With a Master’s Degree in Community Psychology, an MBA in management and several accreditations in life coaching from all over the world, Ahmed El Aawar is one of the best people to guide us with our lives. He is also founder and lead instructor at Life Coaching Egypt – LCE, which gives workshops and training for personal and professional development.
In October 2015, El Aawar started a series of 100 short videos on his Facebook page, to offer quick life tips. Here are ten of his most important tips on personal development and psychological wellbeing:
1. Limit Your Good Traits (#95)
In Psychology, the Offman Cycle shows that if one identifies with a specific good trait and holds on to it, it’s likely to become amplified. This amplification is not necessarily good; the trait becomes exaggerated and needs to be disciplined. In that case, we have to bring in a counter-characteristic to balance it. If you’re too organized, for example, it could turn into an obsession and you’d need more randomness to balance it. El Aawar tells us not to get too attached to a specific trait, because it can backfire on us and stop being in our favor. Everything has to be in moderation, even character traits.
2. Gain Self-Confidence (#25)
El Aawar says that psychologically no one is 100% confident or unconfident, even if they may seem like it. For those who tend to be more unconfident, he tells us to take a few minutes and write down what we’re good at, even if we don’t think these traits are particularly helpful, or to post on Facebook and ask people to help us find our positive things. The key is to be receptive and not doubtful, so we can properly build our self-esteem.
3. Keep Your Worries in Check (#17)
Worrying keeps us cautious, but becomes a problem when overdone. Most of our worries and fears, El Aawar says, are exaggerated. When we look at them closely, we realize they’re a lot more trivial than they seem; our mind’s “Fear Buffer Zone” exaggerates them, just in case. We have to consciously intervene and ask ourselves about the realistic possibilities, so we can keep our worries in check.
4. See Beyond the Bad (#6)
Even though we know we’re blessed, we often only focus on our problems. This is because the part of our brain that helps with survival affects our memory. It makes us remember only bad situations to keep us alert. As human beings, our fear is more powerful than our happiness, so we remember the situations we want to avoid. He tells us to use our senses during the good times and talk about them out loud – a small “Thank God” or “This is amazing” – so we can store these memories and reach a psychological balance when assessing our lives.
5. Your Thoughts are Powerful (#50)
It’s only how we perceive something that makes it influence us, including death, bad relationships and everything in between. These things in and of themselves have no power over us; it’s the thought that matters and counts for 100% of an event’s psychological impact over us. El Aawar tells us we have to be aware of our thoughts and whether they’re positive or negative and to keep in mind our internal conversations, because in changing them, we can change our psychology.
Depressed or anxious people experience “cognitive distortions”, where mental filters obstruct their thinking. We all have a percentage of these distortions, which is why we experience moments of depression. One of these distortions is the “All or Nothing” filter that makes us see the world in strict black and white. In situations like these, El Aawar says we need to force ourselves to see the middle ground and the shades between the black and white. The other thing is the filter for self-deprecation or underestimating of our own achievements. We have to be conscious of this, and stop underestimating ourselves, so we can decrease these distortions and see things more clearly. Once we’re aware of the distortions, we can prevent our depressed moments.
7. Small Things to Make You Happy (#59)
Small things can bring us happiness. El Aawar lists some that we can do to brighten our life: Give out five pound notes to people who need it, organize our wardrobes and donate what we no longer wear, or prepare breakfast or dinner for the homeless and eat with them. We could tell someone we love them, apologize to someone we’ve wronged or spend time with people who make our happiness effortless. Avoiding negative company is also guaranteed to make us a little happier. Try a couple of these small things, or think of your own, and you’re bound to feel the difference in your life.
8. Choose Your Environment (#93)
In psychology, there’s a concept called priming, explaining that every time we’re in a specific surrounding, our brains try to adapt to it by any means. This priming is very important for our basic survival, but we have to consciously choose the environments we’re in, because even if we think we’ll keep a distance, our brains adapt subconsciously. This is why we come back to habits we know are wrong. El Aawar advises us to be conscious about our company, what we read or watch and everything else we’re exposed to, because our brains prime faster than we realize.
9. Good Faith is Psychologically Healthy (#98)
Good intentions and good faith are often linked to naiveté, but they are actually psychologically healthy. Constantly doubting people’s intentions and conjuring scenarios only harms us. It breeds bitterness and a dark outlook on life. Caution is good, yes, but El Aawar says we should train ourselves to have good faith, excuse people and see the good. It’s an internal conflict we have to go through.
10. Train Your Will (#30)
We are constantly faced with choices between something trivial that gives us instant pleasure and something we know is better, but is harder to do. From working out to eating properly, these choices meet us daily and aren’t as easy as they sound. El Aawar says we need to train ourselves to make the right choice even if it’s harder, because habits come gradually from small, everyday decisions.