The Battlefield Is In Your Head Vol. 1 – and The “Do-Nothing-Challenge”

‘I feel raw like a carpaccio,’ I am contemplating the current state of my being.

Raw and juicy. Mmmhhh…

My current life situation provides a learning curve with a steepness I didn’t quite expect for the rest of this year.

I had no idea what kind of surprises the universe would hold in stock for me after experiencing a so-called ‘dark night of the soul’, which lasted for about five months.

After working a couple of night shifts in a row I am sitting in front of my computer. I’m catching myself ‘waiting for inspiration’ – whereas my body is screaming for rest.

What do I expect of my neurons? I should lay down and sleep, but of course I’m trying to finish an article I had been working on for way too long (as my inner judge proclaims). In the back of my head I’m beating myself up for not doing (more) yoga or practicing a foreign language.

Jep. My internal organs are contracting. A heavy weight around my ribcage is limiting the capacity of my lungs..

I know this feeling very well. My perfectionism is dragging me down. Anxiety drains my energy system.

“This is a potent time to be with…,” the words of Kendra Adachi, who assisted me in arriving in the present moment over and over again for the past couple of months, are flashing through my head.

She is right.

I am working a full-time job at a low-budget hostel after living a nomad life for the past couple of years. I’ve started a relationship with a man who massages my feet every day (and who I’ve known only for two months). Me and my vagabond soul are practicing ourselves in ‘settling down’… more or less voluntarily. (I still owe you a longer story of what had happened in the past eight months. As some of you might know – I’ve travelled to India and then I fell apart.)

I discover my own boundaries and I’m learning to set them where I still need to set them. I’m learning to receive. I’m learning to ‘not run away’. To make it short: I’m confronted with regular life in times of a global pandemic. Yay – great fun!

It’s a time of adaptation. More than ever before I can feel it – a new phase had ended and something new began. Where this new period of time will lead? I have no clue… But do I have to know the destination?

2020 has been profoundly challenging – for a lot, if not all of us…

I did my homework during lockdown and quarantine phases (partly self-imposed). I dove deep into the darkest corners of the blackness of my personality. I reconnected with my soul in the darkness. My physical body is still sympathizing with old patterns.

There is A LOT to integrate.

And I better take my time to do it – if I don’t want to scare the people away who are trying to love me (for a change).

Still it amazes me how accurately aligned this global crisis is with the personal crisis I’m going through…

‘Who do you think you are? Some sort of hyper-human?,’ I’m questioning myself…

Well, honestly, I do think I’m some sort of a transmutation or at least I consider my life as a research project – as you might have noticed.

Haha, it sounds like the same story as usual… but it is not quite…

I’ve asked for help and I’ve received it – in ways I have never expected. I’ve met the most inspiring and courageous souls that showed me my own strength and my own endurance.

The darkness became my friend in the end and finally it is my turn to actually apply the tools I had been gathering since I’ve started my journey in 2013 (or was it 2015? or 2017? :D)

‘Surrender or die’ – This is the short version of what I had learnt from my ‘dark night of the soul’. Dark night of the soul? Sounds more hip than just calling it a ‘depression’ or a ‘depressive phase’, right?!

I’m not even being pathetic here. It just wouldn’t be fair to call it a ‘depression’, because I was not depressed in the sense of ‘I couldn’t do anything’. I just lost track for a little while and remained paralyzed in a state of fear. I think that’s called trauma. That’s a difference. Argh, I didn’t mean to sound ironic here. It was really not fun. BUT… I FREAKIN’ DID IT!!! I SURVIVED AND I LEARNT A TON!!!

Anyway, probably I will dive into that further along the way… 😉

The challenge is to surrender. Surrender to the currents of life and trust that my life jacket will rescue me.

And how do I surrender? By doing nothing… First I wanted to call the challenge the ‘What-do-I-want-challenge”. This sounded too proactive and too ‘awwe, she is still searching’. Then I wanted to call it “Mindfulness-Challenge”, but come on?! “Do-Nothing-Challenge” sounds a bit more polarizing…

Another challenge? Well, the task is actually to destress myself. I want to give myself time to adjust…

I had attempted this challenge several times already. The task is to meditate for one hour a day for 30 days in a row…. And see what happens… I’m four days into this challenge and I’m already gathering some learning. By the end of the week I will give you an update.

 

About Words

Why I write?

My words are my light. My words are my darkness. My words are my journey. My words are my destination. My words are my home.

They are nothing I ‘make up’.

I don’t do words.

Writing is not my skill, it is my trait.

My words are the process. They are my tools and my material at the same time.

Words set the stage and they perform. They are able to build and to dissolve. Words are the story and the narrator – all at once.

My words are like street dogs. I let them run free and this is how they thrive. I treat them with care. I don’t restrict them. They have a place in my heart and this is why they always come back to me.

If I put them on a leash they get cranky. If I overindulge them they spoil.

Words – I use them as they use me. I become them. I am transcending through my words as they transcend through me.

My words are my thoughts but they are also my brain.

My words are my ascension partners. My words are my closest friends or my worst enemies. It depends. (And no, this is not a matter of perspective and this is okay….)

I can’t say ‘I want my trust back!’ I can’t say ‘I have to trust’. I can ‘just’ trust.

If I allow my words to be, they unfold. This is writing. It is a subconscious outlet of my expansion. They are nothing but a valve – but just as crucial as a pipeline for delivering drinking water.

What are they delivering? Words are the messenger but also the freight.

Words are zen. Words are dao.

Words are everything if you let them. Words are nothing if you take them too seriously.

Take them too accurate and they will become your prison.

Let them go wild and they will become your shelter.

The other day there was high water at Isar after three days of heavy rain.

There is a swimming spot I had been visiting regularly during this summer season. It was kind of an island amidst my favourite river here in Munich.

The flood water rearranged the whole river bed. All the algea were washed away.

No stone was left unturned.

The currents had changed. A wooden stamp had built a little whirl pool in the very center of the river bed.

Everything was renewed and refreshed. It felt like a restart.

And this is what words do if you let them flow. They rearrange themselves. They become more powerful. They clear themselves. They settle.

This is the really f***ing difficult part of writing. Your mind wants to control. It wants to know the end of the sentence before you even start typing.

It wants to outline the whole book instead of creating the first chapter.

True beauty, the real raw beauty lies in imperfection.

Did you ever consider a tree as imperfect? Did you ever think ‘This tree really looks like shit here.’?

If yes, I’m sorry. I’m praying for you.

Your soul understands.

A tree is a tree.

It grows out of the elements.

It is the elements. It is creation. It arises out of destruction. It sprouts from the mud.

And so does your creation.

Creation demands freedom.

So, don’t do it perfectly.

Just do it.

Do it with your heart. Do it with trust. Lean into it fully.

Own it – and then let it go.

Give it away. If you cling to it, it will restrict you.

This is how you become a slave to your perfectionism.

But you know what?

Don’t beat yourself up for your poisonous perfectionism. It will make it worse.

Move to your rhythm. But move.

Don’t stay still. Don’t be paralyzed in the face of your perfectionism.

Smile at it. Be perfect in the now, but don’t try to live up to it.

This is how you integrate it. Accept and take action.

Instead of making a perfect plan, do the next step.

Put your faith into action. Don’t make ‘being perfect’ your goal, but make it your approach.

This all sounds paradoxical.

Let it be what it is and jump right in.

My words are exploring darkness.
My words are cutting and piercing through – until the truth leaks out.
This is how I enter the light.

 

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.

 

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?

 

Who am I?

Who am I without the stories that I’m telling myself?
Who am I if I give up searching?
Who am I if I’m not defending myself?
Who am I if I don’t create?
Who am I if I’m not brave?
Who am I if I just am?
Who am I if I’m not trying to impress?
Who am I if I don’t have a plan?
Who am I if I don’t know the answers to all these questions?
Who am I if I’m losing it?
Who am I if I’m not being pathetic?
Who am I if I look into the mirror with all honesty?
Who am I if I’m only me?

 

Writing Transformation Challenge 0.1

The longest two weeks of my life are coming to an end. Ok, I’m exaggerating. But man, this was harder than I thought. The idea was to get rid of my notes, but in reality I created so many new ones – of course – because the more I write the more I think and the more I think the more I streamline my insights.

The learning curve is steep, but through this challenge I definitely made the most progress I’ve ever made with any writing experiment. I literally wrote my ass off. But no pain no gain, right?

Nevertheless – I completely under-delivered. This was partly due to my perfectionism, but also because I was quite involved with editing projects and other work.

Instead of 14 articles I published only nine. Six of the 14 days I worked full-time. I visited my parents in my home village and I was living on a campground. I had a lot of social interaction, which drained my energy.

Nonetheless I used every free minute to write – in the subway, waiting for the bus, in the train, before going to sleep…. I spent nearly every spare moment writing.

I’m proud of what I have achieved in these two weeks. This challenge reached depths that I have never suspected and this is all that matters.

Killing The Darlings Fastly

The time restraint of the two weeks definitely forced me to steam down my insights. This made me think sharper. Due to the time pressure I had to ‘kill my darlings’ very fast. What do I mean by that for those who don’t write? I had to shorten and revise my articles faster and this helped me in the process of ‘detaching’ from my writing.

Writing is Growth

I find peace while writing. I love the process of filling a page with my thoughts.

Publishing with the idea to have to revise it ten times afterwards doesn’t satisfy me and it doesn’t improve my writing either. “Learning years are not earning years.” I guess patience is key and as long as I keep going everything is fine.

Pressure shapes a diamond, but it contracts my brain. It is more important to develop a writing routine than forcing myself to press the publishing button. There are things that are just not ‘ripe’ yet.

There is no such thing as ‘finishing an article’. There is always something to add. There will be always ten new articles in the pipeline. And that’s good – as long as the ideas are flowing I’m going to write.

“Writing over publishing”

I wrote between two to ten hours per day, but if I’m tired I better get some sleep. My topics are too fundamental to just pour them out. The range of subjects expands with every article that I write.

It blows my mind what I’m learning from this challenge. Even though my perfectionism screwed up the quantity of my challenge. I’ve never wrote more within two weeks. I feel like a tiny barrier in my head broke. And this is all that matters. I will keep going.

 

Writing Transformation Challenge 0.0

This is another type of challenge right here. I’m tired of all the notes in my notebook. I’m tired of scrolling through all my endless drafts. Something worthwhile needs time, yes. I got that. But by rewriting an article a hundred of rounds I might lose my original idea and in the end I risk improving for the worse.

Many times I don’t publish only because I think: “That’s not good enough.” “Somebody said this before.” “I can do better.”

Of course I can do better. But when is better good enough? A lot of times I feel like the more I’m trying to improve the more I’m destroying my own writing. I feel like I’m loosing messages that could be worthwhile for somebody.

The other day I went to a writing meetup in Munich. I always like the exchange with other writers. Only now I realize how important it is for my motivation to hear about the broad experience of all these novel authors, script writers, ‘conceptioners’ and comic scribblers.

This time I met Marie from France again and we were talking about a phenomenon: Every so often a book doesn’t get published, because the author changes his or her mind. “I heard this from many publishers.”, Marie contemplated. “You better publish quickly before you can change your mind.”, she encouraged me to silent the judge before it can execute.

The suspicion is close that I’m not brave enough. “I have the feeling you are hiding yourself.”, a couple of weeks ago a friend and potential work partner pointed out to me. And yes, it is true – I am hiding. I’m afraid to publish.

But this blog here is not about me. There are millions of people going through the same things like me – they suffer from anxiety, depression, a broken heart, insecurity, self-doubts, pms, every topic that I address … I have to stop considering my writing as ‘my baby’.

It is my baby in a way, of course. But why am I writing? I’m writing because I want to change perspectives. I change my perspective by reading books, listening to lectures and talking to people. Realistically I’m nothing more than a catalyst of what I read and what I experience in the real life.

These experiences are not unique to me. What is unique is the way everybody processes these experiences. I’m doing it in this way here. Writing is my therapy, creativity is my valve.

I most likely experience real freedom while filling an empty page with my own words. Unfortunately a state of flow is still rather an exception than a rule.

Being a writer is a gift and a curse – however I need to put myself out there in order to fulfill the purpose.

Why do I call it “Writing Transformation Challenge”? I want to develop my own writing style. But by polishing my articles to a point of unrecognizability I kill my style. With this challenge I want to see if pressure makes the diamond…

The goal is to publish a post every day the next 14 days. Day one will be tomorrow.

 

Why I Get Nothing Done

It’s not accurate that I get nothing done. I just don’t get done what I want to get done.

I found this verbal outpour in my inexhaustible source of notes. What stunnes me is how accurate I describe my – I would like to call it – ideation process. In a few years probably I will smile about this type of examination, but right now it illustrates my behaviour lively. My goal is still to write my heart out here – believing in the process and stuff. So, here we go:

“Why I get nothing done” – Well, this is actually the wrong title for this article, because it suggests that I know why I get nothing done. Reality is, I don’t know, really. But if I continue searching I might won’t publish anything (like in most cases as you will find out later on).

In the hope to unclog my blogging-pipeline I will just press the publishing button in a few minutes.

What happens if I want to write an article?

Phase 1: “I have an idea”

Well, it all starts with an idea (some random situation, metro, bed, toilet, any kind of waiting room, forest, plane, train,…) I write down the rough idea/insight into my notebook or on my phone. I think to myself “This is already half the article. Great I will just sit down for half an hour more and than it is all ready to publish.”

Happy and half-accomplished I continue my day knowing that I will write an article the next time I’ll sit on my computer.

But than reality strikes. I open my laptop. I even close all the unnecessary tabs and windows and I start writing. At the beginning it all looks promising. Until one point. Let’s call it the point of no return.

I’m overflowing with ideas and all of a sudden I realize that I have to start another article, because I already reach too many aspects with this one article. And then I think: “Wait a second?” – “Do I actually know what I’m talking about here?” – “What does this word actually mean?” All of a sudden I’m losing control over my own thoughts. I start another document. Maybe a third one where I’m trying to filter my thoughts. Let’s call it ‘outtakes’.

Then I get so confused and I decide “I leave it for now” and rather listen to some 432 Hz forest sounds.

Phase 2: “I want to finish this article”

A couple of weeks later another idea crosses my path. And than it comes in to my mind that I already had started a similar article a few weeks back. “I should have a look and re-read what I thought a few months ago”.

“Wait – I think I read an inspiring article about this topic in a blog. Or was in a book? Or did I have a conversation about it? Or was it Alan Watts who visited me in my dreams and told me about it? 🙂 ”

And this is already the beginning of the end. In this case either I will find out how shitty and unispired my idea is or I just get sucked in by ‘inspiring talks’ on youtube or the odd TED talk about “How to travel the world with no money” or something like this… You get the point.

Phase 3: “Procrastinating procrastination”

But then, sometimes something magical happens – I catch myself watching stuff not related to my topic and miraculously I shake an article like this one off my sleeve.

Hm, I’m not sure if I’m crazy or if this is just part of the process? Maybe I’m just learning? I guess it’s part of the process. I also guess it’s time for The Artist’s Way – many people I admire recommended me this book. The thing is – I write so much already, but none of my ideas gets out of my way. So – maybe this is my way? We will see.

Cheers from the procrastination front

 

The Revival of the Growthbuddy

Something is itching and aching. Twisted in pain I’m playing hide and seek. Disparaging my insights – disregarding my emotions. There is this void in front of me – this abyss of the unknown. I’m scared, but it’s time to wake up from this paralysis.

The past months I neglected my growthbuddy. If I really want to transform I need more self-discipline. Come on? One article every two months – that’s a joke and it is not the idea of this blog.

Oh dear, I’m not even trying to find any excuses. It was more comfortable to just crawl into my shell for a little while instead of turning my interior to the outside. Before I go down deeper any rabbit hole, it is now the time to make a leap again. It is time for manifestation.

Growthbuddy 2.0 – here we go. I will blog my heart out – at any costs – with flaws and losses.

This is a very demanding time. In these days I’m facing big challenges – learning the language of my heart while muting the voices in my head. Tada: I changed my whole life again and now I’m hesitating. Was it a good idea to give up my room and become a nomad? I have to admit that this is pretty fucking hard.

But NOW is the time to write. Now I’m growing above me – tomorrow is another day. So, what’s the plan? I want to honour my (growth)buddy again and post post post whatever and whenever I can (at least once a week).

  • I want to revive my threesome.
  • I want to resurrect the dead wood in my notes. There are tons of articles that I started and never finished.
  • I want to drop my perfectionism and post something more intuitive here. I’m not sure – maybe I even start some column or something like this.

Stay tuned buddies and love yourself more!

 

The Growthbuddy is Growing

This morning I woke up with a concrete slab on my body – literally of course – otherwise I couldn’t sit here and write.

Since I’ve started with growthbuddy, I have started to re-think my life more intensively – yes “Uli-you-think-too-much”-friends, you read right…

And I have to admit: It’s not easy –  I’m facing new abysses of my psyche everyday. So far so good, let’s jump right into the void (and stop being pathetic).

I was laying in my bed and like every morning I thought to myself “I could stay in bed or I could get up and make the most of the day.” The last weeks this decision process took a little longer.

So I stared into space asking myself, what it is worth to get up for. I felt demotivated and frustrated with a slightly tang of worthlessness. But there was this little voice inside of me. It whispered quietly but self-assured: “Come on, get out of here!” – “Aye, aye!”

Since years I’m reading books about personal growth, dealing with fears, productivity, living in the “now” – nearly non-stop or at least once in a while. The last couple of weeks I was watching a lot of TED talks of all these great people, who are changing the world and share their advice.

But today I realized, I’m not applying the advice to my own life – at least not enthusiastically enough.

“It takes a lot of reinforcement to incorporate new concepts into your behavior, so commit yourself to doing the exercises. The amount of improvement you experience will depend on how much you are willing to participate actively.” Susan Jeffers

All of a sudden I understood:  In order to change my way of thinking, I have to change my behaviour actively. I really have to do the homework. Of course: Reading is good – sucking in all sorts of information is healthy, but it is only half the rent.

My Learnings Today:

  1. I have to get active and actually work on my personal development. DO the exercises Tim Ferris and Susan Jeffers are talking about instead of postponing them, which makes me come to my second learning of the day:
  2. I have to consider this personal growth thing including this blog – but mainly the growth action behind the scenes – as a business. My life-business. And it definitely has the same or an even higher significance than any other job.
  3. The mind is like a computer. (according to Elon Musk;) And a computer can be rebooted, configured newly, updated or upgraded. Or you can just throw it out of the window. I don’t want to get rid of my mind – at least not infinitely – but I can definitely change my running system, if I really want to.
  4. Also I understood, that I don’t know enough about my brain. Well, this is not necessarily a new insight. More importantly I understood, that I can change it. My goal is it, before getting more specific, I need to learn more about the prefrontal cortex and about Elon Musk. (Yes, he is one of my idols in terms of rationality and willpower.;)

The bath of self-pity is still warm and cozy. But I want to drain it down the tub. What am I talking about? Well, I want to find out, what is really hindering me from living a satisfying life, why am I always doubting my purpose? Where is the lack of self-confidence coming from?

My Next Steps:

  • defining my fears
  • learning more about self-love/acceptance
  • reading more about Elon Musk 😉 (Biography already ordered)

“Life becomes a Sunday afternoon; we ask for nothing grand, and we cease to demand anything more than we are willing to give. In that state we think of ourselves as being mature; we put aside the phantasies of our youth, and we seek personal and professional achievement. We are surprised, when people our age say that they still want this or that out of life. But really, deep in our hearts, we know that what has happened is that we have renounced the battle for our dreams – we have refused to Fight the Good Fight.” Paulo Coehlo

People, who make their dreams come true are commited to pain and suffering. They are willing to “fight the good fight”. They go out there. They accept the hard work of mastering challenges and overcoming obstacles.

I’m fighting for more self-confidence, less insecurities, anxiety and self-hatred. But in order to do this, I have to change myself actively – not only by reading and talking to people. But step-by-step I have to change my habits and reboot my system.

Don’t renounce the battle – fight the fight.