Get a life: Self-actualising patriots

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SELAMAT Hari Malaysia! Yay! Woo hoo! What exactly does this all mean? Unity is power. Diversity is strength. Wholeness is goodness. Okay, what does Malaysia mean to you?

Every human being is in the process of becoming more, becoming real ...we call that journey “self-actualisation”.

So what gets in the way of that?

My client said: “I procrastinate!”

I asked: “What will you get if you stop making excuses?”

She replied: “I will have more time to work on my business.”

I asked: “How much more time will you have?”

She answered: “I can work 12 hours a day.”

“Really?” My surprise must have been obvious because then she admitted: “I don’t know. I’m afraid you’d think I’m lazy.”

I told her: “May I assert that the way you value others thinking well of you could be the cause of your procrastination? What if you were doing what was really meaningful?”

What do I want to achieve? What am I setting out to accomplish? By when do I want these outcomes? When I have those, what else becomes possible? These questions keep me focused on my priorities.

How do others perceive me? Who do I want to be? What do I have to do to be who I need to be? These questions help me stay centred and harmonious with my values and principles.

Knowing who we are and what we want is the beginning point of making any kind of plan. Because much of my work is about women’s development, some issues that I really work to address are those around culture, expectations, values, and identity. Everything is understood within context. Before I can be effective, what I work to understand is how we, in our community, experience things.

In Science And Sanity, author Charles M. Child wrote: “The organism is inexplicable without environment. Every characteristic of it has some relation to environmental factors.”

How are little girls raised? What does being a good mother mean? What’s expected of wives? “Nice” girls are agreeable. They don’t engage in confrontation. A woman who resists hardship is weak. A woman must respect her husband so she will give in to his demands, whatever they are. In a patriarchal society like ours, a woman’s voice is secondary.

Our beliefs reinforce our behaviour. So, in order for me to invoke change — from disempowered to empowered — the first step is always to invite awareness. The next is to upgrade the quality of our meanings.

How much of a voice does a woman have? Compared to a man, how much weaker is hers? Who’s the judge of that?

What do we understand about success? Who needs to give us permission to want what we really want instead of wanting what we think we are allowed to have?

When working with a woman, notice: Is her self-esteem high or low? How can you tell? Notice her source of authority: Does it originate from Self or other? What confirms this? To survive, do most women comply or confront?

Communities can be self-actualising too. To check whether a system is working we ask: Is the system creating energy and passion in its people? Is it enabling its inhabitants to meet their basic and higher needs? Is the system functioning healthily? Is it a closed or an open system?

I’m a woman and I’m using my voice. I believe what I have to say is important. I believe I can inspire courage, confidence, and freedom so that we live our best life. So every day I get women to count their sacrifices, their effort and their contribution, instead of discount or minimise their input and value to this society. I ask women everywhere to give themselves permission to be heard, to be successful and not to hold themselves back because of the thinking that we are less than our brothers.

Imagine every Malaysian — man, woman and child — free to live our potential. What if we adjusted our self-talk from, “I’m flawed, I’m powerless. What can one person do? It’s hopeless. Change is impossible” to “I can. I am powerful. We are a community. If we act together, anything becomes possible.”

Think of the energy we are feeding-forward into our future as we imagine this.

What do you anticipate doing, what actions will you now take to create the future you want?

Recognising danger signs

I WISH I had seen the signs. Married for 12 years, I know the clues were all there but I just didn’t recognise them. How can I teach my daughter to avoid men who make women cry?

STAY away from addicts of any kind — drugs, alcohol, gambling. Stay away from anyone with a history of violence and physical abuse. What about those incapable of being faithful?

In our busy life, it’s so important to know what we are feeling. When we’re tired, overwhelmed, anxious, tense, how easy is it to separate infatuation from love, adrenaline from passion, inspiration from ego? How often do we stop and think, “Do I want this, or should I have this?” And notice who’s “should-ing” you!

I’m talking about self-awareness. It’s the antidote to almost every problem. Our body acts as a wonderful compass if we care to stop, be silent and really feel our gut. A man will tell us exactly who he is if we care to pay attention. The rest is about our self-esteem. Women are either afraid of being alone or think we can change a man.

When we know what we want, when we know what we’ll tolerate, accept and appreciate, we are more likely to say “no” to the things that we don’t want. Ask, “Is this a real opportunity or a seduction?”

If you feel pressured for sex, if he’s cheated before, if he’s secretive, if he has severe mood swings, if he puts you down in front of others — these are red flags!

With details, start simple

MY eyes blur when I look at spreadsheets. I’m no good with details. I can speak broadly about something but when someone asks for processes or blueprints, I freeze. I don’t know how to overcome this.

LET’S celebrate your conceptual ability then! Seeing the big picture helps hold the vision and keeps everybody focused on the dream. Now, what you want is to build structure and process around that dream so that we can arrive there systematically. When everybody recognises their role in the plan, they have a sense of what to do and how to measure their performance! Would that be important to you? Think how strong a leader you’d be if you could do both — concepts and detail.

What do you believe about processes or procedures? What do you believe about the people to do this sort of work? Notice what’s going on in the back of your mind as you think about this. Notice the self-talk. Some people go, “I’m hopeless at details.” Yes, and Rome wasn’t built in a day, just brick by brick.

What’s important to you about being good with details? What if you did overcome this “one big stumbling block”? What then becomes possible for you?

And as you imagine all the ways you are stronger by expanding your ability, delighted at the results from this accomplishment, what are some of the things you could do today to practice your skill around detail?
Start simple, like making a list, keeping a schedule and putting documents in sequence.


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