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!

Don’t make yourself smaller than you are – and accept an honest Compliment! – 26 Nov 15

I have been in Germany for nearly two weeks now, we have met a whole lot of friends already and are going to meet several more until we go back. With one friend whom we met these days, I noticed something which I believe a lot of my readers might have a problem with as well: low self-confidence until the point that you don’t even believe a compliment when you get one.

I met this friend again after about two years that we had not seen each other. After the initial greetings, hugs and asking how the other one was, we started talking about what we had done in the past years. Already in that description I noticed that she played down her achievements in this time a lot. After a while, Ramona entered, who knew my friend as well. They greeted each other and then Ramona commented that she looked great, healthy and happy.

The answer was what made me write this blog post today: ‘Oh, thank you, nice that you say this!’

The moment I heard this line, I realized that these words were meant to express thankfulness – but that the one saying them did not actually believe they were true! It literally just meant that it was nice by Ramona to say such a thing – even if it was obviously NOT true in her mind!

Such a simple sentence can show you deeply what kind of opinion a person has of himself or herself. Our friend could have said ‘Thank you, I have had a great time!’, told of her change in nutrition and her holidays. Instead, she quickly made up her mind that Ramona was just saying it to be nice. That’s what she clearly appreciated with her answer. The kindness of saying a lie to make her feel good.

She would never think of this compliment as the truth! She didn’t realize that Ramona could see how much more relaxed she seemed and that there was a certain glow to her which had not been there the last time we had met her!

In this, there is a small lesson for all of us, male and female: if you get a compliment, don’t dismiss it as false. There may be those as well but it is very well possible that a person actually finds you beautiful, attractive, looking good or happy, intelligent, welcoming and friendly or helpful!

Don’t put yourself down, don’t underestimate yourself. Realize your full potential and value – and accept that other people do, too!

Right or wrong – Perception or Fact – 5 Nov 14

The interesting part about talking with other people is that you will always meet some who have different experiences, ideas and knowledge than you. You can get help when you need it and you can get inspiration. You can get information and of course pass it on as well. But one unpleasant thing may happen as well: you may get confused whether what you are doing is right or wrong.

It is nothing unusual: you tell your friends about the latest incident at work and they wonder why you reacted the way you reacted. Wouldn’t it have been better to stay calm? Or better to finally put your foot down? One of them may confirm that you have acted exactly right while the other one just shakes the head in disbelief, wondering about you.

Is there a right way to live one’s life? Or a wrong one?

Of course, there are certain things that are obviously and very universally wrong: it would be wrong to murder someone and it is generally accepted that stealing, robbing and similar activities are not right either. There are cases however in which it is not so clearly black and white!

You would also say it is wrong to disrespect your parents – but where does disrespect start? Would it be disrespectful not to follow the decisions in life they want to take for you? Or not to comply with their moral standards and values? They may see it very well as disrespectful but you could have a fully different opinion!

Am I doing the right thing?

This is a very common question which can appear in any area of life! Business, relationships, child education, friendships – you can always get to a point where you just don’t know anymore. Even if you are usually confident about your actions and can brush off the usual criticism everyone gets, there can be a point where you just look at yourself and the situation that you are in, wondering:

What should I do?

Let me tell you one thing: Nobody can tell you what to do and there won’t be any divine intervention or inspiration to suddenly make everything alright. At the same time however, there is no right or wrong and everyone sometimes is in this situation.

Mentally go back to what you really know, the actions and thoughts you are sure about and which you won’t change, no matter how many people tell you that you are wrong. From that point on, slowly advance and just go with your feelings. Take advice wherever you feel it is right – and find out what you really think is wrong.

Most importantly: this feeling is usually temporary. Sometimes it just helps to leave the thought for a while and sleep over it. And then take your courage and go on with full confidence!

Maintain your Self-Esteem, even if it is difficult! – 4 Sep 14

Yesterday I mentioned that you need self-love and self-esteem in order to successfully run a business. Then you can work with heart while not feeling guilty about charging money for your every day’s work. Self-esteem. A difficult topic for many and at the same time so important! Just take care to keep it up – or there may always be someone who tries to take advantage of you!

We already discussed how this happens in business. People try to get something for free and if you are nice enough, they succeed. After a while, you cannot go back and you are giving away far too much for free, leaving you annoyed and helpless, unsure about your prices and the value of what you are selling.

Among family and friends, it is not about money. Or at least usually not. It is normally about what you do for others and how much you do for yourself. I often meet people with a lack of self-love and self-esteem in my individual counselling sessions because they have so much suppressed anger and often trouble with family members or certain friends. They give and give and somehow feel as though it is taken for granted. They have the feeling of being sucked out until the last drop – and they don’t get anything back.

Self-love is the first step. It is when you give value to yourself, when you respect what you are doing. You love your body, mind and actions with all virtues and faults. You need something more though: the ability to express that! And this ability is your self-esteem that you show to others.

When you can tell, with full confidence, where the limits are of what you can do for others. When you know and tell them at which point you need to have time for yourself or feel that they are not valuing your work enough.

It is not easy to reach this far if you have difficulties with this topic but you surely can. You need to strengthen your love for yourself. Whenever you get the feeling that someone is taking advantage of you, when you feel pressured into doing more of doing it cheaper than you want to, take your time. Take a step back from what you are doing, excuse yourself for some moments and calm down. If your emotions are high, you cannot think and feel clear.

Once calmed down, you have to analyze if those feeling arose because you feel urged to cross your limits, to do something that is further than what you are comfortable with. If this is the case, get to that point where you feel comfortable. Remind yourself that you are worth standing up for yourself. And then go back into the situation.

Remain calm but on a point where you feel comfortable. You will see, after you have done this once, you will feel really great! Even if it was just telling your mother-in-law that you cannot bake an extra cake for the family meeting because you are busy with your children, your work and the two dishes you are already cooking! It is a small victory for yourself, for your self-esteem!

Keep it up – be strong and love yourself!

Stop loving your Illness more than your Health! – 5 May 14

Today is my appointment at the hospital to get the stitches taken out of my knees. I am already feeling quite good but I am also happy I have another ten days to prepare myself for the flight to Germany. While being in the state that I am in right now, I had to think of the difference that your mind can make when you are injured or ill: you can either enjoy being ill and suffering in this illness or you can decide to just be as healthy as you can.

I have got to know many people in my career of counselling others who just enjoy being ill. They often started off with getting ill once. It was not too bad and when they talked about it to others, they got sympathy – which they liked. Slowly, maybe with their next illness or when their problem continued over a longer period of time, they realized that it was a very comfortable excuse for all kinds of things. Mostly a way to say no without being rude.

Instead of being self-confident and telling others that they didn’t want to do certain things, they told them they couldn’t, due to their illness. Even if that was not completely true, it was easy to say and others had to believe it. They didn’t have to gather the courage and strength to tell the truth, which was that they just didn’t want.

So they just continued being ill. Although they could be fully healthy and normal or maybe just live with a tiny problem, they insist that they are ill. Much more ill than is reality. They are not necessarily fully aware of what they are doing. The subconscious mind is quite powerful in covering up the truth in a way that you like it. You practically make yourself believe that you are ill. The consequence is that you also act accordingly.

Once someone is in that track, he just starts loving his illness so much that he won’t get out of it anymore. He won’t see that people see through his drama. They understand that he is playing a bit more than necessary and they may just play along. Maybe, some will also confront him sometime. That may hurt though and that is the point when people sometimes come for counselling to me.

I generally recommend them to see the joy in healthy living. I don’t say they are not ill at all – who am I to judge upon that in the short time I see them? No, but even if you are ill, just try to act as healthy as possible! Don’t act ill. Keep a regular lifestyle, work around the discomforts that your problem gives you and lead a normal life. Instead of hiding behind your illness and avoiding to stand up for yourself, practice saying ‘no’. Be yourself but enjoy your life!

In the past days I was not only lying around in bed: I was doing my physiotherapy exercises, played with Apra, talked on phone and worked on the computer. Practically, I had normal days just with limited mobility. I did what I normally would do – just while sitting in bed. I don’t like being ill or sitting around in bed and that’s how I simply don’t give importance to it. I do as much as I can – and I think it is helping me to get better more quickly.

Let’s see what the doctor will say today – but I think I will be fit for our flight to Germany in ten days!

How to deal with your ‘Fictional Future Fear’ – 17 Feb 14

When talking about the stress and worries of corporate life last week, I had to think of a talk I recently had with a guest at the Ashram. He told me that he got too worried and stressed not only about the work that he had to do but also about the fact that he could practically lose his job at any time. His biggest fear is this: What if I get kicked out tomorrow? If I lose my job?

So this man now practically has a good job with a good salary and everything is going great. There is no specific reason why he would have this fear, no indication from his boss and no talk among colleagues. Everything seems alright – but there is that thought that anything could happen and he would be without job soon!

My reply was that anyway everything can happen at any time. You don’t know about the future and thus whatever you imagine that could happen is all imagination and fiction! It is not there, not happening but you think about the slightest possibility that something bad could happen.

It is an old advice which I want to give but it really works well: Live in presence instead of worrying about the future. The future is not here yet!

While worrying about the future you are actually missing the life in the presence. Instead of giving your best at your job and at what you are doing, you may even make mistakes at your work, simply because you are so nervous and anxious! You don’t concentrate and thus don’t give as much as you could.

Even if something happens though and you lose this job, why don’t you think it could be something good happening to you? Why don’t you see that this could be your chance for something bigger and better? Why are you thinking about the future and when you do it, why are you so negative about it? Realize that those scenarios are just fiction!

I know a similar, related case of ‘fictional future fear’: a man says he has his motorbike for many years now and he always enjoyed riding it – until some weeks ago when he suddenly started being afraid of having an accident with it! He never had an accident, he never even slipped but he is now nervous while riding the motorbike, imagining all the things that could happen.

It is fictional and although I would never suggest you to ride a motorbike if you are afraid of falling, in this case I would say work on your inner balance and then get back on it.

Live in the presence, enjoy the moment and be happy. Do physical exercise, eat healthy food and give your mind the chance to find peace and happiness in itself. Once you have reached that state, fictional fears will lose its scariness. You can shrug them off because you know that you are fine in this very moment.

Don’t let those fears get you down but use them as a reason to get more stable and happier than you are now in this very moment!

Advice for Western Women travelling alone in India – Part 2 – 30 Jan 14

I yesterday gave some advice for women from the west who wish to travel on their own in India. As there is lots to say, here is the second part:

5. Make your Limits clear and thus show that you are not an easy Target

Should you ever get into a difficult situation, with a guy getting too close for example, you need to set your limits quickly and very clearly. Be unafraid to show and tell him that you don’t want a man’s leg to touch yours while sitting next to him in the bus. Say it loudly so that others around you hear it as well. If you are standing in line and the guy behind you touched you inappropriately, don’t hesitate to turn around and loudly tell him to keep his hands where they should be.

Make contact with the surrounding, shout if you feel that you need to, show your anger and thus make it very clear that he better not dare try anything else. You have to put up all your self-confidence in that moment and show your anger. I tell you, not only will that guy get afraid of messing with you, there will be a whole lot of people around you, ready to support you.

6. Make a plan before you come, be informed and consider taking a guide

Related to advice number 2 from yesterday, it is not nice to stand somewhere in India and not know where to go, be that on arrival at the airport or while travelling within the country. Make your plan beforehand and inform yourself how you will get where. Then you don’t have to search in places that you don’t know and you don’t rely on some random guy to show you ‘a hotel of a good friend’ for example.

If you feel overwhelmed with the amount of information out there, if you have the feeling that no matter how much you read, you still will not feel comfortable while travelling in India on your own, contact a travel agency, go with a group or with an individual guide, as we also offer. If you book a tour or retreat with us – in group or individually – you won’t need to worry about a whole lot of things. It starts with the location of your hotel, which we will of course book in a safe area, over the pickup from the airport, which our trusted driver will do, to the daily feeling of security when you are walking around with one of my brothers by your side on our tours.

Yes, this is self-advertising (hey, this is my blog, if I don’t do it here, where else? 🙂 ) – but I also believe that it is really good advice for many women who just want to feel safe while experiencing this great country and its culture. While the news these days may display the bad – and obviously so – there is a whole lot of great things to see and wonderful people to meet. So if you have the wish to come, you can do it.

 

I believe this topic deserves more than just a few sentences. It needs elaboration and while yesterday and today I gave you an idea of what western women in India should be doing, I have another list for you next week: what you should NOT do when you are a non-Indian woman travelling on your own in India.

A 5-Step-Plan to boost your Self-Esteem – 29 Aug 13

I have spent several days and several blog entries writing about how people often compare themselves to others and thus lose their own self-confidence and along with it their self-esteem. They get depressed, have problems with their own body and think that even their actions and feelings are not worth anything. If you have come to this point or if you want to prevent even reaching until there, I would recommend you doing something to boost your self-esteem. Here is a plan, a tip on how you can start with this:

  1. When you have some minutes of free time, take a sheet of paper and a pen and sit down comfortably. Now start writing down what you think is valuable about yourself. That can be anything that you are proud of, anything that you think is good. It can range from ‘I am good at playing soccer’ over ‘My bottom looks great in jeans’ to ‘I can empathize with people’s feelings’ or ‘I have lots of patience’. You should have an absolute minimum of five points on that list – and there is no limit to how many you want to add.
     
  2. If you have any difficulty finding points that you are convinced of, ask your close friends or family what they value about you. You will notice, this alone will give you a strong push of positive feelings and self-esteem! If you are shy to ask, remember that you would also like them to ask you for help if they needed it!
     
  3. Read this list every day at least once. It does not take much time – before going to sleep or after waking up or maybe both times, sit down and consciously read what you have written about you. You will internalize the good feeling about yourself and after some time, you won’t even need the help of the written words anymore, you will just be able to think of your list and feel better.
     
  4. If you meditate or do breathing practice, use the list as an anchor to meditate on. Concentrate on the positive energy that you feel circulating inside yourself.
     
  5. Finally, whenever you are in a situation that threatens to throw you back down into your hole of bad thoughts about yourself, return mentally back to all the points that you like about yourself and that others value about you, too. Remember that nobody is superman or superwoman, that nobody is perfect in all fields of life. Know your own qualities and accept that you have some less impressive character traits as well.

Concentrate on yourself, stop comparing yourself to others and find out what your qualities are – you will notice how big a difference it will make in your daily life. Try – what does it take? A paper, some ink and just a few minutes per day! But the effect will make you happy!

You are special because of who you are – not because of what you do! – 14 Aug 13

After yesterday’s speech for minorities who feel pressurized by society, I would like to add some words for those people who absolutely don’t feel like a minority, those who feel that they feel like most other people do, those who are genuinely a part of ‘the majority’. Why? Because there is a lot of ‘majority-bashing’ going on, especially in the spiritual scene, but there are a lot of people who honestly feel the way they do and they have a right to be themselves, too – even if this means that they are ‘mainstream’. If you are one of them, you don’t need to feel guilty about it!

It may sound funny to you that I think this should be said but let me explain why I believe that there are a lot of people who have such feelings. For many years now, people have been ‘waking up’, realizing that they don’t want to continue their lives in the normal trot, that they want to get out of the pressure of their daily routine and do something that makes their hearts happy. There have been several movements which you can call the ‘spiritual scene’ if you are looking for one word. They all emphasize that you have to do what makes you happy and I fully support this basic idea. There are different approaches but most of them tell the interested people one thing: you are special!

While again, I agree with the basic idea that we all are unique, there is another implication of this message that I don’t really agree with completely: you are special because you are doing something different. You are special because all those people around you, the ‘majority’, the ‘great mass’ of people are not as conscious as you. You are special because they all do the same old thing and you don’t like it anymore. You are special because you don’t like what they all like. You may find a few people who like approximately the same things that you like but in the end you will go alone on your way to enlightenment because you are so special.

Well, I am just not in favour of the idea that all of these people are ‘the chosen ones’. I don’t think it is a good idea to tell a whole lot of people that you have to be so different from others that you don’t fit in. Yes, I myself tell people that you don’t HAVE TO fit in but it is a completely different story if you tell people that they SHOULD NOT fit in! That they are not special if they feel well around their normal friends. That they are supposed to feel bad when they are in their regular surroundings. That they have to find new friends and a minority that they can join. Or that they have to be lone wolves.

Once you get more conscious of your body, your food, your mind, your levels of stress or relaxation and your actions as whole, you may feel that you are a bit different. You may realize that you don’t enjoy certain activities, maybe like evenings where everyone gets drunk in a bar or barbecues because you are now vegetarian. You may not enjoy talking about most of the topics that you were previously talking about. But even if you still enjoy going to the movies, if you still enjoy dancing in a disco, if you still enjoy going out to a soccer match with your friends, you are still special and unique! You are still an individual being and there is nobody like you!

The message is: you are unique just as you are. Because of who you are, not because of what you do or don’t. Even if you are part of a majority, you are still special!