Blog – Declutter & Change

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.


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

A powerful question to open up your mind – What do you want to feel?

The purpose of the ‘Powerful Questions Series’ is to help us open up our mind to new possibilities and development options.

CLICK HERE to get inspired by the questions we have discussed in this series so far.

Don’t let your mind run on default – Use powerful questions to direct your thinking.

In the first article of the new ‘Powerful Questions Series’ we talked about the tendency of our mind to always focus on the bad, difficult, negative parts of our daily life experience – if we allow it to run on default.

We also discussed how we can use powerful positive questions to counter the negative and limiting tendencies of our mind and open it up to the opportunities and possibilities that our life has to offer.

Questioning our current thinking can help us become more aware of the effects our current thoughts have on our feelings, actions and results. It becomes easier to consider new and potentially better ways of thinking.

The powerful question in Part 1 of the series was, ‘ How do I want to feel just now?’

It’s a very helpful question and we should definitely keep it in our toolbox of mind-empowering questions. We can take it out whenever we are in a situation where we wish to actively take control of what we are feeling in that specific moment.

A similar question that can serve us very well is

‘What do I want my top feeling to be today?’

The purpose of this question is to give our thoughts and feelings a clear direction for the whole day, not just for the current moment/situation.

Asking ourselves what we want to feel helps us remind ourselves that we don’t have to feel whatever comes up.

Our thoughts create our feelings. And we can always decide what we want to think about the circumstances in our life. If we don’t like how we feel, we can explore what we would have to think to feel the way we want to.  


    • Take a few minutes in the morning and think about the day that has just started.
    • Consider the activities and tasks you are going to do, the people you are going to meet or get in contact with, the things that might come up during the day, etc.
    • Then choose the top feeling for the day. How do you want to feel throughout the day, not matter what exactly is going to happen or not to happen?
    • Choose just one feeling as your favourite feeling and decide to give that one feeling your full attention and support during the day.
    • Find ways to remind yourself of the chosen feeling at different times of the day, and in different situations. (Write it on post-its, put it in your calendar, send yourself an email and put it in the subject line, set the timer on your mobile phone to remind you regularly, …)
    • And the following morning, when you choose the top feeling for the new day, take a few minutes to evaluate your experiences with the top feeling of the day before.

The answer to the question about the desired top feeling is probably totally different for each of us. It might also be a different one for you each day, depending on your specific situation and plans at that time.

On some days your favourite feeling might be ‘confidence’. Or ‘peacefulness’? On another day it might be ‘courage’. Or ‘strong’? Or ‘excited’? ‘Curious’? ‘Loving’? ‘Compassion’?

You choose. You just pick the feeling that seems to be best for that time being. And then you stick to it, for the whole day.

Other feelings might come up, don’t judge them but don’t let them take over, just redirect your attention to your top feeling, and explore what you want to think in order to create that feeling.

Enjoy your day and your top feeling!

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: 

How we can balance the negative in our life with the positive – and feel better

A little question to open up our mind when life feels (too) hard

Life is 50:50

The thought that our life experience is and will always be 50:50 – 50% positive and 50% negative – can be very helpful, especially at times when we feel a bit overwhelmed by the demands and challenges that our daily life throws at us.

It can be a relief to deliberately remind ourselves that ‘there are two sides to every coin’ and that ‘every cloud has a silver lining’.

But how can we flip the coin so that we can see the positive side

  • when everything just seems to be so dark, and dull, and hard?
  • When our intellectual knowledge about the power of positive thoughts doesn’t help us at all because we just can’t find anything positive to think about?

A little two-step exercise to shift the focus of our mind from negative to positive

Step 1: We accept our ‘dark’ thoughts and feelings, we no longer fight or resist them.

We decide to stop feeling bad about feeling bad. We allow ourselves to experience the negative thoughts that our human mind tends to bring up in challenging times.

Being human is not easy all the time, as we all know. Being human includes that we sometimes think and feel that life is too hard, that we experience some days or periods in our life as dark and painful. And that’s okay. We don’t always have to try to change it, we can decide to just accept it as it currently is.

Step 2: We open up our mind by asking ourselves: What else is true? (Source: April Price)

As we no longer have to argue with our mind about the hard parts of our life and we no longer have to resist the negative thoughts and feelings it brings up, we gain mental space and new energy to now say, ‘Yes, okay, this is hard. But what else is true?’ What does the other side of the coin look like? Where is the silver lining?

This little exercise can very quickly help us

  • redirect our attention to the positive things in our life (which are always there, and always make up 50%),
  • without denying or suppressing the negative parts of our current experience (which are always there, yes, but make up only 50%).


My four sisters live in Germany, far away from me. They currently feel frustrated and sometimes isolated and lonely because of all the Covid-restrictions and regulations. I often think of them, I worry a lot about them, I feel sorry for them, and sad.

How can I use the little exercise to make things feel better?

Step 1: I accept my thoughts and feelings.

Okay, that’s how it is at the moment. I believe that life is difficult and hard for my sisters right now. The consequence is that I have thoughts that make me feel sad about/for them. And that’s okay. No need to force myself to think/feel better about it.

Step 2: I ask myself, ‘What else is true’

I list all the answers that come to my mind:

My sisters are more connected to each other now because they are all in the same situation. They have more empathy and understanding for each other. They help and support each other. They are all strong and capable to cope with this situation and they will get even stronger because of it. They are all doing comparatively well – they are healthy, have their families around, have their jobs/enough money.

At the end of this little exercise I still feel sad – and that’s okay – but I also feel calmer and less worried.

Give it a try – Create a balance of positive and negative

What’s a situation that you are experiencing as negative or hard, that you have ‘dark’ thoughts and feelings of worry or sadness about?

Could it be helpful to you

  • to first deliberately accept these thoughts and feelings, and then
  • to ask, ‘What else is true about this situation?’

Why it is so important to ask our mind the right questions

The purpose of the ‘Powerful Questions Series’ is to help us open up our mind to new possibilities and development options.

CLICK HERE to get inspired by the questions we have discussed in this series so far.

Our mind is the most powerful tool we have – if we learn how to use it properly.

If we don’t pay close attention to our mind it will do what it is used to do and good at – and that’s constantly looking out for danger and risks that could jeopardise our well-being.

As long as our mind runs on autopilot it’s in survival mode.

    • In order to keep us alive and safe it pays close attention to the bad things, to the things that are wrong with us and with the world.
    • It wants us to feel afraid of the things outside and it wants us to doubt our abilities, so we don’t go out and get in dangerous situations.
    • It wants us to keep things as they are and it doesn’t want us to change because trying to do new things or walking into unknown areas could be risky.

So if we let it do what it wants to do, our brain will bring up a lot of negative thoughts and limiting self-talk. And as we have seen, it does so on purpose and with good intentions.

Understanding the reason behind the negative and limiting tendencies of our mind is the first step if we want to take control of our life. Because understanding it makes it easier for us to realise that this is just the way our mind automatically works – if it’s left on its own. It’s not the only way.

We can decide to no longer let our mind run on default. We can take our power back by telling our mind that it’s no longer in charge, that it can relax and calm down because now we will take the lead and tell it what to do and where to go.  

We can use powerful questions to guide our mind in the right direction.

One of the various ways to take control and to use our mind as a powerful positive life-management tool is to ask the right questions.

When we ask ourselves powerful questions, our mind opens up and answers with powerful and positive thoughts.

It shifts toward constructing better thought patterns than it was used to bring up on default. Thinking better makes us feel better. And when we feel better, we are better able to take the necessary actions that allow us to create the results we want to have in our life.

An example of a powerful question: ‘How do I want to feel just now?’

During the course of the ‘Feeling-Better Self-Coaching Program’ (read more) we focus on one powerful question each day – and we make sure that we find powerful answers.

The purpose is to create greater awareness of what we are thinking and feeling during the day.

It also helps us to define the feelings we want to feel, and to find the thoughts we need to think to create those feelings.

We experiment with several powerful questions during the course of the 12-day-program.

However, in the beginning we focus on just one question:

“How do I want to feel just now?”.


    • Sit down every morning, think about the question for a few minutes, then write down your answer.
    • Don’t forget to also think about the question several times during the day. Ask yourself at different times of the day and in different situations how you want to feel right in that moment. 
    • Make it easy to remember the question during the day, by writing it on several post-its which you distribute around your place, for example, or by putting it into your calendar, setting an alarm, etc. 
    • Invest 2 or 3 minutes in the evening to consider and write down how the exercise worked out for you. How often did you think about the question? Did it help you to define how you wanted to feel? Did it help you to feel like you wanted to feel? How long did you feel the desired feeling?

For more information about the power of positive questions (and the negative effects of negative questions) CLICK HERE.

Our mind is not just a powerful tool. It’s a very trustworthy friend and supportive helper in our daily life – if we ask it the right questions.

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: 

Decluttering our home AND our mind makes starting something new easier

The benefits of a clutterfree life:

Letting go of the things and the thoughts that no longer serve us sets us free to move on with more order and space in our home and mind.

A clutterfree start is a better and easier start.

The beginning of a new phase in our life can be a great opportunity to give ourselves a general fresh start – creating more space, freedom and lightness in all areas of our life.

The start of a new year represents such a new beginning.

Other examples of new opportunities for a fresh start are:

  • Ending a relationship, or starting a new relationship
  • Renovating the house
  • Moving to a new place
  • Having a baby
  • Starting a new job
  • Entering retirement
  • Becoming an empty nester

These and other new beginnings become easier if we don’t burden them with the stuff of the past. We don’t want to take along what might hold us back in the new stage of our life.

It can be a relief to deliberately decide what no longer serves us and let it go before we move on.

So how can we organise and manage the decluttering of our life successfully?

How can we clear up our home AND our mind?

The three main steps of any decluttering project

are always the same –whether we declutter and organise our home or our mind:


We take everything out, we sort and categorise it. What are the things – what are the thoughts and the feelings – that serve us, and what are the ones that burden/hurt us?


We honour our values, needs, and goals by deliberately letting go of the things – and the thoughts/feelings – we no longer need/love/want to use.


We reorganise the things – and the thoughts/feelings – we want to keep in a way that serves us, and we move on with clarity, space, and lightness.

More detailed information and examples of decluttering projects can be found here:


Small-steps decluttering – The benefits of 20 minutes sessions – And how to organise them – CLICK TO READ

The ‘Small-steps-approach’ helps us to get started with decluttering – An example decluttering project. – CLICK TO READ


We are the owners of our mind – and the mental clutter – CLICK TO READ

How to declutter and organise our thoughts – CLICK TO READ

Enjoy the clutterfree start – whether it’s the beginning of a new year or of a new phase in your life.

The ‘Feeling-Better Self-Coaching Program’ offers 3 easy-to-do exercises over the course of 12 days to clear up your mind and your home.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the ‘Feeling-Better Program’.

The secret of self-confidence – Our willingness to experience any emotion

Self-confidence is a skillset we need to build up and practice

We often think that self-confidence is something that we either have or don’t have.

But confidence is not something that we are born with, it’s not a special talent or gift.

In fact, confidence is an emotion and – as all our emotions – self-confidence is created by our thinking:

The quality and level of our self-confidence depends on our mind – on our thoughts about our capabilities and on our trust in ourselves, and in our willingness to do what we want to do – whatever the consequences of our actions might be.

Where do trustful thoughts about ourselves come from?

It’s easy to think confident thoughts when we have already accomplished something.

And we usually think that we feel confident because we have done it so often, because we have the experience of doing it.

But confidence doesn’t come from doing something many times. It’s just easier to think the thought, ‘I can do that’, when we have done it many times.

Whenever we want to do something we have never done before, we need to feel confident about our ability to do it before we start doing it.

And that’s not so easy most of the time.

We all know from our own experience in different areas of our lives that a lack of self-confidence can keep us from taking action, from doing what we want to do and from trying new things.

So how can we deliberately create the thought, ‘I can do that’, and then feel confident before we do it?

The main secret to self-confidence is our willingness to experience any emotion.

As human beings we are mostly afraid of the emotion that we expect to feel if we fail.

We are afraid that if we take action and fail at what we are trying to do, we will feel inadequate, humiliated, embarrassed, defeated, … .

If we deliberately decide to be willing to experience any emotion, if we are getting good at feeling any feeling, then we will have self-confidence in everything we do.

The worst that can happen is a negative feeling – and as soon as we know that we can handle any negative feelings, we no longer lack self-confidence.

Two ways to increase our self-confidence

Strategy 1 – Practicing self-confidence producing thoughts

This strategy is quite simple and it can easily be integrated in our daily life.

We first create a list of helpful thoughts – thoughts that support confidence-feelings.

And then we just practice thinking them daily – and particularly when we feel hesitant to take action and do something new.

Some examples:

  • What others think about me is 100% about them, it has nothing to do with me.
  • Fear is no big deal.
  • The worst that can happen is a feeling. I am good at feeling any feeling.
  • Failure earns success. The more I fail, the faster I’ll succeed.
  • The better I fail, the more confident I become.
  • What I make it mean is the worst that can happen.
  • I am willing to do the stuff I am scared of. Again and again.
  • Self-confidence is a skill. I am determined to become an expert at feeling self-confident.
  • I am willing to experience discomfort consistently in order to be more self-confident.
  • (Add thoughts that will help you to feel more confident.)

Strategy 2 – Experiencing failure, on purpose

The ‘Dare of the Day’ Exercise (Source: The Life Coach School)

This exercise helps us getting good at doing things that we are scared of because we fear the negative feelings that might come up while we are doing those things or if we fail at finishing them successfully.

The ‘Dare of the Day’ is a challenging exercise but it can also be a lot of fun. And it’s a confidence booster.

Step 1 – Commit yourself to do a ‘Dare of the day’, each day, for 30 days, starting today.

Step 2 – Create a list of ‘Dares of the day’.

Do some brainstorming and write down all the things – big and small – that you don’t feel comfortable doing:

  • Things that you are scared to do for some reason.
  • Things that you always wanted to do but never did (because of fear of failure?).
  • Things that you never considered to do but that might be interesting and offering new experiences and results in your life.
  • Things that allow you to experiment with uncomfortable feelings.
  • Things that are just fun – but a bit scary.


  • Go up to a stranger and ask for something.
  • Give someone a compliment who doesn’t expect it.
  • Ask for the day off.
  • Say no when the other person expects a yes.
  • Say yes when the other person expects a no.
  • Ask for a pay raise, or a promotion.
  • Speak in public.
  • Smile at a grumpy stranger.
  • Wear a sexy outfit.
  • Cry in public if you feel like crying.
  • Laugh hysterically in public if you feel like laughing.
  • Ask for a discount.
  • Go on a blind date.
  • Ask someone a huge favour.
  • Offer your help to a stranger.
  • Give your unfriendly neighbour some flowers.
  • Book your first golf lesson.
  • Get up an hour earlier.
  • Come late to an important meeting.
  • Don’t apologize when you are late.
  • Call a family member you haven’t talked to for a long time.
  • Write a letter to apologize for something you feel bad about.
  • Get a new haircut.
  • Ask your dinner guests to go when you are tired.
  • (Add all the things that scare you – they will help you to grow.)

Play around with as many ideas as possible. You can add to your list whenever new ideas come up.

 “The more outrageous your dare, the more self-confident you will be. The point is to get really good at doing scary things.” (Brooke Castillo)

Step 3 – Each morning, you pick your ‘Dare of the Day’ for that day. And then you do it.

And learn from it.

The best way to do so is to write about it before and after: Why is this thing a dare for you? What are you thinking and feeling before your do it? What are your thoughts and feelings after you did it?

Step 4 – Don’t miss a day for 30 days in a row.

And don’t forget to have fun. Enjoy the process of getting more and more confident. Each ‘Dare of the Day’ will make you stronger.

Tip – You could share this exercise with a family member or friend. Having an accountability partner can help you ‘dare the dares’. And it’s also fun to share your experiences and learn from them together.

Now it’s your turn: 

What’s your ‘Dare of the Day’ – today?

Your mood booster – The 3 G’s – A little Christmas Gift for you

How to feel better, on purpose, here and now

Our brain’s main job is to keep us safe and alive.

That’s why our mind thinks it’s very important that we focus our attention and our thinking all the time on problems and obstacles, difficulties and risks, and potential danger.

But we don’t have to let our mind run on default. We can deliberately decide what type of thoughts we want to be thinking – which means we can also intentionally direct our feelings.

So if we are in ‘a bad mood’ and we want to change that, we can always go and look at the thoughts that are creating our mood and change them.

Changing our thoughts, however, is not always easy and it can take some time and energy.

But there are short cuts that can help us feel better faster. The application of ‘the 3 Gs’ is one of them. (Source: April Price)

The 3 Gs – Your immediate mood booster

This little self-coaching tool is easy to apply and you can use it anytime, anywhere to make you feel better almost immediately.

It causes your mind to refocus its attention on the positive – on what’s working, on the abundance of your life, and on what you want to create.

This is how it works:

Whenever you feel like your mood needs a boost, you ask yourself

  • G 1 – What’s good in my life today/just now?
  • G 2 – What am I particularly grateful for today/just now?
  • G 3 – What goal will make me feel excited today/just now?


I use the 3 Gs technique regularly in the early morning.

On many days, I don’t feel very energised and powerful when I wake up. Often, I feel weak and miserable – even if there is no obvious reason.

My strategy now is to give myself a few minutes to create a mood shift before I get out of the bed. I give my mind an early morning job to do. I ask it to focus its attention and to find answers to the question ‘What are my 3 Gs today?’

Today, for example, my mind and I came up with these answers:

  • G 1 – It’s Good that the client meeting in the afternoon has been cancelled – I can use the time to call my sister and share the latest news.
  • G 2 – I am Grateful that the arrival of our new puppy has now be confirmed for next Monday.
  • G 3 – This is the most exciting Goal on my to-do list today: Ordering toys online for the puppy.

Give it a try.

Take the idea of the 3 Gs along through your day, and then, when the need for a mood booster comes up, you asks your mind to find and focus on 3 attractive Gs.

Consider to give yourself a little Christmas gift by enrolling in the FREE ONLINE ‘Feeling-Better Self-Coaching Program’.

The 12-day program helps you think and feel better every day

Sign up and give your mood a regular boost:

How to find the good stuff in our lives

Why we should organise a special ‘Easter Egg Hunt around Christmas’ this year

When I wrote my blog post for Easter beginning of April this year I definitely didn’t expect it to be still valid at Christmas time – more than 8 months later.

At that time, I had thought that life would be back to ‘normal’ at the end of the year, I hadn’t had any doubt that Corona would be ‘an old hat’ at Christmas.

I was totally wrong – as nearly everyone.

The Corona Virus is still around, and in many parts of the world the situation has become much worse than anyone had expected. And the tough thing is that it’s still very difficult to ‘see light at the end of the tunnel’.

Life remains challenging!

The header of my article in April was ‘Easter 2020 will not be what Easter used to be’. If I wrote it now, I’d just call it ‘Christmas 2020 will not be what Christmas used to be’ and I could reuse pretty much all of the content again.

Instead of doing so, I’d like to refer you to the Easter post and the idea of a special fun activity I had proposed at that time: ‘The Feeling-better Easter Egg Hunt’ – Searching, finding and appreciating the good stuff.

Have a look at the ‘old’ article – your might want to use the little Egg Hunt exercise as a deliberate mood-improvement activity – on your own or with family/friends – around Christmas.

The ‘Treasure Chest’ Exercise offers another great way to strengthen our ‘feeling positive muscle’. Click here and start to collect positive thoughts.

Look out for ‘the good eggs in your basket’

– for the good things you are personally experiencing right now. And also search for the good stuff that’s happening around you, in your family, in your community, and in the world.

Deliberately appreciating what we have is a great way to make us feel better, on purpose and immediately.

The ‘Treasure Chest’ Exercise mentioned above is part of the free online ‘Feeling-Better Self-Coaching Program’.

Sign up for the 12-day program if you want to really get into the habit of thinking positive/grateful/happy thoughts every day. This habit makes it so much easier to feel better!

How to improve relationships – with family members and others

The holidays with family – good times or bad times?

Traditional family gatherings can create a mixture of emotions and experiences – and not all of them are positive and feel good.

Spending more time than usually with family can be fun, it can build and strengthen feelings of love and connection.

But times of family reunions like the Christmas season, of course, can also include boring or uncomfortable rituals and customs – like long hours of eating, drinking and talking – and strict expectations about how we should behave and contribute to the celebrations. 

Old family stories, the good ones and the bad ones, can still effect the delicate network of feelings that link us with our close and also with the more distant family members.

Also, relationships between family members or between groups of relatives can change over time, they can improve but they can also deteriorate for various reasons.

We don’t feel close to and we don’t like everyone just because they are somehow related to us.

This might not be an issue during the year when we manage to avoid seeing them but it can become a problem if we are expected to spend a lot of time with them over the festive season.

What can we do to improve our relationships with ‘difficult’ family members?

Our thoughts determine the quality of our relationships with other people. What we think about a family member influences how we feel and act when we are with them.

If we think that a person ‘is difficult’ we will feel a certain type of emotion – like stress, defensiveness, frustration, judgement – which will lead to a certain type of behaviour – like trying to avoid that person, treating them with unfriendliness, reacting in a resentful way – which will most probably make our relationship and our encounters with that person difficult.

Gaining awareness is always the starting point for positive change

Before we can make any change to the better, we have to become aware of the thoughts we have about the person with whom we want to get on better.

And very often, gaining awareness of our thinking is actually all we need to open us up and create an understanding that allows us to change our thoughts, feelings and actions – and automatically the relationship will change.

A great technique to increase our self-awareness and our openness to see the other one in a more objective and neutral way is to deliberately focus our attention on the fact that there is a lot we have in common with the other person.

This technique (source: Jody Moore) is easy to apply and really helpful when we struggle or feel stuck in our relationship with another person.

A mind-opening question: In which ways is he/she just like you?

Instead of just thinking, ‘She is difficult’, we can ask ourselves: ‘In what ways is she like me?’

And when we answer this question honestly, we can easily see: ‘Yes, she is difficult in certain areas, like I am difficult in certain areas. She is just like me!’


Imagine this little scenario:

You are preparing the Christmas dinner.

Your sister joins you in the kitchen and very soon you are in a disagreement with her about how to cook a certain dish. If you are arguing and feeling defensive it’s probably because you are having thoughts like, ‘She is wrong, I am right. As always, she is not listening, she is not respecting my way of doing things.’

Now is the right time for you to stop and interrupt what’s going on in your mind by asking yourself, ‘ In what ways is she like me?’

It might be that there is a lot you share with your sister:

She has clear ideas about the preparation of the food – just like you.

She has opinions about the steps to be taken, and she gets confused if other people don’t see it her way – just like you. She wants validation and wants to be right – just like you.

She might be feeling disrespected – just like you.

Seeing all the ways your sister is just like you will help you feeling understanding and connected to her.

Give it a try 

– when you are feeling attacked or annoyed by people, of if you are feeling judgemental of people –

take a step back and deliberately appreciate all the areas where you are the same. It will get you to a more compassionate place. And to better relationships.


What to do if mirroring others’ behaviours and attitudes doesn’t serve us

What is mirroring and how can we manage it intentionally?

Human beings are social beings and that’s why relationships with others impact our lives significantly.

We all crave connection and approval, we want and need to feel loved and valued by others, especially our family members and close friends.

As relationships are so important to us we want them to be good, and healthy, positive and enjoyable.

But – as we all know – relationships can be challenging and complicated in dynamics.

This is especially the case at times like the upcoming festive season when we come together with family members we haven’t seen for a while, and when we generally spend much more time together with our relatives than usually throughout the year.

We want to have a good time together and enjoy each other’s company.

A typical human way of building strong connections and greater understanding with someone else is to mirror the other person.

Mirroring happens subconsciously most of the time. We are usually not aware that we are replicating another person’s nonverbal signals, that we imitate their gestures, speech pattern, attitudes or moods.

The positive effects of mirroring each other

In many circumstances and situations, mirroring serves us well and there is no need to become more aware of our imitating actions and reactions. We don’t need to change what makes us feel good.

Imagine a situation like this one:

Your aunt is coming over for Christmas dinner. And she is apparently very happy to see you, she is lovely and kind, and smiling, and curious and asks you a lot of questions.

You’ll probably mirror her without even thinking about it: You direct your attention to your aunt, and start smiling, too, and you react and respond in a kind and friendly way, and show interest in her. The two of you have a lively conversation and feel connected and close to each other.

The negative effects of mirroring each other

Unconscious mirroring, though, can also create problems occasionally. And it seems that this happens especially in emotionally charged situations such as family gatherings.

We not only mirror positive good-feeling signals from others, we also mirror negative attitudes and behaviours.

If someone is critical or judgemental of us, our default reaction is to move into that same negative space. We tend to become critical and judgemental, too.

Imagine a scenario like this one:

You mother-in-law joins you in the kitchen while you are preparing the Christmas dinner. And she immediately starts criticising what you are doing, suggesting other – ‘better’ – ways of meal preparations, giving comments like ‘you never knew how to do this correctly, I’ll better do this’.

Your normal human behaviour will be to mirror her – you will begin to think and feel and act critical and judgemental of her. Additionally, you might judge yourself for criticising your mother-in-law for her judgements of you. Probably, the atmosphere at dinner will not be very easy-going and joyful.

How can we break the circle of mirroring?

As human beings, we have the ability to override our default mirroring settings, we can decide to stop mirroring the people around us.

Breaking the pattern requires awareness.

In many cases, just the awareness of it will help us to immediately just let go of the mirroring. 

In other cases, it requires special attention and effort to make changes, especially if the cycle of mirroring has been established a while ago and has become a habit for one (or both) people in the relationship.

We know what to expect especially in our most challenging relationships. We know what’s probably going to happen – and we can decide to no longer allow the automatic mirroring to happen!

It helps to be well prepared and intentional before we enter the situation that usually initiates the negative mirroring on one (or both) sides.

We take our time to find one helpful thought that we want to choose on purpose when the challenging encounter takes place next time.

And we memorise that thought. We practice it, again and again, until we are 100% sure that we will easily remember it when we’ll need it.

A powerful thought for the mother-in-law scenario described above could be:

  • My mother-in-law is critical and judgemental and that’s o.k. It’s all about her and has nothing to do with me. She can be critical – and I can be calm.
  • Or: O.k., she needs to be right all the time. I understand that. I don’t mind. I don’t need to be right all the time.
  • Or: Mirroring my mother-in-law is a choice. This year I choose not to mirror her. That’s actually a relief. I can show up as I want to.

What about you and your mirroring tendencies?

What are the situations and relationships that trigger your negative mirroring pattern?

What if you decided to get well prepared – choose a powerful thought and practice it! – and let go of the mirroring?

How could that positively change the ‘typical’ scenario?

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

What do you want to think about your family

“Our families are opportunities for us to grow” (Brooke Castillo)

Are you aware of the thoughts you have about your (extended) family?

The importance of what we think and feel about our family relationships and how we act when we are with our family is not restricted to a certain time of the year, of course.

But what we think about family is especially important at the end of the year, or during other festive seasons, when most of us find themselves involved and engaged in an increased number of often very traditional family events and gatherings.

Our thoughts trigger our feelings which create our actions which finally create the results in our life.

So whatever we think about our family and the individual family members will cause what we feel and do when we are with them.

Consider these questions related to (your) family:

  • What does the word ‘family’ mean to you? What does it mean when you relate it to your family?
  • What do the various family roles like ‘mother’, ‘father’, ‘sister’, ‘brother’, ‘uncle’, ‘grandmother’, etc. mean to you? What do they mean when you relate them to your mother, your father, your sister, etc.?
  • What are the unquestioned obligations, traditions, expectations related to your family that deserve some questioning?

If you take the time to really think about it and to write down any thoughts coming up in your mind – are those thoughts something you consciously decided to think?

And do you like your thoughts? Do they feel good? Are they helpful and do they serve you and your relationships with family?

Now, when you go and attend a family event, like Christmas dinner with your family of origin, and you bring along your thoughts about your family and its members – do your thoughts create positive emotions and activities and experiences for you (and your family)?

Most people approach the festive season with a mixture of feelings: love and connection, excitement and anticipation, but probably also nervousness or stress, or boredom, or even  anxiety or resentment.

A recipe for successful relationships – Drop your expectations

Awareness and courageous decisiveness is all we need if we want to make positive changes, in any area of our life.

As soon as we become aware of our current thoughts and evaluate what we like or don’t like about them, we can decide what we want to think (and feel and do) in future.

We can’t control and change other people – if we expect family members to change their behaviour or if we expect them to change their expectations of us, we set ourselves up for disappointment.

But we have 100% control of our thoughts, feelings and actions.

And this means that we have control of our experiences – our experiences of the relationships we have with our family members and our experiences of the events we share with them.

So how do you want your experiences of the holidays with family to look like?

What do you most desire when it comes to family?

How do you want to experience the family gatherings and the time you share with each individual family member?

Make a plan and create a list of the things you want to think, feel and do to make this year’s holidays with family a success for yourself (and probably automatically also for others).

Consider these examples to get you going:

  • If your Aunt Mary always talks too much and you judge what she says as boring and try to avoid her – what could you think, feel and do instead to make the conversation with her more interesting for both of you?
  • If your Cousin Bertie always gets drunk and starts singing later in the evening – how could you drop your expectation of him remaining sober this year (why should he?) and just accept him as he is?
  • If your mother-in-law always criticises your food preparations – how could you change your thoughts about this so that you feel relaxed and calm whatever she says to you?
  • If your little nephews often get on your nerves because they are so noisy and demanding – which activities could you consider to suggest so that you feel connected with them and have fun while playing with them?
  • If you feel stressed and overwhelmed each year because of all the things you have to organise and manage – what type of support could you think of and how could you feel good about asking for help?
  • If your sister expects you always to try all her deserts and praise each of them – how could you prepare yourself so that you could react in a determined but kind way when you tell her that you no longer eat what you don’t want to eat?

Now it’s your turn!

Write down the thoughts you have about your extended family and the individual family members.

Then, as soon as you are more aware of your conscious and unconscious thoughts, start to make deliberate decisions about those that don’t serve yourself and your relationships with your family.

Decide to let them go and to choose thoughts that help you enjoy your relationships with your family – during the holidays and at other times of the year.  

Use the holidays with family as an opportunity to grow. 😊

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 deal with stubborn negative thoughts – and immediately feel better

A quick solution to disempower negative thoughts

Doing the mind-decluttering work – letting go of self-limiting thoughts and moving on with new powerful thoughts – on a regular basis is the best way to take active ownership of our mind and our life.

Our thoughts – what we think about the circumstances in our life – are so important because they are the cause of everything that’s happening in our life: What we think determines what we feel, our feelings determine how we act (or don’t act), and our actions determine the results in our life.

If we don’t like how our life looks like, or if we want to feel or act differently, we need to find and practice other/better thoughts.

Finding and thinking new thoughts is not always easy and it can take some time.

We have to become aware of what we are currently thinking and then experiment with new thoughts that might be suitable to replace the current thought. And then we have to practice the new thought.

In our daily lives, things tend to happen quickly and unexpectedly.

And it’s our mind’s job to immediately bring up its default thoughts which then cause unwanted and unhelpful feelings, actions and results. If we don’t pay attention and take control!

So what’s a quick solution

if we don’t have the time to redirect our mind toward the thoughts we want it to think on purpose?

When our mind ‘stubbornly’ insists to continue thinking a certain thought, it sometimes can be helpful to agree with our mind (Source: April Price Coaching).

We can decide not to try to prove it wrong in that moment. We deliberately agree to the thought our mind is bringing up – but with conditions!

Rather than trying to think a whole new thought we kind of accept the unhelpful thought, we don’t fight it – but we add a little clause, a little condition to it.


Example 1

Let’s imagine you decided to go through a new 4-week fitness program and on the first day in the gym your mind immediately brings up the thought ‘My muscles will hurt. This is really hard!’

Instead of fighting this thought you now add a little thought like ‘it’s o.k.’ or similar:

  • My muscles will hurt. This is really hard! – And that’s o.k.
  • My muscles will hurt. This is really hard! – And that’s not a bad thing.
  • My muscles will hurt. This is really hard! – And that’s how it’s supposed to be.
  • My muscles will hurt. This is really hard! – And I can do hard things.

Example 2

Let’s say you made a booking for a networking event and offered to give a short speech. Now your mind comes up with the thought ‘I am not good at giving speeches, I am going to fail.’

You accept your mind’s point of view but add a little phrase:

  • I am not good at giving speeches, I am going to fail – and I am doing it anyway.
  • I am not good at giving speeches, I am going to fail – and that will help me get better at speaking.
  • I am not good at giving speeches, I am going to fail – so what?

Example 3

Your friend promised to help you with your tax return and then cancels the appointment. Your mind suggests the thought ‘I can’t rely on other people, I am always on my own.’

Adding some words to this thought helps you to get rid of any upcoming (and useless) feelings of self-pity or anger:

  • I can’t rely on other people, I am always on my own – and that’s o.k.
  • I can’t rely on other people, I am always on my own – and that’s good, it makes me independent.
  • I can’t rely on other people, I am always on my own – no problem at all.

Deliberately allowing a negative thought, without resisting it, makes it immediately less powerful and makes you feel stronger and more in control.

Give it a try.

Next time when a negative thought comes up and you struggle to let it go in that moment, decide to allow it and add something that expresses your acceptance of the thought and makes you feel better.

The important thing here is to find a little phrase that is right for you – there is no standard phrase that works for all of us.

Experiment and play around with different phrases and then practice the most suitable so that you can remember it easily whenever you need it.

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