Health and Wellness

Decide to be kind-Workplace bullying

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Decide to be Kind – Workplace Bullying

During the morning rush hour, do you bother to give way in the traffic, give a wave to someone who lets you in, or make an effort to give a quick smile to someone as you walk by? If someone smiles at you, do you pause and wonder whether you should smile back? Well wonder no more: of course you should … it is the simple act of being kind, and it’s really that simple.

The universal language for all human beings is love and kindness, and we give this with the hope or expectation that we will receive the same in return.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Based on a recent survey about workplace bullying, 80% of the women interviewed revealed that they themselves or someone they know are being sexually harassed, assaulted or bullied at work. That is an alarming number of women who are victims of workplace bullying. In situations like these, do we still want to be kind and hope that we will be treated the same?

Kindness brings us inner peace. Are we struggling to find our inner peace in today’s workplace? Or do we need to earn the right to feel such peace? Is it ok to allow yourself to be mistreated by your boss when you come up with better business proposals or ideas? Do you expect to invest time in playing mind games to get your tasks done? Should you just grin and bear it when you are given a pointless task instead of what you are paid to do? Should you keep quiet if your supervisor reschedules your working hours before consulting you, knowing that such changes would make things difficult for you?

Workplace bullying affects your productivity, your performance and your mental health. It can leave you feeling threatened, intimidated, anxious, exhausted or suffering from sleepless nights. Most likely, it could impact on your trust of and relationship with people around you, including your loved ones. It’s a vicious cycle that stands to repeat itself until you take action to stop it.

There are drastic ways one could choose to handle bullying, such as: ‘an eye for an eye’ mentality, back stabbing and spreading rumours, stalking, sending threatening messages or even using physical violence. But is retaliating really the answer?

Deciding to be kind is another way. Kindness is an attitude of being empathic, understanding and reaching out to alleviate the suffering of others. Who is suffering here – the people who bully others?

 

Here are some strategies that could help you, if you decide to be kind in the face of bullying:

Face it by stepping forward. Bullying is a cowardly, yet dominating, behaviour. Usually it is masking the bully’s own fears or insecurities by ‘attacking’ someone they feel they have an advantage over. Such behaviour allows the bully to feel in control and less threatened, and it may even boost their self-esteem.

Recently, a friend of mine stood up for her rights, despite knowing workplace bullying is – unfortunately – widely accepted as part of her company’s culture. Her immediate boss took the credit for the business proposal she developed. She decided not to put up with the injustice of someone else taking the glory for her work and she stood up for herself (and her team) during a meeting. Although she was acknowledged, she did not receive an apology.

She led her team well by example. She decided to deliver her message with kindness and she did not speak ill of the boss who had done the wrong thing. Rather, by coming forward, she delivered a clear message of zero tolerance for bullying, whilst also seeking the fair recognition she deserved. The overall effect of this was that she created a more welcoming and harmonious environment to work in.

Heart-to-heart talk. Choose a safe place to do this, such as an open space in the office lobby or a café, where others are around. For your own safety, do not confine yourself to a private room. You could initiate the conversation if you believe there has been some sort of misunderstanding. Be very clear with your intentions right from the start of the invitation, allowing the other person to prepare beforehand for what you would like to discuss. It may be wise to inform another colleague who is not involved in the conversation of your intention, to safeguard your interest, but be careful not to resort to gossiping.

When you meet up with the person, start with a genuine smile. It is the most effective way to break down any invisible barrier that could be in place. Provide some context about the issue you are concerned about and offer suggestions about what you could do to help him or her with the issue at hand, and then allow the other person the space to talk and respond. People like to tell you about themselves and showing your empathy, care and understanding towards them will most likely be your best strategy in reaching a resolution. Focus on solving the issue and be a good listener. It would be best if both parties came to a mutual understanding and could agree upon on a win-win compromise.

Making friends in the office is always much better than making enemies. It is tiring and draining to be at odds with other people. Always start with kind thoughts of helping others, as this might be the best way to solve the tense circumstances you can face.

Writing a message to the person involved. Do not make the situation worse by using aggressive and defensive words.  Politely share your concerns over the issue and try to eliminate the conflict. I used to write to my teenage daughter when we were unable to solve a disagreement calmly face to face. That way, I could get it off my chest by relaying my message in a thoughtful and careful way without fuelling the tension.

Nowadays there are many online forums or Facebook groups that you could reach out to. Speak your heart out and get support from those who have been in your position and can relate to what you are going through. You will benefit from feeling supported and understood, and you may also receive some good tips on how to approach your particular situation.

Voice it out to the authorities. Find out whether your company has any policies or procedures in place for handling bullying in the workplace. As an employee, you deserve to be heard and your rights should be respected. Be sure to stand up for the notion that workplace bully is not accepted.

In NSW, you could make a complaint about workplace bullying to the Australian Human Rights Commission by calling 1300 656 419. WorkSafe NSW provides advice and help about these types of issues and they can be contacted on 13 10 50.

You may be thinking that this option doesn’t seem very kind, but when you consider that kindness must be directed to yourself (and other potential victims too) – then indeed it is.

 

Deciding to be kind is an attitude and it empowers you to live an enriched and purposeful life. The art of displaying kindness is a lifelong commitment you make to yourself and others who work and live around you. Being kind is a choice.

The depth of your kindness will be tested during periods of stress, such as workplace bullying, but as Aesop said: ‘No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.’ Let’s make this work, starting with us.

So … be kind to the stranger passing you by offering them a smile, be kind to people who need to learn kindness themselves. Most importantly, be kind to yourself.

 

 

Blessing in Disguise

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As a mum whose husband was always travelling and with two young kids at home, life was busy and hectic. Looking back, I now see that it was a blessing in disguise, as it taught me to cope and be prepared for most unexpected situations. Like avoiding falling sick myself, back up plans if one child was unwell in the mid of the night, to nurturing compassion and kindness while volunteering at adult disabled centre.

You may notice that the universe always approaches us with big and small hassles and hustles, once in a while to keep us entertained.  Though the author’s name eludes me, his message addressing cycles of life as being tests, lessons and blessings rings clear in my mind.

The Test, lessons and Blessings

When we are confronted with a difficult situation, it is a test, there is an underlying lesson to be learnt. It provides us with new insights into our behaviours, personal and social values, intellect and wisdom. Often, these lessons are also blessings in disguise reminding us of what we have and how valuable it is. Like how we appreciate our health, our happiness and our freedom from future suffering.

Maintain a good relationship with your whole self

Some aspects of my cycle of life involve maintaining a good relationship with my physical, mental and emotional health.

Be Kind to your Body

Being healthy and free from any major illness is the most tangible and valuable asset for most of us. Our quality of life highly depends on our ability to use our body parts without many complaints or much discomfort. Any acute pain or restrictions to our mobility would definitely cause upset to our daily activities. So it is important to build a good relationship with our bodies, to maintain strong and flexible body function.

The best way to maintain or improve our range of movement is to exercise. Be smart and work within your means. Be committed. Be clear with the benefits for doing exercises eg. feeling energised, supported, good heart function and happy.

Generally speaking, when we are free from pain, we love challenges. We often indulge in high-risk activities like football, rugby, skate-boarding, parkour etc…

Why do we do this?

Simply because it gets our adrenalin pumping, it's exciting. But please be cautious, there is a higher chance that you may break your bones, tear your muscles or dislocate your joints, that is why they are high risk!.

From a Yogi’s perspective, pleasing the ego should not be your priority, as your personal safety in any form of exercise you embark on should always be a major consideration. In short, you may be setting yourself up for less mobility or living with constant acute pain from bad old injuries thereby compromising quality time spent with your loved ones.

The choices we make in the early part of our lives have a direct impact on our older self. So choose wisely and responsibly. Every action comes with consequences, both good and bad. Know what you are bargaining for and make sensible choices. Investing in your future now is a no brainer. ‘While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions.’– Stephen R. Covey

Be aware of your mental and emotional needs

Besides making the right choice of how you care for your physical body, acknowledging your mental and emotional health is equally important.  Most of us choose not to accept that we have some mental issue at some point in time. We convince ourselves that we are fine and as competent or as successful as ever. But deep inside, we are unable to live up to what we promise ourselves - a happy, fulfilling and promising future.

Suppressing these troubling emotions may blind you to believe that you can overcome such feelings by ignoring them before things get out of hand.

Experts will tell you to make the conscious choice of living in pleasure or living healthily. I say, eat and play as much as you like but come back later to resolve the real problems you have put aside. Pressure from wanting success, to be accepted, coping with stressful relationships, bad work days, insufficient sleep… all mounts up for us to find a quick way out.

Personally, my way of coping with stress is often comfort eating and I am ok with this. Of course there is the serious consequence of putting on excessive weight. But I will take care of that later as I feel that my mental stability is what I should focus on at the moment. Maybe I’ll do an extra walk in the week or eat more carefully for the rest of the week.

My point is not to punish yourself further if the only comfort you can get at the moment is from that piece of luscious black forest cake or decadent ice cream right before your eyes, then treat yourself to it.  Once your cravings are taken care of, then steel yourself to deal with the real problems. So the next time you pick up a piece of black forest cake, you are celebrating your wins.

Choosing to eat beautiful cakes in fact is a form of self-care which I consciously allow myself. Believe me; indulgence in a piece of delectable art is meditative. I picture the amount of dedication and effort from the artist who baked and presented it for someone he/she might not ever meet. The artist’s job is simply to ensure the creation satisfies every pair of admiring eyes and every sensation the taste buds receive.  That in itself is a lesson in disguise. My problem may not be a problem after all by just understanding the story behind what I am eating.

Whichever ways you choose to handle your struggles, do not just stop there. The universe is always playful and watching out for you at the same time. It will not give you a puzzle of life that you are not ready for.

If it is a complicated puzzle to solve, take your time or even pick other people’s brains. There is no specific rule or time restriction on how you run your cycles of life. Be patient and keep trying. If there is rule, it would be not to push it away. We do not live only for ourselves, we live for others too. Perhaps the light of hope needs to reach you first before it can shine through.

Each of us is destined to deliver our mission in life. We may not know exactly what it is until we have lived through it.

Enjoy the ride my friends and keep learning and exploring all the tests, lessons and blessings that are in store for you.

Yin Yoga: I'm Me and I Feel Me

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Are you aware that knowing what you love about yourself empowers you to live a fuller life?

I am experiencing it right now… I’m me and I feel me. There is nothing I do not like about myself now. From the imperfect image in the mirror, which does not need any Photoshop, to the fragility I feel about myself, I love it all and I’m grateful for it.

I am ME - a woman who wants it all! Meeting all my obligations, expectations and responsibilities, but yet also having the guts to say NO when enough is enough and making self-care a priority.

I have worn many hats during different stages of my life. I did not feel inadequate in any of them. It was an honour to be able to provide and care for others, until I sapped myself dry. I was afraid to disappoint others or be their burden. On the other hand, I was in a constant battle with my willingness to serve myself correctly. I disappointed myself. I criticised my looks and my imperfect English, I disapproved of my efforts, sabotaged my confidence, and told myself hurtful things and disconnecting from the self-care I desperately needed.

I feel ME more each day now, as I balance my fears, doubts, anger, self-care, self-love with the gentle touch of kindness and humbleness. I owe myself an apology for neglecting my desire to be respected and understood by nobody other than myself. 

Sitting in silence for few minutes is what I do every morning and night now. The process of un-tangling my corrective judgemental mind is a work in progress. Always striving to be less critical and to accept myself for who I am, from the one who is loved for getting things done promptly to the one who occasionally feels shitty about herself. 

My self-discovery journey is partly credited to my Yin Yoga practice.

Yin Yoga has taught me to trust my body, as it is the gate keeper to my daily excitements and struggles. My body understands me best. I say so because I shied away from my mirror reflection when I was unjust to myself. When I have been kind and generous, my reflection showed otherwise.

However, Yin yoga may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It is a slow, meditative form of yoga that helps me to ground the mind and to be present in the moment. It is as simple as surrender, let go, rest and love yourself. Each different stage of your presence has a direct impact on your overall experience with the practice.

You learn to be gentle with yourself, as you stay fully aware of the body’s sensations when you are in passive stretched postures. Fundamentally, you want to get some deep rest but very soon, you will notice that the body does not have the ability to rest fully. How can you get comfortable, stay relaxed and be light when you are ‘battling’ with the discomfort, aches and pains? In fact, these aches and pains are your body’s way of getting your attention. It is not all that bad. Appreciate it, listen to it and learn not to reject it.

As you stretch with gentleness in mind, you are creating space within yourself for healing. Improving circulation in the joints and enhancing the flow of energy that improves your health and well-being. Besides, you will also receive clarity in the mind with those deep mindful breaths. You may then begin to better understand the stiffness in the body and how to handle it wisely.

Sitting quietly opens the window of opportunity to re-assess what matters to me through understanding the emotions I carry inside me. I have allowed myself to experience how the deep stretches help to unfold those hidden experiences from my past. I do not hold back, I let it take over me completely as I know I’m safe within my sacred space. The deep stretches of yin yoga release not only the physical discomfort or pain; they expose me to and assist me in relieving deeper emotional challenges.

An hour or more in my practice allows me to sit patiently with my aches and pain including feelings. I learnt to give in to it and happily reward myself with an instant relief at the end of each stretch.

At the end of each practice, I feel much gratitude, love and comfort. I also find the space in me where gentleness and kindness in my mind magnifies and I’m ready to take on more by putting fear and doubts aside. When I am submissive to my inner dialogue, I get more out of it. When I re-visit my vulnerability, it gives me strength to be true to my purpose, value and expectation. My body has all the answers to my needs. All I have to do is make time for it.

Making time for self-care is priority as only I can love myself completely and know exactly what I need. I know I deserve my care and I’m also getting better at doing so because I hardly shy away from the mirror now. I’m celebrating me and I feel me regardless of what others say or think. 

 

My Not To-do List

Step back, embrace the moment and enjoy.

Do you allow yourself to DO JUST THAT?  It is not as easy as it sounds when you have tons of things to check off your to-do list. We are women who want the both of both worlds and it only makes sense for us to obligate ourselves with different requests, all to feel valued as a woman, mother, and wife.

Even as a long time yoga practitioner, I still catch myself not synchronizing my thoughts with the fundamental principal of yoga, which is to being present. While I rest on my yoga mat, breathing mindfully, I find my mind wandering back to my to-do lists. It was like I was multi-tasking, resting yet being productive at the same time.

I agree that, stepping back to embrace the moment to most of us often, may seem as a waste of time and an unnecessary mindset. But here is where I am going to convince you it’s not.

So instead of preparing a to-do list, I came up with a not-to-do list to share with you all.

1.     DO NOT WAIT to make time for your loved ones.

       When was the last time you called home? It upsets me every time I see more wisps of grey on my parents’ head. My gut told me that I should visit home more often. But once I return from my holiday, it fades to the back of my mind as I continue my ‘busy-bee’ lifestyle.

       We always push it to tomorrow, when we are hard pressed for time. We allocate our time for our businesses, work assignments, meetings, workshops but we often neglect that closet to us. Give your loved ones a call, I am sure they miss you too.

       Make time for your friends too. When was the last time you invited your besties out for a coffee and quick chat?

       Nowadays, I try to drop them a message or to give them a call to see how they are doing. It is the strange nature of human beings to be willing to be there for our friends but also choose not to trouble them when we ourselves are having a hard time. I called a close friend recently and realized that she was in the middle of filling for a divorce. Despite her unfortunate circumstances, I was relieved that I was there in her time of need.

       Nurturing sincere and trustworthy friendships, is vital for our health and wellbeing. Be present for those special friendships, so that in times of need, you can rely on their love and support in return. Be the shoulder to cry on or the sense of calm and support for others   when they need it. Friendship is a special bond we build, treasure and keep.

       Another important person you need to make time for is yourself. Schedule in time to do something you truly enjoy and love, without hesitation. It is how you show care for nobody but You. If you encounter hiccups during those bad days, take it easy, reflect and do better the next time.

       Love, love, love yourself and be grateful for the setbacks and the opportunities. Acknowledge your efforts and be ok when your expected outcome does not measure up. No big deal. Try it again. Smile and move on. The earth is still turning. There is always another chance for you to strike gold.

2.     DO NOT DOUBT yourself too often.

       Why is it so hard for us to forgive ourselves? We are not well taught about forgiveness. We punish and blame ourselves for mistakes we commit, somehow hoping that it will make us feel better and tougher. Does it make you feel understood and self-supportive? If not, why do we do this to ourselves? Not forgiving ourselves from our past mistakes traps our minds into thinking that a certain goal is unreachable. It makes you believe that the anger and bitterness is the thread that holds your hopes together. A feeling so familiar it becomes the air you breathe every day.

       Can we choose to be gracious and forgive our own shortcomings instead? We are not our enemies. We do not need to prove our worth to anyone. We deserve our own respect before other and to be treated with care and kindness. No one is equipped with all the knowledge and experience for any task or responsibility. It comes with time, effort, practice and perseverance.

       I share Buddha’s wise words “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” After all who can argue with a sage?

      If you make a mistake, take the courage to admit it. Be honest to yourself; mend it and take it as a lesson to remember. Stop doubting and wondering further as you sink deeper into this hole of turmoil you have created for yourself.

3.     DO NOT IGNORE how you feel physically, mentally and emotionally.

Mental illness is real. We heard it from news where families lost their loved ones to depression, family violence and other related mental and emotional related issues.

      Our body reflects the state of our mind. Often, we dismiss signs from our aching or exhausted body as being less important. Invest time to have a peaceful and sensible dialogue with ourselves. This is especially necessary in our fast paced world, as we are more occupied, stressed out and relentless to both our bodies and our minds.

       If you know anyone that needs help, do not stop there. Encourage or assist them to call Lifeline for Crisis Support and Suicide Prevention. You could save a life.

 4.     DO NOT HATE BUT LOVE.

Hate is a strong emotional word that can bring destruction and irreparable harm. Terrorists attacks, wars between neighboring countries and mass killings of other human races, such inhumane and unforgiving destructions were convicted with no remorse and guilt. The roots of such sinful acts of mankind are hatred and revenge.

Just by going through that thought process of hating someone is draining and counter-productive. Hatred allows us to feel like victims, to see as being bullied, to agree being misjudged or to blame for being wronged for doing something good. The problem or conflict remains unsolved. Who is losing out? In most cases, the innocent lives of others and it could be even ours.

  Love is exactly the opposite. It’s comforting, energising, thoughtful and full of goodness that is irresistible and best of all; it brings people together for the greater good such as the 10 million pound received in donations in the 12 hours following the Ariana Grande’s One Live Manchester concert on 4 June 2017 to help victims and their families from bombing after her concert at Manchester Arena on 22 May 2017.

  Do not forget to embrace where you are right in this minute. Honour your past with empathy and gratitude so you can be the light for others. You never know when you could be that light. Just know you would be because you choose love over hatred just like those thousands and thousands who turned up for the One Live Manchester concert . Only Love can cast away the darkness and bring warmth, smiles and laughter that last a longer time.

Do not wait. Do not doubt. Do not ignore. Do not hate but love. These matter the most to me. In this moment, what is in your thought or your call of action? Put it down in the comment. I would love to hear it too.