Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace, and Joy by Mallika Chopra. 2023 is my finish (or at least read) all some of the books you bought in the previous years. I bought this circa 2019 in BBW (the last F2F). It has been sitting in the bookshelf since then. I wish I had started reading it sooner because it is very related to what I am learning about Positive Psych. I’ve been trying to make tabs on the examples and quotes I can incorporate on the different topics I get to discuss for work.
I also had one major realization while reading this. When you put out something in the world and declare it, to the point of Express in the acronym INTENT, this is what you live out. It is also what you attract. Lately, I’ve been declaring that I want to live out my dreams of being a housewife that I literally found myself doing stuff a housewife would do sans the kids. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but at this point (sabi nga ni bebe), it’s not yet time for that. So I guess I have to start expressing my other intents such as finishing grad school and being a safe space for others as I discover more about making a positive workplace. So yep.
My research which is all about how Filipino employees define self-compassion. Umay na. This classroom requirement is making me think real hard about what I want my thesis to be. It’s literally spending majority of your time reading on the topic repeatedly. Knowing how I value novelty, I don’t know how I can motivate myself to keep working on one topic for an extended period of time. Not to mention the anxiety I get whenever I am faced with these kinds of tasks. Lord, help me finish grad school.
In my random musings, I realized that writing helped me put things in perspective. Not in a hooray I achieved this and that and here’s what’s happening in my life kind of way instead, it’s in an I’m recording what happened because I love how I am able to tell my story and make meaning of what I went through in this life. This realization made me want to change the name of this blog to The Grey Couch. This was inspired by the couch in our condo where I spend most of my time reading, daydreaming, and writing my day away. In the same breath, it has also been instrumental this year as I tried to reclaim parts of myself and my life. I also love how the reference is so on point to my chosen profession – the typical representation of therapy. It was also around the same time I was reading Lori Gottlieb’s Maybe You Should Talk to Someone which spoke a lot about the couch in her own and her counselor’s office. My activator self immediately looked for drafts of couch outlines on google to noob-ly edit on Procreate, made an icon, and changed the names of my accounts to it. And as the usual downfall of the activator, once life gets in the way with new ideas to tinker with and new tasks to finish, a month later – I just decided to switch them all back to my old handle and make The Grey Couch a category on the blog.
I’ve been trying to write something about my experience during the elections but I found it hard to put words together. It’s both grief and fear that has kept me from telling a story of what transpired and how awful I felt after learning the initial results. The tab for the entry was just open but I never got back to writing anything.
The days after the elections was a blur. I was personally devastated. I didn’t want to move. I felt anxious and worried about what may come in the future given the history of those people who are leading in the polls. I couldn’t put a name to what I was feeling but it felt oddly familiar. It felt like what I felt when my Lola died – grief. It does come in different forms for different people. A few weeks later I came across this tweet from Action for Happiness which asked to share photos of three things that one finds meaningful or memorable as a well-being practice for the day. My activator and ideation strength got fired up and that somehow started to turn my mood around, looking for pockets of meaning where I can amidst the chaotic turn of events.
This year I am changing the narrative I have on my life. Upon entering the third decade of my life, I realized that the narrative I have been operating on in my life is colored by others’ truths. My good friend (and life coach) pointed out that I have a tendency to be more accepting of how others are but fail to realize that their truths and my truths both exist and the presence of one does not invalidate the other. Both can be true. This conversation sprouted a lot of questions and insights to why I view the world that way. One of the easiest explanations is that I tend to fawn. The easiest way to protect my peace is to just give in to what other people want. It is one way to cope short term. But in constantly using the same coping mechanism, I lost my voice. I failed to listen to the nudges that Gabby was making. I felt so small.
I officially closed 2020 and 2021 last January 31, 2022, when I turned in the last item on my burnout backlog. Now, I write these realizations in retrospect. To say that the past two years were bad is an understatement. If in 2016-2018 I experienced the good side of growth, 2019-2021 were the ugly side of growth (exacerbated by the pandemic). These were the years I came face to face with my shadow, the parts which I thought I have healed from, the parts I thought did not exist or the parts that existed but I unconsciously buried in my subconscious. Confronting these shadows broke me. Confronting these shadows also made me. That’s why as I leave 2021 behind, here are three lessons I’m taking with me:
1. Listen to yourself.
One of the things I realized this year was that with everything that’s thrown at us at such a rapid pace, we fail to listen to what truly matters – ourselves. In the past two years, I noticed how my voice became so soft that I don’t even know what I am saying – or if I’m still talking at all. This led me to second guess myself, to say char or chz after things I really want to say but end up retracting for fear of judgement or stepping on other people’s egos. I need to listen to myself more. I need to honor myself more.
To a situation, two opinions, two feelings, two thoughts can be true. It’s how we manage to handle both truths and especially holding space for what it was like for you is what matters. Listen to yourself. Listen to what you are feeling. Listen to what you are saying. Hold space for it.
2. Draw boundaries.
Drawing boundaries come intuitively once you start listening to yourself – your feelings, your needs. However, drawing boundaries involve identifying them and setting them. It is the setting the boundaries part which is most difficult. If you are like me, whose trauma response is to fawn or please others, it would take practice to be able to healthily communicate these boundaries.
Some days it is torture because I still give more importance to the other person’s point of view. But again, I have to remind myself that as much as their reality is true, what you feel, what you need is also true. The goal is to find that sweet spot of what will work for both parties. That’s not easy. It takes practice. But it is possible.
3. Live like we’re golden.
I’ve always known for a fact that life is finite. But it wasn’t until I was confronted with my Lola’s death did I realize how minute our time on earth is. We live in seasons. We can never really tell what the future holds for us. But we can always choose to be present in whatever season we are in. We can choose to savor good moments and learn lessons in the hard ones. And in each season, we can also choose to live in it with love. It’s hard. But I hope we always choose love.
These realizations led me to my word for 2022 – Reclaim. More on that in my next entry. For now, all I can say that design thinking is something I hope all of us encounter at least once in our lives.
Growing up, I’ve always thought that there is only one way toward a goal you want to reach. It is either you are good enough or not good enough. There is no in between.
This is in contrast with what I am learning now. In design thinking, you are allowed to prototype – to make a system and try it out. To see what works and what doesn’t. After that prototype, do an iteration. What needs to improve? What can be done better? What did you learn from the prototype? The best part is, in life, we’re allowed as many iterations as possible. Just as God gives us grace to start over from our mistakes. This opens up so much possibilities and allows us to live a little bit lighter.
Sunday Sessions: For five Sundays, I will be giving nuggets of lessons I learned during the 3rd decade of my life on earth. For this Sunday, I will be talking about my favorite topic of all – my passion. This topic scares me but also hypes me up and puts me into flow every time I talk about it.
My 20s were the years where social media was starting to catch fire. Bloggers here and there paraded their lives online, showing the best highlight reels on their platform of choice – and a person growing up and figuring out her identity, browsing through those feeds, can easily get lost in that sea. Passion. This word was thrown around a lot during that era. Passion for photography, passion for fashion, passion for you name it. Naive as I was, I thought passion was just about doing what you love and seemingly all that you do around it is effortless. Everything just falls into place – as if it were meant to be. I wanted that. I wanted the ease, the fame, the inspiration that those working for their passion possessed. But I didn’t know what I was good at or what I was passionate about. For a time, I was simply copying what the trend was but later on, through experience and exploration, I figured out what I wanted to do.
Passion, I’ve come to learn, comes from the Latin word passio which means to suffer. I read this in one of the books of Dan Brown. When I read that, I began to wonder why there was a disconnect between what I thought passion was and what the meaning of passion is. It was also in my 20s when I dispelled the mystery behind the disconnect. Apparently, passion is something that you willingly do despite the suffering that comes with it. It is about having meaningful goals and acting on them day in and day out. And later on, I also learned that meaningful goals impact not only your life but others’ lives as well. With this new insight, I then set out on a journey to discover what my passion was and work on it despite anything and everything.
This is sort of a proof of life post. Since my last post in April, life has been busy. At work, at home – among other things. So here’s a recap of the past 2-3 months.
For those who know me, I’m sure they will all go “TALAGA BA?” I’m really not a KPop fan. But hearing some of the suggestions from family and friends made me listen to their music and eventually create a playlist of some of my faves. Heehee. I love how the songs are upbeat and can lift you up while working from home.
P.S. Bet ko yung Cajun and Sweet & Spicy Sauce ng BTS meal 😉
Sunday Sessions: For five Sundays, I will be giving nuggets of lessons I learned during the 3rd decade of my life on earth. For this Sunday (Saturday, a week after!), I will be talking about one of the hardest things yet remains to be the most important thing in human life – relationships. Growing up, I’ve always enjoyed being alone and enjoying solitary activities. It wasn’t until I left for La Union that I realized how much I love being around people. On this post, let me share with you what I’ve learned about relationships so far.
One of my struggles growing up is relationships. I can easily say that the instability caused by my parent’s separation greatly influenced my view of and how I respond to relationships. It also doesn’t help that as a child, I trusted the best in people -I thought that everyone was a friend, that they thought of the best of you. Apparently not. I’ve encountered numerous negative experiences with others, ironically with those I’ve least interacted with. It also hurts when sometimes, the people you turn to for support impose on what they think is best for you just because they are closer to home. Given these, I really didn’t give relationships that much thought. I did my best to be independent and to keep to myself. It made me cautious of interacting with others. I played by their rules to please them and avoid the struggle in dealing with them. This, I have come to realize, is not how relationships work. Don’t wait for you to reach the end of your wick. I did. It ended up with frustrations pouring out, words I did not mean coming at all directions. It got really bad. But despite this struggle, over the years, I came to realize that despite these experiences relationships matter.
Sunday Sessions: For five Sundays, I will be giving nuggets of lessons I learned during the 3rd decade of my life on earth. For this Sunday, I will be talking about my journey in finding my place on earth. It still amazes me that some of the best realizations I have in life comes to me while I am in the bathroom. Sticking with this title and crafting this post came to me while I was in the loo.
I wish I could say that finding your place on earth is linear like drawing a line with two points from end to end and just following the line will lead you to your destination. But it is not. Finding your place on earth has many twists and turns. It is not as simple as setting a goal and if I do this, this and this, I will be able to reach it. I remember that when I was in high school, I set out to be a doctor. The goal was to get in UP Nursing as pre-Med and then take Medicine after. But while I was there, I realized that this is not what I was called to do, this is not what I wanted to do. Apart from that there were external circumstances that led to my decision of finally leaving Nursing, leaving UP and leaving Manila. It was a journey of learning how to say no to things that do not work for me and to leave spaces that do not contribute to my growth, more so my mental health and well-being. That was when I found myself on another road on the map where I least expected to end up on but helped me toward discovering parts of me that I thought did not exist.