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self-sabotage

Did you know that you can be your own worst critic and often self-sabotage? 

If you’ve ever wondered why it seems like there’s always a side to you that is hell-bent on making all the wrong decisions, there’s a name for it. 

Psychologists call that self-destructive side the critical inner voice. This anti-self is what perpetrates self-sabotage behavior that undermines our life goals.

Self-sabotage is when you find yourself trapped in a cycle of destructive patterns that hold you back from your true potential. The worst part is that you willingly allow this vicious cycle to wreak havoc in your life.

If you’re looking to put an end to this damaging behavior and reclaim your life, these three easy steps will get you started:

Understand Why You Choose To Self-Sabotage

The first step is to understand why you self-sabotage. We all know how damaging it can be. Touching all aspects of life, from one’s education and career to relationships and even personal well-being.

So, why would you deliberately self-sabotage while aware of the damaging consequences?

From both “The Art of War” and “Ender’s Game,” we get the idea that to defeat your enemy, you must understand them.

To fully answer the question of why we intentionally self-sabotage, let’s dig deeper into these very human tendencies.

  • We Don’t Handle Change Well

Exposing yourself to change can be pretty frightening.

A natural human inclination: 

You find yourself avoiding unfamiliar situations in favor of what you already know — even if it’s not enough.

Take a job offer, for instance, that sounds better than what you are doing at the moment, but it’s in a different state or city. It’s a new thing that demands you challenge yourself.

The number of people who will turn down the job offer and stick to what they already know is surprising; even when it’s not getting them further in life.

  • We Are Afraid of Failing

Ever heard the popular saying, “better to try and fail than never to try at all?” 

Well, people naturally prefer comfort, and trying with the risk of failure is not part of that comfort zone.

For most people, the fear of failing is what leads to self-sabotage. You convince yourself that there is no use trying because you’ll give it your all and fail anyway.

At times you may even mistake the fear of failing for self-preservation. You’ll sail through life, limiting yourself and standing in the way of possible achievements.

  • We Are Afraid of Being Vulnerable

Nobody likes to lose control or leave things to chance since it increases the risk of an unknown outcome. 

But the need to control a situation can also feed a self-destructive behavior.

For instance, if you could only present your ideas to the board members, you stand a chance of changing everything. But doing that also puts you in a vulnerable position where you’re not in control of the outcome.

The only way of controlling a situation like that is to suppress yourself. At least by dictating the terms of your failure, you have the upper hand.

The reality, however, is you’ve just nipped yourself in the bud. But considering nobody else got to do it but yourself, you can live with it.

  • We Don’t Like Looking in the Mirror

It’s easier to tell yourself a lie than to face the truth because, well, sometimes the truth hurts!

Think about it — subconsciously, you’re aware of what’s happening. It’s the reason you’d rather not confront yourself because then, the walls of lies and excuses you’ve erected around you will begin to crumble.

  • Previous Unfavorable Experiences

It’s common to form defense mechanisms influenced by past experiences. You expect a repeat of certain patterns and revert to self-preservation mode.

But there’s a significant problem with this kind of thinking: it’s often biased toward negativity. 

You find yourself playing out unfavorable past scenarios and reacting defensively. When there is probably a better way to approach the situation.

Learn To Recognize Self-Sabotaging Patterns

The second step is to recognize the signs of falling into a self-destructive cycle. This involves looking within yourself to identify the habits, the tell-tale signs.

Here are some of the most common examples of self-sabotaging behavior:

  • When the most critical tasks go to the backseat, and you’d rather procrastinate than face what really matters
  • When you keep putting yourself down with the excuse of knowing your weaknesses
  • When you’d rather not say “no” even if it’s in your best interest
  • When you’d rather bail if things go south or fight when you don’t have to
  • When you just don’t seem to like yourself very much and can’t think of anything good about yourself

Come up With a Strategy To Stop Self-Sabotage

With a solid strategy in place, you’ll feel miles more confident. Here is your crucial third step in the quest to stop self-sabotaging.

  • Accept That You’re Self-Destructing

Acceptance is an early step for any road-to-recovery program. That’s because denial feeds the problem and lets it go unchecked.

When you accept the problem, it stops being a mystery, and it comes out into the open.

  • Identify the Weak Points in Your Life

Identify the times when you’re more susceptible to self-sabotage habits and think about what you’d like to do to improve. Put everything down on paper for future reference.

  • Learn To Accept That Failure Is Part of Life

The reality is that everyone fails. There is a chance you’ll fail, many times even. But when you don’t try or resort to half-hearted attempts, you fail by default.

A detailed strategy takes the plan out of your head and turns it into an achievable goal.

Now that you know what you’re dealing with and what triggers it, stick to the self-improvement roadmap you’ve prepared. 

Avoid dwelling on your limitations and shortcomings and start believing in what you can do with the help of a strategy.

  • Seek Help if You Can’t Do It Yourself

You never have to struggle on your own. Talk to people you’re close to, especially if you’re having difficulty finding a solution yourself. 

Who knows, perhaps other people’s experiences will help you with your journey.

You can also seek professional support to help bring out underlying issues you may not be aware of.

Final Thoughts

It won’t be easy to break patterns you probably forged in early childhood. Some of these habits are so ingrained they can go unnoticed for years.

But don’t worry. As long as you’ve identified and accepted the problem, you’re off to a good start. Now what’s left is time and dedication toward getting better.

Make use of the tips we’ve shared and let them inspire a plan for defeating self-sabotage and restoring confidence in your abilities.

About the Author

Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Arch at Ft. Wayne to help them with their online marketing.

Suggested Image: https://images.pexels.com/photos/34072/pexels-photo.jpg?auto=compress&cs=tinysrgb&dpr=2&h=650&w=940 

 

 

%%focuskw%% | How to Put a Stop to Self-Sabotage In 3 Easy Steps

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Stop Asking Couples When They Are Having Kids

“So, when are you having kids?” my aunt asked me soon after I got married. At that point, I had just been married for a few months. I didn’t even know *if* I wanted kids, much less *when* I was having them.

Caught off guard, I replied matter-of-factly, “I have not decided if I want to have kids.” Little did I realize that I would spend the next hour listening to stories of women who put off having children until it was too late, as well as women who had difficulty conceiving for various reasons, with the implicit message being that I was going to regret it if I didn’t hurry and work on producing babies.

This would be my life for the next few years, where I would receive constant questions around “When are you having kids?” from relatives and random people, followed by a routine, almost ritualistic pressurization to have kids.

Lest you think that it ends after having a child, it doesn’t. The people who previously tried to tell you to have “just one kid” when you were indifferent to the idea, will now tell you to have a second one, along with reasons why you should do so. It seems like this questioning process never ends.

The problem with asking people “When are you having kids?”

I understand why people like to ask this question. Find a partner, settle down, get married, and have kids. This is the life path that we’ve been taught to follow since young. This is the life script that we’ve been told is *the* way of life, that would bring us ultimate joy and happiness.

This is especially so in the Chinese culture, where having kids is seen as the ultimate goal in life. There are even sayings built around this notion, such as 生儿育女 (shēng ér yù nǚ), which means to birth sons and raise daughters, and 子孙满堂 (zǐ sūn mǎn táng), which means to be in a room filled with children and grandchildren, used to signify the epitome of happiness.

Multi-Generation Chinese Family at the Park

A multi-generation family, often used to depict a vision of happiness in the Chinese culture

So after you get married, people automatically assume that you should have kids. “When are you having kids?” they ask, somehow expecting you to give them a straight answer to what is really a personal question.

The problem with this question is that it’s rude. It’s presumptuous. It’s also insensitive.

1) There are many different paths to happiness

Firstly, everyone has their own path in life. Some people want kids, while some don’t. Some think that having kids is the greatest joy in life, while some see them as a burden. At the end of the day, having kids isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are significant ups and downs that come with having a kid, and for some people, the ups do not justify the downs. For these people, it may simply be better to remain childless, rather than having kids just to fit in or to fit societal expectations, and then set their lives up for unhappiness. To assume that everyone should have kids, just because you think that having kids is great and important, is rude and disregards that person’s own preferences in life.

For example, Oprah Winfrey is an inspiring woman and humanitarian who chose not to have kids, but has instead dedicated herself to her personal life purpose of serving the world. Oprah hosted her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show for 25 years, founded a leadership academy for girls and became a mother figure to the girls in attendance, and started her own television network. These are things that most do not get to do in their lifetime. Through the years, she has inspired millions and become a champion for people worldwide. As she says,

“When people were pressuring me to get married and have children, I knew I was not going to be a person that ever regretted not having them, because I feel like I am a mother to the world’s children. Love knows no boundaries. It doesn’t matter if a child came from your womb or if you found that person at age two, 10, or 20. If the love is real, the caring is pure and it comes from a good space, it works.” — Oprah[1]

Is she not being a responsible or purposeful person or woman by choosing not to have kids? Definitely not. In fact, I dare say that she lives a much more purposeful life than many in the world, including some people who choose to have kids.

There are many famous celebrities who have chosen not to have kids as well.

  • Chelsea Handler is a talk show host who chose not to have kids. She has said honestly in interviews that she doesn’t have the time to raise a child, and she doesn’t want her kids to be raised by a nanny.[2][3]
  • Betty White is an actress and comedian who chose not to have kids because she’s passionate about her career and she prefers to focus on it.[4]
  • Ashley Judd is an actress and politican activist who chose not to have kids because she feels that there are already so many orphaned kids in this world. To her, her resources can be better used to help those who are already here, and I respect her for such a noble choice.[5]

And then there are others, such as Cameron Diaz, Chow Yun Fat, Marisa Tomei (the actress for Peter Parker’s aunt in Tom Holland’s Spider Man film series), Renée Zellweger, and Rachael Ray. These people choose not to have kids for different reasons, such as because they’re already pursuing paths deeply meaningful to them, because they do not wish to be tied down with a child, or because they just don’t feel a deep desire to have kids.

Not having kids has not prevented these people from being happy in life, and there’s no reason to assume why people must have kids in order to be happy. People need to stop painting this narrative that one must have children in order to be happy. There are plenty of people with kids who are unhappy, and plenty of people without kids who have found inner fulfillment in life through other ways. There is no one path to happiness, and people need to realize that.

2) You may well cause hurt and pain

Secondly, you never know what others are going through.

Some people may want kids, but maybe they are facing fertility struggles. For example,

  • Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan went through three miscarriages before having their firstborn.[6]
  • The Obamas had a miscarriage before they had their daughters via IVF.[7]
  • Friends star Courteney Cox had a total of seven miscarriages before having her daughter, as she has a MTHFR gene mutation which raises the risk of miscarriage-causing blood clots.[8]

About 10% of women have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant,[9] while 13.5% of known pregnancies end in miscarriages, with the figure rising as the maternal age rises.[10]

For some people, the journey to conceive is fraught with deep pain, struggle, and losses as they experience miscarriages, undergo round after round of invasive fertility treatments, and wait in hope of the double blue lines on their pregnancy kit each month.

And then there are people who cannot have their own biological children due to issues with their reproductive system, which could have been there since birth.

Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and family

Barack and Michelle Obama had a miscarriage before they had their daughters via IVF

While you may be think that you’re being helpful or funny by asking people when they’re having kids, your question may well trigger hurt and pain. As Zuckerberg said,

“You feel so hopeful when you learn you’re going to have a child. You start imagining who they’ll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they’re gone. It’s a lonely experience.”[6]

3) Not everyone is in a place to have kids

Thirdly, having kids is simply not a reality for some people due to their circumstances in life.

Some people may lack the financial resources to have kids, a reality in a place like Singapore.

Some people may be facing problems with their marriage, in which case their priority should be to work on their marriage, not to have kids.

Some people may be so burdened with caring for their dependents that they are unable to consider kids, at least not at the moment.

And then there are people facing chronic health issues, issues that you don’t know and can’t see, which make pregnancy difficult due to the toll it would take on their body.

4) Some couples could still be thinking

And then there are people who are neutral to the idea of having kids, like myself when I just got married. These people need time to think it through, because having kids is a permanent, lifelong decision with serious consequences. There’s no reason to assume that having a kid should be an automatic decision, because you’re bringing a whole new life into this world. This is a decision that will change your life forever, as well as the life of the child you’re bringing into the world.

For those yet to have kids, they need the space to figure out what they want, not have people breathe down their neck day in and out about having kids.

My experience

For the initial years after I got married, I just wasn’t thinking about kids. Firstly, having a child is a lifelong decision, and I wanted to enjoy married life with my husband before diving into a decision as serious as that. Secondly, both my husband and I were genuinely happy spending the rest of our lives with just each other — we didn’t feel the need to have kids at all, not in the way my culture obsesses about it. Thirdly, my husband was dealing with some personal problems, and I was fully focused on supporting him through these. These were issues that we needed to sort through before considering kids, if we were to want kids.

Yet I kept getting nudges to have kids, even though I never said anything about wanting them.

“So, when are you having kids?”

“This person’s baby is so cute, isn’t it? Why don’t you hurry up and birth a baby?”

It was as if I was some vehicle, some production machine to have kids, where my own views in the matter didn’t matter. The most frustrating thing was that I kept getting this question, while my husband would never get it (as a man), not even when we were in the same room together.

It was as if my sole reason for existence as a woman was to have kids, and until I had them, I was regarded as unworthy or incomplete.

The decision to have kids

Yet the decision to have children is a personal one. It is also a complex one. It is a decision that will permanently change the lives of the couple in question.

It is not a decision that one should be pressurized into making because their mom wants to carry grandchildren or their aunt wants to play with kids. It’s a decision that a couple should make because they genuinely want to nurture another life.

Because when a child is born, the people bugging others to have kids aren’t the ones who will be caring for the baby 24/7, whose lives will be set back by years (even decades) as they care for a new life, or who will be responsible for every decision concerning the child for the next 18-21 years.

It will be the couple.

And the people who aren’t ready, who were pressured into having kids because they were told that it was the best thing to do, may have to deal with regret as they are stuck with a decision they cannot undo. Because there are people who regret having kids, and we need to be honest about that. These people regret, not because of the child’s fault, but because they were simply not ready to have kids, be it financially, emotionally, or mentally. Unfortunately, the children are the ones who eventually suffer, from living in dysfunctional households to dealing with issues of violenceabuse, and anger.

We need to recognize these realities, and not make parenthood seem like it’s some magical band-aid that solves a lack of purpose or life’s pressures. Things don’t magically get better because people have kids; existing problems usually worsen as having a child puts a big strain on a couple’s lives. Digging into people’s plans to have kids, and pressurizing them into one of the biggest life decisions they can ever make, will only stress them out and perhaps push some into depression. As this redditor shared,

“I have a friend who went through 6 years of miscarriages and fertility treatments before the doctors figured out the problem and she had her son. The nosy ladies at her work and her in-laws questioned her constantly. The depression from that made it harder for her to conceive.”

Stop asking couples when they’re having kids

So, if you tend to ask others when they’re having kids, it’s time to stop that. It’s rude, insensitive, and it disregards people’s privacy. It’s also none of your business.

The reality is that if people want kids, they will work on having kids. They don’t need you to prod them about it.

If they don’t have kids, it’s either because

  1. they really don’t want kids,
  2. they are not in a position to consider kids right now, or
  3. they want kids but they are facing some struggles.

For people in group (c), they aren’t going to share such deeply personal experience over some afternoon coffee chat, and certainly not by you asking, “When are you having kids?”

The best thing you can do is to give people their personal space. Understand that having kids is a personal decision, and people don’t have to share or explain anything. Respect that others have their right to privacy. Respect that people are individuals on their own path, and this path may not involve having kids. And this doesn’t make them incomplete or lesser in any way.

Instead of asking women or couples, “When are you having kids?”, talk to them like how you would a normal person. There’s no reason why conversations should suddenly revolve around childbearing after marriage; it’s not like a person’s identity changes to revolve around having kids. A person still has their own passion, goals, and dreams. Talk to them about what they’ve been doing. Understand their interests. Know them as a real person, not some random being here to fulfill society’s checklist.

If you’re really interested in someone’s plan to have children, you can simply ask, “Are you and your partner planning to have kids?” If they wish to share more, they will do so. If they give a generic answer, then take the hint and move on.

Ultimately, having kids or not doesn’t change a person’s self-worth. A woman is complete with or without kids. A marriage doesn’t need kids to be deemed complete. Having kids should be a conscious choice, not a result of external pressure. Don’t judge people by whether they have kids or not. Some people will have kids, and some people will not have kids. Some will have kids early, while some will have them later in life. All of these are different paths and there’s nothing wrong with them.

For Me

For my husband and I, we eventually had a few discussions and decided to have a baby, and had our baby girl this year (2020). 😊 Yet other people’s comments and nudges to have children didn’t make me want to have children; it only annoyed me and made me want to avoid these people, because having a child is a personal decision between me and my husband, that has nothing to do with them. It was after we had the space to settle down and enjoy married life without kids, and took some time to actively pursue our goals and interests, that we finally felt ready to try for a kid last year.

In the meantime, I hope all of you are doing well. There are other things that I’m working on, other things that are happening that I look forward to sharing in time to come. Sending lots of love to you, and remember that whatever life challenge you’re facing, you have it in you to overcome it. I’ll talk to you guys soon! 🙂

Who else? <3method

ender-vatan-2_wSj_4osX0-unsplash

Pandemic life has taught many of us to appreciate moments in life that might otherwise pass us by. I’ve been trying to pause and take note of how I feel at the end of the day, often as I walk in the park or one of my nearby neighborhoods.

With that in mind, here’s a tip inspired by The Art of Stopping Time, a book by Pedram Shojai: whenever you visit a place that’s new to you, consider the sense that you might never be there again.

Just imagine: this might be it! Your one and only opportunity in a lifetime to visit this particular place. How might this realization make you feel?

What, you say you aren’t traveling much now? That’s okay.

This “new place” could be anywhere: a part of the woods you’ve never seen on your next nature hike, for example, or even a street in your neighborhood you’ve never driven down before. The point is to create awareness and appreciation.

I wish I’d had this concept in mind many years ago when I was traveling to several new countries every month. Looking back now, I can remember dozens of highlights that might fit the category of “never returning.”

In Somaliland, I rode several hours in a crowded minibus, listening to people chatter away. We stopped for food (goat stew! I’m a vegetarian, but it was interesting to observe) and drank from a shared bottle of Coca-Cola. Those were the days…

In Bosnia, a totally different part of the world, I traveled overland (this time on a full-sized bus) from Sarajevo to Herceg Novi. The city itself was magical. It felt like one of those “Land Before Time” moments.

ivan-aleksic-ldSYiEs7--4-unsplash

As interesting as those experiences were, I don’t know if I’ll ever repeat them. In fact, almost certainly I won’t. Even when I return to traveling more often, Montenegro and Somaliland aren’t that easy to jet off to.

Not only that, even though I can remember dozens of highlights from my adventures, I’m sure there are hundreds—thousands even—that I’ve forgotten or simply don’t come to mind when I think about this concept.

That’s why it’s good to consider the concept while you’re in a new place. It might help you remember it later, but even if not, you’ll have the moment of appreciation while you’re there.

Oh, and I like thinking about this idea for travel, but technically I suppose you could apply it to anything, even not something related to being in a particular place.

Whatever you’re doing or experiencing today, you might never do or experience it again. Let it sink in and consider how it feels.

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Image: Ender

Interesting so much really good

While there’s nothing like a brand new calendar year to signal a fresh start, I want you to remember one important thing…

Life isn’t a race to push yourself through.  

We live in a culture that glorifies the hustle–24/7 mentality.

If 2020 taught us anything, it was that non-stop busyness isn’t sustainable, healthy, or joyful.


The most valuable asset you have in life is you.
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Today you’ll hear my advice to Bianca, a stressed entrepreneur who thinks she should tone down her goals to be more “realistic.”

(My answer? HELL NO!) 

Watch the video to learn why setting “realistic” goals actually works against you — and what to do instead. 

View Transcript

Check out this episode on The Marie Forleo Podcast

Listen Now

Remember, you are not a computer. You can’t hammer away all day without taking a break.

If you’re afraid to set more ambitious goals because you don’t have time to achieve them, you may need to tweak your approach to scheduling — NOT your approach to goal setting. 

For more on this, check out our playlist: Focus and Be More Productive or some of our favorite episodes on productivity:

5 Science-Backed Ways To Beat Burnout and Increase Productivity

Setting Goals: Use This 2-Step Process To Achieve More With Less Stress

2020 was tough. And it made us stronger and more resilient.

Let’s build on those lessons and make this year about wisdom, peace, and JOY. 

Choose to respect yourself enough to stop running yourself ragged. Because more isn’t always better and “non-stop” anything isn’t wise.

Sending you enormous love 💗 and excitement for a spectacular year ahead.

LET’S GO!!!!

The post How to Get More Done in Less Time Without Burning Out appeared first on .

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You have your suspicions, which others have subtly (or not so subtly) confirmed. Yet you don’t want to believe your boyfriend is an emotionally stunted man.  True, he has a complicated relationship with his mother. But you’ve always thought mother issues in males would result in the kind of person you wouldn’t dream of dating.  …

Read More11 Top Signs Of An Emotionally Stunted Man

The post 11 Top Signs Of An Emotionally Stunted Man appeared first on Live Bold and Bloom.

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At the end of every year, I like to reflect on everything that’s happened over the past twelve months. Though 2020 was memorable for unfortunate reasons, I’ve already forgotten some of the smaller things that happened over the course of the year.

Remember when Tiger King and whipped coffee were all we talked about for a while? That feels like a lifetime ago. Sometimes changes in our lives are so subtle that we barely notice they’re happening. You might not have recognized the wins you had or the ways you’ve grown because there were other things fighting for your attention.

30 end of year journal prompts to close out this chapter and move into the new year with a fresh mindset

If you’re like me, the goals you set in January may no longer feel relevant. You might have put them on the back-burner because other things took priority. And that’s okay. Give yourself some credit for dealing with something that none of us have ever experienced before.

Sidenote on my goals: I did pay off half of my credit card debt and built up my emergency fund.

Whether you achieved your goals or not, it’s helpful to take a moment to process your experience of the past year. That way, you can let go of anything that’s weighing you down.

To help you reflect on the year, I’ve put together a list of 30 end of year journal prompts to close out this chapter and move into the new year with a fresh mindset.

I recommend setting aside 30 minutes or so to let yourself journal and be in the moment. Create a comfy environment by making a cup of your favorite beverage, putting on a calming playlist, and lighting a candle. Savor this mindful ritual with yourself!

30 End of Year Journal Prompts for Self-Reflection


30 end of year journal prompts to close out this chapter and move into the new year with a fresh mindset

Click here to download the printable version

Challenges & Wins

  1. What were your biggest challenges from the year? What did you learn from them?
  2. What were your biggest wins from the year? What did you accomplish? What are you proud of yourself for?

Resources

  1. What helped you to get through this year? (e.g. routines, boundaries, relationships, resources)
  2. What were your favorite books, movies, shows, and songs from the past year?

Inner Self

  1. How would you describe the version of yourself from the past year? How have you changed since last year? In what ways have you grown this year?
  2. What kind of person do you want to become next year? How do you want to grow? How can you treat yourself with love, respect, and patience?

Wellness

  1. How well did you take care of yourself this year? Did you prioritize exercise, sleep, and nutrition?
  2. How will you commit to taking even better care of yourself next year?

Boundaries

  1. What kind of boundaries did you set for yourself and others this year? How did you uphold those boundaries? Where did you let them slide? 
  2. What do you want your boundaries to look like for next year? How will you prioritize them?

Routine

  1. What did your typical daily routine look like this year? How did you start and end your days? 
  2. What do you want your routine to look like for next year? What would be your ideal morning and evening routines?

Priorities

  1. What were your top three priorities this past year? (e.g. work, family, finances, self-care, mental health, etc)
  2. What are your top three priorities for next year? Why are they important to you?

Work

  1. How satisfied were you with your work this year? What did you enjoy and not enjoy?
  2. What changes could you make next year will help you feel fulfilled with your work?

Environment

  1. What role did your environment play in your life this year? (Think of your living space, community, workspace, nature, etc)
  2. Do you want to make any changes to your environment next year? What would your ideal environment look and feel like?

Emotions

  1. What emotions did you experience this past year? Did you allow yourself to feel or talk about them freely?
  2. What feelings do you want to embrace for next year? What intentions do you want to set?

Thoughts

  1. What was your mindset like this year? Did you overthink or overanalyze anything in particular?
  2. How can you improve your mindset in the next year? How will you commit to keeping a healthy mindset?

Connections

  1. Who did you connect with this year? Who made you feel the most supported?
  2. Who do you want to connect with next year? What kind of people do you want to surround yourself with?

Fun & Hobbies

  1. How did you relax and unwind this year? What were your favorite memories? Did you start any new hobbies or nurture old ones?
  2. What do you want to explore more of next year? What does fun look like to you?

Gratitude 

  1. Who are you most grateful for? What are you most grateful for? Write down why you are grateful for these people and things.
  2.  How can you express your gratitude more next year?

Goals & Growth

  1. What goals did you set for yourself at the beginning of the year? Did you achieve them? (Note: Remember to give yourself grace if you didn’t achieve your goals)
  2. What are your goals for next year? What do you want to learn or get better at? Think of work, health, finances, relationships, and home. What tools or resources will help you stay on track with your goals?

See you next year!

I hope these end of year journal prompts help you reflect on the past year and move into the new year with ease and intention. Feel free to leave a comment with some of your reflections from this list!

In the mood for some goal setting? Check out this post about how to create a vision plan for the future.

The post 30 Journal Prompts for End of the Year Reflection appeared first on The Blissful Mind.

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Stop Asking Couples When They Are Having Kids

“So, when are you having kids?” my aunt asked me soon after I got married. At that point, I had just been married for a few months. I didn’t even know *if* I wanted kids, much less *when* I was having them.

Caught off guard, I replied matter-of-factly, “I have not decided if I want to have kids.” Little did I realize that I would spend the next hour listening to stories of women who put off having children until it was too late, as well as women who had difficulty conceiving for various reasons, with the implicit message being that I was going to regret it if I didn’t hurry and work on producing babies.

This would be my life for the next few years, where I would receive constant questions around “When are you having kids?” from relatives and random people, followed by a routine, almost ritualistic pressurization to have kids.

Lest you think that it ends after having a child, it doesn’t. The people who previously tried to tell you to have “just one kid” when you were indifferent to the idea, will now tell you to have a second one, along with reasons why you should do so. It seems like this questioning process never ends.

The problem with asking people “When are you having kids?”

I understand why people like to ask this question. Find a partner, settle down, get married, and have kids. This is the life path that we’ve been taught to follow since young. This is the life script that we’ve been told is *the* way of life, that would bring us ultimate joy and happiness.

This is especially so in the Chinese culture, where having kids is seen as the ultimate goal in life. There are even sayings built around this notion, such as 生儿育女 (shēng ér yù nǚ), which means to birth sons and raise daughters, and 子孙满堂 (zǐ sūn mǎn táng), which means to be in a room filled with children and grandchildren, used to signify the epitome of happiness.

Multi-Generation Chinese Family at the Park

A multi-generation family, often used to depict a vision of happiness in the Chinese culture

So after you get married, people automatically assume that you should have kids. “When are you having kids?” they ask, somehow expecting you to give them a straight answer to what is really a personal question.

The problem with this question is that it’s rude. It’s presumptuous. It’s also insensitive.

1) There are many different paths to happiness

Firstly, everyone has their own path in life. Some people want kids, while some don’t. Some think that having kids is the greatest joy in life, while some see them as a burden. At the end of the day, having kids isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are significant ups and downs that come with having a kid, and for some people, the ups do not justify the downs. For these people, it may simply be better to remain childless, rather than having kids just to fit in or to fit societal expectations, and then set their lives up for unhappiness. To assume that everyone should have kids, just because you think that having kids is great and important, is rude and disregards that person’s own preferences in life.

For example, Oprah Winfrey is an inspiring woman and humanitarian who chose not to have kids, but has instead dedicated herself to her personal life purpose of serving the world. Oprah hosted her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show for 25 years, founded a leadership academy for girls and became a mother figure to the girls in attendance, and started her own television network. These are things that most do not get to do in their lifetime. Through the years, she has inspired millions and become a champion for people worldwide. As she says,

“When people were pressuring me to get married and have children, I knew I was not going to be a person that ever regretted not having them, because I feel like I am a mother to the world’s children. Love knows no boundaries. It doesn’t matter if a child came from your womb or if you found that person at age two, 10, or 20. If the love is real, the caring is pure and it comes from a good space, it works.” — Oprah[1]

Is she not being a responsible or purposeful person or woman by choosing not to have kids? Definitely not. In fact, I dare say that she lives a much more purposeful life than many in the world, including some people who choose to have kids.

There are many famous celebrities who have chosen not to have kids as well.

  • Chelsea Handler is a talk show host who chose not to have kids. She has said honestly in interviews that she doesn’t have the time to raise a child, and she doesn’t want her kids to be raised by a nanny.[2][3]
  • Betty White is an actress and comedian who chose not to have kids because she’s passionate about her career and she prefers to focus on it.[4]
  • Ashley Judd is an actress and politican activist who chose not to have kids because she feels that there are already so many orphaned kids in this world. To her, her resources can be better used to help those who are already here, and I respect her for such a noble choice.[5]

And then there are others, such as Cameron Diaz, Chow Yun Fat, Marisa Tomei (the actress for Peter Parker’s aunt in Tom Holland’s Spider Man film series), Renée Zellweger, and Rachael Ray. These people choose not to have kids for different reasons, such as because they’re already pursuing paths deeply meaningful to them, because they do not wish to be tied down with a child, or because they just don’t feel a deep desire to have kids.

Not having kids has not prevented these people from being happy in life, and there’s no reason to assume why people must have kids in order to be happy. People need to stop painting this narrative that one must have children in order to be happy. There are plenty of people with kids who are unhappy, and plenty of people without kids who have found inner fulfillment in life through other ways. There is no one path to happiness, and people need to realize that.

2) You may well cause hurt and pain

Secondly, you never know what others are going through.

Some people may want kids, but maybe they are facing fertility struggles. For example,

  • Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan went through three miscarriages before having their firstborn.[6]
  • The Obamas had a miscarriage before they had their daughters via IVF.[7]
  • Friends star Courteney Cox had a total of seven miscarriages before having her daughter, as she has a MTHFR gene mutation which raises the risk of miscarriage-causing blood clots.[8]

About 10% of women have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant,[9] while 13.5% of known pregnancies end in miscarriages, with the figure rising as the maternal age rises.[10]

For some people, the journey to conceive is fraught with deep pain, struggle, and losses as they experience miscarriages, undergo round after round of invasive fertility treatments, and wait in hope of the double blue lines on their pregnancy kit each month.

And then there are people who cannot have their own biological children due to issues with their reproductive system, which could have been there since birth.

Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and family

Barack and Michelle Obama had a miscarriage before they had their daughters via IVF

While you may be think that you’re being helpful or funny by asking people when they’re having kids, your question may well trigger hurt and pain. As Zuckerberg said,

“You feel so hopeful when you learn you’re going to have a child. You start imagining who they’ll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they’re gone. It’s a lonely experience.”[6]

3) Not everyone is in a place to have kids

Thirdly, having kids is simply not a reality for some people due to their circumstances in life.

Some people may lack the financial resources to have kids, a reality in a place like Singapore.

Some people may be facing problems with their marriage, in which case their priority should be to work on their marriage, not to have kids.

Some people may be so burdened with caring for their dependents that they are unable to consider kids, at least not at the moment.

And then there are people facing chronic health issues, issues that you don’t know and can’t see, which make pregnancy difficult due to the toll it would take on their body.

4) Some couples could still be thinking

And then there are people who are neutral to the idea of having kids, like myself when I just got married. These people need time to think it through, because having kids is a permanent, lifelong decision with serious consequences. There’s no reason to assume that having a kid should be an automatic decision, because you’re bringing a whole new life into this world. This is a decision that will change your life forever, as well as the life of the child you’re bringing into the world.

For those yet to have kids, they need the space to figure out what they want, not have people breathe down their neck day in and out about having kids.

My experience

For the initial years after I got married, I just wasn’t thinking about kids. Firstly, having a child is a lifelong decision, and I wanted to enjoy married life with my husband before diving into a decision as serious as that. Secondly, both my husband and I were genuinely happy spending the rest of our lives with just each other — we didn’t feel the need to have kids at all, not in the way my culture obsesses about it. Thirdly, my husband was dealing with some personal problems, and I was fully focused on supporting him through these. These were issues that we needed to sort through before considering kids, if we were to want kids.

Yet I kept getting nudges to have kids, even though I never said anything about wanting them.

“So, when are you having kids?”

“This person’s baby is so cute, isn’t it? Why don’t you hurry up and birth a baby?”

It was as if I was some vehicle, some production machine to have kids, where my own views in the matter didn’t matter. The most frustrating thing was that I kept getting this question, while my husband would never get it (as a man), not even when we were in the same room together.

It was as if my sole reason for existence as a woman was to have kids, and until I had them, I was regarded as unworthy or incomplete.

The decision to have kids

Yet the decision to have children is a personal one. It is also a complex one. It is a decision that will permanently change the lives of the couple in question.

It is not a decision that one should be pressurized into making because their mom wants to carry grandchildren or their aunt wants to play with kids. It’s a decision that a couple should make because they genuinely want to nurture another life.

Because when a child is born, the people bugging others to have kids aren’t the ones who will be caring for the baby 24/7, whose lives will be set back by years (even decades) as they care for a new life, or who will be responsible for every decision concerning the child for the next 18-21 years.

It will be the couple.

And the people who aren’t ready, who were pressured into having kids because they were told that it was the best thing to do, may have to deal with regret as they are stuck with a decision they cannot undo. Because there are people who regret having kids, and we need to be honest about that. These people regret, not because of the child’s fault, but because they were simply not ready to have kids, be it financially, emotionally, or mentally. Unfortunately, the children are the ones who eventually suffer, from living in dysfunctional households to dealing with issues of violenceabuse, and anger.

We need to recognize these realities, and not make parenthood seem like it’s some magical band-aid that solves a lack of purpose or life’s pressures. Things don’t magically get better because people have kids; existing problems usually worsen as having a child puts a big strain on a couple’s lives. Digging into people’s plans to have kids, and pressurizing them into one of the biggest life decisions they can ever make, will only stress them out and perhaps push some into depression. As this redditor shared,

“I have a friend who went through 6 years of miscarriages and fertility treatments before the doctors figured out the problem and she had her son. The nosy ladies at her work and her in-laws questioned her constantly. The depression from that made it harder for her to conceive.”

Stop asking couples when they’re having kids

So, if you tend to ask others when they’re having kids, it’s time to stop that. It’s rude, insensitive, and it disregards people’s privacy. It’s also none of your business.

The reality is that if people want kids, they will work on having kids. They don’t need you to prod them about it.

If they don’t have kids, it’s either because

  1. they really don’t want kids,
  2. they are not in a position to consider kids right now, or
  3. they want kids but they are facing some struggles.

For people in group (c), they aren’t going to share such deeply personal experience over some afternoon coffee chat, and certainly not by you asking, “When are you having kids?”

The best thing you can do is to give people their personal space. Understand that having kids is a personal decision, and people don’t have to share or explain anything. Respect that others have their right to privacy. Respect that people are individuals on their own path, and this path may not involve having kids. And this doesn’t make them incomplete or lesser in any way.

Instead of asking women or couples, “When are you having kids?”, talk to them like how you would a normal person. There’s no reason why conversations should suddenly revolve around childbearing after marriage; it’s not like a person’s identity changes to revolve around having kids. A person still has their own passion, goals, and dreams. Talk to them about what they’ve been doing. Understand their interests. Know them as a real person, not some random being here to fulfill society’s checklist.

If you’re really interested in someone’s plan to have children, you can simply ask, “Are you and your partner planning to have kids?” If they wish to share more, they will do so. If they give a generic answer, then take the hint and move on.

Ultimately, having kids or not doesn’t change a person’s self-worth. A woman is complete with or without kids. A marriage doesn’t need kids to be deemed complete. Having kids should be a conscious choice, not a result of external pressure. Don’t judge people by whether they have kids or not. Some people will have kids, and some people will not have kids. Some will have kids early, while some will have them later in life. All of these are different paths and there’s nothing wrong with them.

For Me

For my husband and I, we eventually had a few discussions and decided to have a baby, and had our baby girl this year (2020). 😊 Yet other people’s comments and nudges to have children didn’t make me want to have children; it only annoyed me and made me want to avoid these people, because having a child is a personal decision between me and my husband, that has nothing to do with them. It was after we had the space to settle down and enjoy married life without kids, and took some time to actively pursue our goals and interests, that we finally felt ready to try for a kid last year.

In the meantime, I hope all of you are doing well. There are other things that I’m working on, other things that are happening that I look forward to sharing in time to come. Sending lots of love to you, and remember that whatever life challenge you’re facing, you have it in you to overcome it. I’ll talk to you guys soon! 🙂