In my earlier interactions with young people, I realized some thing that youngsters were not being taught or trained, neither at schools nor at universities. It was handling problems. These youngsters included my students, sons and daughters of relatives or people I knew, young university graduates, trainees, young executives who had started jobs recently or were still looking for those. The age group ranging from 16 to 24 I guessed.
After a two or more years of work with grown ups and by that I mean 30 plus years of age, I realized that I was wrong to say that for youngsters. A significant proportion of grownups even did not know how to handle problems appropriately. And this stands true today as well.
I did not know what I was truly capable of till I started to love myself. In the earlier days of my venture, it was strange as if I had entered into an alien world. It was not known to me previously.
Loving oneself truly asks you of one thing: to do whatever is in your reach to become better. The rule is simple yet profoundly effective. During the process we have to fight only one factor that greatly resists our will to love ourselves: laziness.
It is alone laziness that we do not engage ourselves in a work out program or an evening walk, or we do not enroll in a new course that we know shall be of great boost to our career or do not do things that at one day become an emergency.
We hide behind other excuses. We do not have time. I am too busy. The audit work is in progress at office. It is cloudy today. We’ll start tomorrow. The list is almost inexhaustible, but the fact is these are all masks for our laziness.
My greatest fight in the venture of loving myself was against my laziness. I was used to watching TV for hours daily. I would not workout or do a jog. I would not even go to a doctor if I would find early symptoms of illness in me.
And it kept on happening. Months and years kept passing by. Till one day I got tired and sick of it all. I had lost enough and had nothing to lose. Well yes, during all those times, I had one continuous unquenchable desire to grow,which never for once lowered in its intensity. One thing I never stopped doing was to read. I kept on reading and reading. Although reading books that let us grow is an act of loving ourselves, reading stories or novels or most work of fiction does not do much in the process of mental growth. I was actively involved in reading that helped me grow or that stretched my mind, but all my endeavors of loving myself were inside my head.
The problem was the same. I had desire to grow: mentally, spiritually, emotionally, financially, physically and relationship-wise, but I kept on procrastinating that desire till I had had enough.
The outer world begins to change only when we start to take action. Measurable, quantifiable, objectively verifiable action. Actions like I called 7 publishers in one month. I sent my work proposals to 93 organizations. I started spending almost 2 hours on improving my physical self doing things like brisk walking and jogging, workouts and aerobics. I started writing my thoughts on paper and on my laptop and on my blog.I dropped intake of sugar and carbohydrates from my diet. I reduced TV watching to one hour daily and then to 2 hours a week.
I began to take actions. I began to work out regularly. I began to love myself. And then things began to change. Yet on a slower pace but they began to change.
Small pleasant surprises started to develop around. I started getting work. I began to be noticed among professional networks. I started to feel better during all day and my energy levels started staying generally high. I started to sleep early and stopped punishing myself for staying awake till late hours. The list of yet so many to be read books began diminishing and it started to check off against those which were read. Offers for work increased. Incomes began to move in.
More than that all, I started to experience what is called the victory over oneself. We all drink water on a daily basis. There is nothing peculiar about this. But can you imagine yourself after going through two days in a wilderness without water and then finally being able to find a fresh water stream?
It is not water only then, it is a sign of endurance that you can survive the harshest and the toughest challenges nature offers us.
It is a sign that we can endure and grow and come out of worst scenarios, whether self-created or thrown on us as a test by life. We do not know what we are truly capable of till we start loving ourselves, through thoughts translated into actions.
Whatever problem life throws at us serves us a purpose. To teach us for a goal of becoming better.
Benjamin Franklin very wisely said, that what hurts, instructs.
Our brain is biologically designed to register pain and keep a memory of it much more as compared to registering joy. The lessons learnt, which are associated with pain are rarely forgotten.
Thus all wise men welcome problems and decide to go through them, rather than to avoid them. It is going through problems that we learn and improve.
But still a vast majority of us ignores them, tries to overlook them, hides away from them, pretends that they do not exist or worst of all, thinks that they would go away by themselves.
We want our children to go through problems and face them squarely rather than keep on looking for ways to avoid them.
We have two choices, to teach our children to go through pain and problems and in the process evolve and develop and grow into beings what God wants us to be.
The second option is to maintain the status quo. To chose to remain as what we are. To opt for stagnancy. To opt for not improving on a daily basis.
It takes much more effort to stay as we are, than it takes to improve on ourselves.
The choice is with us. It is always with us !
Most of us are caught in the myth of discomfort and its reasons. Let me explain. Most of us are caught up in why some thing bad happened to us? Why did she leave me? Why I was born to such parents? Why I had a dysfunctional family? Why I had not the opportunity that others had? Why did this pimple just hit my face? Why does this always happen that gives me pain? Why did I have to go through such a divorce? Why have not I been offered such a good job offer?
If you cannot read or if you do not read, its the same!
Leaders are readers. In a world today that is full of information and publications growing at an exponential rate it is hard to decide what to read.
Its so much of it and so less time, if any available. What to read and how is a worthy question.
One simple answer is to read that is of your interest but which stretches your thoughts and thinking patterns. Be ready to accept this difficulty.
Reading is fine and wonderful if we are into a cinderella world, but it often requires some discipline as long as we are living in reality. Many a times, I have to discipline myself to the habit of reading, even if I feel a little unfocused or disinterested.
I keep on reading because I understand the brain resists any thing that is difficult or that pushes us out of our comfort zone, but in that small journey from comfort zone to an uncomforting zone, lies the growth.
I read because I love myself enough to watch my soul and mind grow.
Do read but more importantly do read good. Its a great sign that you love yourself.
Why people allow their time to be wasted has some very deep roots with the phenomenon of loving oneself.
Anything we love, we truly value. Anything we truly value, we do not like to waste.
When we allow our time to be wasted, the real message underneath is that we are showing lack of love for ourselves.
Its a point to ponder !
If you cannot start loving yourself, you cannot love others.
If you cannot take out time to exercise and cannot take time out to save your health, if you cannot spend quality time of 3 to 4 hours a week with your kids or with your mother, if you cannot listen to your subordinate without interrupting him, if you cannot take your wife to her parents witout a frown on your face, if you cannot wait patiently for some one to deposit his bill in a queue, if you cannot apologize without being insecure, if you cannot be honest with yourself…. perhaps you are not that very ready to love some one else.
To love some one other than you, you have to learn to love yourself first.
Then there are real problems. I call them tests rather than problems.
One fine day you find a message on your cell phone from your spouse that she does not love you any more and she leaves you to get married to another guy.
Or when you open your email box at your work place you find an email during a normal, regular week informing you that your services are no longer required.
You lose appetite and your medical tests declare that you have a pancreatic cancer.
Now these are problems. Serious, big, real life stake involving problems. Tests.
And I did not love myself for a long long time. I wasted my energies and I was attached to a lot of things. I was taught to detach. From every thing. From people, from life, from seasons, from results, from rewards. Detachment does not mean not loving them. It is loving them with your full heart but not being concerned with the out come or the will to stay with them forever.
Among many negative impacts that advertising campaigns have created on our thought patterns,one is that to be some thing of value it has to have two things:
1. It has to be new and 2. It has to be “quick”.