First reflect, then react

Foto: pixbay

We live in an “agitated society ” and in the “postfactual age”.

Both terms triggered me when I read them for the first time. The following feelings came up:
1. Consternation – both terms contain statements about emotions – and emotions are the heart of my work.
2. Agreement – I do understand what both terms want to tell in general but there was also …
3. Concern – how are emotions evaluated when we take a closer look at these two statements about our society?

Emotions are a central force in our daily life – consciously or subconsciously. In the best case we perceive and accept them, understand their origin and purpose and then let go of them again. If we do not succeed in integrating them into our actions and decisions, they usually find their own way, be it that they control us like a subversive force or, in the worst case, manifest themselves in physical pain.

Emotions are indicators, they are like sparks for the engine of our decisions and actions. (No wonder the word emotion includes the word “motion”). Using the spark effectively means having emotional intelligence.

However, the two terms mentioned at the beginning suggest that we are losing more and more “the feeling for feeling”. Emotions no longer serve as a hint but rather overwhelm us. The spark burns us instead of setting us on fire in a healthy and helpful way. It’s like a kind of misfire – a lot of noise, but little efficiency. Feelings like anger, fear and helplessness are not perceived and explored but automatically diverted into indignation, arousal and accusation. This may feel good at first – but in fact we achieve nothing – except a bad state, which is more obstructive than helpful – both for the reason or our counterpart, as well as for ourselves.

Of course, being outraged is quick, easy and a bit like a bag of chips – tastes too good and once you’ve started you can hardly stop.
But we also know what it would feel like if we had too much of it and what would happen if would not eat anything else anymore …

But how can we not become another citizen of the agitating society despite all the stimuli that rain down on us every day, how can we stay reflected and balanced?
First reflection, then reaction?

  1. The willingness to change – If you’d rather eat more chips in rough quantities and like to get upset and outraged, you can stop reading here. If you want to change something because you want to keep your inner balance to stay fit and healthy, then continue with point 2.
  2. Find the spark – What kind of people, situations, events, behaviors ignite you? What story are you telling yourself about these people, this situation or behaviour? Or what story have you been told about this situation or these people? What exactly does this tell you about yourself? What do you feel? How do you react?
  3. Direkt the ignition sparks – Is the situation, the topic or the person relevant and important for you? – If no, let go! If yes, ask yourself …
    • What is it about the story you tell yourself about this person or this situation or that you get told?
    • Is it true?
    • Is there any evidence?
    • How could it be told differently?
    • Are there other ways to explain your perception?
    • And what does that do to you?
    • What do you feel now?
  4. Speeden up or staying in neutral? – Do you see a need for action? – if no, let go. If yes, consider …
    • What can you influence and do?
    • What will you do
    • When
    • Go!

Yes, it is easier to be outraged.
But questioning, discovering and balancing yourself is so much healthier and more beneficial – for your own well-being, for all relationships and for broadening your horizon.

Let your emotions ignite you – but don’t get burned and stay curious!

Yours, Birgit

Inhale, smile, exhale

Photo: Pixabay

Frequently I am asked how to regain relaxation in moments of anger or tension. Most of the time I hear myself answering: “Breathe”. Sometimes I also say “inhale, smile, exhale”. That’s the moment, when a lot of people look at me in disbelief. Yes, it sounds simple – and so it is. And our greatest benefit is, that breathing is always with us. And far too rarely we actively use it to put ourselves into a better state.

Our breath is vital and fortunately works automatically and without our active involvement. And it’s exactly because of it working all by itself that makes us most if the time paying too little attention to our breath. Your breath is the perfect companion for relaxation.

Normally, breathing rhythm and intensity adapt to the circumstances. If we are tense, excited or need more energy for some other reason, our breathing becomes faster and shallower. If we relax in bed or on the couch, we breathe deeper and slower. The amazing thing is: the mechanism also works the other way round.

When we breathe slowly, consciously and deeply, we send a signal to our body telling it to relax. This works both – in tough situations, e.g. when I get upset about something, and during relaxation exercises after a demanding day.

Why don’t you give it a try? Take some time to devote yourself to your breathing. Find a quiet place with no interruptions for the next 2-3 minutes.

Choose a comfortable position, sitting or lying. Make sure that your stomach and chest can expand freely while breathing. When you are ready, close your eyes. Now pay attention to how your breath flows in and out all by itself. Let go of all thoughts and everything that still occupies your mind in this moment, relax more and more with each exhalation. Feel how you become calmer with every breath and how tensions in your body slowly release. Now put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Next time you breathe in, consciously feel how the air first fills your chest and then your belly – and how both relax again when you breathe out. Now enjoy two to three breaths in your own pace. If you like, pay attention to the breathless moments at the end of each inhalation and at the end of each exhalation. Enjoy for three more conscious breaths and give them loving attention.
Now slowly return attention to your environment. Stretch yourself, yawn if you feel like it and slowly open your eyes .

Enjoy the relaxed mood, take it with you into your day and stay calm.

Yours,
Birgit

Go Create!

There is something very relaxing and deeply satisfying about devoting yousefl to a task that you enjoy, in which you can really sink into, and the result of which you can see, taste, hear or feel in the end.

It doesn’t always have to be a very demanding task. It can also be something that allows you to switch off or let your thoughts run wild. For example when painting or drawing. It’s for a reasing that coloring books with e.g. Mandalas for adults are top sellers at the moment. If you also like to paint and relax – just dig out the old coloured pencils and print out a mandala to colour in. Or even better, grab an empty sheet of paper and get started. Just like when we were kids and we didn’t care whether one colour matched the other, the proportions were right or you could figure out what the result supposed to look like. Let your heart guide your hand.

But maybe you are more interested in music and you have a neglected instrument somewhere in your apartment that you once played but haven’t held in your hand for a long time? Now is the best time for it!

Or maybe you are more of a hobbyist and craftsperson?  With a tool room that helps you escaping time?

Or how about dedicating yourself today to the preparation of a delicious meal and treat yourself to it afterwards? Either alone (you are worth it!) or together with friends?

Cooking, handicrafts, painting, drawing, making music, photographing – the list can be extended endlessly.

I am sure you will find the right thing to awaken the Creator in you!

Have fun with it,

Your Birgit

Whatever you want.

This week, the text is replaced by …

You know yourself best.

Go and fill the next 5-10 minutes with whatever makes you happy or does you good.

Take care and enjoy!

Birgit

Activity-Trance

Foto: Pixabay

Today, an interesting expression caught my attention: “Activity -Trance (source: audio book “Sei kein Systemling” by Patrick Lynen).

It completely resonated with me. I also have the impression that there is one thing that almost disappeared from our lifes: silence.
It’s also very popular to have a lot to do and to be under stress.
It’s somehow more honourable to save the world than to end work early.
Hustle and bustle is popular.

It almost seems as if every moment has to be filled – with experiences, activities, movement.
With input from outside or with your own hustle and bustle. Don’t waist a minute!
The TV is running in the waiting room at the doctor’s – and sells additional services.
Smaller time gaps – e.g. while waiting for the bus or in the queue at the baker’s – are filled to recheck the mobile phone.
Reading a book while riding the train, listening to a Podcast, answering e-mails or quickly ticking off this important phone call while being squeezed into the overcrowded underground…
At home, the radio or television are playing in the background and during the work day, colleagues and bosses help to fill every moment.
Because we let them.

Lunchtime hunger is quickly satisfied on our way to the next meeting with a bite of the breadroll we bought at the baker’s.
We tick them off one after the other, duties, tasks, activities. Like in a trance. As if we are remotely controlled.

And when we a potentially unfilled moment approaches, it almost feels strange.
Do we perhaps stun ourselves with this activity trance, because silence has become unfamiliar to us?
Worst case: our system is so overly stressed that it is no longer able to unwind on its own. Then, often alcohol comes into play after work.
Directly moving from mental anesthesia to physical anesthesia.
Don’t get me wrong – a tasty wine in a cosy atmosphere – how nice! Only if you observe yourself reaching for it regularly to create that comfortable atmosphere, you should think about it.

Like being conditioned, our mind constantly asks – what now?

Nothing.
Simply nothing.

“..and then you also have to have time to just sit there and look .” (Astrid Lindgren)

When was the last time you just sat anywhere?
Do you remember how boredom feels?

Allow silence to arrive and stay curious about what might show up in your mind.
No music playing in the background, no smartphone, tablet, e-reader or book in your hand.
Just be.

Take a break. Feel. Listen in. Seize.
Moments free of external input.

To get back in touch with yourself and your needs.
If you want to hear your inner voice, provide it with moments it can speak up.
Whatever comes up may not always be pleasant, but it should always be heard. (Otherwise your inner voice will place its complaint in other places like your back muscles, your stomach, your head or in other parts of your body that cause you problems if you ignore your needs ;-)).

So…
Take a break.
Just sit.
Listen in.

Be good to yourself!

Yours, Birgit

Mind the Gap

Photo: Pixabay

“Actually, I am on healthy diet, but it’s so delicious!”
“Actually, I should have said no when my colleague asked me for help – now I’m behind again with my own tasks. But just say no?”

Do they sound familiar to you, those “actually – but” sentences? They are a pretty safe indicator for you experiencing the Mind-Behaviour-Gap.

What is the Mind-Behaviour-Gap?

It’s the gap between what you know and want to do and what you actually do.
This phenomenon has been investigated for years – most recently with regard to consumer behaviour, e.g. in organic and sustainable products. For example, in a German study* 60% of respondents stated that they prefer to shop at weekly and organic markets or farms – but in 2018 Germans bought most of their food at discount stores. The Mind-Behavior-Gap is therefore a well-known phenomenon and – admittedly – hardly anybody manages to close this gap completely. Nevertheless, it is advisable to keep it as small as possible.

Why keeping it as small as possible?

Imagine you have a friend who values meetings with you as much as you do. Every time you meet, the time together is enriching and beautiful. There’s only one catch: 80% of meetings don’t happen because your friend cancels short notice. Every time you agree on a date, you are looking forward to it and then, shortly before – canceled again.
How would you feel about it?
What would you think about your friend?
How “seriously” would you take the planned dates?

And now imagine that this friend is – yourself. You know what is important to you, plan accordingly and then you regularly find yourself in situations where you didn’t really want to be.
Again, you are on the road for others and you do not do what you had in mind. You feel that this is not right and a latent dissatisfaction spreads. Most likely, your subconscious speaks to you here because it feels kidded.
The more often this happens to you, the bigger the Mind-Behaviour-Gap is, the less authentic you go through life and the more you run the risk of feeling the following symptoms:
– Frustration
– decreasing motivation
– increasing strain
– decreasing stress tolerance
– dwindling belief in your self-efficacy
– Feeling of the “victim role”, up to depressive moods
– loss of self-esteem

So what can you do to minimize the Mind-Behaviour gap

1. take responsibility: it is you who do not act according to your own values and guidelines. It is not the fault of the others that you do not do it, but in the vast majority of situations you have the choice of how you want to act and behave. If the phone call with your girlfriend is already too long because you wanted to do something else, then it is not too long because she talks so much – but because you have not (or not clearly enough) communicated until when you have time. And if you now think “yes but the friendship as well matters a lot to me” – all right – then we’re already in the middle of …
2. Clarity: become aware of what is important to you. Clearly separate values that “you should have” from those that really correspond to YOU. Which three values distinguish you? And with what behaviour do you implement them? How do you deal with value conflicts? What has priority? Make a conscious decision! And check this point from time to time. Stay flexible. Life changes, circumstances change – you change. Maybe in a few years something else is important to you? That’s okay! Correct. But once you have established the values, show…
3. Integrity: Keep your promises to you. Admit to yourself honestly, if it didn’t work out and think about what you have to change, so that it works out in the future (maybe something else is more important to you in secret after all?). Thus preserve your authenticity and respect for yourself.
4. self-esteem: Be worth it to yourself to stand by yourself and your values and to go your way. That’s not selfish. On the contrary, people who are at peace with themselves and rest in themselves are an enrichment for their environment! The more you are at peace with yourself, the less you “have to fight for something” – because you are no longer on the road against someone, but for yourself.

I wish you a “gap-less” week in which you succeed in integrating as much as possible of what is important to you.

Sincerely, Birgit

*Study of the household appliance manufacturer Ritterwerk in 2018

Three times the charm

Photo: Pixabay

Your energy flows to where your attention is.

We tend to remember unpleasant things forever. Having had this bad experience does not seem to be enough – we let it wander through our minds again and again. And since thoughts evoke feelings, we experience the unpleasant every time anew. And we give away a lot of energy for something that a) can’t be changed anyway and b) isn’t even pleasant.
This may be due to the fact that evolution equipped us with a mechanism which is supposed to protect us from any danger. This mechanism leads to the fact, that we perceive everything that’s not working according to our ideas as unpleasant.
On the other hand, we do not spent much attention to pleasant things – we take them for granted.
In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, between all the things that are not going according to plan, an unbalanced overall picture quickly emerges in our heads, leaving us rather dissatisfied and tense.

The good news is – we are not helpless at the mercy of this imbalance. Our brain is an amazing masterpiece of nature – in a figurative way it is like a muscle. If we keep using and training muscles, they will grow and become stronger. Our thought patterns are like mental muscles. The question is: which mental muscle do you want to train?

There is a good way to train and promote our eye for the good and pleasant things in our lives. If you establish the following tip as a daily ritual, it will be particularly effective.

This week, consciously focus your attention on everything that goes well. Every evening, write down hree things that were pleasant, worked well, made you happy or made you smile. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular at all – often it is the little gestures, moments or observations: the fresh coffee in the morning, the person in the tram who offers his place to an elderly lady, the sun on your skin …
If it is difficult for you to remember in the evening, you can also make a short note during the day – for example with your mobile phone – if you have experienced something positive. Then, allow yourself 5-10 minutes in the evening to review these notes again.

Go continue this ritual for longer than just one week. Soon you will probably come up with more than three things and your mind will be trained to get a more balanced and relaxed picture of the world.

By the way: if you are to experience one of these days you would rather prefer to forget, it helps immensely to take a look at the positive notes of the past days.

Take care three times,

Birgit

Slow Motion Mode

“This year went faster than the last.”
“Perhaps it’s a matter of age that everything seems to pass by quicker and quicker?”

These are sentences I frequently hear when I am having a chat with my friends about time and how fast it passes.

Just recently I read an interesting interview with Prof. Dr. Hartmut Rosa, one of the most famous German time scientists. In this interview he says: “We are … richer in experiences, but still poorer in experience. Because experiences are no longer transformed into experience. “

With so many choices available, we often rush from one event to the next – without taking our time, processing our impressions and consciously saving it. It seems as if we are always scratching the surface, but not going deeper. Everything seems faster and less intense. Prof. Rosa continues: “If you want to feel rich in time, you should now and then waste a day, planning nothing, doing nothing productive.”

I recommend combining this with the “slow motion technique

For one day, imagine your perception is like a camera in a Hollywood movie. During the day, zoom in people, encounters, scenes and situations every now and again. Develop an awareness of all the details. At the same time, sometimes try to fade out one level of perception (e.g., sounds / noises). Maybe one or the other scene will even seem like slow motion, because you suddenly perceive much more consciously and intensively.

By this you can train your sensory perception and enrich your impressions. Maybe one or the other detail will amaze you. In any case, your experience will grow deeper and more concious.

In addition, this exercise will help you keeping your focus once  you need it (for example, when you’re working or reading something on a train ride and the person next to you is talking on the phone – happens to me regularly :-))

On vacation, this comes more naturally to us – for example when we are somewhere for the first time, everything seems to be much more intense or if we are reading a good book while lying on the beach and forgetting the world around us.

Try to find this magic also in everyday situations:

Perceive surrounding sounds or voices like background music and focus on something close to you.

  • Chew for a little longer while eating. Focus on the taste.
  • Watch your hands or fingers for a minute
  • While waiting in a queue, curiously watch the behavior of the person in front of you.
  • Do everyday behaviors with greater attentiveness – like opening a door.

Set the scene and enrich your senses!

Happy filming,

Birgit

Greet your feet

We stress them all day. In the morning, we hide them in socks or stockings and in nice shoes – that are very often far too tight. Sometimes we get blisters (I always think my shoes make my feet fit them and not the other way round …). Most time of the year they live in darkness – but despite all this, they walk us through our lives.

Our feet are a masterpiece of nature. They help us keep our musculoskeletal system in balance, and even though we strain the soles throughout the day, they contain many important and sensitive points that are related to our energy channels (meridians) in the body. A professionally performed foot reflexology massage can also help reduce stress by stimulating nerve paths and muscle relaxation.

This way, being kind to your feet also has a positive effect on the rest of your body and your well-being. And there are many ways to do your feet good:

  • Treat your feet regularly to a relaxing foot bath
  • After cleansing, cream your feet with a foot lotion and massage them lightly. Make sure to include all areas of your feet (including the heel and toe ends).
  • To relax, massage your both feet consecutively for 20 minutes each with a good massage oil. If you are under stress, try this: in the middle under the ball of the foot is the midriff-solar-plexus-zone. A gentle massage of this point reliefs nervous tension.
  • You can also apply a simple foot reflexology massage by using spiky massage balls. Sit upright on a chair and roll your bare feet alternately with light pressure over the massage ball.

And my last tip: free your feet and walk barefoot more often!

When walking barefoot, we perceive the underground much more and can reconnect with nature more easily. In addition, walking barefoot trains the muscles (not only those of the foot) and can thus help to alleviate postural deformities, back problems and flat feet.

By the way, if you walk barefoot regularly, you have less cold feet. Why? Because walking barefoot stimulates the blood circulation (which is often hindered in shoes and socks), and your feet get used to being naked – just as your hands are used to.

During summer, you can also visit barefoot sensory paths or create your own:
http://www.barfusspark.info/loesungsk/katalog_en.htm

So, greet your feet an enjoy!

Birgit

Spread the Laugh!

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” 
― Charles Dickens

Laughter is the best medicine. It improves the effectiveness of the lung, showers our brain with oxygen, relaxes the muscles and is a massage for your internal organs. It boosts your immune defence, stress hormons are reduced and hormons that lead to happiness are released. So, frequently laughing heavily contributes to your health.

Research on the positive side effects of laughter has found that laughing …

  1. intensifies your breath
  2. produces endorphines
  3. strengthens your immune defence
  4. decreases symptoms of stress
  5. triggers self-healing effects which also lead to pain reduction

Medcine also uses the healthy benefits of laughter. The initiative “ClownDoctors” is a community of freelance artitists, who visit children in hospitals and homes for the elderly. The ClownDoctors are trained to bring laughter, happiness and variety into the lifes of the often critically ill children and the sometimes solitary elderly. (http://www.clowndoctors.co.uk/)

Have you lately had a hearty lough? Can you still remember yourself laughing to tears and laughing so much that you had forgotten, what you where lauging about because you started to laugh about your own laughter?

I love to laugh (out loud ;-)) and often carried others away with me – because laughter and it’s small sister smiling are heavily contagious. Have a look:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wk9-gkT2bI8
So if you give in to your laughter, you do not only do good to yourself but also to others.

As humor differs from person to person, I will not recommend specific actions today. You may know best what makes you smile or laugh. So immerse yourself into the laughter today and have fun!

Happy Sunday!

Birgit

PS: Laughing about yourself is also very alleviative!