A Confession

Since my last post weeks ago, I’ve been hoping to write about essential communication skills for conflict resolution and peacebuilding. One of which is active listening. Lately though, I find myself wanting in this area that I couldn’t bring myself to seriously write about it…not yet.

Certain things are bothering me these days and these I suspect affected some of my interactions. My humour/coolness tank needs a bit of tending; I think I would need a ‘me’ time soon to refill it. Well there’s nothing major happening actually, just some recent everyday encounters that didn’t work out well. So there, I humbly acknowledge, I’m no saint or angel, just human, always a work in progress, always in need of divine providence.

Not wanting to brood much about my drama, I embarked on a garage sale/donate-your-pre-loved items project few days ago. I’m quite embarrassed to admit, I’ve too many stuffs accumulated through so many moving, from living and working away from home. It’s a daunting chore and at times frustrating as there are too many items to sort out. Where’s a Salvos Store when you need one? 🙂

Well, some good things came out of this decluttering task. For me, it’s coming across a potentially good book that I haven’t actually read; finding an item I thought I’ve lost; reading through my old journals that surprisingly hold relevant valuable insights for today; and of course, finding a lot of stuff to give away or sell or must go to the trash bin (promise, they’re going!).

Letting go of stuff and clearing space feel liberating. On hindsight, I realized too that to hone my listening skills, I would need to clear my mind of assumptions and preconceived notion about people and to also manage thoughts that only stress me out. It’s difficult to listen and connect with others when you’ve got these burdens in your head.  These are unnecessary distractions that hinder me from actively engaging the other person, from being fully present and generous of my time.

Decluttering  our mind is also a daunting task. We would need vigilance in making sure that no trash or unnecessary thoughts go back. We need persistence in purifying our thoughts and seeking the best in people. While I’m generally quite successful with this, I also lose my cool and give in.

It’s humbling to think of these things and then to publicly admit it. Although I spare you all with other  details, this is more than what I would usually be comfortable to share in social media. I had to remind myself that an advocacy is something personal too. We cannot distance ourselves from the message, we must be the message. We must strive to become what we hope to teach about. I also believe, every moment is an opportunity to learn– whether struggling or winning, everything counts as part of the journey.

As parents, teachers, adults, we sometimes struggle in becoming a role model to the young ones, in ‘walking the talk.’ But let’s cut ourselves some slack and acknowledge that we are merely human, needing nourishment, time-out. Somebody told me before that to be an effective peace advocate, I must take care of my own needs too, and schedule regular ‘care for the self’ or ‘me time’ sessions to recharge. ‘Care for the self’ personal checklist could include anything that will bring you inner peace or refill your humour/coolness tank and make you the ever gracious better version of yourself.

Happy feet at Puka Beach, Boracay, Philippines. April 2014.
Happy feet at Puka Beach, Boracay, Philippines. April 2014.

It’s a good massage, communing with nature, and walking for me. Of course, prayer and reflection are essentials too. What’s your top three in your ‘care for the self’ list?

-ems, #iamforpeace