Self-Awareness

Self-Awareness has been identified as one of the meta-skills of the future. Meta-skills, as defined by Gustavo Razzetti, are the master skills that activate and magnify your other skills. They are “high-order skills that allow you to engage with functional expertise more effectively. They [are] catalyst[s] for learning and building new skills faster.”

So then, How Self-Aware are You?

Based on the research by many reputable psychologists, we are actually regrettably less self-aware than we’d like to think we are. In fact, our illusion of how self-aware we are, is a hindrance to becoming more self-aware (Eurich).

One of the examples of this illusion is the Dunning-Kruger Effect, whereby one’s limited knowledge of the matter causes them to overestimate their ability and competence in the matter. The reverse is also true: when someone excels at a task, they tend to undermine the complexity of the task and subsequently undermine their ability relative to the ‘average’.

For example: when one first starts learning a new language, their limited understanding of the verb tenses and conjugations may mislead them into thinking that the language is quite simple, subsequently overestimating their ability and the time it will actually take to master the language.

Self-awareness is the same. We often overestimate how much we actually know ourselves. It is mind-boggling to wrap our heads around it, isn’t it? If we don’t even know ourselves, then who does? The reality is, there is a substantial part of our subconscious that we are not privy to, particularly when it pertains to fear, guilt, and our social and biological need to belong. We sometimes arbitrarily justify and glorify the ‘why‘ behind our actions.

Here are some examples:

  • “I should better do some more work than going to the networking event,” Fear-of-Social-Gathering declares righteously.
  • “I’ll buy Charlie the Nintendo Switch she’s been asking for,” Guilt justifies after you have been working too much and not spending enough time with your child.

How Do We Get to Know Ourselves Better?

This is probably not a surprise but one of the most effective ways of getting to know ourselves better, is to humbly seek feedback from those who are closest to us. It is optimal to seek feedback from 3-5 stakeholders that have been supportive, honest, and transparent. To help us gain insight into our values, we can ask them questions such as:

  • “What are some of the principles I operate as the central point of my life?”
  • “What do you think I invest the most time and money in?”
  • “What are the top 3 adjectives you would use to describe me?”

“It takes courage…to endure the sharp pains of self discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.”

It takes tremendous courage, vulnerability, and humility to hear other people’s perception of your values and principles. I hope their perception is not too far from your internal awareness, and even if it is, I hope that you will have the wisdom to disarm your ego and hear them out.

Thank you for reading! This is only the tip of the iceberg for Self-Awareness. Next up: Self-Awareness Archetypes. Then finally, with enough Self-Awareness, we can talk about Episodic Future Thinking. Stay tuned!

Briefly Gorgeous

Caution: You are about to enter a raw, unrefined, fragmented, still-being-processed post. It may induce great confusion and even frustration. Proceed at your own risk.
I am posting it this way because life is not neat and tidy, neither is how I feel right now.

Cheers, to vulnerability.

August 24, 2022

I retraced my footsteps back to exactly a year ago today, ordering the exact same drink, sitting on the exact same bench, and finished reading this book that I had started more than a year ago. Much has changed since then, though I am still fascinated by the idea of how one single act has the butterfly effect of changing the entire trajectory of one’s day, one’s year, and even one’s life.

I guess in the grand scheme of things, a year is short. But because life is what happens in the little moments, I am often caught in this paradoxical situation of focusing on the big picture while savouring the minute details.

A year ago today, I had recently broke up with my ex, to whom I was briefly engaged. I started dating casually and one of the people I was seeing suggested that we read On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous together. So I did. I brought the book with me to other dates. Is it ironic that one of the dates that the book went on with me outlasted the person I was reading the book with?

While I am not a subscriber to “Everything Happens for a Reason”, I do think that we are exactly where we are supposed to be. Some action-reaction, cause-and-effect, and the general proclivity of the atoms and molecules render us here. Though, this would also mean that free-will, may or may not be, just an illusion? Like I said, this post is written raw and unrefined. I will continue to ruminate on it.

Thank you for reading my irresponsible, scattered thoughts. I’ll be back with more eloquence next time!

We all fall prey to nonsense at times,
and sometimes, we are fool enough to even love it.

Dead Time or Alive Time?

Robert Greene, world-renowned strategist, author of “The 48 Laws of Power”, divided time into two distinct categories: Dead Time and Alive Time.

Dead Time is when people passively wait for the events in their life to either happen or to pass; whereas Alive Time is when people are actively learning and practicing their knowledge at every possible moment.

We are constantly presented with the choice of Dead Time or Alive Time, regardless of whether we are in the situation voluntarily or not. In Ryan Holiday’s book “Ego is the Enemy”, he referenced Greene’s binary decision of time with the examples of Malcolm X and Viktor Frankl. During their imprisonment, both Malcolm and Frankl chose refused to yield their time as Dead Time and chose to use that time to learn, to refine their knowledge and understanding.

What does this mean for us? It means:

You ALWAYS Have a Choice.

Instead of viewing yourself as a victim who is rendered powerless by your circumstances and designate whichever situation you are in as Dead Time, you can make a conscious decision to pivot to Alive Time—wherein you are in control. You are in control of what you want to learn and evolve from your circumstance.

Committing to choose Alive Time isn’t always going to be easy but you are worth the hard work!

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it.

Mark Twain
Our perception informs our reality. Make it an awe-inspiring one!

Ego-tripping

In one of psychologist David Elkind famous researches, adolescence experience this phenomenon known as the “imaginary audience“, whereby they think that every move of theirs is being watched with rapt attention (Holiday). Unfortunately, some adolescence never grow out of this fantasy when they enter into adulthood. Perpetuated by social media and this false pretence of individual importance, some people develop this vainglorious pomposity—posting incessant selfies upon selfies, details of their meals and outfit, and some even the type of creamer they use in their coffee.

Did Icarus not demonstrate what happens to the hubris of human?

More importantly, when did we allow ourselves to become consumers of such content?
Why did we allow ourselves to become perpetuators, cheerleaders, to such vanity and self-absorbance?

Vivre sans temps mort. (Live without wasted time.)

Wildly humbling and eye-opening. I love how nimble and sharp Holiday’s words and thoughts are.

Drama-free Life

Are there some people in your life that are regularly stumbling upon one drama after another, be it family drama, work drama or relationship drama?

I was one of those.

While I insisted and manifested for a drama-free life, I was constantly finding myself in complicated, dramatic situations that enervated me of my mental, emotional, and physical resources. I remember thinking: “How do these dramas keep finding me when I am desperately trying to run the other way?”

Now it was clear to me that, I, subconsciously, was orchestrating my life in a way that attracted drama. Simply put: I was a self-made drama-magnet (despite my ignorant protest and denial).

In retrospect, how could I have not known that ‘throw-caution-to-the-wind’ type of romantic relationship was synonymous with ‘drama’?

Before I proceed to share my two cents, I’d like to preface it by saying that: while I have managed to reduce most dramas in my life, I am not completely drama-free. I, too, am still learning and mastering this art with you. Perfection doesn’t exist, but it can still be an asymptote towards which we tirelessly and ceaselessly strive.

Process of Reducing (and Potentially Eliminating) Drama in Your Life

1. Identify the Telltale Signs of a Drama-thirsty Person

Start with YOURSELF. Be harrowingly honest about how much you exhibit the following behaviour:

  • Lying
  • Over-promising and underdelivering
  • Speaking in codes and not being forthcoming
  • Manipulative
  • Guilt-tripping
  • Gaslighting
  • Being hot and cold
  • Controlling
  • Craving gossip
  • Playing victim – blaming others instead of assuming responsibility

2. Identify the Telltale Signs in Those with Whom You Choose to Surround Yourself

Are you inadvertently inviting drama into your life through the people close to you? How frequently do they exhibit the aforementioned behaviour?

3. Cost-benefit Analysis

This may sound absurdly insensitive and cold but your energy, time, and emotional bandwidth are unfortunately finite. This means that if you are not careful in your resource allocation, you may not have enough to accomplish what really matters to you in life. So, conduct a cost-benefit analysis on this person who’s costing you a tremendous amount of resources with their drama. Evaluate it against how much your relationship with this person is helping you grow and achieve your goals. If the cost of this relationship outweighs the benefits, then perhaps you’d want to consider drawing some distance from them.

“Life is not so black and white,” you might say. And I get it. I have relatives, with whom I cannot just cut ties, that thrive on creating drama. They live and breathe drama. Drama invigorates them and ignites a fire and a sense of purpose in their soul. There’s nothing wrong with that. It is entirely to each their own. Except, when I am intentionally focusing and funnelling my finite resources towards my goals, involving myself in their drama will cause only derailments. If I may also be completely and unabashedly frank, to what extent does my involvement really help with their situation anyways? Often, people who indulge in drama just need a willing audience. So, if not me, then it could easily have been someone else.

In closing, I’d to draw on the wisdom of one of the greatest and most revered Roman emperor and philosopher—Marcus Aurelius. He said:

The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.

What colour do you want to dye your soul?
Others’ inconsequential drama? Or, your own boundless potential unfolding?

Thank you for reading! To be honest, this topic has been a rather difficult and embarrassing one to write for me, but I hope that my journey can help shine some light for those of you who are trying to untangle and wrench yourself out of unnecessarily messy and exhausting dramatic situations.

Surrender Your Stagnant Belief

June 25, 2022

This morning at 5am, I woke up with an epiphany so abrupt and so intensely powerful that awoken and opened my eyes to this world through a new lens. A perspective so different, so liberating, that it felt like a rebirth. I know. It sounds absolutely exaggerated, except it is not.

We said goodbye to Grandma on Wednesday, June 22, 2022.

I have also been at a junction in my life, where I am faced with more than the goodbye to my grandma but also a few other, albeit some less permanent.

Life unfolds in proportion to your courage.

Sometime in my adolescent life, I’ve decided that I was absolutely no good at Goodbye’s. I never quite understood why that was the narrative I vehemently committed myself to. Perhaps it was because it gave me complete and total permission to dwell in my sorrow. Perhaps it was because it absolved me of the responsibility of processing my loss.

Whatever my flawed reasons were, I’ve finally come to let them go—this morning at 5am.

Until you change your narrative, you will always be confined to it.

It’s strange. I did know the power I had to change my perception and narrative, yet I wasn’t ready to fully embrace it. I’d like to think that not all awakening are “rude”; rather, some take longer to grow roots before they blossom.

So if there is anything that you’d want to take away from this post are these seeds — to hopefully one day colour and perfume your world through a new, empowering perception:

Surrender.

Get out of your own way. Create a new possibility for yourself.

Trust.

Trust that you already have what you need to reach the unfolding beauty that is this life.

Some freedoms are just a thought away

To Love or Be Loved

Sometimes, in utter frustration and heartbreak, my ego shouts: WHY WOULDN’T HE JUST CHOOSE ME, CHOOSE US? WHICH FOOL DOESN’T WANT TO BE EMPHATICALLY LOVED AND UNCONDITIONALLY CHERISHED???

But that’s just my ego talking. I understand that the heart wants what it wants. It’s not always corroborated by logic. Besides, who says they’d want to be emphatically loved anyways? That is only my naive, simplistic assumption.

Most hypocritical of all: I, too, am guilty of letting the people who had emphatically loved me and cherished me go.

I am one of those said fools.

That is all. Just trying to hold the grief of my grandma, and ‘I Am Enough,’ in the same thought.

What would YOU choose? To love or be loved?

The sky became a screen, shot through with pinpricked stars. Beneath it, I felt small and lost.

—A House in the Sky

Rubicon, Point of No Return

Rubicon, also known as Point of No Return (PNR) was a reference dating way back to Julius Caesar, at River Rubicon, where he had reached a point from which he could only move forward and continue on with his current course.

Rubicon is a notion that is ubiquitous in our daily lives: from aviation, to investment strategies, to the biological markup of who we are (called R points, beyond which “cells are committed to DNA synthesis and they no longer require the extracellular growth factors during the remainder of the cell cycle”). Perhaps the only place where Rubicon does not concretely exist, is in our brain, due to the brain’s neuroplastic nature. However, in order to safeguard our sanity, it is not uncommon for people to set up arbitrary mental Rubicons. For instance, to avoid losing all of myself in a romantic relationship, I would implement Rubicons as a signal to my obstinate self to GIVE UP when things are too far gone, and my heart too far broken. Once I’ve arrived at my designated Rubicon, where I fully accepted and embraced a future without my partner in it, then the relationship would start its imminent countdown to the expiration date.

Oh and, let’s not forget, there is also:
Death—the ultimate Rubicon, the most irrevocable commitment to action.

alea iacta est (“the die is cast”)

Caesar

Safe Haven

Healing is not linear.

Perhaps what is not commonly talked about during grieving is: the intense, razor-sharp reminders of the trauma associated with the person you are grieving. Because, relationships are not black and white. You could deeply love someone that has deeply hurt you.

Healing is not linear.

Some days are harder than others. They require much more self-regulating strategies beyond a meditation or even a walk. On days as such, like today, I go to my imaginary safe haven until I have convalesced enough to soldier on again.

On a meadow of luscious green grass, overlooking the ocean and the city, I hide.
Eyes closed, warmed by the gentle morning sun, my heart slows to the cadence of waves ebbing and flowing.
I take some deep breathes, inviting the crisp, dewy smell of early summer to fill my lungs, to displace the anxiety that parks stiffly there.

Her sadness was ceaseless, but she kept it quarantined in a governable little quarter of her heart. It was the best she could do.

The Signature of All Things
Memories are also a good place to hide