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Envisioning Yourself

Dear friends,

We always talk about New Year’s resolutions and goals for the year and all that jazz but it’s really hard to set these goals if we don’t have a vision. When companies set goals, they usually have a vision and the goals are in line with the vision. When you can visualize the type of person you want to be, it is easier to motivate yourself to work towards your goals. 

When I first found out about the affair, my life was the pits. I felt so bad and embarrassed about myself. I was overweight. I was living with my in laws. I wasn’t exciting anymore. I’d lost myself in that marriage. 
So I started to build a vision for myself. My overall goal was to LGFG – look good feel good. I know looks aren’t everything but I wanted to feel good about myself again. And the one thing that was within my control was my weight. I wasn’t looking to be stick thin. I just wanted to be within a weight range where I could feel good about myself. So I started to eat healthy and exercised more often. Every time I felt tempted to stray from my diet or gave excuses to not go to the gym, the vision of my physical self would be at the forefront of my mind, reminding me not to give up. 

The vision that you build for yourself should not be limited to physical attributes. It should also extend to other parts of your life – you could envision where you would like to live or how you are going to build your career. It could be a far reaching fantasy right now – that’s ok – the best ideas come from the wildest dreams. And my mantra for you is to Never Say Never.

Here are some tips for you on how to envision yourself:

  • Physical attributes 

Envision how you would like to look like physically. If there are changes that you would like to make to your physical appearance, it’s easier if they are within your control to change – for example adjustments to eating habits to lose weight. Or getting a hair cut. Or getting a new wardrobe. For me, I wanted to lose ten pounds and made sure I always dressed well. So I envisioned a slimmer well dressed  version of myself and that vision was my constant motivation.

  • Where you would like to live 

Envision your ideal habitat. It could be a place. Or it could be the type of home you would like to have once you are out of the bad situation. For me, my vision was to move to New York City. I envisioned how life would be like once I’m in the city. My other vision right now is to lead an international life – I would like to live in London and Singapore for a few years and then retire in some remote village facing the Mediterranean Sea.

  • Your career 

Envision where you would like to be in your career in the next year and the next couple of years. Maybe it’s a career switch. 

  • Your lifestyle

Envision the sort of life you would like to lead. A quiet, peaceful life in a small town? Or maybe the excitement of a big city? 

Happy dreaming! And let those dreams guide you towards your goals! 

Peace, Love And Joy

I know.

You read the header and probably went “This is so cheesy – is she serious?”

It’s hard to feel that holiday spirit when you are in the throes of a bad situation. I spent last Christmas with my closest friends and family back home. It helped a little but I still couldn’t help but feel a little weird that I wasn’t spending it with my husband as I always had for  the past six years. 

My ex husband has always been – and still is, secretive. I guess that’s how he’s been successful at maintaining that double life of deceit for three years. He’s never been forthcoming about what he’s up to. 

Today for a moment, I had reason to believe that he might be spending Christmas with his affair partner – I guess she’s now his girlfriend now that we’re divorced? – even though he’s always claimed they’re broken up. The feelings of inadequacy and insecurity came back. What if he marries again before me? What if I’ll never find someone who loves me?

Then I stopped myself and remembered – hey I’ve been doing all these wonderful things and leading a nice life without being in a relationship so far – it is really not a competition. Besides life is peaceful now. 

I know it is difficult especially when you are in the initial throes but peace is so important. Seek peace in all you do. If you focus on revenge, if you focus on the anger and the hatred, it’ll swallow you and the person that will be unhappiest is you. 

For example, I could’ve made it difficult for my ex to see his daughter but fights between us would ruin my peace and my daughter’s peace. And it is so not worth it. Sometimes it’s ok to lose a little to gain peace. And when you are at peace and are calm, you will feel happy inside. 

So this holiday season – I wish you peace. I wish you love. I wish you joy.

Picture Perfection 

Like a lot of people, I’m addicted to social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram. It’s the first thing I check when I’m trying to wake up in the morning. And like a lot of people, I stalk others on social media and then feel bad about myself. “Look at that family picture – they look so happy together. Even the baby is smiling for the camera!” “Look at how skinny she is even after having three kids! I love that Chanel bag. I wish I’m able to afford a Chanel bag.”
And I judge. “She is so ugly but even she didn’t get cheated on by her husband.”
Everyone knows that Facebook is Fakebook and that a lot of social media users have two different lives – the real life that they’re living in and the picture perfect life that they are presenting to the world, filtered through social media lenses. It’s a stressful world that we live in and it’s made even more stressful when we feel like we have to live up to some imaginary social media standards and keep up with the Joneses. And it’s addicting! I’ve tried detoxing myself from Facebook countless times but I always feel like I’m missing something in my life when I’m not checking Facebook. My latest excuse is that my Spotify is hooked up to my Facebook and I would lose my carefully curated playlists if I disconnect. So for those of you who are not on social media yet and are on the fence about jumping on the social media bandwagon, don’t do it.
Screw picture perfection. It’s impossible. And most people who post picture perfect lives on social media are actually faking it. There is no such thing as a perfect life – a lot of people just don’t air their grievances on the world stage. It’s human nature to want others’ admiration and envy. 
I know a woman whose life seems perfect on the outside. She has two beautiful daughters and a successful husband who loves her. She is a stay at home mom. They live in an exclusive neighborhood and also own an upscale apartment in Manhattan. They take expensive vacations a couple times a year. She is also slim, sexy and attractive. And she posts pictures of their perfect life on Instagram.
In short, everything looks perfect… on the outside.
I met her last year and she told me that she has been seeing a therapist twice a week for some time now to treat her depression and is considering taking medication. Her husband and her haven’t had sex in years and have been sleeping in separate rooms for quite some time now. She said she’ll be happy for her husband if he has an affair because she wants him to be happy. But in the meantime, she is sticking this marriage out and doesn’t want to divorce ‘because of the kids’.
Looking at her Instagram life, I’d have never guessed that she was having problems as well – like everyone else. 
I think that trying to attain perfection in life is not worth it. In fact, I preach living an authentic life, according to your terms. 
When I first found out about the affair, I disconnected from social media for a while. I was afraid. I was lost. I didn’t want to feel like a failure. And then I resurfaced and started posting about what happened. Part of it was revenge – I wanted the world to know what a jerk my ‘Mr Nice Guy’ ex husband was and what he did to me. But part of it was the urge to speak the truth – I wanted everyone to know that yes, shit did happen to me and that it’s ok and that I will survive. More importantly, I wanted people who are in a similar situation to know that yes, it is ok to have your dreams shattered and the life you thought you had and were going to have, crumble. It will be scary but you will pull through and you will be ok. 
I post about my new life now. I post about the happy moments. I post about the funny moments. I also post about some of the struggles I face. I like keeping things real.
So friends, if you’re down and out and feeling like a complete failure because your life isn’t as perfect as your friends’ – just remember that their lives ain’t that great either. And the better story to tell is not one where you remain stuck in a bad situation because you were too afraid to risk your picture perfect image, but one where you are the Phoenix rising from the ashes. 

Identify The Root Cause… And Fix It

  
We are fast approaching the new year and this is that time of the year again where we think about new year’s resolutions and start coming up with lofty ideas about goals that we would probably discard by the end of January. There is something about a new year that gives everyone hope for a fresh start. And that is so true. If you’ve had a bad year, now is the time to start looking on the positive side since a new year  means 12 months to straighten things out. 

I have a confession to make. I did have a good year this year. It was definitely a lot better than last year which was when I found out about my ex husband’s affair and my dreams as I knew it were shattered. Last year was all about truth discovery and being hurt. This year was all about moving on and rebuilding. But there were still some bad habits that I fell into this year.

I had to validate myself. And I validated myself with guys. The attention I was getting from guys made me feel good about myself. And this was because I always measured myself by my physical attributes. Hence if guys found me attractive, I felt good about myself. 

I got into an arrangement with a guy this year. He was a nice guy by all means and treated me well. But he made it clear from the start that he was not looking for a serious long term relationship. I knew I was not ready to be in a relationship either as I needed time to be alone to recover from my failed marriage. Nonetheless our arrangement lasted the whole year but towards the second half of the year, my old insecurities came back. He has a close relationship with a female friend who is younger than me and is attractive. I started feeling insecure about it and started to distance myself emotionally from him. I also felt him distancing himself from me – his texts became almost non existent.

About a month ago, he texted me on a Sunday morning when my daughter was not with me and I went over to his place. I felt relieved that he actually reached out to me. I felt validated again that he still wanted to see me. It is a stupid feeling and I know I have to stop feeling the need to be validated. This is the root cause to me being in bad relationships with people who don’t deserve me.

My new year’s resolution is to ‘fix my picker’. In order to do that, I need to truly love myself and build my boundaries. I need to have dealbreakers and not be afraid to enforce them. I hope I will be strong enough to resist that temptation and that need to be validated should he or any other person from my past or future reach out to me again.

If there is one new year’s resolution you should make, it would be to think through the root cause of your bad situation. A new year is a great opportunity to break free of bad familiar habits and get into new ones. It will be a difficult process especially initially. But once you get through it, I believe that it would be so worth it. 

😰

Tonight I read a Facebook post about children caught up in the war in Aleppo and it made me really sad. I hugged my daughter tightly, cradled her and reminded her again how much I love her. And I’m guilty that while I’m here in this part of the world enjoying the peace with my daughter, there are children in Aleppo who do not even know if they will live another night. And there are babies who are hungry. And little ones who have lost their parents. And it’s made me feel very guilty for my peace, my fortune, my daughter, our food, our lives. 

To be honest, I haven’t closely followed the news on the civil war in Syria or the politics behind it. I used to subscribe to Vogue magazine and I, like many others, had read the glowing article on Asma al Assad. And I was fascinated by her and had been Googling her a lot. That was many years ago when that article first came out in print in Vogue.

And then I read critiques of her and how that article was one-sided. I remember terminating my subscription to Vogue right away after that. But since then, I haven’t really been following the news coverage on the war that closely. I usually try to avoid the sensational articles and pictures about suffering children because it just depresses me. Until tonight.

So I take a break from my usual blog posts tonight and ask that we remember the children caught in Syria and other war torn countries. This is not politically driven. I don’t have time for politics. But atrocities committed against innocent victims are atrocities regardless of which side of the fence you are on. 

The Why You Should Never Go Back List

When I was in the throes of the affair discovery, my then-husband was desperately trying to make it all go away. He seemed very anxious to just have me forget about the affair so that life could get back to normal. He actually tried to date me again. And it felt nice and familiar but at the same time strange and crazy that he was trying to act like nothing happened.

In the midst of my confusion, my good friend told me to create a ‘shit list’ – to list out all the bad qualities about him and whenever I felt confused or tempted to get back together with him, I should refer to the shit list to remind myself not to go back to him.

One of the reasons why we remain stuck in a bad situation or find ourselves in the same bad situation time and time again is because as humans, we are drawn to the familiar. The bad situation is familiar to us and we are reluctant to step out of our comfort zone to face the great big world of unknowns. So even if the bad situation is getting increasingly ridiculous, we find ourselves giving excuses to explain why it is ok to stay stuck. 

Creating a ‘Why You Should Never Go Back’ List gives you a tangible list of reasons of why you should never look back. The road to recovery is filled with many temptations to return to the warm, comforting world of the familiar, make all the bad memories go away and hope for the best. But we know the bad memories will not go away and hoping for the best is like leaving everything to chance. Hence having a list that you can refer to whenever the going gets tough will remind you why moving on and out of the bad situation is the best and right thing you can do for yourself. 

I wrote my list at the back of my notebook and probably listed like 50 reasons why I should never go back to my husband. 

And I never did. 

Your Long Term List

  
This is the fun part.

While your short term list is all about taking care of pressing needs, your long term list is about what you envision your future self to be. And the one skill that’s needed for your long term list is – daydreaming!

There are no limits and no right or wrong when it comes to daydreams. Some of the stuff may not even be fulfilled and it’s ok. Your long term list is mean to set a direction for you and give you hope!

I would divide your long term list into two distinct time frames – your immediate long term (6 months to a year) and your future long term (> 1 year out). The immediate long term list should contain things that are not as pressing as your short term list and that would take some time to fulfill. Some examples would be – fully paying off debt, losing weight, working hard to get a promotion etc. Your future long term list should contain tasks that would take a couple of years to fulfill e.g. saving for a house or earning that degree if you are just starting out.

There will be days when you will waver off your plan. You may have days when you cave into certain foods for instance and veer off your diet plan. You may go on an impulsive spending spree. It’s ok. The sun always rises and you have tomorrow to get back on track.

A good motivator whenever you feel tempted to veer of track is to envision your end goal. And this is where you can build your ‘healthy revenge’ in. 

One of my biggest goals after breaking up with my husband was to LGFG – look good, feel good.  I wanted to look so good that he regrets leaving me. Although that never happened (because a narcissist will never give anyone the benefit of seeing their regret), everytime I felt tempted to cave into junk food and every time I felt the hunger pangs, I reminded myself of my end goal. 

The other thing I wanted was for my ex to miss me so much that he’ll come begging for me to come back to him. Again, never happened (and even if it did, I’m wwaaayyy past going back to him ever again). I decided to go no contact on him because I’d read somewhere that going no contact on an ex is a good strategy to make them miss you and come back to you. And I had to go no contact for an extended period of time hence it was on my long term list. So every time I was tempted to text or call him, I envisioned the long term goal of him begging for me to come back and I stopped myself.

Your long term list should also contain things that might never be realized. And why is that ok? Because you’re daydreaming and brainstorming. And you always have to dream big. Only you control your own destiny. No one else can tell you what you can or cannot do. And no one’s gonna be looking at your list and judge you for not fulfilling it. A good thing about recovering from a bad situation is – it’s a chance for you to build another version of your life story. So own that life and build out that vision today.