Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Power of Forgiveness

All this time, when I read about forgiving and moving on, I simply took in the idea, and agreed. I have never really carried out a proper act of forgiveness or felt its true power before.

Today, I was thinking about something hurtful that happened to me some time ago. I relived the pain, the hurt and bewilderment I felt back then in the 5 to 10 minutes that I replayed the incident over, and over again in my mind. I realised that I was starting to feel sick. My chest felt constricted, my stomach souring from the gastric juices that were secreted due to the stress, and my heart felt so heavy with sadness and pain. Then, all of a sudden, I decided it was enough. What happened had happened. It was already in the past. I no longer wanted to relive it or even be controlled by the fear it had created and planted in me. If it happens again, I would definitely have the sense and courage to remove myself from the person who is hurting me, but for now, what I need to do is to forgive.

A friend told me: To forgive a person, you need to express it to the person. Let the person know that whether or not he/she is worthy of your forgiveness, you will forgive him/her. Only with this sincere expression of forgiveness, you will be able to move on and be released from the pain.

But I believe that sometimes, a person may not be ready to hear of your forgiveness. This person may not understand what needs your forgiveness for perhaps the incident had passed, and they prefer if it not be dredged up again. Or maybe this person is no longer part of your life? This is where I am applying my personal method. I did it today, and I felt freer of pain than I had been in a long time. I am now free of the fear that this incident had planted in me all this time, and I can take another step forward in my journey to personal freedom.

At first, it was only a thought in my head. I told myself it was time to forgive and move on. If you love yourself enough, or even if you loved the person enough, you will forgive them. But that does not mean you tolerate the action. It only means that you recognise it as a hurtful action this person had done unto you, and you will not continue or repeatedly judge or condemn the person for it. After this thought had materialised in my head, I felt some of the load had lifted, and I felt so happy. I was so happy, that I decided to move on to the next step.

The next thing I did, was to verbalise the forgiveness. Since I couldn't say it to the person, I wrote a letter to the person. In the letter, I wrote about how I recognise the action had been done, but because I would like us both to move on and heal from it. I am forgiving this person for it because I want to release the person from the burden of carrying the blame for hurting me. I want this person to know that what was done is forgiven. Because I want to be able to continue to love this person in earnest, I will forgive, and hopefully from now on, this person will feel nothing but love from me. No more blame, no more judgement and no more condemnation... I wish this person to be free from the dark moments we had because of the incident.

By the time I finished the letter, I felt like a different person. It's like one of those scenes in a movie, where a smoke of darkness leaves a person's body to dissipate into thin air. I felt free of pain... to the point that the very thought of that dark time didn't even prick me. It became just a thought, a happening... sort of like a leaf that happened to fall on the pavement; nothing.

So if you have always thought that you forgave someone for something they'd committed against you, but all you did was just ignore the person or incident, try to forget it, or simply suppress it in your memory... I am here to attest that this pain will come back to haunt you. The best way to move on and release yourself from this is to face it; understand that what the person did was nothing personal to you (refer back to Don Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements), and forgive them... for it is not your fault or doing that they did it, and to understand that you have no control over what people do. It is especially easy to believe that none of this is your fault, if you have done your best to be impeccable all this time. You can take your moment to relive the whole incident and reassess it, but once you are done, tell yourself that it was not your fault it happened. Once you have done that, tell the person...

"I forgive you. Whether or not you are deserving of forgiveness, I forgive you. Because I want to release myself from this pain so that I may heal and move on, and I wish for you to release yourself from the guilt and burden of hurting me so that you may do the same."

Well... do it in any way that you like, but just try to express the forgiveness; be it on paper or verbally to the person in question. Whether or not the act of forgiveness is appreciated, it doesn't matter. The most important thing is... you are now free from that pain :)

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

To be impeccable...

I completed Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements in one day, and I’m reading it all over again. This book has really struck a chord with me, and it has really spoken to me. As the title suggests, there are 4 agreements that make up the structure of the key message of this book.

The Four Agreements are:

1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

Perhaps it is because of the book’s philosophical nature and also because it was written in a way where I felt as if the book was speaking to me. I sat up and paid attention, page after page. But most of all, from the moment I started reading it, I began to feel different.

The first thing I noticed was the way my body and mind started to feel calm. As I read on, and further understood what the book was trying to convey, I began to relate each idea with my life. I realised how much injustice I had been doing myself all this time. I had been reliving my past mistakes, judging myself all over again for each and every one of them, and punishing myself over and over again.

The worst thing is that the way I have been treating my loved ones have stemmed from my self-condemnation and fear. My fear that I would be loved less for being me caused me to behave the way I did; insecure, fearful and small. I belittled the person I was, and the person I could become, and I allowed negative comments from people, whether or not they were meant out of good or harm, to affect me greatly; sometimes without even considering if they were indeed true.

I also chanced upon a site ( ) by Gary van Warmerdam, and in his article “Be Impeccable with Your Word”, he said:

“To live with existing fears in your mind doesn’t fall into the category of being impeccable. Maintaining fears of public speaking, asking someone out on a date, or a fear of failing is not in the direction of love for your self. Keeping your self in fear is an ongoing expression in your own mind that causes you to hold back in your actions of love for your self and others. Fear is at the heart of NOT being impeccable.”

I had not been impeccable all this time, for I had not been able to free myself from the fears that stemmed from guilt and self-condemnation.

Moving forward, I will probably be working on a few pieces that I have been avoiding all this time. They involve telling the story of my pain; pain that I had been unwilling to put on paper because I was afraid that it could hurt me again… even if they were just words on paper. But I believe that if I can take the step to face the pain, I will sooner be able to release it, and move on with my life. Once I free myself from this past, I will be on my way to a brighter future.

The message I would like to bring across to those who are reading today is that I hope each person can come to truly appreciate themselves as they are, and be confident that they are worthy of ‘living in heaven’, i.e. to be happy. If you truly think you can improve yourself, go ahead and make that improvement. Do your best! Whatever you become, or whatever you remain as, could probably be the person you were meant to be. When you reach that checkpoint, tell yourself:

“This is the best I can be now, and I am happy because I performed to the best of my ability.”

Only you know who you really are and whether or not you are doing your very best to be true to yourself. If we learn to come to terms with our natural and true selves, at some point, we will come to realise that we become so happy and at peace with ourselves, that even if we were experiencing extreme fatigue, all we want to do is SMILE :)

Monday, 25 February 2013

Love is a choice

I have just completed reading Dr. Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages. I realised I should’ve bought the one for singles, but I guess I can just get to that another time. For now, I would just like to share what I have learned from the book.

One of the key ideas that I have learned is:

“Love is a choice. We can request love, but we cannot demand love.”

For most people, it is very instinctive to demand love. Even for me. I have demanded love for a very long time. Probably because I had strict and demanding parents, demanding teachers, and in general… society simply demands that we do certain things, and behave in certain ways. I’ll get into the ideas of society and family after I finish Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, but meanwhile, let’s talk about how we demand for love in our lives.

We are taught to request for favours, request for service and request for assistance. But no one in our lives has taught us that even love had to be requested. We grew up thinking that love is a natural progression. That love was a given when you were in a family, friendship or relationship. We always think, “Isn’t it natural that he/she would love me?” In a more negative state of mind, we think, “Why does he/she not love me?” or "If he/she loved me, he/she would/would not do this." If this is the state of mind we are in, we are more or less already taking love for granted.

A lot of people tell me, if a person loves you, he would know what to do to please you. That would be true, if he knew what my love language was. Because if he was speaking to me in his love language, and we happened to not share the same love language, I would not perceive whatever he was doing as an act of love. I would probably acknowledge, “Well, yes, he does these things for me.” But I may fail to appreciate that it is an expression of love from him. I’m not about to start writing about the 5 love languages for fear I would misinterpret or misrepresent the concept. So I hope those who read this will pick up the book and read it. I do believe it helps us learn how to love better.

Let’s go back to the point, ‘Love is a choice.’ I have learned that whether a person chooses to express love to you in the way that you need him/her to, it is solely his/her choice. We can give the person pointers, by requesting how we would like to be loved, but at the end of the day, it is the person’s choice to comply, or to continue going about it using their own method. But if we were to continuously demand them to change their methods for us; they may possibly begin to be resistant to our ideas because they feel we are imposing our methods on them.

This brings me to the next idea:

"Love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself."

Of course this is not to say that you are selfish when you perform acts of love because you want them to love you back. Perhaps most of the time we are simply misguided by the simple ideas of cause and effect that we are so accustomed to. Of course we will still get upset and angry when we feel our efforts have been for nought because the ones we loved did not show love and appreciation or react the way we hoped they would. It is human for us to feel this way, but we can learn to better deal with our disappointments.

We need to learn what is usually deemed as ‘unconditional love’. This doesn’t mean we should allow someone to abuse, disrespect, disregard, or even belittle us just because they have the ‘upper hand’ of having us love them unconditionally. If you are in love with a person who constantly does these negative things to you, then you may need to really examine why this is happening and possibly seek help. Otherwise, what ‘unconditional love’ requires is that we seek to first love them in the way we know that they may want to be loved. Our goal is to fulfil them, and make them feel truly loved by us, simply because we want what’s best for them, and we want them to be happy. We will soon see that if they truly feel loved by us, acts of appreciation from them will soon follow. If they feel loved, they will eventually be inclined to love us back, and even make the effort to comply with our requests for love and start learning how we would like to be loved.

But we should not be disheartened if our actions did not result in swift, positive results, or even when it’s not working at all. We may be simply speaking the wrong love language to them, or perhaps they need a bit more time to come around. True love and commitment requires us to keep going, to keep trying until we succeed in making the person we love feel loved. So in the spirit of love, we should not rush things, and patiently continue to love them till the day they become willing to love us in the way we hope they would.

Lastly, it’s a lot about faith in love that keeps us going. We need to have faith that the one we love does love us in return, and perhaps they just don’t know how, or cannot be accustomed to the way we need to be loved. So have faith in their love, and have faith that they will come to love you back in the way you need to be loved, in the way that makes you happiest.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Are some things better left unsaid?

Every single day, we humans communicate to get by in our lives. Asking for directions, requesting a service, discussion at work and even greeting people we meet. But are there times, where there are things better left unsaid? If you refrain from speaking your thoughts, would it result in a breakdown in communication?

I am by nature, a communicative person. I love speaking to people, and I appreciate it greatly when people reciprocate. But there are those times where you feel that what you are about to say may:

1.       Upset the person
2.       Fall on deaf ears or be ignored
3.       Cause the opposite effect that you wish to have

Basically, the above sums up to the other person possibly not wanting to hear you out, or perhaps the words you have said did not strike a positive chord with them. But even if this is about to happen, should we forgo the communication, and just let the thought sit and fester in our minds? My answer, after my experiences, is ‘No’.

I have learned in my years that letting thoughts fester in your heart and mind is the worst way to go about things. First of all, it makes you unhappy, because the other person doesn’t know how you feel. Eventually, your unhappiness seeps out of your being, bit by bit, into your actions, you words, your expressions. You may not even mean or wish to communicate that unhappiness, but somehow it just finds a way to spread out and poison your whole being, and the result of this may probably be as bad as if you’d said it out in the first place.

Why do we hold back? Most of us are afraid of souring or damaging the relationship we have with the people around us. Hence, we keep things to ourselves because we think it would be best left unsaid. But as the process I mentioned above takes place. You will find that perhaps it would have been better to have just found a sincere and tactful way to communicate the thought to begin with, since you were going to ultimately end up souring the relationship with your sour attitude.

If someone was making you sad, hurting you or even putting you down way too often by being condescending and insensitive… you need to tell them. Everyone deserves respect, and a chance to explain their actions. If they have no good explanation, then you will know that you’d been worrying about losing something that you didn’t need to keep in the first place. Even in a professional setting, being forthright could mean making your days at the office much more bearable because you have set things right with certain people.

After all that’s being said, I think the key to effective communication is courage. Having the strength in you to believe that your loved one will understand your innermost feelings and having the courage to know when your feelings and opinions are not appreciated, which may bring you to a point where you need to reevaluate your relationships with the people you fail to communicate with.

As the above image suggests, the same applies to a professional setting too. Being suitably vocal in the workplace and for your career is important because being able to get your points across is important to ensure that you are understood, and you can perform your job well. Conquering personal barriers to become an effective communicator is a lifelong lesson. No one is born an effective communicator. We all learn by trial and error. The key is to not let the errors scare you from trying again until you find the best approach to get through to the intended party.

The final thing that we need to note when communicating any dreaded thoughts would be… to listen. Listen to what the other party has to say for themselves, about you. Why? Because at the end of the day, communication is a two-way process. When communication only happens in one direction, the other party deems it as… nagging.. imposing your opinions... :P Get your point across, and try to consider what they have to say too. If you can learn to do that effectively all the time, you will never have to hold back and keep anything to yourself ever again.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Valentine's: The Practical Approach?

I love Valentine's Day... not because I get to receive flowers and candy, but simply it gives me more reason to spend extra time with my loved one.

Some say, "Every day could be Valentine's Day."

But we all know that we humans aren't that perfect. To maintain the level of attentiveness and commitment that could make every day Valentine's Day is quite an ambitious goal, which I have yet to see anyone achieve. In fact, it doesn't make sense at all because we humans have our ups and downs each day. Some days we wake up, raring and ready to go. Others, we may wake up on the wrong side of the bed, leaving us grouchy for the better half of the day, which means we would be in no state of mind to be putting anyone's whims before our need to be grouchy. Haha!

Hence, I believe every holiday or special occasion, not just Valentine's Day, should be celebrated. Sure we can postpone it, but I believe that we should never miss it. Why? Simply because it gives us a chance to make up for all those less than quality times we spent with our loved one. It gives us the opportunity to do a little more and be a little sweeter than usual, without seeming like a crazy person, because it's a special day :)

And what of gifts? Well, in my opinion, gifts are necessary, but they can come in many forms...

1. Favours e.g. a massage
Chilling at home after a simple dinner... watching a DVD, and then very naturally giving your loved one a massage. That would be a lovely gesture on your part... and may lead to sexy time! Hehe! Others may be cooking a meal, setting up a bubble bath (if you have a tub), stocking his/her fridge and... ironing? LOL!

2. Expression e.g. a nice handwritten card
A good way to express some thoughts you may normally not want to say in person. I paired mine with a compilation CD of songs, which my boyfriend ended up not liking anyway cos it's not his style. Haha! But he appreciated the thought and effort, so it does matter that you try to do something.

One of my cousins wrote his girlfriend a nice long letter for her... birthday? I forgot. These things, you get to keep in your drawer and cherish for life. You re-read them when you want to remember the best times, until they get dog-eared, and someday, you can show your children what a great relationship you had :)

3. Object e.g. a present he/she would like/need
A new vacuum cleaner for the wife? LOL! Wives out there are about to kill me. Haha! I believe presents can be practical. I received a sports watch with a heart rate monitor from my boyfriend on my recent birthday. It was a simple and very thoughtful gift because he wanted to motivate me to get in shape. In the end... it did :) Other practical gifts can be a new electronic gadget (if his/hers is already broken), face/body care products (so that he/she can take better care of himself/herself), coveted makeup products (my friend's hubby bought her UD's Naked 2 and scored many many points... ask her girl friends if you need advise), a new shaver for him or even the new game he's been itching to buy, and a gold bar instead of jewelry?

To be honest, buying household appliances may not be romantic, but if the purchase can make his/her life easier or more enjoyable, it's definitely alright to go ahead, be it a vacuum cleaner, shaver, blender, television or a new sound system you can both enjoy. If it makes both of you happier, why not?

4. Experience e.g. an enjoyable date or short trip
Plan a nice date... it doesn't have to be at a posh restaurant. It could be just taking the initiative to book the movie tickets and dinner venue and just taking him/her there. Or even a nice long dinner, followed by a long stroll on the boardwalk, in a park, by the sea... etc. My friend brought her hubby to a shooting range as a Valentine's Day gift. How cool is that?! ^_^

Trips don't have to be extravagant either. It could be just a quick weekend trip to a nearby island destination, a night at a nice hotel in the city, or even a day at the amusement park or a hike on the hills. The key here is to spend quality time as a couple... talking, laughing, enjoying each other's company.

I suppose you may have noticed by now that not once have I mentioned the staple gifts of roses and chocolates. I do love receiving flowers like every girl, but I always get a huge headache after I receive them. Where will I put them? And when they dry out, it seems like a huge waste to throw them out. This lead me to the conclusion that I don't want to receive flowers anymore, and stuffed toys too. Plants are fine though :) They live on and on... as long as I don't kill them. Hehe! As for chocolates and sweets, well... they're just like any other food. I'd rather have a good Japanese or Korean meal which probably costs as much as a box of chocolate or candy on Valentine's Day. Hehe!

So I guess the take away from this post is that we should all find time to spend quality time with our loved one. If we can't make it a habit to have fixed date nights, then holidays and special occasions give you a good avenue to do so. Don't waste them :)

Saturday, 2 February 2013

What of dreams?

I used to have dreams. So many of them, that I can't keep count. I wanted to be known for doing something HUGE... but the problem is... I could never pick what was it that I wanted to be known for.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a singer... I wanted to be a star. I wanted to be on TV, sing to crowds, make movies and have everyone know my name. But it was all just a want... I never needed it so badly that I did something about it. Sure... I participated in my fair share of singing competitions and school plays, but that was about it. It wasn't until I was 23 that I really wanted to take a shot at it. And it was all spurred by my new love for K-Pop. So I started participate in almost every audition held by a K-Pop company that was visiting KL or Singapore. Well, I didn't go for all of them, but I went for a few. After failing my very first one, I started this fan fiction... a fiction that I would write for the next 5 years, because I still dreamed of that life of fame.

It wasn't easy, holding on to a dream. When it was strong... tens of chapters would be written in a single week, sometimes a day. When I had new things in life to focus on, I took breaks in between, and to this day I feel bad because I disappointed my readers in doing so. I've lost a few of them, some became friends, and others kept coming back once in awhile to see what I was up to or if I'd added a new chapter. Some would come back once in awhile to reread the entire story again. I've always been grateful for my readers. The ones who believed in my dreams and loved being part of it. I can never thank them enough for giving me the incentive to keep writing.

I'm turning 30 in Dec 2013. In this past year, I realised that it's time to let go and move on. Whatever I loved about K-Pop has become more of a hobby now rather than an obsession. The life I have in front of me has become more and more of a pressing issue that I have to address, instead of the life I continued to wish for previously. Sure, I can find ways to continue my interests, but more than anything, I need to start paying attention and finding what would bring me contentment in my life; the one in which I lived, breathed and went through every single day.

When I was younger, in my early 20s, I always thought about getting married in my late 20s and having a family eventually. But I decided to chase my dreams in the past few years... dreams that ended up only half-materialised, and now, I'm still single and waiting for the right opportunity to settle down. I see friends around me getting married and some having kids... sometimes I envy them, but most of the times, I am happy they've moved down a life they wanted.

I guess in this sense, the answer is becoming simpler... my dream is to be happy. Happiness means so many things to people... to some its a career, to some it's in their interests and hobbies, to some it's in their relationships with friends and family and to some it's with the other person they want to spend forever with. Perhaps a little bit of everything may work for me.

There is nothing more that I want now, than to wake up every day feeling like I'm the happiest I could ever be. And I have to admit... I'm not there yet. There's so much more I feel that needs to be done for myself before I can find my true happiness. I only wish that I will continue to have the strength and tenacity to fight for it.

For all those people who have ever supported any of my dreams, be they insane or unrealistic, thank you. You've helped me attain happiness as well, and I am truly grateful! ^_^

Did you ever have a dream? Feel free to share it in the comments section below :)