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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For All the Strong People Who Are Feeling Faint…

This post is for all the strong people out there and for those who surround them. I hope this touches your heart.

You see, being a strong person is great. It means you are a survivor, a victor, an overcomer. Many strong people are alone but they are hardly ever lonely because they are either planning the next big thing or fighting a new goliath to reach the next level. Many strong people tend to do life alone and no one seems to understand why that is.

The problem is people who surround strong people expect nothing less than strength from them. They expect strong people to be ‘on’ all the time, abuzz with bible verses and inspirational quotes. They expect strong people to always have something to pour out while they eagerly receive. They don’t ever expect strong people to faint or even feel faint.

But here is a fact: Strong people faint many times.

Strong people feel situations like you do. They might know all the bible verses, but when it seems like the doors of life are closing in, strong people break down and cry too. It is at times like this that they need words of encouragement, love, hugs, a treat, no pity parties but an outlet to let out the pain they feel and an encouraging verse to strengthen their hearts after they have emptied their hearts of hovering depression.

But what do people around them do instead?

They judge. They mock. They castigate them for daring to faint.

“Shouldn’t you be the strong one here?” “If you are weak, how can we be strong?” “I don’t believe you are saying things like this. You should know better!” “Wow…. and you say you believe in God?”

It is no surprise that strong people learn to shut up. They struggle with vulnerability. Even in relationships, they struggle to say “I don’t really have this on lockdown because I don’t feel equipped to handle it.” They are scared to say “I feel like God is not coming through for me. Everything is such a mess.”

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They struggle to bare their emotions with anyone, including their partners. From my observation, I have noticed that the partners of many strong people tend to leave them to handle life alone. Any attempt at expressing vulnerability is met with a barrage of inspirational quotes and Bible verses that mean nothing to a heart that just wants to empty itself of the pain of struggle. How can these quotes and verses find room in a heart that is already filled with despondency and doubt? Oh yes! Strong people get despondent too. They doubt their journey too. They wonder about their process too. They cry. They faint. And people let them do it all alone. People make them feel guilty for feeling faint, and question if they truly serve God.

Dear strong person, the fact that you feel faint after holding on for so long is nothing to feel guilty for. David, a man after God’s heart, felt faint many times (read the psalms and take note of this). I imagine that Joseph through his travails lost hope many times. People may desire you to be a robot so they don’t have to invest any human emotions in your wellbeing, but you are not a robot. You are human. Sometimes the weight will be too heavy. Sometimes your heart will break over the smallest things. It is not because you are weak or because you lack faith, but because you are human and humans get tired. Sometimes you will seek encouragement or an outlet and be met with judgment and concealed mockery. Whatever it is, do not stop being human.

Did you expect me to say “do not stop being strong”? How can I say that when I know exactly how dark some days can be? I know how quickly courage can become cowardice, how quickly faith can turn to fear, how frustration can creep in on you and make you question your life.

I get it. Perhaps many people don’t. But I get it. Being strong can be a lonely journey. But let’s learn a lesson from David. Everytime his spirit felt faint, his go-to person was God. He cried to God, talked to God, expressed himself to God. God is the best listener. His ears are always open and his eyes never close in sleep. Yes, we all wish for people to understand those dark days without mockery or judgment, but many of them won’t. Those who do will stand by and get you back on your feet. They will give you a pep talk that will lighten your heart, or they will buy you three flavours of ice cream in one cone just to show that everything can work together for your good. If you are surrounded by these people who get the gist of your concealed fragility and your human-ness, keep them close. They are needed for your journey. If you are surrounded by those who castigate your fainting spells because ‘they’ve been through worse’ or ‘you are acting non-christian’ by fainting’, love them but never faint in their presence.

Take it to God. It is him afterall who gives you strength. XOXO

Are You Worried You Might Never Get Married?

You need to stop letting worry steal your joy. In this video, I share simple tips to help you enjoy your singlehood as a lady. Please share with friends and hit the subscribe button on my YouTube channel 😉

The channel name is Demi Fayemiwo or you can just click here

How To Beat Emotional Abusers At Their Game

If there is one life code you should know like the back of your hand, it is how to beat emotional and psychological abusers at their own game. I did a video on the cycle of abuse, and how you can spot an abuser before they get to you.  You can check it out here. By understanding the cycle of abuse, it is easy to spot an abuser before they abuse you. And if you are able to spot a potential abuser, you can easily beat them at their own game. In this post, I will give you a  few simple tips to help you understand abusers better and beat them at their own game.

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The disclaimer here is that these tips may not work 100% of the time especially if you have been in an abusive relationship for a while. But they are guaranteed to work if the relationship is still in its early phases and you can already spot the signs of abuse. They have worked for me a few times, so take note. They are really easy and are based on the premise of self-control. Beating emotional and psychological abusers at their own game is like undoing every move they make on a chess board.

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The question to always ask yourself is: Are you a pawn or a queen? The best part is you can choose what you want to be

#1 Abusers are not as confident as they come across. More often than not, the reason abusers are successful in abusing you is that you are unable to spot their fake confidence. If you have watched the video (link above), you will understand why. They literally bombard you with so many compliments at the beginning, such that you can’t help but swoon over them. Well, don’t get carried away with swooning. Pay attention. Watch out for snide comments about the success of others. Listen to what excites them – the success or the brokenness of others? How do they react when someone they perceive as better than they are steps on to the stage?(Note: This person could be your friend, colleague, relative etc. It could even be you in certain circumstances). If you watch closely enough, you will see an abuser cower slightly when they perceive someone stronger is in your life. Then they will immediately follow up with a barrage of snide comments that are intended to downplay the achievements or persona of the other person. At this point, smile and do nothing. 

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Yes, you read right. Don’t stand up to defend your friend, relative or colleague. Hey, the comments may even be directed at you, but you don’t need to let your hair loose just yet. This is a game of poker. You simply cannot reveal what you have. This principle is called “stooping to conquer”.

#2 Once the abuser believes that you are easy prey and the time to walk all over you has arrived, he/she will begin to poke at your identity and the things that they once complimented you for. Remember when they called you “intelligent and beautiful”, you will suddenly become “dull with ashy skin and breakouts”. Remember when they said your sense of style was on fleek? You will suddenly become “cheap and slutty”. Now, this is where many people get confused. They assume silence is the answer to these thinly veiled insults. But nah… Surely you don’t want to lose your cool at this point but you also don’t want to keep quiet. What you want to do is destabilize the abuser by simply saying…”I am surprised you feel this way about my…(sense of style, intelligence, job…etc). You said just last week that you were impressed by it.”

Now at the point, the abuser will look very confused and try to understand what you are doing. They will immediately realize that you have been paying attention all this while, and will reprogram the strategy – they will either skip to the next phase which is to take unveiled pokes at your identity by comparing you with other people or their exes, or they will revert back to the compliment stage where they distract you with exaggerated notions of yourself that you need not believe. Do not fall for the latter and if they proceed to the next stage, here is what you do.

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Abusers know comparison can break your spirit 

#3 Abusers know that comparison is what breaks a person’s spirit. Being told that you are not as good as your friend, your colleague or even your partner’s ex can have you in mental hell for some time. So they use this tactic very carefully. They can make a passing comment about how Sally cooked spaghetti better than you do, and from there, it graduates to outright statements like “Nelson is a better provider than your broke ass”. Now the abuser at this point is looking for emotion. The abuser wants you to lash out at the comparison and bring hell up from the darkest abyss of your soul. And I bet you, you will want to rouse all the madness within yourself in response. But take deep breaths because this is what breaks the relationship.

Look impressed. Yep. You read that right. Look impressed as your abuser makes the comparisons. “I should call Sally and ask her for that Spaghetti recipe” or “Wow! That Nelson must have been quite the guy. Why did y’all break up?”

This will throw your abuser off course completely and the confusion you will see on his/her face will be absolutely laughable. Don’t laugh. The situation might get volatile. Simply finish whatever you were busy with, pick up every last thing you own if you are not in your home and leave as amicably as possible.

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The abuser will at this point go back to the drawing board, ready to either restart the process or terminate the relationship. Irrespective of the decision they make, you have ONLY ONE option – delete their details, block them completely and act like you’ve been hit with the spell, Obliviate where they are concerned.

Then pour yourself a glass of wine and pat yourself on the back as you say to yourself “You’re doing great sweetie”.

XOXO.

P.S: this post stayed in my drafts list for two and a half years. I dated an emotional abuser and I conquered. I hope you do too!

This Is How You Are Unknowingly Negative About Your Life

As you may already know, I started a vlog a few months ago. I put some of my posts in videos on my YouTube channel. Please watch and share with friends. Don’t forget to subscribe as well! XOXO

How much are you worth?

I never really thought about this question until a recent discussion with a  couple of male friends got me wondering. Truth be told, when the question was directed at me, all I could manage was a smile and that smile haunted me for many nights because I figured I could have been more loquacious.

How much are you worth? 

Pause. Think about it. This is not the time to spring from your seat like ‘Jack in the box’; it is not the time to talk about your degrees, your job, or even your possessions. It is not the time to talk to about how people treat you or how amazing your personality is.

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Source: theodysseyonline.com

It is not a question you can answer with words. It is not a question you can answer by quoting Maya Angelou’s phenomenal woman. It is not a question you can answer by feeling insulted that someone would even dare ask you that. It is not a question you can answer by defending yourself.

I started writing this post four years ago, and I could not finish it because I realized indeed that the many ways I listed above could not effectively answer the question. Sure, I might have been able to sell myself as an assertive woman who believed in herself; but all the words in the world could not aptly describe what I was worth.

Four years, later, it hit me as I drove down the busy highways of Johannesburg on a traffic-free day. The answer to that question is not in words; it is in actions. How much you are worth is deeply ingrained in how you treat yourself. It is deeply entrenched in what you believe about yourself, and most importantly, it is found in the core of who and what you accept into your life.

I have seen many women recite phenomenal woman over and over, and right afterward, went ahead to do and accept un-phenomenal things. I have heard people write quotes on Facebook about how they are worth the world, yet could not stop their partners from treating them like doormats. I have been that person so many times. I have been the quoter and not the doer.

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But that day, when the question was thrown at me, it seemed as though the heavens opened and whispered in my ear “your words will not suffice. Your words cannot describe your worth enough”. So I smiled. Yes, I wished I’d spoken but I realize now that my heart was saying to me “Shhh. Pull back a bit and explore the deepest recesses of yourself. Pull back a bit and hear me speak.”

So if you are wondering how much you are worth, or if the question has been thrown at you before and you feel your verbal response did not do the trick, stop and listen to the silent whispers in your heart. Stop and ask yourself if you present yourself as worthy or worthless. Stop and ask yourself if you treat yourself with tender loving care. Do you treat yourself like you matter? Stand in front of the mirror and ask yourself “do I place as much worth on myself as God places on me?”

Therein lies the answer to that question.

And when you answer with all the sincerity you can muster, you will find the strength to treat yourself like the gem that you are. And no one will ever feel the need to ask you how much you are worth. They will simply see you are a priceless offspring of the King of Heaven.

XOXO.

What Do You Have?

More often than not, we are already equipped for the battles we face. However, we keep looking down on our weapons because they don’t look strong enough. Check out this new video I made for the week titled “what do you have?”

Please subscribe to my channel, and share the video with your friends. Be inspired!

Your ‘Hemorrhoid’ Shall Pass

If  you have never had an actual hemorrhoid, please go on your knees and pray you never ever experience the life-threatening pain that comes with it. I never thought it would happen to me. I live a healthy lifestyle, attend aerobics classes, hardly eat bread, can’t remember the last time I bought sugar…. basically I never thought hemorrhoids could come from my healthy lifestyle. Just like 1000001 other Nigerians, I assumed hemorrhoids are for people who consume a lot of sugar till their butt holes  protest. Boy was I wrong!

It started after a very grueling fitness class. We had just finished a combination session of squats, lunges and cones when my butt started to feel a little painful. I quickly attributed the pain to all the squatting positions and figured I’ll be fine by morning. I have been squatting for months, so really, what’s new? Hahaha… I guess my butt was laughing at me in Spanish.

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By the next morning, I attempted to gleefully roll off my bed as usual and start my day with my upbeat playlist, to give me a bright outlook on my boring work life when I felt the pain. It felt like the smooth stone David attacked Goliath with had been lodged between my butt. What the heck is going on? I took a shower with all the strength I could muster and went to work. The whole day, it felt like I was waging war against myself…a war I just couldn’t win because I had no idea what was going on down there. By the time I left the office, I could barely walk. Jeez! Me the ever-fit, brisk-walking melanin beauty who always had her head high was walking like I was just learning to use my legs for the first time. I was literally dragging my feet because any brisk step I attempted seemed to anger this august visitor. I made it to a pharmacy and in hushed tones explained to a kind lady what the problem was. Got some medicine and advice, and trudged back to my car. At this point, I could see the angels beckoning, and I was beginning to have an idea of what it means to be on fire… and as I sat in my car, it hit me.

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Everyone has a hemorrhoid somewhere. We all have that one thing that hurts so bad, we can only discuss it in hushed tones with people we believe can help us. Sometimes, they are situations we cannot even discuss with other people, but they hurt so much, we literally have to trudge our way through them, hoping we make it out alive. People see us and don’t understand why we are no longer brisk in our steps, why we are irritable and we are sitting on one half of our butts. People might not know what we are going through but deep inside we do, and we know they can never ever feel our pain just like a husband cannot feel the labor pains of  his wife.

Here’s a word for you: No matter what your hemorrhoid is, no matter what it is that hurts – a bad breakup, loss of income, loss of a loved one, loss of your dignity, pain from loved ones, betrayal, anything you feel deep inside that hurts so much – it will fade away with time. You might talk to people and find it’s not helping (the medicine I got at the pharmacy had zero effect); you might need to call in external help (my family members in Nigeria and the USA had to look for medicine for me and courier it because this visitor was not responding to South African things); you might need to turn to God and cry your eyes out (yes, it got to that point where I was telling God to come and uproot this thing with his divine power) and it felt like my prayers hit the ceiling and fell back on my bed…  But with time, the pain faded away. With time, I couldn’t muster the same emotions the pain brought with it. With time, I could not feel like it ever happened. I was walking briskly again with my head held high and my my smile bright. I was not irritable or exhausted. I was myself…. again.

Give everything time. Your hurt, your pain, your sadness, the sting of betrayal, anything you feel that makes you less of yourself will fade away with time. It might feel like your actions are not working, like your prayers are not soaring, and your life is about to end, but believe me when I say “this too shall pass”. Your hemorrhoid, your period of darkness, and your pain will set you up for something better than you can ever imagine. Lots of love from me to you XOXO

Becoming a better YOU is not rocket science!!!

I have spent a considerable amount of time wondering why we women often sit in despair and say “I wish i could stop doing all these crazy things I do but i just can’t help it”. Pause….More often than not, my reaction is a long stare at the exasperated woman – a stare that is often accompanied by a smile or the shaking of my head in frustration…How is it that we tend to make ourselves seem so powerless???

At some point, I was like you. I would sit and complain, sometimes, even take pride in what I can only call foolishness simply because I felt helpless but didn’t want others to see it. You know that saying “If you laugh at yourself, it won’t hurt when others laugh at you?” That was the rule I applied to everything I didn’t like about myself. I laughed about all those things; not once did i think about changing them!

I soon realized that I had the power to change all those things I didn’t like about myself. All I had to do was harness it and use all my energy constructively to make necessary changes. Here are some tips I would like to share with you:

Firstly, stop making decisions that make you miserable! These days, I can’t help but notice many of us keep making the same kinds of decisions, yet we are expecting different results. It is just like choosing to cook a pot of rice for dinner but hoping it will magically become a bowl of vegetables and fruits. Dear lady or gentleman reading this, always remember that you have power over the decisions you make. If from experience, you know a certain kind of man/ woman, a certain kind of habit or lifestyle robs you of your happiness and makes you an angry bitter person, then it’s time to put a full stop to it. Of course it’s easier said than done but who or what can beat the power of determination?

Stop walking around with baggage! Many women and even men are dying beneath the heavy weight of their past hurts, past broken-ness and basically everything that happened in the past. I came across a quote today …..”Look at life through the windshield and not the rear-view mirror.” Let it all go. If someone hurt you, don’t walk around blaming yourself for it till the trumpet sounds, learn your lesson and move on with life. If you hurt someone, apologise, make peace with him or her. Your apology may not be accepted right there at that moment but that person will appreciate the fact that you thought him or her worthy of a sincere apology.

Learn to count your blessings everyday rather than your mishaps. It is so easy to think about the many things we don’t have, forgetting we already have the best things that money cannot buy – life, family, friends, God… Wake up every morning with a determination to be happy! Be like me…there was a time I would wake up depressed because I just couldn’t understand the direction in which my life was headed but I snapped out of it (i admit it took a while and a lot of effort but it worked). Wake up everyday, look into the mirror and say something you are thankful for. I am thankful for my smile. It might be insignificant to others but I am happy God blessed me with a beautiful smile (even if i say so myself 😉

Know your worth! Every morning when you wake up, remind yourself of what you’re worth. It is hard to be happy when you don’t know what you’re worth; you’ll simply go through life like a cigarette. people will buy you when they need you, set you on fire to get the best out of you, and once they are done with you, crush you beneath their feet. That is no way to go through life. Define your values and stick by them. A woman or man without principles will not gain a lot of respect from anyone!

You don’t need to defend yourself at every opportunity. Of course there are those people lurking around, waiting for you to slip so they can remind you of what you said in 1983. Please…remember this is your life, a life God has blessed. You don’t need to report to any individual or seek their approval for you to be happy with yourself. Do what makes you happy. If others are not happy with it, tough luck…just remember to do things that please God. What HE thinks of you is what matters the most. If a person pushes you to be defensive all the time, learn the art of smiling and staying quiet. This was difficult for me to master. I really can’t count the number of heads I have chewed off in my defensiveness.

Don’t let negative people rent space in your head. Raise the rent and kick ALL of them out! Those people who say things like “Oh you know it will be hard for you to achieve that.” “No one can ever get that far in life.” “Mediocrity is the new norm. Join the wagon”. Do not let such thoughts last in your head for more than a femto-second that’s 0.000000000000001s. Also, don’t let guilt take over your life. You may have made some mistakes in the past but you can’t rewind time. If you let guilt rule your life, you will do things to please other people at your own expense. You will stay in a love-less relationship because you don’t want to add anything to your guilt meter, you will lose your spontaneity and zeal for life and you will end up as another soul, simply floating through earth with no positive impact on anyone.

Choose to believe the best about yourself, pursue your dreams and whatever you don’t like, pray and act! Don’t just say “God change me”.Make conscious efforts to change! and best of all, be determined to stick with the better You, even when the old, unhappy and depressed you calls, let it go to voicemail. You can be better if you just try!