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!

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!

Don’t base your Self-Esteem on your Habit of controlling others! – 16 Sep 16

In yesterday’s blog post, I told you how important it is to check whether you think without you the whole world would collapse. For your own benefit, you should better not follow this kind of thoughts, as it puts too much pressure on you and can lead to serious health problems like burnout for example. Trying to get away from these thoughts however can lead you to another problem: the feeling of not being needed.

It is obvious: I told you to get rid of the thought that you are indispensable for your surroundings to function. The world will not stop turning if you are not there to check on them. You don’t have to supervise or control them for them to do their work correctly. You can let go.

Oh, but that was what you built your self-esteem on? That you are the one making everything run? You had the feeling of being valuable because without you, everything would crash and be ruined. Now that you are leaving this thought, now that you are trying to relax and give up that pressure, you notice that your self-esteem is on a way downhill. This is what made you feel you are doing something valuable and now you consciously destroy this thought!

Yes, it can be difficult. Yes, you should give up this thinking. But no, you are not valuable and loved because you were controlling everyone! Don’t base your self-esteem on such tasks. Instead, see that you yourself are a lovely person who can interact with others not only for showing them how to do things correctly. You have your own tasks in life which you perform well. Look at yourself and see who you are apart from the urge to control others!

For those who used to intensively urge others to do things the way they wanted them to, it is hard to not only leave this habit but to feel good about themselves without it, too. It is necessary however because it is absolutely unhealthy to base your self-worth on this! That would actually increase your urge to control in order to feel even better about yourself.

Don’t do that. Trust that others can do their own tasks as well. And if they don’t, it is not right away your fault either!

Have Fun – especially when Life is hard at the Moment! – 7 Sep 16

I yesterday gave a few ideas as to what you can do when it all just gets too much. I mentioned that you need some time for yourself and also time to wind down in the evening before going to sleep. For anybody who is facing such a situation or other problems like burnout, there is one more very important thing which you have to calculate some time for in your day: fun!

Yes, that is a very important part which you have to remember: don’t forget that enjoying life is an integral part of being alive! When you are in the middle of a problem and don’t seem to find a way out, it doesn’t get into your mind that life could be fun in any way. That is the issue however: as long as you don’t take even a few minutes in a day to enjoy, your mental and emotional situation will get worse and worse!

For everyone, there are different ways to enjoying life. For some it can be playing with their kids, for others it is taking a run in the park, for others it can be dancing in a club and again for others it can be having a nice dinner with friends. Whatever it is, remember to put away your sorrows and enjoy those moments.

If anybody criticizes you for it – because it seems immoral to have fun in such a difficult situation – just wave them off. I wouldn’t even bother explaining because anybody who really cares for you would see the effect: laughing and enjoying recharges your batteries like nothing else. It helps you cope even with the worst of events. You will be able to see things in a different light and deal with situations better.

Mostly, we are anyway not in the worst situations that life can bring. There are often people who are much worse off than we are: refugees whose complete families have been killed by war and who had to leave their country due to this, parents who cannot afford feeding their children and have to see them hungry,… the list is long. We are usually not one of these. Mostly, we can find someone whom we can look at and discover that our problems are really not as big.

So let’s take out a few minutes, just a short time in a day and enjoy life. It is truly important and helps you so much. Once you are through your ordeal, you can look back and say: oh yes, it was a difficult time but those moments made me get through it!

And you will get through it one day!

What to do when everything just seems too much! – 6 Sep 16

Sometimes there are times when it all seems to be too much. When in some area of life, privately or professionally, in your work, family life or relationship and sometimes in all areas at once, everything goes wrong. There are hundreds of things to do, thousands of tasks and it all just seems like you won’t be able to do it all! It all is on your head and there can be just moments when the easiest daily task is in front of you and you feel like it is impossible for you to manage it. What to do if you find yourself in this situation?

Now I am not familiar with the medical definition for this situation. I don’t know for sure what will be the name, whether it is depression, panic attacks, burnout or if you are at the verge of a ‘nervous breakdown’. What I know is that you have to relax.

I know, it sounds completely crazy at this time for you to sit down and have a coffee or fill yourself a bath tub and soak for half an hour. It seems to you that you don’t even find the time to take a proper shower or wash the dishes, how would you manage that? I tell you: if you just invest twenty minutes into your own relaxation or pleasure, it will pay back multifold! You will feel more efficient afterwards, you will be quicker in what you are doing and your mind will actually have some more space and freshness to get new ideas and solutions.

Now the very important point about this is that you actually manage to relax your mind! There would be no use of you lying in the bathtub and thinking of all the things you didn’t manage to do. You have to allow yourself to relax. How can you do this?

Take a step by step approach: in the evening, write down the things that you definitely need to get done the next day. Reduce yourself to the top tasks. If you get them done, it was a good day. Anything extra is a special reason to be proud of having it done! Like this, if you have your main tasks done, you have earned your ‘time out’, a little while for yourself, really without any thoughts of what still stands ahead of you in terms of tasks.

Get a rhythm and stick to it, including exercise and healthy eating habits. This is very important: no matter how much stress you have, plan half an hour for exercise and your times for eating. Don’t forget to eat and don’t start eating rubbish. Your body and mind need the strength, so nourish them and do it well! The rhythm and routine is necessary for your mind to know what to do next. If you have a routine, you don’t fall into the empty spaces worrying as to what to do next.

Finally, wind down before going to sleep. Read a good book for a little while, play with your kids or enjoy some private time with your partner. Take this time to enjoy life and get away from your extra stress – so that you can sleep with your mind not being occupied with tasks!

Know that this time, too, will pass. There will be solutions where you may not expect them and what you now consider to be a catastrophe may turn out to be the best thing that happened to you in your life – or at least not as bad as you think now!

The Chemistry of Advice and personal Experience – 1 Aug 16

I am generally cautious in giving and taking advice. I only give advice if someone directly asks me for it. And even then I will always tell a person where his or her choices are, keeping my own life completely apart from what I tell them. Unfortunately not everybody keeps it in this way and whenever you get advice from anybody, I would always recommend remembering one thing: most advice is autobiographical!

It is true. As a counsellor, I have of course some more experience in not letting my own life influence my suggestions to the person in front of me. At the same time however, whatever you tell another person will always be a result of your own experiences! It is hard to avoid that. You have, personally, experienced one thing as positive and another as negative. You would try to pass the positive experience on to the one in front of you – but maybe for that person, something completely different would actually be the positive experience!

Nowadays, you can get a lot of advice completely for free on the biggest of platforms available to the whole world: the internet. There, a lot of people do something which is called giving advice but which is actually only the story of their lives presented as advice. The problem is that you may tend to take it literally and as something you should follow exactly!

So keep in mind that the advice of another person is always a mix of his experiences, his own thoughts and his feeling of what is right or wrong. Don’t feel bad if you are doing things differently. Your reality may look very different and that is good as it is!

Why you should not try to be perfect – 24 Feb 16

Yesterday I wrote about the little judgements that especially parents often have to face from the outside. And the reason why such a judgement often bothers you much longer than it actually should, is simple: you want to be perfect!

Yes, striving for perfection actually makes you unhappy, something you may already have guessed. Why? Because there is no way you are ever going to reach this goal! There is nobody who is perfect, we all make mistakes and the easier you accept this, the happier you will be!

The problem for a lot of people is however that they really very much want to be perfect. They don’t want to make any mistake and that’s how they are eagerly trying to do everything right. If they do a mistake, they beat themselves up about it mentally. Paired with a tendency to worry about what others think, this gets even worse. A mistake proves you wrong and you get stuck with it. You keep it in the mind, try to make explanations and excuses, you try to hide it so that nobody sees it – in short, you just don’t want to let anybody see that you are not perfect. Maybe you even manage to convince yourself that it was not a real mistake, that in fact you are perfect and it was someone else’s mistake!

Another problem is that there is not always a right and a wrong! For some people, one thing may be right while others would say the same for a completely different matter. So if you are trying to be perfect for your surroundings, you constantly need to change, because the people around you have different ideas of what is perfect!

There is a big lesson for everyone wanting to be perfect: we learn from our mistakes! Yes, it is actually good to do mistakes because they teach you what you should or should not do in future. You can feel guilty about your mistake and ponder on it for weeks or months or you can accept that it was a mistake and make a change!

I can promise you that other people won’t even remember your mistake for as long as you do! They forget it quicker than you because it actually is not as important as you think it is! So when you feel judged by someone about a little thing and then you are worried about it for a long time, they may already have changed their mind and forgotten all about it!

Don’t try to be perfect – you are perfect as you are with all your mistakes!

When Women accept their Husbands’ extramarital Affairs – 7 Dec 15

When I was in Germany, some friends told stories of their friends. One of them made me think of the situation a lot of women are in here in India and I wondered whether it is not such a big difference after all: in relationships, some women decide to simply accept their husbands’ affairs. For comfort or out of fear.

A friend told me that a woman whom she had known for more than twenty years, had been living in a very unusual setting with her husband for a long time already: her husband only comes to visit her about once a week. For the rest of the time he lives with his girlfriend. Whenever he comes home, everything is as though they were normally married: he brings home his laundry which she washes, she cooks for one more person at meals and he is simply back home.

They don’t sleep in one bed however – and that was the point of the story where I just had to ask: what came first, sleeping in separate beds or the girlfriend? It was sleeping in separate beds! The woman had once told her husband that she didn’t feel like having a sexual relation with him anymore. She didn’t want to sleep with him anymore and gave him the option to go wherever he wanted to go to in order to satisfy his needs.

They didn’t get separate for several reasons, mainly because it is so much simpler: they keep tax and accounts as one, she can live as she has always been living and he has his freedom as well. They are on good terms, everything is alright.

I had to think of the families that Ramona goes to visit, the parents of our school children where women often pretend they are living in a normal, happy relationship while their husbands are actually sexually very active outside their marriage. It is even clearly visible from outside that the woman is more alone than together with her husband – but they keep up the image of a marriage. The pretense of a life together as a couple, because it is easier than separation and for them better than being seen as divorced in a society that frowns upon that.

I see similarities, I feel it is pretty much the same. It is more comfortable to do it this way. At the same time I don’t want to judge whether it is right or wrong or maybe right in the context of one country and wrong in the situation of another one! It was simply a similarity I saw and wanted to point out – maybe you find it interesting, too.

What to do when things are not according to your ideals – 24 Nov 15

Some time ago I wrote about a certain idealism which goes way too far and makes you very unhappy in your daily life. I believe having certain ideals and a clear concept of what is good and what is not is generally beneficial for everyone and a good thing. We need to accept however that the world is not ideal – and that we can do only our own best to make a change.

And there are a lot of possibilities do to that! Just take your job: you may not be able to change everything surrounding it but you can, for example, try to find a job that supports your ideals or at least does not go against them! As a vegetarian, you won’t work at a butcher. Not even in the office – because it is against your ideals. It might be difficult however to find a job that supports each and every of your ideals!

Let me give you an example. So you work in a company which in basic supports your ideals and it is the perfect place for you to work at. Let's say a shop that sells organic food and fair trade items. It is fully according to your ideals – except for one section of the shop: there is a corner with esoteric items as well. Tarot cards, crystal balls and all supplies for modern witches, psychics and healers. You don’t agree with this, believe it creates and supports superstition – but you have to sell that, too!

It is not ideal – but you cannot create a perfect world! On this world everything exists and if you are too idealistic, you will have problems with a great deal of what happens on earth! So instead of getting stuck with the things which are not perfect, find a way to get as close to your ideals as possible – and accept the rest!

You can go further than you think in many ways. Try to do it. You may get to know, for example, that your bank uses the money you have saved there on supporting weapons which are used in wars you don't support. Or other projects that are strongly against your ideals. If that disturbs you, do some research and find a banks that supports the environment or sustainable projects instead – they do exist!

There may even be some of those red flags for you which you cannot change at the moment. In that case, just accept that it is like this for now. That not everything is ideal in this world. That we can work in future against certain things, change mindsets over time for example. Don’t get all upset about such a thing. Don’t get cold – that’s not what I am suggesting. You can feel strongly that it is wrong and you can try to make a change whenever possible. But don’t waste energy on raging or crying about things that you cannot influence at the moment!

There is always a possibility to make it better, even if it exists on the long run or by creating a better example yourself. You have your honesty and you can look after it. You don't have to be dishonest. If it forces you to – change. But otherwise see the beauty, the good and be happy.