An epic letter to myself to declare my 100% commitment to making self love my number one priority in life and structuring my life around that one value so that nothing else is more important than making decisions based on a question “what would someone who loves themselves do” on a daily basis for the whole year while I’m 22 years old starting on my 22th birthday

I remember writing a letter to myself on my 20th birthday. It was in my first year of university in my first dorm room. I wrote it in a span of a few days and I’ve considered it a masterpiece. To this day it is a valuable piece of self reflection and encouraging thoughts. I haven’t written anything for my 21st birthday because I was in a very different place in life. But since I’m back to becoming more self aware and I’m investing my time and effort into becoming my best self, I think it’s only appropriate to put together another long and inspiring letter to myself.

Dear me,
I’ve just read the letter I wrote to you 2 years ago. I have to say I did a really good job, it is amazing and it contains absolutely everything I wanted to say to you back then. But it is 11 freaking pages long and it takes about an hour to finish reading. No wonder that you didn’t have the patience to read the entire thing ever again and you forgot to apply the principles that I was talking about into your life. You have a special talent to know a lot of things on a theoretical level, but you somehow usually fail to implement them into your life.
What I’ve learned in the past 2 years is that you tend to be lazy. You tend to become too comfortable with what is and you settle for less than you deserve. You get stuck in a daily routine of going to university, studying to pass exams, working part time jobs and maintaining social life that you forget to take time to talk to yourself and to prioritise your own feelings. You forget what is really important in life and you get lost in the drama of daily struggles that prevent you from seeing the bigger picture.
With this letter I want to remind you of what truly matters. I want to put you back on track so no matter what happens in your life, you will see your priorities and your values clearly and you will act in accordance to them.
The most important question to ask yourself right now is – what is your number one priority in life? Me, being the voice of your true self, I actually know the answer and I want to remind you of it. Do you remember what was your number one goal since you were 12 years old? It was to learn how to love yourself. Your entire life you have struggled with self hate. It is an ongoing theme of your life. I remember when you were just 4 years old and you felt like you don’t deserve any friends and any attention of other people because you aren’t worthy of it, you are deeply flawed and you don’t deserve to be happy. Self hate was deeply rooted within you when you were a child. As you got older you began to ask questions and find ways how to overcome this feeling of unworthiness. You’ve read so many books and followed as many teachers as you could and finally made some progress. But we both know that you haven’t reached your final destination yet.
It is very questionable if there even is such a thing as a final destination. I’ve learned that self love is not a specific goal you reach one day and then you automatically love yourself for the rest of your life. Self love is a moment to moment lifelong practice. You have experienced many moments in your life when you felt like you love yourself. You felt good about your situation in life, you were proud of who you are and you loved everything about the now. But those moments usually lasted only for a little while until they faded away. Soon enough the momentum of usual negative focus took over and you felt crappy about yourself once again. What I wish for you is to learn how to maintain and deliberately choose these mental states in your life so they become your daily reality.
You are now in a place in your life when you know everything about how to love yourself that you need to know. You know exactly how to proceed, you’ve read countless books, articles, even wrote some articles yourself, you’ve seen videos, documentaries, attended workshops… You’ve mastered the theory on how to love yourself. So why is it that most of the time you’re not talking to yourself like you would to someone you love? It’s because you forget to apply what you’ve learned. I get it, you have the self hating beliefs deeply rooted within your subconsciousness. But just because you have some beliefs that say you’re not good enough and that you should be left alone doesn’t mean that they are empirically true. Beliefs are not always true, they are just behavioural patterns that you picked up along the way. All beliefs are in their nature changeable.
It takes a lot of commitment to work on yourself. Nothing ever just comes to you with no effort. You can’t expect to wake up one day and suddenly hold only the beliefs which are beneficial to you. You have to deliberately make time in your day to dive deeply into your subconscious mind and look for the negative beliefs which are shaping your reality to be not how you prefer it to be. You have to put in hard work because otherwise the negative beliefs will stay the same and your reality will remain as undesirable as it is.
This is why I suggest that for the next 365 days you will set aside a specific time in your day to just sit with yourself and feel your emotions. You will become aware of how you feel and you will allow yourself to feel every emotion as it is. You will not fight the feeling, you will not try to escape it or change it. You will simply let it be and hear the message that it brings. When you’re feeling a negative emotion, you can dive deeper into this emotion and look for the belief that is causing you to feel this way. Behind every single negative feeling lies a deeply rooted negative belief. You will be looking for the core belief until you find it. You will be brought back into your childhood to the time you picked up this belief. Then you will see an image of your child self in your head and you’re going to let the child fully experience the feelings that come with the negative belief. You’re going to introduce your adult self to your child self and you’re going to explain to it that there is nothing wrong with it for feeling the way it feels. You’re going to comfort the child and after it felt and accepted the negative emotion you will do everything to take care of this little child. You’re going to provide it with all the love, care and understanding it needs and you will leave the child feeling safe and loved. In this way you will be rewriting your own past and changing the deeply rooted beliefs within you. I guarantee you this practise will change your life. The only thing you need to do is to set aside the time in your day to be completely present with yourself. I promise to you it won’t be time wasted. You have done this exercise a couple times before and you’ve seen firsthand that it has a huge impact on your life and after you’re finished you feel like you can conquer the world. But you have not yet had enough self discipline to make yourself do this on a regular basis so it didn’t have a lasting effect.
The only thing that you need to learn how to love yourself is self control. You need to be willing to prioritise self love above anything else. The only reason why you don’t completely love yourself right now is because you’re behaving according to many different values which are not the ones that matter the most to you. You’re making decisions based on what would make other people happy, not based on what would make you happy. But this is the difference between the people who love themselves and the people who don’t. People who love themselves prioritise their own happiness above anything else. Everything else comes second to that.
The other practise that I want you to implement into your life is Teal Swans 365 days of self love. You’ve heard about this practise a long time ago, decided you’re going to do it, but you never really followed through. That is a shame because this practise is life changing. Basically, what you’re going to do is that you’re going to live your life according to a question “What would someone who loves themselves do?”. You’re going to ask this question right after you wake up until you fall asleep every day of your life for the next 365 days. I suggest you’re going to create a poster with this question and put it somewhere where you can see it all the time. I want you to ask this question whenever you’re facing a decision. You’re going to ask this question even when you’re facing a decision as mundane as “what am I going to eat for breakfast”, “which movie should I watch”, “what should I wear today”, “should I go out or stay in”. You’re going to ask this question when you’re making a more important decision like “should I get a masters degree or go get a job”, “which career choice should I make”, “to which country should I move next”. The purpose of asking this question all the time is to make sure that everything you do is leading you on a path of self love. And you already know how important self love is. Self love is everything you desire to feel, so asking this question all day every day should be your mantra. It will definitely not be easy to live your life this way because many times the self loving option is the hardest one to take. It will be an extremely challenging process but at the end it will be so worth it. It will completely turn your life around and put you on the path in life that you’re supposed to be at.
And the last thing I want you to do on a daily basis for the next 365 days is to choose 1 thing you dislike about yourself and find approval for it. Create a journal in which you’re going to describe your insecurity and then you’re going to come up with a list of reasons why that isn’t a bad thing at all and can even be acceptable. I want you to do this daily and be very creative with it. It is a very good practise because at the end you’ll be left with a journal full of creative ways how something you previously disliked about yourself is actually very likable and not a problem at all.
If you’re able to actually commit to these processes and follow through, I promise you, your life will never be the same again. These three simple exercises seem easy to do, but believe me, after some time it gets challenging. You will forget, you will get lazy, you will want to give up. But even in those times I hope that you’ll keep going because the reward is much better than anything you have ever tasted yet.
Your whole life you kept saying that all you want to do in life is to learn how to truly love yourself. Now is the time to prove that you really mean it. Because you’ve been saying that for years and years now and barely anything has changed. You can’t waste your life sitting around saying you’ll start your practise tomorrow. If you really want it as much as you say you want it, you need to start working for it.
All I ask of you is 100% commitment. You need to commit to this goal. You need to become so invested into building self love as you can. You need to make it your number one priority in life. Everything else has to come second. Asking the question “what would someone who loves themselves do” is your new mantra. Listening to your emotions and learning from them is your daily practise. Deliberately choosing the thoughts which are self loving and looking for all the creative ways you can appreciate yourself is your new ritual. Whether you’re going to be sad or happy or scared, you’re going to be there for yourself, hugging yourself, and being proud of whatever emotion you’re feeling.
To become the best version of yourself, you need to get down on one knee, propose to your decisions, and commit to them for a lifetime. That’s what your decisions deserve – 100 percent. I promise the hustle will be so so worth it in the end.

What happened in my 21st year

Today is April 24th – this means that in just 4 days is my birthday. To be precise, my 22th one. I can hardly believe that I’m going to be this old. Although I knew for a long time that my birthday was coming up and I’ve pondered the idea of being 22 many times before, I still have a hard time getting used to the fact that soon I’ll be 22 years old.

I wasn’t scared to reach the age of 21. Mostly because I was in a very different place in life last year. I have just gotten out of a relationship with someone who was older than me. In that year I’ve had my first relationship, moved in with that person and was planning to spend my life with them. I felt like I’ve had my life figured out for a 20 year old, therefore I felt old enough to reach the age of 21. And still, in some countries the age of 21 is the age of  reaching adulthood, so I cannot be that old if in some countries I have only now become legal.

A lot of things happened in my life while I was 21:

  • I went on a vacation to Thailand with my family and fulfilled my dream of visiting this beautiful country.
  • I moved in with my boyfriend to our own apartment and I was excited to go through everything in life with him.
  • Our relationship fell apart really quickly after moving in together and it left me devastated.
  • I felt like I was back to square one, I didn’t know what to do with my life.
  • I moved back to my city with my family and I’ve spent 4 months living at home.
  • I got a job as a hotel receptionist and had to work long 12 hour shifts sometimes even in the night, leaving me no free time to do anything outside of work. Also it was incredibly stressful and I felt so worthless not knowing how to deal with all the customers and having so much responsibility.
  • I started to learn how to drive which was one of my biggest fears. I constantly felt completely worthless for not being able to stop panicking the whole time. After every driving lesson I wanted to cry my eyes out. I felt like the instructors hated me and wanted to get rid of me. I completely failed my first test which only confirmed my fears. I then passed at the second time, but only because of the generosity of the policemen, not because I was any good.
  • I’ve started my third year of university and moved to Prague to a different dorm. I got a new roommate which turned out to be the most annoying roommate I’ve ever had (and possibly anyone could have). I had to deal with her ridiculously annoying presence every day which was most of the time driving me crazy.
  • I wrote my first real academic thesis which took a lot of work, but I did it well and I developed a great work ethic and at the end I’m really proud of myself.
  • I’ve made the effort to leave my comfort zone and attend meetups in Prague. This allowed me to meet a lot of new people from all over the world. I have finally after many years made a friend that I can hang out with!

A lot of things happened while I was 21. Looking back at my year it doesn’t seem like the most pleasant year of my life. A lot of really unpleasant things happened that left me really sad and hopeless. Especially during the summer I felt like I completely lost my path and I didn’t know what I was doing. But now I know that all of that had to happen. I had to lose myself completely to find myself again.

During my dark times in the summer I’ve stumbled across someone online who has enabled me to see the light again. This person has restored my faith in humanity and made me believe that there are good people out there which are loving, inspiring and positive. This person has inspired me to keep going and not give up on my life just yet. I will forever be grateful for this and I’ll definitely write an article about this public figure later.

In the fall of 2016 I’ve returned to the practices of finding self awareness once again. I’ve studied Teal Swans material even further and I feel like I understand a lot more of it on a deeper level than I did before. I even attended Bashars workshop in Prague and I could ask him a question!

I have realized how important the practise of self awareness is. The reason why my relationship fell apart was because I was expecting the other person to fulfil my needs and I didn’t listen to myself, I didn’t fill up my own cup. I forgot that the most important relationship that I’ll ever have is with myself. After the break up, I was reminded that the most important person in my life is right in front of me when I look in the mirror. I’m happy that I know this now and I can make learning to love myself my number one priority in my life.

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Hi! I’m back

 Yes, I’m alive. I know I haven’t posted anything on this blog for 2 years and for that I apologize. I do not expect to have any readers at this point so I don’t care if no one ever sees this, I’m just writing this for myself.

I’ve decided to write something here because writing has always been my passion. I’ve had a blog since I was a teenager and nothing makes me happier than reflecting on things and writing my thoughts down. But I haven’t done much writing in the past two years. A few years ago I’ve tried to manage a website. I was pressuring myself to publish articles at least 3 times a week. Soon enough I ran out of ideas. I didn’t know what to write about, so I had to force myself to do it and it wasn’t fun at all. Writing didn’t make me happy anymore because I was forcing myself to write even when I wasn’t in the mood. That’s why I would always stop publishing articles after some time and take a long break.

This break lasted 2 years and a lot of things in my life have changed. I’m not the same person that was there 2 years ago. I’ve gone through things that changed me forever. I don’t live in the same environment as I did 2 years ago, I surround myself with different people and some of my values and priorities have changed. I got into my first relationship, I’ve put all my time and trust into this relationship, moved in with this person, planned my future with this person only for this relationship to fall apart in the most unpleasant way. This has left me in a personal crisis for almost a year.

But after analysing and getting through the trauma of a difficult relationship I have gotten back on track. I once again recognize the importance of self awareness and self reflection. When I was in a relationship, I expected the other person to fulfil all of my needs and I didn’t work on myself at all. After the relationship fell apart and left me devastated,  I had no other choice than to come back to myself. I had to put the broken pieces of myself back together. I started to dig deeper and deeper and look for the real reasons why I act the way I act. I’m basically doing the same thing I did 2 years ago but on a much deeper level. I’m once again looking for my core beliefs and examining my motives. I almost forgot how much fun I had while doing it. But at the same time it is exhausting and I have to reserve special time in my day to question my thought, my motives and my emotions.

Self awareness takes a lot of effort and hard work. To be self aware is not something that you reach one day and you can retire for the rest of your life. Self awareness is a lifelong practice. If one wants to be self aware, he has to commit to it 100%.

During the last few months I’ve spent a lot of time doing shadow work. I have put together an entire word document I’ve called “Self awareness document” that now has over 130 pages. It contains a lot of self reflection, a lot of questioning of beliefs, examining of values. The only goal of the document is to bring the subconscious of my mind to the light of consciousness and to deliberately change my beliefs so they work in my best interest. A lot of the information in this document is very private, but I believe that some chapters might be useful for others as well, so I’m going to share a few of them with you in the future.

If you’re wondering why am I making so many grammar mistakes, it’s because English is not my first language. My native language is Slovak and in the past few years I have concentrated  on studying German and Spanish and my English has greatly suffered. That’s one of the main reasons why I haven’t posted on this website for so long – I’m a perfectionist and I don’t like to put out content that not 100% grammatically correct. I haven’t spoken English in a while and I know my English is rubbish. But hopefully you get what I’m trying to say even when I don’t write like a native speaker would. Now I care a lot less about being grammatically correct, about publishing regularly and writing articles that attract a lot of people. I’m not going to put so much pressure on myself anymore. I have only sat down to write this because I’m excited to do so and writing makes me happy. My happiness is my number one priority so I don’t care what anyone else thinks and I’m going to put out what I want, when I want it and how I want it.

So, the point of this article is to let you know I’m still alive, I might from time to time publish an article if I’m passionate about doing so and I’m looking forward to share some life lessons and discoveries I’ve made in the past 2 years with you :).

The complete surrender

Today is the day when I allow myself to be completely honest with me for the first time. All my life I’ve been running away from the truth of how I feel. I couldn’t handle the emotions which were present with me. I was in denial, always trying to convince myself that I feel better. To me feeling bad meant failure. I could never admit to where I was in life. I always lied to myself that everything is alright, when in fact everything inside me was screaming for help. I was terrified, unhappy, frustrated and desperate, but I could never admit it. Today I sit here and I can say it out loud: I feel sad, disappointed, frustrated, fearful and unhappy.

This article is going to be full of honesty. That’s why it’s probably not going to be so well structured as the others. But I need to get these emotions out. I need let myself feel them for the first time.

The thing I am most terrified of is rejection. I can’t handle rejection. I’m scared to death that people won’t like me and they will run away from me. This fear has its core in my childhood when I felt rejected and unloved by my parents. And this deep childhood wound is now projecting itself into my adulthood. I’m scared that every single person I meet is going to disapprove of me. I’m a huge people pleaser. The only way I know how to get love is from the outside. That’s  why I care about other people’s opinions so much. I need to be adored by everyone, otherwise I feel worthless. I sacrifice myself for other people, I always do everything other person asks me to do just to be approved of and validated.

I feel so empty like there is something missing. Since I can remember I’ve always felt like this. It feels like a hole in my chest. No matter what I do I can’t find a way to fill it up. It’s always there and it bothers me. I feel like its eating me alive. I can’t escape it. It will find me wherever I go.

I feel like I’m not living my life like I should be. I feel like I don’t deserve to live on this planet. I’m a student and my parents provide me with money. I have a lot of free time and I do nothing. I don’t have many friends and I never go out. I don’t have a job and I procrastinate all the time. I’m wasting my life aimlessly surfing the internet all day long. I have absolutely no idea what I want to do in life. I feel like I’m already half dead. Nothing exciting ever happens.

I live with a chronic feeling of shame. I’m ashamed to be who I am. I’m ashamed of how I live. I’m ashamed of how I feel. I don’t feel like I’m good enough. I don’t feel like I fit it. I don’t feel like I contribute to society in any way. I feel like a burden. I feel like a waste of space. I feel like I bother everyone in my life. I’m a burden for my parents that pay me for living. I am a burden for everyone who crosses my path. Nobody likes me. They all think something is wrong with me. It’s always been like this. People would meet me for the first time and then they would ask my mom what is wrong with me. Why am I so shy and so scared? Why am I so quiet? Why does my voice sound so weak and shaky? What kind of a problem do I have?

In my life I have only met with disapproval and rejection from other people. I’ve never had friends. I never felt like I belonged. Life was hell for me in kindergarten. I was the kid that was hiding in the corner all the time, I didn’t talk to anybody and my teachers were concerned about my mental health. Since I can remember me and my mother have been visiting one therapist after another and no one could tell me why have I ended up like this. I always felt like there is something wrong with me. And everyone treated me that way. I hated school. All the way from elementary school to high school it was the same thing. I was the most unpopular kid in class. I was bullied and everyone laughed at me. Everyone made fun of my fear. They knew that I was scared. I desperately tried to play it cool and act normal, but the harder I tried the more obvious it was how I was afraid. I couldn’t stop my face from turning red. My voice always sounded shaky and I was stuttering all the time. I couldn’t get a word out of me that would  sound normal. I couldn’t say anything, that’s why I was always silent. All I wanted was to disappear. I wanted to be invisible, that’s why I was always hiding somewhere in the back. I knew everyone in school hated me. No one was there to support me or defend me when they were laughing at me. Everyone had fun while watching me fail. My life was a joke for everybody.

My relationship with my parents was never what I wanted it to be. I intellectually knew that they love me, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel seen, heard or understood. My mother always meant well, but she made me feel worthless all the time. She is a master in invalidation. Everything I do, think or say she invalidates. She never approved of who I was and always compared me to other kids complaining why am I not like them. Why am I so scared, so weak, so quiet? I felt rejected by my mother. When I came home from school after a hard day of school, all that she did was to yell at me afterwards. She always disapproved of something in me.

I have always been completely alone. I never had anyone in my life that I could open up to. I felt like an alien in this world. I had no idea what I was doing here. I felt so separated. Nobody understood me. I had no relationships whatsoever. I only interacted with my parents, my siblings and people who bullied me at school. I had no support or understanding from anybody. I felt like a burden. Like my existence bothers people around me. I wanted to go away. Disappear. The world would be better without me.

My life has changed a lot since I started collage. I no longer feel so worthless and suicidal anymore. I believe that I there lies a bright future ahead of me. I even made a few friends. People don’t laugh at me anymore and I am not the least favorite person in school. People are starting to like me. I am slowly beginning to let myself be seen. It’s a long process but surely I will get there. I express my opinions and I’m not so afraid to talk when I have something to say. But I still get nervous around people. It isn’t as bad as it used to be, but it still bothers me. I wish it would go away. I still don’t live my authentic life. I still sacrifice myself and abandon myself for the sake of others. I don’t want to do that. I want to learn how to love myself. I want to be true to myself and stop caring what other people think. I want to be confident and happy. And I want it sooo much. My desire is as big as this entire universe. And I get so upset when I look at my life as it is and compare it to what I want it to be. That’s what’s holding me back.

It feels like all of these negative emotions which I’ve been trying to suppress will always find me no matter how hard I try to escape them. If I choose to run, there is no way out, I’m caught in a an endless cycle. I’m starting to see that there is nothing left to do. Running away doesn’t seem like a good choice anymore. I know I will never escape. The only thing I can do is to surrender to my emotions. I need to let them take me. I’m afraid that they will kill me, but even death is better than living a half life. I don’t want to limit myself in any way. I don’t want to numb my emotions anymore. Because when I numb the negative ones, I also numb the positive ones. From now on I will allow myself to feel anything. Every emotion belongs to me and it is supposed to be here with me now. I am willing to feel absolutely everything. I invite all kinds of emotions to overwhelm me and shatter me to my core. I’m ready to die.

Safety

Most of the time when I feel something negative I feel like a want to run away from it. I just wish it would go away. But I’ve been getting better at hiding this even from myself. Because I think that I should not want escape my emotions. Instead I should already know how to be present with them. I intellectually understand that to end all of my suffering I need to let myself suffer. But right now I don’t want to suffer. I just want it to end. And I don’t want to go through the hell of unpleasant emotions. I feel like they are killing me inside and if I felt them, I wouldn’t survive. Even though at many points in my life I was able to be present with myself when I was feeling negative emotion and what I discovered was that they didn’t kill me. I felt an overwhelming feeling of inner peace and satisfaction. It felt like liberation. So I understand that that’s the answer to the question how to end suffering. But what I do is that I push myself to let myself feel my emotions. Ironically, I push myself to feel because I don’t want to feel. All I want to do is to escape the truth of how I’m feeling right now.

I sat down with myself and I asked myself: “Why do I feel the need to run away from my negative emotions?”. I sat there being completely open to any answer I could receive. I just wanted to know and to be as present with me as I could. The answer I received was: “To keep me safe”. At first this answer has surprised me. How could that be true? How does it keep me safe? And then it hit me.

When was the first time I didn’t let myself feel what I felt? When I was a little child and my feelings were invalidated by adults who thought they knew better than me. The first time someone told me that my anger isn’t right and I shouldn’t be feeling this way, I’ve learned to disapprove of this emotion. I promised to myself to never express my anger and to deny its existence as much as I could. And why did I do this? To be safe.

I’ve learned that the only way how I could survive in this world was when other people approved of me. Therefore they had to approve of my emotions. If I showed them a feeling they didn’t like, for me it meant that I won’t get love from them. Not to get love means not to survive. My young self had no other choice than to conform to society’s idea of perfection to get love. I had to hide my negative feelings. And not only was I hiding them, I also resisted them. Whenever they would come up I would feel like a failure, because I felt something that wasn’t acceptable. If I feel something which is wrong, it means that I am wrong.

The real reason why I don’t allow myself to feel bad is because this unwillingness to feel keeps me safe. It ensures that I won’t die. It keeps me alive. It is a safety mechanism my little self adopted to survive in this world. What an innocent reason, right?

And this applies to everything. Every single seemingly destructive behavior we have is fundamentally here to keep us safe. It is as simple as that. All of our pain, all of our suffering is here because at some point in our lives it made us feel safe. It is true that when we grow up this safety mechanisms become far more destructive. The thing that initially kept us safe now kills us from the inside.

So many of us will sabotage themselves in life. We stay in our comfort zone and we never dare to take risks that could take us to a life of our dreams. We are so scared of failing that we never try anything new. We are convinced that when we live like this we will at least survive. We fail to notice that because of this our lives are slipping through our fingers. We live our lives only to discover that we have arrived to death safely.

But to free ourselves from the prison of these safety mechanisms we must recognize them for what they are and how are they serving us. We will never let them go if we fight them, if we want to desperately get rid of them and when we invalidate them. This wall that we built that now keeps us from living the life we want was once here to keep us safe. And it didn’t go away. It is still here for the same reason. It is time that we see it for what it truly is and give it the approval and love it deserves. Once we fall in love with the wall, it no longer bugs us and the wall has no need to be there.

The Virtues of Solitude – 6. Courage

Courage Isn’t Fearlessness

“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The first question we must ask ourselves is: What is courage? Courage is being comfortable with uncertainty. That’s it!

Courageous and cowardly people aren’t that different, they both share the same human anxieties and fears that come with the unknown. The only difference is courageous people hear their fear, put their fears aside and do things anyway, while cowards listen to the fears and follow them.

We aren’t born with courage but born with the potential for it.  I’ve heard many people declare that being “normal” is some kind of virtue, but if you think about it, being normal denotes a lack of courage, as the majority of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.

Paradoxically, many heroes are men who weren’t courageous enough to be cowards.  They feared more the opinions of others than their own fears.  The biggest hindrance of courage is to pursue dreams that are different, uncertain, or audacious, especially in regard to how other people will see them, and whether they will criticize them or not.

I’ve learnt that to be brave you must trust the uncertainty that comes with change.

Trusting Uncertainty

Successful people all share one common element, they have great trust in themselves.  They are all courageous enough to be different, and to conquer their fears of criticism or death.

It is commonly thought that hate is the polar opposite of love when in fact the opposite is not hate, but fear.  Love expands, fear shrinks, love opens, fear closes, love trusts, fear doubts. The deeper you go into love through trust, the less fear there is.

Only in loving your dreams and wanting something badly enough will you decide that trusting uncertainty is a much more fruitful path than fearing uncertainty.  Looking for safety isn’t safe, it’s taking the fun out of everything, which also includes removing risks.

With enough experience facing fears you develop a confidence that allows you to trust in your own abilities in any situation.  Don’t get me wrong, confident people still feel fear, but they know they’ve coped well with situations before by trusting themselves.  Most of all, they trust their intelligence enough to go into the unknown, they know that even if the whole known world disappears… they will still be able to settle and make a home in the unknown.

Courage creates the difference between surviving and living.

To practice any other virtue requires at the foremost courage.  Any resistance to change out of fear eventually causes suffering and stagnation.  In the end it takes courage to endure the intimidating feelings of self discovery, and resist the dull monotony of our lives.

One final message from what I’ve learnt: endurance is the key word. Courage isn’t a fearless outburst, it’s a quiet persistence that will not surrender to the fear it feels.  To fail is not really a failure, it’s an opportunity to try again.

The Virtues of Solitude – 5. Appreciation

Did you know that only 10% of our mind functions consciously on a daily basis?

That leaves the other 90% functioning on an unconscious auto-pilot mode.  In essence, all the stimulation of our daily lives is filtered out for what is the most immediately relevant to us.  So what’s the big deal you ask?  The big deal is the little things we miss on the way. We miss the opportunities for admiration, the doorways to experiencing gratitude, and the chances to appreciate life as a whole.  We miss the feelings of happiness, the childlike sensations of awe, and the innocent curiosity of wonder.

If you look around, it’s easy to see that the need for personal Solitude is great in this world.  Not only does Solitude help us develop inner peace, acceptance and understanding, but also outer insight, awareness and most essentially, appreciation.  After all, how are we supposed to enjoy the journey rather than the destination without appreciating what we see on the way?

Gratitude and Appreciation

If you want to find happiness, find gratitude.  ~  S. Maraboli

Gratitude stems from appreciation and is essentially an attitude of thankfulness towards the big and little things of life.  When was the last time you sat down and thought about all the things you’re thankful for?  Or stopped at the traffic lights and felt gratitude for your ability to work for money, drive, gather food, function normally … So why do we complain more than feel appreciation in our lives?  The answer is an easy one: lack of awareness, and lack of alone time and personal Solitude.  As I mentioned earlier, we live most of our days in an automatic and unconscious state.  As you can read in a previous article, this is largely due to the fact that we constantly live in the past or off in the future, forgetting about this present moment now.  To experience gratitude is to experience an appreciation of the present moment, of what we possess right now.  Experiencing gratitude also requires a certain level of introspective alone time, you could even say that gratitude is a natural byproduct of Solitude.  Without Solitude, it’s extremely difficult to develop appreciation when we’re engulfed in tides of people, noise and drama.

My question to you, the Reader:

How do you practice gratitude in your daily life?

Admiration and Appreciation

Admiration is the second element of appreciation and is basically a feeling of wonder and pleasure towards something.  Admiration is essential to our lives because it instills in us a sense of love, respect and awe for what we see.  When you pass a mountain in your car, do you feel a sense of awe and wonder?  When you see a mother nursing her young in the streets, do you feel a sense of love and respect?  Too often we take the things we see for granted, missing out on their hidden opportunities to experience admiration and appreciation, the very things that help us enjoy life.  This is due to the fact that we don’t make time and space for ourselves to absorb the world around us.  Once again, experiencing admiration in its purest form is closely linked to the need to establish personal Solitude.  How can we live life fully without first admiring, appreciating and enjoying it first?

Appreciation, the fifth virtue of Solitude, is split up into the two elements of gratitude and admiration.  These allow us to see each moment as a beautiful gift, with eyes of wonder and respect.