Gefangen in einem Netz deiner eigenen Ängste? Hier ist, was du machen kannst! – 21 Okt 16

Manchmal ist es für mich seltsam zu sehen, wie viel Angst die Leute in ihrem Leben haben. Manchmal sind es einfach nur finanzielle Sorgen. Wenn es nicht das ist, ist es die Angst vor einem Unfall oder dass ein Familienmitglied oder Freund plötzlich krank werden könnte. Und wenn es nicht das ist, haben sie Angst davor, einen Fehler zu machen, der sie etwas kosten könnte. Manchmal scheint es, als könnten einige Leute nicht ohne diese Ängste leben.

Es ist, als würden sie aktiv nach etwas suchen, vor dem sie Angst haben können: wenn die finanzielle Situation gut aussieht, suchen sie nach Familienproblemen. Wenn sie da nichts finden können – oder sicher sind, dass es da keinerlei Probleme gibt – suchen sie eben nach etwas anderem. Wenn sonst gar nichts ist, haben sie am Ende Angst vor der allgemeinen Situation in der Welt. Vor Krieg und Hunger oder einer Atomkatastrophe.

Jetzt kann man all diese Ängste grundlos nennen, doch das sind sie eigentlich nicht. Die Angst selbst hat ja einen Grund und der liegt ganz klar in dieser ängstlichen Person.

Man muss sehen, warum diese Person sich so fühlt, wie sie es tut. Wie kommt es, dass so eine große Unsicherheit sie nach etwas suchen lässt, was falsch sein könnte. Es sieht manchmal auch nach schrecklicher Negativität aus und kann einen dazu bringen, jegliche Unterhaltungen mit dieser Person vermeiden zu wollen. Das Traurige ist, dass man reden und reden und reden kann, es aber für gewöhnlich nicht schafft, den anderen zu überzeugen. Am Ende zieht es dich runter, wenn du immer von solchen Ängsten hörst! Du musst dem anderen klarmachen, dass du nicht die ganze Zeit von dieser Negativität hören willst – besonders, da es immer die gleichen Themen sind, über die geklagt werden!

Wenn du erkennst, dass du selbst dich in einer solchen Situation befindest und dir vielleicht sogar Freunde schon gesagt haben, dass du nicht immer wieder mit ihnen über deine Ängste sprechen solltest – oder sogar, dass du professionelle Hilfe brauchst – solltest du ernsthaft erwägen, deine Gedanken zu ändern. Ich weiß, das ist einfacher gesagt als getan. Ich weiß, deine Ängste kommen hoch und da kannst du dann gar nichts dagegen tun. So fühlst du dich zumindest.

Die Wahrheit ist, dass du da jede Menge dagegen tun kannst! Zunächst einmal hast du wahrscheinlich bereits den ersten Schritt getan: du hast mit jemandem darüber gesprochen. Das hat dir in dem Augenblick ein besseres Gefühl gegeben, doch das ist auf die Dauer keine Lösung. Du musst das Problem selbst loswerden. Schau der Angst ins Gesicht. Sieh, ob sie in diesem Augenblick überhaupt relevant ist. Ist es eine echte Angst, ist e seine echte Bedrohung oder ist sie eigentlich nur in deinem Kopf entstanden?

Für gewöhnlich stehen die Chancen gut, dass es nichts Echtes ist, sondern nur ein furchterregendes Szenario, das du dir ausgedacht hast. Wirklich, in den meisten Fällen ist das so. Und daran musst du arbeiten: nimm dir Stift und Papier und schreib dir auf, warum diese Ängste keine andere Grundlage als deine Unsicherheit haben. Sobald du alles aufgeschrieben hast, fühlst du dich bereits besser. Nun nimm dieses Stück Papier und steck es dir in die Tasche. Nun hast du es bei dir, wann auch immer du es dir ansehen musst – um dich daran zu erinnern, dass alles in Ordnung ist und du dir keine Sorgen machen brauchst.

Wenn es wirklich einen Grund gibt, sich Sorgen zu machen, gibt es auch etwas, was man dagegen tun kann. Wenn nicht, macht es keinen Sinn, sich mit Sorgen verrückt zu machen, weil man auch nichts dagegen tun kann. Werde aktiv, bewege dich und engagiere deine Gedanken mit etwas Produktivem – so schaffst du es, dich aus dem Netz deiner eigenen Ängste zu befreien!

Caught in a Web of your own Fears? Here is what to do! – 21 Oct 16

Sometimes it is strange for me to see how much fear people are living in. Sometimes it is financial fears. If it is not that, they fear an accident could happen to someone in their family or one of their friends could suddenly get ill. If it is not that, they fear of doing a mistake that could cost them something in life. It sometimes seems to me as though some people cannot live without this fear.

It is as though they actively search for something they can be afraid of: if the financial situation looks good, they search for a problem in the family. If they cannot find that – or are assured that it is actually not problematic at all – they will look for something else. In the end, if nothing else, they will be afraid of the world’s general situation. Of war and hunger or a nuclear catastrophe.

Now you can call those fears baseless but they are actually not. The fear itself has a base and that is very clearly within this fearful person.

You need to see why this person feels the way he or she does. How come there is such a big insecurity that makes them search for something that could be wrong. It looks like horrible negativity at times, too, and can make you fully dislike certain conversations with that person. The sad thing is that you can talk and talk but won’t usually manage to convince the other one. In the end, it pulls you down to be always hearing about all those fears! You have to make clear to the other person that you don’t want to hear about this negativity all the time – especially as it is always about the same issues that you already talked about!

If you realize that you, yourself, are in such a situation and maybe friends have even told you to not again and again talk to them about your fears – or even to get professional help – you should seriously consider changing your thoughts. I know that it is easier said than done. I know that your fears come up and you often cannot do anything about them. At least that is how you feel.

The truth is that you can do a whole lot about it. First of all, you have probably taken the first step already: you talked to someone about it. It made you feel better in that moment but this is not a permanent solution. You have to get rid of the problem itself. Look the fear directly in the eye. See whether it is in any way relevant in this very moment. Is it an actual fear, is it really a threat or is it actually just created in your mind?

The chances are usually quite high that it is nothing real but a scary scenario that you made up yourself. Really, in most cases this is the truth. And this is what you need to work on: get out paper and pen and physically note down why those fears have no substance other than your insecurity. Once you have written all down, you will already feel better. Now take that paper and put it in your pocket. It will be with you for whenever you need to look at it – to remind you that everything is alright and you don’t need to worry.

If there is really a reason to worry, there is also a way to work on it. If not, there is no sense in worrying because you cannot do anything about it either. Get active, move yourself and get your thoughts involved in something productive – that’s how you can manage to get stuck in a web of your own fears!

The Consequences of domestic Violence and arranged Marriage – 10 Jun 16

Yesterday I told you that a facebook friend of mine had come. In one of our longer talks, we of course also came to the topics of culture, relationships and love. We shared a few thoughts on the problems that can arise and of course talked about their possible solutions as well. With all of this thought processes going on, I wanted to share a little part of that with you, too.

When talking about Indian culture and relationships, there will always be one issue coming up: arranged marriages. A lot of people here, the majority of Indians in fact, still believe very strongly in this concept. That includes young people as well who, from the beginning of their lives, get the idea that their parents would definitely find the right partner for them. What do you need for this idea to work though? Apart from the luck to find someone compatible, it requires trust. What to do however if the child doesn’t have this trust?

I believe this can happen a lot in this society and even more with the advance of modern media, globalization and possibilities to travel, see and understand more and be freer. Young people get to see a lot more than what they were able to know in the past. They may not trust their parents to make the right choice anymore. And often you don’t have to go very far to see why: in their own home, they can often see an example of how marriage should NOT look like.

Fights, suppression and even violence – nothing very uncommon in many Indian families!

It is also no wonder, in my opinion, that this scars a little child. And it may scar him or her so much that the idea of marriage is too scary. That there is the wish for love, closeness and intimacy – but the fear of experiencing violence too big! There is no trust – in the other gender, in parents to make the right choice and even in themselves to choose correctly.

A young woman may very well get afraid of her future husband beating her the same way her father was beating her mother. Young men may be afraid of his future wife nagging and constantly trying to get into fights, showing her disappointment just as his mother was doing to his father.

At the same time, they long for that ideal love which they see in movies, hear of in stories and feel a desire for the same experience in their hearts. They have this need for acceptance and love but they don’t dare.

For me this makes one more thing very clear: we have to do more to stop domestic violence. We have to make people aware of their options, of the possibility to leave and even press charges. We have to make this pressing of charges easy and possible. And in the end, I believe still arranged marriage is not the right way, as more people will feel disappointed with the partner that was chosen for them. This leads to conflict and an unhealthy environment for children.

More than anything however I want to ask parents: be an example for your children because they learn from your actions much more than from your words!

Why do Indians think Children have to be afraid of their Parents? – 8 Dec 15

The children of our school have started their half-yearly exams. They are super busy learning, excited to get everything right and looking forward to next week, when all exams will be over. While Ramona helped Pranshu, one of the boys living at our Ashram, learning for one day’s exam, she flipped through his notebook and found a question which she couldn’t believe was in the schoolbook: ‘Whom are you most scared of at home?’

It was a question in the subject ‘Moral Values’. This is a subject which we in generally see as helpful and important for our children. It gives them basic ideas of how to deal with each other, our environment and ourselves. There are lessons about being polite and respectful, others about valuing everyone’s work and about how we should solve conflicts in class. The only problem with this subject is that the book as well as the teacher will inevitably add a subjective view on these topics as well – and that may not always be one that I would agree on.

In this case, it was the book that explained in a lesson that everyone at home was important. The grandparents who could tell stories of their time, the parents of whom one or both go to work to earn money and also the children who can help in the house and help the elderly. So far so good. But then there were these questions for the children to explain their own situation: How many members does your family have? Who does the homework in your house?

And ‘Whom are you most scared of at home?’

It shows very clearly that what I have always been writing about the situation in India’s homes is true: there is violence and there is fear. Parents think that their children only listen to them if they are scared. They have to be afraid in order to learn manners and behave. They get beaten if they don’t. And what would be the standard answer to this question? Of course: the father.

The whole day long, mothers, aunts and grandparents will threaten the children of the house: just wait until your father comes home! Or ‘I will tell this to your father!’ with the promise of being punished physically for it.

How would a father ever develop a healthy relationship to his children? He is not there the whole day, working to earn money and when he comes home, he is expected to be the executioner for the day’s punishments! What do you create in the child’s mind?

As a father, I find it horrible and in my family, nobody would even get the idea of saying such a thing to my daughter. Fear is not a concept of education here – but it unfortunately is for most Indian families and thus also in schools.

In our school however, we have now made sure that this question is crossed out of the school book and that teachers also know why: children should not be scared. Their home and their school are safe environments and their parents as well as teachers are those who love them and want to see them happy.

Managing your Emotions during Difficulties with human Relations – 27 Oct 15

Not every difficulty that we face in life is one of a financial nature. In yesterday’s blog, my main thought was rather on problems with business and money but of course there are issues that sometimes seem even worse than any money problem can ever be: problems in your relation with other people, your friends, family and most of all your partner. How should we handle these?

First of all, the same concept applies: calm down before you do anything. It is obvious that a dispute, a disagreement or an argument with someone you love can leave you completely unsettled. You may feel fully enraged or devastated, you may be in tears or shaking all over. You can feel right or regret what you have done but for any further thought or action you have to calm down and clear your head!

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t feel sorry towards the other one or feel wronged by him anymore! It means that you recognize your feeling and know where it comes from. Make an analysis: what exactly is the trigger of those feelings? Something the other one said? Something you did? What made you feel the way you do? Is it an action or just a thought or worry of yours?

I am myself an emotional person but while this may seem too much a process of the mind for some people, I believe we sometimes need to take this way in order to find out what the issue is. If I am so much in emotion that I cannot clearly recognize why I am feeling these emotions, my actions may reflect that.

The most stupid crimes are committed because people cannot control their anger. Afterwards, they often don’t even exactly know why they reacted the way they did. They were angry – but with a clear mind, they know themselves that their anger never justified their actions. That it was caused by an inner pain or injury which the other one may not even be responsible for.

So once you know why you feel the way you do, you can work on the solution of the problem.

If it is something you did wrong and you are sorry for, I believe it is never too late to apologize. You cannot expect the other one to accept your apology under every circumstances – but for yourself, you can take this step and make it clear to you that you did it. Even if not, you have tried and can move on!

If the other one did you wrong, you now have the chance to find out what you would like to do about it. You can explain the other one your feelings or you can take a decision on what to do next. It is the chance for you to act according to your deeper feelings, not only the momentary anger.

In the end, no matter what happens, the message is practically the same: whatever the problem, it won’t make the whole world break down. Be calm and find out what you can do about it!

Dealing with Difficulties – afraid or ready to take them on? – 26 Oct 15

Your country, your culture and the society around you influence you. That is something that I believe we all can agree on. Last week I spoke about how we all have a different perception, also based on our growing-up and surroundings. As we have a lot of people of different countries here at the Ashram, we often notice a different basic attitude among them. And a basic difference of how people deal with problems. I found especially this aspect quite interesting and saw one decisive reason for differences: did you grow up in a rich country and surrounding or surrounded by financial difficulties?

What do you do when a big difficulty comes your way? There are several possibilities: you can panic and freak out, getting afraid about what could happen to you and practically have a nervous breakdown simply due to ‘what could happen’. You can also square your shoulders, keep a calm mind and find your way through and out of the crisis. Some try to hide and avoid the problem completely by pretending it is not there – but this usually doesn’t work at all.

The basic feeling behind your reaction is one of the two: you are afraid or you are not.

And while I have seen both reactions in many different people, I dare say that most people of countries that have more financial security, which are more developed and part of the first world tend to be rather afraid.

The reason behind this is, although it seems bizarre, quite understandable, too! In these countries, most people grew up with quite a few possessions. It is normal for them to be able to go out and buy what they need. They may not be able to afford the fanciest things in the supermarket shelves but generally, most haven’t been in a situation of real need, nor have the people around them. Really, a lot of people have not ever experienced real loss either.

And that’s how there are a whole lot of “What if’s” in people’s minds. In their mind they run from one horror scenario to the next, thinking about the things that could happen and their whole world crashes down.

Most people from countries in which there is poverty, who have seen people around them struggle, don’t get as scared of difficulties. They don’t like them either but they are more easily able to look at them rationally and most often see that it is not a matter of survival. That it doesn’t mean they will starve. There is a higher readiness to struggle and make it through the difficulty. There is a kind of emotional security which makes them steadier.

Let’s be real: most difficulties don’t mean that your life will stop, your world will break down and you will be close to death. So even though your background teaches you to freak out, resist the urge and see that it will all go on. You can make it through this!