Inner Conflicts – Are you your own worst Enemy?

Are you your own worst enemy? How to tell if you have inner conflicts and became your nemesis.

Most of you probably know the feeling of being your own nemesis. Maybe you’re trying to live up to your standards or fulfill the expectations of others. Or maybe you’re in a catch-22 situation and have difficulties deciding which way to go.

These are just a few examples of intrapersonal conflict. Inner conflicts are very common, but many people don’t realize that they have them and that they have become their own worst enemy.

Inner conflicts are not necessarily bad. They can be the trigger for change and personal growth. However, if an inner conflict is unresolved for a longer time or the person cannot solve it without external help, it can become toxic and chronic.

Your soul is out of balance. Inner conflict means battling with yourself.

Conflict is inevitable

You might think I am referring to conflicts between others and us. Your boss, child, or spouse perhaps. However, I am referring to your inner contradictions. The struggle between what you think you “ought” to do and what your heart truly desires.

Not only is conflict inevitable, how we handle it decides about our level of success and happiness. Conflict is the root of paralysis for some, the root of change (personal, social, or relational) for others. Conflict forces us to develop creative responses and solutions and can lead our personal growth.

How do inner conflicts arise?

The term conflict stems from the Latin word “conflicts” and means to strike two things at the same time. Conflicts can arise when we experience something that doesn’t comply with our belief system.

Conflicts occur if we present a person with over one, equally powerful desires or motives present at the same time.

We differentiate between three types of conflict:

1. Intrapersonal Conflicts (or goal conflicts)

2. Interpersonal Conflicts (between individuals)

3. Unconscious Conflicts (repressed, unresolved conflicts)

Intrapersonal Conflicts

Let’s look at intrapersonal conflicts in more detail as they are very common.

a) Approach-approach conflict

You have two choices, both will lead to a positive result, but you can only do one or the other. For instance, you love your home town and just found the perfect house you want to buy when you get a terrific job offer in another state.

Buying your dream house means you cannot accept the job offer and v. v.

b) Avoidance-avoidance conflict

You’re forced to decide for one of two negative choices. You cannot avoid both.

For instance, you can either invite your mother-in-law (you don’t get along with) to live with you or pay (almost) more than you can afford for a senior living facility.

c) Approach-avoidance conflict

Probably the most tricky one. The same goal/object has both a positive and negative side. For instance, you get a lucrative job offer, but you know it’s likely a merger will happen, and the job is risky. c) is most tricky because it presents an inner ambivalence.

What these conflicts have in common is that it’s about finding a solution. If you don’t, things turn toxic.

Burdian’s Ass

The philosophical fable by Aristotle (popularized by French philosopher Jean Buridan) is a hypothetical paradox that fits this card.

Are you your own worst enemy? 
Burdian's Ass, the philosophical fable by Aristotle (made famous by French philosopher Jean Burdian.)

One variation is the hypothetical situation wherein the donkey is equally hungry and thirsty and stands exactly between a stack of hay and a bucket of water. The paradox assumes that “the ass” will always go to whatever is closer. The donkey cannot make a rational decision between the water and the hay and dies of both hunger and thirst.

Another variation is that the donkey stands between two haystacks of the same size and the donkey starves to death.

The donkey had learned two cognitions: He’ll eat the bigger stack of hay and he will eat the one closer by.

You’ll find resources that help you resolve any inner conflicts you might experience and enhance your cognitive flexibility at the end of this article.

Decisions we must make in our everyday life are far more complex. Both variations come with advantages and disadvantages and they trigger emotions. Emotions are the factor that can make rational decisions (pro / contra evaluation) difficult or even impossible.

In the worst case, the person reacts like the donkey in the fable. They’re paralyzed and make the worst decision - no decision.

If a person feels trapped in a conflict, they might perceive themselves as a victim of circumstances. Keeping the conflict alive has advantages. You can blame others and you need not accept responsibility (as you’d have for a wrong decision.)

The perceived ambivalence is the self-deception of someone who can’t tell what they truly want from what they allegedly want.

How to tell if you experience inner conflicts

Are you your own worst enemy?

A person who has inner conflicts might exhibit some of these behaviors:

  • feels guilty or ashamed for some of their natural impulses
  • hard time saying no
  • experiences sudden mood and personality changes
  • influenced by peer pressure, the opinions and expectations of others
  • finds it difficult to decide in the first place and has second thoughts and doubt once they decided
  • attracts toxic people and find themselves often in dysfunctional relationships
  • seeking support from others for a lack of self-efficacy
  • easy to distract them from problem-solving, for instance, in the form of entertainment, self-medication, escape-oriented spirituality
  • unsure about what they want from life, in their career and relationships
  • volatile when faced with a challenge

It’s easy to see if you experience conflicted vibrations because your life situation will create ample “realities” where you see these conflicts reappearing again and again.

If you have areas that are stressful or you feel unfulfilled and experience disharmony (in any area of your personal life, career, health, relationships, finances), they are mirrors, showing that you carry unresolved conflicts in you.

Finding your inner peace

People who find peace within themselves are the ones who find a sense of “stability” in who they are.

While most people are more attracted to terms such as “success” “power”, inner peace is the most powerful state for living your happiest life.

Knowing who you are, what you want and being content with yourself and your life is the first step of getting what you want.

The quality of your relationships, and therefore success, depends on your ability to handle conflicts.

In my article The Power of Mirror-Neurons I explain how and why others react to conflicts and emotions within us.

Inner conflicts are not just stressful and exhausting for yourself, and the results you are getting, they will also negatively affect the quality of your relationships in the long run.

Self-confidence and inner peace are powerful weapons against deadly stagnation.

Recommended articles:

Letting go of anger with the Sedona method

6 Signs you're immature

Recommended training:

Project Inner Peace

Project Self-Confidence

Project Phoenix Emotional Intelligence Training

Work with me:

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How to thrive in a world that’s not fair

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  • Peter had to fire his staff when Corona hit.
  • Sonya called in sick after she didn’t receive the promotion.
  • Anthony Stockelman pleaded guilty to molesting young Katie. He was unaware that he’ll share a jail with Katie’s cousin, Jared. Jared used a makeshift tattoo gun fashioned from a cassette deck motor and a guitar string, to ink the words ‘Katie’s revenge’ in large letters across Stockelman’s forehead.
  • “Because my ex cheated on me,” she responded when asked why she’s single, even though the relationship was over 10 years ago.
  • A woman feels disrespected by a waiter and plants a stink puppet in the restaurant.
  • Someone hacked my password manager and practically deleted my from the internet. All of my sites, server, social media profiles, YouTube channel, podcasts, email accounts, email subscriber lists, and many other accounts. (True story and why you haven’t heard from me in some time.)
How to thrive in a world that is not fair

What these examples have in common is that people felt treated unfairly.

In Business and in live, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.

Dr. Chester Karass

3 Strategies to thrive in an unfair world

Learn to love your fate (Amor Fati)

In my article “Amor Fati – A love of fate“, I state:

If a fire burns fiercely blazing, it doesn’t matter what you throw into it. It doesn’t just tolerate the different fuels, but the variety makes it burn even stronger and brighter.

Aurorasa Sima

What I mean by that is that a large amount of our suffering comes from not accepting our fate.

By accepting things we cannot change, we can reduce the amount of our suffering greatly and have more energy to change the things we can change.

If we fail to do so, we might render our ability to influence change obsolete.

The world is not fair. Lamenting about it and comparing our fate with the fate of our neighbor, doesn’t change that and strips us of energy we can well use to change the parts of our lives we have power over.

Love more (why old people are happier)

My favorite author, Herman Hesse, writes in his book Gertrud:

..You have to learn to love someone so much that their wellbeing is more important than your own. …

Hermann Hesse

We often say that youth is the best time of our lives. Is that really true? An observation I made is that older people are often happier.

The reason is that older people are less selfish.

While we are young, we make everything about ourselves. Even when we think of others, we do so self-referential most of the time. Once we have family and often with age, we start to think about others and often put their well-being before our own.

That makes us happy.

Caring for and about others is a happiness drugs and especially beneficial in times of crisis.

Communicate effectively

Most of the time, when I use this expression I mean it in the sense of getting through to people.

An World War II poster famously said:

Loose lips sink ships

World War II poster

Crisis like we are facing it right now with the Coronavirus is always a breeding ground for gossip, speculation, and conspiracy theories.

In times like these, it is especially hard not to participate in chatter that, even if not ill-intended, is gossip.

If you think about it, how much of conversations you hear or lead are listening to someone telling you how great they are. And what percentage of conversations you are involved in are about other people.

One of my mentors, Marshall Goldsmith, conveyed an international study and came to the conclusion that on average 70% of communication is wasted.

Wasted to bragging, listen to someone who’s bragging, gossip and chatter.

A fabulous recipe to get better through crisis and any other time is to reduce this number greatly.

Make your words matter.

In her bestselling book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead Brené Brown states:

Daring greatly means the courage to be vulnerable and be seen. To ask for what you need. To talk about how you’re feeling. To talk about how you’re feeling. To have the hard conversations.

Brené Brown

Last word

If you want to thrive in an unfair world, you could look at crisis as opportunity for greatness. People have always needs. We might have to think in new ways and we might have to dare to be seen.

Visualize what’s possible and decide to do something about it.

If the old ways stopped working, go out and find new ways.

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The Nightmare on Christmas

7 Surefire Ways to Make Christmas the Best Fight of the Year

  1. Shared anger is double the anger

    Be really mad if you receive a present you don’t entirely like. Give room to your frustration and make your voice heard. Also, count the gifts, assess their value, and compare if you received more than others. Everyone knows that love and appreciation are measured in contributions. Who loves you the most? Who loves others more than you? Christmas is also a perfect occasion to hone your passive-aggressiveness skills. You could ask with a warm smile, “Do you still have the receipt?” Or put on a forced-brave face and say, “It’s ok. I don’t need gifts.”
  2. The question of guilt

    Did something go wrong? No problem as long as you find the offender. Do everything in your power to find the person that left the fridge open. Who smashed the tree topper? Collect everyone, sit them down, make abundantly clear that you will not stop until you find the offender, and bring them to justice.

  3. Make a list

    Prepare a list of traits and habits you dislike about each family member and friend. A tally list will work great to keep track of how many times each family member displays the behavior you loathe. It also helps you to stay focused on everything you dislike about your family. This is not the time of the year to be accepting or tolerant. If it were, it would be called Acceptmas, right?

  4. Unfinished chapters

    There’s no better time of the year to bring up unresolved and long resolved conflicts. It’s the one time of the year where the whole family sits together and can enjoy the discussion. If you don’t know how to get started, I recommend this warm-up line: “What I always wanted to tell you…"

    Throughout the discussion, generalize as much as you can. “You always..”

  5. Christmas must be wonderful

    As we all know, much pressure helps much. Make a perfect, harmonious Christmas your only goal. If you try hard enough, it will work. Christmas MUST be perfect. And if it’s not, you probably didn’t try hard enough. Turn up the pressure!      

  6. Get it done

    Try to get as much as possible done. Ideally, put off buying Christmas presents and run into a store on December 24th. The stores will probably be really empty, and you can shop for your loved ones stress-free. Then rush home and clean the house. After all, Christmas is when you can finally get some chores done. Cook everything from scratch and start an hour before your guests arrive.

    When you finally let your worn-out body sink on the couch, enjoy the sensation of how ungrateful everyone is. Practice a reproachful look and wear a subtle hint of accusation in your voice. Your eyes should say, “After all I have done for you!” Everyone must know how much you sacrificed to make this the best night of the year.

  7. Clear up common misconceptions

    Start off by telling all the kids that there is no such thing as Santa Clause. The children have the right to know that it’s really uncle Peter dressing up as Santa.

    Christmas is yet another stunt of our shallow, materialistic consumer society to sell stuff we don’t need? Wow, you’re seemingly one of the intellectual elite. Use your critical thinking advantage to make everyone else feel bad about themselves. Life is not a walk in the park, and there’s no better day for the 3-year old to learn. Be sure to spoil the primitive joy of the normals. They’re little chess figures played by a system that spits them out. But not you, my friend. You’re on to them.

Hopefully, this article made you smile.

Let's make this year's fest "Acceptmas." A fest of love and gratitude!

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Christmas after a loss

Celebrating Christmas after the death of a loved one

Christmas music was playing when Alma pushed her cart towards the register. Not the cashier who handed her a chocolate Santa nor anyone in the jolly crowd picked up on her sadness. Alma’s father died on December 14th. 

For many of us, Christmas the happiest time of the year. An event we’re looking forward to all year.

However, some people are afraid.

Because they have lost a loved one or a family member is gravely ill.

Because their best friend has recently experienced loss, and they have no idea how to comfort them.

Because they feel a jolly celebration would be inappropriate.

Because everyone used to come together in the family home that now belongs to someone else.

Even if you made steps toward coping with grief, the first Christmas after a loss tears up old wounds. When grandma’s chair stays empty. When Papa doesn’t dress up as Santa. When the partner you celebrated with is gone.

Often, it’s not just a matter of grief but also unresolved conflicts. Not all surviving dependents treat each other respectfully and lovingly.

Escaping Christmas and pretending it doesn’t happen

Many try to ignore Christmas altogether or travel as far away as they can. However, avoiding grief and sadness by going on a vacation doesn’t work. Sorrow and loneliness can track you anywhere.

It’s better to face the situation and your feelings in familiar surroundings, ideally, with people who can comfort you when you cry.

Simplified, facing your emotions allows you to move on and heal. 

How can you help others coping with grief?

So what can you do to help someone in grief? If the person is alone, friends and family could reconcile and invite the person. Even if the invitation is not accepted, it represents valuable support.

If you knew the person that passed well AND you sense they might appreciate it, you could put memories and pictures into a collage. That way, the person doesn’t feel as alone in their sorrow.

What’s the “best” way of celebrating Christmas after a loss?

There’s no one-size-fits-all recipe.

However, one thing is crucial: Give your grief a place. The sad feelings are there anyway. Therefore, you might as well “invite” them consciously and give them room. You could place the picture of the loved one on the Christmas table. Or perhaps light a unique candle. If you’re with family or friends, you could hold a “story hour” where everyone shares a story about the person who passed.

Season’s Greetings for people who suffered a loss

If you have no idea how to convey your sympathy, just say that. In some situations, there are no "right" words.

You could choose a wording that expresses that you can't find words to show how much you care. Maybe you want to share that Christmas is a celebration of happiness and love and that you get that the person in grief doesn’t feel happy at this time. You could then wish them strengths to commemorate the loss and stillness to cope with their grief.

However, it depends on your relationship to the person and their temperament. Just sending condolences and ignoring Christmas altogether is another option.

Knowing that they’re cared about will help a person in grief, no matter if they're able to show it at that time.

While Alma is on her way back from the store, her phone rings. It’s her mother who tells her that she decided to celebrate Christmas like every other year with the rest of the family and a few friends. Her mom is afraid of the first Christmas without her husband too, but she’s convinced that spending the evening with friends and family in a familiar setting will be helpful for everyone. 

Alma cries when she lights a red candle, but her heart feels a little bit lighter, and she even manages to look forward to Christmas the tiniest little bit. 

I am in no way trivializing pain.

However, I learned in dark times that more than one feeling can be present at the same time. Therefore, I want to write about love once more.

Grief is a form of love, perhaps with a selfish component. I miss them. With my pain, I express my appreciation for the person I lost and look for new ways to live it.

The grief seems unbearably intense because the love for the beloved person is that strong. This love doesn’t end. Love changes, but it doesn’t stop.

Maybe you can use Christmas time to listen into yourself and experience the love consciously. How does it feel, how do you feel about the loved one?

Perhaps Christmas is the ideal time to celebrate love. For the ones that are with us and for the ones who have gone.

You might be at a place right now where this article doesn’t cut it, and any words you read might sound shallow, stale, and even cynical.

Most importantly: If you feel that the burden is too much for you to carry, reach out for help! Google for the crisis helpline in your country if you’re all alone. Call a friend, accept help.

As at any other time of the year, there are people out there who will support you.

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Why Stress Damages Your Brain

Why is stress so detrimental for our brain? Learn why adrenalin and cortisol make your brain shrink and how you can stress less

You probably experienced how stress paralyzed you. "I can't think clearly."
Fear before a speech, you blanked out in a spelling contest…

Instead of finding solutions, you react irrationally.

However, the consequences of chronic stress are more severe. Constant overwhelm leads to brain shrinkage in certain areas.
Your brain produces stress hormones, such as adrenalin and cortisol as well as a series of other steroids to prepare your body to fight or run.

The brain's activity shifts to an area where you're primarily focused and alert.

However, the brain isn't able to think logically and creative in this state.

Why Stress Damages Your Brain

What does chronic stress do to your brain?

If you're overworked or overwhelmed for a more extended period, your performance will decrease. Some people are more resilient than others; however, the brain needs phases of relaxation and rewards.
In these phases, the brain produces happy hormones.

Happy hormones can protect your nerves. If the brain continually produces stress hormones, certain areas can go into a decline.
Several studies attempt to make changes in the brain of chronically stressed people visible with different methods.

We can be sure of one thing: The brain matter suffers damage if an individual suffers from stress for an extended period.

We won't let that happen to you! Here are some simple, doable by you tips that help you to stress less (click the box on the right to enter full screen / exit to leave):

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6 Signs You’re Immature

If there's one thing that is sure in life, it's that we age. However, getting older doesn't equal getting more mature.

Recently, Don contacted me. The reason his former employer gave him for firing him is that he is too immature. Don asked if I could help him to "grow up." I admit that his inquiry caught me by surprise. However, I get it.

The behavior that makes us the coolest, most sought-after kid in school, doesn't work later in life.

In relationships and at the workplace, we're looking for mature people. In this article, I share why some people don't want to grow up and how you can recognize if you're immature.

6 Signs You're Immature

You're always searching

For a hotter partner, short-cuts, a more relaxed city, a better job. " It's difficult for you to commit because it feels like missing out on other opportunities.

Why can't you have everything right now?

Your independence is everything to you

You want to be free and feel limited by everyday-duties. Meaning you're often late for appointments and have problems meeting deadlines. And then you don't understand why other people make such a big deal out of it. "I'm here now," might be how you try to trivialize your lapse.

You're not doing great in your job

Discipline, routine, and duties are not your thing, and you try to avoid them. That's why your co-workers and managers don't respect you. In their eyes, you're an immature, unreliable dreamer.

Are they right? You love the idea of being an entrepreneur and might start a few startups-but you lack push-through.

You feel drawn to "quick-rich" opportunities. Shiny objects attract you like honey attracts bears. The laptop lifestyle and big money for little work seem so appealing!

Oh, you're a model. Who's your agency?

Oh, you're a famous author. Who's your publisher?

Oh, you're the world's greatest speaker? Where do you speak?

You have complicated relationships

You're charming, and that appeals to the girls/boys. However, only for a short time. You don't want to commit. Life is short and full of chicks/chicos, and you can settle down when you're old.

While fleeing the responsibility that comes with a committed relationship, you don't realize that you're incredibly dependent-on your desire to be independent.

You're looking for the kick

Faster, harder, bigger, louder! You need excitement to feel alive. Maybe you resort to drugs, extreme sports, or risky ventures. You might feel attracted by extremist groups or cults. They help you to cover up your dark side that's not kind and charming at all.

Others perceive you as careless and arrogant in conversations

Personal, in-depth discussions are not for you. You quickly get bored because you don't know enough about "this stuff" and yourself.

People's initial fascination with you soon turns into the feeling of dealing with a precocious kid.

Why do people refuse to grow up?

If you ask children and teens if they want to grow up, they'll nearly always reply: "Yeah, sure!"

For them, maturity and being a grown-up is connected to independence and freedom. McDonald's every day and drinking as much coke as you want. Sleeping in and no homework. Ah, that's heaven.

How often did we hear "you're too young for this" when we were children?
"Grown-up" seems like a synonym for unlimited fun.

Young people could just look at their parents (boring!) to see that their idea of being a grown-up is not accurate. However, they're convinced they will NEVER be anything like their parents (read why we often become exactly like our parents HERE.)

Latest when people get their first job, they realize that being a grown-up also means sacrifices. Most get used to it-and mature.

Especially young men sometimes have a problem growing up. They find the limitations of being a "responsible person" unbearable.

Many then go on strike. They switch jobs and relationships as soon as a problem manifests. They delay growing up by failing tests. That way, they can start all over again.

And they dream. Of a different land, a diverse society, a different world.

Why people refuse to grow up

Why is acting mature so difficult sometimes?

Finding the conflicting component

The assumption many coaching approaches follow is that the client already possesses the resources to fix their problem. What they're missing is access to these resources.

A human is always part of the whole (person in the system) and the whole (person as the system.)

To help Don "grow up" and coach other clients to their desired goals, we need to understand two things:

  • The inner world of the individual
  • The system the individual wants to contribute to

You can probably relate: If you listen into yourself, you don't hear one single "voice" on a specific topic or situations. We hear conflicting inner voices, and all of them try to influence our external communication and actions.

Personally, I am a big fan and user of the "The Inner Team" method developed by well-known Hamburg psychologist Friedemann Schulz von Thun.

In short: The Inner Team model assumes that our psyche is not a unified "thing" but a collection of pieces in a polar order.

Meaning someone who lives their life as a greedy person also has a giving part inside of them. Who "loves chaos" carries an orderly component. Most of the time, one of the "voices" is dominant and defines how we live our lives.

The Inner Team

What does that have to do with maturity?

If we're immature (and in many other situations,) we have to fix the conflict in our Inner Team and integrate all parts. We have to face the components we exiled.

Most people are unaware that they carry unresolved conflicts with them since their childhood or teenage years. And they resist the idea. "Something that happened 10, 20, 40 years ago doesn't impact me. I'm over it."

Here's the thing:
We never get "over" things like that. Yes, we can decide how we handle a painful experience. However, if we don't face it, the experience will impact us for as long as we live.

In my personal coaching, one of the methods I use helps people to become aware of such inner conflicts.

Here's a little tip on how you can try it. You just need two things: A particular form of awareness and a relevant sentence.

The form of awareness I am referring to is mindfulness.

Most of the time, our focus is outwardly and connected more to our thinking than emotions.

Mindfulness is simple

Sit at a quiet place and close your eyes. Direct your attention to your body, your feelings, and your thoughts.

Important: Just observe. You don't need to understand, judge, explain, or change anything. Only observe the physical sensations and your feelings.

Maybe you notice tension in your head, you feel nervous or worried about work.

Keep observing. After a while, you will feel calmer.

And now to the sentence. This exercise helps you to detect and recognize the inner conflicts you might have.

I will give you a set of sentences. The wording is always positive; however, it doesn't mean that you experience them positively.

Here is how it works:

Read the sentence, close your eyes, and say the sentence aloud.
Observe your emotional response. Don't think about the sentence or your response. Be passive, sit still, and wait which reactions you'll experience in the 10 seconds after saying the sentence out loud.

Maybe you will feel tension somewhere in your body. Resistance. Or a feeling of anger, sadness, or emptiness. Perhaps you observe a thought that agrees or disagrees with the sentence.

You can also relax and listen to the audio I made for you. I will say each sentence and leave enough time for you to reflect. There is no wrong or right reaction. Every reaction is welcome.

The Inner Team - Questions

The following sentence triggers an emotional response in most people:

  • I am lovable just the way I am.
  • All of my emotions are ok.
  • I am allowed to make mistakes.
  • I don't have to please everyone.
  • I don't have to prove anything.
  • My life is my responsibility.

Did you notice any responses? Relief or tension?

If you were relaxed and mindful, and your responses were neutral (= no change), it indicates that you don't have an inner conflict regarding this topic. If you experienced a positive or negative reaction, you likely found an inner conflict. The more intense the response, the stronger the battle.

The sentences are positive and very general. If you felt resistance towards any of them, it has to do with you. Your brain stored an experience from a past or current relationship.

Maturity - a definition

In addition to my statements above, I feel that a sign of maturity is to know your triggers, meaning the inner buttons other people can press.

For instance, some people react extremely hefty to critical feedback. That's a clear sign of inner conflict. In this particular case, the individual was likely the victim of conditional love.

The intense adverse reaction and "fighting back" is the response of someone that cannot allow that they are imperfect or made a mistake.

Mindfulness can help you to dig deeper. Once you recognized a problem-area, you can look inside (without actively thinking about it. ) Try to "empty" your head and wait what comes to your mind.

Often it's a childhood memory. A situation where you learned that not being perfect or screwing up had unpleasant or even painful consequences. That's when you decided that you will avoid situations like this in the future.

If you're immature, you will find inner conflicts. Facing and removing them will lead to more maturity and better results in your personal and professional life.

Most people need support to achieve that, and that's ok. Asking for help when you need it, is a sign of strengths and maturity.

If you'd like to work with me, go ahead and book a free 15-minute consultation.

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Finding your Inner Peace

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Bursting the bubble

An event throws us off course. It can be something as small as a canceled appointment or something existential, for instance, a dangerous disease, job loss, or the end of our marriage. Some people’s mood changes if their favorite soccer team loses or the weather is dreadful.

Most of you can relate: if something happens that’s different from what we expect or wish for, we react with anger, frustration, sadness, or other painful feelings.

Why is that so? Moreover, what can we do to handle negative events constructively?

It’s not serving us to create additional problems for ourselves by running around frustrated or angry, and it doesn’t change whatever bugs us if we create unnecessary suffering.

It comes down to this:


I feel what I feel because I think what I think.

If I perceive something as negative, I don’t feel as good as if I consider an event to be positive.

A simple example:
For two months I am looking forward to a camping trip. However, I’m disappointed because it’s raining on the day of the trip.

I have a little garden where I grow herbs. I’m happy on a rainy day because it’s great for my plants.

The reality is the same in both cases: a rainy day.
How I perceive this reality decides if I am happy or disappointed.

That applies to many situations. We experience something we don’t like or that even screws up our whole life; and we feel stressed, overwhelmed, and maybe even hopeless.

How to eliminate painful feelings that don’t serve us

I run outside. I look to the clouds, clench my fists and scream off the top of my lungs: “you stupid rain, stop right now. I was looking forward to this camping trip, and you destroy everything.”

You probably wouldn’t do that because it’s not helpful. If it helped, the number of people screaming at the clouds would be more substantial. (Well, don’t mind Twitter.)

In my experience, the most constructive way to deal with the fact that something doesn’t work out is to accept reality just the way it is and say something like “okay it’s raining. I was looking forward to this trip, and I am disappointed. However, I cannot change reality.”

As long as we resist accepting the truth, we’re unable to take action and make amendments. We can’t heal if we deny facts, and the negative feelings will multiply.

Now I can think about the best alternatives. I could do something else that I love. Alternatively, it could still go on the trip and hold the rain will stop. In simple situations like this, it’s relatively easy to handle disappointment.

However, there are situations where this is much harder:

  • when the stomach ache turns out to be cancer
  • when our beloved partner leaves us because they fell in love with someone else
  • when you get a call from the police because they arrested your daughter on drug charges

In these and other difficult situations, most of us are unable to say, “It is what it is. I’ll accept it.”

Fighting reality and denying it seems like the only option. How could you accept facts so painful it tears you apart?

I think it’s understandable that we have to take a moment to process these and similar events before we can move on.

That can mean that we notice and even allow difficult feelings. It is normal to think: “Why me?” Or “I don’t want that.” It’s also understandable that you try to fight what feels unbearable.

I can relate. It happens to me too. In moments like this, it’s as if I am in a huge soap bubble full of thoughts and try to keep reality out. That doesn’t make me feel any better because reality is just that-the reality.

If you try to fight reality, you will always lose.

Accepting reality, letting go of feelings that don’t serve us

What helps in difficult or even unsolvable situations is to remind yourself that fighting reality doesn’t help you. If you then can also manage to burst the bubble, the bubble with all of these thoughts that wear you down, you will soon feel better.

Because I mentioned a deadly disease earlier on, I should add that even if you’re in an unresolvable situation, finding your inner peace can help you to eliminate unnecessary suffering.

Bursting the bubble enables you to take action and focus on changing what can be changed.

I made a video for you with a few helpful thoughts. Look at it whenever you feel anger, sadness, or frustration about something you can’t change take over.

It will help you to remind yourself that the bubble isn’t real and that it doesn’t serve you to fight reality.

Also, check out our powerful Project Inner Peace 10-week training. Changing your thougths is not an easy task and most people need support and a systematic learning approach to achieve that goal.

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The scream

The scream is the loudest in your head and for individuals close by.

But maybe the people you want to reach can’t hear you.

In a sea of screamers, perhaps it’s worth cutting through the noise thoughtful and purposeful.

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8 Signs You Are Emotionally Mature

8 signs you're emotionally mature Emotional maturity and stability have nothing to do with your biological age. Some are emotionally mature at a very young age, others never are. The term describes people that are centered, not self-centered. Someone with a grounded character, emotional intelligence, self-confidence and often (but not necessarily) a fair share of life experience. The 8 signs of emotional maturity show you how far you have come and where you still have the potential for improvement.

You don't worry what others might think about you

In the past, you often worried about what others might say and think about you. Now you only care about the opinion of people who love, respect or support you and want to see you succeed. In other words: You're open to constructive feedback but have removed toxic people from your life.

You accept support

Nobody is an island and everyone needs help from time to time. You used to think asking for help means admitting weakness and should be avoided. However, over time you have learned that it's a sign of faith and trust. Nobody can do it all. Admitting to yourself and others that you need help and accepting that you can't do everything alone is not only a sign of emotional maturity but also helps you grow.

If you're emotionally mature, you know how to let go

Most of us are afraid of heights and the unknown. The idea of jumping into a dark hole without seeing the bottom is terrifying. It's difficult to let go and not knowing what to expect. To think that every moment of our past was better than the present hurts our soul, figuratively speaking. It makes it impossible to let go of what doesn't serve us anymore. We're panicking and the dark whole looks like the abyss that's going to swallow us. Emotionally mature people know that life is much better when you're free. Therefore, they let go what isn't part of them anymore, and what doesn't want to stay with them. They know that clinging to the past only prolongs our suffering and keeps our wounds from healing. They're not heroes but they don't wait until another door opens to close a door. aurorasa sima quote emotional maturity

The emotionally mature person understands that life is not a "make-a-wish" event

We have all been hurt in the past. Many of us spend a lot of time on regrets and wishing they could change the past. Like a time-traveler that takes a second shot with the learned knowledge. However, whether we like that some events are out of our control, or that we're unable to comprehend a few things doesn't change the fact that they are. A huge part of our suffering is not related to the present but fearful thoughts about the future and not letting go of our past. Emotionally mature people are able to accept that they cannot always control their surroundings. They're able to accept things they cannot change and focus their energy on changing those they can.

You have few or no difficult relationships

That doesn’t mean you have no conflicts in your relationships. What it means is that you argue when it’s necessary and helpful but you’re not looking for fights.  You don’t feel you have to “win” every argument and discourse is about winning and losing. Your ability to emphasize with other people and take into account where they’re coming from helps to minimize the number of unfruitful discussions.  Also, you have removed people who need drama and fighting from your life. That said, you are good at de-escalating and talking with impossible people. 

Accepting yourself is a sign of maturity

The paradox of change is that to change we first have to accept ourselves. People who understand this know that whining and staying in your comfort zone doesn’t get you places. 

More action and less whining is a sign of emotional maturity. 

Emotionally mature people do not shy away from brutally honest self-as they know it’s necessary to learn which areas of their lives they want to change. Also, they don’t beat themselves up for being imperfect or making mistakes.  We’re all a work in progress. Realizing and embracing this fact helps us to create positive change. 

You’re happy if others succeed

People who are emotionally mature are happy when they see someone else succeed. They don’t compare themselves to the successful person and they don’t envy them.  We understand that someone else worked hard to achieve the success, level of skills or what else we admire. 

You’re authentic

What you show on the outside is in line with how you feel inside. The times when you put on an iron vest and a mask are long gone. You’re natural without mistaking authenticity for rudeness or not following social etiquette.  You learned to trust the process and have faith in other people. Yes, you know that it’s possible you might get hurt. However, you also know you’re able to heal.  Because you’re self-aware and “happy in your skin,” you enjoy alone-time as much as being around people. You’re not afraid to be alone with yourself.  Your emotional maturity allows you to take control of your life and realize your visions. Your definition of success is your own and not someone else’s.  Being emotionally mature turns life from a chore into a pleasure!

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