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%).

Example

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?’

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.

Examples:

  • 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?

EXAMPLE

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!

Feeling-Better Self-Coaching Program – Free Online Course

SELF-COACHING MADE SIMPLE 

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 clear up your mind and your home.

Sign up for the free program:


Feeling better makes life better

If we want to make our life better we first have to learn how we can make us feel better.

Feeling better not only ‘feels better’ – feeling better is the fuel – the energy, motivation, and determination – that drives us to take action and create the life we want to live.

The ‘Feeling-Better Self-Coaching Program’

The major goal of this simple but intense self-coaching program is to introduce you to three self-coaching tools. Using these little tools will help you feel better every day you apply them.

The second goal is to let you enjoy the getting-better process and get positive results as quickly and easily as possible.

You will achieve these goals

  • with the help of 3 easy-to-do exercises,
  • which you are going to do daily (about 30 minutes), over a period of 12 days.

While you go through the program, you learn to

  • declutter your mind
    • Exercise 1 – Opening up our mind
    • Exercise 2 – Appreciating the good stuff
  • declutter your home 
    • Exercise 3 – Decluttering step-by-step

You get rid of mental, emotional and physical clutter, and actively create space for all the positive stuff – thoughts, feelings, actions, things. 

Additionally, you build up 3 useful habits which will help you create better feelings – and better actions and results! – every day of your life.

There is so much to gain from feeling better, let’s work on this together!

Sign up for the free program:

Appreciating the good stuff in our life – How-to-feel-better Series – Part 8

Appreciating the good stuff in our life – The ‘Treasure Chest’ Exercise

Daily practising our appreciation of the good things in our life helps us to strengthen our positive-feeling ‘muscle’. It makes us feel better.

The ‘Treasure Chest’ Exercise

The purpose of the ‘Treasure Chest’ exercise is to come up with positive thoughts about the things we value and appreciate in our life, all the stuff we are grateful for and happy about.

These thoughts in turn will help us to fill up our personal ‘treasure chest’ of positive feelings:

All the appreciation, gratefulness, and happiness we add to our ‘treasure chest’ today will keep our heart warm during the cloudy or stormy periods of our life.

The special feature of the exercise is that we commit ourselves to adhere to two special and strict rules:

  • We write down at least 5 positive/happy thoughts each day.
  • We are not allowed to list any thought twice. That’s why we take care to be very specific when we describe/write down our thoughts.

Not allowing ourselves to repeat any thoughts strengthens our ability to discover all the good stuff in our life – the big important things, and also the smaller great stuff that’s happening every day.

How to do the ‘Treasure Chest’ exercise

  • We sit down and decide how many positive thoughts we will add to our ‘treasure chest’ this day. It could be any number but the minimum is 5.
  • Now we ask ourselves, ‘What am I grateful for today? What am I happy about? What do/did I really appreciate? What’s particularly valuable to me? What am I proud of today?’ and start writing our answers without putting too much conscious thinking into it.
  • We go as quickly as we can, don’t judge our thoughts, just write down any positive thoughts, all the grateful/appreciative/happy thoughts that come up in our mind. We are as specific as we can when we describe/explain the things that come to our mind.

That’s it.

If we do this exercise consistently, day after day, we will very soon start to notice the positive effect it has on our mindset, and, of course, on our feelings.

Reminding ourselves what we are grateful for and happy about helps us to create positive thoughts. It directs our mind away from crisis, complaining, self-pity towards feelings of gratitude and abundance.

We start feeling better, day by day.

What’s in your ‘treasure chest’ of positive thoughts and feelings?

Give it it try.

Sit down and create your first daily list of all the good stuff in your life.


The ‘Treasure Chest’ Exercise 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. It helps to feel better!

Decluttering our home makes us feel better – How-to-feel-better Series – Part 7

Decluttering and organising our home is a great way to make us feel better.

First, it’s an activity that produces direct and visible results and positive change in our home – more order and space around us.

And living in a clutter-free and organised home has additional positive effects on our daily life: We gain more time, more productivity, more peace of mind.

Second, decluttering and organising our home is a very practical way to prove to our mind that we are the ones who determine how our life looks like.

Making decisions about our physical belongings and actively getting our stuff sorted makes us feel powerful and in control – which in turn creates other strong positive feelings such as confidence and self-efficacy. (READ MORE: ‘How to take back control and feel more powerful in uncertain times’)

The small-steps decluttering approach

If we own a lot of stuff, if many areas of our home are cluttered with too many things, the solution could be to conduct a massive decluttering project, clearing up our home completely, in one go.

However, we don’t have to do it all in one go. We can instead decide to commit ourselves to do a series of shorter and smaller decluttering projects.

The benefits of the small-steps decluttering approach

  • The small-steps decluttering approach allows us to achieve fast results.
  • It’s easy to integrate the decluttering sessions into our daily life because they are short and have a clearly defined duration.
  • Scheduling the sessions as appointments in our calendar helps us to take them seriously and to develop a regular decluttering routine.
  • Regular decluttering sessions have a similar effect as other regular exercises: we practice our decluttering skills and build up ‘I-can-do-it’ confidence.

How to do the small-steps decluttering sessions

As any new activity, small-steps decluttering, too, needs a bit of practice.

However, the process is not difficult, it’s very ‘organised’ and clearly structured: We get started, we sort and declutter, we organise. That’s it.

The first time we might need to have our instructions close by (CLICK HERE for a detailed description of the process) so that they can guide us step-by-step.

Based on the first experience, we’ll start our second decluttering project with much more confidence and ease.

And soon the steps of the declutter-process become so natural to us that we now struggle to understand why it took us so long to get started.  


In the free online ‘Feeling-Better Self-Coaching Program’ we also use the small-steps decluttering approach. 

Sign up for the program if you wish to manage a sequence of smaller decluttering tasks successfully.

Living fully in the here and now – How-to-feel-better Series – Part 6

We can’t escape our current life experience.

This is, of course, always true. Our life takes place in the present, always. We can’t quit the current version of our life, we can’t jump back into the past or forward into the future.

We all know that but just now – in the middle of a worldwide pandemic – we can easily feel tempted to put all our expectations and hopes into the future. We think, ‘I’ll do that, stop this, decide about that, think about this, etc. when things got better again or back to normal’.

But life is happening now and here. It’s not on the other side of self isolation. We can’t put it on hold for a couple of months.

Waiting for other/better times

  • can prevent us from trying to make the present better,
  • will make us feel stuck, and helpless in the here and now,
  • may hold us back from actively taking control of what we can influence and create right now,
  • can mean that we overlook new opportunities the current version of our life is offering to us.

So it seems to be a good idea to remind ourselves that we don’t have to wait for things to become better in order to love and fully live our current life.

What can we do to fully live our life in the present, in the here and now?

Some suggestions:

  • A little thought experiment: What if the now was the normal?

What if our current life was our normal life?

What would we be doing then?

What would we gratefully appreciate – all the good things that we have in our life right now, all the people, experiences, circumstances that are so precious to us?

What would we no longer accept as a given, what would we try to change to the better?

What would we do to contribute and to make the current world a better place?

If we deliberately decide to accept that the now is the normal – how do we want to think, feel and act in the current period of our life?

And, based on that decision: Does anything come up to mind that we can start to handle differently/better, right here and now?

  • We can ask ourselves questions about our values and our purpose. And answer them.

As we are currently more concerned about life, health and even death than we normally are, deeper questions about our life and ourselves might come up in our mind.

Instead of pushing away these potentially unsettling questions, we can deliberately decide to find our very personal answers to them. Defining our values and our purpose in life can give our mind and our soul structure, stability and direction.

We can ask ourselves questions like these:

‘What is really important to me in the different areas of my life?

Am I currently neglecting important values and principles?

What do I want to achieve in my life, today and tomorrow?

Where do I want to focus my time and my energy?

Etc.’

And then we can use our answers to now truly ‘value our values’:

How can we pay more attention to what’s important to us in our daily life?

Could we start a new personal or professional development project, here and now, that’s closely linked to our values and our goals? 

  • We can actively take control of those areas in our lives that are within our power.

There is a lot we can do to feel active, powerful, and in control right now, in our private environment:

Activities such as decluttering and organising our belongings (READ MORE HERE), conducting home repairs or deep cleans, sorting through boxes of old photos, cleaning our computer digital files, clearing up the backyard or garden, etc.  

The experience that we can sort things out, that we can create visible results and improvements, helps us to see that we in fact can change our current reality to the better. This in turn helps us find more calmness and peace.

Thus, let’s ask ourselves: What’s the most urgent home-improvement project? What can I do to get started, here and now?

P.S.

Do you currently struggle to focus on the here and now?

Are you missing the past? Worrying about or impatiently waiting for the future?

There is a lot we can enjoy in our life right nowregardless of the outside circumstances.

Would you like to talk?

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

Schedule your free coaching session

Easter 2020 – The how-to-feel-better Egg Hunt – How-to-feel-better Series

Easter 2020 will not be what Easter used to be.

We can expect the Easter holidays to be very different this year.

That’s not only because we’ll spend these holidays at home, on our own or with the family members we live with. That’s actually nothing special as most of us spend every day most of the time at home right now.

The special thing about these Easter days is that we are going to miss our usual traditional Easter activities:

Visiting family and friends; dying, hiding and hunting Easter eggs; inviting people to our place and arranging special meals for the larger family and other guests; going on a long-weekend trip; attending church and community functions; having lunch or dinner at restaurants; spending long days at the beach; visiting traditional Easter sports events; etc., etc.

We might all miss something different, yes, but we probably share the experience that we all feel a bit sad about the fact that things are going to be so different this Easter.

So, how can we make ourselves feeling better during the Easter days?

If we miss something it’s usually because we had it in the past and we no longer have it now.

Instead of thinking about what we had in the past, we can decide to focus our thinking on what we have in the present, and what we will have in the future.

Redirecting our thoughts is not always easy, and – especially right now – we tend to think too much about what’s not good and what we miss.

A little fun exercise might help us to redirect our mind to the good stuff.

Easter Fun Activity – Searching for the good stuff

The Easter Fun Activity is all about and only about the good things in our life. The good stuff in the present and in the future.

The positive things, experiences, feelings, etc. we have right nowdespite or even because of Corona.

And the good stuff we expect to have in the future when Corona has finally gone.

How to organise the Easter Egg Hunt 2020

We can do this little exercise –  a special Easter egg hunt – at home, on our own or with the members of our household.

We can also do it on the phone or online and share the hunt with other family members or with our friends.

We can sit down and do it in one go, or we just start now and then get back to it whenever it comes to our mind.

(Remark: The hunt doesn’t have to end when Easter is over, we can continue with the exercise as long as we want. It might actually be a good idea to do it every day of our life.)

Step 1 – Prepare the hunt

First we organise our ‘Easter baskets’ which we can then use to gather all the precious 2020-Easter-‘eggs’ we will find and enjoy together.

We can use an old cardboard box to collect little pieces of paper on which we write our thoughts about what we have now and what we will have in future.

We can also prepare two lists on big pieces of paper or cardboard, hang them on the wall, and use them as collection boards for our ideas and thoughts – whenever we walk along we can add new things to the lists.

The labels of our two containers or lists could be something like

  • Post-Corona – What I am looking forward to
  • Corona-Times – What I am enjoying right now

Step 2 – Start the hunt!

Be prepared and willing to put some time and thought work into this.

Don’t give up if you first struggle to find lots of positive things you have now or will have in the future.

You might want to start with the good stuff you expect to have after Corona and then find corresponding good things in the present, for example

  • If you look forward to a visit to the hairdresser as soon as that is possible again, you could deliberately enjoy the fact you don’t have to take so much care of how you look like right now. 😊
  • If you can’t await to go to the gym again in the future, you could appreciate that you have started a new running routine recently. 😊
  • If you are looking forward to seeing your friends in person again soon, you could be grateful for all the digital technologies that allow you to have intensified online conversations with the people you love. 😊

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

Just start hunting – your mind will quickly come up with lots of great ideas!

Example of ‘Good-Stuff Easter baskets’:

How to feel better series - Easter 2020 fun activity b

How compassion helps to calm down our crazy minds – How-to-feel-better Series – Part 5

Why we are all freaking out a bit right now, and why we experience more resentment and anger inside and around us

We tend to forget that life is risky

We all ‘know’ that life is a 50:50 experience – that it’s sometimes nice and sunny and easy, and sometimes bad and dark and hard.

Many of us have had their package of disruptive and drastic life experiences which taught them that at any time something can happen that changes everything.  

However, during ‘normal’ periods of our life, when things are how they used to be or how we expect them to be, we tend to feel safe, and we suppress the ‘knowledge’ that things could be different.

When our life is mostly easy and quite comfortable, we often get to believe that that’s what life is and always should be: quite easy and comfortable. And predictable.

But it’s not, as we actually – deep inside – ‘know’. Life is fragile. It always was.

Life was never supposed to be just easy, comfortable and predictable. Being alive has always been and will always be risky and dangerous.

We have never been exempt from the human experience of fear and uncertainty and risk and death. We just forgot that while everything was running rather smoothly, or at least in a predictable way.

Now we got a tough reminder

Now we know better. Currently, we are all experiencing life differently than we ever have. We have never been where we are now.

It’s like the whole world has turned upside down. Our life is no longer as is used to be, and it continues changing, day by day.

Everything is uncertain now, and we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month.

A new collective experience: Crazy minds – everywhere

Our human mind is trained in and very good at looking out for danger, and so it’s terribly afraid of uncertainty. That’s why our mind is freaking out right now.

The very special element in our current life experience is that not only our own mind is freaking out. Everyone’s mind has got crazy.

We are all in this together.

This feels good most of the time, it’s comforting and reassuring that we are not alone in this, that everyone else is sharing the experience with us.

At other times, it’s frustrating. We not only have to somehow manage to keep our own crazy mind under control, we also have to arrange ourselves with the madness of other people’s minds.

What can we do to make things better?

We are completely in control of our own mind.

That’s so good to know.

We don’t have to allow our mind to stay mad and crazy. We can take the lead by telling our mind what we want to think about ourselves and the circumstances in our life.

And by deliberately choosing the thoughts we want to think we can change our feelings – which are always created by our thinking.

Consciously and deliberately directing our mind to where we want it to be is not easy, especially at this point in time.

But it’s possible and we have numerous techniques and tools that help us to do the mind-decluttering work successfully – so that we can feel better. (Read more: HERE and HERE)

We don’t have any power over other people’s minds.

With regard to other people’s minds, we are powerless. We can’t control their thoughts and feelings, we can’t control their actions and behaviours.

Other people decide how they want to think about the current situation, they have their own assumptions about the future, their personal opinions about what’s right or wrong.

They feel as much or as less worry as they want, they choose how much anxiety, anger, frustration they want to feel, or how much hope, optimism, trust.

And they do whatever they want – they wash their hands as often as they wish, they hunt for toilet paper and other things if they feel like.

And often they get mad at us because we don’t think, feel, act the way they want us to think, feel, and act.

How can we handle the madness of our own and other people’s minds?

We can do some conscious mind-decluttering work whenever other people are mad at us or our behaviour, or when we are feeling mad at others or their behaviour.

We can deliberately decide how we want to think about the current circumstances, ourselves, and the people in our life.

We can choose thoughts that create feelings of compassion and empathy. 

These feelings then allow us to act and react in a compassionate and connecting way which in turn will make difficult situations or relationships easier and less stressful for all of us.

These are some suggestions of thoughts that may help us to feel compassion for ourselves and others:

  • We are all in this together. Everyone in the world is impacted by this crisis. Most of us are suffering from emotional, social, financial, or even physical effects from this crisis in some way. We can get through it by supporting each other in our daily lives.
  • The difficult situation in which we currently find ourselves is temporary. We want to prepare ourselves for the future and make sure that we still love ourselves and others when the crisis is over. The best way to do this is to practice in the present: We can, again and again, decide to feel love and compassion for ourselves and others right now, in this moment.
  • It’s okay for other people to be mad at us. We can take a deep breathe and remember: We are all human beings. There is no absolute right or wrong. Everybody is acting in a way that’s available and reasonable to him in that moment. We can’t control other people and we don’t have to buy in other people’s beliefs – we can just let them be as they are.
  • There is no way that all people can agree. People will disagree with the choices and the decisions we make, the way we handle the current situation. That’s totally o.k. We just have to make sure that we always can agree with who we are and what we do.

LITTLE EXERCISE

How could thinking compassionate thoughts help you to feel better about yourself and others?

Think about your current experiences – situations in our daily life, encounters with other people:

Do you find it difficult sometimes to feel positive about yourself and others? Does it happen that the ‘atmosphere’ seems to be polluted by stressful feelings such as anger, frustration, impatience, fear, tension, etc.?

Now imagine everyone involved had deliberately chosen to feel compassion for himself and the others: Would that make the experience easier, lighter, more comfortable and positive?

How can you actively integrate more compassion and empathy in your daily life?

P.S.

Mind-decluttering helps us to change our life to the better.

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

Schedule your free coaching session

How to declutter the news – How-to-feel-better Series – Part 4

Uncertainty is a scary thing for our mind

What’s happening right now is totally new and unknown – to all of us. Most of us have never experienced a health crisis like this in our life.

We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, what’s going to happen next week, or next month. Even the experts can’t predict what’s going to happen.

Our mind is always looking out for danger, and it doesn’t like uncertainty. Thus it’s totally normal and natural for our mind to freak out right now.

There is no wrong reaction to uncertainty

We all get to choose how we want to think and feel. Nobody has the right or the power to tell us how to think or feel about what’s happening all around the world and in our daily lives right now.

Thus, whatever it is that we are feeling right now – worried and panicking or peaceful and calm -, whatever the feeling is, it’s totally o.k.

It would not be useful to tell ourselves that we should be feeling something different than we are feeling. We can allow any feeling and be o.k. with it.

We are free to choose our reaction to uncertainty

However, even if we are willing to accept our feelings and understand where they are coming from, we should also be aware that we are free to change our feelings at any time if we want to.

We just have to take conscious control of our mind again.

By deliberately choosing the thoughts we want to think we can change our feelings – which are always created by our thinking.

We are the ones who determine what’s happening in our mind and how we feel about it.

Our dependency on the news

One way to direct our thoughts is to carefully choose the amount and type of information we allow to enter our mind, and to decide what we want to think about it.

Right now, the news industry is thriving. The coronavirus is the hot story and the media people want us, of course, to continue watching, reading, listening – all day long.

And many of us feel we have to permanently feed our mind with new information. We so desperately wish to decrease our feelings of uncertainty about what’s going to happen that we become ‘addicted’ to the news. And to social media updates.  

However, the problem with addictions is that they usually don’t benefit our health.

In this case, a steady stream of startling media information can have negative consequences for our mental and emotional health.

Instead of releasing us from our feelings of uncertainty and worry, the bombardment with information can cause us feeling even more overwhelmed, confused, and powerless.  

How to balance out the incoming information

The solution is not, of course, to put our head in the sand. We need to make sure that we get all the information we need to constantly adjust our daily life to new developments, regulations and restrictions.

However, it’s within our power to determine the amount, the type, and the source of the information we allow to enter our mind.

  • Limiting the amount of incoming information

We don’t need to be monitoring the news all day long. We can deliberately limit our exposure to the constant feed of news from our phone, TV, or the newspapers.

We can decide, for example, to watch the local TV news at 8 a.m. and at 6 p.m. That’s it. Or to check the news updates on our phone each morning for 30 minutes. No longer.  

  • Choosing the source of incoming information

We don’t need to be on all news media sites. Each morning, we can ask ourselves, ‘What do I need to be informed about today?’

And then we avoid all the third-hand information and, instead, search only first-hand information resources, for example the government’s health department website,  or our employer’s site, or our kids’ school’s site.  

  • Choosing the type of incoming information

We can decide to balance the different types of information inflow.

Thus, after watching the news for one hour, we can consciously decide to feed our brain with other inputs, at least in equal measure. Reading a book for one hour, for example, or listening to music for one hour, or a podcast.

What do you think about your current media consumption?

Is it helpful to you? Does it serve your well-being?

Or is it too much? Is it unbalanced? Does it distract you from any positive news? From all the good things that are happening, all the experiences that have nothing to do with the virus?

P.S.

Regular mind-decluttering is necessary if we want to feel better in uncertain times. 

By deliberately choosing the thoughts we want to think we can change our feelings – if we want to.

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

Schedule your free coaching session

What if there is no wrong decision – How-to-feel-better Series – Part 3

Decision-making in uncertain times

Some of our current worries (read more here) have to do with the difficult decisions we have to make right now on a daily basis.

The things that are currently happening in the world and all the changes and uncertainties in our personal lives are totally new to us.

We are forced to make numerous decisions every day related to circumstances that we don’t understand. We can’t draw on past experiences and we can’t rely on other people’s opinions and decisions.

So we get worried about our decisions.

We ask ourselves: ‘How should I decide? What’s the right decision? What’s the wrong one? How can I make sure that I make the right decision? What is going to happen if I make the wrong decision?’

Every day, new decision-making challenges come up, like these:

  • ‘Should I be staying at home, not seeing anybody? Or is it the wrong decision? Should I instead go out and visit my old neighbour because I know that she is feeling lonely and afraid, and she has no computer to regularly share her thoughts with family and friends? Or is it better to call her? Or to drop some cakes on her doorstep?’
  • ‘Should I go and buy as many packs of noodles and rice as I can get? And as many rolls of toilet paper as are available right now? Is that the right decision? For me? For my family? Or should I just buy what I/we need this week? Would that be the better decision?’

‘Decisions are where our power is.’ (Brooke Castillo)

If we allow ourselves to get confused about our own decisions, if we try to avoid making decisions, or if we have doubtful thoughts about the decisions we made, we’re weakening ourselves.

‘What if there is no right or wrong decision?’

This simple question is the solution if we wish to dissolve our decision-making worries and confusion.

We can deliberately choose the thought that worrying about our decision-making is not useful and not helpful.

We can choose to trust ourselves.

We can decide to no longer question our decisions. Because we know if we start questioning them, then we start making ourselves crazy and weak.

We can learn to believe that the decision that we make in this moment is exactly the right decision for that moment. There is no better decision than the one we make. Our decision is the best decision we can make right now. Period.

This is where our power is: We trust ourselves and make the decisions we need to make. And then we move on.  (see exercise below)

Worrying about other people’s decisions

When we get mad about what other people decide and do, we are weakening ourselves. Because we have no control over other people.  

As soon as we agree that there is no right or wrong decision, it immediately doesn’t make sense any longer to worry about the decisions other people make or to judge other people’s decisions.

For example:

‘Shouldn’t my neighbours keep their kids at home?’

‘Could it be wrong that that the health minister cancels all public events?’

‘Wouldn’t it be the right thing if they allowed us to make our own travel decisions?’

‘Shouldn’t my neighbour stop buying and hoarding all these rolls of toilet paper?’

What if we just believed that everyone is making the best decisions they possibly can in this moment?

If we let them make their decisions without judging them? If instead we felt compassion?

If we focused our attention on the range of decisions that are within our own area of control? If we just decided what we have to decide and then moved on with our life?

EXERCISE

If you struggle with making-decisions, it might be because you overthink it. Or because you allow your mind to get crazy.

Take back control over your mind and your thinking.

You can choose your thoughts. Choose deliberately.

Choose thoughts that help you to feel better.

Feeling better enables you to act the way you wish to act so that you can create the results you want to have in your daily life.

Consider these or similar thoughts – anything that sounds good and believable to you, and helps you to worry less about all the decisions in your life:

  • I am a human being and like any other human being I can’t know for sure what’s the best thing to do. There is no absolute right or wrong decision. The decision I make in this moment is exactly the right decision for me for that moment.
  • I am able to become aware of my thoughts and feelings and how they might influence my decision-making. I can clear up my mind before I make decisions. This helps me to avoid making decisions based on feelings of worry, fear, judgement, anger, etc.
  • I decide not to postpone or avoid making difficult decisions. I gather the right amount of available information from reliable sources, and then I decide. And move on to the next thing I have/want to do.
  • I appreciate with gratitude that there are so many areas in my life that I am in control of and that I can make decisions about.
  • Making decisions makes me stronger.
  • I respect the decisions that other people make for themselves. I understand that they are trying to do their best – as I do.
  • I am willing to accept that other people’s decisions might interfere with my daily life or with my own personal decisions. I promise myself to be open and to listen. I trust that we’ll always find a practicable solution or a compromise everyone can live with.
  • … (What’s a thought that you can learn to believe and that will help you making decisions based on a clear and clean mind?)

Expect your old confusing and worrying thoughts to come back for a while.

Be patient with yourself, just push the old thoughts out of your mind and replace them with the new thought, again and again. Your decision-making confidence will increase, decision after decision

P.S.

Do you sometimes worry about the decisions you have to make? 

It might help to talk about those worries.

Make use of my free coaching-session-offer to gain more clarity:

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

Schedule your free coaching session