The lived experience, Episode 8 – This week: Joy

In the spring of 2022 I came into contact with a small-scale care institution in Assen, where very specific attention is being paid to the residents’ background, which often involves early childhood trauma. The employees and trainees also regularly have a history of adverse events that made or make life difficult. One of the trainees last year was ‘Joy’ (pseudonym). She asked me if I was willing to give a lesson at her school together with her. That happened and in May and June of 2022 we blogged about it.
Now Joy and I are preparing a meeting for the institution’s care team together. That is a good reason to highlight Joy’s story. We are happy to share it with you below!

“For the first thirteen years of my life I grew up with my mother in an unsafe situation. She lived in her own bubble and if she came out of it or we came into hers, she would yell at us, my brother and sister and me. She was always negative; she was never into anything and never wanted to do something nice, for example swimming or walking. She did not have time and attention for us; we were rather a burden. She used to say: “You are worth nothing; you are stupid and you have the same rotten face as your father.” If I said anything about my father, my mother would go crazy and scream. It usually resulted in me getting spanked and going to bed without having had dinner. I hardly ever took a shower; I was always dirty and walked around in torn clothes. Because of my parents’ messy divorce, I was hardly ever allowed to see my father. If he was allowed to pick me up, my father felt bad for me for the way I looked. I often showered at his house first and then got fresh clothes.

My mother’s friend, my stepfather, came from a large family of fifteen. He used to be regularly beaten with a belt. Those were the norms and values he grew up with. After drinking, he would turn into a beast. He committed violent crimes and hit us with a curtain rail or with his hand. He regularly smashed the entire house to pieces. As a child I was very scared; I felt victimised. Especially when my stepfather had smashed everything and the police came to the door, I thought: “Why aren’t they doing anything? Don’t they see me?” I sat on the stairs crying and thought: “Help me, do something!” They did nothing; they simply turned and disappeared. Also in this situation I felt not seen and not heard and this was confirmation for me that I was worth nothing.

At primary school I was excluded and bullied for how I looked in my dirty clothes with holes, but also because my stepfather was regularly in jail. I was not allowed to play with anyone and no one was allowed to come to my place. As a child I actually felt like a prisoner, too. I felt dirty, lonely and sad. When I said about my stepfather: “He is not my father”, nobody believed me, because my biological father was barely in the picture. No one saw who and what he was like. This felt really bad, like I was not seen and heard. I was very proud of my real dad, but I could not share my pride with anyone.

Because of my parents’ messy divorce, I got a supervision order. My mother duped the family guardian with manipulation and lies. As a result, my biological father was accused of everything, including assault and abuse. My confidence in myself was already gone, but I also lost confidence in the guardian and the police. My mother always said: “You have the same rotten face as your father; you have ‘father marks’ instead of birthmarks.” * She said I was stupid and I was not capable of anything and I thought it must be true; after all, no one helped me. Not seen not heard… every time everything felt like confirmation that I was worth nothing.

I felt terribly lonely and sad; I often lay in bed crying and then I missed my real father. I wanted to live with Dad, but most often, I was not allowed to see him. I did not dare say I wanted to live with him; I had done that once and then I was hit so hard with a plastic curtain rail that my body was purple with welts. My entire closet had been smashed and my clothes had been thrown out the window. I could not flee for fear of getting more blows, so I fled in my own head. There I was completely in my own bubble. In my primary school report this can be read every year: “Joy is absent and often seems to be far away in dreamland.”

When I was thirteen I decided that I was going to say that I wanted to live with daddy. It took me two days to finally tell. I was terrified of getting some big, hard blows. That indeed happened, but I still got dad’s phone number. My stepfather’s brother helped me reach my father. He was there in half an hour; he had never driven so fast to pick me up. My mother was devastated because I chose my father and so were my brother and sister. I went and was going to live with Dad; adrenaline rushed through my body. I was happy because I was finally with Dad, but at the same time I felt, however wrongly, guilty about how I left the home situation behind.

My father had a very different, safe family situation; I had never known such a thing. I was insecurely attached and could not handle the peace and security at all. Because of my attachment problems, I went to great lengths to see where my father’s boundaries lay. I lied about everything, because with my mother always had to. I was not allowed anything; I had to come home straight from school. My stepfather would often picket at school to see if I actually went straight home. If not, I was punished for it. I started stealing, and at a very young age I also started smoking and blowing. I used violence if I did not like something, because that was also an approach I had been taught. I was unbearable at my father’s house; he quickly enlisted help. He wanted to try to get me into an assisted living situation or into a boarding school, because he was at a loos as to what to do with me at home. I was so far gone by then that I did not care. Like my father, I too did not know what to do with the circumstances at his place. I struggled with the fact that I had been abused and neglected for the first thirteen years of my life and that screaming, violence, alcohol abuse and fighting were the only ‘norms’ and ‘values’ I had inherited. And at the same time I struggled with enormous guilt towards my mother, brother and sister: I had abandoned them in a terrible situation.

My birth father organised help and he has taken a long breath and come a long way with me. He went gray early on; I always say that that happened thanks to me and then we laugh about it together. My recovery process was a very rough ride. I have had trauma treatment and EMDR and eventually I found myself and grew into how I am today. I have chosen to do a course to guide people in similar situations or problems, namely ‘Social care for specific target groups’ with the elective ‘Experience expert’. On my way to this diploma I have learned a lot and I have gone through powerful personal growth. It was fun and educational, also in the field. It gives me a lot of energy and I am proud of the woman I am now.”

Childhood is often described as the most beautiful time of a person’s life, in which carefree play and enjoyment are paramount. Joy’s story is one of many examples of children for whom this is certainly not the case. It takes tremendous courage and perseverance to transform a situation like Joy’s. Whether a young person is unlucky or lucky with the people who appear on their personal path can make a world of difference. If there is a helping hand and a safe haven to relax and develop, someone who believes in you, healing can gently start. Joy has now completed her education and in the coming years, through her work she will make a difference for others, whose background she understands better than anyone else!
Next week we will follow up on Joy’s story and report on this week’s team meeting.


*In Duth, birthmarks are called ‘moedervlekken’, ‘mother spots’. Here, the author illustrates how her mother tried to blame literally everything on the father, her ex-partner.

The lived experience, Episode 7 – This week: Jipe, working with Compassionate Inquiry

Today we share with you the story of someone who has been dealing with issues related to childhood for some time now. Following a personal conversation, Jipe received from us the exercise in Compassionate Inquiry that we recently described in a blog. She decided to go to work with it and after writing a few times, she has already gained intense, but valuable insights. She shares her experience below.

“Recently I received the list of questions from Compassionate Inquiry that can bring more clarity. This is what it says at the top as an explanation: ‘A compassionate search for the inner story behind what we as humans show to the outside world with our behaviour, our visions and emotions’. That is a quest that I have been engaged in for a long time. It is a trip where I feel like I’m going round in circles and not making much progress. Intuitively I know what I want, but I cannot put it into words, let alone have an idea where to find what I want. However, the first sentence spells out exactly what I’m looking for! For the first time in all that time I see words on paper that describe exactly what I mean. I want to get my inner story clear for myself in the first place, but I also want to better understand what it is like for others around me.

Reluctantly, I started answering the six questions twice a week: what do I not say no to although I want to, what is the impact, what do I feel in my body, what is the story behind it, where did I learn those beliefs, and what would I like to say yes to? I was very hesitant to get started because I know the answers to the questions are going to turn everything I know upside down. I don’t know where that is going to lead me, how all of this will mess things up…

In the writing process I am now starting to find out what could be the explanation for the very difficult contact with one of my stepchildren. Without wanting to go into details, I can say that this relationship is dramatically bad. I never knew what it really meant to ‘hate someone’s guts’, but now I do. The anger, rage and even hatred from me towards this child are very intense. I completely block when we are near each other. Just hearing the breathing triggers disgust and defense in me. Then I prefer to run away, because I know I cannot contribute anything positive to the contact. Having no contact then feels safer and more sensible. I have always held myself accountable for that intense experience; I was ashamed of it. This is not how I want to be. I am the adult, right? Surely I should be able to put things into perspective and respond in an ‘adult’ manner?

Entering the Compassionate Inquiry process really turns things upside down. For example, I discovered that there are remarkable similarities between how my father and my one stepchild act. I don’t feel empathy from them. They seem to live in their own world, with their own truth, a world in which there is no room for any other input or other truths. In their experience, if something goes wrong, it is never their fault, but always the other person’s fault, due to how the other perceives something. I feel no comfort in their speech, no warmth in their action.

However, I am now beginning to realise that the emotions I experience with my stepchild are so intense for me mainly because they awaken painful memories of my childhood. As a child of my father, I grew up in a way that always made me doubt myself. My self-esteem often feels like almost 0, just like my belief in my own abilities: also almost 0. And when I do try something, that infamous little devil on my shoulder is screwing things up, like a creature with my father’s bad habits, his energy and attitude, a voice that names everything I fail at and makes damaging remarks… my inner critic. The wall that I feel my father has built around him… I cannot see through it.

My stepchild does not seem to have built a strong identity of their own. What I see is that many behaviours, hobbies and pastimes are copied from others who are looked up to. Things are done as others do them. I see a lot of imitation in it and very little originality. I have always struggled with lack of authenticity; that horribly gets on my nerves. This means that I find it very difficult to enter into a stable relationship. I understand where this stepchild comes from, but still the trigger is too big for me to let it slip away, see it for what it is and not take it so personally. What I observe in our interaction touches too much on the pain of the past and how things often go in contact with my father even today.

These are things that make life very complicated for me. Now that I am compassionately exploring my own story with the six questions, I get more clarity about various dynamics. It feels like a relief, almost like a happy party, that I understand where my hatred and anger come from. At the same time, it also feels frightening. That anger in me is so intense. Where should I go with it? How can I interpret it differently? How can I get rid of that rage? Can I, just like with my stepchild, also start seeing where it comes from in my father? Can I begin to feel that much was not or is not about me, but about his pain? That is the step I want to learn to take and I really want to enter into that process. Looking with compassion at the behaviour of the other person that triggers me so intensely is still too much to ask at the moment. That is why I want to start learning to look at myself with compassion, hoping to find more inner peace.”

What a beautiful reflection this is! What is very clear from Jipe’s words is that the so-called ‘shadow work’, bringing out the dark sides of your life and your personality, the aspects of it that have been suppressed, is a process that takes courage and demands and deserves attention. You will not be easily ‘done with it’ either; it takes time, along with a safe space where you are listened to, where all your emotions are allowed to be there and where they are not rejected and judged. The wounded child in the adult must be allowed to mourn and scream in anger and grief.
So when we want to raise awareness of our old pain to help heal the wound, we need people who want to be there for us. That also means that on occasion we will all be in a position where we can be that kind of person for someone else. That often functions better the more shadow work we have done ourselves, but sometimes it is precisely listening to the other that brings connection and healing.

A whole new year is ahead of us. We hope that everyone who is on a quest, dares to be vulnerable and courageous in loving contact with others in order to heal in themselves or the other what hurt. A beautiful statement that was made at a healing ceremony is this: ‘Whoever dares to look the pain in the eye, heals seven generations back and seven generations forward.’
What an opportunity to contribute to a happier world!


Webinar and question session regarding ‘The Myth of Normal’ with Gabor Maté

A week ago, we gathered with a few people to listen to a webinar with Gabor Maté as the main guest, organised by Science & Nonduality (SAND). Gabor answered questions about his new book, ‘The Myth of Normal’, written with his son Daniel, and related themes. I would like to share some of the topics that were discussed.

The session begins with some general reflections. It talks about how important it is to first establish that you are suffering, that you are not happy. When there is pain, it is good to be curious about the source of your suffering without judgment (‘compassionate inquiry’). Compassionately examining your own anxiety and loneliness is the first step to healing. Books, therapy, body-oriented exercises, and spiritual practices such as meditation and the like can also be helpful.
In everything you undertake within a social context, it is good to remember that every system (relationship, family, work environment, society) is intent on maintaining itself, among other things by reinforcing beliefs that guarantee the survival of that system. Beliefs and attitudes that tamper with the system are ‘difficult’. If you do not share the values of the system or oppose them, you are unlikely to achieve a position of influence within that system. This is one of the reasons why it is so difficult to change toxic dynamics in a system.
There is certainly also a cultural component in this: there are ‘indigenous tribes’ where there is ‘intelligent governance’, leading the community in a way in which it is not tolerated that leaders primarily serve their own goals. If that happens, they lose their position of power.

During the reflections, among the approximately 800 participants, quite a few Zoom hands have already gone up in the air from people who would like to ask a question, which will fill the rest of the webinar.
One of the first questions is about the relationship between parents and children when there is disagreement and constant hassle. How do you handle that? How do you ensure a more harmonious interaction? Who bears what responsibility? It is discussed that parenting is not a democratic institution, since adults simply bear responsibility for their children, whom they supervise and about and for whom they have to make decisions. There is a certain degree of hierarchy and dominance. Where things go wrong is when it amounts to exploitation or coercion, when children obey under the pressure of fear of sanctions. A distinction is made between authoritarian and authoritative parenting: dictatorial or tyrannical (which leads to struggle and resistance) versus naturally inducing respect and showing involvement (with fairness, good sense, and understanding). There is also a difference between the role of ‘parent’, with a certain hierarchy, and the relationship between parent and child, in which equality is the essence.

In this part of the webinar, Gabor also refers to a presentation by him and Daniel together in 2016, entitled ‘Hello Again’, in which father and son both give a talk, are then interviewed and subsequently answer questions from the audience. (Anoter, very recent edition of such a conversation can be found here and there are more.) These conversations are both hilarious and profound. Daniel begins the 2016 interview by saying that he feels blessed to have a father who is so much ‘willing to look at himself’ and is ‘reflective’. ‘Kids’, says Daniel, ‘get the message under the words’ and that is why it is often difficult to have a conversation about what really matters, as there is so much beneath the words that perhaps even the parent is unaware of. It is good and pithy to remember that in an adult relationship there is no 50/50 responsibility for the interaction, but that both partners bear 100% responsibility for their own part.

The mother who asks a question during the webinar about her daughter, with whom everything is now very difficult, feels a lot of powerlessness and anger. When she talks to Gabor, his quickly concludes: “Your child is not your problem. Your trauma is your problem.” A short conversation follows and the mother soon becomes very emotional because she realises that there is indeed still a lot of pain from her own childhood. She gets the warm encouragement to seek help so that she can feel more peaceful and then really be there for her daughter, so that she herself first gets what she can’t give right now.

A young man would like to learn how to drift less, how to master that his ‘tuning out’ is no longer his standard response to complicated situations. Two years after starting his studies he dropped out and he now has a part-time job and is working to discover and heal his trauma so that he can continue on his way through life. He realises that there are ADHD symptoms. Gabor’s estimate is that there was a lot of stress with his parents during his childhood; there also appears to have been anger and shouting. Only by dissociating could his brain protect him against all that. Therapy will be important for his recovery. What also matters, is taking good care of his body, living a life that supports his health. In addition, he can train his mind, for example through meditation. Developing more awareness for the moments when he dissociates is also helpful. These approaches together provide a form of ‘reprogramming’ of the internal environment.

Another woman is also looking for more inner balance. There is a calm exchange of thoughts and then Gabor refers to the idea that had lived in him for so long: “Everybody can heal, but not me.” This idea, he says to his conversation partner, who is now in tears, is a trauma imprint. It is the wounded child in us that struggles to believe that healing is possible, after all those years when things felt painful, when expectations were not met, when fear prevailed, when our needs were not seen and when our brain developed on the basis of those experiences. In addition, it is very difficult for sensitive children to see and perceive things that the important adults around them do not see or do not speak about, while this energy continues to resonate in the system.

Short conversations are held with various people throughout the webinar and it is impressive to see how gently their problems are approached, how they are kept ‘on topic’ and how there is a constant appeal to their inner wisdom.
By no means are all questions addressed – the hour and a half are insufficient for that. Gabor suggests a sequel shortly and Zaya and Maurizio from SAND are happy with that offer.
Last Monday, I received the replay link, but you must be logged in and registered and have donated to watch the webinar again. Sharing that link is therefore not very useful. The email also contained a few resources mentioned during the webinar that I am happy to share:

·       Mari Swingle book: I-Minds: How Cell Phones, Computers, Gaming, and Social Media are Changing Our Brains, Our Behavior, and the Evolution of Our Species

·       Dr. Shimi Kang book: The Tech Solution

·       Dr. Gabor Maté book: Hold on to Your Kids

Would you like to join one of the webinars…? Check out the SAND website for the dates and topics. We wish you lots of inspiration with the ‘Hello Again’ conversations linked above and good and loving conversations based on compassion with your dear ones in the week ahead! We look forward to seeing you again in 2023!

Book review ‘Ikigai’ by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles

We recently read the book ‘Ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life’, written by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles. The term can be described in different ways: meaningfulness, ‘raison d’être’, the reason why you get out of bed in the morning.

It is an important theme, meaningfulness. When there is trauma or piercing loss, fearfulness and dark thoughts and feelings can take the upper hand in such a way that it becomes difficult to see the meaning of life. Sometimes it is good to carefully discover again what gives joy and which elements feel like a blessing for the body. With small steps you can then work towards a situation in which larger goals can also be given a place for daily motivation once more. Meaning also has a crucial place in the Positive Health-view. When people are asked about the six pillars of the spider web (bodily functions, mental well-being, meaningfulness, quality of life, participation, and daily functioning), ‘meaningfulness’ appears to be the most important component for many. We want to feel that we are making a meaningful contribution to a greater whole. This may not be the same topic for everyone, but we do share that need for meaningfulness. This book aims to provide more insight for such a salutogenetic approach, a view in which you do not avoid things so that you do not get sick, but in which you proactively seek out things that make you happy and give meaning to your existence.

After an introductory Chapter I, Chapter II follows with an overview of the little things that add up to make a big contribution to a long and happy life. Consider, for example, the Latin proverb “mens sana in corpore sano” – a healthy mind in a healthy body. An open, flexible attitude of mind helps you to keep feeling young, even as the body ages. One of the key points of trauma is that you lose an essential part of your flexibility when you have to structurally deploy your survival strategies. Stress promotes cell aging by weakening telomeres, cell structures that affect how cells regenerate and how they age (p. 23). You can lower the stress level of your life with the help of meditation, breathing exercises and yoga, for example. Ensuring sufficient exercise and sufficient sleep is also important to keep body and mind healthy.

Chapter III discusses how finding your ‘ikigai’, your purpose in life, helps you stay healthy. It opens with a pithy question from Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and former Auschwitz prisoner Viktor Frankl (1905-1997), who reportedly presented his patients with this dilemma: “Why don’t you kill yourself?” (p. 37). He saw this as a way to forcefully confront people with the fact that in most cases they did see aspects that made life worth living. Feelings of emptiness, frustration and fear, Frankl believed, usually stem from the deep need for a meaningful life. The chapter then provides a nice overview of the difference between psychoanalysis and Frankl’s logotherapy, the method in which patients are encouraged to consciously discover the meaning and purpose of their lives. That is helpful because then they can really do what suits their personal life destiny. Frankl makes a distinction between ‘being mentally ill’ and ‘experiencing spiritual suffering’ (p. 40): without meaning, the soul suffers. That is not a disease, but a logical consequence of an unfulfilled, inherent human need. The task for every human being is not to create meaning, but to discover the meaning that lies deep within us. By looking at situations in which we are deeply focused and ‘in flow’, where everything seems to go by itself, we can gain insight into that life purpose.


Chapters 5 through 8 provide the experiences of a group of very old people in Japan and how they look at what brought them here, what views, diets and physical exercises helped.
Chapter 9 discusses three concepts that indicate how a person, thing or organisation responds to adversity. When something happens and damage easily occurs, we speak of ‘fragility’. When something happens and it can be endured without weakening, we speak of ‘resilience’. And a third concept describes the situation in which violent influences or even damages occur and the person, thing or organisation does not become weaker, but rather stronger. We can then speak of ‘antifragility’ (p. 174). The book offers three strategies for becoming antifragile: create more options (with not one but several jobs or clients you are less dependent on one source of income), be careful in certain areas and take lots of small risks in others (small risks can bring big results without exposing ourselves to big dangers), get rid of things that make you fragile (don’t snack too much, pay off your debts, don’t spend time with toxic people) and also remember that every setback offers an opportunity for growth (p. 176-179). More on this concept, the authors say, can be found in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book ‘Antifragile’. Coincidentally, that book is also here – a small 500 finely printed pages thick. 😉

The epilogue summarizes the main points of the book:

  1. Stay active; don’t retire.
  2. Take it slow.
  3. Don’t fill your stomach (but only 80%).
  4. Surround yourself with good friends.
  5. Get in shape for your next birthday.
  6. Smile.
  7. Reconnect with nature.
  8. Give thanks.
  9. Live in the moment.
  10. Follow your ikigai.

This book offers great starting points to look for your life purpose. What seems to receive not so much attention is that in the case of early childhood trauma, the brain is ‘wired’ in such a way that the physiology makes all kinds of aspects of life (more) difficult. Few words are also devoted to the role social factors play in this. It is mainly focused on what you could do yourself within your own context. If you want to know more about that, this is a wonderfully handy, easy-to-read little reference work!

Compassionate Inquiry – an exercise

Last week we concluded the book review of ‘The Myth of Normal’ with Part 5.
In it we also mentioned an exercise in ‘compassionate inquiry’. We would like to take a closer look at this.

The Dutch saying goes that ‘voorkomen’ (prevention) is better than ‘genezen’ (curation). However, there is another approach that precedes prevention: amplition. The word ‘amplition’ comes from the Latin verb ‘amplire’, which means ‘to magnify’, ‘to increase’. Amplition is about giving more attention to what gives you strength and keeps you healthy. It is a very salutogenetic approach: you look at the question of what causes health (saluto-genesis). That’s a different approach than being concerned with what you should avoid in order not to get sick.

An important element of your daily well-being is meaningfulness: you can be physically as healthy as possible and have so many material things around you… when life seems meaningless and you feel no purpose or importance in the things you do, then your well-being will drastically decrease. Meaningfulness is also sometimes referred to by the Japanese term ‘ikigai’, that which gets you out of bed, your ‘raison d’être’, that which makes you happy and satisfied, that which gives meaning to your existence. Therefore, it is valuable to keep a finger on the pulse of your authenticity in this, whether you know and pursue your ikigai, or whether you let yourself be kept away from it for all kinds of reasons. (We will shortly review a book on ikigai soon.)

If you notice that you do not experience enough meaningfulness, you can talk yourself down: “Done nothing useful again, didn’t work hard enough again, what a sucker I am, why can’t I get it done, I can do this no, I’m too stupid/lazy/incompetent for it, this will never work”… and whatever else you can come up with. Many of us have grown up with that voice in our heads of first someone else (often a parent or teacher or boss), which later passes silently into our own ‘inner critic’, the voice that constantly judges your actions negatively – condemns them, an ‘intruder’. With this approach you are not being very kind to yourself. It is probably not the way you would talk to a dear friend. Can that be done differently…? Can you learn to handle that in a more compassionate way? Yes, that is possible!

Chapter 28 of The Myth of Normal provides you with a compassionate inquiry exercise that you can do all by yourself. You don’t need a therapist or expert for it. You can get started with it on your own, with a frequency that suits you and that you may slowly increase if you notice that the exercise is doing you good. How does it work?
You sit down regularly, at least once a week but preferably more often, to answer a number of questions honestly to yourself while writing. These questions are the following six:

Question 1: In my life’s important areas, what am I not saying no to, although I do feel a to?

Question 2: How does my inability to say no impact my life?

Question 3: What bodily signals have I been overlooking? What symptoms have I been ignoring that could be warning signs, were I to pay conscious attention?

Question 4: What is the hidden story behind my inability to say no?

Question 5: Where did I learn these stories?

Question 6: Where have I ignored or denied the yes that wanted to be said?


Ad 1
Where did you feel a no, but did you hold it in or did you say yes, although you did not support it? With whom and where is it difficult to say no? And if you do say no, can you feel comfortable, determined, guilt-free? Do you blame yourself afterwards for your no? What price do you pay for your yes, if you wanted to express a no?

Ad 2
An unspoken, but desired no, can have all kinds of consequences: physical (back problems, insomnia, stomach ache, fatigue, headaches and more), emotional (sadness, fear, boredom, loss of joie de vivre and sense of humour) and relational (resentment towards the other, estrangement from loved ones, aloofness, lack of libido).

Ad 3
The aforementioned physical effects are important to observe. After all, when stress arises in your body, you become more susceptible to illness and chronic social and health problems. The body often tells clearly what it likes and what it doesn’t like, but we often forget or are afraid to listen to it and take the signals seriously. Understandable: their meaning can be intense.

Ad 4
Behind your unspoken no there are often different beliefs, which together form a story that you tell yourself over and over again to explain, justify, and rationalise your choices. Your choices and stories therefore seem ‘normal’ and true. They are also almost always consistent with your life experiences, but they deserve a closer look.

Ad 5
Our self-image usually forms early in life under the influence of how our closest attachment figures interact with and respond to us. We are not born with a negative self-image, so to speak. We often take things personally when they are not. This question invites you to honestly examine where your story has to be maintained and where it is allowed to change.

Ad 6
When you do not dare to show your authenticity, you probably do not say no to certain things, even though they do not suit you. Conversely, you may not say yes to what would feed your happiness in life. Maybe you are afraid of reactions from your environment. Maybe you think you’re not worthy of certain things. Maybe there are beliefs that make you think you shouldn’t do something. However, our ‘ikigai’, our purpose for meaning, wants to be expressed. When it just slumbers inside, it either kills our creativity or explodes in a very clumsy way. Expressing it, putting your goals into the world, saying yes to them, can have a strong healing effect on your well-being and health.

It is a simple yet complex exercise, if only because it demands some discipline: it requires you to make time for it on a regular basis. Above all, it asks that you be honest and that you literally dare to face what you have to say to yourself. You write, you give words to your feelings, you write down what you have observed in your body in the past week or the past few days. You may see certain themes come up again and again and with others you can be relieved to see that you are making progress, that you are taking yourself seriously, that it makes your body happy.
I have begun; I have chosen a nice, inviting booklet in which I have written down the six questions on the first page as a reminder. I experience writing from compassion as a pleasant process throughout the week. It makes me more aware and that is the beginning of all forms of change, including those on the way to more peace and well-being in your life. In other words… highly recommended!