Poles and Notions

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It is quite astonishing how quick we, as a people, are to pick sides when something happens. Nigerians and sentiments are like yin-yang. Inseparable!

When news reports trickled in about the arrest of former Petroleum minister, Dieziani Allison-Madueke in the UK for allegedly laundering $13bn, two groups suddenly emerged. Those in her support were assembled in the blue corner whilst those against her were in the red corner.

Those in the red corner desperately want to see Diezani jailed and thence celebrated her arrest, without asking questions how the media came to that figure of $16bn. The opposition, in the blue corner, described Diezani as innocent until proven guilty and slammed the President’s anti-corruption war as mere noise used to harass and persecute his political enemies.

This is based on their belief that the President has surrounded himself with chronically corrupt citizens like Rotimi Amaechi et al. Perhaps they are right about Amaechi et al but if they feel Dieziani deserves time until UK court proves her innocence/guilt, why can’t they extend such benevolence to the likes of Amaechi etc? After all, everyone has a right to a fair trial. Or maybe not!

Some days later, there was a fight between new Super Eagles handler Sunday Oliseh and veteran goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama which led to the latter announcing his retirement from the national team. As expected, Nigerians, without waiting to get to the root of the matter, were split again into two sides with both teams hurling insults at each other.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having an opinion and taking sides but the least one can do is to be objective about it and back up your claims with facts, not assertions. Objectivity was lost during the aforementioned debates, and replaced by bias. Being objective is a herculean task for many due to the amount of bias we carry around.

It will amaze you how bias, especially what we hear others say, can sway our judgements and decisions. For example, if you were told that someone is good or bad at something, it would be hard for you to forget that information when you observe the person and in the process, miss other vital positive/negative traits of the person. Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson wrote in his new book LEADING, “It is astonishing how many biases and preconceived notions we carry around, and these influence what we see, or more precisely, what we think we see.”

Subjective thinking is based on an individual’s emotions, opinion and perspective hence it comes easily and naturally to everyone however objective thinking doesn’t. It is a skill that is acquired and developed by paying good attention to details. Just as kids develop vital personal and social skills by observing behaviour of their parents, siblings, peers or teachers, that’s the same way one needs to be a keen observer to think objectively.

Objectivity is based on facts and observations. It is a very important skill to acquire because it stops one from making hasty conclusions by taking a step back from one’s own thinking to critically examine facts/opinions/assertions at his/her disposal.

It also requires one to look at things from other people’s point of view hence one has to be willing to give a fair hearing to what others have to say. No matter how right your opinion may seem to you, a single perspective never reveals the whole truth.

Observing and listening are underrated activities, and they cost nothing. Follow arguments with objectivity, not bias.

Choices & Consequences

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As human beings, we are given the mantle to decipher and choose between good and evil. Everyday, we try to sense what’s right and what’s wrong and make a choice between the two.

Making a choice is one of the most difficult tasks we face. For instance, imagine you are trying to decide whether to marry that man or woman, decide whether to resign from your current job and further your education abroad or continue with the job, choose between two careers/jobs, these choices can be very hard to make.

Even if one chooses to seek the advice of a friend/loved one or ally, in the end it is up to YOU to make the final decision. Life choices are hard to make because of the uncertainty that accompanies them.

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We try to evaluate the options available to us before making a decision. We make choices based on the information at our disposal at that particular time. Life choices are like investments; one tries not to make a risky investment based on opinions but a smart one based on facts & opinions.

Choice and consequences are the central concepts affecting decision making. To every action, there is equal and opposite reaction. Every choice we make in life, whether good or bad, right or wrong, wise or foolish carries maximum consequences.

Our choices have a huge impact on our lives; they can either make or mar us. Our choices determine who and what we are in life whether in the short or long run. We are forced to live with the consequences of our choices.

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However, accepting consequences of our actions can be a bitter pill to swallow for some. Rather than blame themselves, many prefer to blame others for their woes after all it is much easier to do so. Taking responsibility of the consequences of our choices says a lot about one’s character.

We all make choices but in the end, our choices make or mar us. No one is immune to the consequences of his/her actions.

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Over-expectation, a recipe for disaster

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It is quite astonishing how sports are linked to our every day lives https://arturozinga.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/footballs-life-lessons-part-1/ https://arturozinga.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/footballs-life-lessons-part-2/ This past weekend, the best TV series, the English Premier League (EPL) returned to our TV screens for the 24th season. Prior to its premiere, there was a lot of fanfare worldwide. Every fan predicted how the season premiere would shape up.

Chelsea fans, brimming with confidence, were so keen for their team to kickstart the defence of their EPL crown whilst Arsenal fans, based on their team’s recent acquisition of World class goalkeeper Petr Cech and pre-season heroics, believe this season will finally be theirs. As a result, some predicted a 6-0 trashing for their teams against their first opponents Swansea City and West Ham United respectively. However, their expectations weren’t met and their teams were surprised by these less fancied teams.

Just like these football fans, how often do we over-expect and put so much emphasis on positivity? When do we come to know that we are expecting something impossible?

It is natural for one to have expectations; expectations play a huge role in our lives. We all have personal goals and visions; how our lives should be in 10-20 years from now, how our personal relationships should be, how our favourite sports team should play or how we should be rewarded for our efforts and thence expectations are synonymous with the word should.

In all honesty, when there’s love, there will be expectations. Whether it is love between a child and the parents, husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend or a fan and his/her favourite celebrity/sports club, there will always be expectations in any kind of love. In other words, we depend and expect so much from the others. Robert Greene wrote in his book, The 50th Law, “Dependency is a habit that is so easy to acquire…It is hard to resist. But once you give in, it is like a prison you enter that you cannot ever leave.”

Expectations have a huge effect on our emotions; they can make you happy as well as rob your happiness. We set the tone for disaster when we over-expect thereby creating toxic relationships and consequently, expectations kill love. Over-expectation is hard to define but it creates a perfect recipe for disaster.

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Everyone in the world is governed by self-interest. We expect people to follow our own rules and principles, and share our values, dreams and experiences. We tend to expect more from others in comparison to what we actually have to offer. There is a wide gap between our expectations and supply but many love to disregard this fact and focus on getting the best. For example, everyone has a list of features s/he expects his/her dream partner to possess but just a few actually work on themselves to be that perfect somebody we all desire.

Nonetheless, it is a fact that one cannot run away from expectations but it is important to set these expectations around reality. The reality of life is that none of us came into this world with a crystal ball so twists and turns are a natural part of life.

Realists are not scared to embrace the hard truths (twists and turns) of life; they weigh both positive and negative sides of everything life throws at them. The best option for one is to embrace reality and lower his/her expectations.

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Mental Health: A Need For Awareness

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Mental health problems are on meteoric rise across the globe. I read an interesting article which identified mental health disorders as the fifth leading cause of death and disease worldwide. Interestingly, Nigeria, along with China, North Korea and Japan were the four countries mentioned to have low burden of death and disease from mental disorders.

This could be due to the fact that the average Nigerian mind races to madness (psychosis) probably inflicted on a person by haters from his or her village, when mental health is mentioned. Many fail to realise that alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorders, sleep issues, emotions such as anxiety and depression, levels of stress, self-harming and suicide are all linked to mental health.

As a result, very few Nigerians pay attention to their mental health. Judging with what is happening right now, one can predict that mental health issues of Nigerians, especially the youths will skyrocket in the next five to ten years. And this should be seen as a major public health concern.

Before you start critiquing this; I am yet to research on this so I have no raw data to back my claims hence this is just an opinion, observation or assertion.

Nigerian youths are faced with numerous problems in our country today. From joblessness (unemployment) through relationship/marriage problems to alcohol and drug abuse etc. And these can do serious damage to one’s mental health.

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First, parents put a lot of pressure on their kids to study and become a doctor, engineer or lawyer. Many may lack the abilities and capabilities required to reach the educational goals set by the parents and in the end, become stressed, anxious and depressed or may resort to drug abuse/alcoholism to take the pain away.

Then, if one scales through these hurdles and graduates, one enthusiastically applies for numerous jobs as many believe their job defines them and earns them respect. If unsuccessful after a long search, one may lose confidence and self-esteem.

Unemployment can take a huge toll on a fresh graduate’s pysche. The stages of unemployment are initial shock, depression and finally adjustment. Depression may cause them to isolate themselves from friends and family.

Next, the never-ending pressure on a young Nigerian lady, from family and society, to marry and have a family. Although many claim unfazed, being single may increase the risk of developing mental health problems in adulthood.

Nevertheless, ending a relationship/marriage through separation, divorce or death may also cause an increased risk of mental health disorders. Relationships are hard-work and often drains one’s emotional energy. People may be happier whilst married or in relationship but the effects on mental health once separated by death or divorce may be far worse than being single.

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It is never easy when a relationship/marriage ends. The breakup can trigger negative emotions, such as sadness, hate, disappointment and depression, which one may never recover from. The more break-ups one has, the more his/her mental health  progressively deteriorates.

Emergence of social media hasn’t helped either; it has increased comparison, cyber-bullying, restlessness, glamorization of sex, drugs and alcohol use and crowd mentality amongst the youths to appear cool. People put more pressure on themselves when they see achievements of others thereby elevating their stress levels, anxiety and depression. If they feel they are falling behind, they may make matters worse by turning to drugs or alcohol.

Mental health issues can prevent one from living his/her dream, starting a family or becoming useful to his nation. And this should be treated as a serious health scare. Mental health awareness should be made to safeguard emotional wellbeing of Nigerian youths.

Thank you for making out time to read this article. If you have enjoyed it, please comment and share your views on this issue. Also, do like, share and follow the blog.