Friday, July 14, 2017

5 Things To Stop Overthinking About Because They Don't Matter

It's easy to get trapped in the vicious cycle of overthinking and worry. 

Am I on the right path in life? Will I ever get married? Why am I still not pregnant? When will I find a job? Why does he or she not like me? 

Some concerns are somewhat justifiable while others are simply not worth the stress. Here are 5 things I've learned are not worth the headache:

Folks will always have "something" to say. Based on their childhood and adult experiences, values, prejudices and insecurities -- they will have an opinion about who you are, what you do, and why you do it. It is nothing to worry about. They're allowed to think or say whatever they want. In the same token, you're also allowed to accept or decline what they think or say about you. It becomes easier to detach your identity from the judgments of others as you grow and learn that "they" are usually confused and still trying to sort their own lives out. 

In the same way you're not required to receive anyone's biases or judgments of you, that is also how others are not subject to your biases or judgments of them. As much as we don't enjoy biased feelings targeted our way, it is quite amusing at how easy it is for us to drop judgement bombs on others with a full sense of entitlement. And if we're honest, many times we fall into the trap of judging others inaccurately and unfairly. I've learned (and continue to learn) that I should focus on improving my imperfect self as a human being and spend more time practicing "the art of shut up" :)

There's not much new to say here. I've touched on this topic at different times on this blog. Most of us are aware of the futility of jealousy -- how obsessive, stressful, and unfulfilling it can be. In the event that you or I have forgotten, let's use this moment as a reminder that chronic or acute jealousy is a waste of precious mental capacity and productivity hours. What another person has (that you might not believe you measure up to -- e.g. money, opportunities, relationships, etc) does not mean you or your life is of any reduced value. Acceptance and gratitude are the daily antidotes for jealousy. Acceptance that the only thing you can control are your own actions, beliefs, and perspectives so let your desire to control everything else go. Gratitude for every moment you're awarded the opportunity to learn and grow, to develop a sound mind / body / spirit, and to enjoy the people in your life (family, friends, etc) to the fullest extent.

The fear of public speaking has been cited as one of the top 5 fears humans have. The anxiety, racing heart, and sweaty palms are typical symptoms of the fear that appear like clockwork to torment you prior to a work presentation, keynote speech at a conference, or any other speaking event where you become the center of attention and critical focus. And as if it isn't bad enough that you're riddled with this fear as you're about to head to the front of the room (or onto the stage), the unthinkable happens -- you bomb. You let your nerves get the best of you and end up fumbling your words, saying too many "um's", and losing the interest of the audience. The bad news? It can be a painfully shameful experience. As someone who has had a mixture of "hit" and "miss" public speaking experiences, I'm quite familiar. The good news? You survived it; your world did not come crashing down. You still have the opportunity to enjoy good laughs...and ice creamThe great news? The more public speaking challenges you take on, the less you'll suck, the more confident you'll be, and the better your public speaking skills will become. I learned firsthand that when it comes to public speaking (or anything else, to be frank), practice makes me better

Honest conversations and genuine connections are built upon "vulnerability" -- your ability and willingness to simply tell the truth; about how you think and feel, why you make the choices you do, what/who you truly value, etc. You might find that many of your conversations are built on the opposite of that -- deception, facades, lies, and disconnection.  Those are the most common conversations these days and there's honestly no blame to cast. You can only feel comfortable to be vulnerable with others when you are in an environment that fosters trust (trust that you are allowed to be truthful without risk of attack or disregard). Trust takes time and effort to build between people; without it, your conversations will remain shallow and baseless. I get tired of shallow conversations -- they are energy depleting and leave me feeling anything but fulfilled. It's possible you do too. Solution? Spend more time building trust (with those you can) and investing energy in honest conversations that lead to deeper connections. As for dishonest conversations, do your best to get through them...quickly. 

Know of any additional stress-inducers that should have made the list? Please share in the comments section -- I'd love to know. 

Until the next post folks :)

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

15 Questions with Adaeze Obiako (Part IV)

Aloha, folks :)

Here's the fourth post in the "15 Questions with Adaeze Obiako" series; with questions in pink and answers in blue. Read, enjoy, and leave your answers to the questions down in the comments section below. 

Q1. What are three words others might use to describe you?
A. Hmmm...stubborn, considerate, and endearing. 

Q2. What is your first memory of life?
A. Eating. It really doesn't matter where, I just know that wherever I was, there was food and I was consuming it. 

Q3. What's one not-so-typical thing you're excited about?
A. Future laughs that are yet to come. 

Q4. How do you feel about Ivanka Trump?
A. Well poised, well spoken, and passionate about the empowerment of women. Funny enough, my sister Nkiru and I ran into her at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport years ago -- she smiled and said a few kind words, which we appreciated. 

Q5. What's one sound you love?
A. The sound of rain at night hitting the window panes when I'm indoors on the couch watching a movie -- very specific, I know :)

Q6. What made you laugh yesterday? 
A. An inside joke my mom and I shared -- I'll leave it at that :)

Q7. What's one thing that brings you satisfaction?
A. Ticking items off my to-do list (personal or professional).

Q8. What is one of the weirdest things you remember doing in your past?
A. When I was stressed or overwhelmed during the day in University -- I'd go into the Chapel we had on campus when no one was there, have an open discussion with God, and then take a 1 hour nap. I think about this and smile because I always felt at peace there. I did this for about one semester. 

Q9. What should every woman try at least once alone?
A. Go out to a restaurant or got to the movie theater or go on a trip at least once by yourself. It might seem scary or embarrassing to some ladies however there's something beautiful and liberating about learning to enjoy your own company. 

Q10. What are two quotes that have recently been heavy on your mind?
A. "The peace that we are looking for is not peace that crumbles as soon as there is difficulty or chaos. Whether we're seeking inner peace or global peace or a combination of the two, the way to experience it is to build on the foundation of unconditional openness to all that arises. Peace isn't an experience free of challenges or free of rough and smooth, it's an experience that's expansive enough to include all that arises without feeling threatened." - Pema Chodron

"When you are enthusiastic about what you do, you feel this positive energy. It's that simple." - Paulo Coelho

Q11. What's one thing you've done in the past that you'd happily do again?
A. Years ago, my best friend and I went to the Coyote Ugly bar in New Orleans (midday) and danced on the bar top to the song "Roxanne" by The Police. "Roxanne, you don't have to put on the red light. Roxanne, you don't have to put on the red light. Those days are over!" BEST TIME EVER. 

Q12. What's one thing you'd like to try in the near future?
A. Indoor skydiving (indoor being the operative word).

Q13. What's one new TV show you're excited to see?
A. The Handmaid's Tale. It's based on the novel by Margaret Atwood about a dystopian society, run by fundamentalists, that is dealing with environmental disasters and a declining birth rate -- where women (especially fertile women) are treated as property of the state. 

Q14. What is one thing that might surprise people to know about you?
A. I've never been to a funeral. 

Q15. What's one thing you'd like to be remembered for?
A. My capacity for unwarranted kind gestures towards others...alongside a host of many things. 

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

5 Ways to Deal With People Disappointing You

When dealing with people, disappointment is bound to happen. 

There will be times of hurt, lies, and disregard. Those moments will sting because you have feelings and those feelings are subject to bruising by the fickle attitudes, words, and unmet promises of others. So, what are you to do? How are you to deal with the element of uncertainty that comes in maintaining relationships (friendships, work relationships, romantic relationships, etc)? 

Here are a few quick tips that have proven effective in my life that might be helpful for you:

Great expectations lead to great disappointments when those expectations are not met. Deal with people as they are -- human beings that are trying to figure out their path in this world, who don't have all the answers and are bound to make some mistakes / wrong choices along the way. Human beings that are just like you

Chances are that you could do with some self-improvement when it comes to being a better friend, co-worker, partner, etc. Identify those qualities in others that disappoint you most and focus on diminishing those within yourself so that hopefully you end up disappointing those you care about less. For example, if you get offended by broken promises, be cautious of how quick you are to make promises to others and when you do, make it a priority to do your best to keep them. 

Bitterness and resentment are poisonous and our days are too numbered to be wasted brooding over the actions, words, or behaviors of others. Forgive, let go...forgive, let go...and then repeat. Make this a life practice and you'll have a greater chance guarding your sanity and peace.

Nothing lasts forever. That includes hurt, pain, and bad circumstances. When you see things that way, what someone or others do that once seemed "devastating" or "heartbreaking" becomes a challenging life lesson to further your personal growth and acceptance of others. Sounds corny yes but that doesn't make it any less true. Your life experiences will shape you (for better or worse) based on your perspective of them. 

Don't wait for anyone else to do it. Remember who God says you are and live in the security of His love and purpose for you. If you're not sure what He says about you, I recommend you start by reading the following article: What God Thinks About You -- it includes some great Scriptural references for your reading pleasure. Don't leave the constant renewal of your worth in the hands of others; it isn't fair to them -- they have their own ish to deal with. Take personal responsibility for your daily affirmation / sense of validation and enjoy the liberation that comes from it. 

And there you have it folks -- my 5 tips on handling disappointment derived from years of glorious experience :)

Any additional tips on dealing with disappointment that you've found useful? Please share in the comments section below -- I'd love to know. 

Until the next post. 

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Monday, May 29, 2017

Dear Quiet Rebels

Dear Quiet Rebels, 

I'm sure you've been told that rebels are loud and proud and require copious amounts of attention. I'm sure you've been told that rebels are daily seekers of new, unconventional, and exciting forms of stimulation -- unable to find satisfaction in the simplicity of routine, process, and predictability. I'm sure you've been told that rebels don't accept being told what to do and don't like to function within rules or boundaries.  

For some rebels, that's true. 

However, I want to tell you about a different type of rebel. 

The rebel that revels in the peace of quiet and the joy found in stolen moments of solitude. The rebel that has no need for the fickle spotlight and steps back while others fight one another, clawing their way towards center stage. The rebel that knows better than to waste time attempting to re-invent the wheel when it's obvious that reusing old and proven methods is far wiser and time efficient. The rebel that knows noise does not always equate knowledge and much prefers to let his/her creative outputs do the talking. The rebel that dares to live as he/she chooses, not based on whatever trend is "en vogue", and willingly accepts the crowd's reactionary laughter or label of "boring" as long as it means remaining true to him/herself. 

The rebel that knows there is logic in order and process, with happiness and fulfilment intrinsically linked to structure. The rebel that knows rebellion is not always about "daring to be different" but many times more about "daring to be simply and beautifully you", which won't always mean going against the grain

So, to quiet rebels everywhere, I implore you to accept your "rebel" status even when others don't. I implore you to appreciate the freedom you've found in clearly defined boundaries and limits -- after all, the wisdom and safety of rules dates back to biblical times, e.g. "The Ten Commandments" :) 

And above everything, I hope you learn (if you haven't already) that there's nothing wrong with your mode of rebellion as long as you remain a quiet rebel with a cause.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

At the end of the day, it's about choices

I recently reread "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost and it got me thinking about choices; the ones I make and the ones made by those around me. 

Choices in response to requests from people -- yes or no

Choices when drawn to a certain action or behavior -- do or don't.

Choices in terms of opportunities that present themselves -- take it or leave it

Choices in terms of discomfort or risk -- courage or cowardice.

Choices when faced with life's challenges -- laugh or cry.  

I'll reference a choice I made in 2012 that affects my life today -- the choice to start the Deserve Your Great Life (DYGL) blog; a platform to share my thoughts through the art of written storytelling that provides a sense of validation for me / my feelings and for several of you / your feelings. 


To lead some people closer to living as more courageous, vulnerable, purposeful, and empathetic versions of themselves (I say "some" because my goal is not to reach everyone). 

It's the reason I chose to start DYGL in 2012 and why I still maintain it in 2017. It's the reason I still get led back to share posts despite my "disappearing acts" of 1-2-3 months at a time. It's the reason why I still keep the blog updated despite the possibility that several people might find my posts tiring or boring or nothing new. 

I'll keep finding my way back to DYGL for as long as I believe it serves a good purpose and impacts some people positively. If I don't believe that anymore, I'll stop. 

Now apply this to your life and the choice you made, recently or long ago, to start or build something of purpose and impact (it can be a product/service or a business or even a relationship). You might be feeling tired. You might be getting a lot of opposition, from your own mental dialogue and / or other people. You might be questioning the wisdom of your choice. You might be ready to throw in the towel. GOOD. It means it's time for a rethink

Does it (whatever "it" may be for you) still serve a good purpose? Does it still have positive impact on yourself and others? Does it still produce joy and fulfillment within you?

If the answer is yes, feel free to continue with the choice. If the answer is no, feel free to make a different choice. 

At the end of the day, the results / outcomes / consequences we experience the lasting effects of in our lives have our choices at the heart of the matter. 

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

15 Questions with Adaeze Obiako (Part III)

Happy Saturday, folks :)

Here's the third post in the "15 Questions with Adaeze Obiako" series; with questions in pink and answers in blue. Read, enjoy, and leave your answers to the questions down in the comments section below. 

Q1. What's the best advice you'd give your friends?
A. Always be willing to forgive. 

Q2. What's one super attractive quality in a man?
A. Attentiveness -- knowing that he truly listens to what I say, shows concern for my interests, and actively helps me focus more on my strengths than my insecurities is too wonderful to fully explain in words. 

Q3. What's one song you'd probably be caught dancing alone to?
A. Dancing with Myself by Billy Idol.

Q4. What's your favorite board game?
A. I really like Ludo -- super ol' school, I know. 

Q5.What's your favorite holiday?
A. I'll go with Thanksgiving. 

Q6. Heels or Flats?
A. Flats, of course. 

Q7. If you decided to master one instrument, what would it be?
A. The Piano

Q8. What toppings do you love on your pizza?
A. Pepperoni, mushrooms, and black olives. 

Q9. On a scale of 1-10, how excited are you about life right now?
A. Hmmm...I'll say an 8. 

Q10. What's one thing you hope you won't be doing in 10 years?
A. Stressing about life -- peace is the most delicious luxury I pray I get to move through life with. 

Q11. What's one habit you might want to stop?
A. Moving my arms / hands a lot when talking. 

Q12. What's your favorite wine/liquor?
A. Moscato. 

Q13. What are you completely bored of right now?
A. Frenemies. Let's be clear, either we're friends or we're not...the in-between situation is tiring and energy-consuming. 

Q14. If you could teach one subject in school, what would it be?
A. I don't want to limit it to one; either English/Creative Writing, Psychology, or Sociology. I loved them all when I was back in high school and Uni. 

Q15. What's one piece of advice you'd give your 15 year old self?
A. "Speak up in class more, Ada; you have an opinion and it's worth sharing"

Saturday, March 4, 2017

STORYTIME: When My Cousin and I Got Mistaken for Hookers

This is a funny story. It was funny to me then, and still gives me a good laugh when I think of it today.  

It was back in my high school days when my family and I were living in Caracas, Venezuela. I was taking a drama class at the time and one of my assignments was to watch a play at the local theater and write a review paper on it. My older cousin Emma and I decided to catch the 7pm showing of the play that coming Saturday. When Saturday rolled around, we got ourselves ready and headed to the show. Although I can't remember the name of the play, I can remember that it was a wonderful show. My cousin and I both enjoyed it and considered our outing a "win" activity for the night. 

Once the show was done, we walked out of the theater and went in search of a cab to take us home. We walked around for 15 minutes looking for a taxi but couldn't find one in sight. As we decided to walk down a different street to see if we'd have better luck getting a ride there, we ran into 2 guys walking up from the opposite direction. They were both Venezuelan, college-aged, and looked a bit tipsy. They smiled at us and my cousin and I happily smiled back because after all, they were pretty cute. And then one of them said in Spanish, "Ambos estan muy bonita. Cuanto cuesta?" This translates to "You're both very pretty. How much?" My cousin and I were initially confused. How much? So, my cousin asked "Que?" , which means "What?" 

He then went ahead to repeat his statement, with his pal chipping in this time. "Cuanto es para ustedes dos por una noche?" Also known in English as, "How much for the two of you, for one night?"

After that question, it dawned on my cousin and I what they meant and our immediate reactions were quite different. I burst into laughter. It was the most absurd, unexpected thing to happen to me. Did these guys really think we were prostitutes and did they really just try to buy us for the night? I couldn't help but find this the funniest occurrence ever and I just kept laughing. My cousin on the other hand was not nearly as amused. She started yelling at the two fellas and had a few choice words for them. They both looked pretty confused by, unsure why she was screaming while I was laughing. Luckily, a taxi was driving up the street as this encounter was taking place and we quickly motioned with our flailing arms for the driver to stop. Leaving the guys still standing on the side of the road confused, we hopped into the cab and made our way home. During the ride, my cousin and I reflected on what had just happened. Apparently, 2 black girls walking on the street around 9:30pm at night looking for a taxi in Caracas clearly screamed "night workers". Good to know. We eventually made it home, went to bed, and happily moved on with the rest of our lives. 

So what's the lesson behind this story, you ask? 

Since people say or do insulting things on a daily basis, you might find more peace in your life if you just decide to laugh or ignore most of it off -- hopefully I continue to do so :)

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