Ego in Love and Mindfulness to the Rescue

What is your ego in love? When we first “fall in love” with someone, we are often blissfully ignorant of the flaws of the individual. We have initially been attracted to them because they were cute, funny, smart, had a stable job, etc. Our egos were validated by the things they did for us, the attention they gave us, and how they “made us so happy.” But, overtime, what begins to happen? When we feel this person is no longer doing things to validate our ego, be begin to become resentful and hateful of a person we once adored.

Many of us are left at the end of a relationship questioning what went wrong when toxicity or infidelity was not to blame for its end. For these relationships, it can be much more difficult to pinpoint exactly what did go wrong, and we vaguely conclude, “they just weren’t the one for me” as reason for the relationship’s end.

However, can we argue the legitimacy of this statement and rebut that perhaps if we were a little more aware and mindful of our relationship throughout its duration, maybe we could have still been with this person we once adored?

Because we are often operating from a place of ego, where we expect the other partner to do the things we want them to do, say the things we want them to say, and know everything we are thinking at all times, when our ego is hurt and not validated, little things begin to annoy us and then begins the laundry list of reasons why this person is not good for us after all.

For example, a fight begins with the way the dishwasher is organized. We take this disheveled arrangement personally because we believe the person we love and care for so much should know how you like the dishwasher to be organized and any deviation from that expectation feels disrespectful to you. Since this is interpreted as an attack to our ego, we unconsciously react with cruel and regretful words, and as a result, contempt and anger begin to manifest in our relationship. Overtime, as we allow our egos to fully operate our relationship rather than our mindful awareness, we are not able to react in a more loving and understanding manner. Our bonds then begin to break down and eventually, we conclude our relationship that began as a hopeful, blissful romantic love story has no happily ever after.

We may even blame the other partner for the fall of our relationship, but each of us have a responsibility when we are in partnership with another, and if both partners are not committed to having a mindful relationship, it cannot thrive since ego will always be the driving factor of the satisfactory barometer for the relationship.

In a true mindful and loving relationship, the dishwasher situation might have been resolved in a more compassionate manner. Upon seeing the disheveled dish arrangement, the partner may still immediately feel annoyed (ego), but instead of acting on that feeling, he or she takes a moment to understand why this situation bothers them so much. He or she might think this means their partner does not listen to them, they do not care about what they think or are frustrated that they do not know what bothers them after all of these years but, upon recognizing the reasons for feeling so annoyed, a more mindful partner might be able to reason that their partner is not doing this to be malicious or disobey their word, but rather, they simply did not realize what they have done and did not realize how it would have impacted you. Understanding that what your partner has done was not personal or intentional should immediately allow for their annoyance to subside for the time being. In this space he or she is given time to understand and can now choose to react in a more mindful and appropriate manner. He or she can do this through having a compassionate and understanding conversation about the dishwasher arrangement, and have the partner become aware of how it makes you feel when the dishwasher is not arranged in a particular way and how important it is to you. This can then open up the opportunity to learn more about one another and communicate what each partner can do to have one another feel heard and respected.

Throughout the relationship, when you feel your ego has been triggered, take a moment to ask yourself why, and question whether there is something that your partner has intentionally done to make you feel a certain way, or if your reaction is simple a reflection of your own internal insecurities, trust issues, commitment phobia or attachment to expectations that have led to the disappointment. In committing to having a mindful romantic relationship with your partner, you commit to a life of reflection, understanding and compassion, and give your relationship the best chance to thrive in the long-run. 

 

26 Years… What I Know for Sure- 10 THINGS

So, today marks my 26th birthday, and in honor of that occasion, I thought it would be fun to reflect on some of the lessons I have learned over my 26 years of life thus far. We all evolve so much throughout the years that it is strange thinking back to different beliefs, habits, attitudes you may have held in adolescence or even just a year ago, which might differ completely now.

With inspiration from Oprah Winfrey’s book, What I Know for Sure. Here are the top 10 things that I know for sure (thus far). Hope someone else is able to get something out of it. Enjoy!

1.       It’s not what happens to you in life, it is how you CHOOSE to react to it.

We have a lot more control over our experiences in life than we give ourselves credit for. It is easy to blame “bad luck” or pity ourselves over a certain circumstance we most likely cannot control. So, instead of succumbing to the series of unfortunate events, perhaps, CHOOSE to be positive, own your circumstances, and move forward!

2.       You are always exactly where you are supposed to be.

This is a big lesson I have especially learned over the past year or so. Being in a career I am not super passionate about can make one feel anxious and stuck. But, having adopted this new mentality about where I am vs. where I want to be. I know I am taking small actions towards where I see myself, and in that we much ACCEPT where we are right now because NOW is all we truly have. We must let go of angst and let life guide us patiently through our course.

3.      Want only what you already have.

Many of us live our lives wanting more, more money, more status, more power, more things, and lose sight of all we already have. Being grateful for what we already have and wanting only that and nothing more is extremely humbling. We being to recognize that we have much more than most, and that is enough.

4.       The power of gratitude

I have been journaling what I am grateful for every day for a couple of years now, and I will tell you that it truly does put things in perspective. Having a gratitude journal forces you to reflect on all we have and all of the blessings in our life every day. It can be the smallest little things such as just waking up, having a moment to yourself, having the sun come out today, etc. Many of these small things we can take for granted, and writing them down every day prevents us from overlooking them.

5.       Acceptance is Love

For years I always wondered why I did not feel comfortable around most people, whether it was family, friends or random social settings. I always felt like there was something wrong with me because I was not the type to “click” with many people or make instant friends. I am a self-proclaimed introvert and for years I tried to force myself into a position as an extrovert and fit it. As I grew up I started to understand why the only people I felt genuinely comfortable around was my immediate family, and it was because I trusted that they accepted me. Since I was not yet in a position of fully accepting myself, there was no way I could feel like someone else could be so accepting of me even if they were. On the flip side of this realization, I began to truly be accepting of others in my life, whether they had strange quirks or annoyances, I would still without judgment to my best ability because all they truly want is what I want, acceptance. Then, I began to understand this acceptance as love. It is the most powerful thing we yearn for in life, to be loved, but put even more simply, to be accepted.

6.       The story we tell ourselves RUNS our life, so monitor that story and change the plot if it does not serve you.

Understanding our truth is not an overnight processes. We must recognize the various beliefs and identities we have held throughout the years and assess whether they are moving us forward or holding us back. These beliefs and identities run our lives, so it is important to check in to see what is serving us and what is not. Perhaps you have always identified as being “someone who doesn’t take risks,” so you move through life without ever taking a risk because “that’s not who you are.” Can we maybe question this identity to see if this is good enough reason to never take risks in life? Perhaps we miss out on a good opportunity because we hold this identity so dearly, and holds us back from making a positive change.

7.       Develop the habit of reading even if you don’t love it. Stay curious!

Growing up I was never a big reader, and even today, I don’t love reading books more than 300 pages. But, developing reading into a daily practice is beneficial for the present and future you. Reading allows us to open our minds up into new information and even brings to life a new mindset. As we grow older, we must continue to expand and grow our minds through activities such as reading in order to prevent the deterioration of the brain. In a world where mindless television and internet scrolling in the norm (I am guilty of it to) we need to implement a practice to at least somewhat offset these mindless moment through mindful practices.

8.       Meditation works.

The meditation and mindfulness movement has been growing tremendously over the years, and its benefits have been proven effective for hundreds of years, yet there is some doubt my many (including myself at one time) of its benefits. Over the past year I have been more religious in the adoption of a meditation practice in my own life, and please take it from me, it makes a difference. Overtime, you begin to notice that your mind does not wonder, overthink, dwell or worry about things as it had prior to this practice. Meditation allows for us to train our minds to focus on the present moment and manage distractions during and after the practice.

9.      We experience life through the lens of the mindset we carry.

Perhaps this is similar to the story we tell ourselves, but here I think I am going more for a thought about attitude. If we maintain a positive attitude throughout our days, we had a great day! If we wonder through life thinking the world is against us and everyone is evil, our world will be unpleasant. We can see this sort of idea play out in a circumstance, at work, for example. We might be performing the same job, same task in the same company as another person and they hate their job while you might love it! It’s the same circumstance experienced two completely different ways. Luckily! We have control over our own mindset and can choose to have a good day or not based on that attitude alone.

10.   WE define success, not time, not others, not accolades.

For years I talked about being “successful” “one day,” not fully understanding what success even meant to me. I knew what success meant to other people, having money, cars and status, perhaps, so like many of us, I owned this as my own definition. But was it? How did I define success? What did I want? Is it possible I am already successful? Can’t be! Well, to my surprise, I came to find out that success to me is exactly where I am right now. I might not be in the profession I want to be in, being as financially well-off as I want to be, etc, but in this moment I am success because of the way I define success. I define success as being able to support myself, my friends and my family whether financially (enough) or emotionally. I define success as making progress on personal development, my goals and my skills. I define success as doing the very best I can ALWAYS. Reminding ourselves that everyone is always doing the best they can, may really evoke empathy for one another. Perhaps they do not define success in the same way, but according to your definition, they are successful all the same, whether they know it or not.

Long post and very raw but I hope even one person was able to relate and maybe gain a new perspective from this. What I Know for Sure?… There is more to come. Enjoy!

Luck or Attraction?

Many of us have a tendency to credit “luck” for things both good and bad. When something positive happens to us, we may say we just “got lucky”, and when something negative happens we say we just had “bad luck”. I have never been a proponent of the idea that things happen for no reason at all and we also had nothing to do with it.

For a simple example, I think about why a particularly negative co-worker of mine constantly has problems with his computer, outlook, traffic, and the list goes on, while I find myself to never have any of these issues or at least not to the extent he experiences.

Our energies have much more to do with the way our life is going more than just sheer luck. I will paraphrase the Alchemist saying, when you want something, the universe conspires to help you achieve it. The same is true with negative thoughts. If we are constantly complaining and being negative, that is the energy that is sent out into the universe and the universe will return this energy in a negative form because you have asked for it.

Now, with all of that being said, being more of a believer in attraction than in dumb luck, I am beginning to understand that luck does exist in some form. It is luck to be born into a family with wealth, connections and experience, for example. Perhaps you aspire to be a doctor and your father happens to be a successful doctor, alumni to a prestigious university and well connected at the school. Even if your grades upon application to medical school are average, do you think you might have a better chance at gaining admission than someone who is slightly above average with no connections at all? Of course you do, and you were simply born with that advantage. There is no way you would have been able to manifest this fate in the womb of your mother.

However, we are all dealt a different deck of cards when we are born. Some of us are luck in other ways, more simply, even just being born in a safe neighborhood in the United States of America has been your luck.

Still, luck can be the starting point for some people but attraction remains to be the more determining factor when it comes to the trajectory of the rest of your life. Dealt a good or bad hand, as we grow up, it is up to us to determine what we will attract in our lives. We have full responsibility.

Perhaps the student who grew up with a well-connected doctor father who is an alumni of a prestigious university DOES have a better chance at getting in than you do, BUT you have the ability to ATTRACT a similar advantage.

Even without luck, we can manifest this same chance luck with attraction. Perhaps you are able to network and connect with another well-connected doctor and university alumni through your research and effort to reach out to befriend this person. You may not have been born into this connection but you were able to create this connection and the same advantage as the student born into connection.

It is easy to make an excuse for other’s success and say things like “oh, well they have a shore house because the grandmother left them money, we can’t do that” or “oh yeah, she got that job because her father knew the principal of the school, lucky her.” Yes, maybe these people did have a built-in advantage but it does not mean that just because you did not have one that you cannot achieve the same.

I encourage us all to define what we want to do in our lives, and begin to live each day manifesting positive thoughts for the accomplishment of what we want to do and recognizing opportunities for action that will help you get there even if you were not luck enough to have it given to you. Attract it.

How to Love the Job You Hate

I was thinking of expanding upon this topic at a later time because of how many people complain about their jobs more than anything. It is understandable! We spend 33% of our days, on average, in the workplace. If we are unhappy for 33% of our days and spend that time just waiting for the other 67% to come, we might as well try to make that 33% of time more satisfying.

Now, to begin, I do not hate my job, personally, but there WAS a time when I could not bear it.

So, what changed? My position? My company? Nope.

The answer is… I did.

Some of you may think your situation is unique. If anyone else had your job, they would hate it too, and there is no way your job can be as bad as theirs. Everyone’s experiences are relative so how can we possibly compare? What may be a great experience for you, may be a terrible experience for me. However, the one thing I think we can all settle on is having the feeling of dread getting ready for work in the morning, feeling that drop in your stomach when you realize it’s Sunday and Monday is creeping behind, or watching the clock with anxiety, frustrated that the time will not hurry the heck up!

If we can agree on all of those emotions, I think it is fair to say we all share in this experience.

Today, I am free from the feeling of dread in the morning, enjoy my sits in traffic to work and home, and I do look at the clock but I no longer curse that slow ticking hand.

I know it might sounds crazy but it also sounds pretty good, right? The good things is everyone has the capability of doing the same, but WE need to change!

So, Alex, that’s great and all but HOW do I change?

Good question. The solutions will vary depending on the person, but all I can share is what I did to change my perspective and ultimately changed my life.

This change came primarily with the adoption of two simple concepts: Self-awareness and Gratitude.

Making these a HABIT is critical in changing your way of thinking and your attitude towards everyday life.

First, having the self-awareness to understand the moments in the day that prompt a certain emotion is critical to making a change. Oftentimes we can all get caught up in this auto-pilot mode, where we react without reason.

For example, when I get a message from a frustrated, rude client who hurts my feelings, my initial, auto-pilot reaction is to tell them off and prove my point. However, this would indicate a lack of self-awareness. My self-aware self then brings reason into the equation. In this moment, I stop, reflect on the emotion I am feeling, which words exactly triggered this emotion, and be proactive about what the client’s response would be if I said something as a reaction rather than a reasoned response. Here, we might want to think twice. At the end of this reflection, most likely, I would resolve to keep it polite and professional. Here, I did not risk my reputation in the matter and felt I was the bigger person in the moment. Simply, “Not a problem. Have a nice night.” Not much too feel bad about after that response, huh?

The assessment of our emotions and our TYPICAL reactions to these emotions allows for us to make adjustments. How could we ever change our behaviors if we are never aware of them in the first place?

To assist in my quest for better self-awareness, I began journaling. While journaling, we are able to express our emotions on paper and read them back. Hmm, why did I feel that way? What can I do in my control to improve my reaction to this event that made me feel this way? Journaling provides us with an avenue to take a deeper dive to get to know ourselves better.

Second, gratitude. There is a Tony Robbins saying that I’m sure I have mentioned before, which I will paraphrase here. “It is impossible to feel sadness while also simultaneously expressing gratitude.” No matter how terrible a job might be, there is SOMETHING in this life I am sure you can find to be grateful for in those moments of frustration with your boss, annoyance with your co-worker, or confrontation with your client.

When you notice the feeling of worry or anxiety in the workday, think of that one person or thing that brings you joy and purpose for being alive and say, “Thank you.” That moment of anxiety just changed to joy by just doing that, if only for a brief moment. But, imagine how the accumulation of all of these brief moments of joy would improve your overall day experience.

Don’t allow for those 33% hours to be wasted in feelings of owe and frustration. Make something out of it! Again, this is a habit we are trying to establish within ourselves. So, the consistent and constant practice of self-awareness and gratitude will be crucial in the success of this how-to. Try these tips out every day for the next 30 days, and see if you notice a difference! Feel free to comment with your results. Enjoy!

An Introverted Advantage

Though I have been trying not to hard-define myself as such, I am an “introvert” by nature. What I mean by this is to not allow for “introvert” to be my identity and put me in a box to make me fearful of opportunities I may perceive to exclusively be for “extroverts.” It goes back to the post about “Introverted Networking” (posted 3.23.18). It had been too scary and too out-of-character for me to attend these meetings, I believed, making every reason for why I do not belong there and should not go.

The typical characteristics of an introvert are shy, quiet and uncomfortable around people or crowded settings. Others possessive of these traits are often most comfortable alone or with limited human interaction. Networking events, being the exact opposite of this setting, are deemed to be inherently for extroverts. This is by no means an argument to say organizers of networking events should make gatherings smaller, quieter, or with less social interaction to make the introverted feel comfortable… NEVER! On the other hand, it is rather to say it is the responsibility of the introverted to transform this fear into an opportunity to grow outside their comfort zone.

This is what I will call the introverted advantage. For the extroverted people, who are often more confident in loud, talkative settings, these events might be no big deal. They are comfortable and might even thrive in an environment where they are expected to talk to strangers. However, this lack of discomfort does not allow for them to benefit from a networking event in the way it would an introvert. Perhaps an extrovert’s “uncomfortable” setting is a place where they have to be quiet, alone and isolated from others! Being in this place would, conversely, challenge them to be outside out their comfort zone. For the record, I speak of only the introverted advantage because this is all I personally know. I do not think I am equip to speak for the extroverted advantage, for example, so extroverts comment below! Let me know!

Back to the introverted advantage… As I see it from my experience, there are often more times we will be stuck in uncomfortable conversations, attend awkward parties and have to speak in group settings in a work environment, than there will be opportunities to be alone. For this reason, I find the organic functions of the day-to-day have more opportunities for the introverted to grow! All my life I simply wished I was more outgoing, beating myself up for being awkward in social situations. I was unable to see these events as opportunities, and instead, they were burdens. I can now see that my nature is more of an advantage than a disadvantage. If we are not challenging our own comfort, we are not changing. Once again, I do not encourage anyone to define themselves and label themselves as an introvert or extrovert, morning person or night person, shy or outgoing too rigidly due to the opportunity cost which may come with the inability to recognize discomfort as a chance to grow. On the other hand, let us search for these opportunities to be uncomfortable and get outside our comfort zone.

Question: If You Were To Invite Three People to Dinner Who Would They Be? – Alive or Dead

Upon recent conversation with my significant other, we had discussed the three people (alive or dead) we would want to invite over as a dinner guest. I’m sure throughout life these choices have changed and will change, as if it were a lifetime- long game of musical chairs. Currently, off the top of my head, at this time of in life, I have selected—Barbara Corcoran, Brene Brown, and Oprah (though, originally chose Tupac Shakur for somewhat similar reason).

Although it seems like a strange pairing of people, I feel each of them add a unique perspective given their life work and experiences.

Barbara Corcoran is a notable real estate businesswomen and investor on the popularized show, Shark Tank. My own real estate interest aside, Barbara Corcoran’s mindset, creativity and street-smarts is what is most admirable. Her success story tells a tale of a fellow Jersey girl from modest beginnings rise above challenge and build a real estate empire through her creative wits and lessons from her mother. This crediting to her mother has been especially interesting, paralleling the manner in which her mother raised Barbara and her 10 siblings with her own future business achievements. One story in Barbara’s memoir, Shark Tales, which stood out to me had been her mother’s ability to single-handedly get all of her children washed and clothed in assembly-line fashion. The efficiency of her parenting presented the impression that being a parent was her business and she treated it as so. Furthermore, as someone whose mother is also a great motivator in my life, I take to this accrediting on a sentimental note as well.

One Question to Ask: Being someone who is very much an action-taker, what would be your advice to someone who is alternatively learning and preparing for action but is struggling to make the leap? What can they do to begin closing that gap between learning and taking action?

 

Brene Brown is an American research psychologist and story-teller. I am a newer follower of Brene Brown, having listened to my first book of hers, The Power of Vulnerability, a few months ago, but have followed her work quite diligently thereafter. Brown’s psychology focus is in that of shame and vulnerability. Such topics are definitely a hard listen, but Brown makes light of much of these topics through her own personal stories and kind-hearted nature in her delivery. It is important to have Brene Brown at the dinner table because of how much of an impact her work has had on truly becoming more comfortable with myself, my past and my relationships. Her work has allowed me to forgive myself for not being perfect and, conversely, and somewhat ironically, soak into the opportunities that come with imperfection. Her good-natured delivery has allowed me to laugh off things that have brought me worry and feel more normal in feeling a certain way by exposing the folly of us human beings in believing it’s “just me” or “I’m the only one” feeling this way. It’s not just us.

One Question to Ask: What do you do when you feel you are taking something too seriously?

 

Oprah is an American journalist, media-mogul, businesswomen and motivator. In reflecting on why I would want Oprah to be at my dinner table, I think back to the book report I did on her in the 5th grade. It shook me. The trauma and tragedy Oprah had endured herself at a similar age was something I could barely read about and she had to experience it. Through all of the abuse and loss she experienced as a child, she grew up to now be one of the most influential and wealthy women of our time. What she was able to achieve in her life, never discouraged by her failures, is a testament to her mental strength. Furthermore, I have always been fascinated by the way Oprah conduct an interview, from the linguistic quality of the questions she asks to her genuine engagement with her guests. As a writing creative myself, it is interesting to dissect the reasons behind the pairing of words, and how Oprah has been a master of this to intentionally prompt her guests to share intimate experiences. This is a masterful craft, not a skill that can be executed by just anyone. Oprah has made such word-play her expertise, just as a musical artist does so similarly to prompt listeners’ emotions.

One Question to Ask: How can we ask better quality questions to enhance our connections with one another?

 

Ask yourself this question! Who would you invite