A crisis of faith

2014 and 2015 were by far the toughest years of my life. I was the sickest I have ever known myself to be, for the longest I have ever been BUT I came out of it- out of all of it- the turbulent trials, the physical weakness and sickness, the circumstances that threatened to wash away my dreams and sweep me away with them. 

While the storms raged I hoped and lost hope that God would step in, only to find and then lose hope again. It was only in my surviving that I felt assured of his long- intended intervention. Only when I was washed ashore that I realized that the make-shift floats and drift wood that buoyed me across were evidence of His teasing and testing presence. While He did not guarantee me life, health or the disappearance of trouble, by his reappearing presence He did not fail.

In this most frightening experience of my life I saw a side of God I hadn't known. The All or Nothing God who before all is said and done asks those who purport to follow Him if they will follow though He slays them; if they will still refuse to bow to the pressure of the day if He does not save them from the heat; if they will still offer a sacrifice if that sacrifice is all they have; if they will still say “Thy will be done” when they realize the cup of suffering is not going to pass over them in exchange for their obedience.

Ultimately everyone comes to that junction where they grapple with a God who lets bad things happen in the world and to them. It is in precisely this type of crisis of faith where we struggle to anchor ourselves in God's goodness while bad things prevail, to not be moved by what we see, to believe even though we have not seen; that we can potentially ascend the heights of faith from which we see God with better clarity. 

But if our Christianity has not passed the realm of argument over tying headscarves (apparently so as not to block the angels) or not, wearing trousers/make-up/weaves or not, listening to “secular” or gospel songs and other religious efforts to look and act the part; if it has not become an inwardly directed struggle to appropriate the power of the cross but is still a grasp for the external symbol of it; then while it may well have began, it is not well on its way to maturity and it may not survive. 

Until we become aware of the deeper and more important conflicts to forgive, to fear not, to trust God, to discipline errant thoughts, to tolerate differences in people, to overcome warring appetites and to spiritually labor to become like Christ, then we will be professing an inferior and powerless faith and living in the lifeless shadow of the Christian Journey of which Christ was a fore runner and example for our sakes.

Soon enough our faith will get tested to breaking point and crammed chapters and verses, text book prayers and chants, rituals and microwaved doctrines, and a contact list of prophets will not suffice. Forced to the surface by crisis we will have to confront empty beliefs, eye service religion, one- eyed and one-legged rules which may bear a form of power and outwardly pass for wisdom but lack the actual power to save.

In calmer seas these rules serve the reality distortion fields we have been convinced into by the prophets we have paid, the preachers we have employed and the prayer warriors we have hired to tell us what we want to hear. They fit into our comfort zones where we lie passive walled in by the four corners of tradition, religion, high sounding doctrine and piety. But when the turbulence comes, it will show that externalism practiced with extremism and fallacies followed fanatically are not the same as spiritual convictions held deeply, reached laboriously and bought not at a price but at great cost.
When that day comes- that day when our theology is challenged by our reality- it is critical for us to submit those crooked and disjointed legs of our faith to God so that through our adversity and in our misfortune, He can bring them into joint with the other parts of it that he has been at work bringing to our attention and perfecting with our permission.



2 Tim. 3:5

Col. 2

Gal. 5

Stories that touch

When I hear women say "I stayed on taking this and that from so and so only for him to do this...", ' this' being another act of betrayal, it makes me wonder why we take it in the first place and assume the person mistreating us will be grateful we suffered in silence and so reward us with better behavior.

After one break up several years ago, I remember commenting to a friend that if I had known it would hurt as much as it did I wouldn't have been "a good girl" but would have done major damage. As I thought about it, smashing the window of his car appeared to be more of a good idea than taking the bad behavior displayed by both the ex and his family in the period the relationship disintegrated.

But the truth was I hadn't been a good girl because I accepted things as they were, I had been condoning them because I hoped my keeping quiet, my suffering in silence, my patience, my maturity, my being a good Christian, would make the other person change their mind or make God reward my "piety" and give me the outcome I wanted so that things would go back to the way they were.

So when I read stories of betrayal in the media these days, while I can relate, I let it serve this reminder - you shouldn't be taking anything now that you will regret taking later. And if you are, ask yourself why. And if it is because like my example you are aspiring to the good girl image of religion or culture or because you expect your "long suffering" to be rewarded with guilt driven affections or because you can leverage on a moral failure in the future or gain more ground in a one sided relationship then at least know what is driving your decision to continue to take poor treatment or stay in a bad situation and deal with it like I eventually had to.

But if it is because you are afraid of the alternative if you left or of the consequences of confrontation if you stayed then it is time to face the deeper problem- you might just not believe you deserve better enough to fight for it. The perpetrator knows this too and is using it against you so that things remain as he wants- unchallenged and unchanged.

Sometime later when I had dealt with my hidden motives, I didn't feel the need to"do damage" because I could now see that it was really driven by the frustration of not getting my way not love. And rather than "take" bad behavior or in this case, not take any action for fear that I would not get that person back if I did, I used that experience in a positive way that not only benefited me financially but gave me my first taste of success in a niche I had just began to explore.

As women, we can only take those who are not treating us fairly or respectfully to task when we refuse to be held back by the fear of losing them or losing out in some way. If they are the real deal they will make changes rather than lose us or watch us lose ourselves and if they aren't we will turn out okay, but first we must be brave and insist on better not only because we are deserving, but because they are well able.

Mama Ejima

So this is my first post of the year and I finally break the silence and get with the program of world domination *cue ominous music* dom dom dom...

Lol. Well happy new year since I didn't say it in January and nice to see you again since its been so long! There have been so many thoughts and topics in my head to write about that short of feeling overwhelmed, I am excited that I have that much content swirling around in my head. Goodness!

But lets start off with a bit of catching up!

I've had a baby since being away and will tell you a bit about being pregnant, going into labor and delivery.

Oddly enough, before I started to show I found I wasn't open to sharing my piece of good news and was very conscious of keeping it that way for as long as I could. This was not so much because of the paranoia of not telling about a pregnancy in order not to jinx it or be jinxed by supposed bad belle people (a very Nigerian thing I find) but it was because it was very personal and I didn't want to share this new, sometimes unglamorous (the sick part), life changing and exciting phase in my life just yet. I needed time to cradle the news to myself first and get used to it. And so it was that sometimes I fought knowing eyes, telling smiles and careless comments in a bid to keep the announcement on my terms.

This was not the only unexpected reaction to pregnancy I had, in fact I surprised myself a lot. For instance I was not the the picture taking, journal entering mum- to- be I thought I would be and did not like being the center of attention for being pregnant, especially when it was in some not so flattering way.

For instance, I was in the market one day doing a little shopping and quite like them, the naughty shop keepers were calling out and sometimes touching shoppers in an effort to get them into their shops. Now, I have been called "oyibo" for my light skin and typical names by those shop boys but I was taken back when one addressed me as "Mama Ejima". First it was unusual because "mama" would be for an older woman so I put it down to the guy trying to be creative but after passing a few more streets and hearing the same name I quickly realized it was because of my protruding belly. While I can have a laugh over it now I didn't find it funny and felt picked on at the pointed "jokes" that came my way during my pregnancy.

But there were good experiences too like when I found myself on a long queue at a bank and was just wishing for a world where there was provision for disabled and pregnant women to jump queues when the best example of telepathy I have ever experienced happened and the lady at the teller signaled for that pregnant woman on the queue to come forward. It was the one time being called "that pregnant woman" felt like winning the lottery! I would have objected to the disrespectful innuendo that tends to tinge that title at any other time.

Well being pregnant quickly went from new to normal and as I counted down to my due date, I became apprehensive again about the unknown- labour. I remember sharing this with a midwife who told me matter of factly that if I knew how to make a bowel movement then I knew how to have a baby. I was not convinced!

I had spent a little time selecting scripture to meditate on to combat some of my concerns and pray for my baby which really helped. I even wrote some mantras for coping with labour in cosmo but interestingly having been through it, I can share a few more as an added bonus to my readers on this blog.

The best tip I can give to anyone expecting is rather than pray that the cup of labor passes over you, surrender to it and let it have its way with you. I found that the more I thrashed around or spoke during the contractions the harder it was to cope with so I just braced up to it and let it take its toll knowing it wouldn't last. The most helpful thing was being reminded of this and Haruna was so good at counting down the seconds till I could expect the pain to subside.

This experience has become a metaphor for difficult moments. I find that knowing a difficulty or discomfort  or even an intense feeling is temporary helps me call on my powers of rational thinking or exercise my muscles of self restraint till it tides over. And when that moment of heightened suspense passes, I realize that even though it felt it would never end, never change or was soo important, it really did end, could change and wasn't that important.

I labored naturally on my own for 12 hours and although I had a birth plan for a natural birth without strong pain relief, I did ask for an epidural and now swear by that concoction of analgesic and anesthesia! Once administered I could sleep through contractions and preserve my strength through the hours dilating without food and the final push to birth baby. All in all, it was a wonderful experience; certainly the most physically painful but not all of the horror I expected. 

Something that does live up to its reputation is having a baby. I felt I knew who my baby was because we shared my body and I was her mother, but when she came out it was like meeting a new person. I blinked at her for a while and found her almost alien cry and suit of veneal strange. I needed to get to know her and came to accept that she had her own personality and I couldn't predict anything about this individual except what I knew by observation. She also appears to be getting to know me! I catch her observing me and chide myself for not realizing sooner that she had been seeing me and I haven't been seeing her back! lol!

Having a child has also added a shade of meaning to being God's child. I am ever alert for her cry with a watchful eye as God must be of mine and when she jerks from sleep I remind her that she is safe in my hands and question her fear when I am so near. And sometimes she cries because she can't see or feel me but I am there in the room with her and although she screams because she tastes something new in the medicine, I don't take her out of her misery because it is for her good. While she spends a good deal of her sleeping and sometimes waking hours oblivious of me, I spend mine with her on my mind.

I take notice of the gradual changes in the sounds she makes, from staccato shrieks and grunts of discontent to cries that peak and fall and last as long as any chart topping hook. Hearing all and seeing all, I applaud her increased vocal range from which she produces coos, gurgles, and yelps of delight to go with her developing facial expressions and gesticulations. I celebrate her going longer minutes of playtime without crying and longer hours of sleeptime without waking. Her loud, smelly farts and explosive poops elicit the right mix of surprise for being "adult loud" and cheers for having overcome trapped gas. I'd like to think that the way I delight in every detail of her life is an incline into the way God delights in the details of mine and the way I enjoy my child is a glimpse into his thoughts and affections towards me.

I am also learning from her. When she sleeps she lets loose and her face is the definition of peaceful sleep and when she wakes, she takes long stretches, extending limb after limb while letting out sounds of satisfaction through the stretch. So I try to learn how to sleep and stretch from her. Observing how uninhibited babies are, how unaffected they are by graces and airs, farting with abandon and being themselves without apology; it makes me wonder how a person can go from being a baby without so much as a care in the world to being an adult and disliking some part of their body or believing that they are less than adequate in some way! Oh well.

While I have not been blogging myself, I have been reading some of my favorite bloggers every day and had to banish myself from blog hopping today until I wrote a post of my own and I am quite satisfied by the results.

Till my next post (hopefully sooner rather than later), keep your happiness, hold your peace and count your blessings- don't give them to anyone for any reason!

There to be a blessing

It's Saturday! You probably know one or more people who are getting hitched today and might be prepping to be part of the ceremony. I truly believe that when you are part of anyone's wedding you should only go there to be a blessing without leaving as much as a sour taste in the mouths of those you are celebrating.

Here are some ways you can play that role really well:

1. Pay your own expenses

I have paid for bridesmaid dresses even when the bride insisted it was on her tab and declined aso ebi's rather than owe if it wasn't a commitment I was ready to take on because as a matter of principle, I believe I shouldn't take from a couple getting married. They are the ones spending and if I can't give to relieve the burden, I definitely shouldn't take and add to it.

2. Carry your load

Make sure your logistics and welfare at the event is not one more concern for the couple.

I was once part of a bridal party where one bridesmaid was heckling the bride about who would do her makeup and wasn't happy until the make up artist that worked on the bride's face attended to her. Meanwhile the rest of us had individually started to apply our make up ourselves to save time and give the bride one less thing to worry about.

3. Tell about the good

You aren't there to report all of the things that didn't go right. Sometimes honest feedback is honestly saying what you enjoyed about the day.

4. Leave scores at home

There is time for everything and right now is the time to spread good will and positivity.

5. Get your hands dirty

Be available to help the ceremony go smoothly where you see an opportunity. 

Finally don't be the idle observer, jump in and have some fun!
Make all that money spent worth it!

6 Answers to those gnawing accussations of guilt

Ever have that sinking feeling that you are in the wrong and should feel shame for some justified (and sometimes unjustified) reason. Well next time you have that feeling, answer your guilt with one of these responses:

"I am not perfect"

Be kind to yourself. You will not always be right, will not always respond well to provocation and may even react badly under certain situations so don't be hard on yourself or overly self conscious if you disappoint yourself or anyone by your behavior sometimes. Hopefully, they remember that they have faults too and that the particular situation wasn't all of your own making.

Sometimes you need to tell yourself; "It doesn't matter if someone thinks I didn't do a good job  or didn't say the right thing because I don't always do a good job or get it right each time".

"It is not a life and death, heaven or hell situation"

You shouldn't feel guilty about little things which in the grand scheme of things can be overlooked like being late for an event or not agreeing with what someone wants you to do. If the situation is not a matter or life or death and is not a sin, then maybe you ought to relax.

"It can be forgiven and forgotten"

You deserve forgiveness. If you can make mistakes, you can be forgiven. You don't deserve the accusing stares, the incidents where your mistakes are used as a weapon or reference point. Expect forgiveness and defend your right to it when freedom is with held. Permit yourself to live as though the offence is in the past- because it is.

"Am I guilty of something or being controlled and manipulated?"

People use anger to control and someone might overreact to a situation just to set a precedence to avoid being challenged or put outside their comfort zones again. When someone begins to attack your character and not just the offending action, there are chances that they are beginning to take advantage of your remorse to gain more control over you than the situation justifies. Be careful not to take false responsibility for something that wasn't your fault at all or entirely.

"I apologize"

Our social media era and modern day culture promotes justification for every wrong you can argue and "odeishi" your way out of. These days until we are caught and as long as we make no admission to the wrong, an apology is the furthest from our minds. It is immature to think that an admission to wrong is like giving your opponent the advantage and showing weakness. A heart felt apology is like paying a debt out of integrity. It is  honoring yourself by meeting up to your expectations to be good and honorable.

"I forgive myself and permit myself to move on"

Never say in your hearing "I will never be able to forgive myself for xyz". Sometimes you have to say; "I have beat myself up over this long enough! I am giving this situation too much attention and penance than it deserves. It's time to let it go". If God is able to forgive you when you ask, then who are you not to forgive yourself? Are you more holy than God? You'd rather insist on repaying a debt that has been written off than turn around and thank the one that has taken the pain to pay it off for you? What dirty pride?

There are somethings you can't pay for, some losses that cannot be quantified only forgiven. To insist on paying is to insult the aggrieved by suggesting that their loss is replaceable while to seek and accept forgiveness is to acknowledge that you cannot do or say or pay enough to restore things as they were. Forgiveness -God's, theirs, and yours will cleanse your sin.  

Finally, If someone still holds a grudge over your head after you have sincerely apologized and after a lot of time has passed, offer them understanding for being stuck in the past but as for you? Move on.

What do you do after reading what I write?

Like? Comment? Share? Or call to tell me how great a writer I am?

I'll admit I want to be able to say I get tons and tons and tons of traffic to this blog and that everything I post online gets lots and lots of comments, but the reality is sometimes I check and recheck my own posts on Bella Naija several times a day just to count the number of comments and on some days my own visits to this blog rack up the daily traffic more than those of real visitors, so yeah I'm not up there when it comes to those metrics.

But when I ask myself what my Call To Action for each post is (Call To Action (CTA) is a term for that element crafted into your posts that makes the reader act in a way you want, for instance buy a product or click a link), I realise my CTA is not like, comment, share or buy but it's think. And if I get lucky it's think, change and act.

I hardly leave comments on the best blogs I read. And it's not because the author's talent doesn't deserve appreciation or the content can be overlooked, but I'm silent because what they say leaves me deep in thought. 

I've read things so powerful that rather than like or comment, I have reclined in my seat to chew food for thought or stood up and taken a walk just trying to understand why a sentence had hit me and why so hard.

That's the way I hope what I write makes my readers feel. That they consider my thoughts and theirs side by side and  come out of that interaction with a new one. That they are engaged, entertained and changed. That in one moment of weakness something they read me write gives them strength or moral resolve.  

And those are the best comments; the one where someone says, not I commented but I cried or not I retweeted, shared or reposted but this really helped me. 


And occasionally I get to relish those comments where someone says "thanks for sharing", and I know that those moments spent capturing fleeting memory and minutiae emotion, and mining words of hope from depths of suffering are absolutely worth it!


How to get back up again when life throws you down

You can get back up again!

1. Take time to heal

Healing is getting mind and body well again. It is important to take as much time as you need to heal. It is also important to heal in mind and body, spirit and soul. Not everyone will understand your process- they might expect you to bounce back to the cheerful you they remember or get into old activities at the same pace, but you know what you are ready for so take your time.

2. Gain your deliverance

Deliverance is casting out the hold the trauma has on you. Without this we are tempted to behave a certain way because we've been burnt or we get hardened by the situation and become bitter instead of better.

We might need to work on our minds washing it in the water of the word and refuting negative and contrary thoughts. And we might even need to rebuke the Devil's manifestations in our lives, commanding fear to leave and anger to fall silent.

The truth is the devil has a way of taking advantage of our pain to ensnare us in bitterness or unbelief in God's goodness and power, in people and even in ourselves. It might be quick or it might progress over a period of time but we need to get ourselves free in mind and in body from Satan's oppression over which God has already pronounced us victors.

3. Determine your perspective of the past

Gaining perspective is seeing what has happened from a perspective that allows you move on in spite of it. It is a form of closure.

It is generally believed that we only gain closure from confronting a person who has hurt us and getting an explanation, an apology or the satisfaction that comes from giving it back to them. But seeing closure this way would imply it is not within our control but dependent on another person's willingness to give it. The people who have had horrendous things done to them yet found peace within themselves prove that gaining perspective over one's troubles can bring about closure.

Gaining perspective is also the reflective process that allows us learn from the past and thread wisely in the future.

4. See a new vision for the future

The bible says arise out of the depression and prostration which circumstances have kept you and don't just arise but arise to a new life!
Arise to a new vision for your future- see something ahead that is worth living and fighting for, this vision then gives you the strength to work through your present reality towards a beckoning future filled with hope.

5. Reconnect with friends and family

Trials are a time of isolation. You feel isolated in your experiences and in your pain. Anyone who goes through is tempted to believe they are alone and that no one understands. It is time to shake off this feeling of self pity.

People would have hurt you with insensitive comments and actions but let wisdom remind you that you need people and can't succeed carrying on with a feeling that everyone should stay on their own.

Don't get stuck in anger at those who didn't seek you out, who didn't help like you expected or who out rightly missed the mark. Think of those you have also unknowingly neglected or disappointed in their own time of need and thank God for those he brought your way- they were just what you needed. If you live long enough you learn that no one is to be thrown away, that someone who disappointed you in the past, can stand by you in the future and someone who didn't help you in one situation can help you in another. Like Job after his restoration, pray for and reconcile with offending friends.

Finally, accept the sympathy and good will of those who come around you to comfort you for the things you suffered and rejoice with you for the things you survived!

Refusing to rely on memory


Previously I have written about how we hold on to memories that do not serve us when we should be letting go of them. Our memories can be stronger than actual events, because long after events have passed and outcomes have changed, our memories insist that what we felt was fact and what we concluded was truth.

Sometimes we will need to question these facts and try these truths. To heal we will need to stop relying on memory alone, but begin to let other factors into the equation. More importantly we will need to let God into the situation and take his word above our memories.

Recently, I had this conversation with my friend that God is not likely working on how to rain thunder and hailstorm on someone who hurt us unlike the expression we often use that the thunder bolt God will use to strike our enemies is doing press up. I think he is more interested in seeing the person our anger is directed at come to repentance, and seeing us healed. 

Healing starts with removing the darts that wounded your heart. It's in staying down to tend to your wounds not in getting up to run after your attacker. It is in seeking vindication from God and finding the milk of compassion in ourselves to nurse our broken spirits back to form not in seeking a balm of apologies from the offender.

God knows all the sides of the story. He may be saying one of these to your heart:

"I was protecting you from something down the road"

"I was preparing you for something down the road"

"Your Mr right wasn't right for you"

"I allowed it happen but ensured that no real harm came to you"

Recently I was watching a bit of one of the Harry Porter series where Gandalf cast his memories out of his mind by taking out strands of hair with his wand. It was one of those moments where I went "Ahaa" because it reiterated my sentiment that the world is using principles God has given us even better than we do.

The bible says to cast down every imagination and take captive (take over) every thought (including every memory) which is contrary. It says so because the devil ensnares us with thoughts, imaginations and reasoning so that we only remember the worst of people who may have had done good to us in the past and harden our hearts against them without remembering how we have been just as guilty.

When we question our memories and challenge our feelings and allow God's word weigh in then we are reaching beyond memory and are bound to find out on the other side that the real tragedy is in playing into the Devil's ultimate plan to destroy our joy and happiness through pettiness and bitterness.

We find out that all those memories are really serving the Devil's purpose and we have God's grace to side step his traps and live free!

Read Part 1- Holding onto memory here- http://omonaikee.blogspot.com.ng/2015/04/holding-on-to-memory.html
Read Part 2- Letting go of memory here- http://omonaikee.blogspot.com.ng/2015/04/letting-go-of-memory.html

Rewriting History

Hey people! How is everyone doing?

last post I talked about Elizabeth Gilbert's idea that you can change the narrative of your story. I think it is an important skill to learn because it is not about what happens to you but how you see what has happened to you, that makes the difference in if you recover, or if you get bitter or better.
I have also found it a useful practice to retell my story in my version of events to find a way to accept an otherwise unacceptable outcome. More recently, I am learning to add to the story by balancing the evil men did with recollections of the good they have also done and by giving reasons not to justify growing feelings of dislike or persistent temptations to remain angry or bitter.
Paul in the bible shared his coping mechanism which helped him move forward through adversity; it was to forget the things that were behind him and press forward aggressively towards the things ahead. Through the bible, there are several instructions to forget, to not call to mind, and to refuse to dwell on past pain.
This article shows one woman's way of forgetting, by neglecting to give attention to the worst bits of a traumatic event and choosing to make the most parts of the story the best parts of it. Next time you get the opportunity to talk about something horrible you experienced, try this- tell about the good breaks you had, the kindness you received, the lessons you learnt!
No matter what you've been through, it can become beautiful in the retelling. By Elizabeth Gilbert

Everybody in my family is a talented storyteller. We can't play team sports, we have a tiny little problem with drinking and we're all pretty dysfunctional about money—but man oh man, can we tell a good story.

I spent my childhood watching narratives get spun, twisted and renegotiated as family events were transformed from incidents into stories. There's a big difference, it turns out, between the two. An incident is an event that happens in real time, with real consequences, usually involving real (and raw) human emotion. A story is what you make out of it later.
Incidents are wild and dangerous; stories are controlled and reassuring. In the process of building a story, you sand down the sharp edges of an incident, buffing away all the pain and immediacy and urgency, creating something you can carry around safely in your pocket. A story is a magnificent thing because it puts you back in control.

Growing up, my grandfather used to tell the tale of his cousin who had a habit, back in the 1950s, of getting drunk late at night and then going for nude swims in the Erie Canal, all alone. One night this poor fellow locked himself out of his truck—which contained his clothing. He was forced to walk home, several miles along the one main road of his hometown, wet and naked.

But it gets better! My grandfather's cousin had found a tiny washcloth in the bed of his pickup truck—the only thing he could use to hide his nakedness. As he walked home, whenever he saw a car approaching from the front, he would use the washcloth to cover his private parts. Whenever he heard a car approaching from the back, he would cover his bottom. Inevitably, of course, two cars approached from both directions at exactly the same time. Should he cover his privates or his bottom?

"So I asked him," my grandfather said, "'What did you do?'"

And the cousin shook his head ruefully and replied, "All I can say is this: I've always hoped that I made the right decision."

God, how I loved that story!

Of course, as an adult, I can see that it might not have been so hilarious back when it was actually occurring—back when it was an incident. But my grandfather's cousin had taken that unhappy incident and crafted it into a really good story, which he then gave as a gift to his family. He may have exaggerated some of the funnier details while editing out some of the sadder ones. My grandfather himself, over time, probably embellished the story even more. I may have just embellished it myself, retelling it here. Some may have a problem with this. They might say we are obscuring the truth. But I think it's fine. I even think it's humane. The truth is hard enough when it's happening.

Here's another example: From 2001 to 2003, I went through an awful divorce. This was an unhappy incident, indeed. I was miserable, depressed, shamed. At the time, a well-meaning friend said,
" Hey, you're a writer! Someday you'll write about this!" I was offended, thinking it impossible that I could exploit my own pain for a story.

But I did transform my incident into a story. I had no choice, really—it's my inheritance.
Not that writing Eat, Pray, Love was easy. Figuring out how to make a good story out of an unpleasant incident never is. What should I leave in, what should I take out? The choices matter because your history is whatever you choose to tell about yourself. I thought, "Which private parts of myself should I cover up, and which private parts should I reveal?" It was intense. The emotional stakes were high. It felt like traffic was coming in both directions and the only thing I had to protect myself was a tiny little washcloth of words. All I can say is this: I've always hoped I made the right decision.

Read more:

Building Resilience: 5 Ways

Building resilience is a phrase I came across a while ago and I thought of how apt it is. Indeed it is important to be resilient, to be strong enough that people's opinions and harsh comments do not land on an already sore spot, or their actions do not control you, or you don't give up easily and run away from every uncomfortable situation or play the victim e.t.c.
Recently I read a couple of posts on my blog and saw that a lot of them have to do with my process of building resilience and reserves of strength. Whether it was me learning I could only control myself, or learning to take control of my own happiness or learning to handle a tantrum thrower or difficult person etc., the reoccurring theme that stood out to me was how to become a resilient version of myself.
So maybe this might become a series over time or the theme of a book or some publication, but whichever way I use it, today I start with 5 ways you can manage uncomfortable situations by changing the way you react internally when you cannot change the person involved or the situation.

1. Emotionally detach yourself from other people's opinion of you. www.marcandangel.com.

Only yesterday someone passed a comment about my work. It started with flattering commendation on something I had done and ended with a flattening admission that this person felt I didn't always do the best work.

The criticism came right after the praise and guess which one stuck?  I had to consciously and continuously deflect my attention away from the negative comment, telling myself "whatever XYZ meant by that is XYZ's business" because for the life of me I couldn't justify the statement and so it sounded unfair, undeserved.

Besides it wasn't doing anything for me. If it contained information that helped me either clarify what this person expected or proved the accusation true, then I could admit it as reasonable but as it stood it was garbage. So what I did was to detach myself from this opinion and treat it simply as discardable garbage.

2. Before you agree that life has been a series of negative events, ask yourself what is happening right now that you can be positive about? 

When you ask yourself this question you realise that there are a lot of positive things you have going for you and you only need to look up to realise that the drudgery and mundaneness of everyday is adding up- every day in little ways you are making progress even if it isn't obvious. 

For me answering that question proved every reason I thought I had to be blue wrong. It changed my focus from the past to the present and admitted as evidence the truth that all things are temporary and situations never remain exactly as they are but evolve. 

When we stay on the positive side of life and we see that we aren't getting the short end of the stick at all.

3. A negative thought/comment has no effect except you believe it.

Recently I was trying to navigate a turn on a crowded street, when another driver drove up to me and said "you cannot drive AT ALLLLL". I had observed a man gesticulating impatiently in a car that had to stop for me to be able to turn, it was this same man who took his time to tell me what all his antics were about.

I was startled more by his eloquent use of language and his clean accent than the deliberate put- down in his words. For a comment laced with as much bile to a total stranger, I expected a person with much less decorum. I mean I would only expect that brew of hostility from an uneducated, unpolished conductor in a moment of road rage!

As his comment landed, I flung it back remembering that mine and the safety of other road users was more important than impressing anyone, and mindful that I hadn't broken any traffic laws. 

I contemplated why an obviously proper gentleman will bother to be so uncouth, when it occurred to me that the problem was the car I was driving! He probably deserved to drive it more given his perception of his driving skills and I less given his perception of mine. Soon I had enough evidence to believe it was a dismissible comment and found myself feeling sorry for the man instead.

4. No matter what you've been through it can become beautiful in the retelling Elizabeth Gilbert on www.oprah.com.

When something negative happens. I actually get a sheet of paper and write at the top "my version of events", then I say what happened and explain my actions and rationale for them. When I look at my side of the story without all the harsh judgements of others involved, I can find a reason to be compassionate to myself and forgive any embarrassments or hurts that came my way as a result of the event.

But Elizabeth takes it further, saying that in the retelling you have the benefit of hindsight to dull or sharpen elements of a story and come out with an acceptable ending. It's your choice to retell that incident in a version that you can make peace with. Like drawing out the benefit or morale that came about as a result of the ugly incident or including the benefit of the doubt to one character's hurtful actions or justifying your reactions under the circumstances. 

5. Don't permit anyone to control the way you feel
 "Becoming a better you" by Joel Osteen and "Power thoughts" by Joyce Meyer.

In essence it is important that you do not let yourself be controlled by the anger of others. It's okay for someone to be angry with you, it is even okay for them to communicate their feelings to you but it is not okay for them to hold you to ransom, be mean, harsh or attacking, or to indirectly by passive aggressive behaviour try to register their annoyance with you.

When this happens you  need to see it for what it is, take responsibility for your part and apologise but leave the person to calm down and be civil again- this is their responsibility not yours.  

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