The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

After reading online reviews of this book, I decided to join the bandwagon and buy it. This book is literally, as it states, practical. It’s a great read about how and why we may relate to the world as we do.

As you know, I am forever curious about human behaviour, emotion and interaction. I find it fascinating that we can change our habits, perspectives and mindset once we are exposed to a new way of living!

The Four Agreements are as follows:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

I read this book in chronological order. Surprisingly, it helped to read each practical guide in this way. To digest the information and apply it accordingly takes time and patience.

If you’re anything like me, curious about human behaviour and finding ways to improve the way we treat others, I’d definitely recommend this book. Below, we can look at each Agreement and how I personally used them to improve my life. I’ve also included a link to the book so you can try these out for yourself!

1. Be impeccable with your word.

This was an interesting agreement. Ruiz defines this simply as not gossiping about others.

When we’re so engrossed in other people’s lives, it doesn’t give us much space to practice self-awareness or empathy for others. We can get caught in a cycle of rumours about people we probably don’t know too well. What’s the point? Not only is this harmful for others, it sets a negative tone in our own minds.

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

As we are emotional beings, there are many moments that we can lose our cool or spit out the wrong thing at the wrong time. That’s normal. Paying attention to the way we think and speak can help alleviate awkward foot-mouth situations.

2. Don’t take anything personally.

This agreement really hit home for me. Ruiz explains this rule simply: what other people say and do are a projection of their own reality.

When someone would correct my mistakes, it felt like a personal attack. The story re-played in my head: “I don’t know anything, of course I made a mistake. I can’t do anything right.” I struggled with self-confidence and self-doubt. I was told often that I didn’t know anything, so I believed it.

If I could remove the attachment to another’s words, I wouldn’t find myself in this toxic cycle of pain and belittling.

I fought so hard, for so long to begin changing my mindset. Changing a story we’ve told ourselves for years is difficult to say the least. It’s confronting. It will always be a work in progress. But progress is still progress! That’s a win!

3. Don’t make assumptions

Yet another agreement that resonated deeply for me. I was beginning to think that this book could address universal social/personal problems with unbelievable ease.

The way my brain has been wired, unfortunately jumps straight to conclusions.

Although expecting the worst may prepare us for certain challenges, it doesn’t help in daily life.

Assuming the worst about others or ourselves is sabotaging. It can affect how we trust others and maintain relationships.

Instead of making assumptions, ask. Having difficult conversations have been a struggle for me. I will say after years of working through my fears and building up my confidence, asking to clarify something has improved my life exponentially.

It can be difficult to know the line between clarifying a topic/opinion and starting a fire. So tread lightly while putting this agreement in practice. Our laundry doesn’t need to be aired to the general public.

Change first starts with you. So instead of replaying an assumption in your head, remind yourself that there is no evidence for it. If that person/group of people have not expressed their dislike toward you, don’t assume they do. Of course, we can tell through behaviour and social settings how someone may feel toward us. If it is hurtful or toxic, then leave.

4. Always do your best

This agreement was the easiest to digest for me. Growing up, I knew that my best was the only option.

I learned that nobody is perfect. We make mistakes and we may hurt others in the process. I learned that our best may not ever be good enough to some people. That’s okay. Take the lesson and move forward.

Of course, being hard on ourselves isn’t the way to go about accomplishing all our goals. There must be balance between work and play.

Doing your best can look different when comparing to another person, so just focus on living life according to your best ability. Our best effort changes from moment to moment. For example, we cannot expect the same quality of work or productiveness when we’re sick. Be mindful of yourself and others.

At the end of the day, if you know you tried your best, you’re saving yourself from your own and even others’ judgement. No one can take that away from you. Stand tall in your accomplishments!

Have you read this book yet? If so, which agreement did you resonate with most? What did you find challenging?

Click here to purchase the book! (Paid Link)

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How to regulate stress when flying alone for the first time.

How to regulate stress when flying alone for the first time.

What is stress?

Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. Stress in general is a simple emotion that can help us survive in critical situations and can also help us stay productive in our jobs through things like project deadlines and customer demand.

When we do new things for the first time, there is a level of stress that may arise. An interesting thing to note however, is the fact that the brain can’t always distinguish nervousness/stress from excitement. So in hindsight, I was likely excited to begin my vacation, but nervous to fly alone. Interesting, right?

For this years trip, I was flying from Adelaide, Australia to Queenstown, New Zealand with a quick stop over in Sydney. If you’ve never flown alone before, I’ve listed a few things that helped me regulate stress so I could fully enjoy my vacation!

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3-5 days before, I began packing. Usually, I have a list of things I need. In the end, I started with basics and worked my way up – no list needed! First up: underwear, thermals and socks! I then tried on all the outfits I planned in my head and took photos for reference. I put all these items on one side of my bedroom when they were ready to be packed. I then packed toiletries, electronics (charger cables, laptop, hairdryer, straightener) and big jackets.

The night before, I laid out my “airplane outfit” so I could change quickly and get out the door. Packing early ensures we can get up and go, minus any last-minute panic-packing!

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a. Luggage.

I triple checked my luggage to make sure that all my heavy and non-essential items were going to be checked-in. If an item wasn’t going to be used on the flight or in-between flights, it was going into my luggage bag! Once my baggage was checked, I knew that was one less thing I needed to worry about!

b. Carry-on.

Essentials for me, included a book to read, extra layers in case I get cold and my crossbody which would be stored in my carry-on. I dedicated one section of my crossbody to hold my  itinerary and passport. That way, those documents were separate from miscellaneous items like perfume and earphones.

The stop-over in Sydney required a shuttle-bus ride. As soon as I landed, I got my next ticket out and kept it wedged in my passport for ease-of-access, once I got to the gate.

Being organised as much as possible minimises questions of whether or not we have everything we need.

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On my flight to Sydney, I sat next to a lovely lady named Kylee (@kyleeeann) and we got to chatting. It made me feel better knowing I wasn’t the only one flying alone (although rationally, I know many people do). We spoke about our plans, what we do in our daily lives and even shared our social media ventures! I know it can be awkward sitting next to complete strangers if you’re used to travelling with friends or family, but you never know who you may meet and what you might learn through these short encounters!

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Kylee tapped me on the shoulder to look out the window. The sun was rising. It was a beautiful mix of orange, yellow and navy blue. Waking up at 3AM was difficult and as scary as it was to be flying alone, there are always pockets of goodness and beauty if you look for it! So if you’re awake enough, look out the window!

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During my stopover, I only had 1.5 hour between flights (which in hindsight, wasn’t long enough). I rushed to the loo and then ran to the other side of the airport to catch a shuttle bus to the international terminal. Once I got to the bus line, I realised I was very close to missing my connecting flight. Talk about stressed! I fixed my eyes on a spot on the wall and breathed deeply. I slowed my mind down. Yes, I was still focused on the ticking clock but I tried my best to intentionally calm myself and regulate my breathing. I did not have control over how fast the bus would arrive, so there was no point in stressing over it. I learned a lot about myself in terms of “control” and how it feels to let it go.

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I love a good, creamy, non-dairy coffee. However, I opted for water for both flights. Although coffee was satisfying, it would exacerbate my nervousness. For those who know me, know I enjoy a good bite to eat, so I made sure to have breakfast and lunch to keep me fuelled for the day ahead. I listened to my body and that’s something I’m proud of myself for! In the last few months, I’ve found it difficult to distinguish hunger, fullness and dehydration. If you have had moments or days like this too, it is time to listen to your body. It is so important to treat our bodies well.

I hope you found these tips helpful for your next adventure! Stress is normal. If we find ways to regulate it, stress can be beneficial for productivity and organisation.

Signing off from

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4 Ways To Become A Better Listener

4 Ways To Become A Better Listener

It all started in primary school: a friend shared a harrowing experience with me and since kids love to share differences and find commonality, I thought this was part of normal conversation. However, over the next decade, I’d come to realise one of my strengths would be listening to another’s stories, achievements and struggles that others may not hear in “normal” conversation.

Fast-forward to high school: throughout my senior years, people would pull me aside to let me know about something they’re struggling with. Sometimes I would be shocked, confused, heartbroken or overwhelmed for them. But I was also thankful that they felt comfortable enough to share these things with me. Most of the time, my friends just needed a listening ear. By the end of a short conversation, they’d say they felt much better.

Listening to another’s story takes empathy, patience and an open mind.

So how can we honour someone when they share their story with us?

1

Show kindness to the people around you. Perhaps make some new friends. You might be surprised what another has been through. You might even learn a thing or two!

I do my best to show my friends that I value them by making time to support them in their time of need.

2If someone is telling you about a personal experience, struggle or achievement, constantly checking your phone/laptop/computer/electronic device can be really hurtful. If you make the decision to hear someone out, be there for the whole story.

Another way of being present, is asking inquisitive questions: what happened after you said _____? How did you feel when you achieved _______? Were you able to follow up with ________ about _________?

When we are present, we can have engaging and enriching conversations with each other.

3Yes, we’ve all got a story, but that is not an automatic invitation for you to tell them how much more you’re hurting.

Unless sharing common experiences benefits the person you’re listening to, allow them to speak without minimising their pain. Saying things like “I’ve been through that before, you’ll be fine!” or “Been there, done that!” are not helpful for some to hear.

When someone confides in you, brushing off their pain can come off as insensitive and in some instances, rude.

However, keep in mind that some people appreciate lightheartedness – just gauge what’s needed from previous conversations with that person.

4.pngLike any skill, it takes practice! For some of us, listening comes naturally and for others, listening can be difficult — either way, that’s okay.

We all have different personalities and personal experiences that may influence how we relate to others. By practicing our conversational skills and exercising empathy, we can greatly improve our listening skills.

These days, I straight up ask if what I say is hurtful or helpful. I like to be crystal clear that my words were received the way I intended them. If that wasn’t the case, I either:

  • Apologise.
  • Ask for clarification on what they said.
  • Admit I’m unsure on what to say.
  • All the above!

Just keep practicing the last three tips, and you’re bound to have better conversations with those you care about!

Showing kindness, being present, practicing new skills and avoiding phrases that minimise pain can help improve how we listen to one another. I hope you found these tips useful!

When have you felt ‘heard’ by another person? What did they say or do that made you feel listened to or understood?

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For when times are tough.

For when times are tough.

This post is a letter to those who have been, who will, or who are walking a difficult path.

Life is a journey of unknowns. No matter how much we may try to control things, situations may occur that result in stressful, overwhelming, anxiety-inducing times.

Each year, I’ve found that I learn so many lessons. My confidence lies in knowing that I am closer to uncovering a part of myself. The wise, resilient part.

Below I’ve written a “guide” if you will, of things to remind yourself or things to do when times get tough.

this for you

When you feel like you have no choice: It probably feels unfair. Having no say in a situation can make us feel powerless, helpless, even betrayed. If this is how you feel, FEEL it fully. Acknowledge it. But, don’t stay here too long. You do have a choice. The power has always been with you. Take it in your stride. Keep pushing to live your life as best as possible. If where you are right now, threatens your mental, physical or emotional health, get out of there. Start making plans to get somewhere safe. Speak to a professional or a trusted person.

When it looks like your situation will never change: It will. If nothing else, change is inevitable. Whether you act or not, time will pass and change will come.

When time goes slow: Just like change, I’ve come to realise that time will pass, no matter how slow it feels in that moment. Remind yourself: time will pass. You can either make the most of it, or focus on how slow time is going.

When nothing cheers you up: During these times, I make a note to organise an appointment with my psychologist. I also do my best to see family and friends. Speaking to a loved one can be a huge help. Spending quality time with your community/close friends/trusted family can be a powerful healing tool. You deserve to put your mental-wellness as your top priority. There is only one of you in this world!

When a task is difficult and frustrating: Use your resources. Is there someone out there who has done this before? If so, research how they did it. If no one has done that particular task before, research how others have done similar things. Apply the principles. Ask questions. Trial and error. Eventually, you’ll find a way through.

When you feel alone: To be honest, I spend time noticing how ‘aloneness’ affects me. Then, I watch a comedic movie or YouTube video. I try and connect with friends or family. You may feel alone, but there are people who care about you. If reaching out is too much for you now, find online forums like ReachOut or Reddit, where others discuss their experiences that may be similar to yours (be aware of triggers). Even from different countries and cultures. Everyone has problems. Watch Ted Talks, personal vlogs and informational videos discussing these situations. We (as humans) have more in common than you may think.

When you can’t do things yourself anymore: Remember, it’s okay to take a step back. To let go of the reigns. We aren’t super-human. Don’t expect too much of yourself that there’s none of you left. Like I said, there’s only one of you in this world. Unless you’ve been cloned…….

When you feel like everyone hates you/is talking about you: A little trick I use to re-train my brain is to “weigh up the evidence“. Our brains have a tendency to focus on negativity and singular occurrences that make us suspicious of someone disliking us or hating us. Unless there is solid evidence for it, don’t believe these assumptions. There are people who care about you. Whether it’s an online community, your spouse, family or the staff at your local business.

When you can’t figure out people’s negative behaviour: Unless your major passion and life-career is in human-behaviour, don’t spend too much energy wondering. Set boundaries if you need to. You’ve got your own life to worry about. If you’re REALLY curious, read a book about behaviour. Honestly, I’ve learned a lot by reading. If that’s not your style, listen to a podcast or watch YouTube videos on behaviour and how others navigate it. Find ways to live your life according to your own values. Don’t let their behaviour affect yours.

When a job, relationship or friendship isn’t working: Make a change. This is a piece of advice that I’ve taken on from many years ago. If it doesn’t work, don’t give your energy into something that isn’t worth it — change it! Know when enough is enough. Stop taking on the mistreatment – that is not your burden to carry.

When people say you’re selfish for feeling hurt: You are absolutely entitled to declaring, processing and feeling your pain. Do not let another’s words stifle that part of you. Our emotions are innate. We are born with them. If our emotions become an obstacle in everyday life, we can find ways to manage it. Other than that, feeling hurt is in no way, shape or form, selfish.

When someone plays down your success: Make a mental-note not to tell them anything you find pride in. They are not worth your time or energy. Their attitude toward you is their problem.

When someone uses a stereotype to put you down: Don’t take this on as part of your identity. I still have a habit of using my being Filipino as an excuse for being late. This is simply not true. Perhaps I have a problem with time-management and I need to work on those skills. I try my best to schedule each day so I am on time and organised. Remember, most skills in life (if not all skills) can be learned or taught!

If someone says “you don’t know anything – you’re dumb”: Get out a pen and paper. Right now. List down everything you have learned and achieved in life. Getting your license, gaining employment, volunteering, helping others, getting good grades, cleaning your house, graduating, buying property, learning to use a technological device, staying organised, getting out of bed, being persistent, staying positive, mastering any new skill. The first definition that comes up in a Google search is “unwilling to speak”. Unless you are absolutely unwilling or temporarily unable to speak, you are not dumb. You may be speechless from such a ridiculous statement… and I completely understand.

When you feel guilty when good things happen: This is a new obstacle I have just come across. My approach so far has been to confide in a loved one. Sometimes we need a person to be a ‘sounding board’ to process beliefs we’ve held onto for far too long. It’s not until this belief is echoed to us in the opposite way, that we see how harsh it is to feel guilty for good things. Like I remind myself, you deserve good things to happen to you.

No matter what you may be going through, I do hope you’ll able to navigate it a little bit easier soon.

I am sending you strength, hope and the persistence to continue.

What things do you do to encourage yourself to continue forward in life? Share it below in the comment section!

x

Welcome back to my regular readers and thank you for joining me if you are new! This blog is about mental-health wellness as well as lifestyle topics including fashion, food, decluttering and travel adventures.
You can stay connected for updates, quotes and general life-happenings on my Facebook pageInstagramEbay and Twitter!

Therapy Sessions | The Relationship in Therapy.

Therapy Sessions | The Relationship in Therapy.
*Trigger Warning: there may be distressing content.*

Let’s begin The Session.

In this particular session, I was expressing my concerns about a huge life-change that occurred. I told N* that part of me wanted to halt my study plans. I was overwhelmed and anxious about how the year would pan out. 

She said half-urgently that she had to stop me right there. I was curious. What did she think?

“When you’re sitting in that chair, in this room, I fight for you.”

I was shocked. After a few moments I concluded that this statement spoke to me in a way that nothing has spoken to me before. In all sense of the word, I felt completely supported. I felt heard. I felt cared for. It was like a weight I’d been carrying immediately halved. I am not carrying this burden alone.

This is what being understood feels like as a client. This is what sessions are aimed to do. This is why I am studying in this field.

My psychologist went on to say that no one has to stop their life because of someone else’s mistakes. Time is needed to cope with big life-changes but that doesn’t mean to also give up on life goals.

By the end of this session, I felt lighter. I could breathe without as much labour and I didn’t feel like I might crumble at any second. There are good days and bad days yes, but I wasn’t a ticking-time-bomb anymore.

What I learned

1. Shit happens.

From this session, I learned to find motivation during the difficult times. Shit happens. Sometimes, frequently, surprisingly and without fault of our own. Of course, I’ve always known this. Part of starting this blog is to share my personal experiences of “shit happening”. Reminders are always handy though!

2. There are good and bad times when living in community with others.

Living in community, big or small, we may find ourselves affected by another person’s actions – both positively and negatively. It is up to us to fight tooth-and-nail through the brick walls and get back to the light. To do our best, with what we have in those moments.

3. Speak up.

Like a fellow blogger @sickocean wrote about, speak up. Both in situations where you need to stand up for yourself but also in situations where you feel heavily burdened by life’s issues. Open up to people or a person you trust. Yes, we are all different beings with different life-stories and therefore, may not respond in the way another would ‘want’, but, expressing ourselves is still massively helpful and beneficial for our mental health.

Even if speaking to a professional isn’t in the cards right now, remember to FIGHT FOR YOU.

Even through the pain.

Even through the darkness.

Fight for you.

Live the life you deserve.

Make choices freely without guilt.

Put yourself first this time.

Welcome back to my regular readers and thank you for joining me if you are new! This blog is about mental-health wellness as well as lifestyle topics like fashion, food, decluttering and travel adventures.
You can stay connected for updates, quotes and general life-happenings on my Facebook pageInstagramEbay and Twitter!

Thank you for being here.
Let’s keep working towards mental-health awareness and wellbeing. x