Release It All

It is finally the time for some stream of consciousness from the verge of (in)sanity.

I’m going through an interesting phase of my life right now. A couple of weeks back I would have said “I’m going through hell”. But this is not true. I’m still on the surface – probably more grounded than ever before. Later on (within the next twelve months;) I will give you a bit more insight.

For now I would like to share a bit more intuitive writing here. In times of doubt I level up my inner dialog. It is the most valuable tool for a reality check. There are these mantra-like sentences that come flowing out of me into my keyboard – the result of years-long-learning:

Release everything that doesn’t belong to you. You are not supposed to carry all this luggage. Why are you over-complicating your life? Why are you holding on to anger, rage and frustration? Does it belong to you? Why are you still trying to carry the whole world on your shoulders instead of proceeding your way – lightly not with lightning speed.

Go grow your roots to resist that storm! Trust me – it will pass. You are allowed to let it all go… What has passed is gone – forever. You are not responsible. You are not in charge for every single event.
When are you going to understand this? How are you planning to continue if you travel with this heavy baggage?

Don’t be afraid of losing your love. Don’t be afraid of losing your will. Don’t be afraid of losing your hope.

Don’t you feel how your heart opens? Don’t you feel the expansion of your chest if you let it? Why are you suppressing it? Why are you holding your heart in chains? Why do you still control?

You are contracting. Can’t you feel it in your body? You are taking on too much. Are you crazy or what? (just kidding, of course you are)

You are taking things on and on and on and onto your plate. WHY? Your to-do-list is getting longer and longer, but is this what you have to do? When are you going to take care of yourself? I’m not talking about a vacation…

When are you going to trust in life? When are you going to trust in your abilities? You keep talking about trust, but deep inside you do know that you are not there. You don’t trust. You are still trying to control. Trying – because it is impossible to control.

“But it’s not me,” you are starting to scream. “It is my conditioning,” – “Ahahaha,” the universe is laughing out loud….

Don’t you see that this is the point??? THIS is your fucking problem. This is where you are not responding to your abilities. You did pretty good my dear. You gave up a whole lot of bullshit already. You gave up things and even people. Unfortunately you gave up a little bit too much. But don’t worry about that. You will keep g(r)o(w)ing.

Your path had been radical. And it is going to continue radically.

What do I mean by that?

Now your path is called radical healing – and nothing else. No people pleasing, no ‘being brave’.

You are living the adventures of other people’s dreams, but this is not your life. Pa! Here it is – the bitter truth.

“Okay, okay, I got that one. There is no need to yell at me in that arrogant manner. Tell me instead: How do I do it? This radical healing thing… ,”

First of all: You don’t DO it. Secondly: You’re gonna stop defending yourself completely and one hundred percent. There is absolutely no defending anymore. But you will realize how easy it gets. Now it might seem hard to impossible. Now you can’t imagine yourself ‘not defending’ yourself.

“But….,” I can see the constant concern in your head.

You will just stop it – automatically. It caused you so much pain in your life. You wasted so much energy by defending. What you defended was your mask, your story, the image you had of yourself.

Basically this is what caused you all the pain that you have ever felt in the past. You were ALWAYS trying to please others. You kept defending yourself – non-stop. Yes, it was involuntarily. But now that you know it, you have the opportunity to do better…

These days you wish so badly that you wouldn’t ‘know better’, right?! You would wish to continue the well-trodden path.

Well, that’s unfortunate, because the path is gone. There is no maintained path anymore – there never was! You made it up….

There is only the path you follow by walking it; and guess what – you have absolutely no choice but walking it.

The ironic bit is – this is not scary at all! You chose the path. Your soul chose it and you are totally capable of walking it. You have the abilities – even though you are still closing your eyes from it. You prefer to be groping in the dark. You prefer to predict the unpredictable. You prefer to waste your energy on examining uncertainty.

Do you sense the paradox?

 

3 Simple Ways To Develop Self-Discipline

Yay, the threesome is back – ‘just in time’ in ‘these days’.

What is the secret to personal growth? More and more I come to the conclusion that it is all about consistency. The consistency of doing one step after another.

Self-discipline became a fundamental component of my life. Not only in order to circumvent procrastination or to regulate over-thinking, but in order to basically get anything done.

Of course – change doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes there are these massive fall-backs.

At the beginning I didn’t get this straight. I couldn’t establish discipline. It frustrated me. In the end it even increased my anxiety – the thing I wanted to learn to manage.

Until I understood that this whole personal development thing is not a straight line. I had to learn to set my intention right. I had to learn to focus. And I had to learn to get up – again and again and again after every single fall-back.

Also I had to learn to household with my energies, because I pressured myself so much.

It’s like running a marathon. If you burn all your energy at the beginning of the race you won’t be able to finish.

There are these punchlines circulating in social media: ‘Change comes in an instance.’ Yes. It does – but only after a long training period. You might read these quotes by inspirational speakers (Is this still a term?) like Tony Robbins or Simon Sinek (just as an example). But did you ever study their whole story?

Every success story is a rocky road. No matter if it’s the story of a company, an artist or a thought leader.

It is the incremental change that paves the road to self-mastery.

For me personally everything in my life became an act of balance. I can cope with the adversities of life only (and just about), because I made the decision to practice self-discipline at the beginning of this blog in 2017.

Before that I was not able to make a living.

Okay, I’m exaggerating, but seriously my life was a mess. Slowly (!) the fog is lifting and there are things that I can share confidently with you now…

1. Timer

Let’s start very practical. I established meditation, yoga, writing and language learning in my life – step by step. On this path the timer became my best friend. For some time I used a method called ‘pomodoro method’ to keep me going. Check out this threesome to find some more inspiration.

2. Cold Showers

Probably you read this already – maybe even on my blog. In my opinion cold showers are still highly underrated. I mentioned it earlier as a trick to reduce stress. It doesn’t only support the immune system, but it also helps to develop self-discipline.

If you manage to turn the tap on ‘cold’ in the morning every challenge of the day becomes easier. Additionally to that cold water can function as an antidepressant. How? Apparently a cold shower triggers our peripheral nerve ends. This trigger could drive forth a series of impulses that help to rewire the brain. My theory is that you receive such a shock moment that you forget about all your worries.

3. Practice ‘Delay of Gratification’

What do I mean by that? We are animals and as we can train our dog we can train ourselves.

This is indeed as easy said as done – if you are committed to change.

For example: If you don’t want to relinquish chocolate completely from your life, but you want to reduce sugar and at the same time you wish to exercise more – then set yourself some rules.

You are allowed to eat a piece (or a whole bar) of chocolate if you go running for 30 minutes.

My example now would be: I finish this article right here and then I will make my third coffee of the day and listen to music.

What else?

I don’t believe in super tough measurements anymore. This was one of my major lessons after my numerous self-imposed micro challenges. I can’t just apply the productivity tools of others. But what really helped me to integrate my own tools was the practice of self-discipline.

Add-on:

There is a thing that startles me a lot right now: Some people seem to expect ‘change’. Some people seem to wait for the moment when ‘things get better again’. But only very few individuals understand that it is about us – especially in ‘these days’. It is about us to take positive action towards a better world. And this requires some sort of discipline – especially in times of chaos.

 

Recreate Yourself

Drink lots of water. Cry out all the tears that need to be cried. Go into nature. Breathe in some fresh air. Get out the old one. Enjoy the green and the blue. Ground yourself. Meditate. Let gravity take hold of you. Hug a tree. Search for unity. Eat vegetables. Nourish yourself. Sleep whenever you can. And don’t sleep when you can’t. Stretch. Move slow. Have patience. Plant positive thoughts and let them grow. Trust in the laws of nature. Let the elements heal you.

 

Amplify Love

I breathe in deeply.

All negativity evaporates with my outbreath.

A warm energy flow climbs from chakra to chakra.

Every chakra – from root to crown – unites into one circle.

A warm golden wave lights up my whole body.

Love runs through my veins.

Every tiny bit of tension eases.

A tingeling sensation circulates from head to toe – embracing my entire being.

Every cell expands.

Every cell becomes love.

Every cell erradicates the last bits of resistance.

All the energy I have ever received transforms into light.

I imagine everybody can feel it now.

The love erruption.

Be love. Now.

 

Restoration

Nature doesn’t want to destroy us. It wants us back.

This is the call to reunite – to reconnect.

We have to ground ourselves again. Re-grow roots. Re-store sanity. Re-integrate (into) natural order.

We are called to trust.

Trust in the natural cure that the elements provide us.

The appreciation of what is, what was and what will be is our remedy.

Let’s return home together.

It is up to us to create a new world order.

We need to learn to listen again what mother earth wants to tell us.

It’s the time to stand still in the eye of the storm and see what’s left.

A new set of values will evolve if we finally wake up.

 

Silent Worship

Participate in life like you are attending a funeral.

Celebrate every moment as a ceremony.

Approach every task with grace and dignity.

Appreciate the beautiful memories and let them warm your heart.

Speak words of wisdom and kindness.

Surrender to the procedure – the natural law of gain and loss.

Bow to life deeply.

 

Why Feeling Feelings Is Important

Since quite some time I’m trying to write an article about taking responsibility for one’s feelings. About three months ago at a writing meetup I’m attending every so often I thought ‘Okay, this article is nearly done. Just the final touch and off we go.’

Well, things turned out differently. An honest self-confession brought me to the realization: I don’t really have an idea about what I’m feeling, so how can I write about it?! 

Yes, it sounds bizarre – to me too. How can I not know what I feel? 

There was something going on, yes. There was anger. There was rage. There was excitement. But what did these emotions want to tell me? And is there anything that lies deeper?

The Seven-Minutes-Experiment

So, I started off with the Seven-Minutes-Experiment. Now I have a slightly better idea about what I feel. But this is an ongoing process. Every day I have to remind myself to take the time to feel.

What I did find out is that there is not always a necessity to act. It is the opposite: I obtain peace of mind by non-acting. By just observing I’m automatically detaching from my feelings. Because feelings are like thoughts – they come and go. They don’t define me.

Okay, where to start? I might feel cold or tired, agitated, overwhelmed or nervous. By nature these feelings are not connoted in a negative or positive way. They just ‘are’.

Our mind likes to label our feelings. It marks them as good or bad. This way our mind creates its own version of reality. And this version of reality dictates how we experience the world, how we make decisions and how we interact with our environment.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. It is important that we categorize. The problem arises when we overrate our own judgement and we identify with this perspective of reality.

This causes stress. The mind takes over. It judges and judges. 

This way we create a barrier between ourselves and reality.

This is a difficult one. On the one hand I have to feel my feelings. Feelings are something natural. They give me a hint of what I need or what I am supposed to be doing in a given situation. They show me a direction.

On the other hand I have to be careful not to over-interpret them. Many times I would be better off by stoically ignoring them instead of labeling them and ‘acting out’ – verbally or ‘operatively’.

But let’s go a step back:

What Is The Difference Between Feelings And Emotions?

Oh boy, do I really want to open this jar? This is a huge topic. It is so complex and there are several approaches and even contradictory explanations of the relation between feelings and emotions. So, please research yourself if you want to draw a wider picture.

Etymologically the word emotion comes from the french word ‘to move’. Something is ‘in motion’ whereas a feeling is considered more as a state.

While an emotion passes quickly, a feeling can persist or better say reoccur over our whole lifetime when triggered for example by an emotion.

As you see – emotions and feelings are interconnected, but still something different.

The only way to really understand the difference between feelings and emotions is through neuroscience.

And this is pretty down to earth.

Emotions are a biochemical response – mainly brought on its way by the Amygdala and other subcortical regions of the brain. They originally helped us as a species to react quickly to possible danger or reward.

A feeling on the other hand is subjectively influenced by our former experience. They are processed in other areas of our brain, but as they are influenced by cognitive input it is hard to really locate them. 

While an emotion is a physical reaction of the body to a stimulus a feeling manifests psychologically through our experience. This process is very complex. It can be more described as a psychological conditioning.

If you imagine a theatre play emotions would be the scenes whereas a feeling would be the genre.

You could say feelings ‘plot’ emotions on the canvas of our mind. 

How Do Feelings Find Their Way Into Our Lives?

I summed up two perspectives:

Our background: What we have experienced as a child conditions us and our feelings. It determines how we act in relationships, what we think about ourselves and about others. It determines our whole experience of the world. Freud and his disciples knew that if we want to understand ourselves fully we have to go back to our traumatic experiences and feel the emotion that we faced during this traumatic event. This helps us to process and integrate the marks of our journey. Getting to know these ‘old’ emotions helps us to understand why we react in a certain way in a given situation.

Our needs: Rather our needs are fulfilled or not conditions the way we ‘feel’ about ourselves and the world. What are our needs? Yes, there is maslow’s hierarchy of needs. When we are tired, hungry or alone we lose our balance easily and we might react emotionally. Rosenberg extends or better say elaborates the list of needs even more: Next to physical nurturance every human has the need for autonomy (following own goals and values), the need for ‘celebration’ (celebration of the creation of life and its fulfillment, and also the celebration of losses, e.g. of loved ones), the need for integrity (authenticity, creativity, meaning and self-worth), the need for interdependence (community, appreciation, intimacy, emotional safety, contribution to the enrichment of life, honesty, support, trust,…), the need for play (fun, laughter) and the need for what he calls ‘spiritual communion’ (beauty, harmony, order, inspiration, peace). 

With the definition of these needs and which feelings arise rather they are met or not Rosenberg lies the foundation for nonviolent communication: “The intend is to remind us about what we already know – about how we humans were meant to relate to another – and to assist us in living in a way that concretely manifests this knowledge.”

So what is there? We have a body and we have needs that make us feel one way or another. And we have things that happen to us that make us feel one way or another. And in the end we have our thoughts that influence the way we feel.

So far so good. Life should flow smoothly if we would just listen to our feelings. But a lot of times it doesn’t, because we distract ourselves.

How Do We Disconnect From Our Feelings?

A lot of times what we call ‘our feelings’ are just projections. We make other people responsible for not being heard, not being loved, for not being sufficient. More than anything they are often reponses of our old conditioning. Our little hurt self that wants attention. 

Rosenberg explains: “Judgements, criticism, diagnoses, and interpretations of others are all alienated expressions of our own needs and values. When others hear criticism, they tend to invest their energy in self-defense or counterattack. The more directly we can connect our feelings to our needs, the easier it is for others to respond compassionately.”

At the beginning I thought: Okay, I’m aware of this. I will just change it. I don’t judge. I don’t re-act. I only observe and take the time to understand my needs.

I found out that this is easier said than done. As I explained earlier – there is a fundamental biochemical process going on in our body. We don’t change that easily.

Sometimes we deny feelings subconsciously. Most likely we deny the uncomfortable feelings, because our brain can’t be bothered with finding a solution for an unsatisfying situation. 

Why? Because it wants to protect us from discomfort. We make ourselves vulnerable by confessing our deepest needs, because they might not be met. This is called coherence. Our brain likes convenience. It wants us to experience our life as ‘comprehensive’ as possible. This is why it prefers to stick to behavioural patterns that ‘work’. And a lot of times these patterns are not very useful.

Most of the time we are craving for something or we lack something and we are trying to find a ‘quick fix’.

A quick fix can be work, our phone, sex, drugs, TV or any other type of entertainment.

The problem is that these distractions lead us further away from ourselves. I don’t say they are generally bad, but they can be if they help us to avoid confrontation with our feelings.

“Avoidance is never an option in order to live a happy life,” said Margarete Paul, author of the book “Healing your aloneness”.

By avoiding our feelings we deny ourselves.

‘Not taking part’ can also be a form of denial. By avoiding new experiences we prevent ourselves from failure – but also from feeling ourselves.

Why Should We Better Connect With Our Feelings?

If you detach yourself from your feelings you will never fully feel yourself. You will never arrive in the present moment. You will never know what it means to be alive.

The more you become aware of your feelings the more confidence you get. If you are able to accept your vulnerability you have nothing to be afraid of. Social anxiety won’t be necessary anymore as you are not looking for approval.

Your nervous system relaxes if you are honest with yourself. Confess and accept anger or rage or sadness and automatically you will find release.

Additionally your body starts working in its natural power, because energy is being released.

The Real Homework

I found out that this is what it’s all about. I get to know myself by coming to my senses, by feeling myself.

Daniel Goleman, expert in emotional intelligence, expresses why this is so crucial for all of us:

“To understand human nature in general it helps enormously to first understand ourselves, which takes self-awareness. With emotional self-awareness, we recognize our feelings and how they impact us, which helps us, for example speak from the heart in a way that resonates with other people. Self-awareness also underlies effective emotional mastery, as well as empathy– we can only understand other’s emotions if we understand our own.” 

About six years ago, when I ended an unhealthy relationship, I started off with my journey of self-discovery. 

The following years were only about ‘toughening up’. I thought I have to get stronger. I thought I have to toughen up and this is the only way to get through this life. 

I was wrong. What I had to discover was my vulnerability. 

Through a lot of painful experiences I finally realized that I have to do my real homework. I have to learn to manage my emotions, I have to deal with my feelings instead of numbing them.

Stop creating yourself. Be who you are.

 

Power is Playfulness or How To Spread Light

Do you know these people who set the room on fire with their energy? It can be a colleague, a friend, a friend of a friend, a family member or somebody else you met personally. They spread such a lightness. Their mood affects the whole group.

Intuitively they seem to respond to every (social) situation. They seem to express themselves naturally – in a way like nothing can interfere with their peace. A welcoming aura surrounds them that draws you in…

What do they do differently?

I ask some counterquestions:

When was the last time you started singing in the shower as loud as you can? When was the last time you were smiling at a stranger? – Not just a friendly smile, but a smile from the bottom of your heart? When was the last time you were happy for no obvious reason?

How many days do you spend caught up in the bubble of your head? How many days are you putting up a mask?

The core of our being supplies us with energy. And this energy manifests in happiness, appreciation or expression of excitement.

This energy radiates from the core of our being – if we let it. But a lot of times we don’t let it.

So what about these people who are like a warming fire on a winter’s night?

The energy that radiates around them is the energy of a kid climbing a tree. They act out their inner child – with grace and wonder. They are never getting out of touch with their playfulness.

They don’t only express their excitement (verbally or with their behaviour), but also their vulnerability. And this is what creates trust and in the end encourages people to be themselves too.

They are the real role models – the ones who demonstrate confidence without being manipulative.

Love circulates around them.

If we want to manifest love we have to stop creating walls that disconnect us from our environment and ourselves. 

Our mind is always trying to protect ourselves. We are trying to ‘fit in’. This is how our society is organized. We have to fit in. We have to adapt. We can’t follow our own rhythm.

But this is what moves us away from a purposeful and authentic life. And this is the root cause of all problems.

‘Owning your power’ means to be able to celebrate our singularities in any given moment – without a self-regulating voice in our head that tells us how to behave.

To surrender to the moment equals to surrender to yourself.

We have to encounter ourselves and the world around us with kindness and admiration of what is.

This is spreading the seed of unconditional love. This is how we create a sanctuary for the ‘un-loved-ones’ – everybody who is craving connection.

“Breaking the ice” means melting the hardcover.

If we keep sustaining our hardcovers we suspend ourselves from life.

With vulnerability and approachability compassion is possible.

This is how we connect with each other on a core level – by sharing this little spark inside of us.

Let us be the people who shine the light and set the world on fire.