Why Not Be Your Own Hero?

A good friend once said to me “You’re alone in this world. You come in alone and you go out alone”. While I agree with that to some extent (because physically it’s true). I also think that the fabric of our happiness lies in the connections we make and how strong we make them. I think the point my friend was trying to make is that it’s our personal responsibility to live the life we want to live. Not our parent’s responsibility. Not our spouses. Not any leader of any kind. Only our personal responsibility.

Throughout my travels I’ve noticed that this sentiment seems to have got lost in the cult element of the wellbeing/healing circuit. It’s like what has happened with religion over recent years too. Not to mention capitalism and most hierarchical structures. There seems to be this blind faith in trusting anyone who speaks with insight and offers others guidance. This results in the insightful person floating up into ‘hero’ status as their followers exchange their own moral guidance for that of their hero. While I appreciate that people with insight have a valued voice, I believe (like Deepak Chopra in this video) that we all have the ability to tune into our own guidance system . I also think that heros should be challenged if something they say doesn’t sit right with us. It might not sit right with us because of our own fear which once aired we can identify and address. Or, it might be that what they’ve said doesn’t fit with our personal moral values for whatever reason, either way this questioning creates discourse which is valuable for all.

The problem with this type of questioning (and the reason I believe many avoid it) is that if we question our heros then suddenly we become accountable for the moral code of actions, and for some this responsibility can be a daunting prospect.

This recently came to light for me when I met with someone who had recently left an Osho community. This person was telling me about their childhood heros and how they all turned out to be ‘immoral’ – the Catholic Church, their parents, various sporting and also spiritual leaders – and how Osho was their new hero. Now, I respect Osho’s teachings (I’m currently reading Courage and highly recommend it), but there’s also a few things about his way of life that don’t sit right with me. Because of this, I choose to learn from what I admire and leave what I don’t – isn’t it great that we all have this thing called choice – awesome. Anyway, the question that I posed to this person who was reeling off their list of hero’s was… “Why not be your own hero?”

In return I got a silent, yet startled and suspicious look. So I continued. “Why not be the person you admire, so you can say to yourself every day ‘I’m proud of you’?” This concept left this person a little bamboozled. Probably because, this concept brings us to a question of personal values and how we live by them. Whereas, if we follow a hero then we can detach from our set of values as we blindly live by theirs. This detachment from our own value system is a problem because it means that we give over the power of our moral compass to someone else rather than stopping and checking in to our gut feelings.

Can you see how this could be a potential opportunity for abuse if this hero doesn’t keep their ego in check? And if no one questions them, and let’s say, they commit to and also encourage immoral behaviour they have a whole community of people detached from their own moral compass who validate this negative behaviour of their hero and then within themselves. It’s almost as if there’s a trade off here of ‘Well I’m in the Osho/Catholic/Management community so of course I wouldn’t do anything bad’, whereas the community club badge isn’t actually a representation of our values, our actions are.

The thing is, nobody’s perfect and when you’ve gone through something painful like a trauma it’s challenging to control those negative behaviours. There is however, always the opportunity to reflect, question your actions and rectify a situation. This is why emotional intelligence is so important when it comes to negative feelings as they are our signposts of what we need to work on to become better people. It’s also important for us to surround ourselves with people who question our negative behaviour so we can become aware of it and work no it.

I’m not saying that this is easy, because for some it’s not and we grow up in a society that has many hierarchical structures where we’re taught to give our power over. However, maybe we could at least start with being our own hero and living by a strong set of values that any hero would be proud of?

I want to create a world of greater wellbeing for ourselves and the planet that we live on. That’s why I’m starting an honest conversation about wellbeing; encompassing self care, emotional intelligence, body and mind awareness, personal development, and authenticity. If you’re with me on this mission, please like, comment, share and sign up. 

Sending self care vibes, 

Shereen x

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

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Why Our Wellbeing Should Be Our Number 1 Priority

I think there’s a common misconception when it comes to self care. That to honour our self care means that we’re selfish, and of course no one wants to be deemed anything as evil as that. It’s as though there’s a certain quilt of shame that we must adopt if we dare to put the wellbeing of ourselves first, before others wishes, or god forbid we put it before progression or the opportunity to create more monetary wealth. However, the thing that happens when we do this, is that we burn out. There’s an exhaustion, a break down or a halt to a stop.

I’m certainly feeling that halt today.

Ironically I’m building my business around self care (shameless plug here), and I’m trying so hard to make things work. I’m web page building, pitching, organising, marketing, all whilst trying to earn money from other sources and then create free time to actually try and live my life. Then suddenly I’m frustrated and exhausted. It’s something that I should have seen coming because I’m aware of this conundrum which is so prolific in our society, and especially so in the industries of care and wellbeing. But I didn’t, and it was only when my life coach asked me “And what about Shereen?” that I almost laughed out loud at the irony of my situation. The problem with this conundrum in care and wellbeing industries is that when the people who are giving care aren’t in a well balanced and happy place, then to care for others requires energy that they don’t have. That’s when they’re at risk of compassion fatigue – when they don’t have the ability to give compassion to others anymore because they’ve been run into survival mode.

Lately, I’ve heard from psychologists, ex-care workers and health professionals who’ve all mentioned that they’re exhausted from over work and extreme emotional stress. Some left their jobs and were considering completely new professions, such as working in a café for one guy – something where the only thing he’d have to worry about is how to make the best coffee he can in that moment. This means that people are leaving the industries that support our most vulnerable people, because if they stayed, it means that they’d be suffering themselves. And these aren’t bad people, they’re compassionate, loving, selfless human beings who are being exhausted to the bone because the systems which they work in lack the boundaries to protect them from becoming emotionally expended.

This isn’t just a problem in the work force, it seems larger than that, an epidemic that spreads across Western culture in fact. It’s as though there’s a certain push to exhaust ourselves beyond all measures these days, especially amongst my generation and the ones following. A push to succeed and ‘be someone’ and I feel myself getting wrapped into it, even in the realm of self care. To be the person who speaks out about trauma recovery without medication, to be the natural and sustainable self care person, to be the writer, the voice, the frequent instagramer of beautiful, thoughtful photos as though I’m some kind of talented photographer when in reality I don’t have a clue. And somedays I’m just tired of it. To the point where I think maybe I’ll go and get a job back on a super yacht where I can earn money, spend time on the water and the only thing I need to worry about it whether the boat looks clean or not – simple times!

It’s when I have these thoughts that I stop and come back to my self care regime and what I need to do to replenish myself in that moment. Sometimes that’s going for walk in the mountains. Sometimes it’s doing something silly like wildly dancing across the room to David Bowie’s ‘China Girl’ to amuse my friend’s 10 month old baby. Sometimes it’s simply lying on my bed reading a book, feeling the warmth of the soft blanket beneath me, knowing that I have a place to rest for now, even if the future seems uncertain. Knowing that I have the freedom to write, walk and sleep when I want. Knowing that I can have the tools and time to stop and take myself out of the hamster wheel to apply my self care before I get burn out.  That’s when I remember that I always have this ability to apply self care, that we can all have it. The trick to is to make the intention to do it and dedicate the time to practice it. To create boundaries in our life and so that we make sure our wellbeing is our number 1 priority. To respect those self care routines as though our life depends on it, because the truth is that it does. Only then can we move forward from a clear and calm mindset, and help others without risking our own wellbeing.

I wonder if things would be different if we, and the organisations that we work for put our wellbeing first before anything else? If physical, mental and emotional wellbeing were valued as the metrics of success rather than figures and progress? One day, I’ll own a business that does.

 

I want to create a world of greater wellbeing for ourselves and the planet that we live on. That’s why I’m starting an honest conversation about wellbeing; encompassing self care, emotional intelligence, body and mind awareness, personal development, and authenticity. If you’re with me on this mission, please like, comment, share and sign up. 

Sending self care vibes, 

Shereen x

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

 

If You Wouldn’t Say It To Her Face, Don’t Type It

I get it, Sex sells. At least that’s what we’re told right? And if you want to go anywhere in life, you’d better make sure you’re damn sexy otherwise you won’t be getting far! At least, that’s the message we’re given as women, and from a very young age too.

I remember this attitude back when I used to work in the Construction industry. When the pretty girls would get sent to the important sales meetings if we weren’t hitting our customers KPI’s (Key performance indicators) so we could at least distract our male customers from the fact that our company was performing poorly. It always worked, but it got tiring after a while, having to work in a community of men who never saw me as an equal. Regardless of the projects that I completed or the targets that I met, my value within the company was mostly determined by how I looked. I was 23 at the time, young, bright eyed and apparently pleasing on the eye. So the sales men would invite me to meetings to soften customer deals and the women of power in my company disliked me and would make sure I knew it. It was quite an eye opener to go into my first graduate job in an industry that based all my competencies on my aesthetics and I was reminded of that kind of treatment recently when I saw a motivational post by an inspirational women on my Linked in news feed.

The post read like this:

“Do you know the power of appreciation? 85% of people are unhappy with their career. We all have goals and we are always trying to keep up with the Jones’. Goals are great to have but don’t let life pass you by without enjoying the journey you are on. Count your blessings not your problems. Don’t regret not appreciating what you had when you had it including the people in your life. We get so focused on where we are headed we forget where we’re at and what we have now. The purpose of life is to find your purpose and to value those who supported you on the way up. Life is not a race, pump the brakes and slow down.”

It’s such a great message and in my opinion perfectly placed as a post about the workplace, on a social media platform for the workplace. It could have been written by the likes of Tony Robbins, or Richard Branson but this one was written by Shannon Bunn. A marine veteran turned legal assistant, who is a young, intelligent and attractive. She posted this statement with a picture of herself in the front seat of a car (see pic) and the popularity of the post, and the comments that followed interested me. I’m glad to reveal that most of them were about the insightful and motivational statement she made, but some highlighted the attitude that the modern workplace still refuses to outgrow. One that values people by their appearance, not their work.

There were sleazy comments that made reference to how she looked:

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Comments from people saying that they would have ‘loved one night with her’:

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There were negative comments, mostly from women such as ‘Trite BS’

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One that pointed out that it was not the appropriate platform for ‘beauty selfies’ and one comment that actually calls out the post as ‘passive-aggressive sexualisation’. I found these statements interesting because almost every motivational post I see from Richard Branson has a picture of him attached but I never see any comments like this on his posts…

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It goes without saying that we live in a visual world and because of this aesthetics seem important, but are we missing the point when it comes to the workplace?

The fact is that the very popularity of the post and the comments below it show that we are still not appreciating people for who they are and what they do in the workplace. Instead some of us still objectify and then judge each other based on looks, especially when it comes to women. Isn’t it about time we started to see each other as human beings, and respect each other as such? I mean regardless of how Shannon looks and the endless judgements that could be made about her appearance it’s her words and what she stands for that should be remembered.

I could write about the state of our society, and how unaware we are of our emotions that are ruling our thoughts and behaviour, especially when it comes to making judgements about others etc etc… but I figured that these three pre-comment posting questions would be more helpful:

  1. Would you say that to their face?

It’s so easy in the realm of the ‘behind the screen’ society to forget that there is a human being on the other side of the screen, receiving the words so easily typed onto the keyboard. A real person, just like you. A person with feelings, fears, aspirations and insecurities. Have a think about the words you’re typing to another human being and ask yourself – if he or she was here, in front of you right now, would you say that to their face? Would you say it in the tone you mean it and face the consequences of your comments? I think most of the leery men and snipey women probably wouldn’t say some of the things that they typed if they were in a face to face conversation with Shannon.

  1. How would you feel if someone said that to your sister/brother/daughter/son/mother/father?

We often forget that these ‘beautiful’ women and ‘hot’ guys are people’s family members. They are real people, not objects for our desire or attack just because we can’t control our egos. Before you write, stop and imagine how you would feel if someone said what you are about to write to your sister, brother, daughter, son, mother or father. Does it arise a feeling of anger inside you? Are you outraged that someone would act in such a disrespectful way to one of your family members? If so, don’t write it. Remember that the person who you are firing your words at is a human begin too, just like your family, and just like you.

  1. Why do you feel the need to comment at all?

When it comes to commenting on a post, how many of us stop and question why we are commenting and what we hope to achieve out of it? We can start with asking ourselves if our comment is positive, negative or neutral. If it’s negative, think twice about spreading that negativity across a visual platform that thousands of people are going to see because, frankly, the world could do with less negativity in it.

Then, ask yourself this: ‘What is it about this post that rustles up negativity inside me?’

It’s times like this that we should remember that we are responsible for our own emotions and that we have a choice of how we react upon them. If something from the outside brings up a judgement of negativity within you, then there’s something inside you that you need to investigate.

Hopefully if we start asking ourselves these questions more often then we can start becoming more conscious, compassionate and respectful in the workplace, whether it’s in the online community or the office. Now doesn’t that sound like a more pleasant world to work in?

Photo Credit: Shannon Bunn on Linked In.

Originally posted on www.shereensoliman.com

Confessions Of A Truth Speaking Human

I feel lost with the world these days. I’m not sure if it’s just me or if we’re in some kind of illusion where no one ever speaks their truth. It’s annoying because if no one ever speaks their truth then no one ever gets vulnerable, and without vulnerability we don’t have connections. We also don’t have feedback so we never improve as people. We don’t get better at communication, we never face up to take responsibility for how we act based on our emotions and we’re losing high moral standards like honest, loyalty and respect. We start to become some half scraped version of what we think the world wants us to be because rather than being true to ourselves most of us think we have to go around being politically correct and trying to please others.

Well I’m here to throw a spanner in the works and admit to being human.

I’m going to start with my confessions. Apt, as I’ve never done a confession before, at least not in a church to a minister… something about it just doesn’t seem right – “come here and let me judge thee for thy sins oh wicked one”, erm no thanks. Instead here they are for the World Wide Web to view, I mean why have one person’s judgement when the whole word can have a go? Here’s to hoping your feeling forgiving today, dear reader.

  1. I do not have my shit figured out

I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to figure stuff out and for the most part I mastered it. I’ve got a knack for digging deep to find out how things work, how we work and the general patterns that link the two. Paired with my tenacity, it’s what has helped me get the things I wanted in life – how to travel with hardly any money, how to get a distinction in an science masters without anything more than a C grade science GCSE (lowest of passing high school qualifications, for you American folk), and mostly how to positively influence people and myself to get the best out of a situation. I enjoy figuring stuff out and finding the best way to do things because it means efficiency and progress and that’s something I’m passionate about. The thing is that I can’t figure everything out, even though I strive to and usually figure more stuff out than most people, I will never be able to figure everything out, and that’s ok. In fact, it’s the way it’s meant to be. It’s the reason I like to sail and volunteer with young adults. Two things baffle me because they can’t be completely figured out. Instead I have to go with the flow and hope I’m prepared for what comes next. To quote an old friend “The true aspiration isn’t having shit figured out, it’s to be ok with the shit not being figured out, ever.” Some stuff has just got to be, and the more I’m ok with that the easier my life will be. Shit is definitely not figured out today.

  1.  I avoid, I judge, I blame

I really try not to. When I do I try to notice it and when I’m aware of it I always dig deep to find what the root cause is so I can learn something more about myself and work to improve it if I don’t like it. My ego still comes up when I feel fear or pain and with it there’s sometimes a verbal attack to whoever is unlucky enough to be near. Usually it’s an arrogant comment or a rant but if I really let it get me then I can shout. It’s not nice, it’s shitty, and I always feel the guilt and shame afterwards for not being the better person I strive to be. Those feelings are necessary as they remind me that I continuously aim to be the best version of myself. So I fully feel the guilt and the shame and in there I find the information that directs me what to do next. It’s usually an apology or a recognition, followed by an inquisition into why it happened (because I’m always trying to figure shit out remember), then I can finally learn from what happened and reach the self compassion and forgiveness for being completely me. Sometimes ego, sometimes heart, sometimes somewhere in between.

  1. I’m scared of a lot of things

I’m not scared of things that are ‘conventional’ to be scared of, the likes of mice or spiders – which to me, seems kind of silly because they’re tiny in comparison to humans but then there goes that less compassionate logical side of me speaking and realistically I know that these thing are caused by associations in the brain, probably in early childhood, and I’ll stop now while I begin to sound like I’ve figured that one out because I definitely haven’t. I’m scared of even sillier things. I’m scared of falling in love for the fear of getting hurt. I’m scared of trying, in case I fail. Mostly I’m scared that I won’t get done what I’ve been put on this planet to do, even though I’m not sure what that even is yet. I’m still not sure how I feel about fear, I just know that it exists within me and still quite prominently. Especially at the moment as I venture back into the dating world and I’m finally moving forward with publishing my books. I recognise it because it’s a squirmy kind of feeling. It’s like being squeezed from top to bottom in a vice that starts in an open 90 degree angle and closes into about 30 degrees, literally squishing me in between. It’s like being compressed under force until there is only one way to squeeze – backwards out of the vice. But if I do that, and the vice closes then that opportunity closes with it. Instead I’m trying to master staying put and holding the vice open no matter how hard I’m squeezed. Eventually the vice will give way and through the experience I’ll become stronger. It’s hard, and there is a minefield of vices in front of me but the horizon on the other side is bright and sunny so I’m committed to crossing the field.

I’m starting to feel comfortable to be my authentic self, even though I get a lot of funny looks when I talk about real topics, you know emotions, life, dreams and progression. When what I say is ‘too heavy’ or ‘too in depth’ or when people ‘can’t handle that (the truth) right now’. I’m hoping that eventually this mirage will dissipate and people will see it for the truth that it is. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes ugly. But I’ll take the truth any day, over something which isn’t even real.

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Photo credit: Ben White

Originally posted on www.shereensoliman.com