It took a long time for me to write this one. Partly because it’s personal and it largely involves self-criticism and evaluation on some of my old habits and how all of them have changed over the years as I grow older and ‘supposedly’ wiser 🙂
At each stage of life, people change and evolve into either a worse or better version of themselves. All we need is a cold hard look of what’s inside our soul and some piercing truths spoken by other people who truly care about us. Along the way, some events, some encounters, some experiences (good, bad, heartbreaking, thrilling, etc), some shared stories will miraculously give us the nudge to change and re-evaluate who we are as a person. Any huge changes must come from within. The inner motivation and resolution to change are crystal clear in every thought that crossed our mind and in every action we take.
Here are some of my obsessive old habits that have been toned down to a moderate level.
Yes, I’m guilty of the mistake mentioned above. I used to have a life plan that span around 10-15 years and read so many books on career and life planning that at one point of time, I was trapped in analysis paralysis. Having too many options at once and couldn’t decide on my focus in life.
Here’s one of TED videos on this matter by Barry Schwartz: The paradox of choice. People have too many choices nowadays that it’s becoming more and more difficult to make a choice. Fear of making the wrong move also hinders our ability to stick to whatever that we’ve decided early on. In the end, we stop making choices at all and choose to feel contented with the status quo.
Anyway, these past four years, I’ve gradually toned down the tendency to become too far ahead of myself, reduced excessive and detailed planning down to monthly (instead of 5-10 years plan) and learned to contain my restless thought by writing about it (example here). I started doing real baby steps and achieving goals that I set for myself, no matter how small they are.
Even with a much better perspective on the downside of detail planning to predict the future, I’m still a planner at heart and understand completely that we can plan as much as we can but things won’t go as planned at times. In fact, most of the time, life will just randomly throw us a curve ball and we have to dodge it as best as we can and re-adjust our path.
My planning habit leads me to some major events that have already been scheduled until September this year. In the finance department, I’ve talked about how I have an annual excel spreadsheet just to monitor my daily cash flow in this post.
Here’s what this year will look like:
- Jan 2014: braces time (I’m getting this type, Damon braces, wiring will start in 5 days), CNY celebration at home for 9 days.
- Feb 2014: CNY at home. Attend 2 weddings. Then nothing much, will probably have busier weekends, need to start hiking and boost my fitness.
- Mar 2014: Mom/Dad in SG for 2 weeks
- Apr 2014: 8-day climbing mountain and diving/snorkeling trip (flight booked)
- May 2014: continue on the mountain trip and nothing much.
- Jun 2014: attending wedding in Indo.
- Jul 2014: nothing much, still pondering on whether I can afford the time and $ to attend a wedding in Europe. Hemm…
- Aug 2014: makan trip to Penang
- Sep 2014: my birthday and bridesmaid duty (for the 2nd time in my life, what I heard is maximum of 3 times and then I shouldn’t accept anymore request to become a bridesmaid, otherwise my love life won’t progress? Or is it just Chinese superstition?)
- Oct-Dec 2014 – nothing yet…:)
There you go, old habit dies hard. As much as I want to keep going with the flow, I can’t help to plan my schedule as such that I’ll have a full awesome life and add some new adventures on top of my normal routines.
I love organizing gatherings or outdoor activities with friends and family. In the past, I’d easily become extremely upset and disappointed if the attendance of the activities I organized is poor or most of them came late by 30 minutes or more. But over the years, I’ve learned to manage my expectation and be more relaxed on this matter, because I realized that what I need to do is just to focus on my own feelings and don’t let other people’s disrespectful behavior affect my mood. When my friends are late or decide to flake at the last minute, I’d tell myself that maybe they’re not so respectful of my time or they have the tendency to break promises easily, with no valid reason; but I will certainly NOT do the same thing and let people wait for me. I’m a lady of my word and will do my best at keeping my promises. I’ll set a better example and live up to my own expectations. I’d sometimes mentally blacklist the person for any further activities if he/she is always consistently late or flake at the last minute. I won’t take that person seriously and I definitely won’t think of them as a reliable person. If people can’t be on time, it’s not my problem and I shouldn’t let their bad behavior ruin my mood for the whole day.
I’ve organized activities like: hiking, cycling, dinner gathering, volleyball games. But recently, it’s harder to gather everyone together and I got a little bit tired of personally contacting everyone and arranging multiple gatherings in one weekend. So for now, I’ll stick to more intimate gatherings with maximum 4-5 people, spontaneous outdoor activities or 1-to-1 interaction which are definitely easier to organize and require less time to alert everyone involved (3 days to 1 week notification will do just fine).
As for organizing my stuff, I’m very far from a perfectionist. I’ve got too many things at home and as long as I know where to locate them, I’m happy:) My office desk is not very tidy too but I couldn’t care less. Maybe my Virgo traits are not that evident anymore. Check out a quite accurate explanation of Virgo traits here.
3. Criticizing & judging mind
Naturally, I’m a critical person who tends to secretly discriminate and judge people based on their lifestyle and appearance. For example: I can’t help but judge people who wear wrinkled dress or shirt, a guy or a girl. They look messy in my eyes, they should at least iron them before they go out? For me, I iron all my clothes including my PJs and home clothes, so I’ll catch myself staring at those people with wrinkles shirts with a disapproving look. There you go. My worst OCD symptom. There were so many other things in the past that couldn’t escape my critical mind. Nowadays, although I’m still equally hard on myself, I’ve managed to give second chances for other people. I also allow myself to make mistakes and learn from them, instead of beating myself too hard, like for example: scrutinizing why I fail to get a PASS A for my CELTA course. If I were the under-develop version of me (probably back in primary/high school years), I’d probably beat myself up and make a big fuss on why I couldn’t get an A. But now, I don’t really care. As long as I give my best effort, any result will do just fine.
Even though I hardly criticize people right in front of them, I used to judge them in my mind and choose whether I want (or don’t want) to be associated with him/her. That’s why I don’t have that many friends, I pick and choose my friends with my fastidious judging mind. I tend to avoid these kind of people:
- people who are overly pessimistic and gloomy
- people who love to complain endlessly about EVERYTHING, ex: the government, the traffic, the food, the maid, the house, the work that he hates, etc
- people who can’t keep their promises
- people who brag all the time and who like to show off their wealth and knowledge with no concern or respect of other people’s opinion (basically a narcissistic and selfish person)
- people who won’t listen and talk all the time
- people who use power to control and manipulate others
- people who beat around the bush and display confusing behavior
- the list goes on and on…
Due to this judging nature, I also struggle with giving out compliments to people. Sometimes, it just feel so unnatural for me to praise people for ‘a job well done’ or ‘for being such a talented person’. I still have to consciously train myself to do that. Nevertheless, I think I’ve successfully transformed my judging and criticizing mind to a moderate level. And then be happier along the way!
4. Vulnerability issue
I HATE being vulnerable. I do. When I’m vulnerable, I feel weak and dependent on other people. However, that’s also usually the moment when I receive the most love from everybody. At that point, vulnerability doesn’t feel so bad after all. I remember a few months back, I was having this low blood pressure that caused me to vomit and feel dizzy in office. I couldn’t stand up straight and I could only see dark shadows and a few flying birds in front of me. I was about to faint. But luckily, my colleagues noticed this and came to a rescue. Instead of vomiting all over the office floor, I’m still sober enough to grab a dustbin and vomit there. All my breakfast just flew out. I felt so sick and vulnerable at that time. Everyone knows that I’m usually this cheerful and energetic girl who doesn’t really depend on anyone. But that day, I needed someone else to take care of me and buy me porridge for lunch. I was so grateful and overwhelmed by their kindness and at that moment, I truly realized that as human-beings, we can’t really live alone. Some days, we have to be vulnerable in order to receive love.
So friends, old habits die hard. Everyday, I have to consciously put the effort to improve and become a better version of myself. Get rid or tone down some of the bad habits and nurture the good ones. How about you?
Are you still the same person you were 10-15 years ago?
Are you constantly evolving into a better version of yourself?
*Here are some other links I want to share with everybody! Enjoy!!
Here’s another TED video by Brené Brown. In this video, she talks about being vulnerable as her spiritual awakening.
“They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they really talk about it being excruciating — as I had heard it earlier in the shame interviewing. They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say, “I love you” first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees, the willingness to breathe through waiting for the doctor to call after your mammogram. They’re willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out.They thought this was fundamental.”
I totally love this comic by ZenPencils.com –> click here.
Inspired by a quote from C.S. Lewis:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
Generalized characteristics of a Virgo.
With a Mercury as the ruling planet, people born under this sign are quick thinking and observant. VIRGOS define pure modesty; they can’t bear to be taken care of, they prefer to take care of others. Though VIRGOS are often quiet and thoughtful, they are rarely shy about expressing a personal point of view. Mercury in VIRGO means mental organization, and inclines its subjects toward constant activity. VIRGOS as an Earth sign uses Mercury to do meticulous, careful mind work, an analytical thinker.
VIRGOS Mutable style takes the alternate routes, unpredictable, versatile travelers. VIRGOS are known for either sneaking off on a bicycle, taking the bus, hitchhiking, or blowing their savings on a souped-up sports car. VIRGOS may spend part of their lives heading off on detours and then suddenly emerge as someone with a remarkable sense of direction. They can adjust easily to change once they find a way of fitting the new situation into their routine. Mercury rules the conscious, reasoning mind, which gives the VIRGO the ability to learn quickly, resourcefulness, brilliance, eloquence, dexterity, and great awareness.
VIRGOS personality is interior, to the world they may give an impression of calm authority, but they are totally aware of their own nervous, restless, controlled intensity, the desire to be up and doing, rearranging, improving. VIRGOS idea of taking it easy would seem like hard work to most people. VIRGOS are not a daydreamer; they’re a day-doer. VIRGOS emotional life is a constant striving to bring order out of chaos.VIRGOS have an excellent memory, an analytical mind, and are known for crystal-clear thinking. VIRGOS superb logic cuts through muddled thinking like a laser beam. Until they have the facts before them, they are reluctant to make a decision.
VIRGOS prefer one-on-one encounters, in which they can offer the full benefit of their sharp insights and discerning opinions. That’s also when people discover how well read, perceptive, charming and witty they are. At times VIRGOS finely tuned sensibilities can even make them unhappy, for it gives them a heightened awareness of the world’s imperfections. However, VIRGOS resist criticism of their faults from others. It’s rare, a VIRGO who takes criticism well or who can admit to being in the wrong.
The VIRGO lover may not be the most romantic, but they offer their whole heart. To VIRGO love is not dramatic, emotional, or sentimental. A VIRGO’S love is devotion and will include love of family, friends, and those less fortunate than he or she. There is no pretense involved in how they act or what they say. They are loyal; VIRGOS are big on fidelity. They value more than the superficial aspects of a love relationship and they generally attract people with a similar belief system. Marriage is a major commitment; they value their union as both a love relationship and a working partnership. A warm loving relationship brings out the best in anyone born under this sign because basically VIRGOS are kind, devoted and very loyal.
The VIRGO friend as a rule is shy and self-effacing. VIRGOS have difficulty making friends, until they feel absolutely comfortable with them. Yet when they do make the effort, these people are capable of achieving extraordinary things. In general VIRGO likes a friend who is tidy, clean, and intelligent with a broad range of interests. They prefer people who are not given to big shows of emotion and are attracted to those who offer a sense of peace and serenity. VIRGOS are likely to keep the same friends for years. Often, VIRGOS befriends someone with the showy personality they themselves are uncomfortable assuming.