Validate Good Behaviour Over Bad Behaviour

Another corner feels like it’s been turned recently, as I find myself working back on the boats, starting to feel like my old self again. For bad or for worse, this person I’m getting back to is cheeky, speaks her truth and acts out her free will with conviction. I’ve always been told that I’m a strong character. ‘Intense’ is a word that’s often used to describe me. Mostly with a negative connotation, as though to be fully expressive is a bad thing. However, as I feel more and more confident becoming the person that I truly am, I realise that these comments say more about another person’s fear than it does about my personality. I remember that I didn’t used to see it this way. I used to feel ashamed for being ‘too much’, for speaking ‘too honestly’ and especially for acting with integrity in a world where it seems so uncommon.

I’m not alone in this, and I find myself constantly reminding my friends, colleagues and good people in my life to embrace their unique differences completely. To be the best, fullest, strongest version of themselves that they can be. No matter what judgements they face. The thing is that in a world full of systems where most of us have been moulded into conformity, it’s difficult to break free from this. To do so creates a fear in others because it highlights the change that they are avoiding in themselves. This fear is what creates the judgements, the negative connotations, the knockdowns and then the shame.

After years of listening to these comments, we can take them on as our own internal voice, and use them to beat our self-worth into a pulp with the stick we were so often handed. As I finally stop doing this myself, I see the effects of this action all around me. I see colleagues who create the most exquisite and dynamic food you’ve ever seen, yet beat themselves down with words of ‘it can be better’. I see friends who continue to hit impossible sales targets, against all odds, yet tell themselves that it wasn’t good enough, and stay in situations where they’re not valued. I see family members who shine out creative talents, yet tell themselves that they’ll never make it because that’s what they’re being led to believe by others who didn’t have the courage to follow their own dreams.

To all of these people, I’ve found myself stopping them in their tracks and asking them to have a look at what they’ve created. To value their effort, their creativity, their grit and determination. To congratulate themselves, and bask in the glory of their achievement. To add credit to a self-worth that is so often starved of this positive feedback in a world where judgements outweigh compliments at a rate of  10 to 1.

I’ve also found myself putting in firm boundaries when I’m called to validate the worst behaviour in those around me. The drink drivers who off load their problems on strangers. The ‘friends’ who act without integrity and consume friendships with drama. The acquaintances in my life who act without accountability and in a way that is disrespectful towards others because they’re not willing to own the pain that they hold within. Firm boundaries because I don’t want to keep quiet and pretend like I’m okay with that kind of destructive behaviour. I’m not. So I won’t validate it with a silent smile while it continues on, spreading out further waves of negativity while a lack of personal responsibility takes place.

It’s not as though there is a group of ‘good’ people beaten down, and a group of ‘bad’ people beating them. There is no ‘them vs us’, and to see it that way only engages you in the internal battle that you keep firing up within yourself. The ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ lies in every one of us, and it’s up to us to decide in every moment which one we choose to fuel our behaviour.

For me, this whole journey has been about that and I haven’t found this easy. It’s been a constant exercise of stop, reflect and question. It’s been exercises of feeling into my body senses and my intuition to feel what feels good and what doesn’t. To reflect and ask myself, do my actions serve my values right now? To create the honesty in my friendships for feedback that isn’t nice to receive but will help me become the best version of myself. To tell people what I value about them, even if it makes me feel vulnerable. To call them out authentically, even if it means that I get caught up in the cross fire.

I wonder how the world would change if all of us tried to do this, or even if we do it just once, today. To ask a friend not to beat themselves up, and instead to tell them the value that you see in them and ask them to see it too? Or to call out a friend when they’re acting in a way which is hurting others? Isn’t it about time we started validating the best of each other and calling out our worst behaviour so we can all get on our way to being the best versions of ourselves?

Photo by MARK ADRIANE on Unsplash

More Honesty, Less BS Please

Quite often, friends come to me for advice. And quite often I tell them what I see, which to me is usually pretty obvious. However as I know myself, when you’re consumed in your own emotional whirlwind it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees. I’m quite happy to share my observations – note, I try to not give advice on experiences that I haven’t had so I’ll always only offer up what I can see from an outsider’s perspective. Something that I find time and time again is that most people don’t like the truth. Sometimes it even angers them. But if you’re a friend of mine and you’re coming to me for advice then you know what you’re in for – the hard honest truth. I’ve even picked up the nickname ‘No shit Shereen’ from some friends, and I actually quite like the ring if it.

To some reading this, it may sound like I go around offending people, telling them ‘home truths’ that they’re not quite ready for (even though they came to me for advice – I don’t hand these insights out freely… at least not anymore anyway… far too many blow ups from people who adore living in an illusion)! My question here though is why are we all getting so offended by the truth these days? And second to that, if you don’t want to hear the truth then why are you asking someone else for advice?? Thirdly, why do most of us reply with polite half truths’ rather than being uncomfortably honest?

In my opinion this lack of uncomfortable honesty is what leads to resentment in relationships, and eventually that tears them apart. Whereas I’ve found that with tactile honesty (and sometimes the disclaimer of ‘I’d like to offer an observation but I’m not sure you’re going to like it, so I can keep quiet if you’re not ready to hear it?’) has become the mortar that’s bound so many of my deeply connected, authentic friendships. Although I’ve sometimes had to deal with some close friends getting ‘techy’ when they hear the ‘advice’ the result has usually been action that’s served them well. Over the last few weeks alone one friend has increased their circle, another has quit their job and landed their dream role and one more is making big changes in a relationship with a family member – all huge positive changes. All changes that came about because of some uncomfortable-to-hear, honest advice.

I sincerely think that if we all started to lean into this discomfort and share our honest observations with each other then the world itself would be a happier place. For certain it would be a ‘no shit Shereen’ kinda place.

I’m on a mission to create a greater sense wellbeing for ourselves and the planet that we live on. To teach others how to connect authentically with themselves, so they can connect authentically with others. It starts with learning self-awareness, maintaining a strong value system that serves us, and having the emotional intelligence to move through a whole spectrum of emotions so we can connect without attachment, and of course being HONEST!

If you want  the EQ tools to connect authentically with your values and the values of your fellow humans, then contact me directly to see how I can help you. Find out more about workshops, training and tailored coaching packages at www.shereensoliman.com. 

Shereen x

Photo by Andre Guerra on Unsplash