often °

›› Sometimes obstacles appear on your path not to stop your progress but to remind you to process all the previous progress you’ve made.

›› Your inability to digest difficult emotions becomes your inability to live your dreams.

›› You can’t enjoy a night’s sleep if you’re dreading the occasional nightmare.

›› Life doesn’t necessarily become better as you achieve and acquire more things. But your gratitude palate becomes richer the more thought you spend on things that are important to you. Gratitude is the imagination of the heart. You can do a lot with little material gains if you master the art of gratitude.

›› What would you do if in 2017 you did not achieve a single goal you had aimed for ? What would you do if everything you’re banking on to make you feel better passing the time, didn’t pan out? You’d come back to the emotions you’re trying to get away from. What if you didn’t have to get away from them? What if you desired and achieved from a place of creative expression and possibility instead of desiring from a place of discontentment with your status quo and a wish to be somewhere else?

self-improvement=perfectionism?

My main drive behind self-improvement used to be shame-eradication, but not in the way you might think. I felt that I was inherently flawed and awkward and I had to replace that with something less cringe-worthy. Having been bullied as a child, I’d often recall those horrible years as embarrassing, because apparently, in my head, I was bullied because I was weak and flawed. I’d often revisit the memories wondering how things would be different had I been less flawed. The thing about thoughts and mindsets is that once they take root, they become a part of you and you wouldn’t notice them unless you knew what to look for. So whenever I’d read something that unearthed a certain mindset, I’d be embarrassed and disgusted with myself for having espoused such thought patterns. I reflected on the amount of pain and hurt I became worthy of as a result of being so feeble-minded. Yes, it sounds horrid, spelling it out like this. But deep down in the world of thoughts and fears, horrible things often seem perfectly logical. Self-improvement became synonymous with self-destruction.

Essentially, what I was doing was aiming for perfectionism under the guise of improvement. You see, once you hide stuff under different labels, it gets very tricky to ferret them out. That is, unless you accept yourself with all your flaws and so-called cringe-worthy traits and realize that self-improvement has nothing to do with ;

(a) Changing the way people perceive you
(b) Changing who you are deep down
(c) Getting rid of shame by altering shame-inducing aspects of yourself

Using self-improvement as a tool for perfectionism sends one down an entirely different path than that of genuine self-acceptance. One operates under the assumption that the shame and fear that permeates one’s self-worth is accurate; and the other, that of self-acceptance, operates under the truth that one is enough.

But here comes a twist; if  I’m  enough, then why the self-improvement? And if perfectionism is aimed at improving myself, why is it denounced and made out to be something negative?

In fact, this gross misunderstanding has sent me down the wrong path one too many times and prevented me from reaching my true aim. I suspect I got it from the pop-psychology books I used to read as a teen; books that ubiquitously line the self-help sections in book stores, but are far from helpful. The authors might be different, but they all revolve around the belief of you’re not enough, you’re flawed and that’s unacceptable, here’s how you can change that.

Up until as recently as two weeks ago, my understanding of this was horribly skewed. I’d constantly look down on myself and berate myself for holding certain beliefs. I was constantly entrenched in shame and never for once felt ...ok. Until recent events made me revise my understanding of growth and improvement, that is.

I realized this; my task wasn’t to fix my broken self or rounding my jagged edges; it was to embrace the irregular parts of me that I had rejected because they didn’t fit in anywhere. It was, it is to accept myself and love myself regardless of how I feel or look. It’s to give myself the unconditional love that I missed out on all my life. All this time, I had perpetuated the damaging message of my bullies, within myself, thinking I was doing well.

My biggest fear has been, and still is, to integrate all my different sides within myself and dare look at my entire being without flinching with disgust over my imperfections.

I think Brene Brown’s work on embracing imperfections and wholehearted living is phenomenal and groundbreaking, at least for me. I ordered her book ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ last week, and hope to receive it shortly.

ten guideposts for wholehearted living

The Art of Being

Dedicated to Rachel.


Entitlement. I didn’t quite understand the true connotations of this word. I wasn’t a spoilt brat and I knew to finish the food on my plate. I knew about the faceless poor in Africa and sent them a thought of consideration when prompted. I loathed the rich and entitled snobs who treated money like mere paper and throwing  it about like confetti. I felt that was being entitled and I felt like a good person for disliking that trait; surely that made me grateful,no?

When I moved to Kenya with my family, the inner struggle to adapt that ensued gave a resounding no as answer to the aforementioned,what I thought was, rhetorical question. No, you’re not grateful, no, you’re not a good person by merely disliking snobs.

I spent the better part of the first two years fighting my new world. I hated it. I hated it. I didn’t unpack my bags because that’d mean I’d have to unpack my mind. My mind was still huddling in the corner of my old room back in Sweden because it refused to stretch to fit this new reality. I wanted to recreate the utopia I lived in and I was going to do that by criticizing anything that was subpar. The unpaved roads,the erratic routine of the matatus, the lack of public libraries! I viewed Kenya like a tracing paper; I desperately wanted to copy my old world onto this and how disgruntled I became when it refused to follow suit!

Somewhere between the second and third year my adoptive country took on a different hue in my eyes. I stopped tracing it after Sweden and I started to view it as a whole on its own. I broke down the monolith into neighbours,classmates,fellow commuters. I started acquainting myself with our housekeepers and was appalled to learn that they had to walk for an hour to get to our house at 7.30 a.m. each morning. That was two hours spent each day on the road to feed their families with the saved busfare. As I learnt more about the struggles – or rather, what I perceived as struggles- of the Kenyan people I also noticed a discrepancy; they weren’t disgruntled. They seemed content with life as it was. I’d say they seemed even more content than the faces I grew up seeing around me.

At first, it seemed paradoxical ; that the very people I grew up learning gratitude from were more grateful than me and my likes, even though we possessed more. But life is often paradoxical, the way a reflection in the mirror is vertically flipped, but not really. When I removed my convictions and stance from the lens through which I was viewing this new world, I saw things very clearly.

The poor are not born with a silver spoon in their mouths nor do they grow up entertaining endless possibilities by virtue of a family with many gateways towards higher levels. Not necessarily money, but connections and property.

Everything they have, the little they own they achieved through sweat and blistered feet. Because they never hold expectations, they never feel entitled. Hardships are a permanent fixture to life, like the chilling winters or hot summers. It’s not something that fazes them because it just is. Every little reprieve is welcomed with open arms and every achievement is seen as a blessing. Because abundance is not a common thing, their energy goes more towards being. Being ; optimistic, relentless, determined, respectful. Grateful for just living.

I had my hands full, so I never discovered the palms of my hands. I was too distracted by frivolous expectations and self-important entitlements to reflect on what wasn’t. I was simply too busy having things to just be. Kenya taught me to see my jagged edges in the potholes, and to see my emotional thirst in the frequent water shortages. It removed all distractions and acted like a mirror; wherever I turned there I was.

And FYI;  I wasn’t really disliking the snobs; I was jealous. 

Thank you, readers!

wow! I woke up to see more notifications on my blog than ever! I know it’s kiiinda odd that I’m writing to thank you guys about it, but then again I’ve never been normal XD . I’m so humbled and I’m fighting back tears as I’m writing this ! I rarely cry, but I ‘almost-cry’ where the tears back up from my heart to my eyes but are too scared to make the jump or something- dunno XD .

I digress. Thank you. For reading, liking,commenting,sharing,following – the whole bit. It made me very happy. I’m so touched. ❤

 

//           Mulki

The day my agoraphobia died

Midnight thoughts & thunders

 〈serial soliloquies〉


Agoraphobia – the fear of going to open, crowded places – had been a painful fixture in my life since 2007. It was quite different from the usual forms of agoraphobia. I wasn’t afraid of going out per se, but it was more the feeling of being trapped outside, far away from my comfort zone. The gnawing thought that’d set off the anxiety was one borne out of the loss of control; what if I start feeling uncomfortable and I wouldn’t be able to turn around and go home? What if I get stuck in one of those draining and boring conversations with no way to get out of it? What if I get a migraine, just like that other day, ( shudder)- no, I think it’s better to be safe than sorry. Safe here at home.

“I can’t come. I- I’m not feeling well. Yeah, I think I have a migraine coming on. “

“Hey how ya doing?  Yeah, I’m good. Hey listen, I haven’t slept all night (because I was anxious about not being able to sleep and then be too tired to go to my class, but I won’t say that) and you know how I was the other day when I felt so dizzy? Yeah, so can you,like, you know- let the teacher know? I’ll try to come in around noon if I feel a bit better. Thanks! “

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