If You Fake It, You Won’t Make IT

Only once moving to NY did I hear the saying “Fake it till you make it”. It did not resonate with me. Rather yet, it confused me. And since then I keep getting it as advise and I can’t seem to agree with it.

The thing that bothers me most is the word “fake”. Usually I don’t tend to associate many positive feelings with fake. Especially not when it comes to people and their personalities. Hiding who you truly are is a weakness. It means you can’t accept yourself and love yourself for who you are. That much self-hate is not only self-destructive, but can often be projected or let out on to other people. If you don’t feel good inside, it’s hard to do good towards the outside.

 

Additionally, a person acting fact is extremely unpredictable. If a person is pretending to be someone else, they can change who they want to be every day. That just sounds exhausting to me to be honest. You never know what kind of person you will be confronted with.

 

I guess that’s why “fake it till you make it” doesn’t make sense to me. Why would you pretend you are ok with something when you are not? I understand the idea is for example if you are not confident, pretend to be. Yet that sounds like such a disconnect between how you feel and how you show yourself to be. That is very unhealthy. Its ok to be scared, its ok to be nervous and its ok to feel insecure or worried. Accepting it is the opposite of faking it. Accepting it for yourself means that you can deal with it. Dealing with your emotions will help you in the long run. It will help you in other situations where you are nervous again. You will be able to recognize the feeling and handle it. Growth only comes by accepting it, and still facing your struggles with it. Take steps that will help you improve in the long run. Faking it till you are making it, is just putting a band aid on a broken windshield. It’s going to do a really poor job.

 

Also, another reason why you should not fake it to make it is that people will notice you are faking it. As easy as it is for you to spot people when they are acting fake, that easily they notice when you are. And it’s not something people admire. Actually, on the contrary it makes people uncomfortable.

 

Accept your emotions. You deserve better than a fake version of yourself.

Growing Pains

I used to not be able to do any kind of public speaking. Literally, even just introducing yourself to a group of people in a circle was horrifying enough. I like being invisible and don’t see the benefits of people noticing me. I don’t like the spot light and I enjoy any kind of light. The people that want to see me they will. Everyone else, I felt, would judge me. They could sit there and criticize everything that I was saying, or wearing or anything about me really.

That thought hasn’t gone away. I just stopped caring. And the way I did that was going the painful route – speaking more and more in public. The only way to get over it, is really to do it. There are some fears that this cannot apply to (like peeing your pants in public or your clothes ripping exposing your privates) – but most, the only way to get over them is to be confronted with them.

And boy does that suck. The first time someone told me that I told them that that wasn’t true. I mean, if you can avoid things you are scared of in your life why shouldn’t you?Unfortunately I came to realize that speaking publicly is something I would be confronted with again and again in my life even if I tried to avoid it. So I tackled it.

The way I started was small. In group discussions, I forced myself to say one thing. Just one thing. That was nerve-racking. I would think of something in advance, wait for the perfect moment and sweat profoundly till I said something. Once I said it, I would lean back exhausted yet proud. I did it, I spoke in public. Then I started with saying two things. Till I progressed to speaking up in meetings on the phone. Then running meetings on the phone. Till I could run them in person. I found little steps to progress until this week – I presented at a conference to hundreds of strangers. And it didn’t kill me. I was nervous, I prepared, my heart was beating almost out of my chest and I seemed to be the only anxious person in the room.

But I did it. And I could never imagine in a lifetime that I could do it. My advice to you – take small steps. It might take you 10 years like it did me, but trust me I have never been prouder of myself. A whole world has opened up to me and I know I can handle it. Try it, start small. Start tomorrow

De-Finding Yourself

What people think finding yourself is: Knowing your key strengths and weaknesses, by being able to list adjectives next to your name and nailing every job interviews because you know exactly who you are and what you want out of life
 
What I define it as: Being at peace with yourself, knowing your personality to the extent that you never need to define yourself to others
 
People are always telling you who you are. “You’re such an extrovert”, “You’re so silly”, “It seems like a thing you would do”. I can’t remember a time in my life where I felt that I wasn’t been put in a drawer or people weren’t trying to label me. The friends you have, the hobbies you do, these things all tend to support a certain perception or description of you. It helps people build a picture about the person that you are. If we know what kind of person we are dealing with, we find it easier to predict their actions and reactions and thus it seems its easier to handle this person. It’s a natural human way of dealing with the vast amount of variety and information the world throws at us. Putting things intro drawers makes the chaotic world seem far more organized.
 
It only makes sense that after a while, we start putting these labels people give us on ourselves. The world is big and we all try to find our spot in it. We find it easier if we know what role we play and what kind of person we have to be to fill that role. That makes it even harder to find out, who you really are and who are you because you were told to be that person. The struggle to know our true selves seems to bother society so much – there are so many self-help books out there on the topic or movies that address soul searching (for example Into the Wild, Eat Pray love, Almost famous to name a few). This void of who we should be, who we think we are and finding ourselves, it’s confusing. Because perhaps we will also find out we are something we don’t want to be. For example, I’ve struggled most of my life living with the fact that I am an introvert and that that is ok. I always felt to succeed, to be confident I have to be loud, outgoing and happy around other people. Only later did I find out that embracing my introvert is what made me succeed, be loud and happy around other people.
 
Here’s the thing most people don’t get and I didn’t understand for a long time. Knowing yourself doesn’t mean “Fun” or “Adventurous” because guess what, sometimes you are and sometimes you are not. Everyone is on a spectrum and that spectrum can vary from time to time. It can depend on your mood, your situation and the people around you. You will grow, you will pull back, you will surprise yourself and challenge yourself. This is beautiful and extremely scary at the same time. You will spend the rest of your life in the company of yourself and you will continue to surprise yourself (so it wont get boring! Trust me) but that would indicate you will also be living with a stranger. This would mean, you will always feel that void and all these self-help books are useless and the movies are lies.
 
I believe that this doesn’t have to be the case. We all have core traits that we carry with us since we were born. Find your values – what are your core beliefs you want to live by? Pick 3-5 on this list and perhaps discuss them with someone to hear what they think.
Find out, what keeps you motivated and what kills your motivation. What gives you energy and what doesn’t. Is it being around people or doing specific things or specific people?
 
And that’s all you need to know. Things around you will change. Yet those things, never will. Know them and own them

 

This One’s for the Ladies – All The Ladies

This blog post is more for women. Although I would be curious to see if men ever experience this too.

I meet my girlfriends for brunch and something has recently caught my attention. We tend to mention how as children we were often told by our mothers what we have to do to look pretty. “Don’t make a frown you will have wrinkles” or “As a woman you shouldn’t leave the house without make up”. The memories still taunt us, in the back of our heads, they still sit and remind us of standards that were put on us.

You can’t blame the mothers although it seems like the most natural thing to do. They engraved beauty standards on us at a young age that make it hard to accept our looks and wear our skin with pride. But, they were just doing what they thought would help us succeed in life. For most of history, women only did well in life for marrying men. Good looks meant good, rich husbands and good, rich husbands meant good lives. They were, in the weirdest extent, trying to protect us and ensure us a great future not knowing they were doing harm for us.

You would think nowadays, women know better. They know that society puts pressures on girls and we should do everything to protect them. Yet it seems we are not doing enough. According to the Guardian

More than a third (35%) of seven- to 10 year-old girls agreed that women were rated more on their appearance than their abilities, and 36% said they were made to feel their looks were their most important attribute.

I guess we can say there is still a lot of work to be done. So let’s start with ourselves. If we care less about how we look, and focus on our abilities, we project that out to society. If we don’t focus on vanity, we dress for ourselves and we show off our intelligence, we pave the way for future standards. As the article mentioned above points out:

Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said women and girls were “persistently judged on what they look like” and suffered “significantly higher” rates of depressions and mental illness. “This is serious. As a society we need to face up to the fact that objectification and harassment is ruining girls’ lives and we are letting it happen,” she said.

So how do we pave the way and get rid of our mother’s voices in our heads?

First – forgive your mother. She was trying her best to let you know how to get by in the world. She probably was held to the same standards or even worse. Luckily you are able to walk away from these and build your own as society has progressed.

Second – every time you look in the mirror, you cat call yourself. I don’t care how if your hair is sticking up, if you have a new red shiny pimple or you look like you got hit by a truck. Go: “Hey beauty” or “Hey Sexy”, which ever one makes you feel like the true fabulous diva that you are.

Third – just risk it. Go out without make up one day. Or without having your hair done. You will notice: No one will care. Because that’s how important looks are. They are not.

Forth – Give the love to all the ladies! Tell each girl she is beautiful for who she is. Because you cant change society but you can make each and every person out there feel adored. It takes so little and can make such a difference. Tell her how her intelligence makes her beautiful, her dance skills give her grace, her wit could light up a room.

Imagine if someone had said that to you instead of telling you about wrinkles as a child, how good that would have felt. If there is one thing we learn in life, is that we can spare others some of our pain.

 

Why Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

Making mistakes seems almost too easy sometimes. So easy that sometimes we don’t even notice we are making them. We let a comment slip that might hurt someone, we get in stressed out situations and let our anger out on people that don’t deserve it. Sometimes things feel like they are so out of our control we lose control of our composure and make a mistake. Even when we don’t lose our composure sometimes we feel we are doing the right thing and only notice later that the effects it has on people is not what we intended.

Making mistakes is human. Every living creature on this earth makes mistakes. So why is it so hard to admit to ourselves when we make one? Why is it so hard to come to terms with the fact that we are flawed, bound to hurt someone that we don’t want to hurt?

We don’t want to be flawed. We want to feel like we are always the best version of ourselves, we don’t want to be punished for being wrong. It is so hard to admit to yourself that every day you try to be your best and then at times you are not. You misbehaved. As a child if you misbehaved you were punished. You did something and a negative consequence followed. We have engraved it in our brains that now when we make a mistake and we don’t have someone else to punish us, we punish ourselves. We feel a negative consequence. Often its this negative feeling, combined with the thought that we should have known better and done better, that makes us avoid accepting the fact that we made a mistake.

Isn’t life easier if you can just go through it without ever admitting to making a mistake and never feeling bad? If everyone else had to admit defeat to being human and we could go around knowing we are always the best version of ourselves, now doesn’t that sound relaxing? No negative feelings such as guilt or shame. Sounds like a perfect life and to be honest, one that will never be.

Instead we should grow from punishment – thanks to maturity we should learn that you have been punished enough for being human. For making mistakes. You should learn that feeling guilt should only be used to help yourself grow into a better person. It is only useful if it is a fuel for yourself to be better and perhaps reduce the amount of some of your mistakes. it should not be a blocker for you to avoid it even more in your life. Learn to love to say sorry. Learn to move from guilt and move instead into growth. Start by admitted you are flawed. Sorry-Flipped-Bitch-Switch-Greeting-Card

I Get Knocked Down – But I Get Up again, Never Ever Gonna Keep me Down

Not only a great song – but a great life motto. Occasionally – you will be knocked down. If its not life following its usual course, it will be people or circumstances. Life is tough, set backs are normal. Some people compare life to a river – it flows in one direction, it never stops – sometimes there is more water and the river is more rough and other times it is more calm, like a trickle. There are times in life everything can be too much or one thing can be too much and we just feel down.

Sometimes we don’t know why we are down. Its great if you can find out, take a step back, have a cup of tea or a coffee and check in with yourself. Ask yourself honesty, what is making you feel down. You don’t have to tell anyone your thoughts – you don’t have to admit to anyone but yourself that you may be perhaps jealous or insecure or just overwhelmed. Be your own  therapist or whatever you want to call it. Just be sure to be non-judgemental – no one needs to know. Just be honest. Give it a go, you might be surprised to find it will not hurt you as much as you think.

And if you do sit there, waiting to find out what is getting you down, but you don’t that is ok. Sometimes its just the amount of things we need to do in a day. Frequently, life just can be too much. The current can be too strong.

My trick here is to balance out the things that weigh you down with things that make you feel light. For example, if you need to binge watch Netflix, then be my guest. If this is what it takes for you to tank your engine, please do so. Do not get into destructive behavior – I know sometimes we feel like drinking tons of wine or calling an ex will make us feel better but it wont. Generally – if it didn’t make you happy as a 10 year old – then don’t do it. Stick to those things that as a child gave you the strength to grow – they will empower you again. You will get knocked down, take your time to get back up again. If it takes days, weeks whatever it may. Remember if life is a river – it will continue to move forwards.getting-up-is-living

Why Emotions are Good For You

Last weekend I went to see Captain Marvel. If you haven’t seen it yet, or didn’t pick up on the hint – (no spoilers I promise) – Captain Marvel’s coach keeps telling her she is too emotional and she will not be as successful if she is driven by her emotions. He tells her to shut them off only then can she win a fight.

I am not quite Captain Marvel, but I have often been told that showing your emotions is a weakness. And if you are a woman, chances are high so have you as emotions tend to be attributed more to women. When men get angry, well they are just upset, when women are angry they are crazy or bitches. Many strategic management books talk about how success can only be achieved when you don’t show emotions. Showing emotions is a sign of weakness and it lets people know what is going on in your head. If they know, perhaps they could use it to their advantage. Or it makes you seem like you are not in charge of your inner self, how can you command a room, a division if you cannot command your inner feelings?

I don’t know when this came about but I do believe it was before my time. I don’t know why our society decided being open about how you feel – even if it’s just frowning or disagreeing was considered a negative thing. Wouldn’t a society were people were in touch with there emotions and shared them with one another sound more functional than a society of people that hid their true feelings and intentions?

To clarify, not having a handle on your feelings, that’s a whole other story. Screaming, lashing out, being abusive or disrespectful – that has nothing to do with emotions but your behavior and that has no place in this world. But just feeling what you are feeling, and saying it – we were taught that this is not ok to the extent that we can barely even recognize what we feel, let alone show it. For example frowning in a meeting. Or saying: I am disappointed you came to that decision. At one point, someone decided that at work – you should always be neutral. You can have an opinion but don’t you dare add an emotional adjective to the sentence.

Emotions are complex. If you want to feel more stable when it comes to them, I would suggest meditation or starting a diary. Start first with listening to yourself, checking in and asking yourself how you really feel. Be honest. And let yourself feel. Don’t question it and don’t judge your emotions. Just check in and know that it is ok to feel what you feel. You owe it to yourself to know how you feel. So often do I notice people only answer “good” or “fine” to “How are you” – I wonder if they were honest with themselves and honest with others, how much more we could be there for each other and feel closer to each other.

Perhaps at a later stage, once you feel and know how you feel, you will choose to share it with others. Just know that I am a big fan of your frown!

You Do You – its More Than a Catchy Saying

I cannot stress enough the importance of you doing you. No, I am not talking about some self pleasing gesture, what I mean by that is that you do what makes you happy – what gives you energy. And not copying what other people do. We are often uncertain in life or overwhelmed with too many options we look to others to guide us. We look at our friends or society, we look at their lives and the things they do and often consider that what works for them would work for us.

Especially when it comes to social events such as weddings or birthdays, we tend to be driven to do something other people do, just because they are created by society so we do what we feel society would want us to do.

But you might have noticed by now, if you do what other people do, you may feel more anxious or stress. You may feel more lost than if you just did what you wanted to do. It might seem easy to simply copy others, yet it will cost you more energy because you are forcing yourself to comply to what is natural to others and not yourself. There is nothing wrong with doing what you want for your wedding or birthday. If you want to wear flats down the aisle, wear flats. If you want to stay home for your 30th and order in, do that. Find out what makes you happy and not what makes others happy. This will not only come easy to you but oh my god – it will feel so liberating! So fulfilling and so rewarding that you are listening to yourself and doing well for yourself.

And if you fear that others might judge you (which should never matter anyway, but is somethings hard to switch off) you just might find you not only inspire people by doing your own thing but also impress them that you are listening to yourself. Shine the light in your awesomeness. Be brave, be bold, be you.d1584da132fc6673c8779de29ccc41d7

Mono-tasking

So much of our lives is spent doing something. We often get so used to doing multiple things at once even, that we don’t notice just how much of our own capacity we are using at once. For example walking down the street, listening to music and thinking about work. This all means you have to navigate your surroundings, while dealing with multiple sounds and then navigating all of that while trying to manage your livelihood. In all honesty, it just sounds rather crazy to be doing so much yet for most of us – this is how our day begins. And often is the more relaxed part of our day.

I wonder at what point in history it was decided that people should do multiple things at once. Or who thought it would be a great idea to make overextending yourself a bit part of everyday life. Perhaps it is a part of our own existentialism that we know we have a limited time on earth and that makes us feel like we have to do everything, try everything, explore as much as possible in the limited time we are given. It is not about the quality but rather ticking off boxes and crossing out items on a list than actually enjoying what you are doing. If you were, you would probably not need to combine this one thing you are doing with another thing.

These days, multitasking has been made so much easier thanks to technology but I really doubt it was technological capabilities that drove us to multitask. Rather I think it was customer needs that drove companies to build products that facilitate the concurring of various items at once. And from that point on, its just a continuous wheel, a perpetuum mobile, of trying to do more in a smaller window.

You may ask me now – what is so wrong about doing more than one thing? I mean, if you can fit multiple things into your day that you enjoy, what is wrong with that?

I believe in our generation we do not have the capability to just be present. We have eliminated the enjoyment of committing ourselves to one thing and one thing fully.  There is always more to be added to every situation to the point where we are not only used to being overwhelmed with stimuli but also frighteningly, to the point where we have become immune to it.

Doing one thing at a time helps you not only fully commit to what you are doing, it helps you focus and avoid errors, stress as well as feeling burnt out after a short time. How often have you grabbed coffee on your way to work and by the time you got to work just feeling exhausted from having to commute to work, stand in line for coffee and battle the upcoming stress? Perhaps its more of a New Yorker thing, but often things we enjoy become disagreeable because we didn’t take the time to – you guessed it – enjoy them.

In our society, these days, there seems something so wrong about just doing one thing. Just walking down the road. Or just sitting and listening to music. If you can, why not do more right? When was the last time you laid on the ground to full listen and enjoy a good song? When was the last time you did just one thing? Let me go one step further, when was the last time you were bored?

I challenge you to spend just an hour thinking bout doing one thing at a time. Lets see if you can last 10min. Because as I am typing this so aware of how beneficial it can be to concentrate on one thing at a time, I am wondering what I need to do next. I hope you have better persistence than me.

Why is the Finish Line More Exciting Than the Run?

I have many goals – become fluent in a new language, learn new recipes, play new songs on my weapon of choice – the ukelele. The easiest thing is to define the goals. I hear people speak of goals all the time “I want to do a trip alone”, “I want to lose 5 pounds”. Intentions are easily defined. Then starting to work on them is not too hard – you buy running shoes, you stop eating fries, you do the first steps in the right direction. Actually achieving them is also, really rewarding. Fitting into those jeans you haven’t in 5 years, sitting on a empty beach alone with a drink in your hand – you set your mind on something and then you did it. What an amazing leap that is.

Yet, the journey in between can be so hard – it is at times so not enjoyable that we quit on our goals. Its almost as if you are testing your determination than growing. Its so frustrating – the setting the goal and achieving it are the motivating factors. And the middle part, the longest part is the journey there that is rarely enjoyed. How can you get about it?

1. Set small goals inside a large goal. Give yourself little wins to keep you going and celebrate each one. For example, when you lose two pounds, it means you are on the right way! If you learn a new word each day, by the end of the week repeat them to yourself and treat yourself for remembering them! Celebrate the journey.

2. Write a diary where you can track your progress. Perhaps it is personal growth you are striving for, you can flip back over the pages and see how you felt and notice you no longer feel this way. You might be taking larger steps in the right direction than you actually feel.

3. Find people that support you on your journey. People that you can tell you progress to, people that will see you do the 5k run and then come to watch you run the marathon. Perhaps find people that have similar goals you can exchange with about your journey. Sometimes its so hard to stay focused, other people can help guide you on your way so you don’t stray.

Anyone motivated to achieve any goal is impressive. And if you are on the journey – that is also very impressive. I believe in you, you can achieve it. Find ways to get through the journey and perhaps even enjoy it.

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