Personal Development

Everybody Doesn’t Want You

Flirting

Photo Credit: Getty

If someone jokes around with you, it doesn’t necessarily mean the person is seeking an intimate relationship with you—even if the jokes are sexual. When an individual gives you a compliment, it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she desires an intimate relationship with you. People helping you out of the goodness of their heart aren’t looking for sexual favors in return; in fact, when they’re truly doing it out of the goodness of their heart, they’re not looking for anything in return. When someone shows you some attention, it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she wants you. If you believe any attention shown to you means someone wants you, then you need a serious wake-up call: you’re not irresistible. Don’t flatter yourself.

People can be so vain. Before you think someone is seriously flirting with you or pursuing you, ask him or her. If his or her jokes, playful flirting, compliments, and/or general interactions with you make you feel uncomfortable, tell him or her.

You should, however, gain a proper understanding of why you feel uncomfortable in the first place. Could you feel uncomfortable because you actually like what the person is saying and/or doing and you don’t know what to do with your own feelings? Try to understand your own feelings before you attempt to comprehend someone else’s.

Yes, people can employ jokes, playful flirting, compliments, and their general helpfulness to mask their true intentions. Even if they are doing this, are you being harmed? If you feel they are creepy, then let them know you want them to stop. You have that right.

Don’t make a big fuss about nothing, though. Stop creating problems where no problems exist.

Get over yourself.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Faking Happiness Makes Your Unhappiness Transparent

Trying to fool people you’re happy when you’re not is a self-sabotaging practice; you’re deceiving nobody and denying yourself time, space, and opportunities to heal and grow. Ostentatious displays of imaginary “happiness,” especially following tragedy or heartbreak, does not reveal true happiness: it exposes your cowardice, your unwillingness to sit with the pain, the heartache you’re confronting.

Even though the pain of tragedy or heartbreak is unsettling, one should never resort to facades, misrepresentations. Sit with your pain in private first, and when you’ve given yourself the proper time, space, and opportunities to heal and grow, then you can publicly share your authentic happiness or demonstrable progress towards it.

Loss, betrayal, dishonesty—all dimensions of the human condition we face. How we respond to them determines how we emerge from them. Do you want to emerge more liberated, more empowered from them, or do you want to live imprisoned in self-doubt, eternally vexed by your toxic response to them?

Fake it until you make it—a vain, otiose philosophy—spoils any chance you have to advance beyond unhappiness. In fact, this fallacious and disingenuous philosophy is rooted in unhappiness.

You cannot experience emancipation when you’re committed to shackling yourself to unhappiness. The previous sentence evokes Audre Lorde’s powerful statement of resistance to enslaving one’s self to the control of an enemy: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Unhappiness cannot be eradicated with the tools of unhappiness.

In the midst of your storm, find hope, hope in what’s possible beyond the storm. The storm can be ephemeral; the storm can be surprisingly enriching. Your commitment to truth in the storm will lead you safely on the other side of it. On the side of the storm is joy, peace, and gratitude.

Joy is enduring and more fulfilling than happiness. To arrive usher in happiness, one must begin a serious gratitude praxis, a praxis that ultimately leads to joy.

When you embrace gratitude, a life of gratitude, you enjoy the beauty of life: you savor victories and effectively process disappointments. Disappointments are natural human experiences, but we should never live in fear of disappointments; we should live in expectation of one thing—the good.

A spirit that expects the good, found in the heart of a person committed to permitting herself or himself to receive the fruits of truth, love, and justice, is necessary to maintain joy and peace.

Allow nobody or anything to displace you from joy and peace.

Always remain honest with yourself.

Although in this late stage of capitalism, where Guy Debord’s notion of “the society of the spectacle” is decidedly more pronounced, you may feel compelled to project a phony public image, which leads you to becoming nothing more than a spectacle, love yourself enough to give the world your truth. If you’re not happy, then don’t display a happy facade.

Give the world your best—even if your best is a temporary period of unhappiness. The world knows you’re human; don’t try to be a robot, falling prey to self-deceit. 

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison  

Don’t Let Disappointment Defeat You

Overcoming Disappointment
Photo Credit: Everyday Feminism

Disappointment is a natural part of the human experience; take time to learn from it—never hide from what it invites you to confront. One grows stronger when he or she learns to discover what disappointment offers, but fear causes people to attempt to bury the initial pain and restlessness it materializes. The pain indicates an undesirable, yet necessary pressing against love residing in you; the restlessness, love striving toward healing. Given a chance to run their natural course, pain and restlessness buttress your interior life: they engender resiliency, crucial to surviving and thriving in an often callous world.

Resisting the perception of vulnerability as weakness, a chink in your spiritual armor, inadequate emotional intelligence necessitates courage. To be fearless in the face of adversity, fill yourself up on faith and hope, joy and thanksgiving, rest and gratitude. Doubt, failing to develop a critical reflective praxis, denying vulnerability time and space to speak—all stifle your progress. Extracting value from disappointment requires one to use her or his organic processing tools—reading, writing, and meditating—leading to a higher, more enlightened self.

After reading yourself through disappointment, after writing yourself through heartache, and after meditating yourself through the unpleasant experience, you birth essential knowledge about resistance, resistance to malevolent forces aiming to destroy you. This knowledge of resistance grants you power to shine light into darkness, power to bring tranquility to tottering people and places—and regimes on the brink of ruin.

When you offer peace to chaotic people and places, two guiding principles are important to maintain: stay focused on the mission and understand that you will face opposition—often formidable opposition. Recognize that your opponents, those trying to thwart your continuous progress, suffer from brokenness, requiring someone like you, someone committed to truth, love, and justice, to move them from a barren place to a fecund place.

Misunderstood by many, disappointment torments people. Frightened, they become docile bodies held captive by it. At some point, however, these docile bodies must shatter the manacles of oppression and depression disappointment imposes.

Bondage, it’s dreadful. The more one surrenders to subjugation, the more she or he will accept it. What subjugated people fail to resist, they fail to comprehend.

Mentally and spiritually enslaved people, blinded by ignorance, face inevitable destruction—unless liberators come to their rescue. Resistance can crush bondage. But how? By unseating the false authority granted to bondage.

You have the power to dethrone disappointment’s reign of terror in your life.

What’s holding you back, though?

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison    

Liberate Yourself from People Using You

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Post-Examiner

When you transition to living a life free from allowing folks to take advantage of you, it’s a liberating experience. It’s not about revenge against those individuals who have used you; it’s about giving yourself a chance to be, to live, to breathe. If you’re living a life where you’re constantly serving every beck and call of others, then it’s time to stop. In fact, it has been time for you to end such an unhealthy, unproductive lifestyle.

Recognize that people will continue to take advantage of you as long as you allow them. You must muster the will and courage to stop doing this to yourself. After all, those people who have used you could only do what you permitted.

Once you close the door to users ever being able to use you again, leave that door closed forever.

When you’ve truly given yourself an opportunity to live free from leeches, folks always with their hands out looking for what you can do for them, it’s time for you to celebrate. Celebrate what? Celebrate your newfound freedom, or the rediscovering of such freedom. You deserve it!

You don’t have to announce you’ve closed that door to those individuals forever. Let your actions inform them. When they see your actions speaking, they will see your new liberated self.

People will start to realize they need to give you something before you continue to pour into their lives. This new liberated self isn’t about embracing selfishness—it’s about granting yourself the right to experience personal equity and justice. One shouldn’t passionately fight for equity and justice for others and not extend that same equity and justice to herself or himself.

Yes, those who have used you will begin to make some of the following comments: “You’re acting funny now,” “You’re acting brand new now,” “You weren’t really for me in the first place,” and “You weren’t doing things for me out of the kindness of your heart; you were always looking for something in return.” That last comment really strives to make you feel guilty and compel you to return to a life of bondage.

Never taste the sweet nectar of freedom and then revert to bondage.

Fight for you; fight for your freedom.

If people who have only taken from you want something now, respond to them by inquiring about what they plan to do for you in exchange for what they desire. This dramatically changes the power dynamics: it moves you from being a pushover to the person who holds all the cards.

When you understand that you hold all the cards, you will exercise your power to thwart attempts to victimize you.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison   

Make Some Sacrifices to Get What You Want

Quid Pro Quo

                                     Photo Credit: Minnesota Lawyer

Although you may hold a position that you are not willing to do something someone wants you to do to obtain something you desire, you may want to consider making a sacrifice for it. Yes, this defies conventional wisdom: don’t sacrifice your values; don’t sacrifice who you are for anyone and anything. Is what you need to do to receive what you want really forcing you to sacrifice your values and/or who you are? Face this reality: Successful people take risks and make sacrifices.

Don’t do nothing to risk your life or health, however.

In our present reality, you have to give something to receive something. Although during the impeachment proceedings for President Donald Trump the notion of quid pro quo, “a favor for a favor,” has become a dirty term, a quid pro quo in many contexts is fair. As long as the favor on one side is equal to the favor on the other side, a quid pro quo shouldn’t be viewed as a problem; in fact, it’s fair.

Too many folks want something for nothing. While I am a philanthropist and give much of my time to charitable causes and helping others, I understand how damaging it can be to one’s life when your giving and receiving are in a chaotic imbalance. You cannot pour from an empty vessel. When you are constantly giving and never receiving anything, you’re not taking care of yourself.  Unfortunately, when you need something from the same folks you have helped, most of those folks will not be there to help you.

For over 32 years, I have been a person who has given and given to people—with little being received in return. It’s time for me and others like me to stop feeling guilty about asking people to give us something in return for what they want from us. You’re not a criminal for looking for something in return from others who want huge favors from you. Be kind to yourself by treating yourself justly and demanding others to treat you justly.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Emily P. Freeman’s The Next Right Thing: A Summary

The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman

Photo Credit: Amazon

Emily P. Freeman’s The Next Right Thing (2019) offers readers important insights about how to make successful decisions. The book strives to help readers see decision making as an opportunity for spiritual growth. For Freeman, one can find peace even when it does not seem possible. The author contends that doing the next right thing is about moving one’s focus from outcomes to the present moment.

When a person removes distractions, Freeman argues that he or she can better understand inner experiences.

If an individual is not being real with himself or herself, the author asserts that God is not able to reveal what He desires to communicate to him or her in the present moment.

The Next Right Thing challenges the reader to question his or her desires and motivations. Freeman believes that questioning one’s desires and motivations allows him or her to find clarity on their spiritual paths. This does, however, require one to be candid with himself or herself.

Freeman recommends that one invest more time in listening to his or her believers rather than critics. She asserts that keeping yourself uplifted with positive words of others empowers you to arrive at the heart of the person you really are.

The writer values surprises, for they, she argues, more often permit one to resolve decision making chaos than perceived clarity does. The book emphasizes that it is not wise to expect clarity about every detail of the future, considering life unfolds in complex and unpredictable ways.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison  

Don’t Be Easily Broken: Develop an Indomitable Spirit

Image result for A Black Woman Crying

Although everyone experiences challenges and problems, one has to decide whether he or she will allow those challenges and problems to defeat her or him. Life will continue to present one challenge, one problem, after another; this is an unavoidable fact of life. Understanding this reality, it’s unacceptable to perceive every challenge or problem that emerges as a crisis.

You can talk about “you don’t know my story” and “you don’t know the things I’ve gone through,” but, at some point, you must be frank with yourself: These statements have become self-defeating crutches. I’m not lacking empathy and undervaluing “your story” and the “things you’ve gone through.”

Here’s my question, though: When are you going to stop using your past in ways that inhibit your growth? And I mean true growth.

Growth is not waking up one morning with optimism and the next with pessimism; optimism the following morning and pessimism the next—a depressing vicious cycle. Real growth begins when you truly start holding yourself accountable for your part in why you’re not progressing and breaking or broken.

Stop focusing on what others are and aren’t doing to and for you. Just concentrate on what you need to heal and grow. In fact, authentic self-care commences when one discontinues investing time in critiquing others and invests more time in developing an indomitable spirit.

How are you engaging in authentic self-care when you’re worried about everyone else? Worried about what everyone else is or isn’t doing to and for you. That’s not self-care—that’s being undisciplined.  

You’re on a path to developing an indomitable spirit when you no longer feel it necessary to concern yourself with how others have mistreated and are mistreating you. One gives himself or herself a chance to operate with an indomitable spirit when he or she takes ownership of what is necessary to own, and when he or she focuses on what is essential to be the best version of himself or herself and what is essential to achieve one’s dreams and aspirations.

If everything defeats you, if every challenge or problem overwhelms you, then you will face a harsh truth: You will maintain a defeated spirit until you’ve truly had enough of it.                

Overcoming a defeated spirit begins with acknowledging it. Next, start living a life of real gratitude. Living a life of true gratitude involves appreciating every moment and finding the goodness in every moment.

An indomitable spirit is rooted in gratitude.

When certain thoughts arise and when you make certain comments, ask yourself a critical question: Are these thoughts and comments rooted in gratitude?

Liberate yourself from a defeated spirit by resolving to live a life centered on gratitude. When you’re intentional about living a life centered on gratitude, you’re well on your way to an indomitable spirit.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison