Interview With Gustavo Francesconi – Brazilian Artist

Regardless of your belief, whether esoteric and spiritual, pragmatic, or ideas based on empiricism, the cognitive value of Gustavo Francesconi’s artwork enhances your knowledge and sensational experiences as if you have visited new worlds.

Gustavo Francesconi is a Brazilian Graphic Artist Plastic Designer. He combines practices that cross over, by exploring colors, shapes, chromatic to poetics, and instrumentals guided by practical-theoretical bases of science and interpretation of symbols.

He creates a dialogue together with sound codes and frequencies, natural elements, and geometrics studies to convey the notion that: “Control the chaos, who wins is a harmony.” His choice of materials from various interests is a representation of conflicts that resolve and work together to heal.

According to Clélia Dehon, responsible for the cultural mediation of the Louis Vuitton Foundation, Gustavo’s art “is a hypnotic universe, with pop features, almost psychedelic exotic who discovers his work.”

Gustavo Francesconi

Interview:

Jupilings: Your story

GF: I was born in a small town in southern Brazil called Joinville. My curiosity and fascination with the human understanding of reality led me to where I am now; I am 34 years old, and I dedicate my days to the creative universe. I am the founder and director of  APOC, an independent graphic design studio created in 2013 as a necessity to evolve my work as a creative. At the same time, this platform allowed me to enter the artistic universe profoundly. I felt in control of my ideas and goals. I have been working as a designer for 15 years. I dedicate myself to artistic research for 7 years and feel the evolution of my thoughts every day. The transformation has taken me to an enlightened and mysterious place, in the future I will be what I lived in the past, and in the past, I will be what I felt in the present. My story doesn’t exist.

Jupilings: Are you working on a new series-

 GF: I become fully self-aware when I reflect on my production. I’m in a new phase. I recently chose to be an independent artist without gallery representation, which allowed me to have control over my entire collection. For the first time, I perceive my production as a whole, observe each technique, and where the creative synapses came from. Maybe I turned a key that I shouldn’t have, but I felt creatively predictable and it bothered me. Presently, my work is mimetic, a constant unfolding of repeated series without cadence, but that are latent to my creative space.

Artwork Gustavo Francesconi

At this time, I am working on a series of collages based on discarded prints and test runs. Material that I kept for years, and I am revisiting to reframe forgotten material, transmuting these compositions into new experiences. I am developing a painting series called Ruptura; basically, landscapes, experimenting with new textures and paints. The motif of the painting focuses on color. The research is about the paint, about density, and dilution of the chosen media. For example, at this moment, I am creating my colors with a mixture of plaster, acrylic mass, acrylic paint, screen printing paint, pigment powder, and liquid. The quantity of these variants determines color plasticity and tone depth.

I am in constant production, either creating graphic pieces or thinking about art. The artist’s job is to perceive the world around and channel this energy to transcend reality.

Jupilings: Please tell us about your interest in the relationship between poetry, music, cosmology and sensorial aspects of matter-

 GF: Everything is connected, it is synesthetic, this relationship is omnipresent in our mind, we create this reality. When I listen to poetry, I think of music, then an image comes to mind, and I can feel a sensation, for instance: a shiver! Poetry would not be poetry without feeling it, thinking it is vernacular, everything that exists can be transformed into poetry, music, image, it is a matter of sensitivity. The way that art reaches us intrigues me greatly, from the media to our sensory systems. Starting with our very limited perception of the colors that consequently shape our reality. Thinking that we see only 3 dimensions makes me believe that we are babies who have just opened their eyes to the cosmos.

Artwork by Gustavo Francesconi

Jupilings: What inner force shapes your artistic concepts-

GF: Curious this question, I started to paint a little late, I always had many questions and theories about the life and creation of the universe, and I realized that this distressed me in a way, the painting was like letting go and organizing these thoughts, it made me materialize these ideas, I have very clear images in my head of things I never saw, painting them makes them real. It is like taking that energy out of a dimensionless plane and materializing the thought. This awakens my pleasure and an urge to create, it is pure magic, ritualistic. I feel alive and powerful before my existence.

 

Gutavo Francesconi

Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks-

 GF: I solve it as soon as possible. I get on well with them; every day, I send flowers; I know they exist, so I choose to treat them well.

Jupilings: How do you deal with criticism-

GF: I like to receive criticism, especially when it instigates me to think differently, I make the most of it through reflection. I am my most prominent critic; I am not afraid to confront my own choices.

Artwork by Gustavo Francesconi

Jupilings: What is the role of art today-

GF: Interesting this question, I could answer with the phrase “The artist is the antenna of the race” by Ezra Pound, so the role of art is to print reality. I have always seen art as Politics, since the cave paintings, humanity has always looked for ways to express itself and use this tool as a positioning.

Artwork by Gustavo Francesconi

Jupilings: What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard-

GF: Everything has a positive side. Sometimes we forget, it’s always good to remember.

Jupilings: Do you have a favorite painting, film or any other creative media that inspires you and why-

 GF: Everything inspires me, I listen to a lot of music, I love to take a trip down my record collection. I love cinema, I think the creative complexity that involves film production is excellent. But what inspires me most is nature, when I talk about it, I want to talk about everything, life, the universe, energy, God. This movement fascinates me; as there is continuity.

Artwork by Gustavo Francesconi

 Jupilings: What are your thoughts on blockchain platforms for artists since it democratizes access to art-

GF: I believe there is room for both markets, art has several layers and interests. Nowadays, the artist can be independent; the internet plays a crucial role. As an independent artist, when you choose to leave the system of galleries and commissions, it has negative and positive points, like everything in life. It depends a lot on your goals, there is not only one right path, but there are also several.

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

 GF: Time does not stop. Being aware of your existence and choices is the great key to not getting lost in the contemporary world. We don’t even exist anymore, so relax.

Irrational Beliefs – Part 4

Here are 3 irrational beliefs (cognitive distortions) that we need to watch out for and fix since they can lead to lower self-esteem and harm our everyday interactions.

 Always being right – When an individual often puts on a trial other people’s opinions and actions to prove that they are right. They struggle with the irrational belief that being wrong is unacceptable, and they go to any length to validate their argument.

What to do: Practice the Cost-Benefit Analysis Technique to list the advantages and disadvantages of this behavior. Ask yourself how it makes you feel and what you are gaining with an inappropriate attitude. This method examines the underlying motivation, which encourages you to be sensitive and attuned with your noble intentions. In other words, the practice improves emotional intelligence, which plays an important role in our interpersonal relationships.

Personalization involves taking everything personally or blaming yourself or someone else for an issue that was out of control, and a variety of factors played a role in it. This distortion also drives the person to compare himself to others to establish who is smart or attractive.

What to do:

  1. Stop recounting the problem repeatedly to yourself or others so that the toxic emotions are not reinforced—question what part you played in the issue’s outcome.
  2. Change the pattern, view error as an opportunity for self-improvement rather than failure—question what role you played in the problem’s outcome.
  3. Be mindful of your tendency to taking things personally and blaming others.
  4. Do recognize that everyone has their own struggles and life story.

Emotional Reasoning is when you are looking for external causes for your feelings. For instance: “I am anxious, so I must be in danger.” “I feel judged; this means that people are judging me.”

What to do:

  • Apply Double Standard Technique; instead of beating up on yourself mercilessly, pretend that you are talking to a friend with the same problem. Naturally, you will be more caring and practical. Try the same approach be a friend to yourself.
  • Practice Socratic Method: question to expose contradictions in your thoughts and ideas. Put yourself in the hot seat and find holes in your beliefs. Under pressure with critical thinking, reasoning, and logic, you will notice how a change in facts can change your perspective.

Hopefully, this piece and the previous posts have given you a solid understanding of irrational thoughts based on hidden assumptions that we can all experience at one time or another. Whether you are struggling with mental health or not, it helps evaluate our thinking patterns now and then. Yes, the introspection, either by tackling your own struggles or seeking out CBT Therapy, is extremely valuable. It helps us live a productive life by patching up the negativity and building resilience.

 

Artwork by Maja Borowicz

Irrational Beliefs – Part 3

The truth is that the universe naturally shapes our lives through different disruptions. Along the way, different events and individuals will challenge us and push us to unfavorable situations. And the changes will affect how we feel about ourselves, how we relate to others, and how we behave. Problems can trigger irrational beliefs called cognitive distortions. Here are another set of 3 irrational beliefs to be aware of:

Magnification (Catastrophizing) or Minimization – It consists of making a mountain out of a molehill. Or, on the flip side, downplaying the significance of an event or an emotion.

A Magnification example is when an individual thinks that something catastrophic such as suffering a fatal heart attack, will happen. Or when athletes believe that they are inadequate team players because of a mistake.

A Minimization example is when you receive a raise, and you still feel not very good at your job.”

What to do: 

  • In both cases, write down your concern in detail, put into words your emotions, and challenge them.
  • Consider a core principle of Stoicism: “Some things are in our control and others not.” Such as sudden heart attack, illness, traffic, not being able to score a goal, the list goes on.
  • Remind yourself the validity of your emotions is reflections of your thoughts.
  • Keep in mind what you can control is your response and your actions.
  • Challenge your opinion with facts.

Should Statements – the tendency to impose a set of unrealistic or non-viable expectations for yourself or others. The should, ought or must statements indicate obligations that we cling on to, and generally, we get angry if they do not meet our expectations.

What to do:

  • Stop evaluating yourself and others based on statements that signal control and rarely make sense.
  • Adjust your statements to express your preferences, and, alternatively, acceptance of reality is sensible. This way, you are acknowledging that sometimes things are not how we like them to be! Hence, the situation will be less infuriating, and your response will be more sound. For instance, when someone’s actions are misaligned with your expectations, the statement can be expressed: “I prefer if you were more considerate,…”

Labeling and Mislabeling – When you reduce yourself or others based on one characteristic or an incident, basically overgeneralizing a situation, a habit, or a trait with hurtful and emotionally loaded description. For instance: “I failed my exam; I am stupid.”

What to do: 

  • Write down your thoughts and the language you have used to express your sentiments.
  • Recognize the double-standard method you used to communicate your feelings and the lack of compassion or a kinder behavior bestowed on a friend.
  • Practice thinking in shades of grey by rating how you feel on a scale of worst to the best. You will notice that many incidents or actions are not as extreme as we label them.
  • Define what does it mean to be a failure or insecure or any undesired labels?
  • Revisit the labels that you have applied to yourself and others. Talk to yourself like a friend.

Remember that not everyone can reduce or treat cognitive distortions by itself. At times, therapies such as CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) is the best way to learn about coping strategies to deal with challenges.

 

Artwork by Antonio Mora

Irrational Beliefs – Part 2

Most likely, as humans, you have experienced numerous cognitive distortions at one time or another. In the previous post, I highlighted 3 tendencies out of 11 cognitive distortions, and here is another 3 flawed pattern of thinking which are significant in our interactions and relationships. Once you are aware, you can improve and modify the faulty beliefs with practice.

Mental Filter – The mental filter distortion happens when an individual allows a single negative piece of information to overshadow and exclude the positive ones. For instance, when someone focuses on an unfavorable comment or incident and dwells on it while ignoring all positive remarks or experiences.

What to do: Write down the negative thought, challenge it, and reframe the thinking to a positive and realistic one. And remember that a negative situation does not remain negative forever.

Disqualifying the Positive – This distortion involves the rejection of positive statements or events by insisting that they are a fluke or argue against it: “that doesn’t count.”

For example, when someone is praised for a trait or a work, the receiver ignores it and disqualifies the comment based on “they are just nice.”

What to do: The best way to start managing these inaccurate thoughts is to practice receiving compliments and feedback with a simple: ‘Thank you”.

Jumping to conclusions:

  1. Mind reading variant –  it refers to inaccurate beliefs and negative interpretations based on assumptions. We might have an idea of what other people are thinking, however jumping to conclusions without justification by the facts is wrong. For example, you meet an unfriendly or bad-tempered person, and you automatically take it personally or think that they have bad intentions.
  2. Fortune telling variant – in this case, we imagine and predict horrible things will happen to us. Of course, we all feel anxious to some extent if a loved one is late and does not pick up the phone.

What to do:

  • Slow down and actively ask yourself whether your assumptions make sense and are based on valid reasoning or available evidence.
  • In both cases, Mind reading or Fortune telling, for you to remain calm, it is best to balance out by thinking about the two extremes, the negative thoughts, and the possible best outcome of any given situation. This way, you likely feel better.

 

Featured image by Lucio Carvalho

How to Avoid Irrational Beliefs – Part 1

Generally, our brains are wired to control our thoughts and make connections to find solutions to our problems. However, some of these connections are not true or non-helpful since they are based on faulty patterns or biased perspectives on ourselves and the world around us.

These cognitive distortions are often hard to recognize as they have been reinforced as part of our daily thoughts. Even though they come in many forms, irrational beliefs share a commonality, such as a pattern of thinking; they are flawed and potentially damage our mental well-being.

Here are 3 tendencies out of 11 that we will explore in this post:

The fallacy of change – It involves two different but related beliefs that are damaging and inaccurate:

  1. For instance, being helpless and a victim of fate: “the quality of the report was mediocre since my manager gave me a brief the other day.
  2. Being in complete control of ourselves and our surroundings, hence feeling responsible for the pain and happiness of those around us. For instance: “Are you sad because of me?” 

Remind yourself that complete control is faulty reasoning since no one has absolute control over their situation or other people. Even in a crisis, you might not choose what you do or where you go, but you certainly have a choice over how you mentally approach the event.

Polarized thinking or black and white thinking is irrational thinking characterized by the “all or nothing” principle. These individuals tend to think in extremes, which are either impressive or terrible, and have unrealistic expectations. They are often easily annoyed, feel bitter, and disappointed due to their inability or unwillingness to see gray shades. For instance: an extremely competitive person believes that he/she should be “number one or nothing at all.”

Overgeneralization – This is when you use excessive language in your assessment of people or events. For instance, when you are in a hurry and other drivers are not moving fast enough or are stopped by red lights. So you start generalizing this event to an overall pattern. In this example, the individual’s focus is only on red lights! Or you have failed an exam, and you decide that you are stupid or a failure. The way you evaluate your situation and the language you use matters since you will respond to the pattern instead of just that particular event.

Being aware of your predispositions will help you improve your ways of thinking and mental health. To start, notice how you talk to yourself and examine your assumptions. Identify harmful beliefs and challenge them.

 

 

Featured Artwork by Jeffrey Dirkse

Build Resilience In Challenging Times

How we cope or endure the dramatic changes in life requires practical approaches. Whether it is the contagion of pandemic and the collective anxiety it has generated or disaster displacement to personal setbacks or sorrows, we need to harness our inner strength to rebound. Considering that toxic emotions keep us away from the right priorities during distress, we need to build resilience.

This ability steers our creativity and clarity of thoughts to make smart, informed choices from mental fatigue, fear, or panic in times of tribulations.

No matter what has happened, the impact can begin all the way physiologically to our minds and become chronic. The term “Allostatic Load” refers to extreme harm to our overall wellbeing. It occurs when demand on our internal resources exceeds our capacity. Hence the fear puts excessive pressure on our capabilities and resources, resulting in poor decision-making and burnout.

So how do we get back stability and build mental resilience? Let’s start with a Buddhist parable of the second arrow.

The Buddha once asked a student: “If a person is struck by an arrow, is it painful? If the person is struck by a second arrow, is it even more painful?” He then explained, “In life, we cannot always control the first arrow. However, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. And with this second arrow comes the possibility of choice.”

Here are a few suggestions to restore physical and mental strength by building resilience:

  • First, calm your mind – Take notice of your thoughts, especially when they running away towards apocalyptic scenarios. Focus on one positive fact: “it is marvelous that I am safe at my home” versus the bad news. You can also use mindfulness apps such as Headspace or be mindful in support of your initiative to unhook the negative emotion.
  • Connect with your moral compass. Resilient people are guided by compassion, have a solid sense of fairness, and consider right and wrong.
  • Believe in something greater than yourself to give you courage and strength – for instance, “a life purpose or a mission.”
  • Engage in philanthropic activities.
  • Accept that you cannot change what has happened, but you can focus on what you can change.
  • Identify meaningful wisdom in the dire experience
  • Create a social support system with individuals who have a positive outlook in life and a nurturing spirit.

On a final note, a good diet and regular exercise to boost our good health should be part of our daily life.

Feature image by Kierstin Young 

5 Ways To Cultivate Elastic Mind

The world, as we knew it is changing fast, and our competence needs a boost. The social, technological, and cultural developments affected by the pandemic are steaming ahead, and our survivor is much dependent on our emotional radar and our flexibility to adapt. We are trained to solve our problems with rational analysis and logical devices; however, the swirl of change is extraordinary, and the analytical thought process has its limitations. As, Leonard Mlodinow explains in his book – Elastic: Flexible Thinking in a Constantly Changing World:

“Analytical thought is the form of reflection that has been most prized in modern society. Best suited to analyzing life’s more straightforward issues, it is the kind of thinking we focus on in our schools. We quantify our ability in it through IQ tests and college entrance examinations, and we seek it in our employees. But although analytical thinking is powerful, like scripted processing, it proceeds in a linear fashion…and often fails to meet the challenges of novelty and change.”

He further indicates that by embracing elastic thinking, we can effectively respond to new challenges.

The good news is that elastic thinking is an innate capacity that can be honed to reframe the problems and questions which open doors to new ideas.

Mlodinow writes that we solve problems through interactions of different systems in our brains. And as we are trained to dispense from inappropriate urges and unconventional ideas in favor of reason, those structures in our brain that generate new ideas must compete with other structures that censor them. To solve problems, our mental interactions and censors evaluate the most favorable solutions and eliminates the rest. This wiring is well suited to a stable environment as it considered ideas through the lens of what has worked in the past. However, in changing circumstances, we need a new approach to solving a problem.

He writes that as humans, we are attracted to novelty, and the reason is that dopamine is released when we face something new and non-threatening. Hence, we are inclined to explore, learn, and be rewarded with the feel-good dopamine that contributes to feelings of pleasure.

Here are his suggestions to develop elastic thinking:

  • Pick an idea that you don’t believe in and try to convince yourself of it. The idea is genuinely challenging your existing beliefs.
  • Dwell on an incident when you were wrong. Think about it hard for you to realize that you are not always right.
  • Try different food. Research has shown that by ordering the least popular food or a new dish, your creativity and imagination will increase.
  • Talk to strangers, people who are different from you, and think differently from you.
  • Go and see art—all genres of art, not necessarily the most famous paintings but diverse representations of arts.

Remember to cultivate an elastic mind, Mlodinow explains that we should adopt an unstructured approach and not force a logical process to all situations:

“The challenge of insight is the analogous issue of freeing yourself from narrow, conventional thinking.”

Featured Image by Morysetta

Silence Is Power

Silence is the preparation to understand the world around us. Of course, it all depends on how we use it.

  • An earnest silence nourishes the soul and enables awareness. It allows new thoughts to emerge as it stimulates a receptive mind.
  • An enthusiastic silence creates alertness and interest to hear and encourage clarification.
  • Silence brings calm and serenity with others and nature.
  • Silence is a way to doze, to resent, to rage, to be indifferent or detached.

Although there are many intents and purposes for silence, one cannot deny that it plays a vital role in creating something better, meaningful, and peaceful. In the creative world, from composers to writers and artists, silence is used to create a space to communicate ideas without agitation to enhance the experience and encourage comprehension.

Artwork by Michael Whelan

Maybe we should all contemplate the power of silence and how effectively we can communicate without rattling on.

Truly, we should all learn to dwell in silence to express our thoughts and engagement. Knowing that silence is one of the conditions within our power to control, this dynamic state must be part of our daily lives. Certainly, immersing in silence is not an easy task. There are many scenarios that we lose the capacity to be silent, in highly stressful situations, in serious discussions or even self-talk. However, the core understanding of the following statements can help us navigate our emotions and use silence to connect with our creative and strong self.

Silence to calm a situation

You don’t have to turn this into something. It doesn’t have to upset you.”

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.52

Engage in meaningful talk

“Be silent for the most part, or, if you speak, say only what is necessary and in a few words. Talk, but rarely, if the occasion calls you, but do not talk of ordinary things—of gladiators or horses races or athletes or of meats or drinks—these are topics that arise everywhere.”

Epictetus

As a stoic visualize the worst thing that can happen and champion you fears

“Silence is a lesson learned through life’s many sufferings.”

Seneca

You are in control 

“Remind yourself that your task is to be a good human being; remind yourself what nature demands of people. Then do it, without hesitation, and speak the truth as you see it. But with kindness. With humility. Without hypocrisy.”

Marcus Aurelius

The best answer to anger is silence

“Better to trip with the feet than the tongue.”

—Zeno

Stay humble

“Work hard in silence; let your success make the noise.”

– Frank Ocean

On a final note, be present, be conscious as Rumi said: “Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation.”

 

Artwork from Chris Levine 

What Is Kindness?

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once described Kindness as the golden chain by which society is bound.’

Generally, Kindness is the interaction that it starts with a feeling and extends to acting upon it! But how do we characterize Kindness? What motivates us to act upon our tender feelings? Acts of Kindness is deeply rooted in human nature and understanding its components gives us a framework on how to be cooperative and connected.

So what constitutes Kindness:

  • Kindness as benign tolerance translates into accepting and having compassion towards others. Sometimes, a slanted eyebrow, a concerned look, or a soft touch fulfill our social pact. Great apes spend hours a day grooming each other, even when there are no lice! Apes groom to forge alliances, reward generosity, or manage conflicts. 

Simone Fugazzotto Artwork

  • Kindness as principled pro-action, a behavior that is honorable and prompts objective measures for effective altruism. In 1873, Leo Tolstoy decided to stop writing Anna Karenina for a year to organize aid for the starving, “I cannot tear myself away from living creatures to bother about imaginary ones.” Many people thought it crazy that one of the finest novelists in the world would postpone one of his best works. But Tolstoy did not change his mind, and again in 1891, he spent two years raising money from around the world and working in a soup kitchen. 

 

  • Another aspect of Kindness is the empathetic responsiveness, which translates into considering other people’s feelings and doing the right thing – In 2013, Ivan Fernandez Anaya, Spanish Runner, intentionally lost the race to do the right thing. His opponent, Abel Mutai, mistakenly thought the end of the race came about 10 meters sooner than it did and stopped running. Fernandez gestured to El Pais to keep going! “I didn’t deserve to win it. I did what I had to do. He was the rightful winner. He created a gap that I couldn’t have closed if he hadn’t made a mistake. As soon as I saw he was stopping, I knew I wasn’t going to pass him.” 

Occasionally, Kindness involves generating feelings of openness, humility, non-judgemental, and warmth towards one-self. The bottom line is that Kindness is critical for our species to survive, consequently, we have to make a mental note to embrace daily acts of Kindness. 

Anger Is Normal, Healthy & Human Emotion!

We all know that anger might not be a kind emotion, but it is part of living. The energy of anger oscillating from composure to blindness has been depicted in the arts, creating a visual experience of intense emotional responses. The following artworks portray passionate anger by different artists, arousing stimulating feelings from contempt to respect that profoundly helps us understand the exaggerated to righteous indignation.

  • Jesus ready to strike with clenched fist merchants, not honoring the place of worship and turning it to a place of profit. Christ’s anger was real, divinely justified, and human.

Giotto di Bondone – Expulsion of the Money-changers from the Temple, Scrovegni Chapel, Padua. 1304 – 1305

  • Anger can be morally right; the inner flame should not be restricted but should be shared intimately at a spiritual level to a higher self.

Giotto’s ‘Ira’

  • The story of Timoclea of Thebes, whose anger saved her after the captain of the Thracian army, raped her. The story goes that Timoclea tamed her inner rage with composure and calm when her rapist asked for any hidden money. She told him that there was money in her well. When the Thracian captain stooped to look into the well, she pushed him to his grave.

Sirani’s painting

A nude woman comes out of the well, angry, holding a whip in her hand. She represents a symbolic figure of Truth. It appears that she is about to strike when the Truth is not being tolerated; anger becomes her weapon of choice. Depiction of the aphorism of philosopher Democritus: “Of a truth, we know nothing, for truth is in a well.”

Painter Jean-Leon Gerome

The beheading of Holofernes, an Assyrian general by Judith is another example of female rage. The story goes that Holofernes was about to destroy Judith’s home, the city of Behulia. Judith’s anger is a symbol of an underdog being able to overpower a tyrant.

Artemisia Gentileschi

Pipilotti Rist, a Swiss visual artist, produced an original piece “Ever is over all”, in 1997, showcasing women liberation from the norms of “good behavior” imposed by society and her carefree attitude towards authority. She happily smashes the windows of each parked car she passes. A female officer passes by and salutes her vandalism. A piece that demonstrates self-fulfilling anger based on courage.

Pipilotti Rist

Anger is not always a destructive force, at times is the catalyst for change and a signal of resolution.

 

Featured image: Beyonce – Hold up video

How To Rise Above Disappointments, Doubts & Defeats?

No one tells you at any point how to fall when things go south. No one tells you how to shield your spirit. No one tells you enough how failure is painful. No one tells you about the humiliation, anger, and toxic numbness. As a child, regardless of which parenting style you have been raised, when you fall, ideally, your emotions are validated. Your parents or caregivers might rationalize, but eventually, the emotional approach you receive allows you to label the pain, and ultimately you feel safe. A kiss, an antiseptic, or a cast with the reassurance that “you will be fine” and off you go to explore your next venture.

Matthew Grabelsky

As an adolescent, you experience frustrations and disappointments. Generally, your parents will empathize and give you emotional courage. They will reassure that “if you are not failing sometimes, that means you are not trying hard enough.” They will help you learn self-regulating skills, put a smile on your face, and make sure that you remember that their love is unconditional.

Later in life, as an adult, you are encouraged to take chances. They show you the grassland in front of you and pressure you to explore. Only you have to jump over the cliff to enjoy the beauty of the prairies. Equipped with your dreams and ambitions, you run, but sometimes things go wrong, and you fall. Your body aches, and the psychic pain is unbearable.

August Vilella

You see, it’s not the fall that gets you but how you fall. A bruised bone or a scar on your hand can be fixed but what about your soul.  No one told you that the magnitude of agony is beyond what you have experienced as a child. No one taught you the depth of resilience you need to withstand the despair. Now, as you are hurting, social anxieties creep in, your confidence diminishes, addictions take over, low tolerance with stress webs around you, and the vision for future becomes a blur.

Adam Lupton
Adam Lupton

Move away from numbing your pain with unhealthy behaviors and distractions, you need to develop the antidote called, “Self-compassion.” A mindset that encourages you to display leadership skills instead of anger or wallowing in self-pity, and self-doubt. And knowing that nothing in life worthwhile is ever going to come easy, and while each of us has a different set of circumstances, it takes a period of hopelessness and bad feelings, self-help materials, and definitely a wise mentor to recalibrate your mind and cultivate Self-compassion.

Kristin Neff, a researcher explains that self-compassion has three elements:

  1. Self-kindness, which translates into curbing harsh self-criticism
  2. Recognizing one’s own humanity, accepting the fact that people are imperfect and we all experience distress
  3. Mindfulness, maintaining impartial thoughts of our experiences not to disregard or magnify them

That said, learning to extend Self-compassion is an ability that can be developed with the support of a wise mentor, reading self-improvement, and practicing coping skills.

1- A parent or mentor who motivates, encourages and opens a window to let the airflow when you are hiding from the embarrassment. One that listens when you ruminate, validates your anger, and responds with kindness. A mentor that refrains from dismissive attitude and compassionately reminds you that you are not alone. And like a good coach supports you.

2- Here are a few good helpful books to cultivate a productive mindset:

3- Bouncing back from hardship is a process to strengthen your resilience and to nurture a sense of peace through mindfulness techniques. Working at activities that help you embrace challenges to learn from setbacks and criticism and put effort into achieving. You can refer to mindful.org to learn about different activities and the Jon Kabat-Zinn mindfulness meditation series (you can also refer to my Mindfulness Series Section).

On a final note, turning your focus outward by volunteering brings a new perspective into your life, has health benefits and boosts your brain’s natural high. Studies have found that helping others for the right reasons improves wellbeing from lowering your blood pressure to reducing feelings of depression. So try to replenish your mental state with good deeds with no expectation of reward.

How To Move Away from Blame Game and Take responsibility – Positive Vibes Series

Yes it is hard to accept change, yes you have been wounded, yes you have been ridiculed, yes you have cried your heart out from unjust, yes you have been let down, and yes you have been taken for granted.

Now, it is time to sanitize your thoughts, yes it is time to stop blaming yourself or others. 

Dylan Bolivar

It is time to change perspective and elevate your thinking to a place where the field is clear and no-one’s shadow or actions loom out of your whining and complaining mind. A place where you take responsibility to learn and move forward. This new outlook is like stepping into a hot shower after a long torturous physical labour. Tension is relieved, the aches are gone and you feel refreshed. 

Be aware that you cannot avoid getting emotionally hurt, wronged or exposed to natural disasters and by building high fences you would not be protected from future unwarranted or unforeseen circumstances instigated by outside forces.

On top of that, bear in mind that your commitment to growing in life means tossing away the self-evaluation infested with blame. The emotion is so debilitating to a point that you may even not see the quicksand that is pulling you brutally downward where you will cease to exist.

Johnson Tsang

Being a captain in your life’s command center needs a gigantic shift of mindset. An intelligent mind snaps out of victimhood, realizing that it needs to adjust the sails when the direction of the wind cannot be changed.

Captian Kirk – Start Trek

Even when the world seems to be against you, instead of getting stuck and hanging on to validation, move away from self-pity, sit back, take personal responsibility, observe, learn and find solutions. Taking responsibility is not to orbit in the realm of self-blame, but to take the following steps:

  • Do not set the destructive standard for yourself – In a difficult situation, do not personalize the issue by self-disparagement since many things that happened to you is not completely your lapse or shortcomings. 
  • Do not freeze up, make sense of the circumstance by asking fact-finding questions.
  • Develop resilience – the capability to learn and recover is dynamic and not a personality trait.

The benefits of shifting perspectives are boundless. Even if a nasty outcome unfolds from your decision, you will no longer confront it with blaming games. Rather, you choose to improve your own behaviour, reactions and your decision making progress so that next time you lessen the chances of it happening again. 

Learning from the past should positively transform your mindset. You start de-cluttering and evolving to be strong and dynamic. Still, unfortunate events bound to happen, anger, and resentment will slither and cloud your judgment steering your emotions towards victimhood and blame.

Nevertheless, if you have done your homework and every day took the time to self-reflect and practice, particularly learning to let go of what you cannot control and cultivating a non-judgmental attitude, next time in face of adversity, you decide, react and re-define the situation, then and only then you can progress. Remember keeping your zest for life upbeat is to have self-compassion and courage to trade helplessness with self-growth. 

Lastly, every time fear, worry or challenging situations lurk for your darkest moments, recognize that mistakes are natural so instead of stifling your potential just get back on the horse.

“Use your signature strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than you are.” ~ Martin Seligman (2002, p. 263)