Radical Awareness

Recently I found out HOW FAR I had crossed my boundaries in the past years – basically since my adolescence.

I don’t remember the day when I forgot where I start and where I end.

“Who did traumatize you?,” some ex-colleague asked me a couple of years ago.

I didn’t know how to reply.
I didn’t remember consciously.

Now I can see it more and more clearly.

There is trauma stored inside of my body and my genes – conditioned through former generations and lifetimes.

The trauma manifests in my belief patterns and my tendency to end up in unhealthy (I don’t like the term toxic anymore – even though it is an accurate description) relationships.

I re-traumatized myself by not knowing my boundaries….

I knew that there is such thing as ‘boundaries’. What I didn’t understand ultimately was that I’m the one who has to set them.

What feels good for me? Do I feel esteemed by my partner or my friends? Do I enjoy doing what I’m doing? Do I enjoy where I am? These were questions that never occurred to me….

Either I was busy meeting my own demands or fulfilling the needs of others. But I never asked myself if I feel good? If the relationship or the friendship gives me what I need? I never allowed myself to have any demands.

Now I know that this is called codependency and now I know that there is a cure for this and the cure is called ‘radical healing’.

Finally I understood that not every human wants my very best.

How could I be so naive?

Well, luckily I learnt to laugh about myself. A good portion of humor helps me to accept my former blindness and keeps me from becoming bitter.

Luckily the universe presented me with the necessary lessons – as usual.

Finally the pain forced me into self-love.

I reached a point where I HAVE to set boundaries – if I want to survive.

A crisis is the most radical learning experience you can ever have.

For a long time I was talking about pain and fear on this blog, but I have to admit that I never fully allowed my pain.

There was always this last resistance.

There was always this fear of the fear. The fear of feeling the pain completely. I thought I must be strong. I am not allowed to remain in pain…. But some pain is persistent… It might takes months. Or even years?

What did I think?

Probably I thought I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I thought I would break.

What I learnt now through emotional pain that manifested physically in my body is that the toxic thing is not the pain itself but the resistance…

The more I’m holding on to my feelings, the more I’m resisting to feel anger, grief or sadness fully the more painful it gets…

This is how anxiety attacks are able to drain my energy system.

This is how I become ‘unaware’.

This is how I get lost in ‘shortcuts’ (addictions).

What’s the cure?

The cure is radical honesty. It is that simple. Being able to be honest about my real feelings. I wish I would have known this when I was 16 years old.

The feelings won’t harm me. They will pass – no matter how long it takes. I have to allow them. What will harm me in the end is the disconnection from myself that is created by resisting negative feelings…

The good news is that there is a way back.

And the way back exists right in this moment.

To be more precise – the present moment IS the way back.

By allowing what is in this moment I reconnect with myself.

Ram Dass says: “Don’t be afraid of appearances”

Finally I get what he is talking about.

This is what I call ‘radical awareness’.

Radical awareness is the ability to be aware of what is going on internally and externally – without judging it, or counteracting.

Only now I understand HOW important the practice of awareness truly is for personal development – the personal path.

Awareness is the path to the path.

The more I become aware the more clearly I can see. The clearer I can see everything the more clears my path.

All of a sudden I can see the signs again.
All of a sudden my whole body relaxes into place.
Only by becoming aware of what is.

This is the way towards radical healing.

‘Investigate!’

This is something I blared into my notebook many times recently…

I didn’t understand how ‘intuition’ and ‘investigation’ are interlinked.

intuitio – ‘the immediate insight’

How do you act intuitively?

By being aware and by looking – constantly!

I have the impression we are mistaken intuition for a spontaneous reaction or something like that.

But in reality it can be covered up and what we think is our intuition is just an emotional reaction to an external trigger…

Intuition is a response in alignment with our needs.

Nowadays these needs are most likely covered up with… with what?

I’d say expectations, pressure, distractions, addictions,…..

So, sometimes we have to investigate in order to find what our intuition is trying to say to us again.

I got caught up in concepts.
I got caught up in my own expectations.
I got caught up in ‘adding up’ instead of ‘letting go’.

Until?

Until I nearly exploded (or imploded). This is pretty much the only way I can put it.

I got so tense.

I had to open my heart and my heart moved me towards forgiveness.

Radical Forgiveness

I forgive myself for my mistakes.
I forgive my parents.
I forgive the system.
I forgive my abusers.
I forgive men.
I forgive me.

My heart bursts open and all of a sudden there is space…
It was always there, but I always locked the doors. Ooohh, I barricaded them! And I didn’t even realize it. I asked myself why does nobody want to enter my heart?

I locked my heart so tightly and I threw away the key.
Until my heart got so big that it exploded the chains.

Yayyy.

My heart itself ruptured my resistance.

And what there is is love, more compassion than ever before, more beauty, more light….

This is healing. This is becoming whole. I can feel myself again, because I felt myself fully in my deepest pain.

I was left alone and what I found was that I am my best company, my best friend. I am my everything, so why would I need to be the everything of somebody else?

Radical Healing

Radical forgiveness is possible through radical awareness.

If I wouldn’t look at everything I wouldn’t see cleary.

How can I heal if I don’t look at my wounds? How can I heal if I abstract? If I get lost in the process… I had lost myself in strategies. These were coping mechanisms to prevent me from seeing the truth.

I’m not sure yet if I need to know the origin of all these wounds.

I feel like I’ve overcomplicated this path tremendously with my intellectual understanding.

All I had to do was to become aware of my wounds. Fully aware.

The more clear I can see the more clear become the milestones of the path….

Don’t challenge reality.
Look at what you see.
Don’t be scared of your wounds.
Look right into it.
See things clear.

 

Trust In Your Creation

Devote yourself to your creation. Lean into it. It is your home. By creating you establish a relationship with yourself. By writing it all out you learn to distinguish the voices and eventually you will discover your own. On paper you are able to speak up for yourself. The blank page is the sacred ground of your recovery. Dive into your creation. You can’t drown. You will anchor yourself. This is how you connect with the core of your being.

 

Gaslit

If you lose focus, what do you think?
If your eyes are shut, what do you see?
If your senses are numbed, what do you feel?
If you keep on running, how do you ever reach home?
If you can’t feed yourself, how do you want to nourish others?
If you are walking on eggshells, how do you root yourself?
If you are crawling in darkness, how are you going to reach the light?

The illusion can’t sustain itself forever. These are the rules.
When you finally hit rock bottom, you get the chance to stand up for yourself.

 

Play It Lightly

You are the one who judges yourself. You are the one who overcomplicates your life. You are the one who is projecting. You are the one who pulls the trigger. You are the one who is using other people as an excuse. You are the one who is using force. You are the one who is building up the walls. You are the one who has expectations. You are the one who ducks down.

Do you remember?

“Get the fuck out of your head,” this has been my message from the universe – not only on this mornings’ walk, but all the past two months…

The ‘lockdown’ forced me into my head. My body forced me to get out of my head.

To be fair – for me it was not really a big difference as I chose to retreat or ‘cocoon’ for the past five months. (I have learnt this term recently from my beloved youtube mentor “The Heart Alchemist” Christina Lopes.) Finally I had an excuse to stay at home.

It’s been rough. My thoughts became so heavy that I literally had to start running. I was in ‘fight and flight’ mode nearly every single day of the past two months.

Panic attacks and emotional flashbacks – from more than one lifetime – shook my bones. I ran and I cried. There were days when my tank of tears was empty. There was nothing to cry anymore.

So, I started walking and drumming and singing instead….

After travelling India for two months I had spent two months at my parents house. My nomad life forced me ‘home’ – how ironic, isn’t it?! And this was probably the hardest journey of my life. I had to look at my old wounds. I had to look at it all. The wounds of my whole family…

Healing became essential. I was forced to train my thinking. I was forced to transform grief into gratitude, frustration into positivity, anger into love…

Now I know: I have to do it! I have to turn everything that doesn’t feel good into love.

I always thought this is a hard thing to do, but in reality I was only looking for excuses and for shortcuts. I didn’t understand that this is a skill that I already inherit.

My addictions had taught me a lot about ‘excuses’. It is the time now to become addicted to love.

Go and play your roles lightly again.
Go and be happy.
Move on.
This is just an illusion.
Don’t ask for permission to love.
Don’t be somehow, but be who you are.
Understand that you are a physical body that consists of biochemical processes. Take care of this body. The vessel of your soul.
As simple as that.

“This is not about the destination. If it was, what would you do when you get there?,” thank you Sarah Beth Yoga for making this morning an even more remarkable one…

This morning rattled me. Yesterday I was in a state of paralysis. I thought now it must be the time to go to the psychiatric clinic. My past two months were that way, but now the momentum is coming back.

The shift becomes so obvious, I can’t be scared anymore.

The astonishing fact: I asked for it.

I asked for every single lesson. There is always something to learn. Always. I don’t know what my life would be without these lessons? What would my life be without change? Would it be a life?

I’m not talking about physical change here… I’m talking about the change of perspective, the change of habits, the change of thinking. Because this happens when you learn. You rewire your entire brain… This is why I always travelled. It was never about seeing places. It was about learning.

Why not go for a walk in the middle of the night instead of lying in bed sleepless? Why not using your energy appropriately? Why not singing it out instead of being angry? Why not running it off?

This world is a playground and we are here to play. Of course we have to work fucking hard. Me too. Everybody does. But that’s what it is all about.

This is an incredible opportunity to learn. This is seriously the only thing that keeps me going. The moment when I understood this changed my life forever. The moment when I understood how much I love learning.

I don’t remember if there was a moment, but I know that there was always this force in my life. This force that told me that there is ‘something else’ to life. Something ‘more’.

Up to now I didn’t even know what I was talking about.

Now I know that this is all about awareness. This is all about being able to sense, to appreciate what is happening around you. This is the oldest practice of all times. The practice of being present.

When I went for a walk this morning I asked for guidance. Where should I go? I passed a field and I saw a spider hanging in the grains, hidden in a tiny cobweb. The spider was holding on to the grains with her acrobatic legs.

“So, this is your little home?,” I smiled at her.

All of sudden I realized that I am already there. I am able to see the small things. I feel a rush of love when I see the sun rising over the fields – the fresh morning breeze in my ear… Even writing it down here brings tears into my eyes. This is how moved I am by the beauty of nature – time and time again.

But there are the times when I forget about it. There are the times when I’m eaten alive by my fears and my self-doubt. Indecision paralyzes me in these moments – desperately waiting for a sign that never comes when I expect it…

On these days I get so anxious that I don’t want to see people at all if I don’t have to. On these days I forget that I am in control of my life. I am in control of my happiness. Nobody will make me happy. Nobody will make a decision for me. Nobody will be happy for me…..

But some people are a little bit more happy, when I am happy. So, why not just walk around and be happy?

How To Play A Role Lightly?

So, what does this have to do with playing roles? Everything! Because the roles are the masks that keep us trapped…

“How to play a role lightly?”

Ram Dass printed this question into my notes. I’ve been collecting notes on this question for quite a while.

Only today when I watched this spider it came crashing down on me how everything is related so smoothly: My negative thinking patterns are my roles.

Or actually it was the opposite: It felt like all the roles were taken from me?.

I had this sensation quite a lot in the past two years, but more and more I can cast it into words.

More and more I can look out for ‘patterns’ to drop – because this is a massive process. It’s truly like peeling an onion.

I was blaming myself for my massive ups and downs, for my heavy emotional flashbacks. Slowly it dawns me that every breakdown is another layer…

I’m learning my tools and they are so simple.

This is what fills my heart with gratefulness nowadays and it manifests my desire to get this knowledge out to everybody who needs it. I want to make the knowledge accessible. (“Hm, maybe sharing more on social media would be a step, right?”:)

So, what is a role? A role is not only the role you play in society (mother, employee,..) or a role you play in your head (author, artist,…:), it can also be a trait or a feeling. What do I mean by that? For a long time I didn’t realize how much pressure I put on myself by assuming that I am ‘depressed’ or I am not normal or ‘I am an over-improver’. These anti-mantras became my personality traits.

You become your thoughts. You become what you think about. It is worth it to consider this – every single day.

What do you identify yourself with? What is the first thing you are telling yourself in the morning? What definitions and standards are you holding on to? Are they yours? Are they helpful or not? Do you need them?

Now that I took the time to spend so so much time in my head the voices become clearer and clearer…

The judge became louder and louder – until I’ve started to scream back. More than that: I’m laughing at her. I’m laughing out loud when the huge, dark, negative thoughts come and cloud my view.

Of course I’m not ‘fully there’. I guess we are never fully there – and this is the beauty of it. It’s a neverending process.

Because if we were ‘there’ what would we do, right? What happens when we reach the destination?

It is better to enjoy the journey – and travel lightly. That means playing everything lightly.

…and because a list might comes handy, I have worked up my notes about “How To Play A Role Lightly” a little for you.

  1. Do not consider your job as your passion. Just do it with pleasure. Do everything with pleasure.
  2. Do what needs to be done. Do the best job you can, but don’t get lost in perfectionism. “Doing” is an outside experience, while being is an inside experience. What does that mean? You do things in the outside world, but inside you remain quiet.
  3. Stop being driven by deadlines and results. Just ‘do’ one step at a time and detach from the outcome. It takes the stress away. Otherwise you will get lost.
  4. Have rules, have boundaries, but don’t freak out when they are being crossed. It means nothing.
  5. You have nothing to prove and nothing to lose. Keep it easy.
    Know that you are capable of transforming every negative event into a positive one. Rewrite your story easily.

When you realize that what you do doesn’t define you and what you say is without meaning, then you are truly free.

 

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.

 

What Would Happen To Your Life If You Turned All The “Shoulds” Into “Dos”?

What would happen if you would pursue the thing you are the most interested in? What if you would choose the one thing you really want to have learnt at the end of your life?

Just imagine it for a moment. How would you feel? And now imagine you wouldn’t pursue this goal?

Yeah, you might fail. Yeah, maybe you will loose all your money, but what if you wouldn’t ever have tried?

What is holding you back from doing it? Is the voice in your head telling you that you don’t have time? You are not good enough? You were never good at it? You don’t have money? You are too old? Your friends won’t like you anymore?

“Your thoughts become your reality.” Yeah right, we’ve heard this a hundred of times.

Only now I understand how fundamental this impact is. If I think negative about myself, if I don’t trust myself, if I continuously think I’m not good enough I will never achieve anything. I will never feel content or satisfied with myself.

More than that: Self-hatred is what manifests. If I don’t change these thoughts I will never manifest self-worth. This is something I have to generate from the core of myself.

You might ask: ‘What does self-worth have to do with pursuing your passion?’

Everything! I have an example for this: Since some time I’m offering coaching in the field of my profession. I give storytelling and video production workshops.

But the beginning was rough. I thought “I’m not good enough.”, “What if I don’t have an answer to all the questions?” The first time I was really fucking nervous. I thought I can never master this. I can never carry the audience. I can never teach anything.

Now, nearly two years later I did it five times and my perspective changed completely.

The other day one girl from a course last year honoured me with the best compliment I’ve ever received in my entire life: “I learnt from you because you are so passionate about it.”

What did I do? I helped her editing a video. Together we shortened a four minute clip to 40 seconds. She told me the way I did it was so inspiring – so calm, with patience and sure instinct.

This blew my mind.

How did I get there? Yes, I learnt the software in university. Yes, I did a lot of internships. What happened? I just liked it. I started to experiment. I edited as much as I could and over the years snipping moving images became a second nature.

But how did this happen? I liked editing, so I edited.

“Make your passion your addiction.”

Now that I write it down here it sounds like a romantic life story. But I tell you what: There are dozens of skills I haven’t started learning yet, because I think I’m not good enough. 

How could I not understand this? It is just about doing it. Doing one step at a time. Of course you are not a Mozart from the moment you are starting to compose music and you are not a Picasso the first time you wield the paintbrush. But you are getting there eventually (or at least a bit closer). 

Your mind will find thousands of reasons not to aim for the things you really want to do. Is it a lack of money or talent. There will always be something else to do. Something more convenient, something easier or socially more accepted.

The secret is to just get started, to do the first step, to make space for the things you like, to make your passion your priority.

And what happens if you do something you like? You feel joy. So why not make it your addiction?

Make Your Passion Your Priority

Yesterday I was speaking with some people about this topic. There was a guy who just went through a similar learning experience like me. 

Our question was:  “What do people do differently who are always on ‘doer mode’?” Or my interpretation: What do people do differently who immerse fully in an activity? What do they do to not have these big walls of self-doubt? How do they make the critic shut up? 

The secret is that they just follow their intuition. They don’t listen to these voices in their head. 

And – if we want to hear it or not – we have the choice if we listen to the voices in our head or not.

What would happen if you would turn all the “I should’s” into “I do’s”? Your life might finally moves into the direction you want. You might discover joy within yourself.

If anybody tells you “follow your passion” is bullshit please don’t believe them.

Go on! “Follow your bliss” as Joseph Campbell would say.

“Finding your passion is the natural outgrowth of healing.”  

Margaret Paul, Psychologist

Find your bliss or you will never find joy in your life. Be as passionate as you want. But be passionate. Make it your life mission. What else is this life about?

Life is about feeling alive. So do what makes you feel the most alive.

If you have other suggestions let me know. I’m open minded, but I prefer to do what makes me feel most alive rather than anything else.

“It is not a luxury to pursue this experience [passion], but a necessity. Without this special experience that gives meaning to our lives we tend to wander about, aimlessly looking for someone, something, or some substance to fill the void within us.,” says Margaret Paul. The author of the book I’m studying currently. It is called “Healing Your Aloneness: Finding Love and Wholeness Through Your Inner Child.”

When we are passionate we forget our problems. We are in the flow. We feel content. We get in touch with our true nature. If we manage to fully immerse in an activity there is no future and no past. We arrive in the present moment.

Is there anything healthier in this life than this feeling? I doubt it. By not pursuing our passion, we exist, but do we live? Come on… 

Please double check your “I should’s”, your “I always wanted’s” and your “As a kid I always liked to do’s”.

It is up to you to fuel what you are passionate about.

If you can’t find anything it is might be a sign that you are caught up in self-hatred. Then this is might be something you want to deal with?

Go on. Aim for healing, but be nice to you. Give yourself time. Whenever you are impatient ask yourself, why you are in such a hurry to get through your life.

Be patient. Feed your body and nourish your soul and the rest will come.

Start with small changes. Surround yourself with people who do something completely else then you are doing. Get inspired. Don’t resign the battle.

Observe. Soak in the positive vibes of the people who found their bliss – without envy or resentment.

Just be happy to have the chance to be a part of it.

Go ahead and find your happy place!

“The ego is concerned with getting something while the inner self is creating. In this way creation is the motor for unconditional love. “

 

We Grow When We Sleep

Yesterday I fell asleep before I could post anything. The casual pre-tooth-brushing-five-minutes-nap turned into a six hours pass out. I woke up when the dawn was already breaking.

But now I’m happy, because it inspired me to post something more meaningful.

The topic of my heart turned out to be healing. Cultivating self-love, spiritual growth, personal development, overcoming pain, reclaiming compassion – in the end it all comes down to the same thing: Healing.

Yesterday night after a two days storytelling coaching job I’ve decided to have a piece of pizza and a glass of red wine at this tiny pizza bar near Rosenheimer Platz in Munich. “What’s this?,” with childlike curiosity the guy behind me in the queue pointed at the pizza ‘salsiccia spinaci’. The spark in his eyes resonated with my wave-length. Unhesitatingly I sat down on his table to share a moment of company.

Immediately he opened up and told me the story of his past weeks. “I just came back from fusion festival,” he reminisced and reassured unintentionally that we belong to the same tribe.

It turned out that he just dropped his medicine studies. Becoming a doctor collided with his worldview. According to him being beneficial for humanity and working in the – irritatingly called – ‘health sector’ is a contradiction in this society. “We learn medicine for 70-year-olds,” he complained with a last trace of disillusionment. “Modern medicine is more about ‘interfering’ with the human body than about maintaining health,” he summed up.

You decide to be sick.

I could totally comprehend what he was saying. Taking responsibility for our own bodies should be something we learn in school, but instead we rely on a dubious system to keep us alive when we are sick.

“You decide to be sick, ” he advocated for our ability for self-healing. Through his words I found myself releasing a lot of tension that had built up during the past weeks of traveling and working.

Things like meridian lines, qì or kundalini energy are referred to in human history since decades. So, why would I not feel what is happening inside of my body if I learn to pay attention to it?

Dis-ease is what’s causing illness. And what is the state of health? ‘To be at ease’. Only when we find relaxation we find health.

I soaked up every word of the conversation – well aware that this encounter was a once in a lifetime one.

I smiled at the universe pondering the lessons of my past months: Healing takes time and not constant action. By re-acting all the time, by planning, by overdoing I’m ruining my (karmic) energy and in the end my physical and mental health.

“When you change your perspective things change automatically.” Briefly we’ve started talking about politics, but this quote applies one to one to the good old habits.

There doesn’t have to be a direct cure for everything. As soon as we are making an effort to change a small thing, e.g. what we eat, how much we sleep or how we work we eventually find great results:

Things fall into place automatically. We find the time for the things we love, our stress-level drops and in the end we might even become healthier.

I need a practical example for this: Since I’ve started to seriously reduce processed foods and industrial sugar my overall ability to focus had improved tremendously. Automatically I’m getting more stuff done (like this writing experiment). THIS is healing on a higher level.

It doesn’t take as much as I thought to become the human I want to be IF I’m willing to honestly change my point of view, question what I thought was ‘me’, if I’m willing to seriously try new lifestyles…

Through these changes I rattle the fundament of my thinking patterns and eventually the truth reveals.

By nature our body will heal if we choose to.

When we are planting a seed we just need to water it. If we are looking at it all the time and try to convince it to grow faster nothing will happen, but we will stress ourselves out.

Our body is a living entity of organs, chemical processes and microorganisms. It is a part of nature. An autonomic system of nerves and neurotransmitters takes care of it. I don’t need to ‘be aware’ of it all the time. It is better to let it be sometimes. By nature our body will heal if we choose to.

“We grow when we are sleeping.” – I woke up with this sentence in my head this morning. It really made me smile as normally I would have been disappointed that “I got nothing done” last night. Instead my body decided to get some rest before I could even tell him to do so.

There is a built in regulation system that protects me if I let it. By trying to control it all the time I hinder it from doing its job.

I can’t believe it took me such a long time to understand the connection between my stress level, my immune system and my productivity.

Again it became obvious to me: If I want to grow I need to let go.

 

We Can Only Heal From The Inside

We can only heal ourselves from the inside. There is nobody, who could ever heal us apart from ourselves. We have everything we need already within us. We have the power. All we have to do is to choose to heal.

But how? Some brief reminders:

  • Look into the mirror with all honesty. Do you see you? Can you see your true self? Are you ok? Are you bullshitting yourself? If yes, are you willing to change? Do you really know what you want and what you need in life? If no, are you willing to find out?
  • Listen to the signs of your body: Is there anxiety, aggression or even panic? Are self-doubts sucking your energy? Are you in physical pain? What is itching and aching?
  • Give yourself time – rushing doesn’t lead you anywhere. Like a wound doesn’t heal within one day also your inner wounds need time to heal. 
  • Allow yourself to crack. Crack like a seed. Every new beginning starts with destruction. A seed has to crack before the seedling can follow the sun.
  • Do the clearance work – clean out the debris of former destruction. Clean the pathways of your energy before you are starting something new. This is a sweat inducive process. You might need a couple of runs, check the dark corners again and again and maybe consult an expert in order to move along. But it is worth it. How do you want to build something new without a solid foundation?
  • Trust your intuition and release. All of a sudden help will be naturally given. Like a plant you start growing as soon as you follow your intuition. The energy comes from the inside. It is already a part of you. If you are willing to listen to your inner voice you automatically start to heal. A plant doesn’t ask for permission to grow, it just grows.
 

Love Yourself More

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.)

9. 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