If you’ve been here with me for a while then you must’ve been expecting this. This is the second sequel in this series and it’s long overdue. For those who are new here I’d link the first in the series below so you can appreciate this more. Well, let’s get right into it.
6. Study the art of saying no
Each day we’re bombarded with requests. Anything from a slight suggestion to an all out play and how we respond to each of these will set the tone for many relationships. In my life, I’ve learned the hard way just how vital it is to learn the art of saying no.
My playful hesitation to implement this has found me in many uncomfortable situations and to think I could’ve avoided it all with a simple no.
Majority of the time saying no is backed by feelings of guilt and the fear of disappointing someone but you should know that doesn’t make you any better of a person. Such feelings aren’t feelings of ‘empathy’ as you might want to believe but rather feelings of low self worth. If you prioritise yourself and have any respect for your time and your cause, you’d realise your peace and itinerary isn’t worth compromising. Putting yourself in a state of inconvenience constantly only makes you an easy target and for what? People look for opportunity where they find one and you can rest assured that they’d take it as many times as it’s available.
Perhaps you’re not sure where to start from, well here are the non-negotiable moments where you 99% of the time should say no.
- If you feel uncomfortable
- If you feel guilty or obligated
- If you’re already buried under a pile of work
- If the request crosses your personal boundaries
- If you are only saying yes to please someone
The truth is whether your brother tells you to help him write his job application letter or your friend asks you to write his college essay for him, saying no can be uncomfortable. It doesn’t feel great to tell people no, but I’ve learned a lot about how to turn people down in a tactful way. It really all starts with being honest and sincere.
It’s always best to be upfront with them. It might be a little uncomfortable if you haven’t flexed that muscle before. But from my experience saying ‘no’ to family and friends only builds a much stronger relationship with them.
You might feel pressured into saying yes even when you know you can’t. That’s why creating boundaries is important.
When you’re clear on your values and your goals it becomes easier to say no but when you keep saying yes to every request eventually other people’s priorities become your own and you start to forget about the commitments that you’ve made to yourself. Keep in mind that saying no to yourself is just as important as saying no to others. Putting pressure on yourself only adds to your stress and anxiety. Make sure you prioritise your mental health and physical health to avoid burnout.
It is worse to commit yourself to something being well aware that you won’t be able to put your best foot forward than to say no and keep your integrity intact.
7. Be your biggest fan
I don’t think this is the first time anyone would’ve heard this trope as it is quite ubiquitous. Moreover, there isn’t any implicit meaning to it. It’s self explanatory. The problem though is we choose to believe it when it is convenient for us but this is something that should be seared into our subconscious. A vital part of our growth process begins when we become relentless in our pursuit to harness our craft.
The most powerful thing you can do for yourself is to believe in yourself and I could understand that sometimes it seems like a long shot at your target but it is worth well trying. Unarguably you are the main character in your story, the only person you owe accountability to. You are the only valid individual to have any kind of reaction towards your achievements in life. Other people don’t know how hard you worked or how much your accomplishments mean to you so at the end of the day, this is only important to you.
When I started my blog, the first blog post wasn’t the best. The next few weren’t great either but that first step, pushing through that fear and doubt got me to move forward. Beginning really is the hardest part. There are so many excuses we could give to subject ourselves to so many forms of procrastination. We convince ourselves that we’re eventually going to get started once we have gotten enough experience, built the skills we need or made the right connections. The truth is that we put it off because we’re frightened. We’re worried that people will make fun of us. That we’ll fail. That we’ll try and it will never work out. But if you don’t get started now, you’re missing out on all the life lessons that come from the actual process of creating. It’s not out of the ordinary to seek approval or advice from other people however, when their opinions hinder your desire for growth, experience and the opportunity to learn, take it with a pinch of salt. Regardless of the pedestal you place this person on, their perspective won’t always be absolute.
To tell the truth, remembering that I have limited time here is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything, all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure. These things just fall away in the face of death leaving only what is truly important.
You’re probably thinking, ‘does it have to go as far as death’. Well, that’s the reality of the situation at hand and I don’t see why I should elude that fact. It is the best way to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
You’ll only be left with regret if you don’t start. Things might not go exactly as planned initially but there are a lot of worse things in life than trying something and failing.
Once I got going with my blog I found that in the first few months I built conviction and it was actually exciting. I mean since I had broken through that initial phase of doubt, I felt I could build momentum. I felt like I was working towards something. I was facing new challenges and new problems that I had never experienced before. And just because it was exciting doesn’t mean it wasn’t difficult.
Some of the questions and backlash that I faced were truly difficult to overcome. Among the many questions I asked myself, “will I ever be able to make this work?”, “how do I get people interested in what I have to say?” But I pushed my doubts to the side and I kept going. The rest is history.
8. Confidence builds by doing
Even before I get into this I want to put it across that confidence is something that can be practised. So if for some reason you are of the view that confidence is something that is inherent then you’re far from right. Now there are a lot of things that can make a person feel confident; standing up straight with your shoulders back, having a good hair day, winning a game of chess, going to the gym four times a week and all the other classics YouTube gives you. It really is broad and constitutes both external and internal factors. I’d however shift focus to the internal type of confidence.
Now I’ve definitely had my ups and downs, ups being very high and the downs being very low at times. There are still periods when I feel more confident than other times and I’m okay with that. I don’t strive to be super confident in every circumstance (if that’s even possible) but when I have to show up, I show up. Majority of the time I just want to strike the balance and in order to get there, it’s important for me to understand when and why I feel confident during certain times compared to others. The question I’m posing is, “what are the contributing factors to my confidence levels be it high or low?” I’ve spent quite a bit of time reflecting on that and these are my thoughts based on my experience.
The first step I believe is honesty. Now, when you search the internet for how to become confident, several articles emphasise positive affirmations and self pep talk. As a matter of fact a couple of years ago my first encounter with this notion was from a book I read by Brian Tracy and I quote, “Just as you become what you think, you also become what you say to yourself. The most powerful words you can repeat to yourself, especially if you’re feeling tense or uneasy about an upcoming event are the words, “I like myself! I like myself! I like myself!”
This has worked for me on most days specifically spontaneous events but in as much as I’d like to settle with this I admit that it is not entirely foolproof.
I have been faced with nerve wrecking moments and the caveat during these moments was being honest with myself; looking at the whole picture, taking inventory and essentially evaluating both my weaknesses and my strengths. For instance, if I’m not experienced at chess I’m not going to give myself a self pep talk that I’m great at chess in a bid to boost my confidence provided I find myself in a spontaneous chess match. It doesn’t make sense to me personally. Instead, I would be honest with my ego. I might say, my chess skills are mediocre. If I practice more often, I could become better. This is me coming to terms with the situation and being realistic.
This leads me to my second point and this might be the most important one; putting in the work.
Competence builds confidenceClarkson
The best way to build confidence in a given area is to invest energy in it and work hard at it. One thing I learned for sure is that confidence isn’t produced by sitting around and thinking to myself that I am and I can. I need to actually be and do.
Over the past couple of years, I have read a tonne of books; self development books, entrepreneurial books and other things that spark my interest. While they taught me a lot and have contributed immensely to the individual I recognise as today, I realise that there are only so many books that you can read about self development or about building a business until you actually go out and put it into practice. Until you actually try it for yourself, that’s when you really learn. When I look back at some of the skills where I’ve had the most growth; writing, marketing, blogging, modelling, weightlifting and even cooking it wasn’t by reading books or watching videos. I learned the most by actually doing. By putting these things into practice. It’s typically not that easy to see progress in the beginning. It can be really frustrating when you set out to try to learn photography for the first time or when you write the first thesis paper for a client. It’s hard to see the improved difference between the first day and the second day. But without a doubt I can always look back over the course of two years and see massive improvement. It doesn’t matter how good I’ve gotten and it doesn’t matter at what point I am in the respective field. Even today, looking back two years ago, I sometimes cringe at the things that I have made. But really that cringe is just an indication that I’m heading in the right direction, that I’m learning and I’m really learning not by reading or researching, but by actually getting out and doing.
Generating confidence is going to require that you expose yourself to those uncomfortable situations repeatedly and giving your best shot at it with every try. I think one of the worst things that you can do is to half-arse a task and use the results of that to assess your abilities and make it affect how you view yourself. For instance, if I put minimal effort into writing a blog post and it doesn’t get the response that I had wanted, I can’t use that to evaluate my competence. Why because I didn’t maximize my competencies hence it wouldn’t be a fair standard of judgement. On the other hand, if I give an article my best shot and it still doesn’t proceed the way that I would’ve anticipated that is my cue to evaluate my flaws and work on them.
My third point would be finding comfort and discomfort. You know, each time that you put yourself out there, each time that you try something new, you’re taking a risk and that’s nothing profound. We all know that.
If you try, you risk failure. If you don’t, you guarantee it.Anonymous
There is no growth in your comfort zone so you just have to take your pick. Here’s the thing, if you’re not okay with the possibility of embarrassing yourself, if you’re not okay with the possibility of failing, and if you’re not okay with the possibility of someone not liking you, you will never take a chance and this mentality paralyses you. You never get better at anything.
There have been instances where I see people mock newbies at the gym for reasons such as their physique or their broad daylight confusion as to how to navigate their way about the equipment. This is appalling behaviour on the part of the mockers and would most likely take a toll on their victims but unfortunately certain things aren’t within our control. This includes people’s ratchet behaviour and the only thing we can do about it is to ignore them. No one comes to the gym in perfect shape. The gym is a paradigm for self development so making people feel uncomfortable for taking the first and most difficult step of showing up says more about you as a person than your resume ever would. (Just had to get that off my chest)
And now the final point is about acceptance. Now acceptance does not mean settling. Neither does it mean setting the bar low or giving up. It just means that you see the situation for what it is which is really important because if you don’t see the situation for what it is, you’re not really making any room for change or improvement. For example, it’s easy to go for a job interview, not get the job and tell yourself that the interviewer was bitter or rude. You could convince yourself that they’re the one missing out, essentially putting the entire blame on them and all of that might be true but with this mentality you’re not allowing yourself to learn anything from that experience. Now acceptance is just as much about taking responsibility for your actions as it is giving yourself credit when it’s due. I’ve struggled quite a bit with the giving myself credit part, but I’m working on that. I try to celebrate little wins and let myself know when I’ve done a good job. Even if you just cooked yourself a good meal. Make sure you give yourself a pat on the shoulder.
Like I said, this is a very broad topic and I could talk about this for hours on end. I’m pretty passionate about this because I’ve seen so much wasted potential with people who just haven’t had the confidence to live out the way that they could have. I would probably make a more in depth post on this topic later in the year.
9. Document more
This can easily make top of my list among every other thing I’ve listed. Being able to relive certain moments of our lives is such an underrated blessing and I’m sure majority of us can testify to this. Most phones and apps have this feature where they share memories from years ago and we’re triggered with so much excitement when we see our throwbacks. Probably because it reminds us of people, places and activities that we love and sometimes it’s just fascinating to see how much growth has occurred within a time lapse.
I should mention that documenting is pretty easy. It’s just showing your journey and the things you’re working on. This isn’t an idea that’s relevant just for filmmakers and creatives. This is something that I think everybody can gain a little bit from even if you just take a few days every month to document where you are in the life that you’re living. It’s something that I really started to think about after listening to a couple of podcasts somewhere in the first quarter of the year 2022.
It’s really nothing extra. It’s just about documenting the mundane and the boring of today and what that can mean for the future. Some things I document I have no expectation or idea of what it could potentially be in the future but I’m certain that years to come I can be just as enthralled watching them as I do when I stumble across old pictures and footage of myself when I was younger.
Documenting doesn’t necessarily have to be the good moments. Even the bad days are worth documenting. My mum told me when I was about twelve years that “no matter how hot the water is, it eventually gets cold”. The context to which this statement alludes to is that regardless of how a situation might seem terrifying or chaotic now, eventually it’s going to end, it dies off.
There are days when I read my journals from years ago and the gravity with which I described daunting situations then is remarkable. I mean yes, they were real problems I was facing then and they gave me sleepless nights but now they are non-existent so much so I have to read my journal before I remember there were days as such.
That is just a piece to the whole puzzle. Journaling could be your avenue of documentation.
But for me, documenting is more than that. Recently, I have taken interest in documenting a lot of events; from the grand moments where I prepare for a photoshoot to the casual days where I have a good chat with my folks. I love to record my parents on their blind side especially during moments of advice and I have them on repeat on days I miss them.
We don’t realise the value of certain moments until we can’t have them again. This is a euphemistic statement and I hope you catch on. Sometimes we need more than a picture perfect photo of our loved ones as it just might not be enough. I want to be able to relive the casual moments, to hear their voice over and over again.
What if our future happiness is based on memories from our past.Anonymous
10. Overthinking kills your happiness
There is more to overthinking than mulling over that hostile comment your friend made. It is an agonizing experience and that’s to say the least. Some people coin overthinking as ‘analysis paralysis’ because overthinking essentially ceases forward motion or decision making. In the bout of overthinking, you see logic and you’re sure you should lean in for it but it seems like it’s on the other side of a tinted glass and you can’t reach it. Your brain is essentially in overdrive; you lose focus and you can’t be productive in anyway.
It’s hard to put this in perspective if you haven’t really been in this position. There are different ways through which it manifests and different degrees to it. It could range from ‘feeling uneasy at the fact that a group of people giggled when you walked past them’ to ‘worrying over the fact that mum was supposed to be back home ten minutes ago’.
Overthinking really is a downward spiral that digs you deeper into a hole and knowing this is supposed to make a difference, … but it doesn’t. On most days it’s easy to remind yourself to drink more water, meditate, journal, etc but in my obsessive search for control I learnt that there are somethings that I could control and others that I couldn’t and the only way to overcome it is by letting go.
Attachment is the root of all sufferingThe Buddha
Hear me out, there is a slight disparity between choosing not to care and not getting attached. In many ways, the woes of overthinking, we create ourselves.
Undoubtedly, we care about the people and things that add value to us, and bring us fulfilment but the truth is whatever we’re attached to would always be leveraged against us.
When we are detached, absence of these figures will not derail our purpose, or our life. It breaks your resolve because you can let anything and anyone go.
As I write this I’m actively thinking of an alternative because despite the fact that there might be some truth in this, it doesn’t sit right with me. I can’t say I support this 100% so I’m going to end this point here. I might return to update it later when I have in-depth knowledge about it and I’m more resolute in my stance. Until then I’d like to know your take on this point. Perhaps you have a better alternative. I’m here for it all. You could leave it in the comment section or via the contact us page.
You don’t owe everyone your best self, you owe yourself and deserving individuals your best self. Don’t waste your energy where it isn’t appreciated or reciprocated and regardless of how far in the moment you might’ve gone it really isn’t a play of interest to stay there. It drains you of your energy, resources and drive which you need to survive and support those who actually deserve it.
Stay tuned for the 3rd sequel, to be continued…
Also guys, please don’t forget to check out my shop for my personal check-in staples. I’ve been using them for the past two years and they have given me the best of results. They are completely FREE for download so you can head over to my shop and download either. I’d link the shop below.
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