លែងលេងលេង (Stop Half-ass-ing Yourself)

Don’t get me wrong; I quite appreciate the fact that our society permits us to fail without being bombarded with too much shit. Try talking about your failures to anyone willing to listen and most frequently than not, you would be showered with a bucket-load of the “you-tried” stars (hopefully un-sarcastically) and an abundant pats of sympathy.
However, like all well-meaning actions, this one comes with its own double-edged effects; among them, which will be the focus of this post, is the perpetuation of the culture of “lengleng” (literally translated as play play from Khmer language which metaphorically means half-heartedly).

Instead of committing seriously to a subject, a student would use lengleng as a pretext for not exerting enough efforts. I mean, you can’t really fail, if your declared intention was not to exceed in the first place.

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“I’m just doing this course lengleng.” Followed by missed-classes, one-night-policies, and half-assed papers written literally 24 hours before the deadline with the help of the Muse of Caffeine and sleep-deprived brain cells. But you won’t feel guilty for barely making a C+ in that course; oh no, because you were only doing this course lengleng, remember?

There are only two possible results here. Either you end up getting a little over the average grade, which means you’re a genius, or you end up failing which is sort of what you were aiming for in the first place.

See? No loss, only gains.

Lengleng becomes this trusty cushion for anything risky in your life.

Not sure if you’re gonna get that part-time job as a dancing Panda on the weekends at the mall? Never mind, you only applied lengleng, anyway.

Insecure about your future with that cute girl who’s just accepted your date request? I’ve got you covered, just commit with only half your ass. Either she’ll dump you (you didn’t really want to try in the first place anyway, so nope, not your fault), or somehow, miraculously, she will stay (which just shows you’re just one helluva lucky bastard).

Scared that you will not live your life to the fullest? Stop your worrying once and for all by floating along the river of life with half your ass submerged, yelling “lengleng” once in a while because God (if there is one) certainly won’t be able to put the blame on you for not giving the river your all because hey! A person cannot be held responsible for what they had no intention of accomplishing in the first place! You didn’t intend to be happy in life, so it’s not your fault you’re discontented, sad and alone at the end!

Humor and petty goals aside, do you really wish to wake up one day, gasping for breath on your deathbed, just to realize, in your eighty years of life, you’ve never fully applied yourself in anything, not even a dramatic eco-friendly burial that you’ve always dreamed of having?someone-once-told-me-the-definition-of-hell

 

There’s this interesting anonymous quote which says maybe the worst punishment one can receive is to meet the person one could have been on the last day of one’s life.

 

 

Do you really wish to meet the person that you could have been, had you not lengleng your way through life just because you fear failure?

The person who has ridiculously silly bar stories of their teenage part time job as a mall Panda.

The person who’s married their college sweetheart and lived to have a life full of petty arguments but never run out of love?

The person who’s grabbed life by the tits and milked every single ounce of milk out of it. Who’s not afraid to face God (again, if there is one), and say, “I’ve used everything you gave me. Now just let me rest?)

Do not build a leaden life full of regrets for the fear of making a fool of yourself in front of your peers

because I’ve heard regret is the worst sound a person can hear.

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For me, I find it helpful to think of any life endeavors as a friendship. (Credit to this dude. Seriously, read his posts. He’s just a bowl of awesome-sauce).

Now, back to the friendship metaphor thing.

When you treat any project/studying/anything really of yours with a lengleng attitude, it’s like you’re being friends with someone, but not really putting the efforts to develop a deeper friendship.

We all have friends of that kind. You know, the ones that post on our walls, parroting “we should hang out soon”, but never really make the plan to. The ones whose hangouts involve taking selfies and posting about how happy we’re to finally meet each others. The ones that are not aware of 90% of your true self because they never bother to ask, or listen carefully when you talk anyway. The ones that you restrict to the weather-talk level because there’s no way someone like that would want to and/or be able to empathize with your deeper woes.

For a friendship to flourish, everybody knows one needs to invest the time and efforts, and the willingness to. Lengleng attitude just won’t cut it. Well, at least, I know for sure I won’t want a lengleng best friend. Acquaintance? Yes. But seriously nurturing friendships that will certainly last for a long time? Get that shitty attitude out of my swamp and go leng somewhere else!

For you to achieve something, or well, to put your best in something because we all know success is quite dependent upon luck (and at the end of the day, nothing really matters much but your efforts), it’s helpful to remember to:

  • Put the appropriate time and effort into the work of anything you deem worthwhile because growth needs time, dude, growth needs time.
  • It’s okay to let go: just like friendships, when it is not working out anymore, you can let the goal go. Friendships come and friendships go. Goals are the same.
  • Results are important, but like most healthy friendships, you’re just friends with that person because you like to hang out with them. What you get from them are only awesome byproducts of your amazing time together. Commit yourself to stuff because you like doing it, exploring, learning from it (even though you look like a fool for doing so).

Now, say hello to that goal of yours, and make yourself comfortable because you guys are going to be talking for quite a long time to come.

My Mindful Week- Day 6: Listening in Relationships

I’m not sure about the past (since I was not around to witness it), but many people today listen just so they can retort. If they are not subtle about their self-centered tendencies, they would just reply back with most of the times irrelevant information about themselves.

  • “Hey, so my dog just died.”
  • “Oh? My pet lizard died ten years ago and till this day, I’m still hurt. I actually had her skin preserved. Do you want to see the pictures? I can even bring her the next time we meet.”

Maybe not this exaggerated, but you know the drill.

Even the most selfless among us have the habit of listening to give advice, console or comfort.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but some situations require not a wise pair of lips, but an understanding pair of ears. I’m sure you have had this experience, the feeling of a burden being practically moved from your chest just by ranting to another person even if that person did not give you any advice.

We all know the old adage of how communication is the key to relationships, but listening is the key to communication. Mindful listening aims to extend our non-judgmental listening of our own thoughts and feelings, to another living being.

The goal is to just listen, not to reply, to correct, or to give advice, but just simply listen. It’s extremely handy especially when one or both ends of the conversation happen to be emotionally charged. Rational approach of the situation can come later, but currently emotionally aggravated cases call for compassionate ears (pun intended).

Here is how to inject a bit of mindfulness into your conversations:

  1. Breathe in and out. This is the most important part. Keep tap of breathing even and especially when you are listening.
  2. Maintain a half-smile will help too (especially when the other party is sorta mad at us).
  3. Listen to the other person. Don’t try to come up with a reply. Just simply listen and imagine the things they are describing.
  4. Keep tap of your breathing the whole way through.
  5. Viola, you’re done.

I know it sounds very simple, but it works like magic. I remember being very mad at my students who decided to plagiarize in my writing class when the only rule I enforced was to not cheat their souls in writing. When I found out, I felt incredibly affronted as if they deliberately intended to hurt me! Thankfully, I could not express my anger right away because classes wouldn’t start until that evening which gave me half a day to cool down, so I decided to take a mindfulness approach in questioning them instead of ugly sobbing and yelling about artist integrity.

During the whole conversation, I kept my feelings to myself and sought to solely listen to their sides of the story. One was too stressed with exams; the other with homework. Just sitting there, listening to their stories have curiously made me happier. I can still recall the feeling; it was like having a flower bloom in your heart; you just feel so much compassion for the people in front of you, you know (God knows I’ve had enough stress with exams and homework too). Before the conversation, I only expected mindful listening to prevent me from lashing out; by the end of the talk, I was not only calm, but even a little happy.

It’s such a curious turn of events, and if you don’t buy it, try it out for yourself! In your next conversation, pretend to have lost your voice for a change and listen for the sake of listening only. You might just end up with an expected golden rose in your chest!

My Mindful Week- Day 5: Dealing with Anxiety

Most of the times, if our heads aren’t full of past regrets and embarrassment then it’s filled with anxiety for the future.
What if it rains when I’m out (even if it’s summer and there’s not a lick of cloud visible for miles in the sky)?
What if I can’t find a job upon graduation and will have to resort to be a solo goat farmer in the rural southeastern part of the country?
What if my significant other cheats and breaks my heart in two months?
What if I fail this semester? (legit fear though)
What if, what if, what if?

We like to think that we’re being rational and preparing the best for the future, but think about it. Have you ever been able to be a hundred percent prepared for the future?

*cricket sounds*

I thought so.
It’s very unlikely you are going to be able to foresee the future and its surrounding situation and make plans to perfectly resolve those issues successfully.
Apart from these general life anxieties, we are also anxious about our death and ill-health from time to time. While of course, thinking and planning for the future is obviously a good thing, if you just spend your time unproductively wallowing in the negative emotions such as fear and anxiety that your predictions generate, then you might need to change because those doomsdays? They are not happening right at this moment.
Since right here right now is the only reality, your fear and anxiety in the projected future are just that, a projection. Why waste perfectly good minutes of a real life over some fantasy apocalypse in the future that might not even happen? What will your life be if you spend every single minute of it worrying about the next minute? Probably not a lot, I dare say.

While the silliness of being anxious of the future is easily grasped by the head, it’s harder for us to feel and realize it in our hearts of hearts. It took me years to finally curb my worries a little and I’m pretty sure this is far from the last level of not-giving-a-shit, but I hope these methods of mindfulness will help you lessen your fear for the future, too:

  1. Think of yourself as a team, made up of millions of selves, each one designed to deal with just one second of your life as a whole. If the issue is not happening right in this second, then it’s not your present-self’s business to fret over it. Just take care of the moment handed to you. If and when the issue is going to happen, your future selves will deal with it. Have faith in your future self. I mean, your past selves have survived 100% of their conquest; you are surviving right now; and you will survive in the future.
  2. As always, when anxiety comes up, please do not judge yourself. Just acknowledge to yourself, “I am feeling anxious right now.” Remember that you are not your feelings. You are your actions. When you are aware of your feelings as they bubble up, you have a greater power in choosing to act on them or not.
    When negative feelings come up, just acknowledge them and let them pass. You’re a sky and negative emotions are just clouds passing by. Some days, the clouds are so thick and numerous that you think you might never see the blue sky again, but it’s still there, underneath all the clouds, you’re still there.
  3. When dealing with the fear of ill-health or death, it’s best to just accept the reality. No matter how scared you are of them, they will come; oh, they will come. Spend some time just breathing in and out and imagine your body slowly becoming weaker. Your knees can no longer support your fragile frame and they buckle under the weight of your own waste. One day, your arms will not be strong as they are now, and you will also have difficulty recalling your pet’s names. And then, all the lights will go out and you will cease to exist in this world, at least not as the you right now. It’s best to just get comfortable with the image of your body, dead cold, laying beneath the earth, rotting for eternity because that’s definitely going to happen (unless you, like me, have plans to get your cremated ash launched into space. No? Just me?). Running away from it will only generate more fear. You have to accept it’s a given reality and instead of fretting that it will come (which it will), focus on making everyday of your life counts because it’s counting, oh, it’s counting. After you die, only the effects you have on the world remains: how soft you loved the people and things around you, and how gently you treaded the earth. Your physical body will be gone, but you can make sure you have a positive impact on the world long after you’re dead by being kind, and doing stuff that matters. It’s comforting (to me, at least), to realize that in the long run, nothing that I’m doing will matter except for how much I’ve loved. It helps to practice saying Thich Nhat Hanh’s mantras about death while breathing in and out to accept the reality of death:
    1. Breathing in, say “I am of the nature to grow old.” Breathing out, repeat, “I cannot escape growing old.”
    2. Breathing in, say, “I am of the nature to have ill health.” Breathing out, “I cannot escape ill health.”
    3. Breathing in, say, “I am of the nature of die.” Breathing out, “I cannot escape death.”
    4. Breathing in, repeat, “All that is dear to me, and everyone I love, are of the nature to change.” Breathing out, “There is no way to escape being separated from them.”
    5. Breathing in, say, “I inherit the results of my acts of body, speech and mind.” Breathing out, say, “My actions are my continuation.”

These mantras sound extremely simple, I know, but once you let it sip into your subconscious and really know them, you can let go of pretty much any fear that you can think of.

 

My Mindful Week- Day 4: Dealing with Technology Overload

Ping! “You’ve got a message from Dalin.”

Ping! “Ik_39483 just liked your Instagram post.”

Ping! “A: hey, I have something to talk to you.”
Ping! “Your boss just sent you yet another email.”

 

Living in this world of constant notifications, one can feel very overwhelmed from time to time. It seems as if these apps are always watching your every move, tempting you to record your moments and share them to the world. You don’t have enough time to simply just “be”- just sit and enjoy your sunbathing, or just have a nice chat with friends without having the urge to post a selfie with them with the hashtag #frienshipgoal.

Not only that, sometimes you feel like you don’t have enough time to be with yourself. It seems like there are hundred of urgent issues waiting for you to act and God forbid something very bad might happen during that 10 minutes you don’t check your newsfeed!

This technology is supposed to make you stay connected, but you feel further and further apart from yourself. There’s just simply no time to reflect before the next email arrives.

If you feel like life is slipping by so fast on your screen and you’re just there, a passive fish in the grand river of life, I would suggest you to do these (as it worked for me):

  1. Live slower: yup. Take a deep breathe in right now and look around you. Notice the lights, and objects and even people around you. You might be in bed, cozying it up in your blankets, then just notice how the night air feels this particular day; or how the streetlight hits your glassy bedroom window. When you eat, try to really taste each morsel of the food instead of hurrying to fork it down your throat just to get it over with. You clean your dish very fast because you want to drink a cup of tea afterwards. But when you get to your cup of tea, you don’t drink it peacefully, no, you gulp it down just so you can get out of the house after. But when you’re on your motorbike, making your way among the streets, you don’t do it slowly and enjoy life. Instead, you go full speed with constant honking to get to your destination. I don’t really need to go on because this is a cycle. You are always hurrying this moment for the next moment thinking that you’ll enjoy it more. But when you arrive at that next moment, you will hurry it to get to the next next moment, thinking you will finally enjoy it more. This goes on and on and on until one day, death comes, the final of all moments and you realize you have wasted your entire life chasing death.
  2. Have a no-technology period: you can start by allotting certain times of the day to turn off all your notifications. Truth be told, most of the things you think need you urgently don’t really need you that urgently. If you can’t do the job, others can. For the sake of your own peace, turn the damn notifications off. If people could live by waiting for three months to get a notification (by the form of mails) before, then so can you! You can maybe make sure you turn off your devices by dinner time, or you can go a step further and organize a iSabbath day. On that day (maybe a Saturday or Sunday), you just turn your phone and wifi off. No internet, no device, just you and your life. You can stay at home, read a book, or lounge around, or you can grab your backpack and explore the city for the whole day, spend the afternoon in a random coffee shop where you can’t check in. OR you can go another step further and not having a smartphone altogether. I took that leap of faith and it was one of the best decisions I’ve done (read it here). It’s made my life more peaceful and less demanding, but of course, it depends on your life and what you need internet for. The bottom-line is you should have some regular off-line time for yourself and your own damn life.
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  3. Go back to your island: it’s very tempting when the sun is out, you’re on your good hair day to snap a selfie and show yourself off. That’s fine, but when you constantly bombard your feed with 10 selfies a day and snapchatting every single activity you do in any given day, you might need to take a step back and ask yourself why the heck are you doing this? You know the need to share pieces of our lives on the internet is a very simple manifestation of the needs for social validation in the age of technology. (read the previous post of this series for how to deal with the need for social approval here). Breathe in and out. Imagine yourself as an island. You’re going back to your island, and honestly, the only validation you need is from yourself. I like spending an exuberant amount of time just imagining that island of self-contentment and honestly? It’s a much better way to spend time than it may seem.

 

 

My Mindful Week- Day 3: Dealing with Social Validation

You don’t want to be doing this, really, you don’t, but your finger itches and you’ve gotta snap that yummy home-made lunch of yours and post it to Instagram before it’s ruined. It’s great day, gathering up with your close mates, and you feel like you’ve gotta show everyone how great your hang out has been.

Where does this need for social validation come from? The need for others to perceive us as cool, hip, or simply good? These attempts don’t just happen in social media (although God knows it’s compounded in this platform), but it happens in our social life as well.

We fret over our outfit before going to a social event.

We spend hours putting together a cool outfit just to change our minds at the last second for fear of being judged.

Sometimes, we overshare too much of our achievements and accomplishments in a first meeting out of insecurity.

We buy that 5-thousand-dollar bike to impress our biking group members even though we’re pretty sure our old bike did just fine to our liking.

You know, the fear of being judged, the need to impress, to boast, these all stem from our need to be socially validated, to be patted on the head for conforming to a certain norm in a certain group.

And before you get all toasty and claim you’re a hipster who follows no rules, let me make it clear. It doesn’t have to be a norm that the majority follows. Whether you admit it or not, we all do this, but maybe with different groups. Even the hipsters who claim to follow no rules actually follow the rules of hipsters. (flashback to all the hipster mustache, glasses and boots).

Yup. I do it. You do it. We all do it. It’s just in our nature to want to belong to a certain group of people, and it’s useless to claim otherwise. However, it’s helpful to be aware of just which of our activities are being influenced by this need and whether we really truly want to do it or not.

Mindfulness can come in handy and here’s how I’ve used it to weed out the activities I truly enjoy and those that I do to just seem as cool:

  1. Look deep into the nature of the need for social validation. The thing is when you look deep enough into any negative emotions, it usually comes from fear. And when you zoom in enough into your fears, it all comes down to two major fears that every mortal have: a/ the fear of dying and b/ the fear of being alone. Actually, the second major fear, I think, also stems from the first major fear. When you are alone with no one to help you, your chance of surviving is likely diminished, so that’s why humans have this need to fit in, to belong to a group. As you look deep into that fear, continue to breathe in and out and just acknowledge that fear inside you.
  2. Look deep into each action and the group you’re trying to seek validation from. Don’t judge yourself for this. Just look. For example, I, myself had doubts about my enjoyment of painting. I was not sure if whether I did it to appear cool, or I was genuinely enjoying it for the sake of creating. Turns out, most of my works up to that point had been done for the sake of getting them likes on my social media, and that i only wanted validation from my social media followers.
  3. It’s very important to not judge yourself as an attention seeking whore. You have to remember being mindful is all about non-judgmental awareness. If your thoughts are caught up in judgment, don’t judge yourself for that either. Gently nudge your thoughts back to the base of your breathing and continue to acknowledge your emotions and the reasons behind.
  4. Now it’s time for action: you should at this point, find out how needing validation from certain groups (family, friends, neighbours, classmates, strangers on the internet) have driven you to commit certain actions. It’s time for you to decide if that validation is worth having, and to decide whether you want to continue that action or not. With regard to the above painting example, after finding out that I was doing it mostly for the likes, I took a break. Instagram likes were simply not worth the frustration and hair loss from all the hair-pulling of producing each piece of work and the likes would always become meaningless after a few days anyway.
    But something strange happened, after a few months of not painting, I found myself drawn back to the freshness of paint, to the softness of brushes. But this time? This time, as I pick my brush and dab it into the swirling green palette, I know I’m doing it out of pure enjoyment, out of the pure need to record my thoughts in brush strokes instead of a few hollas from internet strangers and painting has never been more liberating. I know it’s hard, especially if you grow up in Cambodia where you’re taught from day-one to seek for social validation. To be honest, I’m still in the process of weeding out the validation-motivated actions and the love-motivated ones. It’s a long and excruciating process and one worth your time because if not, whose life are you going to lead? If you want it to be yours, it makes sense to do what you really enjoy!

This is part of the My Mindful Week series. Read why it’s important here, day 1 here, and day 2 here.

My Mindful Week- Day 2: Dealing with Jealousy

 

It’s a Tuesday morning and you just got back from the gym. Beads of perspiration are racing one another across your forehead and you think, “eh, this is a good time to check up on my Facebook feed while letting my pumping body cool off.” So you did. And boy, was that a big mistake because instead of appreciating your own efforts in finally getting your lazy bum to the gym early on a Tuesday morning, you’re reminded of that one hot friend you have who’s training for a national marathon and just posted a picture of her track.

You envy her dedication and abs of steel.

You check out the news and found that your favorite band is doing yet another European tour and the green monster strikes yet again. Why can’t you be cool and make your band work (never mind the fact that you have zero musical training)? Why aren’t you packed and on board, on your way to a year of crazy world adventure?

Then you proceed to hear from your dear mother that a distant cousin is accepted into a master program in the United States. Like damn! Why can’t you be accepted into a master programs too even if you don’t know for sure you want to suffer two additional years for yet another paper?

The green monster becomes all the more hurtful when you really intend on getting something, yet somebody else gets it! The jealousy you feel for that straight A student in class, or the envy for your friend who finally made it big in the science field.

Rationally, you know. Oh, you know you shouldn’t feel jealous of these people who have theoretically done you no harm, yet, the monster crops up every time you are reminded of what should be.

Being mindful can help you a lot in dealing with this unwanted distracting feeling of envy:

  1. Acknowledge it: I’m serious. Most of us, with our conscience and our sensibility tend to push these uncomfortable feelings away, thinking that to feel envy means we are bad people. Well, feeling envy doesn’t make us bad people. It just makes us, well, people. Don’t push the feeling away. Turn around and take a look at that thing you call “green monster” so vehemently. Don’t judge the feeling, nor yourself. Just acknowledge that you are indeed feeling envious right now.
  2. Breathe in and out: try to look at the creature of envy and just breathe. Again, be mindful of your breathing all the way. If you stray, get carried away by what “should” be yet again, it’s alright. Accept that, and gently nudge your attention back to your breathing and your internal feelings.
  3. Look deep into your history: take a look at the series of events that led to this one single jealous moment. Say, you’re jealous of others being able to be out and proud with their sexuality while you’re here, buried neck deep in your cheap closet. Look into the events that led you here. Your parents are homophobic. You’re living in a society where homosexuality is treated as a joke, a faraway fairytale that shouldn’t exist in the real life. You are far too scared to face the consequences of being disowned and shunned if you ever come out to your family. That’s alright. Just look at the series of events that led you here.
  4. Look deep into the history of the target of your envy: after looking at what led you there, look at the person you’re jealous of. That person who’s so out and proud? They used to be scared too when they’re sixteen and realized they liked girls. But their parents were quite accepting when they came out. Try to find the reasons that take them there and I assure you it’s never 100% smooth sailing for anyone, no matter how fine they appear to be now.
  5. Understand that you have your path and they have their paths. It’s fortunate that they have received what you craved most, but that’s their lives. That’s their path. It’s unfortunate that you didn’t have it, but this is your life, your path. And these paths are what make them and you unique individuals. Also, you might think they are “successful” in this particular area, but try to look at other areas where they are struggling. It’s a universal thing, this struggling. Once you’ve accepted that you and their lives are full of suffering, just in different hells, you’ll feel more compassion towards both yourself and them.
  6. Plan your actions: I believe there can be a healthy balance between acceptance and striving, so after accepting your past histories and everything that has led you to feel this jealousy, ask yourself, do you still want that? If you’re okay with not having it, simply acknowledge that it’s not a path you’d like to choose and move on with your life. However, if you still very much want it, make schemes, create an action plan to make it a reality. Say, you want to feel secured enough to come out to your family. Well, get a job. Invest your money. Save it. And bake a gay cake as a means of coming out!

One note though: after you’ve done this, the green creature is bound to creep up on you later on, most of the times, on the same freaking issue that you’ve dealt with. Don’t get frustrated; that’s part and package of being human. You just have to repeat this same process, acknowledge, understand and plan over and over and over. It sounds tiring, but it’s so much better than seething in envy on your own or worst, hating people out of spite.

 

My Mindful Week- Day 1: Dealing with Past Disappointments

We’ve all been there. It’s 3am on a Saturday night and you’re laying in a comfy bed, and as much as you want to get some shut-eye, your mind is going 120km/h thinking about all the mistakes you’ve done in the past or the hurt people inflicted upon you.

If only you’d tried a little more, she could’ve stayed. If only you knew better then, you wouldn’t be three knuckles deep in debt and about to lost all your savings right now. If only your boss hadn’t underestimated your working ethics or your friend hadn’t insulted you in front of the whole party. If only…

But these repeating loops of cassetted memories? They are just pointy, deadly knives. The more you replay them, the deeper you drive these knives into your own heart.

And you don’t deserve that. Nobody deserves that.

There’s a way to learn from these memories, but bleeding your heart by replaying them over and over and over is not it.

Here’s how I’ve learnt to cope with creeping past disappointments and hurt using mindfulness:

  • The first thing you’ll want to do is to acknowledge that disappointment. It’s natural for you to want to just brush it off, sweep it under the rug with other hundreds of past heartbreaks in the attic of your heart chambers. While it’s the mind’s way of keeping itself sane, the growing dust will eventually build up and burst one day. It’s better to acknowledge it and deal with it rather than bottling it up (duh).
  • Breathe in and out and be aware of your breathes. When you breathe in, say, “I’m breathing in.” When you breathe out, say, “I’m breathing out.”
  • Do not chastise yourself for stabbing your own heart. This is very critical because many of you tend to hate yourself for reliving past mistakes on top of the wound that such an act inflicts on your emotional bearings. Don’t blame yourself for it. Instead, just acknowledge the fact that you are reliving past memories and that you are feeling negative emotions. (this might take as long as 15 to 20 minutes for difficult memories, but breathe in and out through everything. You’ve got this.)
  • Breathe in and out some more.
  • After acknowledging the presence of those negative emotions, look at your past self in the memory. If you want to, look deeply into that self. Most of the time, you made that particular mistake because you were young, naïve, didn’t know any better. Or it was motivated out of fear, fear of being rejected, of being alone or any one of the hundreds manifestations of fear. Don’t judge that past self. Just acknowledge the reasons behind your action back then.

If you’re still mad for not getting into that one specific scholarship program, just look at your past self that was applying for it. Did you try your best? If yes, what else could you have done but your best? If not, why didn’t you try your best? Were you too stressed out with other areas of your life? Did you fear giving it all out and realizing you were never enough anyway? Did you fear failure? Were you afraid of what people were going to say about your failing to get in? Most of the time, everything just boils down into fear. We’re such fearful creatures, but that’s alright. Just acknowledge that part of your nature while breathing in and out and smile at it. Fear can only be replaced by understanding. Just shed the light of acknowledgement at that fear, and you will suddenly feel a little lighter, more alive. As you continue to practice, you might even grow to want to hug your younger self much like how you’d hug a scared child after they think they’ve done some horrible mistake like breaking an expensive cup and are scheming of the best way to run away from home forever because to be honest, aren’t we just children who are scared and lost?

  • Don’t forget to be aware of your in and out breathes through everything. Sometimes, you can get carried away by your thoughts. Don’t blame yourself for it. It’s a habit and you can certainly get better bit by bit. Just gently get back to being aware of your breathes every time you’ve wandered.
  • Finally, remind yourself that this is in the past and that it cannot hurt you anymore. You’ve survived it. Even if there are facets of it that you would love to change, you literally can’t. Until the scientists have figured out a way to travel back in time, you’re stuck with the present moment. Those things happened, and that’s that. Look at it with the eye of mindful non-judgement, smile at your younger self, and get back into the present reality where you truly belong.

If you have trouble following your breathe mindfully, it might be useful to read Thich Nhat Hanh’s instructions here.

This is part of My Mindful Week series. Read about its importance here