Why we need failure on our way to success

Our failures can help us become more successful

If we set ourselves goals, there is always the risk that we don’t reach them, that we fail.

And what we often do, because of that ‘risk’ of failure – we pull back. We let go of that goal completely or we make it smaller, easier to achieve.

There is nothing wrong with this as long as we feel happy and content about the achievement of those smaller easier goals.

If, however, we feel dissatisfied, disappointed, frustrated, if we cannot truly enjoy the results we currently have, we might want to have a closer look at our fear of failure that holds us back from working on big(ger) goals.

Some time ago, we talked about How to fail successfully’ (click here to read more).

We discussed that the only reason why we try our very best to avoid failure is because we try to avoid the bad feelings we expect to show up if we miss our expectations and desired results.

And that the only reason why we connect bad feelings with failure is because we have negative thoughts about failing.

We are the ones who decide what failure means to us.

Unfortunately, we very often decide to think about failed expectations in a negative way, in a way that creates negative feelings like disappointment, shame, pain.

The recommendation in the article mentioned above was to deliberately start getting good at failing by doing it often and by appreciating failures as learning opportunities.

Today we want to discuss the second suggestion a bit deeper: deliberately using the learning and growth potential of failures.

Imagine you would always win.

You would achieve all the goals you set yourself and create any results you wanted to have. No matter what you did it was a success.

No challenges and obstacles to overcome, no difficulties to move out of the way, no two steps forward and one backward, always all expectation met.

Wouldn’t that be boring?

Not only boring but probably even awful. Because winning effortlessly all the time would also mean:

no opportunities for self-development and growth, no need for experimenting, no innovation and new – and potentially better – ways to approach things and move forward.

Failure has much to offer

Most of us don’t want to spend time with our failures. Instead, we want to move on and forget about ‘what went wrong’.

But we can learn so much from our failures – if we take the time and effort to understand what they want to tell us.

We can decide on purpose to use any failure as a neutral (not negative!) source of information, offering valuable insights and ideas for innovation.

Three powerful questions to create success from failure

(Source: Stacey Boehman, 2k program)

    1. What worked?
    2. What didn’t work?
    3. What am I going to do differently?

Let’s have a look how this works.

EXERCISE

Decide to invest some time to really evaluate a failure experience. Sit down and take out a piece of paper and a pen.

Step 1 – Choose a recent failure that you want to evaluate

Think about your recent failures. And pick one. It could be something small or big.

For example: You didn’t get the job you applied for. A prospect didn’t become a client. You lost a tennis match. The sweater you knitted doesn’t fit. You yelled at you kids at dinner although you wanted be patient and relaxed. You didn’t achieve your weight loss goals. The weekend trip with your mother-in-law was a disaster.

Step 2 – Start working on the first question: What worked?

You mind might want to immediately offer answers to the questions why it didn’t work – ignore it for now.

It is important to start with thinking about what worked because that brings you to a more positive place and makes you open to the insights that can be gained.

List everything that went well. Every little thing. Don’t let yourself off the hook, keep writing. What did you do well? Which actions you took were effective? What helpful thoughts did you have? What useful beliefs did you create? What ideas? List anything that brought you in the intended direction.

Step 3 – Now answer the second question: What didn’t work?

Try to be open and curious, and non-judgemental. Keep the list as neutral as possible, avoid negative adjectives. This is just about creating an inventory of the things (actions and thoughts) that didn’t work out, it’s not about collecting accusations.

Which thoughts or beliefs got into your way and kept you from doing what had to be done? In which ways didn’t you show up like you wanted? Did you lack certain skills or necessary knowledge? Etc.

Step 4 – Finally think about this: What are you going to do differently?

Based on your answers to the other two questions you can now make a plan and list what you want to do differently in future.

This step is vital for our development and our future successes, but most of us don’t do it – because we are so eager to get away from the failure experience.

What you are going to do differently is your new roadmap. Even if your next goal is different from this missed one, you will still benefit from what you learned here if you make a plan how to apply it in your next project. 


“We think we fail and go backward. We only go back when we give up. When you fail, you’re moving forward.” (Brooke Castillo)


Your future self has a very compassionate and understanding opinion about you.

You can rely on her in so many ways, and she’ll also help you learn and benefit from your failures.

Just talk to her. 🙂

How to talk to your future self

An effective decluttering strategy for negative thoughts – Out of sight out of mind

Decluttering our home is not always easy.

Sometimes, we struggle to let go of a possession although we don’t use it or don’t like it.

    • It could be a pair of shoes that we bought 6 months ago and have never worn. We don’t want to give it away because, yes, it’s a bit small, but maybe we could wear it without socks in summer?
    • Or a picture we inherited from our grandmother. Whenever we look at it we think that it actually doesn’t fit in our home and that we don’t like it. But how could we dare to get rid of it – it’s from our grandmother!

In situations like these, if often helps to put that item in question away for a while.

We put the shoes in a box in the garage and decide to get them out again in 3 months. We take grandma’s picture from the wall and hide it behind the wardrobe for 30 days.

And then we wait and see what happens.

Do we miss the thing that’s no longer visible and accessible? Most often, we don’t. We completely forget about its existence.

Then, after 3 months or 30 days have passed, it’s easy to now take the final step and get the item out of the house.

It is similar with the useless things we keep in our mind.

Decluttering our mind is also not always easy.

Sometimes, we struggle to let go of a thought although we know that it doesn’t serve us, that it holds us back, has become a burden.

It could be a thought we ‘inherited’ from someone else.

Maybe our teacher in primary school has ‘given’ us the thought that we are hopeless when it comes to finishing a task on time. We keep the thought, ‘I don’t manage to finish things on time’ although we know it’s definitely not serving us. We might even doubt that it is true but still can’t let it go.

It could be a thought that we ourselves ‘invented’ and keep thinking.

We, for example, have decided that if we don’t say what we think we can avoid the risk of hurting someone else’s feelings. We don’t like this thought because it makes our relationships complicated but we struggle to get it out of our mind.

In these mind-clutter situations we can apply the same strategy that’s so helpful with physical clutter issues:

We get the ugly or useless or harmful thought out of the way for some time. And we decide to replace it with another thought for that period of time.

EXERCISE

Step 1 – Choose a thought that you don’t like and that’s not serving you.

Something like ‘I don’t manage to finish things on time’ from the example above. This thought makes us feel incompetent and slow which causes us to act in an incompetent way which creates results that reinforce the ‘fact’ that we don’t finish things on time.

Step 2 – Decide what you want to think instead.

Now you play around with different thoughts that you could use as a replacement for the old one.

If we take the example above, we could ask ourselves, ‘What do I have to think so that I feel competent and agile and act in a way that lets me finish things on time?’  A suitable thought could be, ‘I know what to do and I do it efficiently, on time’. If that thought doesn’t fit yet, we could choose something like ‘I am good at learning to do things efficiently and on time’.

Step 3 – You practice the new thought and lock the old one away

You store the old thought away at the back of your mind and practice the new thought continuously. And whenever the old thought pops up, you remind yourself, ‘Oh no, I’m not thinking that thought for a month. For now, I only allow myself to think the new thought’.

The nice thing with thoughts that we have proven to be useless and powerless is that they disappear on their own – as soon as we have successfully established the new thought in our mind, they old one is gone – it vanishes into thin air.


Our mind is the most powerful tool in the world but we have to learn how to use it, on purpose.

We need to use our mind-decluttering skills intentionally so that we can let go of any thoughts that don’t serve us. Getting a clear mind sets us free to move on with new powerful thoughts. 

The free virtual coaching session offers you the opportunity to experience the power of your mind in a very practical way:

Just pick a topic – anything that’s currently going on in your life – and let’s talk about it.

During our 30-45 min Zoom meeting you’ll gain greater awareness of what’s happening in your mind right now and how this affects what’s happening in your life. Often, that’s all we need to take action and make things better.

Schedule your free coaching session now

How to get out of confusion IF YOU THINK you don’t know what to do – The Mind-Decluttering Series – Part 18

Confused? What if you knew what to do?

So often when we are faced with a challenge, or a new task, or a tough goal, our mind guides us into confusion.

It brings up thoughts like ‘I don’t know what to do’, ‘I don’t know where and how to start’, ‘I don’t know how to do this’.

The result of feeling confused is, of course, feeling stuck and overwhelmed.

And not doing anything.

We can get ourselves out of confusion and indecision by asking ourselves

    • ‘If I did know what to do, what would I do?
    • And then, what would I do next?’

Now our mind has a clear task it can focus on, it has a problem to solve. All we have to do is to give our mind time and space to think.

It might need some practice but soon your mind will get used to focus on finding answers and solutions instead of spinning around in confusion.

Answer your questions in writing

It’s a good idea to put your thoughts down in writing. Writing slows us down and allows us to process our thoughts better.

Get out a pen and some paper and start writing.

Write out your problem and then write out the question,

    • ‘What should I do next?’

Trust yourself, your mind will find the answers.


If asking yourself questions doesn’t bring up all the answers and solutions you are looking for, talking it through with someone else can help

Schedule your free coaching session now

The link between your hand bag and your mind – The Mind-Decluttering Series – Part 17

Decluttering & organising your mind – Get started with a little physical exercise

Physical decluttering is a great analogy for mind decluttering.

Getting rid of useless tangible belongings is similar to getting rid of thoughts that don’t serve you (any longer).

And re-organising a now clutterfree area in your home is similar to re-organising your cleared-up mind.

Start-up Project: Declutter and organise a small personal space

Decluttering – whether it’s our home or our mind – can feel a little overwhelming.

By starting with a very small example project you will be able to get the work done in a matter of minutes.

Your little physical decluttering project will help you get a better understanding of the decluttering process in general.

You will directly experience how the 3 steps of any declutter project work together in setting you free to move on with confidence.

Choose a personal space that you use on a daily basis, like your purse or backpack or briefcase.

Your chosen personal space can be seen as a reflection of who you are.

If it is cluttered and unorganised it sends the message – to others and to yourself – that the owner of this space is disorganised.

Each time you grapple with trying to find what you need or you suffer from the heavy useless stuff you carry around in your bag, you experience frustration which reinforces the message ‘I am so disorganised’.

However, if you open an organised clutterfree space – in this case your purse or briefcase -, you send yourself the opposite message, ‘I am organised’. This changes the story you tell yourself about yourself.

As soon as you have decluttered a space that you access multiple times during the day, you will be repeatedly reminded that you are able to do the decluttering work successfully. You will also have clear proof that you can overcome the overwhelm.

You will enjoy the benefits of organised spaces every time you use the decluttered item. 

Step-by-step description of the example project

Step 1 – Clear up the space

Dump all the contents of your chosen personal space (briefcase, or similar item) on a flat clean surface.

Sort into categories, such as personal care items, personal documents (driver’s licence, bus ticket, etc.), and put aside a rubbish pile (all the things that are obviously useless).

Step 2 – Let go of the clutter

Throw the rubbish pile (e.g. crumpled tissues, old receipts) into the bin.

Sort out what you never use, and let go of all the duplicates, e.g. the second comb, the second and third pen, the second roll of peppermint drops.

Appreciate all the things that are helpful and important to you and promise yourself to take good care of them in future.

Step 3 – Move on – with a clear bag

Now decide: What do I really need and use on a daily basis?

Pack your bag deliberately, put aside what you are no longer willing to carry around every day. (Reserve the umbrella for rainy days, the sun cream for summer, the novel for times when you use public transport, etc.)

Find appropriate compartments in your bag or containerise what belongs together. Your wallet is such a container. You can introduce additional containers if it make sense, e.g. little bags for make-up items or note-taking equipment.

Congratulations – You have proven yourself that you are a capable declutterer! Well done!

Now you can feel certain that you’ll enjoy your clutterfree and organised personal space – every day.

Notice how you else you feel at the end of this little decluttering project.

Do you feel relief? Satisfaction? Clarity? Pride? Something else?

Decluttering a physical area is such a great analogy for decluttering your mind, because getting rid of useless things is similar to getting rid of thoughts and feelings that don’t serve you

Your mind gets as easily cluttered as your home if you don’t pay attention.

The big and important difference is that a cluttered mind is much more harmful to your wellbeing than a cluttered home.

It’s definitely worth the effort to make sure that your mind is clutterfree and organised!

Take the first step of your mind- (and life-) decluttering journey today.

Schedule your free coaching session

Don’t be afraid of fear – The Mind-Decluttering Series – Part 16

The purpose of fear

Fear is one of those emotions that have played an important role in the human evolution – fear has kept us away from dangerous situations and helped us survive.

That’s why our mind is programmed for fear for survival, and fear still serves us in many ways.

It keeps us away from doing things that could hurt us, such as running into traffic. It helps us make better decisions when it comes to our safety, like complying with social distancing rules during pandemics.

However, fear is no longer as necessary as it used to be, most of our day-to-day fear is not necessary and not useful.

Often, useless fear keeps us from doing what we want to do, it causes us to avoid certain situations or activities, it can limit our personal growth potential.  

Having fear is part of the human experience.

If we want to overcome fear we first need to understand that having fear doesn’t mean that something has gone wrong with us. It doesn’t mean that we are weak or cowardly. As human beings we are wired for survival and having fear is a normal part of the human experience.

Thus, accepting that fear is going to be part of our life can make it much easier to live with it.

Our thoughts create our fear.

Most of the self-limiting fear we have comes from a thought in our mind, a thought that might be irrational but nevertheless is creating fear which then keeps us from taking action.

As soon as we find that irrational thought and its cause, we can start to work on getting the fear out of our way.

One way to do so is to deliberately change our thoughts.

Let’s have a look at an example – The fear of public speaking

Many people are terrified of public speaking. The fear of putting ourselves out there is often caused by another fear – the fear of potential humiliation. We are afraid of making a mistake and being laughed at because we believe that that would make us feel terrible. Thus not the act of talking in front of an audience causes our fear of public speaking but the idea that our feelings could get hurt.

As soon as we understand the fear-causing thoughts, we can decide that we no longer want to believe them. We can search for more useful thoughts and replace the old ones.

We can, for example, decide to start thinking:

    • Being laughed at during a public speech is not the end of the world.
    • The worst thing that could happen is feeling humiliated.
    • And that’s just a temporary feeling, it will go away.
    • And experiencing it will make us stronger.

Taking action while feeling fear is a skill that we can develop.

If the fear-causing thoughts and the fear itself (in this case the fear of humiliation) are deep-seated and hard to change, we can decide to take action anyway.

We don’t have to be fearless to take action. Taking action while we are still feeling fear is always possible:

    • We might need to remind ourselves that there is no real danger, that it’s not about life or death.
    • We consider the worst that can happen and tell ourselves that we will survive it.
    • We decide that we don’t give in to our fear of fear.
    • And then we do the thing we are afraid of.

‘You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.’  – Eleanor Roosevelt


FEELING BETTER MAKES LIFE BETTER

Do you want to feel better and take action to make your life better? Now?

Consider the ‘Feeling-Better Self-Coaching Program’.

Use 3 easy-to-do exercises over the course of 12 days to declutter your mind. Start to feel better. Now.

Sign up to the free online program.

Click to book free online course

How to fail successfully – The Mind-Decluttering Series – Part 15


It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” (J.K. Rowling)


Do you like failure?

    • What have been the 3 biggest failures in your life so far?
    • What were your 5 most important failures last month?
    • How often did you fail last week? What’s your most recent failure?

Do these questions make you feel uncomfortable?

Most of us don’t like to talk about our failures. And we don’t like to think about our failures.

Instead, we try to forget them as quickly as possible. And if we don’t manage to get them out of our mind, we at least try to hide them from other people’s eyes.

We tend to fear failure and try our very best to avoid failure because we feel bad when we fail. But the only reason why we feel bad about our failures is because we have negative thoughts about failing.

What is failure?

Failure happens when we set out to do something, and we have an expectation of the result of our action(s), and then we miss that expectation, we don’t achieve the result we wanted to have.   

At this point, failure is still something neutral, it’s neither negative nor positive. It’s just something that didn’t turn out the way we had expected.

We have complete control over how we think and feel about the missed expectation and result.

A little side note: There was a time in our life when we all enjoyed failing

We all know from our own experience that falling down and failing while learning to walk is a precondition of becoming successful at walking.

You might not remember it but as a baby you most probably enjoyed the process of continuously failing: falling down, getting up,  falling down, … . Giving up was no option, each failure/falling helped building up strength and capability, and success was just a matter of time – finally you walked!

How failure can become something negative

We get to decide what we are going to make it mean if we miss our expectations.

How we think about the ‘failure’ determines how we feel about it – which finally changes the neutral fact of a missed expectation into a negative or positive experience.

Unfortunately, we very often decide to think about failed expectations in a negative way, in a way that creates negative feelings – disappointment, shame, pain.

That’s why we try to avoid failure – we want to avoid the negative feelings we associate with it.

How failure can become something positive

However, we are free to choose having positive – or at least neutral – thoughts about failure.

We can decide to think, ‘O.k., I missed my expectation, I didn’t achieve the desired result this time. That’s not the end of the world. It’s actually a learning opportunity. I can have a closer look at it and learn and then try it again in a different way.’

The better we get at having positive feelings about failing, the more willing we are to try and do what we need to do on the way to our success. The more often we are willing to risk missing our expectations, the more we are going to learn, and the better we are getting at meeting our expectations – and becoming successful.

How to become better at failing

We can increase our chances of success by getting good at failing.

We learn to get good at failing by doing it often. And by appreciating and using each failure as a learning opportunity.

EXERCICE 1

Think about an activity, a project or a task that you actually want to do but that you have postponed again and again.  Are you trying to avoid failure?

Decide now that you will no longer allow fear of failure hold you back.

Describe what you are expecting to get out of it, what results you wish to achieve.

And then do it.

    • The worst thing that can happen is that you fail and that you allow yourself to think and feel bad about it.
    • A great thing that can happen is that you fail and feel good about it, and use it as a learning opportunity.
    • Another great thing that can happen is that you succeed – not only because you get the result you want but also because you experience what can happen if you don’t avoid failure.

EXERCISE 2

Appreciate each failure experience as a learning opportunity.

Read the questions about past and current failures on the top of this article again.

And take the time to answer them.

Then lean back and consider

    • How did these experiences help you learn and evolve?
    • How did they help you getting better at doing difficult things?
    • How can they be seen as proofs of your courage, decisiveness and determination?
    • How did they benefit you although or even because they didn’t result in what you expected?

Failure is something you have to consider as something you want to include in your life. It’s not something to avoid. It’s actually something to pursue and to get very good at.” (Brooke Castillo, The Life Coach School)


FEELING BETTER MAKES LIFE BETTER

Do you want to feel better and take action to make your life better? Now?

Consider the ‘Feeling-Better Self-Coaching Program’.

Use 3 easy-to-do exercises over the course of 12 days to declutter your mind. Start to feel better. Now.

Sign up to the free online program.

Click to book free online course

How to set goals – The Mind-Decluttering Series – Part 14

The main reason why we usually decide to set goals for ourselves is, of course, because we want to achieve or get something that we currently don’t have in our life, or maybe we want to change what currently is to something else – usually something better.

However, goal setting not only gets us on track to move towards our goals.

The special benefits of setting and pursuing goals

    • The act of setting goals and then moving towards them has a deeper benefit:

It allows us to evolve and to develop our personal potential.

Moving towards something that’s beyond our current abilities and overcoming the obstacles on our way helps us to stretch ourselves and to become better in what we do and who we are.

    • Another positive effect of setting and pursuing goals is that it gives our mind focus and direction.

If we don’t direct our mind, it runs on default. It might produce thoughts that don’t benefit us because they produce feelings and actions that create unwanted results in our life.

Our deliberate intentions and goals keep our mind from running ‘wild’, they provide supervision and structure and help us live our life on purpose.

The process of goal-setting – Some tips

    1. Choose a goal – even if you don’t have one.

Even if you don’t have a specific goal at the moment, if you don’t have anything currently on your calendar that you’re working towards, setting a goal can be a really powerful and useful exercise.

Decide now to commit to a goal so that you can enjoy the general benefits of the goal-setting-and-pursuing process (see above).

    1. Get specific but don’t think about the how yet.

Be very specific about your goal. Talk about your goal in the first person and in the present tense. Decide on time-frames and deadlines, and other details.

At this point, you don’t think about how you are going to achieve the goal, you only think about the what and when.

    1. Write the goal down.

Take your goal out of your imagination, make it real and tangible.

The best way to do this is to write it down.

Writing down your goal on a piece of paper gets it out of your brain. You now can look at it, your can adjust it, you can carry it around, and you can (and should) read it again and again.

    1. Stretch yourself with the goal, and ‘welcome’ any negative feelings.

Offer yourself a real self-development opportunity, make sure that you push yourself beyond your current comfort zone with your goal. (If it seems easy to achieve, it’s not a real goal!)

You will know that you have stretched yourself sufficiently if negative emotions such as fear, doubt, shame come up.

Don’t push these feelings away, accept them as normal parts of the process.

Overcoming these feelings will not only ensure that you achieve your goal but also allow you to become a stronger and better version of yourself.

    1. Uncover any negative thoughts, and question/replace them.

Search for the negative thoughts that cause the uncomfortable feelings.

It might be something like ‘This is too hard to do’, or ‘I don’t know how to do this’, or ‘I don’t know if this is what I want’. Uncover all the thoughts behind your feelings of disbelief or doubtfulness or fear – and write them down.

Then remind yourself that these thoughts are just choices. Your mind is bringing them up in an effort to protect you but that doesn’t mean you have to believe them. Tell your mind, ‘No worries – I’ll figure this out.

    1. Have a brainstorming session with your future self.

When you start to work on your action plan, you can ask your future self for some help.

Imagine yourself at the place in the future when your goal has been completed.

From that place you look back to where you are now and you tell your present self the how – all the steps you took to accomplish the goal and all the things you did to overcome the obstacles on your way.

For any step you can’t describe in detail yet, you create a ‘to-figure-out’ action step, like ‘This is what I don’t know yet and this is how I’ll figure it out’.

The process of goal-setting – A simple example

I recently decided to improve my fitness levels. This is how my goal-setting looked like:

1 to 3 – Choose a goal, be specific, write it down

I want to increase my fitness levels by becoming a better runner. On my birthday – in 6 weeks time – I run from home to Bondi (across the suburbs) and then back home (along the coastal walk). That’s about 15 km and will take me about 2 hours.

4 – Stretch yourself and appreciate negative feelings

It’s a bold goal! Currently, I run about 25 minutes, two or three times a week. The idea to run around 2 hours without a break feels very intimidating and uncomfortable.

5 – Uncover negative thoughts and question/replace them

My original thoughts:

That’s a stupid idea. I am fit enough – why do I put this pressure on myself? I will hate myself if I don’t make it. And all the preparations and the training! I need to make a plan! And then stick to it! Oh no, this is really stupid – why do I always make my life difficult?!

My counter-thoughts:

O.k., o.k., calm down. It always feels great to achieve ambitious goals and this one will be no different. I’ll feel fantastic on my birthday, being so fit and strong. Yes, of course it needs some time and effort to get prepared. Yes, I need to make a plan. But I am good at planning. I’ll make it work out!

6 – A brainstorming session with your future self

My future self (on my birthday):

I remember how uncomfortable I felt, 6 weeks ago, when I made this decision and wrote it down. It felt so intimidating to see my goal on paper.

But then I made a plan. I decided to change my running schedule to 4 times a week and to extend the running time to 40 minutes.

I also decided to do longer runs every Sunday: 45 minutes on the first Sunday (at the end of the first week), 50 minutes on the next Sunday, 60 minutes on the third and fourth Sunday, 90 minutes on the fifth Sunday (one week before the Bondi run). 

I created a simple action plan, listing the running dates and running times. I put the plan on the wall, opposite my desk, so that I had to look at it every day. And on all running days, I wrote ‘done!’ at the end of the line of that day as soon as I came home from running. That felt good!

I also remember, however, that it was not always fun, especially the longer runs on the Sundays. But I never thought about giving up, that was just no option. I reminded myself that I did this for myself and that it was worth the effort.  

(8 weeks later – a quick success report: Yesterday, I did the Bondi run – it took me 1 hour and 50 minutes and was quite exhausting – but I did it! The goal-setting process was very helpful, especially the ‘talks’ with my future self.)


What about you?

Which goal could you choose to practice and experience the goal-setting process?

Use the tips listed above – and don’t forget to ask your future self for help when you set up the action plan. 🙂


FEELING BETTER MAKES LIFE BETTER

Do you want to feel better and take action to make your life better? Now?

Consider the ‘Feeling-Better Self-Coaching Program’.

Use 3 easy-to-do exercises over the course of 12 days to declutter your mind. Start to feel better. Now.

Sign up to the free online program.

Click to book free online course

How to feel better now – The Mind-Decluttering Series – Part 13

What do you really want in your life?

When someone asks us what we really want in our life, most of us say that we want to feel good or better, or that we just want to be happy.

So it seems to be very important to find out what it is that makes us feel good, better or happy.

Where do our feelings come from?

Often, we believe that our feelings are determined by the external circumstances in our life.

We say that we feel a certain way because of something that’s happening outside of us: other people and what they do or don’t do, the past/our past experiences, events that are happening or not happening.

We are persuaded that the reason for what we are feeling is out there, outside of our control.

However, every feeling is created in our mind, by the thoughts we are thinking.

Feeling better or happy is completely within our control!

This is actually very good news but it’s not so easy to accept/believe for many of us.

We got so used to the idea that we have to depend on something external, outside of us, in order to feel a certain way.

We believe that we can only feel happy if, for example, the scale proves to us that we have the ‘ideal’ weight.

We are persuaded that we will be happy as soon as we have found the ‘perfect’ partner.

We think that we can only feel good if we get promoted or a ‘better’ job.

But it’s not the thing that we decided we need to have to feel better that will make us feel better if we achieve it.

EXAMPLE 1

A very simple example is the weather.

How we feel about the weather has nothing to do with the weather but is completely determined by what we think about the weather.

If it’s heavily raining on a Sunday morning, we might think: ‘Oh no, we can’t go to the beach. This will be a boring day!’ – It’s heavily raining and we feel miserable and bored.

However, if we think: ‘Oh yeah, that’s great, now I can stay in bed and keep reading all day long!’ –  It’s heavily raining and we will feel great and enjoy the day.

EXAMPLE 2

Let’s imagine we believe that as soon as we achieve our ‘ideal’ body weight we are going to be happy.

Again, it’s not the circumstance – the ‘ideal’ numbers on the scale – that has the power to make us happy. The numbers are completely neutral, they actually mean nothing unless we assign a meaning to them.

It’s the thoughts that we have about these numbers that have the power to create the feelings we desire to have.

We might believe:

‘As soon as I’ll see these ideal numbers on the scale I will know that I am a great person. I will be fit and thin and people will admire me. I will feel attractive and confident and lovable and admirable. I will feel fantastic about myself. I will be happy.

If we look at this scenario from an objective point of view, we know that the conclusions above are not realistic:

    • We all know a lot of people who have achieved their weight loss goals, who have these ‘ideal’ numbers on the scale, who are fit and thin and attractive – but nevertheless feel completely miserable and unhappy. – The numbers on the scale don’t have the power to create good feelings for them.
    • We also know other people with a body weight much higher than the healthy ‘ideal’ numbers who feel strong and confident and fantastic about themselves. – The numbers on the scale don’t have the power to create bad feelings for them.

Thus, the secret to feeling happy is not waiting for something external to change. It is to change the thoughts we are thinking right now.

We can still choose to aim for our goals, of course. We can, for example, keep our plans to lose weight, if we want to.

But it’s time now for us to give up the idea that achieving that goal is necessary for us being able to feel the way we want to feel.

Knowing that our circumstances – our body weight, for example – have nothing to do with how we are feeling about ourselves, we can start to search for believable thoughts that will help us to feel our desired feelings now.  

EXERCISE

Start with one feeling you wish to feel more often and decide to focus on that favourite feeling for several days.

Referring back to the second example above, it could be ‘feeling confident’ (Feeling confident now, no matter what the numbers on the scale are!)

    • Going through your day, ask yourself again and again, ‘What do I have to think to feel ___ in this moment?’ – For example, ‘What do I have to think to feel confident right now?’. 
    • It might be that you struggle in the beginning to find believable thoughts. Just start ‘smaller’: ‘What do I have to think to feel a little bit more confident in this moment?’ 
    • You can also look back to your past to find helpful thoughts. ‘What was a situation in the past when I felt confident? What thoughts did I have about myself at that time? Could I think similar confidence-creating thoughts today?’
    • Look around for role models, people who seem to have a lot of the feeling you desire to have. ‘What might that person be thinking that makes her feeling confident right now?’

Become an expert in creating and feeling your favourite feeling. Right now.


FEELING BETTER MAKES LIFE BETTER

Do you want to feel better and take action to make your life better? Now?

Consider the ‘Feeling-Better Self-Coaching Program’.

Use 3 easy-to-do exercises over the course of 12 days to declutter your mind. Start to feel better. Now.

Sign up to the free online program.

Click to book free online course

How to take action – The Mind-Decluttering Series – Part 12

How to take action and make changes in our life

Many of us share this experience:

We have an idea we want to realise, we plan to change a certain behaviour, we want to create a new habit – and we really want to get active.

But then we don’t manage to motivate ourselves to do that thing. We don’t get started at all, or we get started but then stop again as soon as the first obstacle shows up.

So, why aren’t we taking action, why do we procrastinate and postpone, again and again?

It’s because of the clutter in our mind – all the thoughts and feelings that we got used to thinking and feeling, that we keep in our mind although they don’t serve us.

Everything we do or don’t do, every action or inaction in our life, is driven by a feeling – which always is created by a thought in our mind.

If we don’t get active, it’s because we don’t really ‘feel like doing it’.

As our feelings drive our actions, we only get active if we have the appropriate action-creating feelings.

And we can only feel the ‘right’ way if we have the ‘right’ thoughts – thoughts that are creating the feelings we need to feel to take action and to create the results we want to have in our life.    

So, our thinking is driving everything. It’s creating our feelings, which are driving our actions, which are creating our results.

Now it’s clear why we so often struggle to take action and make changes in our life:

If we try to take action without adapting or changing the thought and the feeling in a way that they support the desired action-taking, we are going to run into problems: We are going to have to work against our mind – against the thought and feeling it got so used to.

That’s why trying to use willpower to make changes in our life can be so frustrating. We try to change our action/behaviour without changing the thought and feeling that are driving our current action or inaction. 

EXAMPLE, PART 1

The thought is: ‘It’s really hard. I’ve tried so many times to lose weight and it didn’t work out. This time I have to make it work somehow.’

The feeling might be: Doubtful. Or sceptical. Maybe shameful.

The action then could be: Postponing and waiting for the ‘right’ time for the new diet. Or starting a new diet plan but giving in at the end of the next stressful day – getting to the fridge to find relief.

The result is: Another attempt to lose weight that didn’t work out.

We have to change our thinking and feeling so that we can create different actions and results.

The first step is to become aware of what’s happening in our mind. We have to understand our thinking before we can change our feelings and actions.

We have to see and understand what we are currently thinking before we can declutter and reorganise the thoughts in our mind.

We have to watch ourselves think.

In order to go into that observer mode, we have to separate ourselves from our mind.

If we manage to look ‘from the outside’ into our mind and to observe our current thoughts and feelings – like in the example above -, we begin to understand why we have not been successful in making changes.

We can then decide to change our thoughts.

EXAMPLE, PART 2

The new thought could be: It doesn’t matter what happened in the past. This time I take a different approach. I’ll make this work out for me. And I will be so proud of myself in the end!

The feeling might be: Determined. Or confident. Or committed.

The action then could be: Creating a detailed plan for the dieting process, including strategies how to overcome temptations and obstacles. Deliberately and regularly imagining the feelings of pride and accomplishment. Keeping to the diet plan.

The result is: The result is different! The different approach helps me to act as I want. I am proud of myself.

As soon as we consciously change our thought pattern we also change feeling pattern which enables us to change our actions/behaviours and therefore the results in our life.

EXERCISE

Think about the things you would like to do, the goals you wish to achieve.

Step 1 – Pick one goal. Describe the result you want to create:

……………………………………………………………………………..

Step 2 – What would you have to do, which actions would you have to take to create the desired result? 

……………………………………………………………………………..

Step 3 – Now think about what feeling you need to feel to take the necessary action and get that thing done

……………………………………………………………………………..

Step 4 – What thoughts would you need to be thinking to feel the action-creating feeling? 

……………………………………………………………………………..

Now practice thinking that thought. Day by day. Expect your feelings and action to change soon. Slowly but surely. 


Our mind is the most powerful tool in the world but we have to learn how to use it, on purpose.

We need to use our mind-decluttering skills intentionally so that we can let go of any thoughts that don’t serve us. Getting a clear mind sets us free to move on with new powerful thoughts. 

The free virtual coaching session offers you the opportunity to experience the power of your mind in a very practical way:

Just pick a topic – anything that’s currently going on in your life – and let’s talk about it.

During our 30-45 min Zoom meeting you’ll gain greater awareness of what’s happening in your mind right now and how this affects what’s happening in your life. Often, that’s all we need to take action and make things better.

Schedule your free coaching session now

Asking powerful questions to open up our mind – The Mind-Decluttering Series – Part 11

OPENING UP OUR MIND

The negative effects of negative questions

    • ‘Why do I always mess it up?’,
    • ‘How can he be so stupid?’,
    • ‘What’s wrong with me?’,
    • ‘When is it going to get better?’,
    • ‘Why is life so hard?’,
    • ‘Does everything has to be so difficult?’,
    • ‘Why is she always so mean to me?’,
    • ‘Why doesn’t he understand me?’,
    • ‘Why am I always angry?’

When we ask ourselves this type of negative questions – and we all do, every day, or from time to time, often without being aware of it – we hurt ourselves. Questions like the examples above are not only useless, they are damaging.

As soon as we ask a negative question, our mind gets to work:

It will follow the direction we have given to it and come back with negative and destructive answers. It starts to build up a negative thought pattern which will first create negative feelings and ultimately negative results in our life. 

How can we stop this cycle of negativity?

The power of positive questions

We can take control of our mind, we can always choose thoughts that help us feel and act better.

One of the many ways to guide our mind is to ask the right questions.

When we ask ourselves powerful questions, our mind will open up and answer with powerful thoughts. It will shift toward constructing better thought patterns which will make us feel better.

And when we feel better, we are better able to create the results we want to have in our life.

Examples of powerful questions

    • ‘What am I grateful for?’,
    • ‘Why is today a good day?’,
    • ‘What can I do to make today a good day?’,
    • ‘What is the solution to this problem?’,
    • ‘What can I learn from this situation?’,
    • ‘How do I want to feel right now?’,
    • ‘What’s the good news about this?’,
    • ‘What am I making this mean?’,
    • ‘What is the one thing I could do now to make it better?’,
    • ‘What would be a good reaction?’.

How to find powerful questions

It’s usually not difficult to come up with powerful questions when everything is running smoothly and we feel good and strong already.

When we have a bad day, or find ourselves in a tough situation, it’s often not easy to come up with a question that can help us find powerful answers and create positive thoughts and feelings.  

This is why we have to get prepared. We have to search for and practice powerful questions ahead of time. We want to make sure that we always have a powerful question at hand when we need it urgently.

We can brainstorm a broad range of questions and then test their power-potential by checking how they make us think, feel, and act.

We ‘question’ our questions by asking:

    • ‘Does this question open up my mind?
    • Does it provoke useful thoughts?
    • Does it help me to feel good?
    • Does it inspire me to take action?’

The Feeling-Better Self-Coaching Program is a free online course

The program consists of 3 easy exercises that we do over the course of 12 days to clear up our mind and our home

Two of the exercises are all about asking powerful questions to initiate positive chance. 

Click below if you wish to practice and experience the power of powerful questions: 

https://letgo-moveon.com.au/feeling-better-self-coaching-program-free-online-course/Click to book free online course

Getting support from our past and future – Mind-Decluttering Series – Part 10

How to support our present self – the bridge from our past to our future

Setting goals means nothing if we don’t get started realising them.

When we make the decision to change something, when we set a goal we wish to achieve, we feel excited and determined to do whatever we have to do to make the change, to achieve the goal.

However, doing the work isn’t so much fun in many cases.

Decluttering our home, for example, can be hard work.

We have to be willing to invest time, effort and energy, we might feel uncomfortable and anxious about how to get the job done.

It seems so hard to get started. Often, our excitement about the desired change shrinks and our motivation to do the first step decreases rapidly.

So how can we keep ourselves going when we feel like giving up and quitting the work even before it has started?

We can strengthen our determination and commitment by taking responsibility for our future self and learning from our past self.

How our future self and our past self can support our present self

The idea of a future, past and present self (Source: Brooke Castillo) is a construct, it’s all made up.

However, the imagination of our three selves can help us to get started and keep going whenever life gets hard and we feel like hiding or running away.

Our present self is creating our future.

Our future self will be the result of our current thoughts, feelings and actions. It completely depends on the decisions our present self makes today.

Thinking about our future self and loving it as much as we love our present self can change how we are showing up and following through on our plans today in the present.

We can gain energy, inspiration and motivation from asking questions like these:

    • How will our future self feel about ourselves if we now remain committed and do the work (e.g. get the clutter out)?
    • How grateful will it be to our present self for pushing away any self-doubt and thoughts of giving up?
    • How proud will our future self be about the achievements of our present self?

Our past self has created our present.

Our current self – the person we are today – is the result of the thoughts, feelings and actions that our past self created.

Our past ambitions and our goals and our willingness to realise them, no matter how hard the work was, have brought us to the point where we are now.

We can deliberately appreciate what our past self has done for our present self. We can decide to learn from our past self and copy the methods and tools it used successfully to move forward.

We can ask our past self for support by asking questions like these:

    • How did our past self get started with difficult projects (e.g., projects similar to our decluttering job)?
    • How did our past self overcome self-doubt and procrastination in similar situations?
    • What useful tips and tricks has our past self to offer to make our present self’s life and work easier?

Conversations with our past self and with our future self can be real fun. And they can be very helpful!

LITTLE FUN EXERCISE

Give it a try!

Start playing around with your three selves:

Imagine your three selves are sitting at a table.

    • First you ask your present self to choose and describe the problem it wants to solve.

This could be, for example: A project you postponed again and again. A bad habit you want to get rid of. An upcoming conversation are afraid of. …

    • Now ask your future and your past selves for support.

Ask them the questions listed above. And anything else that comes up to your mind. Write down their answers and recommendations.

    • Then tell you present self to get started with what has to be done.
    • Monitor its progress. Evaluate and make changes to your activities/actions if necessary.

Don’t forget to celebrate your success. And invite your three selves to the party. 😊

Our mind is the most powerful tool in the world but we have to learn how to use it, on purpose.

We need to use our mind-decluttering skills intentionally so that we can let go of any thoughts that don’t serve us. Getting a clear mind sets us free to move on with new powerful thoughts. 

The free virtual coaching session offers you the opportunity to experience the power of your mind in a very practical way:

Just pick a topic – anything that’s currently going on in your life – and let’s talk about it.

During our 30-45 min Zoom meeting you’ll gain greater awareness of what’s happening in your mind right now and how this affects what’s happening in your life. Often, that’s all we need to take action and make things better.

Take the first step of your mind- (and life-) decluttering journey today.

Schedule your free coaching session

Why saying goodbye is difficult – and necessary – Mind-Decluttering Series – Part 9

“Saying goodbye is difficult and most of us don’t do it enough.” (Brooke Castillo)

However, saying goodbye is part of life and it is necessary:

If we wish to evolve ourselves, if we want to make changes in our life to move forwards and make things better, we have to create space for the new:

We have to let go of what no longer serves us, what no longer fits into the life we want to have.

We need to say goodbye to the past

if we want to open the door and welcome the present and the future.

We need to say goodbye to relationships that are complete – relationships with things in our life, but also relationships with people, relationships with beliefs and thought pattern, and with habits.

Whatever it is, if we are holding on to something just because we had a relationship with it in the past, it will wear us down, slow us down, and it will suck up our energy.

Taking care of our things, of our beliefs, of our relationships with people consumes energy. Dragging stuff along that no longer serves us is a waste of energy – and we have a limited amount of energy.

Why do we struggle to say goodbye?

There are many reasons why saying goodbye is so hard.

A very big one is that saying goodbye means making decisions and initiating change. And that’s something our mind doesn’t want.

Our mind wants to keeps things as they are because it wants to keep us safe. It wants to avoid the unknown and the potential risk involved in letting new stuff into our life. Thus, it’s easier to hold on to everything and not have to decide to let it go.

Also, we tend to associate loss or pain with saying goodbye. We try to avoid saying goodbye because we don’t want to experience any loss or pain.

Another reason for not making decisions and not saying goodbye is that we are afraid that we will regret letting go of that thing or that relationship or that belief.

So how do we know when to say goodbye?

If we have invested time, effort or money into something we are often hesitant to let it go ‘for free’.

We think we should only sort out what is damaged, broken, no longer working.

That’s why we keep so much stuff in our life that’s still usable but no longer useful.

However, there doesn’t have to be something wrong with something for us to say goodbye to it.

If we don’t need, use, love it any longer, it occupies undeserved space in our home, mind or heart and uses up our energy. Space and energy that we need for new things, people, thoughts, etc. to come in.

How do we make goodbye decisions?

We have to be(come) aware of what we have now, and we have to make decisions about what we want to keep and have in future.

First we take an inventory of what we currently have. We make lists of our stuff: the things in our cupboards and drawers, the relationships with people, the beliefs and habits we have.

Then we ask ourselves questions and we answer them honestly.

We can ask (Suggestions from Brooke Castillo, The Life Coach School):

    • ‘Would I buy it again today?’
    • ‘Would I start a relationship with this person again today?’
    • ‘Would I choose this way of thinking again today?’

If the answer is no, it’s time to decide to say goodbye.

It’s important that we make these decisions clearly and definitely, we have to commit to the goodbye and not look back.

Then we can move forward and open up to something new.

P.S.

Mind-decluttering is so important if we want to change our life to the better.

However, saying goodbye is rarely easy. We get so used to what we have that we struggle to make let-go decisions.    

Learn how you can learn to say goodbye to what no longer serves you:

Take the first step of your mind- (and life-) decluttering journey today.

Schedule your free coaching session