The Wall

 

It is 11:58 am, I am 2 minutes away from my lunch break, and then it hits me: it’s 11 February, 2016, 41 days of the new 2016 – a year that I had accomplished literally nothing, I stopped doing sports, I stopped drawing, basically I stopped doing things that I cared about.

At the beginning of this year I suffered a big blow, somebody who I took for granted, who was always there in the far corner of my mind, passed away. I didn’t even send him a Christmas card, although I hand-made it for him. I just forgot to post it, but hey, we always have the next Christmas, right?

I fell in this deep dark place where you feel extremely sad, but at the same time you feel safe. It’s easy to be sad, it’s easy to all the time expect the worst from your life, your surrounding and from other people. You do not have to invest any emotions or time: you just float slowly but safely somewhere on the edge of reality. Nothing will ever blow you out of balance.

Except something did. This particular date Feb, 11 11:58 am. And it beats me why, because this is not a date I would choose for my spiritual healing or anything. I think I just recently worked too much and allowed my thoughts to penetrate my wall of indifference that I have meticulously built up to fend off any emotions other than bland numbing sadness I got used to.

So ok. It is now 12:13 am, and I have opened my blog I haven’t touched in years, and am writing paragraph after paragraph. One might say I’m on fire. I kind of am, but I am still afraid of it, so I just write really quickly, not allowing myself to lean on my chair and have a real thought hitting my head. But I guess this is good enough for now. That’s this proverbial first step. Good for me! Jo beating Wall 1-0 in a fair fight! The audience in all stands go nuts!!

Exciting? Maybe for an hour, and then back to reality. How do I make sure there is a second and a third step? How do I keep going when the wall is up and running again?

I now realise that the real question is if I want the wall gone. And truth to be told, I don’t. I’m scared of the reality, I’d rather observe it than take part in it. I got used to it. The wall is one big constant in my life – it almost makes me feel invincible, it is a pillar that I have decided to hold on to and never let go. And I have to be honest with myself, I am not inclined to let it go for now.

This not very observant conclusion leads me to another one: an ultimate cliché. If I am so attached to the predictable, to the constant, why not use this against myself. Maybe I should hack myself: why not creating another constant: a set of well-defined routines that will allow me to process the reality with the same robot-like attitude. Mechanical, devoid of feelings.

I am not strong enough to destroy the wall. I need it.

But I can allow a bit of nature on it.

Let it grow with moss.

For now…

Advertisements

A Cushion Called Excuse

stockvault-labrador-dog-lying-on-pillows130868I would like to start this post with a question to you, my dear reader.

And better think it through before you answer.

Which word is used as commonly as it is used out of context?

It is not “thank you” nor “I’m sorry”, though I get why you may think so 🙂

Nevertheless, the answer that I am going for is “I hope.”

“I hope I pass the exam”

“I hope we can resolve our issues”

“I hope she will see me in a different light”

Now, do you really mean that? Do you really believe in a positive outcome of the situation, as theoretically being hopeful for something indicates? ‘Cause I don’t. Whenever I say “I hope” it is followed by “but” and a whole litany of counterarguments. Like: “I hope I will get better with my writing, but it is hard to put your thoughts on paper, to present your ideas in a clear and comprehensive way, and to be able to remain interesting for your readers at all times.”

All of that is true; true but unnecessary. I should have stopped on the first part, leaving all buts aside. Why do I let constrain myself with fear and negativity? Why do I allow empty hope followed by excuses to undermine my life decisions? If I want to write better I will because I consciously chose to. As simple as that!

Of course I will have to work hard on it, because nothing comes easy in this life: every skill needs to be polished and taken care of, but the first big step has already been taken. I allowed hope, this warm comforting feeling that prevents us from resigning from our goals, to work its miracles: to motivate me, to make me feel good about myself.

Hope for better is not only a vague concept, you can actually physically feel it swarming through your body, energizing it as if to warm it up for future battle with obstacles. Hope is as tangible as fear which is a usual culprit to blame for a crime of negative thinking. Yes, a CRIME! A crime of striping yourself of every chance to succeed even before you start.

Feeling truly hopeful relaxes our body and contributes to our lower level of stress, whereas fear tenses our muscles as if we were being on a constant watch for a punch to hit us. Hence, we often tend to describe fear as a knot in a stomach. It happens because we expect the worst, and our body adapts mentally and physically for something unpleasant to happen, and what is more unpleasant than being punched in a stomach.

We tend to create many possible negative outcomes to every goal we strive to achieve. Why? Because it prevents us from feeling utterly devastated in case we fail. “I saw it coming anyway,” we usually conclude with a resigned nod.

This attitude unfortunately goes further. Even if we succeed, we are no longer able to be happy about it, but we diminish our achievement to protect ourselves from being hurt in the further future or not to look stupid before people we ranted during the whole process of achieving the goal.

We and many people around us use the same tactics to protect our fragile ego so prone to the opinion of others as much as to self-evaluation which very often is so much harsher than it should.

We surround ourselves with the whole bunch of cushions of “buts” for our fall to seem less hurtful. But those cushions as much as they absorb the shock of a potential failure, they do the same to success; they contaminate our true feeling of victory as well as they keep us negative throughout the whole journey that leads us to our chosen goal.

My mother once told me that a person does not fail; they just take a step back and begin one more time choosing other path which may happen to be even more exciting and eventful than we expected. Thinking in these terms makes us see the world totally differently; it allows us to see it as a never-ending adventure full of challenges rather than a gloomy jungle full of traps and horrific monsters ready to eat us alive.

So, here and now, I would like to make a statement.

Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby announce that from this day on I get rid of all my safety cushions of “buts”, “howevers” and “I- told-you-I-can’t-do-this”.

I pledge to live up to my goals enjoying not only the happy ending but also the journey leading to it.

And I invite you to do the same. Maybe you have already done so or you are thinking about it. I would really love to hear all about your experience with your cushions 🙂

“Yes, we can!” How to Allow Motivation to Change us for Better

stockvault-smiling-daisy-air-balloon133312Is it possible to change the world, and to make a visible difference? Or is it just a fleeting dream of visionaries and a quality of a superhero?

The answer is both yes and no, depending on the approach you take. If you consider the world and its overwhelming size, you can get frustrated. Naturally, you are not able to change something that is magnificently huge.  But what if you consider yourself as a part of a whole – a whole that can be broken down into little pieces? A friend of mine once told me that a way to manage an unmanageable task is to divide it into many manageable pieces, which put together are powerful enough to make a difference.

So how can you as an individual change the world? Setting an example or initiating something meaningful can be a good start. Although, big endeavor can be overwhelming at first, you should remember that nothing is as hard as it seems. Try shifting your perception: start small, aim big. Focus on one step at the time, and allow a small change to grow bigger with the natural course of time.

“Be the change…”

It is impossible to change the world immediately and single-handedly, but we can be a part of it starting with our own contribution. Ghandi says that it is you that should be the change you want to see in the world.

In Poland, where I come from, many people are engaged in a campaign of collecting plastic bottle tops. Instead of throwing them away, they put them into special containers which when full are transported to sell-out points, and sold as plastic waste. The money is used to purchase supplies for people in need.

When I was working in Spain in a primary school I felt uncomfortable having to throw the whole bottle away, so I checked if there is anything similar done there. It occurred that the nearby university is also engaged in the same campaign, but due to poor advertisement not many people knew about it. I decided to spread the idea in my school, so I talked to one of the teachers, who started the bottle campaign in her class. Soon, the whole school was engaged in the project, and it took one more month to engage other primary schools.

Cast the first stone

Mother Teresa once said that she alone cannot change the world, but she can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. You do not have to start with something big, let it become big with time and participation of others.

In the time of economic downturn it is small business that is fundamental for recovery and further development of the world’s market. Entrepreneurs strengthen local economies: they respond immediately and accurately to demand, they even invent jobs that have not previously existed.

According to the research done by economists from the University of California small businesses create more job than larger ones. They also saturate the local market with customer-tailored services and products on which there is huge demand. Making a difference on the local level, small business influences the world’s economy being the very first stone that contributes to the creation of many ripples.

Step by step, little by little …

As adapting to specific conditions enables small business to be vital for the whole economy, as should we, accordingly, adapt ourselves to the world around us. Start with adding little routines that will not change your whole life fundamentally, but with time will contribute to shape your better self. A good e-book on your iPod on your way to work will serve you better than listening to maybe soothing, but in the long run meaningless music.

Stressed about not meeting deadlines? Next time prepare a timetable with all the small steps you need to accomplish in order to perform a big task. Such small changes are important, because they shift our perception of the world: we start to be hungry for more, seeking deeper fulfillment, and abandoning our comfort zones.

However, as good and motivating as it all sounds, we also have to remember that change cannot be measured, and something that is a milestone for you, can be a pebble for somebody else. Nevertheless, remember that positive influence can have an impact on more people that you can imagine. You never know the outcome unless you tried. So, I say: cast the stone, and wait for the ripples!

Self-Awareness Workout Session

stockvault-healthclub-equipment137889Recently, I was asked to write a guest post for the blog called A Life Colored Amber. The blog, starting with its heart-warming title and finishing on its content is all devoted to spreading positive attitude towards life, so I had to think hard about a topic optimistic enough to meet the requirements. Finally, I decided to muse upon the notion of self-awareness, which influence on our lives is nothing but positive in every aspect.

Self-awareness puts us in total control over our own lives. Only when we start paying deeper attention to our own self realizing our roots like family history, biological inheritance, upbringing, and our surrounding like social groups, environmental forces, cultural influences, can we fully understand the importance of our own self in the current course of life we happen to be a part of.

It is often said that traveling broadens our minds. We learn a lot from people of other cultures, since we belong to a totally distinctive one. Learning cultural differences deepens our self-awareness by increasing our sense of belonging, and I can relate to this, since I never felt so utterly Polish only when I had a chance to live in Spain surrounded by Spanish people trying to impose their habits on me.

This experience strongly influenced my identity. For the first time I learned that I can change my habits, my rituals, even my every-day language, but deep down inside I am only a mere observer of what is happening with me. I had this overpowering feeling of split personality, I acted like a Spaniard but my Polish self was in constant amaze of my actions. It was as if I had an inner observer who manipulated me to see my reaction to a particular stimulus. On every step of my experience I knew that I can safely go back to the core of my own self which was defined by all the factors that I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Sounds like a mental breakdown? Maybe, but I am not the only one out there.

I would like to describe an extreme and rather morbid example but it’s the only one I know that was documented and described in the literature devoted to self-development. During WWII a Jew psychologist Viktor Frankl was taken to a death camp, which made him realize huge potential of self-awareness. This is how Stephen Covey describes his aha-moment:

“One day, naked and alone in a small room, he began to become aware of what he later called “the last of the human freedoms” – the freedom his Nazi captors could not take away. They could control his entire environment, they could do what they wanted to his body, but Victor Frankl himself was a self-aware being who could look as an observer at his very own involvement. His basic identity was intact. (…) Between what happened to him, or the stimulus, and his response to it, was his freedom or power to choose that response.”

Dr Frankl exercised his self-awareness into the extreme level of meta self-awareness where he could picture himself away from his present situation – by using imagination and paramount potential of his memory he could place his self in a completely different situation, like for example his lectures at the university. Covey summarises his experience in one sentence: “Frankl used the human endowment of self-awareness to discover a fundamental principle about the nature of man: Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.

Now, I used this extreme example not to make you a zombie who shuts himself from the outside world in his own imaginary one, but to make you realise how much of a power of choice do we really have, what a wide variety of reaction patterns we possess.  It is not a situation that has power over us, it is our own self that can allow or not to be influenced by it; our own concession is the real boss here.

Is it possible to exercise self-awareness to the level of usability in every-day situations? Of course, but it requires patience, deep involvement and regular practice. There are many sites devoted to self-awareness, but the only draw-back is that meditation practitioners focus mainly on our body and thought-free state of mind, psychologists draw your attention to self-exploration whereas neurologists suggest brain stimulation practices.

Below, I have chosen exercises that are a mixture of all those approaches, and so you will find: physical exercises that raise our body control awareness, self-reflection practice set together with brain exercises which appeal to our left and right hemisphere (analytical and emotional one).

 

Physical

Gaining control over our body is a very important step in gaining control over our responses to certain triggers stimulating our reactions. Very often tense muscles increase the level of anger, stress or fear. It is vital to know how to control our body in order to control our negative emotions.

The very basic exercise raising the awareness of your body is to sit, lean back and close your eyes trying to recognize what parts of your body are tense. Now try to picture a certain situation and do the same. For me, stressful situations tense my neck muscles whereas anger releasing ones my stomach muscles.

The next step is to lie on the bed tightening and relaxing different parts of your body. With time, you will notice that you gain access to more and more muscles, even the ones that probably you did not know that existed. The more muscles you can consciously tighten, the more probable it is that you can also relax them on demand, which is the overall aim of this practice.

 

Self-Reflection

It is very important to be able to name your feelings, and to know yourself thoroughly including all your Achilles’ heels. Here, I would like to present three exercises that increase your level of self-esteem and influence your objectivity towards yourself.

 

Ex.1. The Victory Log (on the basis of Mike Brescia’s e-book Today Is Your Day To Win)

The overall aim of this exercise is to raise your level of confidence in stressful situations. Your task is to think about every little or big success that you have ever achieved throughout your life, and make a list of them on the piece of paper which you can carry around with you at all times. There is no time limit: from your early childhood up till now, nor is there any level of achievement: everything counts! Have you ever dated a hottie? Put it on your list. Did you climb a really tall tree when you were 10? It also makes a list. Did your boss compliment your work? Yes, that’s very much listable.

Now, in every situation that makes you feel uneasy, stressed or lost, you will take out the list and read it. The further you walk down the memory lane of your achievements, the lower is the level of your stress and higher is the level of confidence you gain.

 

Ex. 2. Self-Pros and Self-Cons

Listing your strengths and limitations enables you to work on the latter. Personally, my list of cons is considerably longer than pros, but it gives me motivation to work on them in order to cross them out from the list or change their position from con side to pro one.

Being aware of your qualities also helps you recognize certain triggers that influence your negative emotions. For instance, if you have recently discovered that you are a lost case of a perfectionist, it is more probable that in the future you will not get irritated by your son’s recklessness in colouring within the lines, since you know that those feelings stem from your personal weakness, and your negative emotions are in this case misdirected.

 

Ex. 3. Post Argument Objective Concluding

This exercise will practice your objectivity towards yourself, and hopefully in the future will prevent you from reacting improperly to a certain situation.

Think of a recent argument that you had, and look at it as objectively as you can. Write down all the possible reactions that you could have had, everything that comes to your head, do not judge it just write with the flow of your mind.

Now, look at the list, and divide the reactions into emotional and cold-blooded – was your reaction emotional or cold-blooded? If emotional, try to figure out what factor triggered this emotion remembering that our feelings are personal and we should not be subjected to them.

When you are done pondering on the triggers, look at the list again, and find the most appropriate reaction, universal to every human being, not only you.

 

Brain Stimulation Practice

This exercise will put you in touch of both sides of your brain, the one that is responsible for solving mathematical equations, analytical and comparative thinking and the overall use of logic, and the one that steers our emotions, imagination, creativity and artistic skills.

Your task is to write down a word that comes to your mind and describe it both ways:

  • using an intellectual and factual approach to it like grammatical definition, historical facts, linguistic diagnose, semantic description, etc.
  • using your emotional response like personal experience connected to this word,  feelings that you attribute to it, desires that are awaken by the word, or stories that comes to your mind when thinking of it

Learning the difference between subjective and objective response to a word is a milestone in raising the level of your self-awareness. It is a simple word for now, but in the future it may be a whole sequence of situations.

The examples of exercises shown above require a deep sense of self-involvement and determination. You have to fully open yourself to yourself, and understand your ulterior motives, the unique reasoning of your mind and how your body reacts to external factors. It is difficult to admit that we are fallible, but I think that this is the first big step in the difficult process of self-improvement.  So just to finalize my thoughts, I would like to leave you with a quote of Doctor Covey who said that:

“To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.”

Blissful Abyss of Ignorance

stockvault-washington-dc-famous-landmarks112207Ignorance is a flaw. It is an equivalent of suffering according to Taoism and Buddhism. It does not allow us to see the world fully as it is due to our perceptual blindness imposed on us by ignorance itself. Dr Wayne Dyer, a splendid motivational speaker, claims that “the highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.”

Sadly, I have to admit that this type of ignorance is the most hurtful yet the most common phenomenon in our society. We tend to rush with judgments that very often are no more than statements saturated with prejudice. The latter word can be broken down into a preposition pre and a stem judicial which signifies something that was pre-judged which means that it was given an opinion based on illusionary facts rather than direct experience.

Such ignorance spiced with prejudice creates stereotypes and discrimination which is highly infectious among people. Behavioural psychology states clearly that certain ideas combined with people’s tendency to conformity creates interesting mingle of behavioural patterns within and outside the society.

In the 1950s a psychologist Minard did a research on a miner community of mixed racial background. It led to rather interesting findings, that is, whenever miners went underground it was the mining community that counted, there was no place for racial demarcation; however, when the same group of people interacted outside the mine, there was noticeable race distinction to be observed.

Minard explains that the notion of conformity is highly influential when it comes to social life, meaning that the group of miners were sociologically forced to adapt their behaviour to the normal social constrains while being up on the ground, whereas those same rules were no longer applicable in the distinctive environment of the mine. Finally, the psychologist comes to conclusion that whether or not prejudice is present depends on the social context.

Ignorance gives a green light to stereotypes and pejorative opinions towards other people, organizations, ideas. But is that all that lures behind this infamous state of oblivion? Unfortunately, it is only a tip of the iceberg. Ignorance provokes dependency, which nowadays is promoted big time.

Current research shows that people in the U.S.A. who know little about economics are prone to entrust this issue to the government, and by doing so, they tend to feel dependent on the currently ruling government. And this beaviour goes further: such people, in order not to get disappointed with the current state of economy, nor to shatter their unshaken faith in government tend to consciously ignore the issue, choosing not to learn anything connected to economy of their own country.

Such dependence is used not only by politics in their campaigns but also by media feeding people with already formed radical opinions which do not give room for thinking about the issue. We are bombarded with ready-made solutions instead of being given a chance to ponder upon a subject and do it our way.

Somewhere on the Internet, among other quotes, I found a statement which says as follows: “you and you alone can salvage your life. You and you alone can walk the path. No one else can do it for you.”

This made me think of how dependent I am of the opinion of the others, of the life style that is promoted by the others. What importance I put into living the life according to the rules that were created by our contemporary consumptionist society. Why? Because it is more convenient for me to live in oblivion of my own needs, to adapt to everything, ignorant of my own individuality.

Why? Because I don’t want to be different, I want to be one of many, a part of something bigger than an individual isolated particle. The need to fulfill my sense of belonging makes me ignorant of my own self.  And in the long run I am glad, because I know that somewhere out there exist people that can finish a sentence for me, people that will emit the same amount of ignorance directed towards certain issues as I do.

I can talk for hours about today’s awful teenagers choosing to remain ignorant of sociological context that is usual an important marker, and of providing any kind of solution – that is my ignorance, I accept it, and I know that there are many people that I can share it with.

Healthy? For sure human …

Apart from this unifying qualities are there any other “blessings” of ignorance? Well, many thinkers and researchers attribute their best performance to this paramount moment when they realise the vastness of their ignorance. Thus, ignorance is considered to be the first important step in education. An American philosopher Will Durant claims that “education is a progressive discovery of your own ignorance.”

Being conscious of how much each and every of us has yet to learn or discover is as essential as learning process itself. It makes us want to aim higher, reach for more, learn more efficiently. It simply keeps our mental self in shape. The need to know more and to go out of the shadow of one’s own ignorance stands behind our educational motivation.

So, after all, is ignorance a blessing or a curse? I leave the answer to you …

6 Faces of Empathy

stockvault-mannequin-close-up113938Imagine yourself being put in a situation that is familiar to you. Your brain recognizes the pattern, and you act according to the definition of reality dictated by your personal experience. Now, imagine somebody else in the exact same situation. Theoretically, you know the outcome. But what happens if the person responds differently? You lose control over the situation, because it is no longer your situation, it is unprecedented and perplexing to you. Now, there are two possible solutions: you can remain lost or you can expand your definition of the situation. Expanding the definition means going through mental effort of understanding motives and behavioral patterns of the other person. This process of putting your psychological self into somebody else’s shoes is called empathy.

Empathy is the key to control your reality by seeing a bigger picture, and accepting its existence. Using empathy in your personal and professional life can expand the range of your social roles, making your life a lot easier and certainly more fulfilling.

THE SOCIAL CHAMELEON

Empathic thinking can help you adjust to every social situation you find yourself in. You just observe people that surround you, and accept their presence. The more you pay attention to them, the more it is likely that you will involuntarily mirror their posture, even sometimes their accent. Unintentional mimicry is typical of people with highly developed empathic skills. The research has shown that the chameleon effect increases the level of likability, and allows every interaction to go smoother.

THE MAN OF PERSPECTIVE

Empathy allows you to mentally step aside, and observe the situation from a more objective point of view, which is very helpful in problem solving, because perspective thinking is a perfect tool for providing long-term solutions. When you detach yourself from the situation and look at it less emotionally, you are able to redefine it. Moreover, perspective thinking help you act, even if you are shy or indecisive. How is it possible? It is pure biology; perception and action have the same code of representation in our brain. Whenever perception thinking stimulates the brain, it simultaneously sends signals to the motor areas, provoking us to act immediately upon receiving a satisfactory solution. Marina Abramović, a Balkan performer, often uses this link to convey her artistic statement. ‘I want people to stop being the observers, I want them to be active, conscious.’  She does it by torturing herself or letting others to do “whatever they please” to her. There are people who hurt her, but there is always somebody who finally finds courage to stop the performance.

THE TEAM LEADER

Have you ever been to a meeting which ended up with everybody jumping to each other´s throats? It often happens when people just spit out their opinions not paying any attention to the aim of the meeting, nor to its participants. But what happens when people allow themselves to understand, and take into consideration more aspects? Their thinking is radically changed, they form a social linkage which units their perspective. The picture is bigger from now on, but it is more coherent, hence easier to manage. Great team leaders and successful negotiators use this basic feeling to achieve their goals. ´Empathy demonstrates accurate, non-judgmental understanding of another’s needs and interests,´ says Robert Mnookin of Harvard Negotiation Research Project. By detaching yourself from emotions and restraining from social or racial background, you can see more options, thus be more resourceful.

THE PEACE-MAKER

Being able to recognize emotions of other people puts you in a better position during every dispute that you might find yourself in. Naming the emotion lessens the impact which it carries. Your goal is to make a person think rationally, and provide a mutually beneficial solution. Emotions like anger, disappointment or despair are irrelevant to solving anything. They cloud the picture. People often forget about the aim, stuck in the phase when they just blame each other. Being able to put feelings aside and look at the problem from the perspective of both sides involved, allows you to deal with the unpleasant situation more efficiently – without having to pay high emotional costs of every quarrel.

THE STOIC

Recognizing emotions of other people can teach you how  consciously and objectively name your own feelings. Empathy is not only about other people, it is also about you. But recognition is not everything. Now you have to understand the reason, use your empathic abilities to research yourself, to understand yourself. Sometimes the reason you are angry or disappointed is minor or does not matter in comparison to the bigger picture. Upon understanding it, we are often surprised by our own emotions, and accordingly, we adjust them to the redefined situation. The more you detach yourself from the source of  bad emotion, the more objectively you can look into the situation. Such developed self-control makes your life better, since, according to Dr Kentaro Fujita of Ohio State University, with improved emotional responses you gain self-esteem and increased satisfaction from your life and from people surrounding you.

THE ACHIEVER

Empathy forces you to rethink, and redefine the situation by widening your point of view through other possibilities. Those mechanisms prevent you from automatic decisions and actions, that you are accustomed to. When you stop acting automatically, you start acting consciously, meaning, you are aware of your goal, and you are working toward achieving it. Having a precise aim helps you achieve it quicker, saves you a lot of energy. Upon understanding what you really want to gain, you can set a conscious and short path for obtaining your goal. Defining the goal makes you feel better about yourself.

Empathy improves the performance of a social group. You don’t have to change the world, but you can try to change your personal environment by changing the way you think. You are the most important person in your reality, but at the same time you contribute to reality of others and vice versa. Remembering this simple truth can in fact change your world.

Homo Demotivatus

demotivated_2Lack of motivation affects almost all of us from time to time. We don’t feel like working, not even doing things that we like, and we look at happy people with the uncanny mixture of hatred, jealousy and unhealthy fascination. How do they do it? How can they achieve such a high level of ignorance towards the world’s general awfulness? Is it possible to tune out the reality and trick yourself into being unquestionably happy? Is ignorance new happiness? Many questions of similar intense self-pity go through our heads when we reach the infamous peak of demotivation.

I reached this peak not so long time ago. I questioned every step that I had taken in my life, and I evaluated everything in such a negative light that my boyfriend afraid of my intentions offered to stay home to talk this through.

So he stayed, we talked, I felt better.

It was not so long time after when I stumbled across a minor problem which resulted in an unstoppable fountain of tears and a series of sobs so loud that I almost caused my cat to suffer a fatal heart condition. The state of demotivation, protectively wrapped in my boyfriend’s sweet words of love and compassion, broke free to mock me and my so-called stability of mind. Why? I was doing so well! I recognized the importance of surrounding me love, I understood that I have to fight for every goal that I want to reach, and revised again the theory of success achieved only step-by-step with time. Dammit, I talked it through! I got better! So why does the feeling of being powerless haunt me again? Why do I feel so empty and deprived of energy?

I brooded long over cups of coffee so strong that after my musings I had to go for a walk to lose the shakiness of my limbs. I sat on a bench within the protective grasp of the ancient city walls of York, took my phone, and started jotting down all my fears.

Fears are not all so bad; they protect us from taking too hasty decisions, force us to think twice before we leap.

As it came out, my fears weren’t so terrifying after I gave them name and brought them into bright daylight. I came home, googled “types of demotivation,” and came across an article written by Cath Duncan who very wisely compared the state of demotivation to snow: many people see it as a general idea just like they perceive demotivation as broadly-speaking lack of willingness to live; but just like Eskimos who can observe different kinds of snow and name it accordingly, in the same way there exist different types of demotivation. Labeling your state of mind helps you to overcome it, as you are able to apply appropriate preventive steps or/and healing processes.

I learned a lot about myself that day. I discovered that most of my fears derive from the general unclearness of what I really want. Do I want to live in England or go back to Poland? Develop my career as a writer or go back to teaching? I operated within those ambiguities and inscribed them all in my long and short-term goals, instead of focusing on one of them, and developing only one of the possible choices. After my revealing aha! moment, I decided to focus on my present situation: I am an aspiring writer living in a beautiful city of York.

After defining my roles, I felt more self-assured, as if my body, floating in space of uncertainty gained weight and pulled me back on the path leading to a clear goal. I started to feel more real, more alive. Focusing solely on a chosen narrow goal made it far more achievable. I can almost see the end of the path – and it does not matter if I succeed or fail, because both outcomes are finite, and both of them enable me to move on to my next goal, to my next big dream.

In other words, I will continue to dream big, but I’ll resign from dreaming wide.

Will it work?