Bullying: Make Or Break

Photo cred: Talkspace

One of the major contributing factors to a lack of confidence is bullying, which makes a lot of sense when you think about it. I am sure we’ve heard that old childhood saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

Wrong.

Our brains are a collection of all of the information we “download” throughout our lives. Therefore it is not an astronomical leap of logic to assume that the words that others say (or their behaviour towards us) affect us in some way. It can in fact affect us massively.

Bullying is repeated aggressive behaviour towards someone

In the UK 1.5 million young people bullied in 2016

145 000 bullied everyday

14% consider suicide – 7% attempt it

Source: www.bullying.co.uk

You’d think that those that engage in bullying suffer tremendous lack, therefore they need this sense of superiority to make up for what they don’t have. Maybe they do suffer lack in one area of their life (emotional, social, etc) but I chose these statistics to point out that even a first world environment like the UK can still breed people who seek to harm others. Monetary lack may have nothing to do with it. Therefore if you are experiencing bullying – don’t allow yourself to sink deeper into self-pity by believing you are alone. You are NOT alone. And one other thing – yes the words and actions performed by a bully may hurt you… but guess what? They don’t need to define you. In fact – they can be the very springboard you need to flourish more than you’ve ever done before. It’s all in the attitude.

Intrigued? Get ready for two case studies coming up tomorrow.

Self-Confidence Vs Self-Esteem

photo cred: T C North

Worry not, this will not devolve into a war of words or transform into an ultimate rap battle between the words self-confidence and self-esteem. Instead I would just like to add some clarity on what we will be discussing and how I plan to move forward with this series. Let’s dive into a definition, shall we?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes self-confidence as:

a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities and judgement

The same source sites self-esteem as:

a confidence and satisfaction in oneself

I always used to believe that self-confidence and self-esteem were synonymous. They are indeed similar, but not identical. Self-confidence has to do with perception based on what one can do whereas self-esteem has to do with one’s perception on who one is. Clear enough?

This wonderful graphic should help make things even clearer:

Self-esteem vs confidence

They are different but one thing is certain, to function to the very best of your ability and to enjoy your life to the fullest: YOU NEED BOTH!

For the purposes of future posts not becoming too wordy I will refer to both self-esteem and self-confidence simply as confidence from this moment on. This is to prevent confusion by interchanging the terms and to avoid the mental block that comes with associating the word esteem with the more negative low self-esteem.

Tomorrow we will discuss the Importance of Confidence.

The Pit

Nobody likes the pit. It isn’t a pleasant place to be in, but when you look back more often than not you’ll have a different perspective of the pit. The pit isn’t always an intended destination, but it can turn out to be for your good. The pit is the place where despair and desperation marry, their union seeks to take control of your life and smother you with their baby, depression… if you overcome this trio however, the pit will be where your character is built and you develop the traits required for you to flourish when you achieve what was once thought impossible. If you let it, the pit will weed out all of your shortcomings and jumpstart your transformation to being that man or woman you aspire to be.

One of my favourite true stories involves a bragging annoying teenager who was loved by his father above all his many brothers. He was egotistical and vain and would often share what he envisioned himself becoming, demeaning his siblings in the process. What did they do when the favourite child’s pride became too much for them? They threw him into a pit and told their father that he’d gone missing. In the pit the arrogant teen’s pride was instantly stripped away, replaced by a deep appreciation of life and everything that he had and a realisation of the value of others. In the pit he stopped envisioning things falling into his laps and developed a mentality of discipline and hard work steeped in iron-wrought principles that would not bend under intense pressure. It was in the pit that the metamorphosis he needed for his visions to come true occurred and years later when he was promoted to be the most important man on earth, the pride he had prior did not destroy him. On top of that he went on to forge an unbreakable, genuinely positive bond with his siblings. The pit gave him humility and the ability to forgive. That guy was called Joseph.

So the next time you find yourself in the pit, a pit you could have fallen into because of your own ignorance or poor decisions; or one where you might just be a victim of circumstances, look up and grasp the image of the sky above knowing that…

the time in the pit could be what propels you way above the clouds, far beyond the stratosphere to leave you dancing among the stars.

This marks the conclusion to the Individuality series. I will definitely return here once I’ve completed reading ‘Slight Edge’ and implementing more of these techniques in my own life. See you tomorrow for the start of the Creativity series.

Singleness Is Underrated

Am I going to be endorsing debauchery in this post? Not one bit. However if you are looking for encouragement and advice in the single phase of your life, carry on, you are most welcome.

Before I enter into why the phase of singleness can be a crucially beneficial time of your life I would like to quash some world notions on the ‘benefits’ of being single. Yes I’m going to sound like a preacher when I denounce couldn’t-care-less relationships, casual sex and nights spent bent over ceramic chambers, but if you are honest with yourself you’ll realise that the aforementioned activities don’t do your physical wellbeing or mental health any favours. Are all these activities fun? They wouldn’t be temptations if they weren’t… but they are bad for you and most likely you don’t need to look deep down to know it. The good news is I’m not here to condemn you but to affirm you! We all have the gift of free will. You aren’t bound to certain actions or habits forever. Today I would like to introduce two terms that will help and will pop up a lot in this ‘Individuality’ series:

  1. Intentionality – living a life of deliberation, without constantly stumbling into things
  2. Plasticine brain – the ability of the brain to change throughout life

Life has prime stages for explosive growth. Singleness is one of them. Another stage is called ‘the Pit’ which I’ll refer to later this week.

When you’re single and intentional in your singleness, you’re in the best time to learn about yourself, the best time to figure out what you enjoy and what you are good at. Often in this chapter of your life you have one major responsibility, yourself, meaning you have more time as you have less people to be responsible over. What can you use this time for? More learning and setting yourself up for whatever your metric of success is. This is achieved first of all by coming up with a metric of success. This is vital. How can you hit the target when you don’t know what you are supposed to be aiming for? In this period explore by reading books, learning languages, travelling, building healthy habits, working to delete bad habits, learning organisation, studying people and coming up with the traits of the person you would want to be with once the phase is over.

I’d like to challenge a fallacy that we let ourselves be deceived by far too often. How many people have you heard say these words, “I wish I had known this when I was younger?” Or “I wish I had known this before I got into the relationship?”. We lie and say we’ll pick up the behaviours we need when we need them. Learning all the above once this singleness phase has passed is possible; it’s much more difficult but it’s possible, it’s why we have plasticine brains – but why would you want to grow a plant in the dry season when you can do so in the rainy season? The friction of embarking on a discovery of self when you have several more responsibilities is incredibly grating.

Lastly we have plasticine brains, which means the old ways of thinking don’t need to be the ways of thinking forever. It means we can learn new things. However it takes significantly more effort to unlearn things than it does to build new habits. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking I’ll do these things now then stop when I’m in a serious relationship or when I reach 30, 40 or 50. You’re setting yourself up to fail and to eventually drown in depression.

Conflict rises when expectations and reality don’t align. Internal conflict leads to stress and prolonged stress may lead to depression. So I’ll help you out a bit and be a bit harsh when I say:

Don’t expect the bad habits you’re cultivating now to instantly disappear when you want them to. Instead be intentional today about what habits you want to build in this crucial period of your time.

Cherish your singleness and grow baby, grow! It may be hard, that’s cool, I’ve got tips to help you do just that starting with tomorrow’s post: ‘Lying Is Good For You’.

P.S. Thank you all for helping this blog reach 100 followers! Onwards and upwards. Be blessed.

 

Living the Standard Life

Now we know to appreciate my traits as an individual and to be grateful for others’ gifts and talents. We know too that we shouldn’t compare myself with my neighbour or it will cause us unnecessary, unwanted stress. Our neighbour is our neighbour and we are ourself. Yet we’ve also learned that we can learn certain good traits from them, observe and apply what we’ve seen to add to ourself so we can be a better version of ourself according to a personal ideal. Today I want to address that concept of an ideal self – also known as a standard.

If you read all the posts I’ve written in the last week in the worst possible context you would probably come out with the conclusion that you are perfect as you are and don’t require change. As the author of the posts I’ll let you know that wasn’t my intention. You are wonderful and you should not allow yourself to be stressed out or condemn yourself for past actions or undesirable traits you possess. Instead, come to an appreciation of who you are and develop an ideal that will spur you on to achieve personal growth. If your goal was to become the world’s best assassin, look at information about assassins, compile a list of the traits that you want to attain and start planning practical methods you can practise to achieve that dream. If you check the name of this blog you’ll know I don’t advocate for such I just wanted to choose an example that you probably haven’t encountered this month.

Christians look to Jesus as an ideal. Believer or not, it makes a lot of sense as he preached and practised loving one’s neighbour as one loves oneself. That statement alone is an ideal that one can live up to for the rest of their life. If you aren’t a very loving person and decide to live by this ideal, you’ll be forced to develop loving attributes. The same applies if your ideal is an incredibly hard worker, an avid reader or a world-renowned communicator. Having an ideal that is or was a real life person is good in that you know it is achievable. It is also limiting in that person may have had traits that you would not like to associate with (they are human after all) and that may stunt your belief in the great traits they have. In comes the idea of ‘ideal agglomeration’ where you come up with a mishmash of traits from people you would consider role models in the areas of life you want to be exceptional in. This is the next level of what we have been talking about. This becomes your ‘Life Standard’ and is something you move towards all your life. It should seem almost impossible to achieve so that you keep growing. If you achieve the landmarks, well done and keep going… maybe  you too will be someone’s ideal role model for something and in that you would have impacted their life positively. That’s what this page is all about.

With that we conclude that comparison series. Tomorrow we enter into the series ‘Individuality’ starting with ‘Singleness Is Underrated’.

The Power Of Being Grateful

Well, if you’ve been keeping up with recent posts you’ll now know that comparison can lead to depression. It’s pretty simple really, we have access to the lives of many people now thanks to social media. Say one person is incredible at singing and you compare yourself (it’s only natural, no?) only to find that you aren’t as good. You are presented with a dilemma often leading to three pathways: acceptance (which for some reason we overcomplicate), ridicule (diminishing the person’s gift or hard work) and competition. The first, acceptance is perhaps the healthiest of the three. Now if you exhibit the other two what happens if you come into contact with more than one such person? What if you encounter a hundred people with a gift you don’t have? There is no way you can be the master of all trades, no one in the world has enough time for that. So the end result of trying on multiple hats that don’t fit you or ridiculing everyone you come into contact with? I’ll take a guess and use the B-word here – bitterness. However if you can accept that you can’t be as good as everybody else at everything else and hone your own craft, measuring up only to yourself – joy won’t be far away. Still there is another level even superior to acceptance – gratitude. Seeing the gifts of others and being grateful for them is some next level zen… stuff. It’s healthy for you on so many levels. If you can see the greatness in others and appreciate them for it, it is far easier for you to identify the things to appreciate in your own life. Also it has the potential to open doors for you since you develop the eyes to see talent. Once you adopt the mentality of:

‘I love what I see in you, I also love what I see in myself’

What can put you down? I challenge you to make an intentional decision to be grateful for the gifts of others, as well as for what has been deposited in you and see how it changes your life.