I joined a free group coaching workshop through a friend. The coach seemed approachable and sensitive but also down-to-earth. When she offered a discovery call for all attendees. She listened, asked many questions, and challenged me during that call. After a few months, I felt changes happening. Slowly, I became more aware of my behaviour and how it may contribute to the situations I end up being in. However, I still felt the need to understand some of the existential questions.
We tend to hold onto our defenses when we are afraid of what would happen if we let that belief go. Storytelling is as old as humanity. We make sense of ourselves and the world around us by ordering our experiences into meaningful sequences and patterns. It is reassuring, and makes us feel in control.
When we listen to each other in groups, when we speak up and feel heard and understood, our most basic human needs are met. When we speak out loud our darkest and most hidden secret, and it is received without judgment, the healing can begin. There is no need to push it away or ignore it anymore; all is welcome, all of me is welcome. A welcoming, compassionate group can be just what we need to feel accepted.
As humans, we have very human needs and questions: we need to talk, to be understood, to have a sense and understanding of self, to have insights, to feel safe, be loved, to satisfy biological needs, to resolve inner conflicts, to be accepted and to find meaning. None of the above can be found through quick fixes, “5 top tips,” or even “3 coaching tools.” Instead, getting our needs met requires time, introspection, and the willingness to sit with the uncomfortable feelings that come up.
I admit I don’t know much about Enneagram before doing this test, but I can see how it can be useful for some people by giving insights into their behaviour. However, if you are someone who has been on a journey of self-discovery for some time, it can seem like just another tool that tells you what is wrong with you and what needs fixing.
We are so afraid of rejection that we’d rather endure a false sense of hope than find out the potentially hard truth. But how does not saying what you need actually affect you and your relationship? How authentic is a relationship that is based on an act to please your partner? How well can you even get to know each other if you play a part from the beginning?
When I had burnout a few years ago, I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I thought it was just stress that wasn’t going away. Then I realised, when I am stressed, things feel overwhelming and “too much." I stopped seeing the point in trying in both my work and my relationships. It felt like I was swimming upstream but didn’t know when I’d reach the shore.
What can we do about this? How can we return to conversations without purpose and time constraints? Do you remember how you felt last time when you had a conversation like that? Whenever I experience that connection with someone, I feel at ease, and in the flow, I get creative ideas, and the world just generally seems to be a better place.
What can I do for myself to get out of a rut? It’s okay not to know. It’s often easier to see what it is that we don’t want in our lives, and this can be a good starting point. In order to access your deeper needs and wants, you need time and relaxation. The best ideas always come when you are in the shower for a reason: your nervous system is not activated and you are not in a fight or flight mode. You can access play and creativity, so new ideas come.
But here is the tricky bit that nobody tells you: If you are used to hustling – if you internalise the hustle culture – it doesn’t matter what career or lifestyle you choose, you will always have the urge to just go, go! The only way to change the culture is if we consciously refuse to participate in it, and that takes a lot of awareness and the ability to sit with the uncomfortable feeling of being different.
For the first time in my life, somebody blocked me on WhatsApp. I realised that I was blocked when his profile picture disappeared. The sensation was like being hit by a train. (Of course, I am exaggerating as I have never been hit by a train.) I felt a lot of shame and I burst into tears.
Step 1 – Notice them, notice the pattern, build awareness Step 2 – Accept these triggers and my response to them, however ugly my response may seem. Step 3 – Find the origin of the trigger. This step is not necessary to work with the trigger, but most of us find it helpful. Step 4 – Sit with the uncomfortable sensation without trying to make it go away or get myself too caught up in it. Step 5 – Keep practising Step 4.
That uncomfortable feeling when you hear somebody criticise you or your work, however kindly they do it, can be difficult to handle. It feels like a slap in the face or a punch in the stomach (at least for me personally). While we are experiencing all those sensations in the body, it is impossible to look at the feedback objectively and to learn from it, potentially.
Part of being emotionally mature is that we accept our role in the situation we get ourselves into. But we all have a tendency to keep repeating certain patterns that will end up in the same, unfavourable results, especially when it comes to relationships. Why is it so difficult to see the limitations we set for ourselves and change our behaviour? Most of us were never modelled healthy relationships to emotions or to each other. So how can we start developing emotional maturity?
I moved around a lot all my life, I had 4 different careers, left my home country in my 20s, never had kids and most of my friends are from different generations. There is no community around me, I don’t belong. But then I mentioned this to a few people and I realized I'm not the only one who feels this way. Now that the world is opening back up, I was ready to host a party on my balcony But who would I invite? Only a very few of my friends know each other. Would they even get along?
I’m really stressed over socializing so much again. Spending time with the people I love irl, while also reconnecting with acquaintances (and *gasp* new friends) alike has been incredibly soul-nourishing. But I’m back to sitting at the bar, silently feeling bad about myself while my friends talk about their new boyfriends and jobs and homes. I’m changing my clothes five times before leaving the house because I’m so worried about how others will perceive my aesthetic.
Am I crazy? This week, I got drinks with a close friend I hadn’t seen in three years. I was over-the-moon excited to see her. But also, I was nervous–not that it would be awkward, not that we would have nothing in common anymore. I knew that would be great. No, I was worried that she’d see me and think I “let myself go.”
But as much as I’ve grown and learned to accept myself, anytime I use a skin-smoothing filter on Instagram, I get an icky feeling in my stomach, a longing to truly have that flawless face staring up at me from my phone screen. Except I can never have that face. It isn’t real.
We often fall prey to the negative aspects of wellness culture, which tell us that we cannot be well or healthy unless we are able to rise above any negativity. However, regardless of how much we try to live a “positive vibes only” lifestyle, bad things can and will happen. Pain is an inevitable part of the human experience
The first time I experienced a powerful breathwork session was for emotional release in a group setting where we were all breathing at the same time to music with a teacher guiding us. Within a few minutes, tears started rolling down my face, then I couldn’t stop sobbing; it was the first time I cried in two years. I just didn’t understand how breathing can be so powerful, I could literally feel my emotions break through a wall. There was no turning back for me after that.
Food, of course, is necessary to live. It provides us not only for the energy to do the things we love, but it’s what keeps our heart beating, our oxygen flowing, our brain communicating. However, as humans, we have a much more complicated relationship with food than that of our animal friends. We don’t need to eat solely for sustenance and survival. We can also eat for pleasure, not just to fuel our bodies.
Emotional eating is something that most people deal with at one time or another. When we experience uncomfortable emotions, we often turn to food for self-soothing, and shame around eating “too much” or “the wrong thing” can make these negative emotions even stronger.