Be you…unapologetically

The opinions that others have of us affects us most when we are not convinced about who we are.

It’s self-doubt that creates the space for others to influence how we feel about ourselves.

Be it a troubled relationship with a family member, a partner, an ex spouse, or even a friend or colleague, the moment their words about us weighs more than what we think of ourselves, we need to recognise that we needed validation more than we needed companionship or a healthy relationship with them.

Our disappointment in them when they behave badly should not extend to disappointment in ourselves.

The moment we judge ourselves harshly after they’ve treated us badly, we’re diminishing our self-worth by believing that we’re not even good enough for someone who has questionable values.

That’s how we lose ourselves to the lack of self-respect in others, or in ourselves.

If you find yourself questioning your self-worth or struggling to connect with who you are in the face of the struggles of your life, reach out via WhatsApp on +27836599183 or via my website at zaidismail.com for affordable coaching rates that could be the fresh start that you need in life.

Serving clients internationally.

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A brain dump

I need to return to my self. When the feeling of being adrift and the mental fog merge, the road ahead appears as a romantic setting filled with intrigue and adventure, but little answers. In seeking such answers, I may find new paths and new passions, but such a journey cannot be undertaken when chained to the present.

The yokes must first be dismantled before the anchors lifted. The past is of no consequence except for its gifts that continue to colour the present moment. Wishing it away has never resulted in anything more than regret or escapism. Embracing it, despite most often being a cold and uncomfortable embrace, has always offered the opportunity to warm up to it, before moving beyond it.

There appears to be wisdom in learning to love the challenges I face, rather than spurning their roots. I lost myself many times in the distractions that result from a fixation on its roots, often questioning the value of my contribution towards countering the anticipated outcomes that now weigh on my shoulders as yokes of past decisions. Those contributions, when focused on with regret, grew larger than my strength to prevail beyond it, turning it into a living monument that slowly defined my sense of self. Thus I lost myself to moments long gone, and in investments long since diminished in value.

In returning to my self, I must embrace the beauty of my being that afforded me the conviction to contribute towards that which held no promise beyond that moment, but whose hope carried me to see dreams beyond the impossible that I faced. Despite not having achieved those dreams, its descendents have spawned new paths that otherwise would have remained concealed, but importantly, have eliminated any reason to question myself later had I held back in my contribution towards what I hoped to achieve.

Speaking cryptically is a game that tests my resolve between unbridled rage at the world, and quiet contemplation of my right to rage. Rage is only needed when I refuse to embrace the naivety and convictions that encouraged my contribution towards that which I knew carried the promise of betrayal as much as it carried the hope of joy. Denying my contribution to justify my rage would therefore be as hypocritical as the ones who betrayed my efforts because they saw their vulnerability as a weakness to be condemned, and therefore preemptively judged me to be what they expected of me, rather than what I offered in truth.

There’s a harshness that creeps in when we see our tenderness as weakness, rather than seeing it as a proclamation of our ability to remain human in a calloused world. It’s that same harshness that defines the tone with which we receive the tenderness in others. When we assume their tenderness to be a drain on our strength, we lose the benefit of seeing in them the gentleness that we must harbour in us to avoid inviting the harshness of the world into the cavities of our souls. Those cavities, when seen as failings or as evidence of inadequacy, become sources of shame, rather than opportunities to create the joy and the beauty that they await.

Joy and beauty would have remained elusive to my dysfunctional being had I restrained myself when common sense dictated such restraint. It was through abandoning common sense that I departed from the trajectory that honoured the emotionless heritage that had defined my world up to that point. It has always been my ability to dream of being more than I ever had a right to claim that I found myself among beauty and fulfilment that would otherwise have remained foreign to my experience of this world.

It is in my rejection of what others believed to be true about me that I found myself. It was in that rejection that I revealed their rejection of themselves in favour of their need to belong to their soured legacies. It is in that rejection that I found the most beautiful of souls with whom to share sacred moments and even bigger dreams. Without that rejection, I would have been as dejected as many of the vapid ones who spend their lives courting the validation of those who invalidated them to begin with. Seeing the hollowness in their eyes, it was my rejection of such a hollow existence for myself that I created space for kindred souls to create in me what the legacy of my lineage would never have been able to endow.

Thus, it was rejection that guided me to me. It was choosing what I did not want for myself, without waiting for the arrival of common sense, that allowed me to create space for what I hoped to experience, and who I hoped to embrace. And the embrace that I found through such rejection outweighs the accumulated benefit of all the validations that I could have courted instead.

Life has a way of meandering towards that which we desire most, but through paths that often defy logic while priming us for the state we must achieve if we hope to have the capacity to embrace what it is that we want. By respecting the fears that define the efforts of those around us, we limit ourselves to achieving only a shadow of their achievements, because we would never discover the potential that we hold within. Sometimes it’s more important to focus on what we need to reject, than applying ourselves towards that which we hope to achieve. It demands a trust in the harmony of life that exceeds any balance that we may be able to consciously extract from such a flow. Fighting the rapids is often the least effective way to navigate through tough times. Perhaps in that is the wisdom that I need to secure my way beyond this torrential period of my life.

Regardless of which way it goes, I am clear about the path that I choose to pursue through the foggy road that lies ahead. And the companion to accompany me on that journey will reveal themselves when the space I create meets the path that they’re on. Until then, the journey holds the promise of many beautiful revelations, akin to the revelations that revealed the possibility of being more than I ever thought possible for a man whose heritage denied anything beyond mediocrity or common sense.

Legacies are only to be honoured if they honour the truth of who we are. Discovering that truth is therefore only possible when we see in ourselves the possibility of the future, rather than remaining loyal to the inheritance of the past.

Don’t deny your heart

Silence can never render the heart’s true yearnings irrelevant or obsolete…it only makes it more torturous until fulfilled…if ever

The heart’s true yearnings slowly morph into unfulfilled moments of angst that are beyond explanation or reason

Sleep soon escapes us as we try to busy ourselves with the urgencies of life in our efforts to distract us from that gaping void

A void that can only be filled by responding to the yearning of the heart

But whose yearning we’d much rather suppress than to risk hurting a tender heart more than its current pain

Once battered, trust is abandoned

The heart then becomes a slave to its yearnings while being shackled to its grief

Breathe beloved, breathe…just breathe…and allow your heart to muster courage that escapes your will.

#hope #expectation #romance #romancenovel #companionship #soulfood #soulmates #anincompletelovestory #relationshipgoals #mybeloved #zaidismail #lovestory #authorsofinstagram

13 Lessons from 2020

Perhaps it is too soon to count the lessons, but these themes are pretty consistent so far. I figured, given what a year it’s been, I may as well stick to the number 13 to keep aligned with the ominous nature of this year.

Here goes my 13 lessons from 2020 thus far. I expect it to only get more colourful as the final quarter of the year works its way through the digestive tract of time.

1. Everyone became an empath

Social media has been flooded with self-proclaimed empaths. The fascinating part for me is always how many of those who claim to be empaths are bitter at the world, rather than empathetic about why it is in the state that it is. More interestingly, I find it curious to see how anyone who suddenly realised that a gut feeling turned out to be true suddenly becomes an empath that can accurately read the emotional disposition of anyone that saunters across their path. My gut feeling suggests that there is something amiss in all of this. Besides, we’re all empaths by default. It simply varies by degrees of self-awareness.

2. Kal ho na ho means different things to different people

For the uninitiated into the Bollywood sphere, roughly translated, it means that tomorrow is not guaranteed. Like the empaths, this is another claim that is brandied about by the masses who proclaim to be living their best life, or doing what demands courage because tomorrow is not guaranteed. Sadly though, many embrace this concept from a position of fear, rather than hope. Thus, the non-guarantee of tomorrow leads many to hold on to the fear that they court today, because a familiar pain is more comforting than a fragile joy. Much is lost in the process of claiming today while believing that we’re not waiting for tomorrow, not realising that it is precisely the hope that tomorrow holds that should be subduing the fears of today. It’s complicated.

3. Giving it your best shot doesn’t guarantee success

The massive impact to small businesses and employment opportunities globally proves that it’s not always about your best shot. Sometimes, being amazing doesn’t guarantee an audience, or an income. When we stubbornly persist in approaching human value with a capitalistic mindset, we will continue to diminsh the value of the human contribution in the absence of its economic viability. Therefore, your best shot is only your best shot if economic viability is prioritised above your contribution to humanity. And yeah, I may be projecting my personal experiences in this regard given my line of work. It’s 2020, so I’m sure it’s allowed.

4. Pervasive ignorance still trumps collective wisdom

The toilet roll saga, followed by the poor bats who apparently spawned a synthetic patented virus, followed by the debates about the effectiveness of social distancing, mask-wearing, and so much more, all confirm that there is no collective wisdom in a severely fractured human race. Collective wisdom is only possible in the presence of a collective value system. If nothing else, given the massive negative shifts regarding economic parity, or human dignity between the wealthy and the poor, it’s pretty much confirmed that collective wisdom is class-based survival and profiteering and not wisdom at all.

5. Love doesn’t always triumph over fear

Fear, by far, still rates as the key ingredient to making important decisions. The fear of hope is echoed in the statements of hope. The victim-hood is evident in the proclamations of the victims who remain defined by their moments of oppression. And of course, we fight fear with fear by being fearful of the fear of what the rest of this year holds. In all of this, there are few who realise that they need to just be, without a need to proclaim their love or hope or fear about what life holds true for them. But to just be who they are despite the ravages of the time in which we live. If we could call it living. And, of course, those who chose to love in the face of fear will realise that their love was often only enough to sustain their own sanity, but not enough to subdue the fear in others. How may are spurned for diminishing the validity of the fear of another when they respond with love instead?

6. Hope is not always the opposite of fear

One of the greatest tragedies is when we compete in our efforts to proclaim our struggles to be greater than that of others. It’s all relative. What we proclaim as hope to rise above where we’re at is often just fear looking for validation. Proclaiming our struggles to the world rarely provides any material relief from those struggles. So when we convince ourselves that hope looks like a vocal stand against fear, we need to consider if we’re being truthful to ourselves, or are we just pacifying our conscience.

7. Collective struggles don’t always unite people

Oh boy…where to even start with this one. Bigotry in all domains has intensified rather than subsided. The in-fighting in many communities far outweigh the collective efforts to lift the burdens from the most vulnerable in those communities. And this plays out globally. Whether first or third world, rich or poor, theist or atheist, the reports of selfless human contribution have been rare and exceptional, and most certainly not the norm. Even in finding cures we’ve seen the opportunism of the elite trump over any efforts to serve with compassion before profits. All puns intended.

8. Soul mates don’t always connect

Under such straitened circumstances, the overwhelming burden of a life under duress has dulled many a romantic heart, and subdued many a giving spirit. When overwhelmed with the threat of a never-ending oppression, survival often means sacrifice of what is important in favour of what is urgent. When fear drives our decisions, finding a balance between the two is near impossible , and thus, we consider soul food a luxury when life itself feels like a threat to our sanity. Connecting with anyone, let alone your soul mate, then becomes a struggle when holding on to sanity feels like finding love is a luxury. If only we’d realise that sanity becomes irrelevant when love breathes comfort into our anguished hearts.

9. What is valued is not always what is cherished

Continuing the theme of important versus urgent, comforting each other begins to appear as a luxury or an unaffordable indulgence when we look to take care of ourselves first because we lost any reason to trust that we will be taken care of. Sometimes we do this because we believe that we need to save others from the persecution of our lives. Hence, we see what we value as being inconsequential to the existential threats that we face. Again, survival mode triumphs over our humanness, and empathy is replaced by utility.

10. Humanity still places priority over materialism compared to compassion

It’s only important if it can be monetised. Of course, this is only true in our efforts to put food on the table, but is vehemently denied in our free posts on social media. Perhaps our hypocrisy as a race of humans is most visible in our proclamation of the dearness that we place on the hearts we hope to touch or heal, but ignore such value the moment profit margins must be maintained. If lock down has taught me anything, it is that there is an absurdity in our belief that essential services are only essential if there is a way to fund it. Suddenly, we suspended our ability to produce because someone decided to suspend the economic system. Rather than question the merits of the economic system, we choose to question the value of our contribution in the absence of such economic reward.

11. Empathy is absent in religious structures and spiritual circles

The most religious and the most spiritual have shown a disdain for compassion or empathy. They have demonised non-compliance and enforced ritual instead. 2020 has revealed the true merit of the self-proclaimed custodians of religious superiority across all religions. There is not a single major world religion that has risen above the others in their efforts to place the human before the doctrine. But, wasn’t the doctrine established because of the frailty of the human to begin with? I think we speak on behalf of our gods when we need to be perceived as spiritually superior when we lack confidence in our ability to influence by our conduct. Of course, there is also that thing of funding that turns religion into business.

12. Benefit of the doubt still doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt

The irony is morbidly entertaining when we consider that we doubt those who request the benefit of the doubt. This is, again, most prominent in the economic structures that govern everything we cherish as human beings, with credit histories meaning nothing in the face of protecting profits. Financial institutions the world over have insisted on claiming interest and extending the life of contracts in a show of compassion. However, they were very careful in ensuring not to lose a cent in income, further extending the indebtedness of the vulnerable. What appears to be a short term relief only turns out to be a longer term slavery. Compassion is not compassion if it only extends the suffering rather than alleviates it.

13. Fear, and not hope, still drives most people’s life decisions

With the onslaught continuing, even those who throw caution to the wind do so because they fear being subdued for much longer. It’s our belief in our impotence to change things that we willingly surrender to it without further effort or protest. But, to save face, we must present it as a bold step against oppression or blind following, rather than to reveal the vulnerability of our fears that we harbour within. Our need to appear bold or courageous or significant immediately undermines any merits to such claims. Thus, if nothing else, 2020 is revealing the true calibre of who we are, and we have been found to be lacking in almost every sphere of our lives.

Final thoughts

Despite the morbidity and the struggles that have saturated the lives of the majority during a year of unprecedented imbalance in nature, the human spirit continues to struggle on. However, for the most part, it has intensified the nature of who we were before this pandemic hit. Those who were selfish and bitter intensified their rage and self-serving ways, while those given to servitude increased their sacrifices, often at great personal expense.

The new normal that many are waiting for will turn out to not much more than a clearer picture with more blatant evidence of the normal that always was. But, because so many were oblivious to it in their cocoons of distraction, it will be experienced as a whole new world after Covid-19. Sadly, there are much greater tragedies in the world that have been unfolding, and continue to unfold with impacts that dwarf the statistics claimed by Covid-19, and those will continue to to remain below the line of sight of the consciousness of the collective, because as we’ve seen, collective wisdom is a myth, and empathy is an indulgence of victim-hood.

There is no new normal. Only a new realisation of what was always wrong with the world as we know it. Will this result in a shift towards the resolve needed to fundamentally improve the human condition, or will profiteering and individual gain continue to contaminate our efforts in our pursuit of the peace that everyone claims to be striving for?

The cynic in me suggests that it will be business-as-usual for the next few generations. I pray that I am proven wrong.

Break the stigma

We dehumanise the human when we label their emotional experience as an illness.

The moment we attach a label to a life experience, we focus on the label and discard the merits of the experience.

We make people invisible when we deny the reality of their experience by suggesting that there is something clinically wrong with them, despite causality of their emotional upheaval being clearly associated with their experiences in life.

The victim readily embraces such labels because it offers hope where they feel hopeless.

The oblivious happily embrace such labels because it demands less emotional investment, or less accountability in their efforts to uplift or support those around them.

Our aversion to embrace the entirety of the human behind the troubled behaviour denies the victim a voice, or a claim to their painful experiences in life.

These labels are worn with shame because it denies us our humanness and makes us a symptom.

You cannot break the stigma of mental health by undermining the humanness of the ones affected by the stigma.

Kill the label, kill the stigma.

Photo credit : Adobe Stock

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Always hope

When we focus on the struggles of our lives, we feel defeated.

When we focus on the growth, we feel empowered to overcome future obstacles.

But we’re human. We doubt ourselves and sometimes we feel entitled to peace.

In the process, we create self-fulfilling prophecies by growing despondent when things go wrong, rather than looking for the opportunities to create something better.

We limit our ability to overcome obstacles by telling ourselves that there is a limit to what we’re capable of dealing with.

Rather than embracing the challenges without preempting the outcomes, we end up focusing on how close we are to that limit that we set for ourselves and then grow defensive the moment we believe things are getting too close to it.

That’s how we prevent ourselves from trying beyond a certain point, and that’s how we grow to believe that some things are impossible to overcome.

Sometimes, when things seem like they’re falling apart, they may just be falling into place. But when we fixate on what’s falling apart, we deny ourselves the opportunity to see how it may be contributing towards our dreams and goals that were being hindered by what we had in the first place.

Breathe, beloved. And let faith, not fear, guide you through the storm.

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