Why You’re Wrong if You’re Not Selfish

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Growing up in the Nigerian culture (and as I have repeated in other articles), you are constantly pressed with the idea that you should always do good in life. Doing good in life is heavily laced with the principle and ideology of giving alms; in other words, helping people whenever you possibly can with whatever you can give. In order to maintain my faith and generally wanting to be a good person, I would constantly have the words bubble floating in my conscience, popping themselves in bursts of reminders when people came to me for help. To me, this was my sanctifying forgiveness in the world of sin that I regularly partake in. As I crawled older, I lost myself in a world of giving, never learning to receive gracefully, and if at all.

Let me explain.

When you are pushed to continue giving according to your religious, cultural, and familial beliefs, you are constantly rejecting the urge to protect “self.” Being selfish is kindly placed on the back burner in a world of wanted need from those around you. After years of attempting to submit my all to those I loved, I felt the emptiness one encounters when they realize they are the only one left in a dark room with a struggling flicker-flame in a lamp; I knew for sure that I barely had any light to give to myself.

Yes, giving to others is commendable, attractive, and it feels damn good. But when you are giving you’re all, the results are worse than not having anything to leave for yourself. You become conscious of the fact that you have become a stranger to yourself.

What color do you truly like? What do you truly believe in? Who are you? Paying attention to others needs leaves you bereft of your own wants and desires.

It’s important to realize that you are also someone who needs attention and nurturing. Taking the time to be somewhat selfish allows you to understand yourself. You are able to heal from fresh and past hurts, and have direction towards the future. Sometimes you have to say no. At times, you may need to shut your phone off, and just chill by yourself. Attempt experiences that will help you learn more of who you are as a person, beyond giving alms. Find and focus on what makes you happy, and live that! It goes without saying that the most important human in your life should be you; take care of self. Who else will know your wants, needs, and desires better than you? How else can you pour from an empty cup? It’s okay to give to yourself, because you may be the one in need of whatever support you are looking for. Focus on you when you need the time to do so, so that your foundation is solid for whomever may come along to lean on it.

It may be wrong to be selfish, but it’s even worse to deprive yourself of the same care you use to tend to everyone else.

Who Are You Letting In?

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It is human nature to want to be everything someone is dreaming of.

Think about it.

After being attracted to someone, we spend time imagining this perfect person to fit our wants and needs. We paint this picture of someone who in most cases, isn’t the person we are imagining at all. Confusion is probably the mildest word I can think of in instances like this. Sometimes, we tend to let people’s words and actions slide because we are so focused on the potential of who they could be and not who they are. Then we get mad at the person or mad at ourselves for putting up with so much nonsense when our time should be valued.

At times, we even try to change who we are to be with someone. In more extreme cases, we change how or what we eat, what we listen to or watch, etc. We become so focused on complementing our counterpart because we see them as being better. This is usually what happens when someone feels like they do not know who they are after a major break up. It’s the fastest way to lose yourself.

The sick part of this is that we continue to repeat the same mistake, person after person, almost as if our hope is more stubborn than our reality.

It is important, despite age, to know that you should be paying more attention to who you let into your world, your heart, your space, than who lets you in.

As you grow, there are comforts and behaviors that you are used to. There are goals you are seeking to achieve. You are unlocking all the maps to happiness, no matter how arduous the journey. This is the time to look around at your friendships, but most importantly, relationships that you are trying to make concrete. If you are paying more attention to who is letting you into their space, and not who you are letting into your own space, you will easily settle for a situation that will distract you. Look at yourself and the people around you. You’ve either been through this, or you know people who’ve been in these situations. The result of not paying attention to what you desire and need are a loss in confidence, distraction(s) that can set you back from your goals, settling for a situation that you are not happy with, losing yourself or the better version of yourself you’ve been striving to become, or becoming someone you never wanted to be like.

You have to fall in love with your flaws and work on becoming a better person for yourself. Knowledge of self is KEY before you can digest knowledge of anyone else. It’s easy to lose sight of yourself. What’s important is to be resilient in placing yourself back in your line of vision. Once you are solid in who you are, finding someone to compliment you will only enhance your life.

Cut It Out!

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These days it seems impossible to be able to share your good fortune with anyone you love. My mother, grandmother, and culture have taught me to always be careful who you say what to. You can never be certain if a friend is really an enemy who hates hearing about any good that is happening for you. Social media does little to help in these situations simply because people tend to portray and write what they want others to believe; and others actually believe in it 100%! Those who are genuinely excited or happy in their statuses can’t even feel the envy of others because 9 times out of 10, they are expecting their friends to share in their joy.

So you believe in the phrases, “Good/Positive Vibes Only”, and “Good Energy Only.”

But for every action, there is a reaction, so hopefully awareness of bad energy is also noted.

Why do we hold onto friendships that are unhealthy?

Friendships can be fragile as it travels through time. We make friends at one stage in our life, and as we grow we realize that what we used to have in common no longer applies. I’ve had harrowing experiences with people I once would have died for (had being the operative word). Lately, I can feel myself being careful with whom I share my experiences or good news with. Despite how happy people may seem, their bad energy does not lie. Believe it or not, this energy, whether conscious or subconscious, can and will affect your life.

CUT THESE PEOPLE ALL THE WAY OFF!!

I do understand that some of these relationships are lifelong. You’ve known each other since you were kids, blah blah blah. Friendships like these, I keep on a cool shelf. Every once in a while we can go out to dinner and catch up. You may even get a text or two, and if I’m feeling generous, a phone call. My answer to their questions is always “Fine.” I give them no ammunition to shoot their bad energy at me with.

It’s okay to feel or not to feel guilty about keeping away from certain friendships. You have to cultivate relationships with those who wish you well, those you can pray with, those who are just as happy as you are when you share your joy. The question to ask yourself is; What are you sacrificing to keep these friendships alive and why?

Why You Can’t Be Friends with Someone Who Wants Your Life

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My mom wanted this to be instilled in all her children. To do good in life, and to watch the people around you. As you get older, your friends change while you’re changing, and sometimes it’s hard to see the people you keep company with. We all experience that one jealous friend who does THEE most in trying to keep up a pretentious relationship. I had one I actually lived with who truly wanted my down fall. Through my own experience and those of others, I have noted 6 ways to identify these fraudulent people.

They’re secretly intimated by your presence because of their inferior complex.

These can sometimes be the people who want to see you one day, and not see you again for weeks. You may catch them staring at you when you’re not facing them; trying to figure out how you came to be who you are and why they are who they are. They pick and choose what friends of theirs you interact with so they won’t feel inferior. They constantly compare themselves to you, or their life to your life.

They are insatiable, never content. They want what you got.

You ever have a friend and wonder why they are constantly complaining while comparing their life and your life? They can have more than you have, and they still want every bit of what you have because they think it will make them as happy as you.

They follow and monitor your every movement and action, pretending as if their intentions are good.

These are the people who constantly want to know where you are going and what you are doing. They need to know every step you take because they are obsessed with your happiness and how you obtain it.

They copy your style and try to outdo you.

They ask where you bought your latest pair of shoes from. They scavenge your closet, they eye your social media, hoping to emulate even one simple outfit. These are the people that always try to one-up you. If you have a brand specific watch, they get the same or a similar brand with a watch that costs more. It’s bizarre, but it makes them feel better.

They secretly wish for your downfall, but adore you in public.

Be wary and vigilant. These are some of the sickest people you will know who will scream to the world on top of the mountain that they love you and you’re their best friend. They are constantly wishing for your downfall in ALL things, both big and small matters. They want to see you fail because their jealousy wants you to fail. They click with people who don’t like you, and tend to egg them on when they are speaking ill of you.

They never truly appreciate your help.

Their egos can’t stand the fact that you’re the one they need to go to for help especially if they are doing better by societal standards (ie. financially). They may pretend to be thankful, or thank you grudgingly, but inside they can’t stop themselves from cursing you for being the one that has to help them.

There are obvious other ways to spot these fake people in your life, but I believe these are the most common. Not every “frenemy” is going to have all of these issues I described, but they will have one or two forms. These people are the ones who may truly want to be your friend, but their own jealousy won’t allow that to happen.

Be careful out there!

Why Flowers Are Still Important

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It’s been a while, but I know at some point, we all remember flowers being presented on the first date. Whether you have seen it on TV, the movies, heard by ear, or witnessed or experienced it yourself, a first date usually entails an introduction to flowers. A significant gesture towards hope and excitement for the opportunity to spend time with someone you are attracted to.

Think back. When was the last time you gave someone flowers? When was the last time you received flowers?

Flowers aren’t just flowers. The significance of flowers does not only refer to first dates. Flowers should be given in relationships, marriages, between friends, etc. But I believe it is important to always let someone know that you appreciate them. Maybe for loving you, or for something they’ve done for you, or just because you want to see a smile on their face. A child gives a picked dandelion to his mother, and her face lights up. A simple rose is given and a spirit is lifted. Flowers being given to express a kind gesture goes far back into time, yet, the notion seems to constantly struggle to resurrect itself in a society that is scared to show how they truly feel about someone, or any type of affection, to avoid being hurt.

Most notably, flowers are constantly given after someone has passed. You can never see enough flowers at a funeral or laid in front of a grave. These flowers express how much a person is missed, loved, thought of, or cared about. Sometimes these flowers are given with a tinge of regret; that these emotions weren’t expressed often enough while the person was still living.

It doesn’t have to be flowers. It can be anything meaningful between you and another person to show how you feel about them. The importance is in making sure your sentiments are expressed and impressed upon that person. Take the time to stop on your way home and pick up flowers, or a small trinket for the one that’s been on your mind or in your heart. When you’re dating, bring flowers to show that you too are hopeful in building a friendship or relationship with someone. Give flowers to your mothers. Give them to your fathers. Give them to your children. Give them to your friends and family so that the memory of their smile lingers instead of the regret of not making them smile often enough.

Just my thoughts.

Where the Grass is Greener

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No one said letting go would be easy. But sometimes it’s necessary.

We all have that one time where we believe in potential. We don’t see the bigger picture of who the person really is, or what we are doing with them. I’ve noticed this particularly with my friends who are 25+. Many are in relationships that they aren’t happy with, but they stay because of the time invested in the individual. Everyone wants a return on investment.

But sometimes bad investments need to be let go of.

We spend time validating ourselves by the effort we put into building a “home”, otherwise known as a relationship. The friendship and love form the foundation, and we hope the house is built with two hearts. Sometimes one person is simply laboring in vain. Making excuses for their partner, and hoping for a change from repeated behavior.

I’ve realized over time, that 9 times out of 10, it’s more about yourself than the incompetent person you are hopelessly dragging. We make mistakes in life, and in people, and we haven’t learned to forgive ourselves for the mistake. We are scared to let go, because we have no idea where the grass grows greener, and self-doubt has taken over where you thought love once lived.

Every house has cracks. You fix them together or you move. Stop holding onto a mistake that is blocking you from a true blessing. Trust that you’re worthiness is more than a number or required text messages. Believe in the heart you have been given. Forgive yourself. If you decide to stay, forgive them as well. The point is to grow and let nothing stop you.

Where Can One Find Peace?

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Earlier in the day, I wrote a status asking my real and ghost friends one simple question; “Where Can One Find Peace?”

After reading countless Facebook statuses of anger and frustration due and projected positive words with the hope that they will confirm happiness, it made me realize we were all looking for the same thing. To be at peace is to be happy, grateful, content despite chaos, etc. But how many of us really have that? How do we get to this majestic place in our minds and hearts? What can calm the stormy sea of life we are all roughing through?

The answers I received to my Facebook question ranged from a place (Jamaica), to speaking with God in a quiet moment or believing in what God says in the Bible about finding peace in Him. To me, the answers seemed to give a destination, which makes sense seeing that I asked “where” peace can be found. But how? How does one find peace? Is the journey to peace more important than the destination of peace?

I wish I had the answers, but I am unsure myself. We are all individuals, dealing with separate issues. This requires different methods of finding peace. Sometimes, we stay stagnant because we may not believe that there is a place of peace for us. However, I do know one thing to be true. In order to find peace for oneself, you ultimately have to look within.  It’s a crutch that admittedly, many of us avoid doing. What is causing the disruption in your life? Why are you sad? Angry? Hurt? Frustrated? Yes, in relation to being human, we may be resistant to change, therefore turning a blind eye to what needs to be changed to avoid the emotions that come with it.  Whatever the reason, addressing what is happening to yourself within, will help you find the peace you are looking for externally.

Prayer helps, because you are communing with God about how you are feeling. Meditation, exercise, there are different solutions to finding what you desire. In my opinion, there is no right or wrong answer to finding peace. Only hope and suggestions.

What do you do to find your peace?