010: How Can We Be Kinder to Ourselves in this 21st Century?

For the past few months, I thought that I was doing pretty well… I’ve somehow adjusted living away from my parents, being at peace with my issues at home and at work, and just having taken each day step-by-step; facing each bump on the road with a deep breath and a self-push forward. Though I admit, there would be these minute moments where I would be tumbling back to square one, interrogating myself on how I am not where I want to be, that the circumstances of my environment has stunted me from actually living the life that I want.

I admit that I am very hard on myself. I believe that I have so much to offer to the world, yet I feel like I am not even showing for it in a way that I’d expect. Whenever I feel this, I get into this state of overthinking, over-planning and in the end not being able to get on with anything because I wouldn’t know where to focus my energy in… So I’d rather just sleep. The irony is that I know what I want in life, but there’s just so much noise in and outside my head that it’s been hard to re-center and commit to my path. I know I am enough, yet I seldom feel like I’m not. I would later then realize that I am afflicting myself with humanity’s most lethal weapon of choice, a person’s mindset.

I’ve always been intrigued with the topic of mental health; the matter becoming the center of media attention, government policies, and even pop culture has rebirth my curiosity especially this past year. Growing up, it was something subconsciously enveloped within us through the people who raised us and hang out with, along with the experiences that we choose to indulge in (and later, regretting or not). At this day and age, a person’s mental condition is becoming a huge deal and I concur with society… When one reaches their final straw, not only do they have the will to take their own lives, but they also have the capacity to take the lives of others due to this sickness; and it has become more rampant like never before. To make matters worse, we also exist in a world where some do not even accept this as a disease but rather an excuse of just wanting attention – well that doesn’t help, does it?

I would sometimes wonder what spiked it to this degree?

I think it has something to do with information.

When our parents were our age, they did not have much access to information like we do now. When you wanted to research for your homework, you had no choice but to head to the library and write your notes paper after paper. When you wanted to catch-up with an old friend, you would get their number from the yellow pages (a.k.a. the original phone book) and call them to meet-up with you. Nowadays, if you want information, there’s Google and if you want to see what an old friend is up to there’s Facebook. You won’t need to write things down anymore, thanks to the student’s best friends, Copy & Paste, likewise a physical date with a person when there’s a thing called, FaceTime or Skype. The physical elements of interactions are slowly becoming subdued and unimportant. You don’t really need to do much to get what you want anymore, just go online and – poof – there’s your solution! This results to us breathing in the air of this fast-paced world that is becoming harder and harder to keep up with. No wonder it’s taking a toll on our minds. We’re losing oxygen.

I am not saying that the Information Age shouldn’t have happened – no. I miss the life before the dot com boom as much as the next dude, but it is truly the forefront of our generations’ contribution to human discovery; its intention was made for the good and convenience of all. However, going back to the topic of mental health, this “good” without proper moderation and self-care is going to take over our lives – I’m talking about Wall-E levels of domination, people!

… It sounds erratically assumptive of me to think this way, although I’m just being open with what I feel about the situation and hope that you keep an open mind.

For instance, social media, a stellar product of this Information Age, has caused a lot of us anxiety ever since its conception. At one point, I was obsessed with it where friends would say that I was addicted. Well now, I only use it because I have no other choice. It’s the medium where I can get in touch with all my family and friends since using phonebooks would be absurd now, don’t you think? It’s come to a stage where if you’re not on social media, you don’t exist! There’s no denying the convenience that social media brings… What makes it an evil is that too much of it will make you mad without you being totally aware of what’s happening.

A personal example of how I hurt myself would be the following:

The unintentional comparison of my life to the lives of others

I would get lost in time scrolling my Instagram feed, seeing the lives of the people I follow and can’t help but feel like a piece of crap by the time I’m done with my dose of social media – and my initial action would be just to check my notifications! I look at all the stunning-looking people endorsing a life that I would want, but can’t have at the moment due to my own personal obligations that need attending to first. This guilty pleasure feeds the green monster within me and in turn, it eats away all the hope and optimism I have for my own life. Sucks, amiright?

We live in a fast-paced society now and social media is what keeps us in the loop of what’s going on around the world at real time. However, too much information – the unnecessary kind, the trash, the traffic, and the noise – is what takes over our lives. Despite the technological advancement that we have seen in the past years, we remain the same human species that discovered fire; by nature we are very fragile. We all have our unique set of senses and abilities that are so complex – biologically and psychologically speaking. This is where the misperception arises… The information that we receive, as well as the information that we put out about ourselves, events, and more will have different effects on each person it reaches. And we would have no idea.

My friend might not have the same reaction to me when seeing, let’s say, Taylor Swift’s activity online. She might dig her music and like her music business acumen – I mean who wouldn’t??? Though, I would sometimes feel caught up in her success that it’d take me to a point where I would question my own progress as a singer/songwriter. And it’s not just her. I’ve personally struggled following all of my favorite artists and seeing the life they lead because deep down I would want that kind of life. I don’t want to unfollow them, they did nothing wrong to me. I’m the one who put this on myself. I opened the gates… And I guess we all have something that would trigger our demons of insecurity and self-loath to come in.

Even when we post something online ourselves, we might have a certain expectation in terms of reactions. Gone are the days when we’d just have photo albums and only a few persons can react at a time. Now, the receipt of compliments and criticism have multiplied – by the time we get the amount of likes, hearts, and ‘FIYAAAAH’s that satisfy our egos, it’s too late. We clamor for more by posting another one and it becomes a cycle. We get caught up in the hype of the moment and forget where the true basis of sharing a part of ourselves lies.

So how can we be better than this?

The answer is not in the change of actions that we perceive in situations; rather what goes in our mind when they happen; how our mental state’s interpretation can change our wellbeing. Remember, everyone’s process is different.

I believe that if we have a better understanding of who we are, our objectives in life will become clearer and attainable. We must continuously develop a sense of self that is purely out of our own terms. From that, we would stop beating ourselves up every day and seek refuge in the fact that we have our own unique journeys that only we can fulfill. As cliché as it sounds, it’s true, and each time I catch myself in a rut I remind myself of this. We need to have an honest conversation with our inner voice about who we are and what we want out of this life or else we’ll depreciate and just live each day waiting for a hero to come and save us. No one is coming, but it’s always good to get help.

During the last week of April, my mind was all over the place and as a solution to my cluttered state of mind, a good friend suggested that I’d try doing meditation every day (shout out to my dearest, Diego! He shared some online materials to me – I’ll put the link at the end of the article). It’s been tough maintaining a routine of doing it at least 5 to 20 minutes daily however I find the results pretty outstanding. I see myself with more clarity in my day-to-day decisions, disregarding anything that could be harmful to my state of mind. I try to avoid social media or such that will prompt my urge to compare and question my worth. I practice saying daily mantras to myself, as a reminder that I am enough.

And… We are enough.

We can’t stop this Information Age from expanding more than it already has and again, it’s not a bad thing. There has been good coming out from it in the forms of people helping each other, strangers online who wish to give value to other strangers all over the world. It is solely up to us on how we choose to interpret.

We need to be kinder to ourselves by realizing that the world doesn’t revolve around our handheld devices and the Internet. When the online space gets a bit congested and overwhelming, we must remember that there is still a living, breathing, and beautiful world out there that is so vast that when we choose to immerse and make those connections within and outside ourselves, all those toxic thoughts will dilute.

We have the ability to create clarity for us; no one else will. We must own our mindset. We must own our lives.

And don’t forget to:

Take a breather.

Look into yourself and realize that you are not defined by what other people think or say about you.

Detach from the external factors that have triggered you in the past, be strong, and move past them because they are detrimental to your growth in accepting yourself.

Stop putting the blame on why your life isn’t the way you expect it to be at present and actually start taking a daily step towards your happiness NOW (allot an hour a day to work on your passion, start that new hobby you’ve been thinking about in the shower, take online courses during the weekends, find a mentor, etc.)

Receive the multitudes of information that you get day-to-day and create a filter for yourself – accept those that are useful to you and your vision for who you want to be 5 to 10 years from now and repeat.

Stop looking into other people’s lives and comparing. The worst thing you can do to yourself is put someone else’s ‘life goal’ as your ‘life goal’. That’s their life, not yours. Get inspired by it to work on yours. Focus on YOURSELF.

Be grateful for what you have, where you are now, whom you are with, and the endless possibilities of you finding your bliss with just that. Achieve the impossible from there.

And lastly, give light to the people around you because we don’t know how many demons and shadows they carry. Remember, to give is to receive, and how I see it… You will receive back the light in abundance.

Let’s keep growing.

Here is the link that Diego shared with me if any of you want to check it out:

http://marc.ucla.edu/mindful-meditations

4 thoughts on “010: How Can We Be Kinder to Ourselves in this 21st Century?

  1. This helped me a lot and hopefully will help others to keep an open mind! Keep doing what your doing because it’s working

    Like

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