Do you ever feel inadequate?

I’ve realized that feeling inadequate is a perfectly normal and a very human thing to feel, even though many of us are not able to easily admit to feeling this way. The reality is, we have all felt inadequate in some way. We may not feel this way all the time, or we are unconscious to how inadequate we actually feel; but at the end of the day, at some point in our development we have felt like we just don’t quite measure up. This may be in one specific area of your life, or in more of a general sense. The point is, no matter how much we try not to compare ourselves to other people, we just can’t seem to help ourselves. You will do it less often when you’re generally happy with how things are going in your life, but at some point you will do a check in to see how other people are doing just so you can get a sense of where you are in life… Whatever that’s supposed to mean. The thing is, there is nothing wrong with wanting to know how people are doing, it can be a very positive thing, when you genuinely want to know how things are going in someone’s  life and THAT’S IT. The thing is, you need to be mindful of your intentions behind checking up on someone. You need to be mindful as to WHY you care about whatever that person is doing right now in their lives.

Generally speaking, if you truly cared about someone and how they were doing, you would most likely ask them directly. Whatever we see on our social media platforms only gives us a small idea of how people are actually doing. We all know that whatever most people are posting, are either their ideal selves, or the parts of themselves that they are most comfortable sharing. Social media was meant to connect us, but in a lot of ways it has been used to separate us from one another. Instead of having more genuine conversations with one another, where we talk about what’s really going on in our lives, we look to social media as a way of finding that information out. It takes a lot less effort to scroll through your Instagram or Facebook feed to keep tabs on the people in your life, then to engage in a meaningful conversation. It is much easier to watch someone’s “story” Snapchat or Instagram. If we know for a fact that most people are only sharing parts of themselves on social media and not the whole picture, why do we constantly look at our “news feeds” on these platforms as a means of measuring our own personal success? Why do we punish ourselves like this, and feed our feelings of inadequacy? Even when we are talking with our friends and family, are we really being honest about our fears? Are we secretly afraid of being judged? Or are we afraid of becoming someone else’s problem? I know a lot of us never want to feel like a burden to someone else. This is a big reason why it is so much easier to pretend on social media, and have superficial connections. The nitty gritty isn’t pretty, and it doesn’t feel nice. It’s also very hard to admit. It is very hard to admit to yourself that you are deeply afraid, let alone to anyone else.

Where do these fears and feelings of inadequacy come from? From my experience it comes from a lack of trust. It comes from a lack of trust within yourself, and a lack of trust in God/the universe, whatever you want to call it. Because of this lack of trust, you therefore become hyper aware of the supposed “success” of others. Their lives seem much easier, happier, and more fulfilling than your own. You don’t actually know this for a fact, it’s a story that you have told yourself to explain your own unhappiness. For whatever reason, you have chosen to believe that you aren’t enough (good enough, smart enough whatever), that you don’t have enough, and you are aren’t doing enough.  There never seems to be enough, and therefore you are never satisfied, and you are never happy. Instead of living a life of abundance and gratitude, you end up living a life of scarcity. In our egocentric, capitalist society, there is always an element of scarcity. You can never have enough things, enough money, enough fame, enough success. There’s never enough. This is a story we tell ourselves, and it leaves us feeling left behind. What about me?! Well you wouldn’t be worried about that, if you felt as though you would be taken care of; if you felt as if you could take care of yourself, and that the universe or God was always looking out for you.

The person asking the question “what about me?” Is your ego talking. It is the small me. It is the small version of ourselves that we sometimes confuse for our actual selves. It is the part of ourselves that is always measuring up to others. It is the part of ourselves that is always trying to define itself by separating itself from others either in a positive light, or in a negative light. It is the part of ourselves that doesn’t see past our own self, it is the part of ourselves that is only truly concerned about ourselves. Our ego may trick us into thinking we aren’t selfish because we seem to care about our friends and family. However, a lot of times these people are seen as an extension of ourselves. If we stop concerning ourselves with ourselves, we might actually be happier. If we stop worrying about our lives, and start living our lives we would be a lot happier.

Below are some questions that I found in this book called Big Magic, that really got me thinking about what speaks to my soul. It got me thinking about the things that bring me such joy. The kind of joy that makes me want to shout from the hilltops and share it with the rest of the world. That feeling, is the feeling that you need to chase, no matter how challenging it may seem, because it’s not always going to be easy but it will always feel right. A quote from the happiness project, “happiness is feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right.” You need to know what it feels like to feel “bad,” so that you know what to avoid so that you feel good, but sometimes even the things that make you the happiest don’t always make you feel good, but they always feel right, and that’s super important. When things feel right, they are in line with your values, they are in alignment with your purpose, and ultimately they are in line with your being. You just need to trust in that feeling, in things feeling right, even though it may be difficult at times. Keeping all of that in mind, reflect on the following questions and how they relate to you. What would you do even if you knew that you might very well fail? What do you love so much that the words failure and success eventually become irrelevant? What do you love more than you love your own ego? Why should I go through all the trouble to make something if the outcome might be nothing? Well the answer to the last question should be, because it’s fun right? What else are you going to do with your time here on earth, not make things? Not do interesting stuff? Not follow your love and curiosity?

Think about all that and how it applies to your life. We don’t know how long we have on this earth, and we should never take that for granted even though most of us do, because literally anything could happen to you. So with that in mind, how do you want to spend your time here on earth? How would you fill your life with happiness? You know the answers to these questions deep in your heart, you just need to quiet the thoughts in your mind long enough so that you can come to understand it, and believe in it.

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My Quest For Happiness; A Reflection of The Past Month

About a week ago was February 1st, the beginning of the month, and it was also Groundhog Day. You might be asking yourself, who cares? Trust me, I feel you; who cares about Groundhog Day? It does seem like a very pointless holiday, however, it helped me piece together all of the things I’ve been learning this month through practicing mindfulness, or presence if you will (yoga, meditation, and writing a personal journal), and through my quest for happiness, which I will now change to my quest for balance. How did this holiday inspire my writing of this piece? Well, I remembered the movie Groundhog Day (1993) starring Bill Murray. This is a very funny movie, that I watched a long time ago with my Dad. I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it, but basically the take away lesson of the movie is this; if you don’t learn from your mistakes you are doomed to repeat them. As they say, history always repeats itself, but I’m here to say that it doesn’t have to. In the movie Bill’s character gets stuck reliving Groundhog Day over and over again, and he is the only one conscious of this phenomenon. So he is stuck in his own personal hell, until he finds a way to break free of this cycle of it always being Groundhog Day. This is a very good metaphor for your everyday personal life, because if you think about it, we tend to make the same mistakes over and over again. If you reflect on your life I’m sure you can think of the many times you have lost or broken your phone, or the countless partners you have chosen who were never quite right, or just about anything in your life that you just can’t seem to get right. Why is that?

Well, first off, you can’t fix anything that you can’t see. If you’re not aware of this pattern, and I mean fully aware of it, then you can’t possibly fix it. There’s a difference between what you think you know, and what you actually know. You may “think,” you know why you keep doing the things you’re doing, but from my own personal journey, I’ve realized that thinking alone isn’t going to fix the problem. A lot of times, your thoughts are what stop you from being fully present in the moment. Your thoughts aka your fears are what cloud your judgement, and have you in this endless cycle of unhappiness; because what you end up doing is playing out your thoughts in your life, and therefore your fears end up becoming your reality. How do I fix that? How do I escape this “Groundhog Day” cycle of history repeating itself, and of me having a hard time being completely happy? The answer: 1. You need to work on being present in EVERY situation, or at least as much as possible. The more aware you are of your surroundings, the people in your life (good or bad), the opportunities around you, your thoughts, your feelings, the better you’ll be able to make healthier choices for yourself, and the better you’ll be able to find balance and/or happiness. 2. Once you are more present, and aware of yourself, the better you’ll be able to understand your past choices and accept them for what they are. You first need to accept the reality that you are in before you can change it. You MUST be honest about your reality, and who you are NOW in order to make a positive lasting change. If you’re always thinking about the person you should be, or the person you used to be, you will never be happy with the person you are now. You will never be able to change the things that are stopping you from being the person you know in your heart you could be because your head is telling you all the reasons why you can’t. “You can’t run like you used to, so why bother trying.” “You’re so fat, you need to be more like so and so, they have the life that you want.” Your thoughts or your Ego is what is stopping you by telling you stories about who you are, and what you can and cannot do. Even if you “try” to accomplish something in your life, like working out regularly, if you keep calling yourself “fat” for example, if you fail, the blow is easier on you because you have already told yourself you’re fat and so therefore you aren’t capable of regular workouts. You have told yourself this story about how you’re a fat person, and most likely you’re not even aware of all the choices you’ve made in your life that fulfill this story of you being a “fat” person. This is how you get stuck in your own personal hell, or Groundhog Day, and you can never escape it until you realize how you put yourself there in the first place.

It’s so funny, because in a way by writing this article, I’m also repeating some of the words I’ve said in articles that I’ve written in the past about chasing your dreams, letting go of your ego etc. I’ve touched on this subject many times, and each time I have learned something new, but not enough to break through the cycle. Life really does come full circle all the time, it’s as if a kid was scribbling a circle overlapping another circle over and over again. Even this article is coming full circle from the article I wrote at the beginning of 2018 about Resolutions. The only way to not repeat this circle, and to break the cycle is to pay attention to the lessons you face each and everyday. You may have a moment of clarity where everything makes sense, and you feel as though things are finally got things right, you’re on the right path, and then for some reason you lose it. You fall back into old habits. Maybe not to the same degree, but you still aren’t as far along in your progress as you would like to be. The key here is to not let this idea slow you down, because that is all it is. Only you have told yourself that what you are doing, who you are right now etc. isn’t enough. That is your Ego talking. Your ego is the voice in your head that is always talking to you, your ego is your thoughts, and your thoughts cause emotional responses that only reinforce your original thoughts. Both your emotions, and your thoughts will then dictate your choices, and your actions. You need to be mindful of this. This is the first step to breaking through a Groundhog Day scenario.

This may seem simple enough but it’s really not. The Ego does a really good job of convincing you that it is who you are. It convinces you that you are whatever you call yourself, fat, skinny, fit, pretty, ugly, old, poor. It also convinces you that what you “have” is a part of who you are. If you have a spouse, you’re married and that has a status, or if you own a house you are a homeowner, and again, that has a status. These ideas only feed your ego. Your ego will feed on anything in order to help define itself. I have cancer, I’m sick, therefore some people may use that to define themselves as a victim. Either way, having cancer is your reality, whether or not you are a victim is up to you. The situation which is cancer is neutral, it neither makes you more or less of a person. However, the stories that you tell yourself, about yourself do make you feel more or less of a person, but that doesn’t make it true. Also, the situation of cancer isn’t permanent. You can either overcome it, or succumb to it, again this does not say anything about you personally. It just means you’re human. Another example, what happens if you lose the house? Do you lose who you are too? Does it make you less of a person? For your ego, it does. Your ego will have a hard time with this loss, and it will therefore redefine itself through your thoughts and emotions maybe as a victim of loss. Your ego will separate you from the present, it will cloud your judgement, and make this loss a personal loss. You are not your house, your body, your career, and so on. Why? Because none of this shit matters when you die. All of these things are temporary, and when they’re gone the world still turns, and you are still you. All of those things can be taken away at any minute, and so you shouldn’t limit yourself to these things. They have value for sure, and they are a part of your life, but they aren’t who you are. They are a part of who you are, but they are subject to change, and when they do, for good or for bad, it shouldn’t change the person you are.

The problem is, to do that is difficult. You cannot simply remove your ego from yourself, it is a part of you. Especially when we live in a very egocentric world, it can be difficult to break free of this cycle of constantly needing more things, more money, more status, more of everything because your ego is never satisfied with the now. Once you have achieved a goal, or something good has come into your life, it is very easy to then slip back into the cycle of looking forward to the next big thing instead of being appreciative of what is happening now. This is unconsciousness. Never being present. Always looking to the future for more, or dwelling on the past. You are never satisfied with who you are now, because who you are now is never good enough. You are living in a constant state of scarcity or lack. And social media feeds your ego even more so than almost anything else we have in today’s society. It is a big reason why so many of us feel unhappy. First of all, most of us only post photos of the things we’re proud of, the things that make us feel good about ourselves. This boosts our ego, “look, I’m fit,” or “look I have a new house.” Then other people feed our egos by liking or commenting on our photos. This approval makes us feel good, our ego needs that and will then post more photos like it to get the energy it needs. However, as most of us know, none of that is real. A lot of it is filtered and it is only a fragment of our lives, so why do we put so much emphasis on it? Why do we care so much? Simple answer, our ego. Even negative feedback is still a reaction, your ego is still getting attention and will then fight back in order to reinforce itself. Either way your ego gets stronger. Basically, there is nothing wrong with wanting to share things on social media but be mindful of why you’re posting it in the first place. Do the likes and comments on your photos matter? Is it ever really satisfying? Because if it was, then we wouldn’t always be on it, always posting, always seeking more attention. Even if you don’t post much on social media, a lot of us use it to measure ourselves up against others. Again, this only keeps you in a state of lack, and it never moves you forward. You never grow, and you never end up where you want to be because you’re so focused on what you don’t have.

Like I said in my first article of 2018, “there’s no such thing as a life that’s better than yours,” Love Yourz by J.Cole. There is always going to be someone out there who seems to have more, who is more, but you will never know what you have unless you stop looking to others as a measure of your own success. “There’s beauty in the struggle,” again a quote from the same song. Basically, there’s beauty in the present, you just have to wake up and smell the roses. Be grateful for what you do have, appreciate the love in your life, and then share that with others. These are the things that are pushing you forward. The more you open your eyes to the things, the people, and the opportunities around you the happier you’ll be. It is so much easier to see the ego in others, and therefore it is much easier to pass along good advice. However, a lot of times those same people are a reflection of the ego in you. You tend to gravitate to the people who share the same thoughts and opinions as you, so a lot of times, those people also share a lot of the same fears as you. The ego that you see in them you can also recognize in yourself, that is why it’s so easy to see it in the other person. Hence the Alice in Wonderland quote from my first 2018 article “I give myself very good advice but I very seldom follow it.” Usually the advice you give to others is the same advice you need to hear yourself, the problem is you were to blinded by ego to see it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all need to pay more attention, or else our egos and life in general are just going to get the best of us. I know this, because ever since I’ve made a conscious effort to be more present, I’ve realized how much of my life I haven’t been present. Always in my own head. I used to joke about it with family and friends that I sometimes live in La La Land. I never really thought of it as a problem, I just thought it was who I was. Alex just lives in her own world sometimes. But that’s not true. I’m not the only one who does this, and it doesn’t have to define me. Because living in a dream state, worrying about the future and fretting about the past alienates you from the present. Your thoughts can consume you and take you to a different place, and sometimes when you realize that you’ve left this planet for a second it’s too late. Something usually negative has happened to shock you awake, a fender bender, dropping your phone, breaking a glass, all usually occur because your head wasn’t in the game, you were distracted. More and more people are no longer living in the present. Distracted driving is a real thing. Our phones, social media, only feeds our thoughts, and fears. They help in keeping us distracted from the things happening right in front of us, instead we are worried about our next meeting, a deadline; constantly fixated on the things we need to do, to have, or accomplish. Fender benders, breaking your phone are just small examples, but a lot of the things that go wrong in our lives are because of us, whether you’re ready to admit that yet or not. Obviously, you don’t have control over everything that happens to you, but if you look back and you’re really honest about your mistakes, a lot of the time, it had nothing to do with you skills, or knowledge, it was mostly because your head wasn’t in the game. The moment you realize that “you” or the person who you think you are isn’t the problem, but the thoughts and fears that you constantly replay in your life are, that is when you can really make positive and lasting changes in your life. Why? Because the choices that you make out of presence, and mindfulness will come from a place of love and not fear. Presence allows you to separate your fears from reality, it stops you from personalizing everything in your life as a reflection of who you are for better or worse. Good things will happen, and bad things will happen, and only you can control your reaction to those things. However, the only way to make a positive change is to first take a moment, take a deep breath, try to calm yourself down, relax your mind from spinning out of control, and follow your heart. You know what to do, you know who to be, it’s your head that’s trying to tell you “protect” you with fear, but only your heart truly knows pure joy. Fear and joy live in the same space, the key is to live a life with courage. What is courage? Courage is accepting your fears, knowing that they exist and doing what makes you happy anyway. The more aware you are of your own thoughts and fears, the smaller they become, until they fully disappear. You can be and have whatever you want, you need to fully believe this by acknowledging and overcoming your fears. This is what I have been learning, and this is what I’ve been practicing and will continue to practice. This is something that you must strive to do always, if you don’t ever want to live in a Groundhog state again.

 

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Sir Winston Churchill


Day 1 of The Twelve Days of Fitmas: Focus more on what you have than what you lack

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! This is my favorite time of year! I love the Christmas season, and what a better time to help others then now? This is why, I decided to do the Twelve Days of Fitmas series again this year. It is my passion to help people better themselves through fitness and health, and so here I am addressing some of the questions that I’ve been getting a lot concerning fitness, and health, as well as general concerns that have been brought to my attention. I’ve decided to start the 12 Days of Fitmas with an article about focusing on the positives in your life rather than the negatives. For some reason, especially at Christmas time, even though it can be a very happy and generous time of year, it can sometimes be a time where people really take note of what is missing in their lives, rather than all the positive things that they have going on for them. This usually stems from some sort of comparison between you and the people you know. It’s a negative habit that I’m sure we have all been guilty of at some point or another, and sometimes, no matter how happy we may think we are, we cannot help but think about whether or not the grass is greener on the other side.

I cannot lie and say that I have never felt a little sorry for myself during Christmas because I didn’t have the things that I felt I deserved, or because I wasn’t where I thought I should be and so on, and so forth. I think a majority of us can maybe admit to this. It’s sad really, but I think there’s several reasons why this happens during this time of year. First of all, it’s the last month of the year, and a lot of us are reflecting upon the year past, and evaluating whether or not we had a “good year” or a “bad year,” and then making resolutions for the upcoming year. Self-reflection can be a very positive thing! However, it is only positive if you are only focusing on yourself. What you have accomplished? What you would like to do in the future? And where you should focus your energy in order to be the most happy? It becomes negative when you start to compare what you have done to the accomplishments of others. It is not productive to look to your peers as a way of measuring your own success! Believe me, I’ve been there, and honestly you don’t get anywhere with it. All you end up doing is overwhelming yourself with this feeling of being left behind. Once you get it in your head, that everyone seems to be doing better than you, or seems to be further along in life than you, all you can think about is what is missing, and not how to achieve the things you want. Sometimes external motivators can work, and seeing your peers work hard and do well, can motivate you to do the same. However, generally most of us don’t see the hard work that goes behind all of our peer’s success. Instead we see the edited Instagram, and Facebook posts of their success and it all just seems so easy. So, why don’t I have the same? And that is where the problem lies! It is so easy for us to forget how far our friend’s, or especially distant acquaintances, have come when we start to compare our lives to theirs. All we tend to see is the end result, and then we look at ourselves and wonder, why we don’t have the same?

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You will never be successful, or happy if you constantly compare your life and accomplishments to others’. First of all you need to appreciate where you are in your life, and understand why things are the way they are. There will always be someone who may be taller, thinner, prettier, wealthier, and so on. And there will be people who are in far worse circumstances than you. At the end of the day, none of these things will help you become a better and happier person. The only way you can be the best and happiest person that you can be, is by focusing on the positive things that you have in your life, or what I like to call your strengths, and growing those things. As for the things that no longer make you happy? Well, you need to take responsibility for the things that are no longer making you happy, whether it be your job, your body image, your health, your relationships, whatever it may be, and then begin to take the steps to making positive changes in the areas that make you the most unhappy. A lot of the time, it means getting rid of those things that make you most unhappy, and using your strengths to help you build a new you, or a new career, or better relationships with people who add value to your life.

Going online, flipping through Facebook and Instagram posts, and wondering why you don’t compare will only bring you deeper into a negative space. It will unmotivate you, and have you feeling inadequate, and insignificant. Christmas is a time of year where the online posts are rampant, people tend to over share during this time of year. This is why I have decided to write this as my first piece during the 12 Days of Fitmas. Take this time to focus on the people, and things that make you happy. Life is too short to constantly worry about what you don’t have. Focus on what you do have, it is powerful. You are much more powerful than you think. It is so easy for us to build up our friends, but we are the first person to cut ourselves down. Take some of your own advice my friends! Know that you are capable of great things, and even though 2016 is coming to an end 2017 is a new beginning with so many possibilities! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays! I hope this helps you during this time of year to be positive and fair to yourself. Your life isn’t over, and it is never too late to make a change for the better 🙂

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My Parents, my best friend and I at the Toronto Christmas Market November 20th, 2016


Check Your Ego at the Door!

One of the biggest reasons why most of us don’t accomplish the things that we want is because we can’t seem to let go of our Egos. We get so wrapped up in our own heads that we fail to see all the opportunities that lie in front of us. If any of us want to experience real growth, real change, and overall happiness, we must get over ourselves first. We live in a very egocentric world where we are all so concerned with who we are, who we want to be, and how other people may perceive us. We have several different social media platforms like Instagram, and Twitter, that only add to our egos. They help us to shape our identity to the rest of the world. They allow us to become whoever we want. This is neither good, nor bad. I actually think that our highly connected world can be a real good thing, when it is used for positive things, like connecting with others, and sharing ideas. However, when you mix egoism with social media, that is where problems occur. I’m not planning on talking about the “evils” of social media, but I do plan on talking to you about how holding on too hard to your ego will hold you back.

Your “ego” is your conscious mind, it is the part of your identity that you consider your “self.” So when I say that we live in a very egocentric world, I mean that we live in a world that is overly concerned with themselves, and themselves only. A lot of people may not consider themselves to be too egotistical. This is because a lot of people assume that when someone is egotistical, they are cocky, and arrogant. However, being egotistical does not always mean that you think you’re better than anyone else, it actually means that your only concern is yourself. You may only be concerned for yourself because you think you’re better than everyone else, but sometimes you may only be concerned with yourself, because you don’t think you measure up to anyone else. It can go both ways. What we need to realize is that your ego is separate from your self-esteem. Often times, someone’s ego is mistaken for high self-esteem. Having high self-esteem does not mean that your main concern is only for yourself. In reality your self-esteem is an assessment of your self worth, how much or how little of value you are to yourself and to others. Your self-esteem helps to develop your self-concept (who you think you are). It is important to have high self-esteem, because if you think highly of yourself, you will have higher expectations of yourself as well. You will aim to better yourself, and you will treat yourself much better. In addition, if you love who you are, you will be better at loving others. Valuing yourself does not separate you from others but your ego does.

Your ego’s main concern is “I.” I want, I need… you get the idea. Your ego steers you into a path of self-destructive and isolating behavior, where you are either differentiating yourself from others, and comparing yourself to others, or you’re in need of constant affirmation/validation. This is how your ego thrives. However, if you had a high self-esteem, you would feel comfortable enough in your own skin to know that you are good enough. Once you know that, it does not matter what other people think, and it does not matter who’s better, because you have found happiness within yourself. This I know is easier said than done, but what I’m trying to say is, is that the only way it can happen is if you let go of your ego, and your insecurities. Your ego only feeds your insecurities. Check your ego at the door! Understand that you don’t always know best. Seek out help, or go and find the knowledge and experience that you need to get the things that you want.

Some things that help to raise your self-esteem and self worth, are fitness, education, and helping others. These are all positive things, that make you a better and stronger person. They also bring you closer to other people. Your ego is what prevents you from accomplishing these things. It is what holds you back from seeking advice, and better knowledge. My advice to you is to let go of your ego, make yourself vulnerable, reach out to others, and seek out knowledge, because it is when you surrender yourself to change, and make yourself vulnerable, that is when you’ll see the most growth.