My Thoughts

Category Archives — My Thoughts

Overcoming $12k of Credit Card Debt

This day marks a massive milestone in our family’s life. It’s the day where I conclude the effects of so much suffering. Since I was blessed to obtain employment after 2 years of financial hardship, God provided the path to free our family from $12k of credit card debt in 1.25 years.

I wish to indulge in sharing 3 of the most important learning I received from this experience with you instead of telling you how to get out of debt because I’m not qualified to do so. 

The first important principle that brought me to this new found freedom is humility. Pride prevents any opportunity to change a person’s circumstance. When I was at the height of the credit card debt, I had to accept that success as a self-employed person is not going to happen. I had to give up my expectations of what life was supposed to be like and face reality. Until that moment I didn’t want to face the fact that I had to change. I didn’t want to be an employee, I wanted to be successful as a business owner. The reality is I’m not. It was very clear watching my finances head in the opposite direction, emotionally however, I believed that a business owner is the only way. 

Sometimes our beliefs need to adapt to an ever-changing world. If a current set of beliefs are not generating the desired results that you’re used to experiencing, chances are you need to look at changing them. By humbling myself and recognizing that my outdated belief system resulted in our financially-poor reality led to a desire to identify what I really wanted to experience.

I used my journal to write down how I wanted to feel about my finances. One of the major themes was that I wanted to feel secure financially. The next step was to describe what secure meant to me. As I wrote down that description, I was able to think about what milestones I needed to accomplish to feel secure.

Some of those things was the need to secure steady income asap. That meant, quitting self-employment and securing a job. When I achieved a steady income then I would focus on achieving a $0 balance on my credit card (I didn’t want to use the words debt-free because the focus and energy would be on debt).

Other activities such as insurance, additional income, KiwiSaver, savings, etc. were listed as milestones for me to accomplish that connected directly to feeling secure. These activities are accomplished one at a time and are done in phases. Phases 1 is to achieve a $0 balance. Phase 2 is to add insurance, KiwiSaver and savings. Phase 3 to begin growing a portfolio to build assets. By having a goal and a definition, I was able to align specific activities that would achieve that goal.

The other learning was creating a monthly financial forecast and tracking system. It is key to know exactly what I was doing with my money. It started on paper to confirm what info I wanted to track and then I used an app called Spendee to track my spending along with Google Sheets. By knowing exactly what was happening, I felt very confident about the future and was able to make very good decisions ahead of time.

Last, and the most important learning was to rely upon the Lord for help. When you experience a very low point in your life, your humility and willingness to look upward increases. I came to the realization that trying to accomplish this mammoth task was far beyond my own capacity. I need divine help. The Lord was in the details and provided the opportunities to pay off the debt, the strength to do it and the guidance to navigate through the journey.

As we celebrated this day, my heart is deeply grateful for the mercy and direction of the Lord. He truly strengthen our family that we didn’t feel the burden upon our backs and we were able to cheerfully overcome our challenge. Thanks be to God for His help in accomplishing what was at the time a near impossible task to overcome.

Reflecting on My Experiences Being Bullied at School

Imagine being the age of 7 or 8 at school, a boy approximately 11 years old (and in your mind looks like a man) appears, looks you in the eyes and threaten to beat you up for no reason. You know his name is Jack, you know he’s an older boy but you’ve never crossed paths… ever. 

There is a moment when you’re confronted where you get to decide how you are going to respond. I was silent, sacred and stood there staring at him, fearing if his threat was real, wondering if he was serious. That’s the anxious part, the uncertainty of it. I stood there powerless with no response, just a submission to what might be. Luckily, his friend persuaded him to leave me alone. He did. The feeling of that experience didn’t leave me alone.

That experience wasn’t the final time I’d encounter a bully at school. 

Getting teased regularly throughout my schooling was normal. It didn’t end when I got to intermediate or even college. I experienced it time and time again. I’ve been bullied and teased for being skinny, small, for the colour of my skin and for my religious beliefs. Throughout those years I dealt with it physically through sport but didn’t deal with it emotionally because I didn’t know how. 

One of hardest things about these experience is feeling powerless, because you believe that someone who appears as a threat has taken that power away from you. It can cause internal anger to grow within and you feel angry because you don’t know what to do or feel confident enough to do something about it. This stems from the imagination of what might happen if you speak up. This leads to low self-esteem and belief over time.

You see, your brain will do any to avoid pain, that’s how it protects you from potential danger. The power of your imagination can create scenarios that haven’t existed yet. Injecting intense emotions into it form a reality that can seem real even though there is no real evidence to support it. Standing up for yourself can mean pain, so your amygdala will send signals that doing something about it is too risky. The problem is staying as you are is risky as well. 

I decided sometime in my journey to never show fear despite the fear I felt inside. I turned to heroic characters in movies and sport who overcame tremendous odds as a reference to give me the courage to believe I can be just like them… brave. 

I remember, one day when I was 13, I walked out of class with my friends and out of nowhere a senior college student grabbed me and pinned me against the wall posing to beat me up. Remembering that decided to never show my “enemy” fear, I looked him straight in the eyes and stood my ground and my eyes said “I’m ready when you are” gave me enough of an advantage to see him change his mind. I wasn’t trying to act tough or invite conflict. I was trying to communicate that I don’t feel threatened by you so your tactics will not work.

What I learnt from that experience is that bullies look for individuals they think are weak and want to feel powerful by taking away someone else’s power. However, they themselves are also victims of having their own power taken from them and in order for them to feel powerful, they follow the same pattern they received… take away from someone to feel powerful. They are individuals who haven’t felt loved and their behaviour to feel loved is counterintuitive to how one can give and receive love. Essentially they’re in pain.

You don’t have to fear anyone when you realise they don’t feel loved and are looking for a way to fulfil that need. Having the courage to be brave however you define it grows each time you act. Look fear in the eyes and stand your ground.

Note: This was written for Pink Shirt Day. To learn more visit www.pinkshirtday.co.nz

The Mental Drain of Being a (Temp) Solo Parent

Disclaimer: This is not a whinge, sob story or sharing how hard my life is blog post. This is a personal observation and appreciation of what parents (especially mothers) feel when looking after their children on their own 24/7 with little or no help.

It’s school holidays with 4 days to go. I’m happy to say I have good kids, my wife raised them well and I think I can take at least 20% credit somewhere. Tash is in Las Vegas for 3 weeks and I’m here managing the house, the kids and trying to work (out how to get some business flowing). Managing multiple responsibilities is challenging at the moment to say the least.

Just before I started writing this blog post, I sat with my kids and felt mentally drained. Although I could do it, I didn’t really want to exercise, the executive function of my brain isn’t firing on all cylinders and I feel rather like I have no mind of my own. I starting thinking how my energy picks up when they go to bed, how between their bedtime til morning is the time I look forward to the most. Like I said, I’ve got good kids, but for some reason I feel I’m “on” when they’re conscious and I can’t turn “off” until they go to sleep.

I can certainly see why chocolate becomes your best friend!

As I was feeling drained, I started observing if this is a glimpse into what solo parents or mothers with young children are feeling day in and day out. They’re using a lot of mental energy to keep life moving as smoothly as possible. They have to be multi-skilled individuals for as long as it’s required that day. I started to consider my feelings and thought just how strong and resilient these parents are and tried to fill up my cup of empathy for them.

In this state, I don’t really aspire to achieve much but get through the day. Althought I’m physically there, I’m not there. I can feel and see the challenge to feel motivated to achieve your potential. I know from the stress, and fatigue it’s turning off my prefrontal cortex. That part of the brain is responsible being actively engaged.

In order to feel alive again it requires a change of environment and time away from the workload. There’s no other way around it. The mind, body and spirit needs time to recharge and whatever that looks to you and whatever support you have to make it happen, take time out to recharge.

When my kids go back to school, I’ll have all day to myself and all is well. I’ll get quiet time to work, exercise (which I’ve done once) and run errands without lugging 3 extra passengers around. For those parents who don’t have that luxury yet, I have a deepened respect for the effort you give each day. So like I said in the disclaimer, I’m not complaining but learning to observe and try and feel at some level how those who do this day in and day out feel.

I concluded that in order to find as much satisfaction and joy in this experience, I’ve decided to live by these guidelines.

  1. Do the best you can today and be okay with it being less than what you believe you’re capable of doing.
  2. Only do the most important tasks today.
  3. Pray often and give thanks for what you have.
  4. Make the best out of the resources you have available.
  5. Take care of your personal health as best as you can, especially mental/emotional health.
  6. Strive to keep your mind centred in the moment. Too much wasted energy thinking about the past and future.
  7. Don’t bother trying to be a hero, try to be human. There’s less pressure to live up to extremely high expectations.
  8. Tell yourself you’re doing better than you think. So hold your head up when you’re feeling weary.

I’m going to enjoy my quiet time now, but I want you to know that you are amazing and that I’m grateful to have a strong wife to raised our kids and did it so well. Keep going and keep doing the best you can.

My Experience in Learning to Love Myself

I’ve been exposed to an increase of people sharing their story or experience about learning to love themselves and their body. I think it’s great! And it’s great that influences of every kind are being open about it and people are resonating. I thought I’d share my thoughts and personal experience on the subject.

It’s a brief introduction into what I went through and I do this because I like to share the details in times where it’s appropriate or can strengthen, connect, or illustrate a principle that I’m striving to share with a group or individual.

For most of my childhood, I was always told “you’re too skinny! Eat more food! Gain more weight!” over and over I was fed this information which caused me to believe that in order to fit in and be valued by those around me, I had to eat a lot and gain a lot of weight. My value was invested in other people’s insecurities. Being told this over again had an effect on my self-esteem.

It wasn’t until I was a young adult that I began to make some serious changes and I had to first resolve the self-esteem issues I had growing up. One of the exercises I did was to look in the mirror (when no one was around!) I say to myself “I love you.” I don’t really care how that sounds. At first, I couldn’t look myself in the eye and honestly say that. I had to teach myself that I am valuable, I am created by God, I am enough. Saying “I love you” was a three-word phrase that implied everything.

Over time I saw that I was defined by the insecurities of others and that I didn’t need to live by their expectations anymore. My body, value and purpose were mine to develop and that I did. After building the best physique I could ever dream of, it didn’t release me of those past insecurities, it was the byproduct. Because I loved, respected and choose to focus on building my value, my body, confidence and outlook changed.

After a stressful 2 years, I almost shrunk back to a skinny man. I had to release my past physique and expectations when I got back into exercise again. When I first started it was hard, I was thinking about what I was like 2 years ago. I knew that in order to progress I couldn’t relive 2 years ago. 2 years ago isn’t going to help me today. Yes, I relied on my knowledge (that’s useful). I had to accept my reality but not be defined by it. I accepted that I can’t lift what I used to but it doesn’t mean I’ll never do it again.

Self-love isn’t just about accepting yourself in your current state, it’s about looking at yourself square in the eye and saying “I love you, I’m valuable, I define my greatness.” Then act on your expectations, serve others and watch your value increase.

What’s your opinions, thoughts or experiences in learning to love yourself? Comment below I’d love to know your thoughts.

Thinking About Your Body in a Certain Way

This morning I was pondering over a recent conversation I had. In my head, I was trying to figure out how I could this individual switch their perspective on their experience.

I wasn’t trying to fix anything, just praying I could either help or that this person could in their own way, understand the power of intention in their journey.

I started thinking what separates a “successful” body over the “struggling” body? The major difference isn’t in what they do, it’s in how they think about what they do. Those who achieve success in slimming down, building muscle and all in between, do it by expecting change with no doubt whatsoever.

The next layer down is that they have a positive intention behind everything they do. Every action, session or meal is done with the feeling that this activity is leading them to victory. There’s no room for doubt, there’s no inconsistency. It’s absolute faith.

The final layer is built on love. They “successful” love the process, they love to eat, train and live the life that brings about the body they want. But they do it because they LOVE, not fear, hate or complain about the need to change their body.

Find ways to love the journey, the process and outcomes. Put into everything you do today the feelings, thoughts and intention of love and success. Over time you will see positive change.