Tag Archives: Self improvement

Self-improvement, conclusive thoughts

I’ve been thinking long and hard for a few days about how to progress with this self-improvement journey on the blog. I came up with a few topics for new lessons, but after assessing them, I think they can all fit in to this conclusive post on self-improvement lessons. That isn’t to say I won’t be posting more tips and advice that has worked for me to improve my life, but I will probably do it in a slightly different context rather than straight up self-improvement lessons.

 

Self-improvement hurts a lot.

I will compare it to a blister. Starting your private journal is a bit like taking a huge needle and puncturing it. The hurt, anger and self-addressing that will inevitably happen, is like that disgusting liquid that comes out when the blister is punctured… Like a blister, the puncturing and the cleaning out of the wound are likely to be extremely painful and uncomfortable. But just like the relief you feel when the blister is gone and everything cleaned up, you will feel better for addressing what needs to be addressed. You will get that fresh clean mental slate you need to start rebuilding whatever it is that you need to rebuild in your life. Keeping the journal going is like maintenance work, so that if everything starts to blister up, it won’t become as bad.

 

When you self-improve, you will lose people.

Not everyone is going to like the new you. Losing friends or in some cases family from your life can be a relief, especially if they’re holding you back from who you want to be, or it can be very painful. People appear in your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. So rest assured that the lifetime people will find their way back to you. It may just be that they’re behind you in their development journey. But don’t wait for anyone to catch up with you. Keep going, because stopping or regressing in your journey will not get you where you want to be.

 

Improving yourself has the potential to make you very powerful.

When you are in a good place where your thoughts are more positive, less cluttered, your inner monologue strengthens you and you genuinely love yourself, you are gonna be on fire! This doesn’t mean that life will be perfect and you’ll wake up on a natural high every day. But your sense of general mental wellbeing will make it easier to go through those shitty days we all get from time to time. And when your self-development journey has taken you far enough, you will probably be able to see the beauty in the bad emotions. For example I had a very awful break-up three years ago that left me out of bounce for a very long time. But thinking back to that break-up I remember a lot of beautiful things about that time that I didn’t see then. For instance I spent a lot of time alone thinking and that developed me into a better version of myself. Had I been where I am now, I probably would have been able to take comfort in the things that weren’t so bad a lot quicker than I did back then. I’m by no means trying to glorify bad days or grief of any kind. But being in a good place mentally can help you turn the sadness into usefulness. When I feel down now, I journal and then do some songwriting. It helps.

 

Believe in yourself.

I have met religious people who put all their trust in God, who are puzzled at how they are not progressing while their atheist counterpart is doing swimmingly. Dig a little deeper into those people and the issue become clear. They feel unconfident in themselves and their abilities while the atheist has a lot of self-belief. What I’m trying to say is that whatever you may believe in, you can’t reap the benefits of your own abilities unless you actively decide to believe in yourself. “God will do it for me while I just tag along,” isn’t a good attitude. If you believe that God created you in his image and that he has a plan for your life, the least you can do to honour God, is to speak positivity into your life and take the necessary action to achieve what you want to achieve. Prayer, meditation or self-reflection, depending on what you believe in, is also a necessary step to achieve what you want. Because what they all essentially are, is your mind focusing on one issue. That alone, won’t get you where you need to be, but together with actions, it’s powerful and keeps your thoughts tidier.

 

It’s ok to be a little selfish

Not in that negative me first, me all the time, kind of way. But taking timeouts or making sacrifices in order to achieve your goals is something every expert encourages. Your friends might not understand why you choose to be at home on a Friday night, or why you don’t use social media or drink alcohol. It’s important not to be discouraged by this though. In order for you to become the best you, your need for space or new healthy practices should be high priorities. Self-development happens differently for everyone and in different phases. So it might just be that you need a short timeout from what you used to do. But don’t let anybody pressure you. As a friend who might not be going through this process now because you’ve either done it, or you aren’t there yet, encourage your friend to take the time they need for themselves. As long as it’s a positive withdrawal that doesn’t seem to stem in mental health issues, you have nothing to worry about.

 

Finally, have fun along the way.

Are you ready to take the step and improve your life? Enjoy your journey and all the blessings and good things that will follow. Take as big or as small steps as you need and share it with as few or as many as you like, though don’t exhaust yourself. Choosing 1 thing to focus on each month and achieve it is better than choosing ten things and achieving only a couple, so bare that in mind. As much as it can be painful and serious, it’s also fun and joyful.

 

Write down a list of what you do, then a list of what makes you happy and adjust accordingly where you can. You deserve to be happy and have the best life you possibly can have.

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Self-improvement lesson 9. Life’s not a competition

I once had a childhood friend who at 22 was not only married with her first baby on the way, but had lived with her sighted man for 3 years prior to getting married. She was blind just like me. As a blind woman who just wants to be part of the mainstream world, I always strived to do everything I could for my blindness to become as unnoticeable as possible by trying to do what every one of my sighted friends did. I admired this childhood friend a lot, because to me she was someone who was so “normal” despite her blindness. I was just as integrated as her, but I just felt she was doing way better than me in every way.And when she had settled, I felt as if I had failed. I was 23, had no real marriage prospects and certainly no baby on the way. What I did have though, was a job in the BBC, but it’s hard to see yourself and your situation from another perspective when you don’t feel amazing about who you are which I didn’t at the time. And having a BBC job in London as a Norwegian 23-year-old is no small thing.

 

In the same way we look at someone else’s life and envy how perfect they seem, we look to others who achieve things we ourselves want to achieve and envy how they did it before us. But life isn’t a competition. And there is a different time for me to achieve something you already nailed.

 

I have come to believe in divine timing and that we can only progress with what we want when we’re truly ready. That might not always be when we think we’re ready though. My childhood friend clearly was in the right place for family life at 22. And although I wanted the same, I can see now that I was far from it. I have come a long way emotionally, spiritually and even physically from when I was 23 and I am much better equipped to deal with taking care of someone else apart from me now.

Likewise, I look at young wonder talents and feel a little twinge of envy. Imagine if my career could have started young like Beyonce, Rhianna or Britney Spears. Or imagine if I had received Young Journalist of the year award, something you have to be under 26 to achieve. And why couldn’t I have published my first novel at 23 like my favourite author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? There certainly was no lack of will or passion from my side to achieve either. But there was a lack of both maturity on my part and the right nurturing to achieve it.

 

I am no longer 23, but my skin is thicker and my mind is a lot more focused. I still have decades ahead of me where I can achieve great things in my chosen fields. Just because I started later doesn’t mean I’m lagging behind.

 

It doesn’t matter if you do something before or after someone else. The important thing is that you do them when you have the capacity in the form of maturity, ability, economy time etc. It can be easy to look at life as a competition. But when that happens, it’s important to take a breather, disconnect from the pressure you create on yourself by meditating, journaling, exercising or relaxing in any other way that makes you forget about life just for a bit. And then come back with renewed strength.

 

I mentioned in a previous post how I sometimes look at other female artists I feel I can compare myself to and feel a little envious of their success. And even understanding that what they have now can be mine next year, doesn’t always help to make me feel better. But after having taken that timeout, I try and turn those negative feelings into a positive force that will make me go forward and achieving that success on my own terms and with my tools.

Self-improvement lesson 8. Don’t live the life someone chooses for you. Live Your own life.

I remember getting a letter in the post from the Norwegian association for the blind one day. Not an unusual occurrence since I’m a member. But I remember this one well because of what happened after I opened it. It was in Braille, and mum, being curious as always, asked me to read it out loud.

 

The letter was about the setting up of a Goalball team. Goalball is a ball game played completely in the dark which means that if you have any level of sight, however little, you have to wear blindfolds. You have to wear them anyway though, because you throw yourself after the ball on the floor and it can get tough, so the shades which are huge protect your face. You need a lot of other protective wear too. The ball has a bell in it, so the players can hear where it is. It needs to be completely silent during a match which lasts seven minutes in total.

 

When I was done reading the letter, mum commented sarcastically that I seemed so very interested in joining. She was right though. I couldn’t care less about Goalball. I preferred sprinting and swimming. The thought of squatting on the floor to wait for a rolling ball with a bell wasn’t my idea of fun. But I went to the practice, I joined the team, became Norwegian champion and I played for three years. Why? To please my parents.

 

All parents have certain expectations when it comes to their children. In fact, we all have some degree of expectation for everyone we interact with. But there are healthy expectations and unhealthy expectations. As much as my parents loved me, they’d tried to decide my path from when I was a baby and continued to change their desires for what they wanted my life to be as I grew up. This was especially true for my dad. When I was very young, he told me that I was going to become a world champion in short distance running. When it was discovered that I could sing, I was going to become a pop ballad singer with dad as my manager. I thank God that never happened. Then, he wanted me to become a teacher like my mum. He traveled a lot with his job and was absent for large parts of my growing up, so he couldn’t understand how teaching children to me sounded like Hell on earth when mum loved it so much. He didn’t know me at all, but he wanted a safe steady job for me. The opposite of what I wanted which was travel and excitement.

 

I was often told how disappointed my parents were when I didn’t prioritize to socialize in the very small blind community and I felt guilty about it. They only wanted me to be around people they thought I could relate to, so it came from a good place. But as a teenager that wasn’t quite my perspective on the situation. Since I’ve always been as stubborn as a donkey, I went my own way. However, only recently am I feeling truly not guilty about my choices though I have made mistakes along the way.

 

Every child should respect their parent, even as grown-ups. But every parent also needs to respect their child. I am not yet a parent, but I am a human and I know that the children I will have will be individuals with their own personality and mind from before they’re able to communicate verbally. I have also been a child with a lot of expectations placed on me as to what is the right life for me. And it feels very suffocating. When I look at me and my parents and other people I know and their parents, it seems to me that where the relationships have soured is because the respect between the child and the parent isn’t mutual. Not that there’s always disrespect and total disregard for all feelings, but often the parents are so set in what they want that they forget that their child has their own mind. I’m by no means saying that a five-year-old should decide their bedtime, diet and if they feel like going to school, but it’s important that as children grow up, they should be free to make their own choices and live the life they want. A parent might want their child to become a lawyer or a doctor. But do they want their children to be unhappy if they hate law and medicine?

 

And it’s not just parents that can shape your life in a different direction to how you want it. There are times in most people lives where following friends and peers are important too. Meaning they take up a study because their best friend does it, or join a football club to please a sibling.

 

But the truth is, that you can’t happily live your life according to others expectations. And you know what they say. The truth shall set you free. Do what’s right for you, even if it may not go down well with parents or friends. As long as it doesn’t harm you or them, you should have the last say. You only have a shot at this life once, so make the best out of it.

Self-improvement lesson 7. Loving yourself will drastically improve everything

Knowing this has also been fundamental in changing my personal wellbeing. There is no way of escaping it though. Other people can make you feel good for a while, but unless you feel good within yourself, that feeling is not gonna last.

 

I personally believe that not loving oneself is the reason many relationships fail. People enter into relationships thinking it’s going to fix them. That if they can just be loved, they will love themselves. I think we’ve all been there at some point. I know I have. But for me, that’s never worked. If you don’t love yourself, and as a result of that have a low self-image, leaning emotionally on one other person to help you fix that is not only going to push that person away, but it’s going to drain their energy and make you feel even worse for having that effect on them.

 

Having said this though, we all need to be loved. Love from others boosts, encourages and can even improve us. But we need to stand on our own emotionally to truly benefit from what somebody’s love for us can do. And giving back to somebody what they are giving us is such a precious gift. do. And in order to give love, we need to have self-love.

 

If you have spent your life beating yourself up over practically everything, it’s not gonna be easy to just start loving yourself overnight. But start with the little things. Most of us talk to ourselves in our head or out loud. Sometimes subconsciously. The first step I suggest you take towards self-love is to listen to your inner voice. What does it sound like? What would you like it to sound like? Think about who you go to for advice when you’ve messed up for others or yourself and why you go to that person. Try to adjust that inner voice to fit with your ideal advisor. Make it even better if you can.

 

When you manage to talk yourself through mistakes you’ve made or upcoming challenges in a constructive and soothing way rather than telling yourself what an awful and incompetent person you are, you are on your way. If you’re already doing that, then that’s amazing. I am getting there.

 

Love yourself. Because though it won’t solve all of your life problems, it will lighten the burden of life and make you feel so much better. You deserved to be loved by you.

Self-improvement lesson 5. There is a time to talk and there is a time to shut up.

When something good happene

When something good happened to me, I used to have the urge to tell everyone who would and wouldn’t listen about it. A new boyfriend, a new job, even projects in the planning stage. I used to love getting praises from people about how well things were going for me.

 

There’s nothing wrong in sharing good news. But what I found so tiring about it was all the explaining I had to do when things didn’t go as I had planned or hoped. I hated having to tell what seemed like countless people about break-ups or why a certain plan hadn’t developed into fruition. And what I also realized, is that not everybody is always gonna be happy for you. Someone may be going through a hard time and might not want to hear about your amazing life. And instead of being grown-up about it, their envy comes through in bad ways.

So my conclusion is there is a time and a place to talk and there is most definitely a time and a place to shut up. This is true for everybody, but especially if you have a certain following and visibility. I talked about having someone look up to you that you may not know about in my previous post, and there might also be people out there who are jealous of your progress, good relationship or great job. So saying less is definitely better than saying too much to too many people. Just look at what happened to Kim Kardashian last week. And I could also mention other celebrities and even friends who have had good things in their life affected by being to public too often.

 

Keep your council and choose your confidents very carefully even when seeking advice.

Self-improvement lesson 4. Don’t underestimate yourself

All my life, perhaps as a result of having been bullied through most of school, I’ve had very low thoughts about myself. I thought everything about me was stupid, from my name to the way I looked and I would have given anything to be someone cool and popular with an exciting life

 

I remember the first time I was confronted with being someone’s role model and it felt very strange. I was complaining to a friend on MSN Messenger in emo teenager style about how much things just sucked, to which she replied saying “How can your life suck? You’re so damn perfect!” And then she went on to list all the so called perfect things about me. I was shocked to say the least that anybody could think this about “stupid me”.

 

That incident didn’t turn my self-image around. I continued to not like myself well into my twenties, which probably affected all my life choices. Let me tell you, I wasted time on some terrible relationships, both romantic and platonic. And filled my time with stuff to do so I didn’t have to just be, think and reflect.

 

I didn’t have a eureka moment when I suddenly saw my own worth. It came slowly, as I received affirmation from people that really, I was doing alright and I seemed to know where I was going in life. I wasn’t fishing for those compliments, but these things come up in conversation when you spend time with people. I probably relied too much on other people to find my own self-worth, but at least I found it. And I’m glad it didn’t take even longer.

 

I now know that I’m somebody who can be a role model to people and somebody who is a role model. And those people, who are giving me the greatest affirmation on this today, are internet trolls. Because for someone to sit down and write hateful messages to me, they have to actually spend time following what I’m doing. What they’re projecting on to me is jealousy and envy because I dare to do something they haven’t done and I do it with confidence. Someone who may just dislike me or my music won’t take the time to put their heart and soul into hateful messages that are meant to hurt. They probably won’t message me at all. And it’s fine to dislike or disagree with someone. There are artists I am not keen on, but I respect them for what they do and don’t feel the need to hate online.

 

Without you knowing, there is probably someone out there who has you as their role model, or looks up to you because of something you’ve done. And unless you live under a rock, I can almost guarantee you that this is true. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a million people in a foreign country or someone at school, work or in your family. You are being looked up to because somebody thinks you’re awesome.

Self-improvement lesson 2. It’s not you, it’s them!

This is perhaps the most powerful lesson I’ve learned. I guess we’ve all been in situations where we’ve been unfairly criticized by someone we know, or being knocked down about our ambitions and goals for no reason. And unless you know you’re receiving some form of constructive criticism, I can almost certainly tell you that the negativity you receive is the insecurities and envies of the person doing it.

 

This should really make sense. We’ve all been in a place where we might envy somebody, generally had a shitty day, or just felt that everyone else seems to do so much better than us, and come with crass remarks we don’t really mean when someone is being all positive. Or if not, the thoughts of what you’d like to say to them might have been there. But it can be very easy to forget this. Especially if the person knocking you down is someone close to you and if the thing they’re discouraging you from is a dream you’ve had for a long time.

 

When I decided to pursue my music, I received quite a few negative comments. Some of them were concerns for my wellbeing, but in hindsight I know a number of the comments were envy from people who’d never had the guts to pursue their dreams or people who had failed as musicians.

 

The next time somebody is being especially harsh towards you, just stop for a second and put yourself in their shoes, or try to see it from their point of view. Instead of getting defensive, ask yourself what’s going on in their life for them to be the way they are. You’ll probably still feel hurt by their words, but you’ll save a lot of energy that you might previously have used to analyse why, how and are they right. Constructive criticism usually comes out of good conversations and has a whole different feel to it. And whilst we never need to be knocked down, a dose of honest criticism is something we should appreciate.

 

I’ve also noticed that some people thrive on fighting and constant disagreement, because it’s a way for them to keep you in their life. Especially if they know that you wouldn’t necessarily be there otherwise, if you have nothing in common. So in some twisted way, it can be a compliment if someone is constantly aggressive towards you. But whether you’d like such a presence in your life is up to you. I know I can’t deal with it, because it drains my energy. So I move away from those situations. I firmly believe that if someone is meant to be in your life for more than a season or a reason, they will come back. In this instance, meaning that those people who approach you with negativity will come back to you differently. And if not, it’s okay. Especially if you’ve done what’s in your power to improve things.

You are Your best help

Gosh! I haven’t written on here for such a loooong time! My excuse, life happens and now more than ever, I’ve come to realize life has so many different seasons and I have reached a season of rebuilding myself and my brand.

 

Before I reached this stage however, I’d like to be honest and say I was in a season that wasn’t so progressive. I had released a song yes, and it has received close to 90 000 views on YouTube. While I realized that’s not much compared to the world famous music legends, it’s definitely a new height for Lioness Oyinbo. For personal reasons I was unable to travel to do any more work and being in Norway was really killing my creativity. Even my Nigerian Entertainment Awards nomination for diaspora artist wasn’t really cheering me up. Not until I went to New York. And that’s when I realized I needed to pull myself together. Winning the award was the kick up the butt I needed. Ironically though, I didn’t win what I was nominated for, but I won something called The Trail blazer award. This is awarded creatives in the Nigerian industry who has taken new directions and done great things. I got it because I had broken so successfully into the Nigerian music industry.

 

I was very emotional receiving the award and singing in front of a screaming audience and doing my thank you speech felt really amazing. Being in the music industry can at times be very lonely and unforgiving and knowing that the audience love your voice and appreciate you, really is just what you need. I’m still up and coming and though I have faithful fans, I don’t receive tons of adoring public tweets every day. But that means the cheers and the applauses means so much more. As do the heartfelt messages I’ve received on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.

 

I realize that winning this award means I have a lot of work to do if I’m gonna keep deserving it. So I started working on myself from the inside and my brand from the outside. In New York I’ve shot an amazing music video to a new song that’s dropping soon. I also had the privilege to fly to Dallas to do an Interview with Not Just Ok TV which I have been told will come out soon.

 

The outside work has been great and I realized that to continue doing great things and to be in a better environment, I’m going to have to do another international move which I am so excited about. But I’ll do another update on that soon.

 

What’s been even more exciting for me though, is the work on me. As I was travelling, first to New York and then to Kenya, I realized that there are many areas of my thinking and personality that I need to work on. Not only will it improve my mental state, but an improved mental state also means an improved brand. And because I’m not where I want to be yet in terms of my career and because I won’t reach it by not undergoing some personal improvements, this is extremely necessary. I have already learned lots of lessons and truths that are really mind-blowing and I want to share some of my new insights on here in the months to come. What I want to say for now is though, if you need your brand to excel, it’s great to have the contacts; it’s great to have the support. But if you don’t tidy your head, you’ll not really get anywhere. Many people can believe in you, but it doesn’t work unless you help yourself.