My thoughts are tickling my skull like needles. First they are soft and gentle. They are trying to stimulate my brain. After a while they start to poke more relentlessly. They are trying to control my feelings and my behaviour. If I’m not careful they are torturing me until I forget who I am – I am not my thoughts.
Sometimes there are these moments that only belong to me.
All of a sudden a burst of energy fills my chest.
A warm smile from the interior arises.
It is one of these moments, when everything feels right.
Life becomes bearable again. All the negativity vanishes in exhilaration.
Absence turns into awareness.
I arrive in the present moment while lifting off into the future of my own history.
Alright, the process of renewing is continuing. I can literally feel the shell bursting. Before I started this article I thought “Okay, this will be short but intense.” – A fertilizer for my growth – a brief reminder of how far I’ve come. But there is so much more to it: Welcome to the story of my life.
“You don’t take yourself seriously” – A few months ago a friend of mine put a finger right into a wound. A wound I didn’t even know it existed. “Love yourself more” – This is a phrase I heard a lot over the past few years. “Put yourself on number one”, only recently a couchsurfing host pointed out to me witnessing my struggle to find my own priorities.
It made me think. Within the past five years I’ve tried hard to live my life up to my own believes. Maybe too hard? I’ve changed jobs, rooms, cities and countries. I’ve ended relationships. I’ve started new ones. I’ve tried new things, I’ve travelled, I’ve improved my physical fitness and so on and so on. Some of my changes you might witness on this blog.
“Do what you love.” – This expression too became omnipresent in our highly individualized world. Well, so I did! Everything was supposed to be good. But it wasn’t. I stressed myself out. I stressed myself out, because I was struggling to meet my own expectations. Was I happy in the meantime?
Of course not. I always felt like there is something missing. Even if I thought I had all I wanted, I felt this numbing anxiety. But where was it coming from? I had to dig deeper.
What I found was a hole – a hole I was always closing my eyes from. I filled it with a lot of things. Temporary pleasures like partying, alcohol or sex gave me a superficial satisfaction. Working hard gave me a feeling of purpose. But at the end even sports and physical challenges just seemed to be a substitution. But a substitution for what? Only when I started to observe the dark corners of my psyche the cover-up crumbled. The process is still ongoing.
The more honest I become with myself the more the truth discloses: Now I know that I was looking for love in the wrong places. I had to find it within myself. What I have been trying to pad was a lack of self-love.
I was looking for love in the wrong places
To be honest with you, it was only about five years ago, I was 25 years old and I didn’t have the slightest idea who I was or who I wanted to become. I thought I had, but I hadn’t.
Self-doubts were shadowing any future prospects. I couldn’t see myself or anything else clear. I didn’t know what I’m passionate about. I wanted to write, I wanted to hike, I wanted to travel, but I couldn’t find the motivation to do it. I was scared. I always found excuses.
Now I know that I felt obligated to follow a beaten track. A path that wasn’t mine. I thought I would have to find somebody to walk this path with me. Slowly it dawned me that I have to find myself in the first place.
I always had the feeling there must be more to life, but I couldn’t quite grasp what it was. In the past there was always something missing – with or without a boyfriend I was unhappy – neither physically nor spiritually satisfied.
A long time (actually all of my life) I thought I have to change. There must be something wrong with me. I must be mentally sick or something. The truth is that I didn’t take my personal needs seriously. That’s why I felt like shit most of the time.
Five years ago I did not know my journey will be about self-love. I would fight my fears and expand my comfort zone in the name of (self-) love.
Love is in the air and stuff. But how do I receive it?
How to foster self-love
So far so good – apparently I was looking for love. The question was how to cultivate love in my system? This is only partly an “How-to” guide, but more an arbitrary list of thoughts and assumptions that crossed my way during the last months. I’m curious what you have to add.
1. Stop lying to yourself
Before I started my journey of self-love I kept up an idealized image of my self. Disregarding my own nature I tried to be somebody else. Painfully I learnt that this leads only to physical and mental suffering.
Don’t try to be somebody you are not. Look into the mirror and see your true nature. Be true to yourself. Be authentic, but most of all be honest with yourself. Acknowledge your roots and be proud of who you are.
2. Stop looking for approval by others
A long long time I was aiming for acceptance instead of striving towards my own goals. I was hoping to find somebody to “fix” me and help me with my life. In the meantime I was living somebody else’s life not mine.
If you are looking for approval by others you are losing credibility. You give away responsibility for your well-being and slowly you are losing your self-esteem. Stop being a people pleaser and please yourself first.
3. Lower your expectations on yourself
Harder, faster, better, stronger – this is the slogan of our time not only when it comes to technology. Self-optimization became common courtesy, but the slavedriver is only in your head: The inner judge – your chatterbox – is the one who is convicting you for being insufficient.
Don’t get me wrong – self-discipline is required to make changes. But what you have to optimize is your way of thinking from “I have to become better” to “I’m okay how I am”. Self-criticism is the opposite of self-love.
So please, please you chatterbox in the back of the head – stop judging. Instead of heightening the expectations on yourself accept who you are: A human being and not a robot.
4. Accept your flaws and shortcomings
I’m still working on examining my strengths and weaknesses. During this process I learnt something essential: When you are able to give yourself a warm smile as soon as you discover weaknesses then you are able to transform them.
What you consider as your negative traits are might be ulterior talents or advantages? As soon as you take a look at your personality characteristics these supposedly negative attributes convert into your personal gifts.
5. Appreciate your individual gifts
In order to love yourself more you have to honour these personal gifts. You have to say yes to your uniqueness. Take a moment of appreciation and gratefulness – it is worth it. Believe in yourself. The world needs you how you are.
6. Give yourself time to heal
This is a tough one. Up to today I’m asking too much of myself. Most of my life I was busy beating myself down for not meeting my own expectations.
Over and over my body told me to stop, but I wasn’t listening until recently. I found out that I need the time to lick my wounds and recover from life-changing events like breaking up with my boyfriend or changing my environment rapidly. Allowing myself to heal is essential in order to achieve anything in my life.
Walk your own pace and household with your energy. Take your time to make the steps that are required to become the person you want to be. You only have this one life – so why rush?
7. Take your personal needs seriously
If you don’t take your needs seriously you end up suffering. Imagine a dog who can’t go for a walk or doesn’t get fed? Will he lead a happy and healthy life?
We can only nurture one another (friends, partner, family or even society) if we satisfy our own needs first.
I was standing in my own way by not taking myself seriously until I realized, that only I know what’s good for me. As soon as I started listening to my inner voice I found out about my personal needs. It is important to mute all the distraction and start listening.
8. Be compassionate
I don’t say you should feel sorry for yourself. No, actually self-compassion is the opposite of self-pity. Self-compassion is being warm, kind-hearted and friendly towards your inner self. When you are able to put a warm smile on your face, when you encounter negative feelings, fears or unsatisfied desires, then you are starting to love yourself. It is being supportive like you are to your friends.
9. Relax every day
Take a break. Go for a walk. Do some yoga. Meditate or just breathe in and out consciously every day for five minutes or an hour. Carve out this time for yourself. It will help you to clear your vision. (Note to my distracted self.)
10. Trust in the process
Like every plant, every animal, every river and every cloud you are a part of nature. It is already taken care of you. Don’t worry too much. Just trust.
What I am really saying is that you don’t need to do anything, because if you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomenon of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that, and there is nothing wrong with you at all.
~ Alan Watts
Something is itching and aching. Twisted with pain I’m playing hide and seek. Disparaging my insights – disregarding my emotions. There is this void in front of me – this abyss of the unknown. I’m scared, but it’s time to wake up from this paralysis.
The last months I neglected my growthbuddy. If I really want to transform I need more self-discipline. Come on? One article every two months – that’s a joke and it is not the idea of this blog.
Oh dear, I’m not even trying to find any excuses. It was more comfortable to just crawl into my shell for a little while instead of turning my interior to the outside. Before I go down deeper any rabbit hole, it is now the time to make a leap again. It is time for manifestation.
Growthbuddy 2.0 – here we go. I will blog my heart out – at any costs – with flaws and losses.
This is a very demanding time. In these days I’m facing big challenges – learning the language of my heart while muting the voices in my head. Tada: I changed my whole life again and now I’m hesitating. Was it a good idea to give up my room and become a nomad? I have to admit that this is pretty fucking hard.
But NOW is the time to write. Now I’m growing above me – tomorrow is another day. So, what’s the plan? I want to honour my (growth)buddy again and post post post whatever and whenever I can (at least once a week).
- I want to revive my threesome.
- I want to resurrect the dead wood in my notes. There are tons of articles that I started and never finished.
- I want to drop my perfectionism and post something more intuitive here. I’m not sure – maybe I even start some column or something like this.
Stay tuned buddies and love yourself more!
Sometimes all we see are blind ends.
Instead of checking the map, we are dreaming about the destination.
Instead of adjusting our route, we remain paralyzed.
Our map is spaciously dimensioned for us.
Even if the tracks seem alarmingly narrow at times, all that is narrow is our mind.
We tip-toe in dread and doubt, but we truly wander in awe and admiration.
Drop the package.
Tie your shoes.
Free your mind.
And keep walking – light-heartedly, not heavy-headedly.
It is nearly midnight. The chatterbox is rattling in my head. I’m revolving around my self-consciousness – far off from any real connection to my true self. An obscure nebula of uncertainty is surrounding me. Negative thoughts are traversing like thunderclouds. Anxiety is rolling over me like back-breaking waves. Sleep is beyond the bounds of possibility.
This is how I would describe my interior on a lonely night during my travels. I finished an intense video project at the cultural center of my friend at Camino de Santiago in Spain. I walked for a couple of days. I met incredible people. Inspiring conversations changed my view. A whole trip full of life-changing events came to an end (If I find the time I will write about it on uliquitous.com).
For the last days of this journey I booked an airbnb flat for myself – next to the spectacular shore of Peniche at the coast of Portugal. I decided to let all my amazing experience sink before I’m making my next move to Lisboa from where I would flew back to Germany. These previous weeks had been full of social interaction. All of a sudden I was alone in my head again – without any mission or entertainment. I felt a mix of contentment and gratitude, because of all the blissful events of the past six weeks, but that one night this feeling yield a cold emptiness.
When the emptimess became unbearable, I remembered something I already proclaimed multiple times: “I’m not my thoughts”. Something inside of me rejuvenated. Controlled by an external force I lit a candle and sat down in front of it on the carpet. Automatically I settled into a lotus position and took one deep breath. Motionless I took one breath after another until I could feel the tension releasing.
Heavy boulders are tumbling down my body. Suddenly there is an imaginary force errecting my spine. An invisible connection is linking me between the ground and the sky. And there it was: This gap between me and my thoughts. For the very first time I could literally see my thoughts vanishing in front of me. The flame of the candle burnt them.
When the time was right I came back to reality. I felt refreshed and relieved. I was looking forward for a good nights sleep. All I could say was “Thank you.” I checked the time. 45 minutes had passed. I didn’t set any alarm.
This whole experience changed my perspective on meditation completely. In the past I thought there is something to “learn”, something to “do”. But it’s the opposite. During the past year my thoughts became a barrier for me, but during this night this barrier incurred a massive crack. And there it was: The drain for my thoughts! The off button for my chatterbox.
What do I do with it? Nothing. I will just sit and wait and I use every free minute to catch a glimpse of this crack in the wall.
“One day, suddenly, you will find a window opens, and a fresh breeze with new rays has filled your heart. Again, don’t commit the same mistake! Be thankful for what is happening, but don’t ask for more – more will be coming. Don’t ask, “Come again!” – your asking will become the barrier.”
Osho, “Learning to silence the mind – Wellness through meditation”
Every channel on receive. <3 life
Finding your core is like peeling an onion – you peel off one layer after another. In terms of an onion you peel off the skin of the onion. In terms of your personality you peel off your fears, your psychological conditioning until you reach your core – your real you.
“There is nothing to achieve, there is only something to reveal”
….This sentence has been sticking around in my head for a couple of weeks.
It got quiet on growthbuddy. The last weeks I decelerated. But this time it was not a micro habit challenge. No, something within me told me to focus on myself. To sit down and rest. To cancel social commitments. To stop overthinking. It felt like somebody pushed the mute button to silence the voices in my head – a psychological hibernation.
Like nature is renewing also I’m experiencing some kind of “renewal” now. It took a while to put this in words, because I felt like there is a bit more to “reveal”. There is something bubbling underneath the surface. This “something” is slowly changing it’s aggregate state. This article is the result, but it can only be a snapshot of a process. What guided me within the first quarter of the year 2018 was not this “days of clarity” kind of light – it was something way more fundamental. There are a few things I finally understood or rather experienced:
1. “I am enough” instead of “I have to become better”
The last years I thought I have to learn more, gain more theoretical knowledge, excercise more, be more disciplined. I pressured myself with self-optimization, but there is something very important I forgot on the way: I do enough. I learn enough. I work enough. I read enough. I train enough. I am enough.
2. My “tools” are already there
Two years ago a couchsurfing host told me “You need to develop your tools in life.” At this point I had no clue what he is talking about. Okay, I had a rough idea. I knew that I was controlled by the “wrong” forces. I felt this numb desperation deep within, but I couldn’t quite locate it. I suspected there is “more” to life, but I thought I have to work harder in order to find out what it is. Now I finally understood: These weapons are already there. I don’t have to earn them. Nobody will hand me my tools (including myself). Instead I am armed from early on. The universe had prepared me for my existence. My weapons are just bounded by a fence of fear and self-doubt.
3. The art of letting go
I’m repeating myself, but “letting go” is the most important thing in pursuit of overcoming these fears and doubts. The fence resolves itself as soon as I let go. As soon as I give away control true energy is released. What do I mean by that? “Giving away control” means stop planning, stop over-analyzing, stop controlling every situation in life. Finally I understood that I don’t have control. I’m wasting my energy trying to control the forces of life. Controlling finally yields acceptance of what is.
4. Judging is poisoning
Lowering the high demands on myself to a human level – this is something I’m practicing over and over again. I can’t let go, if I don’t stop judging myself. As soon as I stop punishing me for my shortcomings my real power evolves. I knew it all of my life, but finally I understand that I built the walls of self-doubt through self-judgement.
5. “Just keep walking” (my own pace)
As soon as I let go and do one step at a time I gain self-compassion and self-esteem. The tools I was talking about are revealing through my own experiences – through every encounter, every challenge I face, every conversation and every moment I spend alone in the forest or in my room. I don’t have to learn how to use them, because they are inherited in my natural design. My experience leads to self-discovery as long as I move forward accordingly to my own pace.
6. The challenge is to do the first step
The key to peel this onion of self-discovery is to do the first step into the dark corners of my personality. To find out how to peel it I needed these dark hours of self-doubt and despair in order to find the right techniques. The first step demanded a leap into the unknown, but then the unknown became my companion. Everything I reveal doesn’t belong to the matter of the unknown anymore and I finally become friends with my demons.
But patience is crucial for this process. It takes an undefinable time span of continous effort. This wall of fear is a very sturdy wall. Self-doubts are very stubborn contemporaries. No yoga retreat and no “self-awareness” workshop can teach us how to destruct these walls. It takes time.
These thoughts were already thought…
…but now they are manifesting. Don’t get me wrong – I wont stop reading books. I won’t stop seeking and learning, because all this (re)search, all this input brought me here.
The sun already gave a foretaste of what is about to come. But winter is not over yet. Slowly my heart is melting again and I’m coming back to life. I’m stretching my limbs, but I’m not about to run a marathon. It’s a lifelong process.
“ People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself. ”
— Marcus Aurelius
You are allowed to struggle.
You are allowed to scream.
You are allowed to cry.
But you are never allowed to give up.
Alrighty, the second week of my challenge is coming to an end. Honestly, sugarcoating is not my style and not the purpose of this blog. I just have to be honest with you – even if it hurts. Well, what had changed? Not much compared to last week. The meditation challenge faded into mediocrity, but at least I started to collect tomatos. But I won’t pull myself down into the pool of self-pity, instead I’m pointing out my learning – which are reasonably powerful. 😉
What had changed?
- I refined my individualized pomodoro method: Basically I started to use the traditional pomodore concept in order to tally every task of my day. Every day I collected between three and twelve tomatos. These 25 minute-slots helped me to stay focussed. The timebox proved to be one of my favourite tools of effectiveness since I heard the word “agile” for the very first time. 😉 But the good old pomodoro technique is even better: The concept includes my hobby “procrastination” – a five minute creative break is scheduled after every high-concentrated working-slot. Finally time management became fun for me. Sometimes I extended the slots and sometimes I shortened it a bit, but there was no excuse not to finish a slot without interruption.
- Again I screwed the meditation challege. This time I meditated only three times before I went to bed (if you include dancing as meditation than five times 😉 BUT: I made “meditation” my energy boost during the day! How? When I reached the afternoon low or a peak of my “priority-confusion” (Wwaahh, I don’t know where to start!! The panic monster is beckoning over…) I decided to get off my desk and go for a walk to the roof top terrace of the office building next door. I climbed the stairs and set the alarm for a ten-minute-open-air-meditation (The weather did it’s bit last week, because it was unusually warm and sunny).
- As I mentioned last week I wanted to set a weekly goal: My aim – finishing some backend tasks (e.g. photo editing, SEO measures) on my blog uliquitous I accomplished successfully.
At the end of the day I’m still a chaotic person and I have to admit that this kind of stuff requires a lot of discipline of me. But as I can see small steps into the right direction I will stay motivated. Tiny “bites” of focussed work let my to-do list shrink. The next week(s) I will definitely continue with the simple but yet powerful pomodoro method. And meditation? As a support I ordered another book of Osho, which will hopefully provide some guidance on my way towards the silent mind.
This challenge didn’t look hard to me in the first place, but somehow it turned out to be demanding. To make it short: I failed – at least in the meditation challenge I couln’t cheat my weaker self. I meditated only on 4/7 nights due to a lack of motivation or tiredness. But to be fair – I mastered the second part of the challenge with flying colours: Finally I managed to find time slots to get something done. And actually this challenge even pushed me to integrate more of these 25 minute slots into my day. So finally there are a bunch of tasks I completed which I postponed since weeks or even months. I understood that I can achieve things, if I just do one step at a time.
What had changed in detail?
- My downgraded pomodoro method (25 minutes slots) actually helps me to get in the flow. I finally stoped postponing.
- I learned that it is hard to integrate routines if I don’t have any other routine. The solution: I find flexible times during my day to integrate a small meditation. For example at lunch break or during the afternoon low.
- Plus: I was more aware of my breathing during everyday activities like driving in the subway, just sitting in the sun, walking or even working. During my day I tried to go for short walk, which helped me a lot to stay energized during the day.
- Finally: I learnt that meditation is not a practice, it is actually a state of mind. Every action can be meditation.
What do I want to make differently this week?
- Still keep trying to meditate to finish my day – additionally to every type of relaxation I’m doing during my day.
- Setting goals for the next day before I go to bed.
- Setting a weekly goal I want to achieve.
- Keep growing!