And every time you hear about their latest achievement, something in you dies.
They always got the best grades. Their boss loves them. As for athletic prowess, you dare not even look.
Yes, don’t you just hate those people who excel at everything?
You want to put on a brave face and say to yourself that it doesn’t really matter if others are achieving so much more than you. Performing at a whole different level to you.
And here you are stuck in your world of never-ending mediocrity.
Oh, why is life so unfair?
So what do you do?
Is there any hope for you?
Will you ever eat at the top table?
I too felt like this once.
The Cocky Young Guy Who Learnt to Eat Humble Pie
I was a cocky young guy who thought he knew it all. I was smarter than everyone else. Of course, I knew best.
And yet others who I considered to be far inferior to me were getting on in life and in their career. Leaving me behind on my high horse.
And it killed me daily from the inside.
Just what the hell was going on? Were they just smarter than me?
What was their secret sauce?
Was it magic?
Then one day, I had a wake-up call. A painful wake-up call.
A friend took me to one side and gave me a furious and fearful pep call which changed my life forever. He scared the living daylights out of me, but I thanked him afterwards for his straight-talking.
He told me what I had suspected deep down all along — I was just not pushing myself enough. I was content to be mediocre.
These guys were not smoking some crazy weed to excel so much.
They were no smarter than me.
They were simply smarter in using what gifts they had — and unlike me, they were applying themselves.
Yes, they were working their backsides off. Whilst I simply poo-pooed them. And pissed on their parade.
At first, I was angry with my friend. I always know best, so how dare he lecture me.
But deep down I knew he was right. It was time to eat some humble pie. And to buckle up and get my arse in gear.
It was time to work my arse off. And to FOCUS on excellence.
And it was also time for me to focus on excellence rather than perfection.
It was so obvious that I felt stupid for not having seen this much sooner.
The secret to proficiency and indeed the secret sauce for success in life was to develop a mindset of excellence.
Time to Get Smug about Your Own Moments of Excellence
I then remembered all the times in my life I had been excellent. Even brilliant.
The time when I wrote and published a best-selling book in just 6 weeks. And the time I took part in my first marathon with virtually no training.
The list was actually quite long and impressive.
You too have excelled so much already in your life. Have a quick look at your own life and recollect the times you have rocked it.
So you already know you can excel and be the best — but only when you choose to put your mind to it.
“Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well” — John W Gardiner
You already have everything you need to become excellent in your chosen area.
You too can be the boss’s favourite.
You too can strut your stuff on the court.
You too can develop the mindset for excellence.
Also, know that it’s not your fault you haven’t yet excelled as much as you would have liked. No one taught you how.
But now you can. You just have to apply these key strategies:-
1. Focus, Focus, Focus
Single-minded attention to one activity for a prolonged period of time will radically change your life.
So focus on completing one thing at a time.
Plan your time so that you can give each task its due undivided attention.
Block out any distractions such as Social Media, notifications, TV, mobile, emails, visitors and so on.
Ask yourself — what is important, your goal or the distraction?
2. Put on Your Superman Cape -and Start Flying
Some people have a fixed mindset. They wallow in their life always being a drudgery and their cursed fate and bad luck.
Oh, life is so unfair for them.
But you no longer need to live with your sob story.
It’s time to create your new story of excellence.
You can develop a can-do attitude instead. Anything is possible.
A fixed mindset is not for you as you now have a growth mindset.
With your growth mindset, you can now look for smarter ways of doing things. Focus on incremental growth, no matter how small.
Superman was smart, even though he wore his underwear inside out. And he could also fly — and now so can you.
3. Go the Extra Mile
Always give more than is expected of you.
Most people cut corners but from today onwards, you doing shoddy work is a thing of the past.
Give much more than is expected of you. Over-deliver with a smile.
Bring a service mindset to everything you do — and see how your results improve.
Look at every situation in terms of the value you can add. Do things faster, better, and even more cheerfully for everyone in your life — customers, employer, family, friends, and for yourself.
Helping others regardless of what’s in it for you, exceeding expectations and going that extra mile will set you apart from others.
4. Bring Sizzle into Everything You Do
Bring passion and energy into everything you do — especially what you do for a living.
Half-hearted attempts will ultimately show up as mediocrity.
Seek out those things you can get passionate about and use them to create excellence in your life.
Also, be totally committed to what you do, as excellence is only possible only with commitment.
Either find a way to become fully committed to what you’re doing or find something else to do.
Once totally committed, you will be able to work around obstacles.
The moment you get truly committed, you’ll find ways of learning quickly what needs to be done. And you’ll find the right people to help you.
By the way, asking for help is perfectly okay. Allow others to help you excel.
5. Challenge Yourself Daily
Challenge yourself to excel all the time. This will help you build your confidence and competence.
What can you improve on today that you did yesterday?
The person you become in the pursuit of your dream is worth even more than the achievement of that dream.
What can you improve on today that you did yesterday?
Aim high and push to be your absolute best, and then go even beyond that — you are capable of far more than you think!
At the same time, be realistic — don’t set your sights so high that you have no way of reaching your goal.
If I am afraid of doing something, I just have to do it! And I usually manage to do it — and now so can you…
6. Expect the Best of Everyone Around You
By expecting the best from others, you are more likely to get the best from them.
Most important of all, expect the best from yourself.
Become aware of your constant self-talk. Yes, that self-talk.
Talk to yourself in more positive terms — and lessen the negative self-talk.
7. Always Follow Through and Follow Up
So many times you might have left a task unfinished.
The initial excitement wanes and you get bored or simply can’t be bothered.
We have all been there.
But just a little more effort to finish the task will bring big results.
Conversely, only ever start what you know you can finish.
Also, do it right the first time and save yourself a lot of time in not having to go back and fix it later.
Be careful not to aim for perfection. So many people strive for perfection — and end up never starting and not doing anything!
Always strive for excellence, not perfection.
8. Believe in What You do
Everything you do matters.
A life of excellence comes from continually making a contribution to others.
You can’t save the whole world single-handedly (not yet anyway) and though we can’t all be a Gandhi or a Mandela, you can certainly make a difference to one person at a time. So look for ways to contribute.
Ask yourself what special skill or knowledge do you have, that can solve a problem or make the best of a situation?
Knowing that you count will shift your mindset to one of excellence and service.
9. Take Care of Your Rolls Royce
To live a life of excellence, you need to look after your engine — the only one you have.
So it’s time for you to take extreme self-care.
Only by being in top physical and mental state can you have the energy, drive and vitality to excel.
Take regular breaks — work diligently whilst you are at it, but after that put it aside.
Have regular vacations and use that time to reflect on bringing even more excellence into your life.
Remember to eat healthy to get and stay healthy.
10. Become a Leech for Knowledge
You have been through so many experiences in your life already, some which you might even class as negative.
Now it’s time to reframe them.
Every situation you have been through has a learning opportunity — see problems and obstacles as opportunities to grow and excel.
Look around and appreciate excellence whenever you come across it and learn what you can learn from that.
Look for ways of learning from others. Ask questions of others. There is no shame in not knowing something — there are no stupid questions.
See any criticism as a beautiful gift of feedback.
You have access now to so much knowledge and tools online. It’s a no-brainer really — you can learn and develop any skill you choose.
Start Living a Life of Excellence from Today
So there you have it — you need no longer hide and squirm around your high-performing and super-achieving friends.
A mindset focused on striving for excellence will transform your life.
No longer do you need to compare yourself with others. You only need to challenge yourself daily to improve and grow.
Living a life of excellence is not difficult, it’s all about you adopting the right mindset.
Simply decide right now to give everything you do your best shot — and you will be amazed and astounded with what life gives you back.
Some people seem to be surrounded by fun people all the time, and they always seem to get the best girl or best guy.
And here you are, still single and looking to meet “the one”.
Still on a quest to finally find that one “special” person you have been waiting for all your life. That someone special who will sweep you away, and in one magical moment take away all your problems and make the world right for you.
You may be wondering what it is that makes some people so irresistible they attract people to them like bees to honey.
What have they got that you haven’t?
Are they using some sinister mind-techniques? Or are they just blessed with magnetic charisma?
I too used to wonder what it was.
Heck, I even joined a slimy secret seduction society a few years ago — and I got to hang out with some dudes teaching me all sorts of sneaky ways of tricking and manipulating women into liking me.
That didn’t last long though — it just felt rather sordid, nasty and completely out of integrity.
Then I learnt that actually, it was all about who I was being and how I showed up in the world that mattered the most.
Think about it. Why would anyone choose to be with you in the first place?
Becoming Irresistible is An Inside Job!
The penny dropped — it all began with me.
I took stock of my life, developed new interests and hobbies, and focused on my growth and development to become the best version of me.
And magically people started wanting to hang out with me — I made many new friends and even went out on many hot dates with women who I had previously considered well out of my league.
I too became irresistible and quite a catch.
Now you too can do the same — here’s how:-
1. Make Others Feel Valued and Special
The key is for you to be genuinely interested in people.
This will work wonders in creating a deeper human connection between you and everyone you meet.
When you deeply care about other people and you are interested in their stories, you naturally become more interesting yourself.
By being authentic and interested in them, their life and their passions, it is easy for the conversation to flow and a human bond to be created.
So be interested rather than interesting. Make others feel special and they will also see you as special.
2. Become the Best Possible You
Become the best version of yourself — create a vision for your life and seek to improve yourself daily in some way.
Your outer growth begins with your inner growth, so follow a path of personal and spiritual development as well as material growth.
And part of your inner growth is to learn to accept and love yourself just as you are with all your warts, blemishes and wrinkles.
You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly. — Sam Keen
3. Be Kind and Considerate to Others
The way you treat people around you says so much about you — so treat others the way you would want them to treat you.
Learn to be gracious and polite to all the people who make your life so easy and convenient for you every day such as waiters/waitresses, shop assistants etc.
And be especially kind, polite and courteous to all the people that matter the most in your life and are the closest to you such as your family.
The way you treat people is ultimately how you will treat your future partner — so reflect honestly now on just how you treat other people — and take steps to change your behaviour.
4. Lead a Life of Purpose
Living a life of meaning and purpose will make you that that much more interesting and attractive.
Knowing what matters to you in your life and striving towards it will make you stand out.
Also, once you are in a long-term relationship with your chosen special one, a common life purpose, something meaningful and deep to you both, will keep you both together through thick and thin.
If you are not clear about your purpose, then simply choose to live a life of love and kindness — and make that your purpose.
5. Get Clear About What You Desire in a Relationship
Get clear about what you want from your future partner and your relationship — the clearer you are, the easier it is to meet someone.
Though it’s useful to have a wish-list about your partner but do look beyond their physical attributes.
Reflect on past relationships and see what worked and what didn’t.
Look around for role models in your life and the type of relationship they have and what you would like too.
You can learn so much by just watching how couples interact — so indulge in some people watching.
6. Take Great Self-Care
Look after yourself in the best way possible — so review your diet, create an exercise plan and get all your medical checks up-to-date.
Being a picture of health will make you more attractive — and you’ll have more energy for fun activities with your future partner.
Focus on becoming reasonably healthy and fit and do not go crazy. Follow a simple sustained programme of improvement as a little bit every day will go a long way.
Also, review your grooming — review your wardrobe, your hairstyle and your hygiene.
7. Keep Your Future Love-Nest Tidy and Clutter-Free
De-clutter your home and create a nice, comfortable place for your future partner to visit you.
Clear out the junk from your life and your home. You will also benefit subconsciously.
I ended my talk with a video of Nirvana School — and there was what felt like pin-drop silence interrupted by a couple of people in the audience sobbing away. I touched and moved them in some way.
Remember — a speech can change a life.
The key is for you to connect with others at a deeper level — and then watch the magic and miracles take place.
4. Strut Like a Peacock and Own the Stage
Always remember that you are an “expert”. You have a lot of useful information to share with your audience. You know your message and you are confident about putting it across well.
Own the stage. And shine.
Also, know that most of your audience would rather die than be in your shoes on the stage! So you have one up on them already before you have even started.
They are gagging to hear what you have to say, so strut your stage
Of course, you do have to know your stuff. But you don’t need to be a world authority either — you just need to know enough for the needs and expectations of your audience.
5. Share your Powerful Stories and Move Them to Tears
The most amazing thing about speaking in public is how through your stories you can dramatically change someone’s life.
You can inspire people to see and do things in a completely different way and you can change lives through your powerful stories.
Their life and the world will never be the same again.
People love stories — so share your stories of the ups and downs of your life — and how you overcame the sort of challenges they might face too.
Show them how they too can also overcome similar challenges to yours. Make them laugh with your stories. Even better, make them cry.
Move them to tears — and they’ll never forget you.
6. Adopt a Service Mindset and Blow Them Away
When you genuinely come from a place of wanting to contribute and help others, magic happens!
People will truly get you are there to serve — and that you deeply care about them.
“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care” — Theodore Roosevelt
Looking back at my talk in front of 300 people, I remember getting into the flow about 10 minutes into my talk.
I no longer felt nervous, and my voice became more confident, as I put myself out of the picture. My deep desire to serve and contribute took over — and magic happened. At that moment, I felt the audience was enraptured by my message.
So look bring this service mentality into your public speaking.
7. Learn from Other Speakers — They Too Were Terrified Once
You’ve seen many accomplished and polished speakers on stage and wondered just how they got so good.
But they too were terrified of speaking in public once.
And now you too can get as good as them by seeing them in action and learning how they practice their craft.
You could even reach out to them and ask them for their “secrets.” They will be eager to share what they know — and pass on the mantle to you.
By just learning one thing from each speaker, you’ll soon build up your skills and confidence.
Take one step at a time — you just don’t know where your speaking is going to take you.
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step” — Dr Martin Luther King
8. Prepare and Rehearse — But Not too Much!
You know your stuff and you are confident of your presentation.
Preparation is king — so allow plenty of time to prepare and rehearse your talk. Rehearse in front of a couple of friends — and ask for critical and specific feedback. You could even practice your speech in front of a mirror.
However, do not overdo your preparation and plan every second of your talk.
Once you are on the stage, your inner wisdom will take over and you’ll be amazed at just how well your presentation will flow once you allow it to do so.
And even if you are a bag of shredded nerves before your talk, you’ll ooze with confidence a few minutes into your talk, as outlined here:-
9. Accept Help from Others — You Can Pay It Forward One Day
On your adventure towards speaking in public, be open and willing to reach out to others.
People want to help you — you simply have to ask for help.
Give them a chance to contribute to you — so be open to accepting any offers of help.
Then one day you can pay it forward to those people also wanting to learn to speak in public.
“When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” — Maya Angelou
10. Speak, Speak, Speak — It’s a Life-Long Learning Journey
Once you have spoken in public, you’ll want to improve and master your craft.
Know that you can get better and better at speaking in public.
So seek out opportunities to improve your speaking and to get in front of an audience.
Check out Toastmasters— there’s bound to be a club local to you. This is a great way to get started with speaking in public in a supportive environment.
Consider joining your local debating society.
Ask around on social media and amongst your family, friends, work colleagues and other people in your community for speaking opportunities.
Let everyone know you are available for speaking in public — and share about your chosen topic.
So many organisations such as clubs and even schools are always looking for interesting speakers who can add value to their members.
Start with small audiences and soon you will rapidly build up your confidence and expertise to speak in front of larger crowds.
Time to Strut Your Stuff!
So there you go.
You too can speak in public.
You too can conquer your fear of speaking in front of friends and strangers.
You too can have the audience enthralled to your words.
And the best thing of all?
Your audience will be in total awe of you.
You will be doing the one thing they are so petrified about!
You may even learn to love speaking in public and sharing your valued expertise — a fun opportunity to share the best of yourself whilst making a bunch of new friends.
And making a difference to your audience.
The stage is set.
You know you can do it.
It’s time to strut your stuff — and to own your stage.
You were always there for your family and friends.
You were ready to smash through walls for them.
You would have gone to the moon and back — and willing to go even further for them.
You thought you were doing the right thing. It was supposed to be noble to help others. And to go the extra mile.
That’s how you were brought up. You were always there for others.
And yet all along you felt there was something missing. Something was off, and you couldn’t quite put your finger on it.
You were always left with an empty feeling afterwards.
What was really going on here?
Then one day you needed some help. You were stuck.
And no one was there for you.
The people you had put on a pedestal were too busy for you. Too busy to help out the true friend who had always been there for them.
At your greatest hour of need, there was no one there for you.
Then the penny dropped.
YOU had become a doormat
It hurt like hell.
You felt like crap.
It’s not nice to be taken advantage of.
Your kind heart was abused.
You were always bending over backwards to help and support others.
But ultimately you were taken for granted.
Surely, it’s Okay to Help Others?
You’ve been brought up to help others. Be nice. Go out of your way to be there for people.
If you were honest with yourself – you loved being Mr Reliable. Miss Goody Two Shoes.
Always being polite and helpful.
Maybe it was your culture — you had to pull together and help others through their struggles. Bring them up to your level.
Maybe it was your work environment. You were taught to help out your colleagues for the greater good of the company.
Maybe it was your kind and sweet nature. Sweetly sweet.
Maybe it was this deep craving to be liked and appreciated. You were never enough so you were constantly seeking validation.
Why Helping the World Begins with Helping Yourself First
Whatever it was, it is now time to change. And to put yourself first.
If you are constantly doing things for others and looking after them, who is going to look after you?
Who is going to help you re-fill your almost empty well?
It is finally time go forward in your life knowing that you are enough as you are, without any need for seeking approval or affirmation of your worth.
So just how can you stop bending over backwards for other people?
Here’s how you can do that:-
1. Float Your Own Boat First
Firstly, get clear up front about what it is you want from others.
If you don’t know why you are helping someone or what it is you wish to happen, then you could end up feeling drained and rather frustrated.
We have all been so overly influenced by what we should do, must do and ought to do, that now what we really want has been deeply suppressed.
So be authentic and do what you want to do in your life.
I remember helping out a friend a few years ago to the point it got so draining for me in the end our friendship suffered and ultimately ended.
In any situation, ask yourself what your intention is and what your desired outcome would be.
For instance, when I was helping out this friend, I could have been clear in my mind why I was doing so.
Ultimately, I realised that it may have had something to do with my own desire to feel wanted and appreciated.
“If I had a prayer, it would be this: “God spare me from the desire for love, approval, and appreciation. Amen.” — Byron Katie
With this new self-awareness, I got the freedom to be myself in that situation — and the friendship soon fizzled away naturally.
It all comes back to you increasing your own self-esteem, so you never let others treat you badly.
At the same time, I am not suggesting that one must have an ulterior motive anytime you wish to help someone with your times, resources and expertise.
Just be clear upfront why you are doing so, even if it is nothing more than wanting to feel good about yourself.
And that is okay too.
Be ready and willing to help others as much as you can, but not to your detriment.
2. Learn to Say NO!
In any situation, you have a choice whether to go along with doing something or not, or even choosing to do something entirely different.
Know that your needs count and you are important.
Once you are clear about what you want, then be sure to communicate this clearly so there are no misunderstandings.
I remember many a time I have agreed to do something where deep down I really didn’t want to do so. Such as agreeing with a friend to watch some mindless soap on television rather than going for an energising walk in the park.
It is okay to compromise but not if it becomes the norm that you always giving in.
In such a situation, I have found it best that both parties decide to do their own thing — after all in any relationship or friendship, richness comes from having a spectrum of varied and colourful interests.
So set your boundaries and people will respect you.
I am usually easy-going and happy to go along with a situation, but if I ever feel that someone is being unreasonable or crossing my boundaries of good behaviour, I will fight my corner, tooth and nail.
So it is about respecting the rights of others, but not to the point of your own rights being completely smothered.
3. Clear the Smelly Air
It is important to have no bad feelings between you and those around you.
If you ever feel used or being taken for granted, it is best to air this sooner rather than later.
Clear up any misunderstandings as they happen.
Quite often you will find that the other person was not even aware they were having that impact on you.
Remember that not everyone is as self-aware as you.
Unless you clear the air, resentments can simmer away and one day explode, normally sparked by some minor incident.
I once had a new neighbour, who was extremely noisy during the first few weeks of moving.
I tolerated his nuisance for a while and then in the end we had a face to face discussion. He agreed to only play and practice his music during certain hours.
A simple conversation meant cordial relations and peaceful evenings for me.
4. Teach Others How to Treat you.
You teach others how to treat you by the way you show up in the world.
If you treat yourself well and look after your needs first, the people around you will respect you.
They’ll know you are not to be messed with.
Negative conversations about you to friends will indicate to them just how you see yourself — and they’ll also begin to see you that way.
So best to avoid all negative talk about yourself when with others. Just be kind to yourself and especially when with others.
It is always good to be nice to others but start with being nice to yourself first.
Do cultivate peaceful relationships with equal give and take — and do tolerate those around you as long as they don’t infringe on your space.
5. Cut your Losses and Move On
Sometimes you just have to let go and move on — such as when my friendship with the draining friend ended.
It is not even about saving face or satisfying your ego — it is really about respecting yourself enough to move on.
There is only so much giving you can do in a situation.
If you feel that those around you cannot give you the respect you deserve, then take stock of the situation and ask yourself if you want to continue to be taken for granted any longer.
Many a time in the past, I have found myself in a disagreeable situation and looking back now, I realise that the situation actually wasn’t that bad.
Standing up for what I wanted and then moving away was much easier than I might have expected at the time.
It all comes back to knowing what you really want and your worth, and not accepting anything less.
Stand up Straight and Communicate Your Truth
You need not ever bend over backwards for anyone ever again.
You know you don’t need to any longer.
You’ve come a long way.
It’s time to stand up straight.
You can be a proud peacock and strut your feathers, knowing that you are valued by yourself and others.
As with most life experiences, it is all part of your growth and your learning.
From today onwards, look for the lessons from your experience of bending over backwards for others — you will be better prepared next time you face such a situation in your life.
People will respect you for your time, knowledge and experience — and they will see you as an equal.
People might even look up to you.
Someone to be respected and honoured. A true friend who will be there for you — but on equal terms.
Your friends will know for sure what you expect in your friendship — and they will truly value your friendship.
Your family will respect you for who you are and value what you bring to their lives.
You can finally confine in the bin those people who refuse to play ball and are just there to take from you.
You are now someone to be properly respected and reckoned with.
It’s time to stand up straight and communicate your truth clearly and confidently — the world is your stage.
My phone rang in the middle of a cold December night.
I woke up with a jerk. Annoyed that I had forgotten to switch off my phone.
But as soon as I looked at the phone and saw that it was my mother calling, I knew it was tragic news.
My mother was hysterical. My father had just died. He was no longer with us.
My life was never the same again.
What’s the most excruciating pain you have ever felt in your life?
I don’t mean physical pain, but the pain of the loss of a loved one. And how did you even get through?
It is now almost 10 years since I got through the most excruciatingly painful time of my life when my father suddenly passed away in the middle of that fateful December night.
He had a massive heart attack and passed away in the presence of my mother — they had been together for 54 years.
It was a crushingly traumatic period in my life.
Only 6 months before my father died, my best friend had passed away through suicide.
It felt that the whole world was against me — and that I would never get through this torture and pain.
I kept thinking — why me?
Is Death All Around Us?
As we get older we will inevitably experience more and more deaths in our immediate family, amongst our friends and in the wider community.
We now also have the experience of our Social Media “virtual friends” either dying or losing their loved ones.
Last month a couple of Facebook friends lost their father too — I could fully empathise with what they were going through. It even felt that I was grieving with them all over again for my own father.
Suddenly it seems that death is all around us — so many people have lost someone recently.
Then last week, a new friend I had only recently connected with through my coaching community tragically passed away at the tender young age of 28. He was an incredible man and on a powerful mission to end war in the world.
Such a tragic loss not just for his family and friends, but for the whole world.
So where do you even begin to comprehend and get through such life-changing losses in your world?
Yes, you can weep and cry your heart out. You can wail and scream. You can despair and give up. You can rage against the unfairness of it all.
And you can fear that it is the end of the world for you.
But then how do you start to live again?
They say that only if you have lost someone can you truly understand and feel what those who have just lost someone is going through.
Has Your World Ever Changed Forever in Just a Few Seconds?
So there I was having just been told by my mother that my father was no longer with us.
And in those few seconds, my world changed forever.
I suddenly felt all alone in the world and that my own life had come to an end.
The following few hours and days after that fateful phone call are a haze — I blanked out most of that time as some kind of protective shield.
I remember very little of the following three months as I got into a hazy, stupor. I got into auto-pilot mode, manically focussed on the practical things — organising the funeral, sorting out the estate and anything to avoid truly feeling my pain.
I was the rock for my mother, siblings and nephews.
Funerals are poignant, moving and timely reminders of the sanctity, sacredness and ultimate fragility of our lives. And my father’s funeral was all of these things and much more.
My brief eulogy at the funeral, carrying the coffin and meeting hundreds of relatives and friends at the funeral — all that was just a blurry haze amidst the driving rain that cold and dark wintry morning.
This eulogy was one of the hardest and most nerve-racking things I have ever done. I think I managed to say that my father’s greatest gift was his compassion and love for people.
Somehow I got through those initial few months but even now the sense of loss and sadness is acute.
Does One Ever Get Over The Loss of a Loved One?
Looking back, I just don’t know how I have got through that first year. And now incredibly it’s almost 10 years.
The years since have seemed so empty without my father. I terribly miss talking to him on the phone, visiting him and watching cricket together.
The loss felt most gut-wrenching and painful — at the special occasions during the first year after his passing such as his birthday, my birthday, my parents’ wedding anniversary and Diwali and Christmas — it was then that his absence was the most painful.
Have You Ever Lost Someone in Tragic Circumstances?
Just a few months before I lost my father, my best friend Rodney committed suicide in the USA, just a week after he had spent a few days with me here in London.
Only a year before his death, I had been the best man at his wedding — and he took his own life just a few days before his first wedding anniversary.
When Rodney left the UK for the final time, little did I know that that was the last time I would see him.
He sent me a deeply touching and heartfelt text message from the airport, thanking me for my friendship over the years and saying what a kind friend I had been to him.
It was only afterwards that I realised Rodney was saying goodbye — that was his last ever message to me.
The tragic loss of my dear friend left a huge void in my life — we had been through many good and bad times and challenges — and shared many an adventure.
It breaks me now to know what he went through in his final days and to know how desperate and anxious he must have been.
I could not talk about Rodney’s passing for a long time, and even now I well up as I write these words.
So how does one ever get over the loss of a loved one?
Here is what helped me get through the darkest time of my life.
1. Grieve As Much As You Need to and Know That It’s Okay to Cry
The best thing you can do is to really, really, really feel your pain — and cry.
There is no need to “man up” — and pretend to be strong.
The “silent types” like me probably suffer more and for a longer time — so many times during my father’s funeral and during the 12 days of the traditional Indian grieving period, I wished I could just bawl my head off like almost everyone else around me. But I just could not.
I once cried for all of 2 minutes privately in the bathroom — and that was just about it. And I have been crying silently in my heart ever since.
As I said, over the following weeks I went into auto mode and just got on with doing things — there were no tears but a terrible numbness which no sleep nor rest could break through.
There was a lot of grieving still to be done for me and I just had to allow it to occur naturally in its own good time.
So be open and vulnerable. Cry as much as you want to. Cry in front of others. Cry on your own. But do cry.
It is remarkable just how strong the human spirit can be in such trying circumstances.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About your Grief with Family, Friends and Community
Be open and talk about your grief and feelings with the people close to you.
Families can be a wonderful thing yet quite a challenge — sometimes we just can’t live with each other for long and yet when it comes to our true hour of need, everyone rallies around.
When I lost my father, I was simply overwhelmed with the compassion shown to us by our many friends and family members during the ensuing weeks. And I was contacted by numerous people from my distant past and many friends sent the most moving messages and cards.
Amidst the sadness and grief, there was a feeling of tenderness and closeness amongst my siblings and other family members I had never experienced ever before — — we all felt incredibly close to each other as we grieved our loss and perhaps also appreciated for the first time our own mortality.
It was heart-wrenching to know that it took my father’s passing for all this latent love to surface.
Such closeness, such caring, and though seemingly and perversely short-lived, it was and will always be there. I felt closer to my uncles, aunts and other extended family and realised that they too had lost a loved one in my father.
If more people could witness at first hand the grief of a bereaved family, I am sure there would be a lot less violence and warfare in the world.
When I spoke at my friend Rodney’s memorial service, I started reading from my prepared speech but the raw emotion got to me and I could not continue beyond the first few seconds. I looked up at the audience through misty eyes — and I felt such love and warmth from the 60 people there. And I said the rest of my speech straight from my heart without referring to my written notes.
Remember that people are incredibly kind — they share your grief and are there for you.
People have an amazing capacity to be compassionate — allow them to show you their compassion and kindness during your time of need.
“Have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike — each has their suffering. Some suffer too much, others too little.” — Buddha
Also by talking to a close family member, you’ll both be helping each other’s healing. Seek out and talk to whoever you feel comfortable with — and know that it’s perfectly okay to talk about it.
Maybe you just need a good friend who would be willing to simply listen and be there for you.
Reach out to your community and actively seek out support if that feels right for you — even consider reaching out to your friends on Facebook or any of the online communities you are part of.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Spend Time on Your Own, Remembering Your Loved One
As well as spending time with family and friends, do not be afraid to also spend time on your own.
Do what you need to do as each person’s journey will be different and you will deal with your loss in your own way.
Ask people for space if that’s what you feel you need — they will understand.
The best thing a friend did for me when I lost my father was to invite me to spend the day at her home. She prepared loads of comfort food all day and left me alone in front of her TV all day.
I watched all sorts of mindless soaps and action movies, anything to take my mind off things — and it was just what I needed as I cried most of the day on her couch, knowing that I would not be judged or seen as a wimp.
Do go for long walks in nature, either on your own or with friends. Being in fresh air and exercising will take your mind off things — and also make you present to the majesty of the universe and how we all fit in.
Perhaps you will get a sense of the eternalness of our lives. Or perhaps you’ll grasp just how minuscule we are in the great scheme of things.
Maybe amidst all the gloom, you’ll get to see your life and future direction in a new light.
During this time of solitude, reflect on what has happened — and remember the many special times you had with your loved one.
Giggle at the silly fun you used to have and smile at their nuances and peculiarities — all those quirks which made your loved one so unique and adorable.
Look back on the happy times. Look back on the sad times. Look back on the fun times. Look back on the challenging times. Look back and remember.
And as you remember, cry as much as you want to.
4. Remember that Seeking Special help and Support is Not Failure
Having many supportive friends around you is wonderful, but professional support may help too.
Grief counselling can offer you a platform to express your grief and sadness.
Though I never had grief counselling, looking back I do wonder if it would have helped me.
As a man, it does not seem manly to need counselling. Men tend to feel they should be able to handle their emotions and may wrongly view counselling as an admission of weakness.
Everyone deals with grief in their own way — and there is no right or wrong way to grieve.
There is no magical formula for “getting over it”, only the passing of time, patience and compassion with oneself.
Time may not necessarily heal but it makes the burden of grief become manageable whereby you can live, function and become happy once more, experiencing joy again, while never forgetting your loved one.
Also, seek out medical support if you feel yourself at a physical and emotional low. Just talking to a doctor will reassure that you are only experiencing the normal phases of grieving.
Your faith can also really support you at this time — depending on your faith and beliefs, seek out support from your priest, rabbi, pastor or spiritual teacher.
Whatever you do, do not lock yourself away in isolation — know that everyone is rooting for you and supporting you in the best way they can. Allow them a chance to do so.
At the same time, during the grieving period, try and keep your cool as emotions can run high and even amongst loved ones, misunderstandings can happen.
5. Give Your Grieving Process as Much Time as You Need
It is said to be a cliche about time being the great healer.
But who cares about cliches!?
You take as much time as you need to for your grieving process. Do not listen to others who tell you that you should have “got over” the loss by now.
Everyone deals with grief in their own way — and there is no right or wrong and nor is there a magic formula for “getting over it”.
Recently a friend mentioned how he felt something was wrong with him since he still felt so down after the loss of his own father two years ago. Some friends had told him that this was not normal and he should have “got over” it by now.
I reassured him that it was perfectly okay for him to grieve as was appropriate for him and for as long as needed — everyone has a different journey and their own way of dealing with loss.
I did suggest though that he could look into some grief counselling if it was impacting his life so much.
6. Appreciate Your Loved Ones and Honour Them by Living a Life Worthy of Them
In the year after my father passed away, I went through his printed papers and books — and I was astounded by the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and his compassion and love of people.
I never truly appreciated what he stood for nor what he had done for me. Learning how he had worked so hard so that we could all have a better life than his generation was quite a humbling realisation.
I now lament that I didn’t show him my full appreciation in his lifetime — he did his best for me and everything he could for me, with the knowledge, resources and understanding he had at the time.
I will also always recall his kind and sometimes eccentric nature and what made him my father — such as cantankerously checking that all the doors and windows were locked the last thing at night, and always wanting to know if I had eaten properly no matter what time I called him, day or night.
What you experience as quirky about your loved ones today will become treasured memories one day.
During my deepest grieving for my father, I watched yet again my all-time favourite movies — “It’s a Wonderful Life!” — about a man who feels like a total failure.
Just when his spirit is about to be broken, his guardian angel, Clarence, falls to Earth and shows him how his town, family, and friends would have turned out if he had never been born.
This heart-warming movie made me appreciate just how many lives my father had touched in his lifetime through his life of service to others.
Everyone’s life has a meaning — and in the same way, your departed loved one’s life served a bigger purpose and the world would not have been the same if they had not lived.
So as you grieve, remember and honour them for the impact they made on so many people.
The biggest gift my father gave me was my life and I can never thank him (and my mother) enough. All I can do is to endeavour to live a life worthy of both my parents.
7. Express Your Love to Your Loved Ones Whilst You Can
Recently I attended the funeral of an elderly relative where I cried copious tears as I remembered once again the loss of my father.
My tears were for not only for my father but also for all my past losses — forgotten dreams, lost hopes, squandered time, estranged friends, broken relationships, people let down, hurts still festering — indeed a huge cocktail of feelings of grief.
And most of all, I cried tears for love not shared, expressed, recognised or reciprocated.
So do not wait any longer — go and spend some valuable time with your loved ones — and get in touch with those family and friends who mean so much to you.
Visit them. Call them. Email them. Text them. Whatever works for you. Contact them somehow. And tell them just how much they mean to you.
“The love you fail to share today is the only pain you live with right now in your life” — Shore Slocum
8. Create a Legacy Worthy of Your Loved One
Though I cannot claim to fully understand the pain that you are going through nor underestimate your anguish, I do know that you are gifted with such resolute strength that you can get through it all — and begin to live once again.
It is remarkable just how strong the human spirit can be in such trying circumstances.
Losing a loved one is the deepest pain you’ll go through in life — but let that also instil in you an urgency to experience life as fully as you can — whilst you can.
Let the loss of a loved one ultimately be a wake-up call for you to make the most of your life — and create your legacy and do what you can for the world — whilst you can.
Let this be a clarion call for getting out of the trap of wanting to be the best, acquiring more stuff and spending time in frivolous activities — and truly going for what you want in your life.
Make a promise to yourself to live the best life you can from hereon.
My father left behind quite a legacy. He lives on in his books — and in me.
What will be your legacy? What will your loved ones remember you by?
9. Remember That The Love of Your Departed Loved One Will Never Leave You
Remember that the happy memories of your departed loved one will always stay with you. Perhaps ultimately that is what counts more than anything else — and the awareness that their great love for you will always be with us.
That awareness frees us up on our quest for completeness and happiness — which after all is what our departed loved ones want for us anyway.
Earlier this summer, a friend lost her mother after a long term illness and brave fight — and just a couple of weeks later, my friend gave birth to a baby girl.
She shared something incredibly poignant — knowing just how much she loved her newly born daughter had made her realise just how deeply and unconditionally she had been loved by her own mother all her life.
Amidst the despair of losing her mother and the joy of giving birth to her baby daughter, my friend had a great awareness of just how much her mother had loved her, and how this deep and profound love was still there and will always be there.
In that moment, when my friend shared about her mother’s love, I too felt just how great my father’s love had been for me and how it too will always be there.
I am only now able to grasp the depth of my father’s love for me — and knowing that this love will always be there even in his physical absence is incredibly heartening and consoling.
I get so emotional even thinking about this — and I write this through teary eyes.
Somehow, when we remember our loved ones we think about all the things we didn’t do or say, or regret some of the things we did say which we wish we hadn’t.
In that moment of feeling my father’s love, it suddenly became clear to me that in the great scheme of things, these regrets did not matter. Somehow that realisation gave me a sense of completion with my father.
So know that during this period of your grieving, in time you’ll get over your regrets and bask in their love that will always be there.
“To live in hearts we leave behind, is not to die” — Thomas Campbell
Your departed loved one will also always be with you too, no matter what — and they will always continue to live in your heart.
Remember to not only mourn the passing of your dear one but also to celebrate their life.
Remember them and pledge to yourself to make the most of each day and the most of this fleeting life that we are all so lucky to have.
Yes, we do live in a beautiful world and there is so much goodness in us and around us — but it is also the nature of life that we are meant to experience the excruciating pain of a loss of a loved one.
Yet, life can also give us such heart-rending, excruciatingly painful experiences that it takes all we have and much more to even get through each day.
Maybe we never ever truly get over the loss of a loved one.
Maybe we never completely heal, but just cover it up.
Maybe with time the pain just diminishes but never totally goes away.
But our love lives on forever.
Remember that Everything Changes — and This Too Will Pass
As you grieve the loss of your loved one, remember that everything changes.
Buddhist and Yogic traditions teach us about the futility of fighting to hold on to what we have — everything changes and ultimately we all go back to where we came from.
What helped get me through my darkest days of grief was this little mantra I adopted and kept repeating to myself — this too will pass.
Incredibly 10 years have now passed — and here I am wondering where that time has gone.
My excruciating pain and despair did pass — and though the void and sadness will always be there, I am left with treasured and beautiful memories of my father.
No matter what your beliefs about spirituality, the afterlife and reincarnation, take comfort that your departed loved one is at peace — and they are at peace with you.