Anything about self-improvement is really important

The Opportunity in Adversity

By Eckhart Tolle

Life unfolds between the polarities of order and chaos. It is important at this time to recognize these two fundamental opposites, without which the world could not even be. Another word for disorder is “adversity.” When it becomes more extreme, we might call it “chaos.”

We would prefer, of course, to have order in our lives, which means to have things going well. We would like relative harmony in our lives. Yet, that very often is marred by the eruption of some form of disorder. And, usually, we resent that—we get angry, or despondent, or sad.

Disorder comes in many, many forms, big and small. When disorder comes it usually creates a kind of havoc in our lives, accompanied by strong underlying beliefs. “There’s something very wrong, this should not be happening, maybe God is against me,” and so on. Again, we need to understand that disorder, or adversity, is inevitable and is an essential part of a higher order.

 From a higher perspective, a higher level, the existence of order and disorder, or order and chaos, is a necessary part of the evolution of life.

 Many people have found that they experience a deepening, or a deeper sense of self or beingness, immediately after and as a result of having endured a period of disorder or chaos. This is sometimes called “the dark night of the soul,” a term from medieval Christianity used to describe the mental breakdown that many mystics experienced prior to awakening spiritually. There was an eruption of disorder, of destruction. Then, out of that, a deeper realization arose.

 And although that can be very painful, the strange thing is, it’s precisely there that many humans experience a transcendence. A strange fact is that it almost never happens that people awaken spiritually while they’re in their comfort zone. Or that they become deeper as human beings, which would be a partial awakening. It almost never happens. The place where the evolutionary shift happens, or the evolutionary leap, is usually the experience of disorder in a person’s life.

And so your life then moves between order and disorder. You have both, and they’re both necessary. There’s no guarantee that when disorder erupts this will bring about an awakening or a deepening, but there’s always the possibility. It is an opportunity, but often, it is missed.

 So here we are at this time, and our mission is the same: to align with the present moment, with whatever is happening here and now. The upheaval that we’re experiencing at the present time probably will not be the last upheaval that’s going to come on a collective level. However, it is an opportunity—because although this is a time for upheavals, it is also a time for awakening. The two go together. Just as in an individual life, you need adversity to awaken. It’s an opportunity but not a guarantee. And so what looks tragic and unpleasant on a conventional level is actually perfectly fine and as it should be on a higher level; it would not be happening otherwise. It’s all part of the awakening of human beings and of planetary awakening.

To learn more about Eckhart’s teachings on Conscious Manifestation, click here.

Join for free and receive upcoming articles, teachings, special announcements, and more.

The post The Opportunity in Adversity appeared first on Eckhart Tolle | Official Site – Spiritual Teachings and Tools For Personal Growth and Happiness.

IMO stuff about method are great

The English philosopher Bertrand Russell once said, “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”

Perhaps what’s even more amazing is that he said this long before the advent of the internet.

Today, due to the joys of social media, we are regularly exposed to legions of people who believe they know what the fuck they are talking about when they do not. And, indeed, as Russell pointed out, the more clueless these people are, the more confident in their pronouncements they seem to be.

It turns out that Russell’s axiom has been studied and the data back it up. People who are bad at something do believe they are good at it, and people who are good at it do believe they are bad at it. Amateurs are overconfident and experts are underconfident. Newbies believe they’ve got it all figured out and the weathered veterans understand that nothing is really known for sure.

In psychology, this is known as the “Dunning-Kruger Effect.” It’s a psychological tendency named after the two researchers who initially measured it. And it’s surprising how wide its applications are in our lives.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect: Ignorance of Ignorance

There are four types of information:

  • Known knowns

    Information you know you understand. (e.g., how to ride a bike.)
  • Known unknowns

    Information you know you don’t understand. (e.g., quantum physics.)
  • Unknown knowns

    Information that you know, but you didn’t realize that you knew it. Bonus! (e.g., we didn’t realize we instinctively knew how to be a parent until it happened.)
  • Unknown unknowns

    Information that you’re completely oblivious to. Not only do you not know it, you don’t even know that you don’t know it.

The unknown unknowns are where the Dunning-Kruger effect comes into play in the worst way. It’s our tendency to overestimate our own knowledge/skills/competence and underestimate our own ignorance.1

The Dunning-Kruger Effect goes beyond ignorance. It presents a meta-layer of ignorance—the ignorance of our own ignorance.

It’s one thing to make a mistake and then realize you did so because you just didn’t know any better. But it’s next-level shitbaggery to make a mistake and not even know it and then continue to believe you never made a mistake because you’re awesome.2

That is the Dunning-Kruger Effect. And that is what Russell says is so wrong with the world. The fact that we all do this. That we predictably overestimate our knowledge and abilities in a way that causes more errors and graver mistakes.

For example:

  • Gun owners who think they’re highly knowledgeable about gun safety score the lowest on tests of gun safety.3
  • Medical lab workers—the people who process samples for medical test results—who rate themselves as highly competent in their jobs are actually the worst at their jobs.4
  • Elderly people who think they’re better drivers than most are actually four times more likely to make unsafe driving errors.5
  • The lowest performing college students dramatically overestimate their performance on exams6 and their general knowledge in their area of study.7
  • The lowest performers in a debate competition wildly overestimated how well they did. They thought they’d won 59% of their contests when they actually only won 22% of them. 8

Yeah, but Mark, You Don’t Get It… I Really Am Awesome

Now, I know what you probably did when you read through that list. It’s probably the same thing I did.

“Psh, those other people are soooo dumb. Good thing I know about all of the ways I’m terrible at things… which means that the things I’m amazing at, I actually am pretty amazing.” 

We read things like this and at no point do we stop to consider the areas where we think we are great are also delusional. We fail to consider that we also fall victim to this blindspot.

Yet we do… oh, we do.

Just one example: we have blindspots when it comes to our emotional awareness. We might project our own bullshit onto other people, misplace our anger and judgement, shut down when we get uncomfortable, overcompensate for feelings of inferiority, let our jealousy get the best of us, be an insensitive prick without even realizing we’re being an insensitive prick, and so on. We all do it. All of us.

But some of us think we don’t do it nearly as much or as poorly as others. And yet, studies have shown that people who rank lowest on objective emotional intelligence tests think they’re far more emotionally aware than others.9 And it gets worse. These same people were more reluctant to listen to feedback about their scores and—AND—were much less likely to express interest in resources that would help them improve their emotional intelligence. Go figure.

The Dunning-Kruger effect - a man with a bag over his head

And it’s not just with emotions, it’s with… well, everything.

People with the unhealthiest lifestyle habits rate themselves as comparatively healthier than they actually are.10

People who score poorly on cognitive reasoning and analytical thinking tests severely overestimate their cognitive and analytical abilities.11 Meanwhile, the people who score highly underestimate their performance.

People who hold the most politically biased views also hold the most inaccurate “factual” beliefs. They wildly over or underestimate numbers related to things like welfare participation and government budget expenditures.12

So here we are, trapped in a universe where the people who need the most help not only refuse it, they refuse to even believe they need help in the first place.

Are we just totally fucked? Or is there a way out?

The Paradox of Overcoming Ignorance

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the Dunning-Kruger effect is that it’s incredibly difficult to overcome. And that’s because it’s wrapped in contradiction.

How do you get someone—or yourself—to look for something they can’t even see? How do you correct an error if you don’t even know you made one?

This is the paradox of trying to overcome our own ignorance: The very thing that would help us see our mistakes is the same thing that would keep us from making them in the first place.

You can’t reason with a conspiracy theorist precisely because they didn’t form their beliefs with reason. Had they the ability to change their beliefs based on reason and evidence, they wouldn’t have believed in wild conspiracy theories in the first place. In fact, they think they’re the only ones being reasonable to begin with.

Part of the problem is that there is comfort in the feeling of knowing. People don’t like uncertainty. And so settling on a belief helps us feel like we’ve made more sense of the world. When we can make sense of the world, we feel safe. Whether that belief is true or not doesn’t matter—it just has to give us some relief from the anxiety of not knowing.

Maybe there’s a backdoor way to infiltrate our stuck minds and unfuck them somehow. Research suggests it’s sorta-kinda-maybe possible.

Getting people to focus on developing related skills, rather than assessing their own abilities, seems to have some effect in reducing the Dunning-Kruger effect in task performance.13

For example, if someone is terrible at accounting but doesn’t realize it, perhaps you teach them organization skills so that in the process of learning how to better organize paperwork and transactions, they come to realize that they are the world’s worst accountant.

It also might be effective to simply teach people about the concept of blindspots and the Dunning-Kruger Effect to begin with and then let the idea percolate in their minds for a while until they start questioning their own assumptions.14

Also, as much as you’d like to be a dick to some of these people, it turns out it’s not helpful to ridicule them for how stupid they are.15 Ridiculing people simply causes them to become more defensive and double-down on their challenged beliefs, not relinquish them.

That said, you can gently peer pressure someone into seeing their ignorance. Try showing them examples of top performers in whatever field they’re so overly confident about.16 This might or might not work depending on how delusional the person is, but it’s worth a shot.

In the end, though, I think the only way to ward off our own ignorance is by choosing to have fewer opinions and more loosely held beliefs.

Humility is an important value. In fact, the Dunning-Kruger Effect suggests that humility can be highly practical. By intentionally underestimating our understanding of things, not only do we open up more opportunities to learn and grow, but we also foster a more realistic view of ourselves, and prevent ourselves from looking like a narcissistic assface around others.

That is… until we decide that we are the most humble person you’ve ever met. Nobody is more humble than me. I’m so much more humble than everybody else…

…and now we’re back to square one.

Footnotes

  1. Dunning, D. (2011). The Dunning-Kruger effect: On being ignorant of one’s own ignorance. In J. M. Olson & M. P. Zanna (Eds.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Vol. 44, pp. 247–296). Academic Press.
  2. In psychology, this is known as the “double burden” of ignorance.
  3. Ehrlinger, J., Johnson, K., Banner, M., Dunning, D., & Kruger, J. (2008). Why the unskilled are unaware: Further explorations of (absent) self-insight among the incompetent. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 105(1), 98–121.
  4. Haun, D. E., Zeringue, A., Leach, A., & Foley, A. (2000). Assessing the Competence of Specimen-Processing Personnel. Laboratory Medicine, 31(11), 633–637.
  5. Freund, B., Colgrove, L. A., Burke, B. L., & McLeod, R. (2005). Self-rated driving performance among elderly drivers referred for driving evaluation. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 37(4), 613–618.
  6. One study found that the poorest students thought they scored in the top 40% of their class when they actually scored in the bottom 15%. See: Ehrlinger, J., Johnson, K., Banner, M., Dunning, D., & Kruger, J. (2008). Why the unskilled are unaware: Further explorations of (absent) self-insight among the incompetent. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 105(1), 98–121.
  7. This includes a wide range of fields from medicine, nursing, biology, psychology, engineering, business, law, education, and management information systems. See: Mahmood, K. (2016). Do People Overestimate Their Information Literacy Skills? A Systematic Review of Empirical Evidence on the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Communications in Information Literacy, 10(2), 199.
  8. Ehrlinger, J., Johnson, K., Banner, M., Dunning, D., & Kruger, J. (2008). Why the unskilled are unaware: Further explorations of (absent) self-insight among the incompetent. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 105(1), 98–121.
  9. Sheldon, O. J., Dunning, D., & Ames, D. R. (2014). Emotionally unskilled, unaware, and uninterested in learning more: Reactions to feedback about deficits in emotional intelligence. Journal of Applied Psychology, 99(1), 125–137.
  10. Miller, J. E., Windschitl, P. D., Treat, T. A., & Scherer, A. M. (2019). Unhealthy and unaware? Misjudging social comparative standing for health-relevant behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 85, 103873.
  11. Pennycook, G., Ross, R. M., Koehler, D. J., & Fugelsang, J. A. (2017). Dunning–Kruger effects in reasoning: Theoretical implications of the failure to recognize incompetence. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 24(6), 1774–1784.
  12. Kuklinski, J. H., Quirk, P. J., Jerit, J., Schwieder, D., & Rich, R. F. (2000). Misinformation and the Currency of Democratic Citizenship. The Journal of Politics, 62(3), 790–816.
  13. Kruger, J., & Dunning, D. (1999). Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77(6), 1121–1134.
  14. You know, like I’m doing right now.
  15. Sheldon, O. J., Dunning, D., & Ames, D. R. (2014). Emotionally unskilled, unaware, and uninterested in learning more: Reactions to feedback about deficits in emotional intelligence. Journal of Applied Psychology, 99(1), 125–137.
  16. Miller, J. E., Windschitl, P. D., Treat, T. A., & Scherer, A. M. (2019). Unhealthy and unaware? Misjudging social comparative standing for health-relevant behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 85, 103873.

More stuff on self-improvement please like = agree

One of you is bound to wonder when the other cheats: Do you really love someone if you cheat on them? It’s a fair question, considering the hurt caused by infidelity. But as you’ll see further on, it’s rarely that simple. It’s not unusual for the cheater to still love the partner they cheated on …

Read More7 Ways To Bring Your Relationship Back to Normal After Cheating

The post 7 Ways To Bring Your Relationship Back to Normal After Cheating appeared first on Live Bold and Bloom.

Interesting post really great more on self-improvement please

By Leo Babauta

Contemplating on how I want to live recently, I became clear in the last few months that I needed to create more space in my life.

My life is full, which is a wonderful thing — I have lots of people in my life who care about me, want to spend time with me, want to work with me. Amazing!

And yet, it’s become clear to me that in order to show up fully for everyone I’m serving … I need to also have space to replenish. To fill up my tank.

So I set out to create that space.

Here’s how it looks for me at the moment:

  • I’m taking Decembers and Junes off, mostly: I had to talk with all of my clients and shift my programs so that I could do this, but it’s happening! It also means I did a bunch of writing ahead of time. I am still doing some work, including creating a new course and setting intentions for 2021, but I’m not doing client calls, webinars or meetings. This month is the first time I’ve ever taken off a full month!
  • I cleared Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays: I used to have meetings on Fridays and Saturdays, but now I keep those days clear. I still do some work, but it’s much more spacious and I can take the days completely off if I feel like it.
  • I’m leaving the other days more spacious as well: I only do about 3 calls a day (down from 5-6 calls a day at my peak) and I don’t block off every hour anymore, so that I can have a greater sense of spaciousness.

What do I do in those spaces?

Anything I feel like!

Here are some of my more common ways to use the space:

  • Rest
  • Head out to nature & spend some time in solitude
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Read with my kids
  • Hang with my wife
  • Call my mom, grandma or siblings to catch up
  • Read a book
  • Reflect on bigger picture stuff
  • Take care of chores
  • Write a book about my grandmother
  • Or do whatever work I feel like

I’ve found that this kind of space is incredibly nurturing, replenishing, life-giving. And so few of us take it for ourselves.

I know that not everyone has this kind of freedom, and I am grateful that I can do it. But I challenge you to see where you’re cutting this possibility off for yourself, and see if you could create it. It might take a few months to create, but if you stand for this possibility for yourself, you might surprise yourself.

IMO anything about method are fantastic who agrees?

The Opportunity in Adversity

By Eckhart Tolle

Life unfolds between the polarities of order and chaos. It is important at this time to recognize these two fundamental opposites, without which the world could not even be. Another word for disorder is “adversity.” When it becomes more extreme, we might call it “chaos.”

We would prefer, of course, to have order in our lives, which means to have things going well. We would like relative harmony in our lives. Yet, that very often is marred by the eruption of some form of disorder. And, usually, we resent that—we get angry, or despondent, or sad.

Disorder comes in many, many forms, big and small. When disorder comes it usually creates a kind of havoc in our lives, accompanied by strong underlying beliefs. “There’s something very wrong, this should not be happening, maybe God is against me,” and so on. Again, we need to understand that disorder, or adversity, is inevitable and is an essential part of a higher order.

 From a higher perspective, a higher level, the existence of order and disorder, or order and chaos, is a necessary part of the evolution of life.

 Many people have found that they experience a deepening, or a deeper sense of self or beingness, immediately after and as a result of having endured a period of disorder or chaos. This is sometimes called “the dark night of the soul,” a term from medieval Christianity used to describe the mental breakdown that many mystics experienced prior to awakening spiritually. There was an eruption of disorder, of destruction. Then, out of that, a deeper realization arose.

 And although that can be very painful, the strange thing is, it’s precisely there that many humans experience a transcendence. A strange fact is that it almost never happens that people awaken spiritually while they’re in their comfort zone. Or that they become deeper as human beings, which would be a partial awakening. It almost never happens. The place where the evolutionary shift happens, or the evolutionary leap, is usually the experience of disorder in a person’s life.

And so your life then moves between order and disorder. You have both, and they’re both necessary. There’s no guarantee that when disorder erupts this will bring about an awakening or a deepening, but there’s always the possibility. It is an opportunity, but often, it is missed.

 So here we are at this time, and our mission is the same: to align with the present moment, with whatever is happening here and now. The upheaval that we’re experiencing at the present time probably will not be the last upheaval that’s going to come on a collective level. However, it is an opportunity—because although this is a time for upheavals, it is also a time for awakening. The two go together. Just as in an individual life, you need adversity to awaken. It’s an opportunity but not a guarantee. And so what looks tragic and unpleasant on a conventional level is actually perfectly fine and as it should be on a higher level; it would not be happening otherwise. It’s all part of the awakening of human beings and of planetary awakening.

To learn more about Eckhart’s teachings on Conscious Manifestation, click here.

Join for free and receive upcoming articles, teachings, special announcements, and more.

The post The Opportunity in Adversity appeared first on Eckhart Tolle | Official Site – Spiritual Teachings and Tools For Personal Growth and Happiness.

Stuff about self-improvement are why everyone loves social media

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! 🙂

Important Info

By Leo Babauta

Contemplating on how I want to live recently, I became clear in the last few months that I needed to create more space in my life.

My life is full, which is a wonderful thing — I have lots of people in my life who care about me, want to spend time with me, want to work with me. Amazing!

And yet, it’s become clear to me that in order to show up fully for everyone I’m serving … I need to also have space to replenish. To fill up my tank.

So I set out to create that space.

Here’s how it looks for me at the moment:

  • I’m taking Decembers and Junes off, mostly: I had to talk with all of my clients and shift my programs so that I could do this, but it’s happening! It also means I did a bunch of writing ahead of time. I am still doing some work, including creating a new course and setting intentions for 2021, but I’m not doing client calls, webinars or meetings. This month is the first time I’ve ever taken off a full month!
  • I cleared Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays: I used to have meetings on Fridays and Saturdays, but now I keep those days clear. I still do some work, but it’s much more spacious and I can take the days completely off if I feel like it.
  • I’m leaving the other days more spacious as well: I only do about 3 calls a day (down from 5-6 calls a day at my peak) and I don’t block off every hour anymore, so that I can have a greater sense of spaciousness.

What do I do in those spaces?

Anything I feel like!

Here are some of my more common ways to use the space:

  • Rest
  • Head out to nature & spend some time in solitude
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Read with my kids
  • Hang with my wife
  • Call my mom, grandma or siblings to catch up
  • Read a book
  • Reflect on bigger picture stuff
  • Take care of chores
  • Write a book about my grandmother
  • Or do whatever work I feel like

I’ve found that this kind of space is incredibly nurturing, replenishing, life-giving. And so few of us take it for ourselves.

I know that not everyone has this kind of freedom, and I am grateful that I can do it. But I challenge you to see where you’re cutting this possibility off for yourself, and see if you could create it. It might take a few months to create, but if you stand for this possibility for yourself, you might surprise yourself.