The Search for Self is Constant



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Most people assume that one day  they will discover themselves. The way they talk about it, it seems like they are expecting to have all the answers so that the file labelled SELF could be called complete.

Is there a definitive list of questions that you must answer before you officially know your self? 

Not as far as I’m aware.

Humans don’t come with a list of specifications, or  the definite number of things you must know about yourself to be considered a complete, self-aware person. What’s even more flummoxing is that even when you find the answers, and though those answers may be right for you at the time, there is no guarantee that they will remain right for your permanently. 

Sucks, doesn’t it? 

Perhaps, not.

Because like most things in life, the answer is not a clear cut, yes and no. It’s not a simple matter of “I’m self-aware” or “I’m not self-aware”.

For 99% of the people on this planet it’s going to be degrees of self-awareness ranging from 1% to 99%, rather than being 0% or 100%. 

To some extent, when you find parts of yourself, that discovery is permanent, because a large part of becoming self-aware is being able to accept truth about yourself. It’s about understanding the difference between the things you do that are in alignment with who you are, and the things you do that niggle at your conscious.

You can discover your core values, usually through some hard knocks. You can discover your intrinsic motivations, and what drives you in life, what prompts you to get out of bed every day. You can discover who you are, so that you are not completely confused about your identity. Some of these things may remain constant for a long time, or even for life. But once you have discovered those, then what? 

If you call yourself “complete” at that, then that is all you will be until the day you die. You won’t grow. Not growing leads to eventual stagnation, and then decay. 

But if you continue to live, and if you continue to keep yourself open to new truths, and to changes you may go through as a result of new experiences, then you will constantly have new things to learn. As you grow older, as you go through new life experiences, you may find that some of your current beliefs no longer apply. As you see more of the world, as you invest emotionally in a wider range of human feelings, you may discover that you didn’t know all that you thought you knew. 

One of the prime examples of this seems to be parenthood. Nearly every parent I know describes that they had no idea that the capacity to love a child was so much more deeper than to love anyone else. 

If you accept, even when you think you know your self, that you merely know some parts of your self, because you haven’t yet experienced or used 100% of your emotional or intellectual capacity, then you will always keep yourself open to new truths, and to exploring new horizons. You will always be open to discovering new parts of your self. 

That’s why, the search for self is constant. 


Journal about the degree of self-awareness you think you have. Do you feel that you know your self? Do you understand and agree with the concept of the search for self being constant? 







Journaling Exercise: Write A Review



image by olivander


For today’s journaling exercise, let’s do something fun (probably). I want you to write a review of a book you just read, or a movie you just watched. You can also write a review for a play or a performance that you have seen recently.

Write a review, as if you were a professional (which doesn’t mean you have to be negative). Be specific enough that you will know in years to come, what book or movie you are talking about. Give you honest opinion. Comment on what worked for you, and what didn’t.

Some questions you can use:

Was the writing good? Or did you just like it for the characters?

Was the acting good? Were some of the actors better than others?

Did the casting work for you? 

Did you have strong emotional reactions – positive or negative – to this book/movie? 

If you want to see some samples, here are the recent reviews I wrote for some performances. 

Have fun!


Ask the Readers: Do You Use Journaling for Professional Development?



image by paulworthington


Most people tend to use journaling for personal growth, and that’s great because journaling can take your personal development to a whole new level. But it can do the same for your professional development.

If you want a successful career, or even if you are just trying to figure out what is the right career for you, journaling can speed up the process. It can give you the self-awareness you need to make the right decisions quicker, and to find the right path sooner. If you want to get promotions, or just learn the ropes in your new job, you can use journaling to figure out ideas, strategies and solutions. If you have never used journaling for your professional development, you can get started by keeping a career journal.

Today, I would like to hear from you. 

Have you used journaling for your career?

If you have, how have you used it?

Share your answers, or your tips for career journaling in the comments below. 




Why Do You Expect More From The People You Love?



It is easier to forgive an enemy than it is to forgive a friend. 

– William Blake


Think about the people in your life, from those you care about the most to those who are mere acquaintances, and the people you don’t like at all. If you pay attention, you will discover that you have different standards for them.

You are likely to set higher standards, higher expectations for people you care about the most. 

You are likely to expect little or nothing from people you don’t  care about. 

You are likely to expect the worst from people you dislike or hate. 

It’s an interesting thing to think about, because you expect the most from the people you value the most.


Does the fact that you love them, or care about them, requires them to be a better human being?  Does the fact that you care about them make them responsible for being better people? That’s a subjective thing, but most people don’t like to let down the people they love.  But when they do let you down, do you find it difficult to forgive them?

Would it matter if the letting-down was intentional or unintentional?

Think about some of the examples:

How do you react when an acquaintance always shows up late? How do you react if you best-friend always shows up late? How do you react if your spouse always shows up late?

How hurt would you feel if a colleague or an acquaintance betrayed you? How hurt would you feel if your best-friend betrayed you? How hurt would you feel if your spouse betrayed you?

Do you expect your acquaintances to do random nice things for you? Do you expect your close friends to do random nice things for you? Do you expect your spouse to do random nice things for you?

How different were your answers, depending on the people concerned? How did you find your expectations match up compare to your relationship with the people concerned?

Why do you think it matters? Why do you think you have higher expectations of people you love the most?




Ask the Readers: What Quality Do You Value the Most in Your Friends?




Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.

– Helen Keller


Friends are important. It doesn’t matter how lovely your family is, friends are still important. I’m not talking about just casual acquaintances who may accompany you for a trip to the bar, or a shopping trip. I am talking about friends you value as important people in your life, friends who would leave a hole behind where they to walk out of your life.

Each of us have different perception of friendships and what makes each of our friends special. But regardless of the motley crew of people you may call friends, there is likely to be some common thread.

So my question today is, what is the one quality that you value the most in your friends?

I, for example, value loyalty. Sure, there are other things I value. All of my friends are intelligent. Many of them have a good sense of humour. Most of them are kind, generous people. Most of them are positive, life loving people. All of those, while important traits, are not as important to me as loyalty, because it’s their loyalty that gives me faith in them as people who would stick by me through thick and thin. It’s the loyalty that makes them special as my friends.

What is the one quality that you value the most in your friends? One that is important to you above the rest?





Dreams and Failure – Two Sides of the Same Coin



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Don’t worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.

– Jack Canfield


The fear of failure is normal. It’s our brain, our heart, trying to protect us from possible wounds. We are conditioned to want to feel safe and secure, and that’s why most people settle for safe mediocrity than risking that illusionary security, even for potentially much greater rewards.

This morning, just by breakfast, I received three rejections for my poems. Rejections suck you know. Big time. It doesn’t matter how nice people are about it, and it doesn’t matter that you know that with hundreds and sometimes even thousands of submission for a particular issue, your chances are already minuscule. Rejection always feels personal.

Unfortunately, it’s a constant part of a writer’s career, and of life.

So what should I do? Stop writing poems and stories because of rejection? Pretend self-righteous disdain for those “capitalists”? Badmouth the clients who did not hire me?

No, the only thing I can do is submit again, and again, and again. Keep writing. Keep improving my craft. Keep submitting.

It’s easier said than done, but you have to keep fighting for your dreams.

You must accept failure as a part of the process, if you want to realise your dreams. Because failure is not final. Failure in anything – whether personal or professional – is not for life. It will only be for life, if you let it. When you fail, you need to accept it, then learn from it, and do better next time. You are not measuring yourself against anyone else. You just need to measure yourself to be a little bit better than you were the last time. Keep doing that, and increment by increment, you will get better.

 If you want to truly follow your dreams, if you want to achieve your ambitions, then setbacks are inevitable. They are part of any journey. Setbacks are only stepping stones. They are the bog, and the swamp, and the poisonous lake you have to cross, to get to the beautiful, magical kingdom where your dreams are waiting for you.

So don’t fear failure. Accept it. Toughen yourself up enough to shake it off. Sure you can mope for a bit, but only bit. Then it’s time to get back on the horse, and keep riding towards your dreams. Because dreams and failure are two sides of the same coin. 



Journal about how the fear of failure is stopping you from achieving your dreams. 




Journaling Exercise: Where is Home?



image by alisonchristine



Home is where the heart is.

– Pliny the Elder 


Home means different things to different people. For some people, it’s literally their childhood home. For others it’s a country. For some people, it’s a particular place that they feel at home, and for others it’s the people who make a home.

For today’s journaling exercise, do a free writing exercise about what home means to you. Here are some questions you can use as starting points.

  • What do you think of when you think of home?
  • Have you had multiple homes?
  • What makes your home special?
  • Do you associate negative feelings with it or positive feelings?
  • Do you feel you have found your permanent home? Or are you still searching?
  • If you are still searching for home, how are you going about it?

These questions are mere spring boards. Once you start writing, go wherever your thoughts take you. Dig deep into what home means to you, or what you want it to mean. 

If you want, share your entries in the comments below. 




5 Ways to Use Journaling for Motivation



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People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.

– Zig Ziglar 


Motivation is usually underrated or misused (particularly in corporate settings). Motivation is not about manipulation. It’s not about carrots and sticks, and fooling yourself or your employees to believe they want something (that’s what marketing is for). Motivation is about genuinely finding the inspiration, drive, and desire for something within you. 

Motivation is about being authentic towards what you want. If you are going to achieve your dreams, you need to have strong enough motivation. If you are going to be successful at something you want to do, you need to be motivated. Often, it will come naturally simply because you are working towards something you want, but there will be times when you have to deal with rejections and defeats, and that’s when motivation disappears. 

You need to be able to rediscover it. You need to be able to tap into the infinite resource that is somewhere inside you, and use it during your darkest hours. 

You can do that by journaling. 


5 Ways to Use Journaling for Motivation 


1. Write about what you want more than anything else

What is it that you want? Is it your dream job, or the perfect partner? Is it to have a child? To travel the world? To have more money? To lose weight? To be more intellectual? To be a better person?

If you are like most people, you probably want most of the things from above. Of course you do. But not all of that will be of equal importance to you at this point in your life. So think about what is the most important.

What is currently, the one thing that you want more than anything else?

2. Why do you want it

Why matters. Why is what drives you to action. If you want something bad enough, that you are willing to suffer for it, to work your ass off for it, there is usually a reason for that. It may be a logical reason or an emotional reason, it may be a reason derived from need or love or fear or something else, but it is definitely there.

Figure out this reason. Why do you want this thing?

3. Visualise the benefits in words. Paint yourself a vivid picture of how you will use this skill or thing or money.

It’s a human tendency to want a better future, and yet be unwilling to compromise the enjoyment of the present. That means that even if you want a richer future – whether financially, socially, emotionally, intellectually – you need to put in some work now. You need to create that future for yourself, which would require some form of hard work, some sacrifices. But most people are unwilling to make those sacrifices today, in the hope of a tomorrow. That’s why most people don’t achieve their dreams.

To be fully in accord with the part of you that wants to achieve things that may cause you temporary inconvenience, you need to be able to feel the benefits of having that prolonged gratification. You need to be able to envision that your life will indeed be better if you achieve this thing that is important to you.

That’s where visualisation comes in. Now, you don’t need to literally just sit there and visualise, though you can do that if you are a visual person. I am a word person. Visualisation just does not work for me. So I create my future in words. I write about it, and imagine – by writing in the present tense – how I feel as I experience that future.

You can do that in your journal. Put yourself in the shoes of your future self, and write from their perspective, how they feel about having achieved this one thing that you – in the present – still haven’t.

4. Set a timer, and make a list of 100 ways to achieve this goal. Tiny steps you can take.

Just start writing. Keep your mind centred on the goal you want to achieve, and your subconscious will automatically supply you with ways to achieve it. It may seem hard to come up with a 100 things, but keep going. Even if you end up repeating items, don’t worry about it. Don’t stop writing until the timer stops, and by the end of it, you will have several good ideas amongst many bad ones. 

5. Take at least one step, and journal about it as an ACHIEVEMENT.

You know what you want. You know what steps you need to take to get it. So start doing it. One step at a time. No matter how tiny. And every time you take that step, make a note of it in your journal under a heading that says “ACHIEVEMENT”. Because it is an achievement. You are now one step closer to reaching your ultimate goal, then you were yesterday. 

BONUS: Do this every day, for every tiny step you take, and you will have a constant resource for motivation.