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Friday, September 09, 2016

Wanting more for others #outofthepagesiread

This month's Psychology Today magazine has a striking quote, not in its articles ironically, but in the editor's note. The editor describes a quote that one of the columnists made which never made it to print:

"You cannot want more for others than they want for themselves."

I found this striking because for one, I felt this was what I did every day at work... hahaha... Pushing kids to do their work whether they wanted to or not. But then the editor makes a broader observation from this:

"To want something "more" or different for people is potentially to misunderstand them... it fails to acknowledge an essential otherness."

We do this all the time to varying degrees. We get it at an early age, when our parents start telling us which course of study we should take because it gives a better paycheck and then it comes in varying degrees from the people around you, like your friends or your colleagues or your superiors. I personally experienced this when I was suggested a career path that so widely dovetailed with my character and my personal goals that yes, I realised my superior had completely failed to 'acknowledge my essential otherness'. 

How do we know we are doing this? I think one way to tell is by how much we listen as opposed to how much we speak. In order to know how different other people are from us, we have to really listen to them with empathy and truly understand the shoes they stand in before we are qualified to give them advice. 

We also have to leave them to make their own decisions in life. The world is wide enough to sustain a variety of paths and it's not just your own that is necessarily the best for everyone. True concern doesn't always mean that you dictate the path of others but that you support them on the decision they make. Even if you feel they are heading towards disaster. (However, I will make exceptions for decisions that involve suicide or the death and destruction of others for obvious reasons)

The editor's last quote is one that should stay with us:

"Better to focus on the person who is most difficult to see - the only one over whom it is possible to exert control."

Rather than focus on others, focus on oneself instead. We are the one who is most able to control our own fate but yet we are the least capable of seeing ourselves as we really are, with our strengths and our failings. Yet what right do we have to want more for others if we are unable to develop ourselves towards our own goals? Imagine a teacher trying to convince her students of the importance of studying, yet failing to complete her own assignments for her post-graduate course because she watches TV! (No, this does not apply to me...)

A striking quote indeed, and one that reminds me to focus on my own goals for self-development and to hold myself accountable to myself. 

But yet, at the same time, yes, I will still force the kids to do the work in school. :p  

Reflections on August

One word: BUSY

Even now when I think back about August, all I can think about is busy, busy, busy. It was definitely one of those peak periods where I was just frantically trying to finish everything before the Sept break. Even on days when I didn't bring work home, I was too knackered to do anything except watch TV. 

As I type this, it is now the last day of the Sept holiday and next week, I'm back at work for another round of Busy. *shudder*

At one point, I did pause to think, though, why do I fall off the wagon so badly all the time after June? The reason that comes foremost to mind is of course, work. As times get busier, work gets brought back home, time at home becomes work time and then other things like cooking and general self-care goes out the window. 

I also felt I forgot some of the habits of self-care I took in the first half of the year. Eg, by making time for myself to do the things I love. So this is one habit I want to reinstate: To write down my weekly plans for the things I love to do on my calendar so as to commit to it. In this way, I want to be able to plan my time better without letting work overtake me. I also have to make sure that at work, I religiously keep a to-do list with the deadlines clearly written so that I don't forget what I'm supposed to do. 

Another habit I want to reinstate is that of journalling: To journal one sentence a day and express gratitude for even the smallest thing. These are simple yet powerful tools to balance one's state of mind and I want to continue this. One way is to bring the journal out one days I go out. 

Most importantly, I need to practise self-love. To be able to forgive myself for the things I didn't do so well and to compare me, to me, instead of others. I keep looking at how far others are ahead of me, instead of looking back at how far I've come. This is like wishing you had a Birkin but forgetting you already had a Chanel. While of course I should push myself to go as far as I can, my progress shouldn't be measured by others who follow different trajectories from me. I am responsible for my own path and that is the one I should follow. 

That being said, even if I didn't do as much as I wanted, I still managed to read a great deal, so I'm glad of that. Thankfully, reading is one of the habits firmly entrenched in me. 

This holiday has also given me some space to pursue some craft, so I'm glad for that. (tutorials coming up soon) 

I have a few more months before December and a couple more before March next year, when I get really busy, so wish me luck and here goes!