A Shift in Perspective

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When my family returned from a six-week trip to Europe last summer, I decided that we would not be doing the same trip in 2020.  Most people just brushed me of letting me know that I said that the previous year too.  I know I am human and that some things are not in my control, but I knew, deep in my guts, that this year was going to be different.

As a mom of two young boys, I am finally moving through the last stages of parenting where I am the only kid on the block that they want to play with, where their every need is my command (in their mind) and where I know clearly that leaving them for long lengths of time is not the way I wanted to set them up for life.  It’s a sacrifice that I don’t necessarily like and, yet, gladly take.

My last decade of life included many changes, I moved countries, got married, had 2 children, created my own business, become a citizen of the USA.  Even though I had my formal education long before the last 10 years, I have never stopped learning and training.  It often felt, however, that what I was doing was not enough.

As most new moms, or moms of small kids are aware, I was sneaking into social media space through the window of my phone: to see what is going on, to get news, to connect.  I know of all the pitfalls of it too, but there was something comforting  about texting your Facebook group about your baby’s sleep pattern or how to make your kid breastfeed from both breasts equally, and some other things that most people would probably consider gross, but us mamas, know and understand.

On another hand, I’d see these picture-perfect profiles on Instagram that made me feel self-conscious, inadequate and old.  There are accounts of people sharing the most ridiculous things and yet they have hundreds of thousands of  followers.  We all made fun of reality shows 10 years ago and yet, Kim Kardashian now has about 150 million followers online.  I would click on it, in disbelief, and find so many people blindly loving her or cursing her and I could never personally relate to her. Over time, this got to me.

What fashion magazines did with photoshop and creating fake standards of beauty, influencers were doing online with filters, make up, lighting and other tricks.  Some people followed out of curiosity, but many followed because they connected to it.  I made myself wrong for judging them, so I turned inward to find answers.  After a lot of back and forth and self-reflection, and without wishing them any harm, I concluded that the world in which they are a measure as success is not the world I want to participate in.  So, I isolated.

With help of a few mentors, each a gifted woman in her own right, I have slowly found my own voice, my essence and my own purpose.  It didn’t come easily or cheaply, but I rolled up my sleeves and did the work.  Conclusion: I bought into the illusion created by Hollywood and Social Media and I measured myself harshly against it, unwilling to do my own work – because I couldn’t see the point, and in a process, nurturing entitlement and judgement that things that come easily to me are not good enough and that lack of acknowledgement meant I wasn’t worthy.

No personal experience is ever “out there” but within.  So while there are reasons my insecurities were flaring up in my life, most of them were unattended wounds from the past.  As I revisited the events when I was hurt, I was able to release the old pain and create  something new.  I realized, the values in the world as I see it,  are not my values and regardless of how unrecognized I may remain, my purpose in life was in and of itself a motivation.

This naturally had me limit my social engagements, time online, and I found gratitude in what I already had: great partnership with my husband, two beautiful loving children that inspire me and are a great incentive for hard work, lots of art I never appreciated to revisit, organize, reframe, play on piano, edit and share, and wisdom to know how to create a great life, not the one that gets following and likes, but the one that fills one with content.

The longer I stuck in my own game and made choices that were “on purpose” for me, the more grounded I felt. Slowly and cautiously, I would share with people I spoke to about real values and inspire them to take on a similar journey.  It totally made sense, all my clients were creators and the tools I have mastered were extremely relevant for them too.  Week after week, I would get on a phone and talk about the world where we respect real values, where we spend more quality time with one another, honor nature, put people before money, share support and generosity rather than greed and misinformation.  And, before I knew it, this awful pandemic hit us all and, as if by magic, so many of us were called to reset.

Suddenly:

  • We value our teachers because homeschooling for a few days got us present to the value and benefit of being in partnership with educators and people who care and want to pass their knowledge to your child.
  • We value our farmers and fresh produce that is harder to come by, when previously we took for granted as we could have it delivered with a click of a button.
  • We value medical staff and truly depend on them for survival fully aware of how much they need to be able to take care of themselves and their health in order to help us.
  • We also noticed so many things that can totally be obsolete: politicians arguing about who is more right, things being done in person when they can be done remotely, overproduction of things that create more clutter and animals in our daily diets that both cause the environmental changes we won’t be able to reverse.

Instead, we get to hold each other’s hands through this, share resources, ideas, use technology for good, reconnect in a new way holding real values close to our hearts.  In a face of a big event like this, people show solidarity, but then, as things get better, we may forget.  It is absolutely essential that we create a paradigm shift and not just wait until this is over, but use our energy, resources and real values to redefine the world we want to live in, the world that will be our legacy.

If You Are Tempted To Give Unsolicited Advice, Please Read This First

When you are someone who deeply cares about people and the world, you are bound to have opinions about how things can be better, what would make a bigger impact or how to achieve the best outcome.  If you are smart, involved and invested, you likely have opinions. Most people who never give advice are not necessarily kinder people, but often resigned that there is anything they can say that really matters or they simply don’t care.  If you want to tell people things, you are most likely passionate.  I truly respect that and it’s actually why I shifted the way I now hear other people’s advice even when I know I didn’t ask for it.

Regardless of our passion and best intentions though, it makes no sense to spend any of our time and energy if it was going to land in a black hole, or even worse, if we  are going to be misunderstood and possibly attacked for it.  It is, therefore, so important to step back and think twice before we say something.  There is a saying in my culture that roughly translates as: “measure many times, but cut only once.”  I would say, think it over many times before you actually speak, or communicate, what you want to say.

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I believe that, regardless of our good intentions, it is our job to assure that what we are wanting to say is not only said as clearly as we could possibly say it, but is not falling on deaf ears and is actually making a difference for the person we are speaking to. The most important first step is: Understand why you want to say what you are saying, look for the agenda you may have, resolve for yourself that your communication is not merely a reaction to something that happened to you, or a response to something that isn’t happening now.  If you really look at this, often times you may realize that you are reacting to something and it will make it less important for you to speak to the person you originally wanted to give an advice to. You may realize, this is your own inner insecurity and something that isn’t so much about what you are to tell others but what you need to resolve with yourself.

I attended many transformational programs in my attempt to better understand myself and others.  In one of my first seminars, during the conversations about selling the next program, I raised my hand to acknowledge the current seminar team (volunteers). The leader asked me if I was open to having a breakthrough. When I accepted, she asked: “what had you raise your hand exactly during the sales conversation and not a moment sooner?”  Initially, I really thought that this was on my mind an entire evening, but she insisted that there was no accident I interrupted the sales conversation and not a moment earlier.  My eyes teared up as I realized, I was ashamed that I couldn’t afford to take the next program and was considering volunteering as it would provide me with the training and I wouldn’t have to pay.  Suddenly, an entire group of 80+ participant was moved by my transparency.  Those who could afford to go on were moved by my courage and those that couldn’t now new the way to continue their journey of transformation even though they didn’t have the money to pay for it.

In short, I made a difference. In my case, what I had to say was uncovered with a support of a very trained seminar leader.  We don’t always have that luxury, but it is always wise to think through what we want to say and why we are actually saying it.

Even when we are clear that we really have something to say, it is never OK to just “dump” our view on someone else without first asking their permission.  Dumping is simply inappropriate, but asking permission to say something allows the other person to set themselves up and be ready to hear what we have to say.  This doesn’t guarantee they will like it, most people just want to avoid looking bad at all cost so they won’t take feedback well at all.  However, being granted permission usually prevents people from getting  very defensive, and we have a fair shot at being heard.

After having the kids, I noticed my husband would get defensive when I made suggestions to him.  Luckily, we talked about it openly and he told me that he didn’t get defensive because he disagreed with me, but because of how and when I brought it up.    In moments when my husband was pressed with time and already feeling like he was failing, when I made suggestion, it sounded to him more like a complaint than constructive criticism and he wouldn’t take it well.  In addition, he often saw it as lack of gratitude and appreciation for all the things that he actually was doing and doing well.  This now has me work harder on finding a way to still speak my truth instead of forcing it down when it is convenient for me.  I also do my best to include my gratitude before I was talking say anything and this has really improved our relationship.

Lastly, we want to ask, is what we are saying really making a difference to that person?  I often feel like downloading my advice in comment section on social media and especially when people already openly ask for advice.  But here is a question I ask:  what is a difference we are trying to make and frankly, why are we giving it away for free? Most people are not going around wanting to give free advice to people who are in desperate need for it.  We are far more likely to want to say something to people we feel are doing well otherwise, it’s just this one thing that we feel we can add.  It often comes from us wanting to sound smart and be seen as someone qualified rather than an actual commitment to making a difference.  This is why, lately, every time I have an urge to give unsolicited advice, I write my own post about it and post on my Facebook, Instagram, or in this blog.  At least this way, I am honest with the difference I want to make:  I want to be seen and heard for the wisdom I share with people.  It takes discipline, but it’s far more satisfying at the end.

When it comes to unsolicited advice, there are rare occasions when the urge to communicate is stronger than everything I mentioned above.  I believe in exceptions though.  There are times and situations where we know the other person can’t even see that something that we have so much knowledge about and because that is a blind spot for them.  If the damage of the other person not seeing something is high, we may take a risk and say something anyway.  But if we are to do that, we have to address the elephant in a room, and call it what it is.  It may sound as simple as: “I know this is the advice you never asked for, but my knowing X makes me want to say Y so strongly and I hope you can consider it as I am really wanting to make a difference as wish someone have done it with me.”

At the end of the day, the truth is,  nobody really has to listen to our musings.  As wise and important as we may think we are, I believe people have freedom to live their life the best way they know how and have no obligation to hear us out.  If we remember that, I think we can nail the best thing to do most of the time.

 

 

UNSOLICITED ADVICE: Is It Really Bad or Are We Too Good for It?

What is the problem with unsolicited advice anyway?

Would you rather live in a vacuum of constant praise so that your ego never takes a hit, or would you rather be a person who is so in integrity with who she/he is that nothing someone else says or do can define you but rather only be an opportunity for growth and your own personal expansion?  Is unsolicited advice perhaps the Universe delivering free coaching from the mouth of a human disguised as your enemy? Don’t people we dislike with passion help us grow the most?

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I am a New York mom of 2 very active and smart boys (ages 5.5 and almost 3) and have been running my own life coaching business for the past 6 years.  I breastfed my kiddos for the total of 3 years (the first one for 2 years and the younger one for a year) and I didn’t send them into kindergarten until they were solid toddlers, able to walk and communicate the essence of how they were feeling.  I used to think I was raising my kids alone with my husband because hiring a nanny cost me just as much as it would cost me to go out and work more, but the truth is, I think early childhood years set the stage for the life that follows so I wanted to make sure I gave it my everything.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those moms who think they get it all right. I remember coming home from a hospital with my son in my arms and praying to God he latches on when it’s time to feed him.  We were living in my mom’s apartment temporarily while we were looking for our new home and my mom wasn’t there.  My aunt, who helped my mom raise me never breastfed so I really had nobody I felt I could look up to or ask for a solid advice.  Given I was coming from a different culture, inside of which I didn’t live more than 20 years, I was a little lost trying to figure it all out and make it all work.  As an overachiever, I always liked to muscle things and move through them fast. Having a child, birth by a C-section, I had no choice but to slow down.

I admit, I hated “unsolicited advice” – defined as recommendations about parenting by people who I didn’t ask for their view.  I expected people to respond to my needs and nothing more or less.  In fact, part of why I felt so lonely was because early on, I started sorting out people who I can talk to and people I didn’t want to be around depending on the amount of advice they gave me.  I googled everything and did research, from circumcision, vaccinations, breastfeeding, colic, hic ups, sleep training etc.  I often thought: how in the world people raised children before internet existed.  All in all, I had a fair share of opinions coming my way and I didn’t like any of them.

My dislike of opinions didn’t faze me until I got to be comfortable in my own skin, got some mileage as a mother and birthed my second son, this time with VBAC (vaginal birth after a C-section).  Advice giving didn’t stop, I just got more immune to it.  From time to time, if it was coming from my mother, I’d honestly hate it, but 9 out of 10 times it was not because of what she said was unsolicited or wrong but because she was spot on and I had to step it up to admit it.  My being bothered by advice became directly proportional with my ability to reframe the “unsolicited advice” as a thing on a menu that I may or may not choose to order and eat.  Thinking about it this way gave me enormous freedom and also made people in my life who were trying to help, my allies and not enemies.

As a life coach for more than dozens of years now, I am invested in understanding how human beings work. From my graduate studies in which I binged on psychology classes given my focus on film and writing stories, to my years behind the bar in New York City making friends with people who came to confess perhaps more than to grab a drink, to years of studying spirituality, meditation and mastering my own mind and leadership programs in which we looked what inspired people’s growth, I have grown to understand that we can’t STOP REACTING to things.  Maybe some enlightened gurus that meditate 10 hours a day Vipassana style or alike can learn to let things go the instant they appear, but most of us, mortals are not able to prevent the reaction.  I realized, then, the second best choice is to own our reaction and move passed it.

I don’t try to pretend I ever like anyone telling me how I should do something different or correcting me in any way, but even when it happens, I choose to minimize the gap between me hating it and being able to reframe it into: “they mean well, take what works and drop the rest.”  In my most enlightened moments, which I do have when I am really in a zone, I even see what other people say as my own subconscious on a loud speaker, so I don’t try to destroy what I hear, instead, I embrace the message it carries.

I know, and have felt it on my own skin, that social media platforms are becoming battlefields of opinions on everything from parenting to politics and even fashion tastes.  I sometimes comment to people’s posts to share an opposing view because I do take a stand that I have something powerful and useful to say.  Of course, most people won’t know I am actually qualified for that, but I honestly can say, I do think twice before I post a comment to something.  I noticed very quickly, that while I had some people agree with me and appreciate my courage of sharing a different view, that most others were quite hostile to what I had to say.

I’d reflect back, sometimes, I’d try to take it down a notch, see their point of view and release the charge that they are spewing at me, but most of the time, I would resort into deleting my comment in its entirety and feeling a bit beaten up about it.  I’d share it with my husband, he’d shrug off his shoulder while asking: “does this really matter,” and I would just go back into my little mental hole, trying to digest: “why can’t I just have a different view” and “am I really this mean that people are ready to attack me” (in some cases, go to my personal page and find things to discredit me with).

When I was finally settled to grow my own business and my own listeners out there as my kids were a bit older, I was doing most of it on my own, organically, feeling that there was a value in going slow and steady and learning this new social media marketing craft. I made no short cuts, I used my own pictures, wisdom, messages or posted inspirational quotes. I didn’t have a large amount of followers, but the number of people acknowledging my work was increasing.

Recently, however, I was engaging with a person on Instagram who intrigued me with her views on royal fashion.  It is something I am fascinated by, what famous people wear, from royals to red carpet and everything in between.  It was extra comforting to see that the woman who owns this account was a mom of 2 boys and a writer, journalist in fact.  I often had an opposing view, but for as long as that was about style alone, I was able to shortly let it go. I even deleted my DMs to her expressing appreciation for her doing the work and moving on with my life. Until recently.

One morning as I was checking if she updated the story of the most recent royal event, I noticed that she published an article in the New York Times about Andy Cohen being dad shamed.  She received so much praise for this and her account was filled with comments of congratulations.  One mom expressed a relief for the writer calling people on the unsolicited advice because she felt that because he is a public figure, the stakes were that much higher for him.  I got triggered.  In fact, I couldn’t help not commenting that public figure or not, parents should parent as if someone is always watching.  I mean this in all sincerity and not because I think or expect perfection of any mom or dad out there, but because I truly believe we ought to be accountable.  She responded, kindly, that she wouldn’t want people judging her for keeping her kids in PJs all weekend, forgetting their gloves the other day, or having her dishes in sink for 2 days.  I got her point of view and realized, none of those things were worthy of judgement anyway, what I had to say was beyond that.

After so much reflection back and forth and trying to craft the perfect comment, that won’t sound like shame to people who think that everything that is in disagreement is shaming, and trying to avoid being shamed for it myself, I realized, if I had something to say, perhaps I shouldn’t throw myself under the bus (or this person’s account comment section) but should tell my view and my story in a way that as many people as are willing to listen will hear it.

I believe, as was assured of this in one of the Marianne Williamson’s A Course in Miracles lectures, as in many literature pieces and conversations with other parents who understand, as Khalil Gibran put it:  “Our children are not our children, they are the children of God.”  What I mean is this:  today most of us parent alone, we are closed in our homes or in the distance between work and home and think being a parenting is somehow a lonely act, so we hold on tight and parent from fear of shit breaking loose and things getting out of control.  The older the children the worse it gets, we try to control them not parent them and we try our best to keep “unsolicited advice” at bay.

This is not how parenting happened centuries ago.  People lived in larger families and tribes and each person was accountable for something and children were not just one couple or person’s obsession and job.  They were everyone’s work, and in my opinion, this had the pressure of parenting be a lot less than it is today.  Today, parents have to juggle work and home and raising children and support is available but hefty at price so we try to do our best alone. People walk by a screaming child trying to tune out versus being interested or helpful.   We roll our eyes when another kid is screaming because it is inconvenient while we are jamming our wireless headphones into our ears.  We are connected via social media, but we are profoundly alone.

As a mom, I get the initial annoyance of being given the advice you don’t ask for, but still think that we can’t be so sensitive to another person’s input.  We don’t have to do as advised but it is helpful and appreciated to consider someone else’s view, especially if that someone is a teacher or another parent. Most of the time when I am compelled to say something to someone, it is because I have been there, not because I am judging.  It saddens me that we are trying to create a world in which different opinions or advice isn’t welcomed and has to be shushed instead of considered and refiled as useless if that is what it truly is.

I am writing this with so much humility because my family has recently been through a thorough Child Protective Service investigation and at no fault of our own.  My husband has reached out to a hot line service to see if he can get advice on dealing with his frustrations of parenting but he wrote in the chat something that was taken of the context and resulted in CPS at our door less than an hour later.  While we did talk about it in length, I was still unaware that we was chatting, let alone that he gave a stranger our address, so what transpired was shocking to say the least.

The social workers had 60 days to investigate us and everyone involved in our children’s lives, schools, daycare, my mom, a nanny that only occasionally spends time with them and all of our neighbors. This was a devastating event for me and I admit, I was initially so mad at my husband for putting us through this.  I thought:   “oh, how stupid and Canadian of him thinking he can open up with a complete stranger to talk about his thoughts and alike” (which are extremely transparent given all the transformational work on himself he has done and that people who haven’t done were not really used to).

Over time and those scary 60 days, I have learned that children don’t have a voice except the one we give them.  In other words, I empowered this investigation because deep inside, as inconvenient and expensive as this was for us, I wanted to move out of the way for the sake of my children.  I never, for a second, doubted that I was a good mom and my husband was a good dad, that we were perfect for them and enough, but I got out of the way so that the state of New York can see it too and send me a paper confirming it.

Given our kids were 5 and 2 at the time, we naturally didn’t share this event with them nor did we fill their heads with fear.  It took everything to hold this pain I was feeling and still be an excellent mom but I learned that everything happened for a reason and as shitty as this event was for us, on the receiving end (and especially knowing that there are kids whose rights really need to be protected in this way), I learned to be humble.  I learned that I don’t own my children and that my job is to have them in my care and if there is a view on the outside on how to do that better, I would be all ears to hear it.

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I am not saying: open yourself up to other people’s criticism and to let it pierce through the essence of who you are.  Don’t do that!  But know this, you are not defined by other people’s opinions, so instead of getting on a train of shaming one another to no end in sight, take what you get and consider it a powerful lesson for how you can expand in your life.  This will make you a better parent and a better human being overall.

As for Andy Cohen or any other celebrity parent out there, if you choose to parade with your kid on social media and want us all to see, allow for criticism and be humbled by it.  Andy has never done this before.  None of us did until we actually did it, so instead of defending the assumption that he is doing nothing wrong, let’s not defend that he isn’t , because we really don’t know what is happening behind the closed doors.  We are all being put through the test as parents, and he can learn a lot from other seasoned moms out there.  Consider it is an expression of love and not the “unsolicited advice” or perhaps, the devil’s advocate helping the voiceless child.

Social Media Dis-Ease

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Progress is defined as movement onward toward a destination.  Before we label something as “progressive,” it’s important to determine if a particular move is really an advancement and a betterment of what is here now.

I recently viewed a documentary about medical devices and one of the premises of the movie was that “new” and “technologically advanced” was not only not better, but much more dangerous as it eliminates our human ability to spot and address problems and changes as they occur.  Namely, while it seems that the extended robot-doctor can be much more precise in performing surgery, it is the intuitiveness and observation of an experienced doctor that is far more valuable in the operation room.

My issue with this growth in technology as initially been a simple fear of expansion.  Nobody wants to invest money and time in learning something or buying a device that can be made irrelevant so shortly after.  In my family, things have been bought to last for generations, so this was a new way of thinking I had to adapt to.  This is where I had to have a personal expansion and ability to constantly think outside of the box. I can  do that.  However, what I find most difficult is responding to the information that can come outside at the pace at which it can be coming.

Think for a second about the way text messages are sent.  A person can have a thought and instead of capturing it and then evaluating it’s intention and rightful place in a schedule, it is far easier to just “shoot” a text and let the other person deal with what they need to deal with so that we can get a response while we are doing something else.  It seems like there is no issue there, seemingly we are moving things forward way faster than we did in the prehistoric times.  I do believe, though, that this fast paced way of communicating sometimes fails to take into account our need, and right, to take time to think things through, mull over it, consider options and then return with an answer that actually serves us. I have heard it time and time again, especially from moms, that they get irritated when people send them text messages any time of the day and night with an expectation of an answer immediately or shortly after.  I happen to agree.  Just because it takes a split of a second for someone else’s though to show up on my phone and in my possession, it doesn’t mean I am in any way obligated to respond to it (I am not talking to relationships or commitments where this is predetermined or promised).  Just because communications can travel fast, doesn’t mean that they will “land” at that pace or be processed in the time the other party expects it.

Besides texts and this arrogant expectation people have that their emails, messages and voicemails should be answered in whatever they think it’s a timely manner, I think the information we are bombarded by at every corner is very hard to process.  I believe some of it needs to be brutally repelled:  I really don’t want to be knowing the latest soap opera drama from the self made TV stars, ambitious social media influencers (some of which have really not much to say, it’s just that the frequency of their posts is so high, it actually begins to cause traction), and even celebrities.  While some stories can surely inspire an ordinary person (all of us on the other side of these messages), most of the information out there is tailored to create fake images, needs and wants that literally targets our vulnerable minds.  And I do say vulnerable minds because I feel that anyone that is bombarded by information from every angle and all the time is eventually going to crack and just feel too vulnerable to give a dignified NO.

On one hand, marketers and advertisers, as well as celebrities, brand managers, influencers, are brilliant.  They have found a way to gather tribes of people, fans, followers to send their messages, sell their products and be known in this world the way they want to be known and seen.  I think there is art to it all and I am naturally curious about it as I am curious about human beings and our design.  But, technology allows for too much of this so I believe that we naturally start forming thick skin, or we tune out or we are only half way present.  Don’t tell me that when you are scrolling down your Facebook feed or Instagram, that you are actually really connecting to what people are trying to tell you.  If you are like me, you do this almost habitually and neither giving yourself fully to it, nor fully blocking it so that you can have a peaceful ride on subway, dinner, uber ride or whatever it is that you usually use as a perfect time for social media binge.  And it is this half-ass-ness that I think has us neither committed to finding out information we need nor fully honoring our personal boundaries….We are simply there absorbing and being impacted without much say in a matter (intentional thought in this regard).

With one such obsession lately, I was noticing, from finding out information I needed to looking at how other people were commenting, seeing their brutal replies, some of which were in agreement with my way of thinking, and some completely opposing, I have began to feel a little sick.  I began to feel mildly depressed and disconnected from my own life.  Luckily, my husband would catch me, interrupt me and sometimes even unintentionally shame me:  “Marija, are you taking care of the kids?” and I would snap out of it, sometimes perhaps after first getting angry at my husband for catching me in crime.

Just because we have this immediate access to the world around us (nowadays you can send emails and letters to the President or Queen herself), doesn’t mean it’s normal.  Perhaps at some point humans will evolve into being more adapt to technology and what it provides, but with all my spiritual, leadership and psychology training, I find it so hard to do so, and I truly don’t doubt my intellect in this regard.  Even if you don’t believe me or find my experience credible, go on to one of the political Facebook Pages or Instagram posts and read comments for about 10 minutes and tell me how you feel, how your body feels and if you have faith in yourself and humanity right after.  I would sincerely doubt it.

When it comes to commenting, I have experienced this myself, we want an immediate relief from our anger, disappointment and alike and there is nothing as easy as googling the person you deem responsible and laying an irresponsible comment on their post, page or link.  In fact, most of us would never in a million years look at that person in the face and say what we are willing to write in comments, some of us courageous to keep our own profile pictures while many are hiding behind the fake ones.  Speaking of this, there should not be a way to create multiple social media accounts or post fake names as this is a sure way to have people not have to be responsible or held accountable for their actions in the cyber space.

We forget our manners, simply put, but that is not nearly as bad as vomiting of our opinions the moment we have it.  On one hand, some people just have a view and then they lay it out without paying any mind to how it could affect people who could read it, on another, some of us are brewing our opinions for some time so when we finally lay it out, it sounds like a massive attack.  Hate is real, people, and while I think it’s awesome to express it in a safe container such that we can alchemize it and see what our experience and emotion is teaching us, I think being able and allowed to spread hate at the speed at which technology works is scary at best.

As a relatively new mom, my kids are 2.5 and 5, and already 40 years old, I have been thinking about death and dying as well as the legacy I want to leave behind.  I am an avid self help book reader, personal development course student and teacher and someone who thrives on constant learning.  All this has me think about what the point of life is, how to live the best version of it and be the best of myself I can be so that, if I can ever have conscious experience of dying, I can feel content and like my life was worth a while.  When I think of my life from the perspective of being on my death bed, I can see so clearly how much all these things that are irritating us day to day really don’t matter at all.  Do I really need to make sure to weigh in on someone’s style choice, personality, political views and alike…  I think not.  I believe that deep inside, we all try to do our best and if you look at people who seem aggressive, unkind, bullies, you can track down that they didn’t have love that I believe each human being deserves.  Somehow, I do believe that we are all exactly where we need to be and that nobody’s value is overlooked.

With all this said, I think social media can be a real addiction.  We haven’t had it in our hands long enough to see the damages it can pose on human experience so I think it’s important to be careful and pay extra mind to the experience of it and predictable impacts.  For me, again, given I was feeling mildly depressed over vastness of how information, especially fake one, can travel and that many people so easily buy into it, I had to take a step back.  I don’t fully disconnect because I do not want live my life alone, but I time myself.  I teach myself how to use these things as tools the same way I was teaching myself how to nourish my body with yoga and healthy food instead of dieting and eating disorder in order to look the way it was never possible for me to look.

My true recommendation for all of you who read this here is to take a step back and invest your energy and creativity into what really matters to you and then use tools available to share that, mindful that it can back fire, that not everyone will see you the way a person in front of you can.  I think we have to “fight” this tech expansion by giving ourselves an enormous space to expand within, to address pains that we carry and share healing that is available.

With so much love and appreciation that I can share my deep thoughts with a click of a button,

Your friend, Marija

 

Glamorized

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Here is what I shared on Instagram account last year right after I completed watching the 2nd season of The Crown:

The most disturbing thing about season 2 of the Crown was watching the queen and the way she, even as her Royal Highness, acts merely as a puppet in a man’s world.

“Female power involves women taking part in the conversation either in the public arena or the dinner table, and having the same emotional space in which to do so as men.  It means women not having to fear punishment of any kind.” ~ Marianne Williamson

I am not a historian so this post is not about monarchy, or a direct judgement of the queen, but rather a reflection of us women, and people in general, losing our own power. The “attachment” to an outcome is surely always going to cause us to compromise and tolerate things we would never tolerate otherwise.
While in the Crown this attachment to preserving the old ways and honoring the ancestors was completely exposed, I think that each of us constantly does this in our own lives. In wanting to belong, we often sacrifice what is possible.
I never wanted to change my last name (that was my father’s) even though it made so much more sense to go with my mother’s.  I was in agony for so many years growing up, so much so that I only finally broke through it when I got married.  Even then, I decided to wait for my citizenship to actually formally change it.  Feeling like I am “disobeying” was way stronger than my personal desire to break free.

I wonder if anyone sees the places where being faithful to the old ways is robbing them of opportunity to owning who they really are and can be.”

I remember taking so much interest in monarchy when I watched this show and following up with many documentaries about the queen herself, Lady Diana Spencer, Kate and William and so on.  The more I watched, the more I felt that being a royal was almost like a curse, one is born into this privilege but then is completely robbed of a normal experience of growing up – paparazzi follow your every step of the way and while I would personally love to have more audience, I can’t imagine that someone would fill tabloids with my every move.  Nor would I find it important – and it’s not just because I am not a celebrity but because certain things don’t need to be glorified.

There is something that has us get fascinated by the stories we see on TV and buy as real.  I am still blown away by the popularity of Kim Kardashian for example. While I actually admire her ruthlessness and probably great marketing skills, I can’t help but feel that her content literally has no value.

This is a bit how I felt after watching the royal wedding.  I got curious and wanted to see – I fell for the fairy tale and even thought of myself as jealous and less than.  In allowing all those feelings to come up, even writing about them, I realized: something here doesn’t add up.  Naturally, I won’t spend time trying to prove the point, as far as I am concerned, I really don’t care what happens, but what I do care about is that this fairy tale princess story feels a bit like a drug of choice. Mesmerized by what they see, the surface of it all, people all over America have been glued to their screens and social medias commenting and sharing their love for the royal couple, their view of the whole thing and alike.  In a process, I think many don’t realize, this smoke screen of happily ever after is just as dangerous as photoshopped models that have us create unrealistic expectations of ourselves and our bodies.

I am happily married:  I define it as being committed and in love with my husband and able to solve any problem with him in a conversation.  We haven’t gone to bed mad at each other for the entire time we’ve been married (and while we dated).  We don’t agree on everything, we even have loud disagreements but we keep it real and we work on it and when it comes to it, we have space to work through whatever our limitations are so that when we come together, we can still be a team.

Duke and the Duchess of Sussex are surely in love, that shows and they are blessed to have found each other in this.  But let’s not compare ourselves to them.  Let’s not pretend that Meghan “lucked out” when she married Harry, because she is yet to prove that she can stomach all the restrictions that come with her role: the one she married into.

My concern with the messages I see all over social media is that we are creating a fake standard for what ordinary people, women, relationships should look and feel like.  There is nothing wrong to aspiring to marry well or into a royal family if that is what you truly desire, but let’s not pretend that anyone, regardless of their fame, has a better life just because they have status and money.  Granted, this is not true for people who are in a “survival” mode, but it is for everyone else who makes a decent living – because happiness, that’s not something money and fame can buy.

I think we often miss the blessings in our lives because we watch TV more than we mingle with real people.  It’s a form of escapism that I think doesn’t do us good on a long run because we have unrealistic expectations that cause us to feel bad about things that are actually good.  There is a fashion designer/youtuber who did an experiment with real people and had them pose like models in magazines.  Not one of those woman could actually physically make the pose they saw in the magazine.  Other words, we are attuning out eyes to visions that are not possible for us and then we use that to turn on ourselves.

How about we try being wise enough to detach from the buzz, appreciate what we have, and create what we really want.  Be better than you were yesterday and understand that happiness comes from you and the choices you make and the life you create and not from anything you see on social media or TV.

 

Being Seen

One of my former clients, a comedian, once told me about the dilemma he was forming into a show.  He said “if you tell a joke in a forest, is it funny.”  I thought, of course not, if you tell it and nobody can hear it, find it humorous, of course it isn’t funny.

I was reflecting back on my past year or so of life when I began to realize more and more how much I like attention.  I was shamed for it at the very young age when I convinced myself that becoming a doctor or doing something worthy is better than being famous.  I didn’t suffer from wanting fame, my mother was fairly known while I was growing up and she raised me alone so I had a chance to meet many artists, musicians, actors and politicians then.  In fact, being VIP was the way things were, I didn’t have to worry about my fake ambivalence to fame.

When I moved to NY after my high school, I slowly began to understand what being a nobody was like.  In some ways, it protected me; I didn’t have to live up to the standards imposed by the people I knew.  I had total freedom to be myself and also, to define what that was going to be.  Luckily, not being able to travel frequently to my home country allowed me to create myself over and over again.  On another hand, it began to feel slightly weird to always have to think about getting tickets for something in advance, to not be  just “let in,” to have to know I can pay for everything I spend, to find my own way and spend my money where my mouth is.

I slowly began to desire to be seen for who I thought I was – worthy of attention and VIP treatment.  However, my pattern of pretending that I didn’t really want that was still going strong.  In fact, even during the transformational leadership course, when I got to be the first one to breakthrough and qualify as a leader, I spent time helping other people get qualified instead of mastering my game of leading.  My game was leading, no question about that, but it took me suffering for months to recognize and fully own it.

It seemed to me that wanting to be seen was just not a cool thing to admit.  I even read a Huffington post article a few weeks ago written by a psychologist who was defining narcissism.  I was shocked to see that I was nowhere near being one regardless of my Facebook and Instagram activity that I sometimes worry about would make me seem lame.  But the actual change happened in one of the courses for women that I took over a year ago.

As other women were owning their desire to be seen, taking attention when they could, occupying the space, I began to feel the grudge inside.  I was hating them, hating their power, wanting so badly to diminish it so that someone, out there, would see me instead.  It seemed so clearly to me that for as long as they shined, nobody could ever see my light.  I felt deep pain, I was miserable.  I kept thinking how much I have to offer, how deeply I wanted to contribute to people, how much I am wanting to write, to create art and know that what I do makes at least one other person happy.  I was looking for validation outside of me, and, it didn’t work.

So, after crying to my husband, who is also a coach, and to a couple of my closest friends who I thought knew me deeply, I realized, my hate came from envy, but my envy came from pain, the pain that I felt so deeply as a new mom, as a double mom in fact, for missing out on life, for not living it fully, for not sharing all that I truly wanted to share.

Don’t get me wrong, I had to get over the: “who am I to do this?” and “I am not good enough” and “people will laugh” and “I don’t want to be hurt!” But the truth is, I was already hurting, deeply, from letting my talents and passions go to waste, for killing possibilities before they could ever be realized.

Finally, this is what I learned, “is the joke funny if you tell it in a forest?”  Well, that depends on who is telling a joke and why they are telling a joke.  Being heard cannot be a guiding light, it is only a bonus.  Finding the light, humor and passion inside and then doing the work, that is the game.  So if you do tell a joke in a forest, and you enjoy it, you find it funny, I would say: it is funny.

It is not wrong to want to be seen, recognized and even famous.  I just think that being driven by that desire alone is not a mighty cause.  But I do think that people have a lot more to offer than they are offering.  At the end, I don’t write because I want everyone to read it, although I appreciate every single person that does so.  I am writing because I don’t want what I have to say to die with me in a case it will matter to someone who may read it.