This piece is part of our Manifesto about 7 areas of our personal life: (1) Education (2) Physical Health, (3) Mental Health & Mindset, (4) Relations, (5) Work & Career, (6) Personal Finance, and (7) Personal Development (coming up). In the midst of this COVID-19 global pandemic, where our society and our lives have come to a halt, we were inspired to write this Manifesto. For every area of our personal lives, we will challenge the way we viewed it “back then” and articulate a vision on “how we should go about it in the future”. Our Manifesto is meant to open up discussions. We don’t intend to stereotype anyone or anything, but just want to give a generic perception of our lives and society as a whole and the systems behind it.
Many of us developed a perfectionist mindset during our years in school that made us very hard on ourselves.
Was what we did good enough? Were we good enough? What if we failed after going all-in on our dreams? Would others then say “I told you so”?
Sometimes we even avoided success because otherwise we might outgrow or intimidate our friends and family. Many of us lacked self-esteem, shying away from, or talking ourselves out of the potential within us. And then the negative self-talk. We didn’t always dare to say negative things in people’s faces, but we clearly didn’t have a problem talking ourselves down. Were we for ourselves or against ourselves?
Now and then we set goals and resolutions, but then life got in the way. Without a burning desire for a better life and a strong purpose, we started drifting. We didn’t grab this unique opportunity called life with both our hands and didn’t squeeze everything out of it. Instead, we merely lived to get through it as painlessly and flawlessly as possible.
It was scary to share our real emotions, and many of us hid behind a mask – especially at work. We had learned to stay strong growing up, but no one had told us how lonely that would be. When we wanted to share something really vulnerable, it didn’t feel right. And if we did, we often felt ashamed.
So we often used conversations with others and sharing on social media to show off. Sending the message that we were always surrounded by others, successful and happy.
It was perhaps even scarier to wholeheartedly feel our emotions, even if we were just by ourselves. Because what if we would stay in that emotion for days? Could we handle that?
Most of us didn’t like to be alone, afraid of the conversation (confrontation) with ourselves. In fact, for some, it was so frightening, that they distracted themselves with an overload of social activity and screen time. We had never learned to be alone and just be comfortable with it.
Apart from that, our society had made us feel bad about being alone. It was perceived as a lesser state to be in. On vacation or out for dinner by yourself? That’s so weird. In this crisis, we had to be alone more than we were used to. It confronted us with our own thoughts and emotions. And loneliness.
Negative (subconscious) thoughts and beliefs often became a habit and stayed with us for years. We stopped looking for creative alternatives, new insights, and new experiences because we primed and thereby limited our own minds with certain beliefs. This was especially bad since our thoughts create our emotions.
We can change negative thoughts into positive thoughts. And painful feelings and emotions can be felt harmlessly for a few minutes (if we truly feel them) and then they disappear. Suppressing emotions is much more detrimental to our health. All these things we hadn’t learned and talked about openly. Were they taboo?
Our bodies are phenomenal, but what really sets us apart as a species is our mind. Yet it’s so common that we let our minds turn against us by talking negatively to ourselves and finding excuses to do what is best for us. What if we knew ourselves better than anyone else? And what if we would have inspiring and uplifting discussions with ourselves?
What if we loved to be alone for as long as possible to coach ourselves, and we wouldn’t walk away from feelings and real internal conversations? With immense self-knowledge, we would navigate life better and easily find a purpose where everything we are comes together.
What if we would see our minds as muscles that grow over time, not perceiving them as fixed tools that we were given at birth? And that we would not only know but also experience that growth equals happiness?
What if we had sufficient self-esteem, causing us to dare new things and live our dreams? Even if that meant risking failure? What if we would see life for what it is: a unique chance to become all we can be and to enjoy the time we are given on Earth?
There would still be fears, but we would see them for what they are: patterns and thoughts that stem from ancient times when we were always in survival mode? For most of us, these conditions are long gone. And what if we would realize that even if we lose all our money and the people that care about us, we still would have ourselves and live on this resourceful planet?
With every action outside our comfort zone and every investment in ourselves, we would expand our self-esteem and trust in ourselves. Able to be more and contribute more.
And wouldn’t it be amazing if we could be happy in the now while having awesome plans for the future? Plans that are congruent with what we are here to do. And that we were brave enough to say no to the things that don’t suit us, that don’t feel right or make no sense. To be fully ourselves and stand up for our beliefs, opinions, and desires. Even if others don’t approve.
With this new-found determination and clarity, we would thrive in pursuing our personal goals, because we fully aligned with our ‘true self’ and our unique contribution. We would reach higher, live our potential – beyond what kept you from small-mindedness.
We would be grateful for what we have. Live more in the here and now. We would enjoy the progress we are making and have made in our lives, instead of falling in the if/then trap (“only if I have/done this, then I will be happy”).
We would be fully aware of the beautiful interaction between our mental and physical health. The healthier our bodies are, the better we feel mentally, and vice versa. We would be aware that our thoughts create our emotions – such as stress, anxiety, and sadness – which have an effect on our physical bodies.
With a lot of mind practice (meditation), we would learn to influence our thoughts, even choosing them. In this way, we decide on the meaning we give to events and situations around us, thinking ourselves healthier, happier, and more fulfilled.
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Growtribute is an international community and platform for personal growth and professional contribution. Behind it are Lennart van der Ziel and Rachelle Leerling. They are entrepreneurs, speakers, and coaches.