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!

Dear Yoga Teachers, don’t make Yoga more difficult than it is – 1 Oct 15

In the past two days I described a little bit in which ways we like to make yoga easy for our students and participants. The day before yesterday I told you that we don’t usually correct the yogis and yoginis in front of us and yesterday I explained why we don’t even use the Sanskrit terms for the yoga poses. I actually believe in making things easy and I think that helps others as well.

I know, people have the tendency to make things difficult. I have seen yoga teachers present yoga as an overly difficult science that nobody can understand unless they are in some way initiated by a yoga guru. There are yoga teachers who like to show the most difficult postures even to a beginners’ class. Others will use as many Sanskrit words in their class as possible.

I don’t think this is the way and while it may give you the feeling that you are an extraordinary person, better, more flexible, more exact than others, it is not really necessary to act like this.

You don’t actually need to take a small and simple thing just to stretch it, to explain it over an extended time! You could just say it simply as well! You can of course show others how flexible you are in the most advanced yoga postures but give others the feeling as though they will also reach there with regular practice, no problem!

I have actually seen this in other fields as well. It is by far not only a habit of yoga teachers! It is a general behavior I often see especially in people who have a bit low self-esteem. They need to present the things they have mastered as very difficult so that they can feel better about it. It is people who cannot satisfy their ego in simplicity and by making things easy.

While this is completely logical and in this way understandable as well, I would suggest you, if you have caught yourself doing the same thing, to find other ways to feel good about yourself. Realize that you have a lot of achievements, that you have your own qualities, that you are valuable enough also by achieving what others can as well achieve. You don’t need to have done something which ‘nobody else can do’ or ‘only the best can do’.

Don’t base your self-esteem on these things – that would be a very fragile base! You are worth your self-love just for who you are!

The Role of Ideals in your Life – and why you don’t need them as an Adult – 5 Feb 15

Today I would like to write about ideals. About those people in life whom we see as examples, someone who has a characteristic that we believe is worth imitating and striving for. Let me just tell you about the process of how this should change over the course of years:

When you are a child, you automatically have role models: your parents – or whoever adult it is that raises you. This is something you cannot change or influence, as they are the first people whom you imitate in order to learn the basics of life.

Other family members who are around you become the extended ideals. Elder brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, regular visitors to your home. You start extending your world and with it your ideals even further. You start going to school and your teachers become ideals. Friends, neighbors and even people whom you don't know personally, like singers or actors, join the list.

When you are small, all these people are just overall great. You accept them as perfect just as they are, without seeing them as real humans with faults and mistakes. This you have to learn bit by bit as you get older and gain perspective. Suddenly you realize that they may be excellent in one area of life but that you should not copy them in another.

You don't only gain perspective, you get mature and have to decide yourself what the characteristics are that you should strive for and what you should imitate or not.

And at some point you have to realize that you are you and that you don't have to be like anybody else. You don't need an ideal to imitate or copy because we all are different and you are unique, too.

You can always look at others for inspiration. Applaud the good and see it as something you can implement in your life. Never however should we stick to our childish way of creating an absolutely perfect ideal – it only leads to covering up their faults with excuses and lies.

Nobody is perfect but we all are unique. And so are you – so just be you, as best as you can!

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!

If you love yourself, don’t sell your Work under Value – 3 Sep 14

After having written yesterday that one should rather follow one’s heart rather than look for immediate money, I got a few comments that told me that many people would starve and not earn a penny if they followed their hearts. To everyone who thinks like that I have only one thing to say: learn to love yourself!

Yes, this is a question that people across all occupational areas have to face: how much do I do my work for others and how much for myself? How much can I charge for what I do? Should I provide my work for free?

There are of course areas of work in which people won’t really expect this of you. In a grocery store, people won’t expect you to give away fruit and vegetables for free. If you go by train, you don’t expect your train journey to be for free but buy a ticket. It is a bit easier whenever there are tangible products involved. More difficulties have to be faced by those who don’t sell goods but offer services. There will always be people who expect you to work for very little money or even for free.

People won’t usually expect a yoga teacher, a massage therapist or a meditation teacher to work for free but there is always a question for people of this profession how much they should charge. And just as there will always be people to pay what they charge, there will be those who will tell them they are too expensive.

A person with a good heart who loves his job will sometimes have the wish to give a product or service away for free. That is alright and a good thing – if you help someone who needs it with this gesture, it is wonderful. The problems start when you feel this too often and when you experience pressure from outside to be cheaper or work for free. And if you then feel guilty about it!

You need to know the value of your work. Compare with others in the same profession and set your price. Don’t sell yourself under value and have the self-esteem to stand up for yourself! If someone thinks you should work for free, let the person think this. It doesn’t matter – you know that you have to live, too, and that there is nothing wrong with getting something in exchange for your service.

If you love yourself, you know that your prices are fair. If you have a good heart, you will sometimes make an exchange for something else but money – anything that the other person can offer. From time to time, you will even do something for free. But at no time, will you feel guilty. If you love yourself, you can follow your heart and still ask for money for your work.

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!

Creating Adults with Self-Esteem – Teach your Children to say ‘No’! – 14 Apr 14

For more than two years now, I have been a proud parent. Parenting is something that I enjoy more than I could ever imagine. Giving my child the basics for a good life, helping her discover her surrounding and herself. There are so many important things that I want her to learn and today I would like to tell you about one of these: I want my child to learn saying ‘No’, especially when people get closer than she is comfortable with. I believe especially in India this is a lesson of incredible importance.

Let me give you an example of such a situation. Ramona had gone for shopping with some friends in the main market of Vrindavan. Apra, of course, had come along. So while the others were looking at clothes, trying them on and were spread in the whole shop, Ramona and Apra were playing in front of the mirror.

A saleswoman approached, smiled and greeted the two of them. Ramona greeted back and Apra was too immersed in her play to notice. So the woman came down on her knees just next to Apra and, obviously in an attempt to get her attention, stretched out her hand. She touched her in this one way which children so obviously dislike but which has become a usual habit for adults: she took Apra’s cheek in between her thumb and middle finger so that it looked as though she wants to pinch. Obviously she did not but nevertheless, Apra was everything else but happy about this touch. She retreated two steps backwards in Ramona’s direction. This lady did not take the hint and stretched out the other hand as well, cupping our baby’s other cheek.

This is the point when we want our baby girl to be able to say on her own that she does not want this touch. I want to hear her say ‘NO!’ loud and clear to this stranger. I don’t want to teach her that she has to endure your fingers in her face!

What kind of habit is that anyway? I realize you find our daughter cute – I do so, too – but do you touch every stranger in the face just because you think they are cute? If you and all of us really behaved with adults in this way, it would be fully fine. Apra would not have a problem because she would see this happening the whole time with everyone. But you don’t!

You believe that you can breach my child’s comfort zone simply because she is not even a full meter tall.

Ask any small man or woman, adult but not fully grown, just smaller than the average person, how degrading it is to be treated like this! Ask any teenager and even young adults and they will tell you that they hated this. Being touched by a stranger. Something that happens in your childhood and stops suddenly once your body shows that you are a person whom others should respect. A person with dignity and a private space that you are not supposed to intrude.

Why do you do something like this to children?

Because they cannot say ‘No’? Because they cannot object? That should be a reason for you not to do it and I hope I am not the only one to teach his child the opposite. If you don’t, your child won’t ever learn to say no, not even in adulthood! You will have adults who cannot say no, who just do whatever they are told, who let others invade their privacy and comfort zone. Who have problems with self-respect and self-esteem. Do something against it and teach your child to say ‘No’!

Tomorrow I will describe how Apra and Ramona reacted and the possible solutions Ramona and I found afterwards for such situations.