go on explaining my thinking to another person. It’s my life and I don’t need to justify the choices or decisions. No one wants to hear it and it’s not their fault. Everyone is a little busy dealing with their own crap in life. At the end of it, I only have to answer to my eighty-year-old self. As long as I don’t regret the choices I made (and I have that a lot lately but I can’t change those), I’m fine.

The other thing I also realise is that I have to stop. Stop announcing decisions I made with my emotional centre to other people. I’ll admit it will take a great deal of conscious effort not to make that mistake. Emotional decisions are fickle and can change very easily. In this hyper-pragmatic, rational world (roll eyes If it’s rational, we won’t have wars or that the stock market won’t fluctuate like it does), decisions have to be made with clarity and assertion. Once made, the person has to follow through till the end. The action taken has to either result in a success or failure before making course correction. Failing to do that, you don’t get to command respect.

And I’ve done emotional decision making for so long and often over the last few years that I believe I lost my credibility with people. It’s fine. No one is at fault here.

There are people who call me a fake news now, putting me as part of the global phenomenon just because of my emotional decision making process. But hey, it’s cool now that I have gone global.

Now, if there’s a genuine desire to understand me better because you care, then I will help you understand me better. And that’s if you ask me. Otherwise, I will keep my mouth shut. Or we can go on the journey together because I don’t understand myself fully either. But if you feel like the journey is taking too much of your time or energy, you are free to go. And I won’t blame you afterwards if you continue to misunderstand me or my intention.

All this realisation is actually pretty freeing and I finally can start being myself without worrying too much.

Becoming aware of the neurotic mind and overwriting it for a happier self

Let’s imagine that you grow up in an environment where your parents engaged in negative self-talk in front of you, self-punishing behaviours, call you stupid or brainless when you do something wrong, or continue bring up the past mistakes you made every time they are not happy about something you did today.

Then as you got older, you engaged in similar activities without being consciously aware of what you did.

And that’s all because of nurture. After all, you were just a child and your only true role models are your parents. Even when you have friends, they won’t be there to influence your life every hour of your life. So you will just learn that what your parents do is normal, therefore correct.

As a result, you don’t question all these learned behaviours. Until someone pointed them out or came to realise it one day because of what you’ve read or heard people talk about.

And you know what?

Those activities I mentioned earlier actually examples of being neurotic. And it actually leads to poor quality of life. You are never happy. And it can actually contribute to the development of “perfectionism mindset” in a person.

I know because that’s the kind of environment I grew up in. I seek perfection in my work. Was never happy, constantly depressed. Hated the world. And it was during my research to understand myself better that I came upon various psychology articles and essays about being neurotic and the neuroticism personality traits. It was then I realised I’ve got a problem.

So over the past few months, I have actually pushed myself to engage in self-compassion and self-care. It was hard at first since it was unnatural for me. But if you keep doing it,  practising those skills for a while, it’ll become easier. Just like training yourself to be able to lift certain weights or to run a marathon.

And it took me a while before I was able to catch myself before I engage in such behaviours. And these days, I can see my mind doing all the weird negative self-talks and punishment-type thinkings. But I will myself not to act on them. I simply acknowledge those thoughts and then push myself to focus on the present. Because at the end of it, you can’t control the events that happened but you can control how you react or respond to those events.

So I actually feel happier compared to when I was in my early twenties and late teens. I also recognised it’s still a work in progress because those negative thinkings and self-talks hadn’t been completely eliminated from my mind.

The other thing that I also realise is, I was actually able to focus more of my attention to creating the kind of life I want because my mind isn’t cluttered with all those bad thoughts. With that, the friction to complete the micro-goals that will put my closer to my destination is much lesser.

Inclusive Team

The ability to work in team is key to whether a project, a task or a mission is completed successfully. And it’s so much more than throwing a bunch of people together to work on something. The people in it have to put in the effort to find ways to work with each other and compromise on an individual wants to achieve a common goal.

However, it can show that the team is discriminating if the team consists of people from different races who speak different languages but the predominant language used during a meeting or gathering is not a lingua franca. For example, speaking in mandarin 90% of the time when there is an Indian in the team who doesn’t know the language.

And the fact that the remaining members of the team are Chinese is no excuse.

You just don’t leave someone out during a project discussion by using non-lingua franca and then proceed to waste that one person’s time on topics that has zero relation to his or her job role for the sake of showing it’s a “inclusive team”.

This kind of sensitivity is something we all should learn and remember.

Knowing when to take a break

If you are a creator, there will be days when you know you just isn’t feeling it. No matter how much you push yourself and force yourself, you can’t seem to make that piece of work you desperately needed to get out.

And one of the biggest reason is pressure. You are forcing yourself to create something because you feel obligated to do so. I know because I am forcing myself to write at least one essay or post per day. I didn’t want my blog to die off for one day without new content. So I went and try to write a horror fiction. There was this idea that was stuck in my head for the past few days and I thought why not find a way to churn out a short story based on that idea. After nearly an hour, I only managed to get two hundred words out and started to feel so frustrated. So I stopped.

After that, I was thinking to myself: It’s fiction writing. It’s supposed to be my thing. The one thing I’m good at.

And that was how I killed my own writing. By pressuring myself.

Then a funny thing happened.

The idea to write this particular piece came to life. I just feel like I should share it.

And you know what’s the other thing that could just as easy kill your writing? It is your Input. An article written by Annie Mueller on Medium titled, “What’s Blocking Your Creative Output?“, talks about how the wrong kind of input actually kills your creativity.

And I’ll admit, these last few days, I have been feeding myself junk by reading a whole bunch of articles on Medium ranging from productivity to self improvement to business. And what the hell? Business? I actually have no intention of running my own business. At least not yet. So you see, reading junk actually stopped my mind from thinking about new stuff to write about.

So if you realise you are somehow stuck and don’t have any more creative juices flowing, maybe it’s time to ask yourself if there’s something wrong with your input. Maybe it’s time for you to purge those junks out of the creativity pipes.

But, I suspect you must be wondering how the hell I wrote the article, “Singapore, not as green as you think” if I’m out of ideas. Well, environment is something I cared about and it was stuck in my head for the last two weeks. I finally took the leap to write that piece yesterday and challenge myself to write an essay about Singapore. After all, I’m born and raised here so I thought I would know it better and not sound pretentious but it didn’t stop me from experiencing some kind of anxiety attack when I hit published.

And now I know, it’s time for me to take a quick break from writing and do something new. However, it doesn’t mean I stop completely. My mind is always churning out ideas. As soon as I encounter something novel during my day, it will send a spark to start the engine.

Let go and move on

Throughout one’s life, depending on personality, there will be something that upset him or her. It can be easily boil down to either pet peeves, perfectionism or both.

And there’s nothing wrong with those since often times they are part of the person’s core. It’s what make each of us unique.

However, it’s never good for one’s health if he or she remains upset for the whole day over that one thing. Anger raise cortisol in your body and leads to inflammation. Not only that, it can ruin a potentially great day and be infectious.

As what people much more mature and smarter have said, it’s important for one to put things in perspective. Life is short and you only that one. There’s a possibility that you were never born should your parents never meet at the right time or right place. And now that you are here, you want to waste time being angry at trivial things? For every minute you spend in anger, you are saying no to the other great things that had or could happen.

And I’m not saying I won’t get angry. I’m only human and utterly flawed. But anger is an emotion. You are allowed to feel it. However, you should let it go as soon as possible. It was a lesson that I didn’t learn in time and allow myself to suffer needlessly over the years.

But it’s never too late.

Over the past few weeks, letting things go became a part of my life. Yes, it’s definitely a work in progress but I’m aware of how far I have come. Though I have this suspicion that it could be because I have grown apathetic when it comes to work.

I stopped being so uptight about how my colleagues write their codes. I have also become more nonchalant about mistakes made. We are only human. Mistakes happen. And that’s something that I have come to acknowledge.  The more important thing is how are you moving forward. And last Friday as well as today, my colleague keep pointing out the mistakes made in the design of a specific module and now we need to rework. And I went, “It’s done. Now let’s move on.”

And the power of letting go and moving on feels liberating. But one should be aware that he or she could slip up and fall back to old habits. So it’s important to be mindful of your feelings and constantly practice the new habits. By practicing letting go and moving on, your brain will soon default into that mode. Once that happen, everything will be easy. Then you will wonder why you didn’t do that in the past.