Protect Your Joy; Protect Your Life

As 2017 drew to an end, I decided to go off the grid. It wasn’t due to exhaustion (although I admit I was almost at the end of myself by December); nor was it a stunt I believed would make me appear more mature. I took time off to communicate with God and believe it or not, with myself.

You see, as 2017 trudged along, I stopped speaking to myself and I definitely stopped listening to myself. I am a naturally optimistic person; you can even say when it comes to determining outcomes I am in my own world. As much as I prepare for possible negative outcomes, I tend to visualize the positive outcomes more. I excite myself thinking about them. I walk as though things have already worked out; I talk as though I am already in the reality of a positive outcome.

But something was different in 2017. As the months went by, I stopped visualizing the positive. I stopped seeing the positive. I stopped walking like it was going to happen. I stopped talking like it had happened.

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I spent a lot of time listening to what others had to say even though they were not speaking to me or about me. I listened so much that I started to internalize what others had gone through; I started to expect the negative outcomes they got and at some point believed that my glasses were rose-tinted and life, in reality, was a rolling ball of negativity.

Thank God for those three days I spent off the grid. Thank God for those three days I spent immersed in my bible, speaking to God and listening to my heart. They made the important difference I’ve experienced in 2018 so far.

You see, no matter how cautious we are, we are to some extent influenced by the environment, by the things we hear and by the things others are doing around us. Last year, I listened to so many negative stories about relationships that I started to let go of my dream relationship. I said to myself “Demi it’s too far-fetched, it won’t happen”. I started to expect the worst, and as a result, I did everything possible to avoid it. Of course, it did not help that old scars began to find their way to the surface with the direction of my thoughts, reinforcing the negativity I was internalizing without being aware of it. I thought of the dream life I wanted to live and started to let my reality get in the way of that dream. I listened often to the people who told me about how their dream lives did not work out – not in celebration of something better, but in resignation to life as it had played out.

But those three days changed the direction of my thoughts and made me ‘rogue’ in how unshakeably I now believe in the validity of my dreams and aspirations. I started the year off happier, better and stronger than I ever was all through 2017. And I just want to say these to you:

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Source: She knows
  • Your dreams are valid. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Even if the people around you have never had what you dream of, don’t assume it is a natural rule that you can’t have it. The validity of your dreams is not dependent on the approval of those around you. Please don’t ever forget this.
  • You can sympathize with others without internalizing the negativity they have experienced. In other words, just because it happened to someone else or many other people, does not mean it will happen to you. This is where many of us struggle. We struggle to separate our lives from the lives of others. For some reason, we feel solidarity with those who are experiencing negative outcomes, and there is nothing wrong with this. However, we must remember that our solidarity is based on support and not necessarily on us sharing the same negative niche. For example, if your best friend’s husband cheats or if your buddy’s wife is abusive, by all means, be a supportive friend but don’t go home with the assumption that your own partner will be the same. Don’t subscribe to a club based on perception. Your reality might be different. Focus on your reality
  • Be OK with pulling out when you feel your heart is reaching a tipping point. Yes, there is an emotional tipping point where you go from being a supportive friend, neighbour or colleague to being overwhelmed with so much emotion, it is as though you are right in the situation when truly you are not. Be OK with excusing yourself. Be OK with saying “Can we please discuss a happier topic that will make us both feel better?” Be OK with giving a good tight hug and then leaving if you don’t want to listen anymore. It does not make you a bad person. You’re no use to the person you are trying to support if you are overcome with negative emotions. So why not pull out for a bit, get yourself together and step back in when you really have your heart protected and can speak to them from a position that offers strength and support, rather than one that dwells in the pigsty of negativity?

 

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Source: Dreamstime.com

Finally, please remember that negative outcomes make the news more than positive outcomes ever will. Negative stories get more shares on Facebook. Negative topics make the trends on Twitter. Look out for what’s not making the news – working marriages and relationships, successful fulfilled people walking in purpose in their own way, fulfilled dreams and aspirations, peaceful towns and cities with little or no crime… these trends don’t make the news but it does not mean they are not out there. Look for the positive and protect your joy. Believe in the validity of your dreams and stand firm. The negative outcomes of others do not, cannot and will not dictate your own. XOXO

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This Mindset Is Ruining Your Life

As published on covenantrelationships.org

It is common knowledge these days that having a negative mindset will not translate to a positive life. Pessimists tend to see problems in every opportunity, while optimists see the opportunity in every problem. However, whether you are a pessimist, optimist, realist or an idealist, there is a very subtle mentality that is ruining your life. Subtle as it is, it is very common, and people are not even aware of the negative impact it has on them. I like to call it the ‘either/or mentality’.

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source: huffingtonpost

Think about it… how many times have you seen a couple in a mansion and assumed they must have an unhappy marriage because of all that money they have? How many times have you seen a man or woman who’s career driven and assumed their family must be in shreds because they are so dedicated to their work? How many times have you seen a handsome man and assumed ‘oh well, he must be a player’, or a beautiful woman and assumed ‘she must be taken or unintelligent’. How many times have you heard a person’s big dreams and reminded them they might not get married because they are so into this vision? I am sure you can already remember one or two instances where you assumed if someone had something, it was impossible for them to have the other.

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source: how stuff works

This either/or mentality is ruining your life! It is giving you the impression that you have to choose because you can’t have it all. It is telling you in your subconscious that life is not a buffet where you can have a taste of everything, but rather a restricted pre-planned menu where if you choose option A, you cannot have option B. This is why you are not going after everything you desire. This is why you are not winning at life. This is why you are too scared to chase lofty dreams because you believe the more you have, the more unhappy you will be. I have met men and women who often say they are not interested in buying their own houses and acquiring wealth for their children; they are not interested in building their careers and being well-known for their success because most people who have all those things are not happy anyway. Well, guess what? There are also a lot of people who don’t have those things and are unhappy as well. So it is not the wealth that makes a person unhappy. It is a lack of God in you.

Drop the either/or mentality and go for everything you love and desire! Build your career, acquire wealth, marry that partner that makes you genuinely happy! Live your life as a well-rounded individual who knows he has access to every single item on the buffet menu! There is no dream that is too big for God, and there is no such thing as option A or B. You can have everything! The reason people tend to say you can’t is because they themselves are too scared to chase after everything they want. Don’t join their bandwagon! XOXO

Enjoy Happy Moments

Sometimes, in the midst of pain, hardship and trouble, happiness can be a fleeting experience; so fleeting that you fail to capture it and enjoy it in that moment. It can be a brief smile in the midst of debilitating heartbreak; it can be a quick elation you feel after successfully passing through a phase before you face an even greater mountain. The important thing here is to capture happy moments and make them last for as long as you can. Reminisce on happy moments; enjoy them. Stop obsessing over what’s not working, or what’s next. Learn to live in the now. Learn to ride the present wave without stretching your neck, trying to figure out what the next wave will bring. Happiness does not have to be a fleeting experience; it can become more than a momentary intrusion. Learn to enjoy the warmth of happy times. Don’t try to guess what tomorrow holds. Tomorrow will sort itself out. Enjoy today.

Plus or Minus A Quarter Of A Century Later…..

Yesterday was my birthday! (Yea I accept cyber hugs too so feel free to send as many as possible). As per my yearly tradition, a few days before my birthday, I take some time out to reflect. This inevitably rouses past hurts, pain and on the bright side, amazing times I have had, with friends family and everyone close to me. During these reflections, I reflect on the lessons I have learnt in the past year, past five years…or whatever time frame I can still recollect. Many of these lessons were learnt the hard way and some were learnt under lighthearted circumstances or from the experiences of others. These lessons played a big part in shaping who I am and I feel the need to share some of them

  • The Determination Lesson: I never knew how determined I was until I found myself at an Afrikaans university. Lectures were offered in Afrikaans, some lecture notes were in Afrikaans and really, everyone spoke or at least understood sufficient Afrikaans to get around. I had never heard of Afrikaans and was not in any way aware of the university’s language policy at the time I registered. I had two choices- to leave, wait a year and start somewhere else, or to imbibe the culture, learn a bit of the language and just keep my eye on the ball. I was depressed for the first few months but I am glad today that I stuck it out and studied at one of the most prestigious universities on the continent.
  • If it’s not broken, don’t fix it! Like seriously, this lesson should be taught in university, especially for people like me that are always trying to ‘improve’ things that already work efficiently! I started using a certain brand of skin products on my face; they worked perfectly; I had no outbreak of acne, no weird blemishes, my skin was just fine! I walked into the drug store two months ago and noticed a new range of products that promised even and smooth skin. I figured, why not use both products and enhance my skin’s appearance- colossal disaster are the only words with which I can describe the results. Oh dear! I had pimples the size of shotput! I crawled back to my first product range, tongue-tied, hat-in-hand and completely remorseful for not trusting enough. Yeah…in case you’re wondering what the hell this skin jargon is about, think of how it applies to your relationships!!! For some reason, people become hungry for more once they start dating; many men suddenly feel the need to add an extra ‘booty’ to the equation while some women feel the need to start demanding things they know their partner is incapable of providing. Stop trying to fix something that already works!
  • Stoop to Conquer: Ooooh….I still remember how enthralled I was at the age of 12 by this amazing story by Oliver Goldsmith. Fast forward, years later, I realized the lighthearted story that made me giggle as a child had an important lesson for me too! There are times when you are faced with difficult situations fueled by difficult people who simply consider themselves way too important, when in actual fact, they are battling low self-esteem; taking such people on head-on might spell catastrophe for you especially of that person happens to be of a more senior position. seriously, it’s like a game of poker where people bluff and suddenly shock the other players with a good hand. Stop showing all your cards; stop making noises about how you intend to ‘deal’ with someone for making life difficult. Stoop to conquer difficult people! Play their game, make it seem like they have you where they want you. It’s not stupidity, it’s playing smart! Like a friend once said to me…”the best way to control people is to make them think they are in control”.
  • No one is more special: I grew up with the thought I had to be self-sacrificial in everything; that wouldn’t have been a bad thing if I knew where to draw the line! Oh no! Naive me took that habit straight into my relationships; he’s more special, I should treat him better. One day, I was reading a post online about God creating woman in the presence of an angel and I simply broke down! Where on earth is it heard of that a princess treats her suitors better than she treats herself? That of course was partly due to my low self-esteem at the time but also due to the mentality I had that some beings are superior, hence they are more special. Forget that now! Seriously, no one is more special than me. I wake up every morning wondering….I went to bed and God sent an angel to watch over me all night! That’s how special I am! I have an army of angels watching over me! When I’m down, I get a hug from my heavenly father, I get favours in places where I am unknown! Why should I drag myself through the mud for the ill company of any man….It may sound selfish but really, no one is more special than me!
  • Life is happening to EVERYONE! You know as teenagers, we tend to be caught in  a personal fable..”no one understands what I’m going through” are the statements we utter when our high school boyfriend decided to date the most popular girl in school. *yawn* grow up and you’ll realize there are many more important things in life!
  • No matter how much you bend, don’t break! Life can test you! Life has sure tested me in many ways; there were times when I asked myself…”what on earth am I doing here?” “What’s next?” “Where do I go from here?” I bent…I cried (believe me…a good cry can put things in a whole new perspective) but i refused to be broken! After crying, I woke up the next day more determined than ever to find a way out of my mess! I left home when I was barely sixteen to continue studies in South Africa; if you have been away from home, your family and your friends as a child to start somewhere else, you’ll testify that there are many things mummy and daddy’s protection can’t shield you from. I struggled to find a job after my college education and I spent months crying over it. Everywhere I looked, the jobs were either taken or they had specifications only aliens could have- must be able to speak 21 different languages, have green skin and be able to whistle through the nose- they were that ridiculous! But one day I woke up and realized….
  • God has already provided a way out! You know, God is just amazing! He created each of us differently with unique specifications- everything you need to make it in life, God has already put it within you. You simply need to find it! I’m still sequencing the unique DNA within me but after struggling with job hunting for a considerable amount of time, I remembered he gave me the ‘writer’s gene’. I have been writing since I was 11- short cheesy stories and even attempted a book which I put on Amazon (It’s not cheesy; I made a good effort with it. It’s called the narrow path by Demi Fayemiwo; you can buy it on amazon).  Anyway, I advertised myself as a freelance write and well, oh well, what do you know…got paid for using my talent! God has already made a way out for you. The requirements are inside you. It’s something you are uniquely coded for!

You are wonderfully made, loved and cherished by the greatest one of all! Life may bend you but trust he will never let you break! I know this for sure! Happy birthday to me! DSCN0414 260492_10150347142094606_6021943_n 281534_10150375954314606_7249940_n