By loving ourselves we unlock our potential.
By understanding our own gift and having the courage to put it out there we are truly making a difference.
It is not the time for false modesty now. It is the time to stand tall with everything we are.
It is the time to love ourselves more than we ever did.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
I can be in my body.
I can breathe into my body.
I can allow my body to relax.
I can appreciate my body.
I can be one with my body.
I occupy myself.
I’m occupied with myself.
I’m occupied with being myself.
I’m occupied with being occupied with being myself.
I’m occupied with an image of myself.
I’m standing on top of Hirschgarten Bridge in Munich. The traffic is buzzing around me.
I’m typing the beginning of a new article into my phone. Interestingly about ‘listening’.
To be honest, I was not able to listen to anything at all, because I was so harassed by my thoughts or let’s say ‘haunted by my own demands’:
“It’s really time to finish a new article.” “You have to prepare the photo project.” “And when are you going to practice Italian again?!”
The circus of my mind blasted. My brain clutter occupied all my senses.
In a few minutes I would meet my friend Patrick to have a chat about a photography project in cooperation with some founders from Munich.
All of a sudden my stomach is contracting. I feel like I’m completely hungover – without having been drinking anything.
Something else happened the day before that drained my energy: After my first ever full-body Thai Massage I cracked.
The Thai Masseuse: “Relax your muscles.”
Me: “I can’t.”
My body: “What the fuck are you talking about?!”
The massage was very painful. I expected that. But what happened four hours after the massage blew my mind.
I was writing on my computer at a co-working space when my lower abdominals started to burn slightly. I just took a deep breath to ease the pain.
A few minutes later I could feel a stinging pain circling around my navel. It started from my diaphragm circumnavigating my ribcage down to the core of the muscles around my pelvis.
“You have to move your body,” Patrick who I was working with tried to encourage me. So I moved – even though all I wanted was to lay down.
The pain started to hulk up. I was whining and shouting at the same time while my legs could barely hold my upper body.
It became unbearable. Instead of the U-Bahn I had to take a taxi home. The driver nearly hospitalized me. “Fuck no, they wont help me! Drive me home!!!,” I protested loudly.
In cold sweat and tears – after a lengthy traffic jam – I finally reached home.
I needed help.
The only person I could think of was Ralf – the only fitness trainer I know. Despite the fact that we hadn’t talked in ages I dialed his number.
With self-evidence he examined the pain with me. “Your body releases tension. Of course it hurts,” he scotches my concerns.
Apparently a muscle tension or better say ‘adherence’ released amongst my inner organs. Finally ‘loosened’ they fell into place again. “Actually the masseuse did a good job, if this is the result…,” Ralf lifted my spirits pointing out that this tension must have persisted for years.
Just by talking to him I relaxed – as good as I could. I nearly had to laugh about myself now.
You might ask yourself: “What does this have to do with ‘being preoccupied’?”
Through this experience I realized HOW much I’m gripping. How much I can not ‘let go’ of the image I have of myself.
Back to Hirschgarten bridge:
I’m standing there with my phone in my hand trying to ‘get something done’.
It is a beautiful day. The blue of the sky covers the city like a cozy blanket. The sun gives her warmest warmth possible on this early November day.
In the distance I can see the famous twin towers of Frauenkirche. I turn my face towards the sun to catch some UV beams with closed eyes.
When I open them again I can see the tops of the mountains at the end of the street southwards. As the traffic lights stop the cars next to me this view let’s me repose too.
Gentle release is crawling up my spine. It broadens my chest and opens my heart. Smoothly my body is warming up from head to toe – and so does the expression on my face. Even my feet are warm now.
This was a moment of grounding.
This moment on the bridge reminded me that everything I need is right here. I can perceive the magic of the moment if I stop being occupied with ‘doing me’.
What do I have to do instead?
“Relaxxx,” the Thai masseuse would say.
“Open up to the moment.” “Allow yourself to be present in order to heal.” This is the advice I would give to myself.
Why is this all so fundamental?
I’m taking myself so serious that it hurts. I understood how much I’m physically inhering my body. The clinging of my mind manifests in my physical body.
This is the opposite of surrendering to the moment.
I will never increase my productivity in a state of stress. I will never find connection with myself or anybody else in a state of stress. I will never be happy in a state of stress. And on top of it: I will never ‘be myself’ or ‘in my full power’ in a state of stress. Lao Tzu said: “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
And most fundamentally: If I compromise my relaxation I’m jeopardizing my health. There is absolutely nothing more important than my body.
I’m struggling with stress ever since. Already in the first grade I remember my sweaty feet. Nobody cared about it during this time. But now I have the power to care for my stress-level myself.
My body showed me several times that I have to relax. In the past I suffered from heart-burn. There were times when I could only eat grated carrots and apple because my body wouldn’t digest a thing without making my throat burn like fire.
A couple of years later I could barely move my chest, because my muscles had built a so called ‘armoring,’ how Wilhem Reich, the initiator of body-oriented psychotherapy describes it.
Since years I’m carrying these tense muscles around. Yoga, meditation and targeted exercises help me to constantly release this tension.
Maintaining my health – more than anything else needs to be my priority. But not in a way of “I have to eat healthy”. “I have to quit smoking.”
No, fuck no. Well, of course smoking is bad, but I don’t want to make my non-smoking my addiction. Otherwise I will become occupied with ‘trying to eat healthy’ or ‘being a non-smoker’.
It is more important to listen to the signs of my body, to allow myself rest, when I need it, to listen to what my body really wants instead of being occupied with what I think I have to want.
A couple of months ago I wrote a similar article. Please check it.
What you think is your ‘goddamn right’ is your prison.
What you think is your desire is your addiction.
What you think is your self-expression is forcing your will on others.
Will I finally shatter my resistance and surrender to the battle?
I found a treasure in my heart and I will never let go of it again.
I’m taking my teachers serious. I treat my body as a temple.
I’m communicating clear.
All the lows are temporary.
What other people think, want or do is none of my business.
Nobody apart from myself knows what I need.
Nobody apart from myself has to understand me.
I’m not responsible for other people’s feelings nor am I responsible for their decisions.
My inner joy is my strongest force.
My playfulness is my power.
My love for life is stronger than anything else.
I don’t need to be perfect.
I don’t have to take advice.
I can just sit and smile.
With ease I welcome every situation and every encounter.
I’m pioneering my life according to my own rules.
Society is the last thing that can impose pressure on me.
As long as I feel joy I will guide my own way.
Nobody can take the life away from me apart from life itself.
I’m owning my experience of the world.
I’m owning my power.
I’m a child and I’m able to adjust to every situation.
I accept life as it is.
I’m finding comfort in the eye of the storm.
I’m not turning blunt.
I will feel even more.
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.
Good morning human,
who? Yes, you!
How are you today? You don’t know? You look worried. What’s up? Is the future scaring you? Don’t worry it does only look threatening from the distance. And what are you carrying on your shoulders? Oh, it’s the past. Drop it, it’s too heavy. You don’t need it as long as you stay with me.
Why don’t you leave it where it is? It will get heavier and heavier. You can’t move on like this.
Please human, why can’t you see that you have everything right here?
And why are you in such a hurry? Yeah right, slow down a bit. Take a look around. It’s nice here in the present moment. Can you see the blue of the sky? The green of the trees? This planet is here – for you too. And what are you doing? You are creating your own reality instead of appreciating this one.
The light breeze that plays in the tree tops. It is the same breeze that gives you your life energy.
I invite you to take it all in. As deep as you can. Every moment you are invited. You want to meet me more often? Don’t forget to breathe, because it is your mean of transport.
My door is always open for you. I’m here for you.The past is gone. You can remember her, she is a close friend of mine too. But we never get to meet.
And the future? Well, I’m paving your way. If you walk with me I will guide you. You want to see a map? Well, maps are something you invented. You don’t need it. All you need is to trust me.
I will hand you the right tools, I will prepare you. I will show you the direction. But only if you take the time to stay with me.
What’s up? I can see you rushing again. Only by watching you I get dizzy. You are getting lost.
Please take a moment to inhale deeply. As deeep as you can. And now again and again and again.
Here we go. Do you notice something?
Stay present, stay here.
Where are you going.
I’m always here for you.
On a random morning a little girl grabbed my hand in the hallway. She was neither my daughter nor related to me in any other way. “Mama, unten”, she pulled my arm pointing down the stairway in anticipation. Her mom was waiting for her in front of the door together with her sister. We proceeded down the stairs with care. It took a few minutes until her mother could welcome us with a warm smile.
A “dankeschön” from this two-year-old and the blink of gratefulness in the eyes of her mother would make this start of the day a special one.
These little fingers squeezing my hands reminded me of what real happiness is. It is connection. It is understanding. It is trust. It is this feeling of being in the right place at the right time.
Happiness is being in the flow. It is merging into the presence. Being one with the moment – without any obligations. It is a moment of unity in this highly individualized world.
When was the last time you experienced a moment like this?
In Wrong Pursuit of Happiness
How many times are we wrapped up in our head? In our personal reality?
We are busy ticking off to-do-lists, achieving the next career level, finding the right partner or financial investment. We network, we ‘do business’, we socialize, but are we happy? Are we really connecting with each other? Or are we so caught up in our bright future?
“We have been taught that freedom is the freedom to pursue our petty, trivial desires. Real freedom is freedom from our petty, trivial desires.” I stumbled upon this quote the other day. Adam Curtis is talking about addiction here, but isn’t our obsession of pursuing material (or immaterial) wealth also some kind of addiction?
Instead of pursuing our real needs we are misleading ourselves with substitutions.
Are We Slaves to Our Desires?
We mistaken ‘fulfilling our petty trivial desires’ with ‘happiness’. And this is what makes us feel discontent: As long as we are only longing for satisfaction we are pursuing happiness from an ego perspective.
What do I mean by that? We are compensating our search for meaning / figuring out what we really want with substitutions. ‘Making a living’ on this planet seems to be a very big issue for us whereas an ant can easily subsist.
But ants are might be a topic for another article. Back to us: Pursuing our desires – that means we value what is ‘of use’ for us. With this attempt we bound our ability to connect with the people around us. And where we are meant to find connection we are closing ourselves off.
This is addictive behavior. All we do is consuming fast food for our soul. We fill ourselves, but we don’t nourish us. We are so busy ‘creating’ ourselves that we don’t conceive that we are already here. We think we are freeing ourselves, but in reality we trap ourselves.
Everything that is accessible has to be achieved as fast as possible. Delay of gratification outworn its significance in our society. Like an addict always looking for the next thrill we blur our senses.
In the end our desire ‘to be happy’ is what holds us back from being happy.
The Circle of Happiness
What we don’t understand is that we find happiness only by connecting with each other in the real world. Life is what happens in the hallway or on the street or at the dinner table. Life is real time experience.
The circle of happiness starts in the presence. It starts with being aware of the small moments. Being ready to connect with the outside world and the people around us at any moment in time.
Instead of aiming for a certain lifestyle we should re-discover our true values: sharing love, cultivating a sense of community, being ‘there’ for each other. ‘Creating ourselves’ should be replaced with ‘self-care’ or ‘creating healthy relationships’. This is what makes us happy.
It seems like the circle of happiness becomes a thing on this blog.
I have 24 hours to be my best self.
24 hours to sit with my feelings.
24 hours to settle in with every breath I take.
24 hours to connect with myself first – and then with the world.
24 hours to shine my light.
24 hours to be in service.
24 hours to live my life.