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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A short story about seeing

  The students had watched the master for a while before one was curious to know which form of meditation he practices every morning in his garden. The master replied: "When I look carefully, I see the cherry tree in full bloom" One of the students asked: "But why does one have to look carefully to see the cherry tree? The vibrant color of the beautiful blossoms are hard to overlook" The master smiled and answered: "So that I really see the cherry tree and not my idea of it." This short story is loosely based on a story by Anthony de Mello. Anthony de Mello was a Jesuit priest, public speaker, author and psychotherapist known for his storytelling (among many others.)  

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How to avoid fighting on Christmas


Do we lose all Empathy around Christmas?

Martha is looking forward to the holidays. Every year, she starts to prepare early. From the finest decorations to recipes that tickle your taste buds in the most delightful way: Martha takes Christmas seriously. 

What she loves most is that it's the only time of the year when the whole family gets together. Even her parents fly in from Florida. 

She looks forward to her favorite holiday every year. Sadly, also every year what is supposed to be the festival of love turns into a huge fight. 

Last year was extremely bad: 

  • Martha was mad at everyone. She prepared for weeks and spent 2.5 days in the kitchen but nobody, really NOBODY, appreciated her hard work. Instead, everyone was complaining

  • Maurice, Martha's son, didn't hide how much he hated the whole thing. He was the only one of his friends who was forced to stay at home. All the others met for possibly the greatest party of the year. Nobody likes to be blackmailed. (In Martha's defense: she had no other choice than threatening that she wouldn't buy Maurice the car she promised for his 18th birthday)

  • Erin was crying for hours. She wanted a PlayStation. But her uncool parents bought an Xbox. An Xbox 360. Where did they even find it? In the "free stuff" section of Craigslist?

  • Martha's parents were seriously unhappy. They are not the youngest and traveling is exhausting. They came all the way from Florida to spend quality time with their daughter and grandchildren. The grandchildren were in a devilish mood while her daughter spent all of the time in the kitchen. They were stuck with Bill whom they never liked. Who`s Bill?

  • Bill, Martha's husband, has had it with Christmas. All he wants is a bit of silence and peace. Week-in, week-out he rushes from meeting to meeting and the last thing he wants to do in the little time he has to himself is entertaining grumpy in-laws, juggle ill-tempered kids and listen to horrible Christmas music

Would you like more Christmas music? Follow the link at the end of the post and order your free album with Christmas songs. 

around Christmas

Why do we argue and fight on holidays?

Not just around Christmas, but also on vacations and other holidays: Often what is supposed to be a wonderful time turns into a stressful event. 

Some of the nicest people I know turn into selfish monster who want to force their idea of an ideal vacation/holiday onto others. 


There are several reasons that lead to this, for instance:

  • Overblown expectations
  • We're not used to spend so much time together

How to avoid fighting on holidays

The most important tip: Stay emphatic. Just like the rest of the year. Also:

  1. Don't expect too much. You will not get along better with people than the rest of the year

  2. Try not to force your idea of a perfect Christmas onto others. Everyone should be able to contribute their ideas and who doesn't want to participate shouldn't be forced to

  3. Avoid fundamental debates. It's unlikely that you will find consent about a topic you disagreed on all year long at the Christmas table

  4.  If possible, split the work. Everyone could contribute and be responsible for a part of the Christmas festival

  5. Don't force people to spend hours and hours together if they don't want to. It will only lead to arguments

  6. Don't force them to do things they hate. For example: if your kids don't want to sing Christmas songs - don't make them

  7. Don't overdo it. It doesn't have to be a 6-course menu. Consider preparing something festive but simple so that you are not already stressed out when it begins

  8. Gifts are supposed to make people happy. If someone doesn't like their present, they should be allowed to say so. Keep in mind: It's not a rejection of your person

Procrastination around Christmas

An interesting phenomenon is procrastination around the Christmas. Are you interested in some effective tips how to eliminate it? 

I wrote an article for you about this last year and, if you prefer, you can also listen to the audio edition. 

Article: Killing time around Christmas

Last but not least (unless you ... like me ... dislike Christmas songs): You can order your free Christmas album HERE: Christmas Special: Free Album

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5 Tips To Stop Whining

5 Tips to stop Whining

How you can stay positive and stop whining

We're not always positive. Influenced by society, experience, upbringing, and exposure to the news we go through life. Yes, we try our best and we want to be happy. Always. But roadblocks and exhaustion can make it difficult and sometimes we enter the vale of tears. We know that whining neither helps the situation nor does it make us feel good. So how can we stay positive when the going gets tough? No whining please because:

It changes your brain

Neuroplasticity is a term that refers to the brain's ability to change its structure and function. Nerve cells die, new ones form. Brain scans proved what we suspected all along: who's whining a lot becomes more and more negative. The reason for that is that our brain cannot differentiate between what we think and what we experience. Imagine the synaptic connections like paths between nerve cells. The more you train them, the more you walk them, the more you activate them the more approachable these nerve cells will become. The good thing about it is: training and repetition lead us to our goal. But if you train whining and complaining, you will become an expert in negative emotions. The number of times you walk a path will decide which path becomes your Main Street. Negative emotions cause a physical reaction. You probably noticed: when you're mad your heart rate increases and when you are afraid your muscles become tense. The hormones that regulate these reactions are either feel-well hormones that make you happy or fear and stress hormones, for instance, cortisol, that cause tension. If you feel negative emotions over and over again, more and more of the, in this case, undesirable hormones get released. That lowers your resistance to the next stress attack and puts you in a downward spiral.

Happiness is your decision

The first step to stop whining is to make a conscious decision:
  • Do I want to be a positive person?
  • See things and positive light?
  • Have confident expectations and
  • Focus on solutions?
Or do I want to be a negative person? Be critical about everything and find errors everywhere. And, no, the decision isn’t as easy as it seems. Obviously, all of us want to go through life as happy as possible. But the whining status has a lot of advantages and you must understand those to make an educated decision.

Whining feels good sometimes

In our society, bonding over a shared enemy or negative situation is a common way of socializing. Just listen to conversations all around you. We bond when we complain about the bad weather or when we commiserate with others and we team up when we find a common enemy. A trick of our mind: if something terrible happens, our brain helps us out by making us feel as we are the unluckiest person in the world. The most terrible thing in the world just happened to us. Not just one unlucky person. Oh, no! The most unlucky person ever in all of earth, space, universe and beyond. It might sound absurd but this is how our brain helps us to feel like a winner even when we lose. Whining can help us to feel better. It takes guts and honesty to acknowledge our own responsibility when something goes wrong. And it can be painful. Last but not least, whining is a fabulous way of getting attention. And I don’t mean that in a negative way. Some of our problems are wicked and dark and the last thing people around us want us to do is to tell them our deepest problems. What we do instead if we feel that we need some attention: we complain about something else. Imagine you’re standing in line in front of a register. It would be pretty awkward if you said something like: “I have been diagnosed with herpes and that worries me” to a random stranger. But what if you complained about the slow cashier instead? The people around you have problems too and they might be just glad that they can bond with you by complaining about the store with the worst cashiers. That way everyone can get a bit of empathy and compassion while at the same time none of the unspoken rules of society have been broken and nobody felt awkward (besides the cashier should they overhear your conversation).  

Top five tips against whining

Don’t think this challenge is easy for me. We’re all human and everyone gets caught up in whining from time to time. But I have learned how I can minimize whining attacks and become a more positive person. I would love to share that knowledge with you:

Observe and recognize

The first step is to recognize that you are whining. Often we are not aware of it. But first off let me say loud and clear: do not stress yourself. If you catch yourself whining, don't despair! It’s a good thing. Knowing is the first and necessary step to making changes. For the rest of today look for the source of every negative emotion. And ask yourself:
  • How can I change my perspective?
  • How can I invite more love, acceptance, and problem solving into that moment?
And breathe deep and slowly. That always helps. An effective tool to calm your mind and for effective stress-management is brainwave entrainment. You'll find more in my digital STORE [playlist ids="1882,1883,1884,1885,1886,1887,1888,1889,1890,1891,1892,1893,1894"]

Solution mindset vs victim mindset

Let’s say you recognized something critical. Breeze deep and calm and ask yourself:
  • What can I do?
  • What besides whining and feeling bad can I do about the situation?
  • Is there anything I can say?
  • Is there anything I can do?
Do not accept:" it is what it is" answers. Love it–change it–leave it.

Positive outlook

Perceiving a difficult situation positive is not as easy as suggesting it. But it is easy to actively look for the positives and change how you feel about a situation. We have a strong tendency towards a negative mindset. The positive, grateful mindset first has to be learned. So ask yourself in the morning: “what am I looking forward to today?” And ask yourself in the evening: “what am I grateful for today?” List five positive things that happened today. While you do that, you will realize that there were a lot of small wonderful moments you had already forgotten. As we’ve discussed earlier: the more you do that the more it becomes an automatism. Every day has both: good and bad moments. You decide which have a stronger impact. At the same time, you set your brain filters to getting you more of whatever you focus your mind on. Article: Mastering the Art of Gratitude Another question that works miracles is: “How can I make the world a little better today?” Inhale good moments. Should your life be in a difficult stage right now, inhale the small good moments. The warm sun on your face, the good book, the person smiling at you. There are many things in everyone’s life to be grateful for. Train that. It will make you happier and more stress-resistant.

Focus on the big picture

You know these moments when something really extreme, intense happens. The death of a loved one or the birth of a baby. Those moments when the world seems to stand still for a moment. It’s not just about us anymore. We recognize the whole cycle of life, the ups and downs and what really matters. Most of the things we stress about are neither permanent nor relevant. Humility can help us to become fully aware of the gift of life and therefore become more positive. Train yourself to focus on the big picture. Meditation and mindfulness are helpful tools to achieve this.

Here. Now.

I practice mindfulness. I teach mindfulness. I read books about mindfulness. You know why? Most of our fears and worries have their roots in the future or past. That even applies to pain. A huge part of our suffering is related to worries that are not directly caused by the pain. Now is the time. This moment counts. Focus on what it is right now. If you need to learn how, feel free to have a look at my digital mindfulness training. Also, if you sign up to my newsletter, I can invite you to my next free workshop.

Life is great

As an apprentice to positivity, you will learn that not everyone is appreciative of your new mindset. Actually, there are a lot of people who find positive people annoying. Don’t let that irritate you. Send them extra love. Try to infect them with positivity. Don’t try to change them but also don’t let them pull you down. Take a step back, breathe deep and stop fighting. If you find that difficult, you will find tons of information on effective stress management throughout my blog.

Final words

Coming back to the example from earlier on: positive and negative people have one thing and common: We all feel the need to bond. And we will all face difficult situations. While we can’t tell our worst problems to every random person we meet, we can bond over a positive common denominator: Instead of bonding over how slow the cashiers are, we could bond by starting a conversation about how this store typically provides great service. While that might seem like a rather small example, you will realize that complaining to bond is one of the big factors why you whine. Complaining to avoid taking action is another one. So is whining to make yourself feel better. When your brain tries to comfort you the next time by telling you that you are THE person who attracts the all the bad luck: Just tell it "Thanks, brain. But no, thanks. Let's make me feel better with positive thoughts of gratitude." The tips work with all of them. Why not try it right now?   [1-click-image-ranker]

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Guided Breath Meditation for Stress Management

Meditation for Stress Management


5 Minute Stress-Management Meditation

The paradox about stress and stress-management is: The more you feel under pressure the less likely that you feel like taking out an hour of your day for self-care (even though you know you should).

Not only are we endangering our mental and physical health and put ourselves at the risk of burnout – our productivity is decreasing drastically when we are stressed.

Just think about it: How much can you achieve in one hour of work at “full speed” and how often do you work long hours under pressure and don’t produce impressive results?I get it. When you have to meet deadlines or juggle a ton of responsibilities, you might not be open to learning/practicing mindfulness or meditation.

Did you know that you can reduce your stress level in just five minutes?

Meditation is one of the most effective tools for managing stress. Many of us believe that meditation comes with a lot of rules.

The right form of meditation, the right place, the right length, that candle…Buddhism refers to “dukkha” (pain, suffering, unsatisfactoriness) as stress and identifies attachment (“acquisition”) as the source of all suffering. Forget everything you have ever heard about “rules” in meditation.

For some people, their idea of meditation creates more stress and that is certainly not the intended use of this brain-changing self-care “tool”. Meditation should be without attachment.

Yes, you can achieve more for yourself if you decide to take out 20 minutes or an hour of your day. But you don’t have to. If I had to define a single rule it would be: Do as much as you can of what is good for you.

Taking a small break for a 5-minute meditation will do you good too.

Guided Breath Meditation

Related article:

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How to not self-sabotage

In this 20 minutes video, I have put together for you practical tips that will allow to take your first steps towards self-case, self-love and putting an end to self-sabotage.

Let me know if you like the video format.

Check out my mindfulness and coaching specials HERE

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Dealing With Toxic People – Plan A and B

Dealing With Toxic People

Remove toxic people from your life?

It's easy, right? If you spot a toxic person, you avoid them. That is Plan A. If only it were that easy ... How can we tell a negative person from a destructive one? And what if they are our employees, family members, bosses or even our spouses?

Why emotional intelligence helps to deal with toxic people

Do toxic people exist?

First, I would like to answer an ethical/philosophical question. Is it allowed to define other people as toxic? Or is it too simplified? Is it compatible with a mindful way of life? Is not every one of us a product of his upbringing and his circumstances? And doesn't a toxic person deserve respect, even though he makes life difficult for others? My answer: We have to call a duck a duck. And if someone acts immoral, destructive or antisocial, I may call it by its name. I will go even further: I feel I may say someone who acts chronically destructive is poison. Luckily, toxic people are rare. We must not mistake just any negative person for a poisonous one.

What is a toxic person?

When you were in contact with a toxic person they leave you with a bad feeling in your stomach. You might not be able to pinpoint what causes your uneasiness. But you know instinctively that the contact did not do you good. Toxic. As if you were exposed to poison. Some typical behavior patterns of toxic people:
  • They start a fight where a constructive conversation would suffice.
  • Often they have a learning resistance. They do not want to understand your point of view and don't consider changing theirs.
  • They do not have a strong sense of "wrong" and "right". They are right and everyone else is wrong.
  • Overstepping boundaries is another characteristic. They do things they are not entitled to and don't respect limits.
  • They have concrete expectations but do not put them in words. If you cannot deliver, you will get punished. Example: Your boss tells you: "Build a delightful house" (he expects it has a cellar and features green paint but doesn't say so until he criticizes you for the red house you built.)
  • Toxic people are skilled at emotional blackmailing and guilt tripping you.
  • To get what they want, they lie. They might leave information out, start rumors or straight lie.
  • Manipulation is another feature often seen in toxic people. They'll tell you what you want to hear to get you on their team or achieve their goals.
  • Often they are jealous and full of other negative feelings (always self-reflective)
  • They show no empathy or consideration for your needs and well-being.
As I said earlier toxic people are rare. Occasionally we might exhibit negative behavior ourselves. We are not perfect and we have weak moments. We make mistakes. That doesn't make us toxic.
A toxic person acts like listed above most of the time. The behavioral pattern is the norm, not an exception. That is how you can tell a toxic person.
Sometimes "normal" people temporarily turn into toxic people, when they are under severe emotional pressure. For instance, when their partner leaves them, they get fired or someone they love dies.

How to deal with toxic people

First, we have to understand that a person we are dealing with is destructive. That implies that we have a healthy amount of self-esteem and awareness.
Toxic people are brilliant at making you feel as if you are the problem - and not them. Most times, it takes people long to even realize they are being manipulated.
Often, people suffer for years at a workplace with a toxic boss or in a marriage with a destructive person until they understand. Some severe forms of toxic people, i.e. psychopath, are masters at hiding their true colors.
Earlier this week, I worked with a CEO who had a toxic employee. Destructive people are not limited to certain roles.

Don't take it personally

That is the most demanding and most important tip. How on earth do you not take it personally when someone spreads poison over you?
That is hard. Very hard. But it is the way to go.
The more personal you take it the more emotional you will react. A toxic person often feeds on your emotional reactions.
Energy thieves that suck you dry and leave you empty.
Don't let that happen to you.
There is a second reason you should not take this toxic attack personally: if we feel attacked, we want revenge. Attack - counterattack - more aggressive attack - more aggressive .... you get the picture.
Keep telling yourself: "This is not about me, my personality, my person or my words.The other person wants to take it to a personal level but I will not allow this because it only weakens me."

Protect yourself mentally

Toxic people often use the big guns. Their ammunition is pure emotion.
  • They insult you on a personal level
  • They stalk you
  • They do hurtful and harmful things
  • They accuse you
  • They invade your privacy and ignore boundaries
Emotional intelligence helps to process these attacks systematically. Mindfulness is another powerful defense supporting you in gaining back control over your mind.
Talking to others can be a source of support. It is not as helpful as getting professional help, and there is a risk that the topic will soon go on the other one's nerves.
Things you can ask yourself to process emotional attacks:
  • What has been said/done with the sole intention of hurting me?
  • How much importance do I want to give a person who obviously just wants to harm me?
  • Which parts of what they said are true?
  • Which conclusions/accusations do I deem valid?
Emotionally intelligent people would know the most important factor: "What is someone's motivation and agenda?"
Questions like these help you differentiate between poison and reality. They also help you decide if you are dealing with a toxic person. Keep in mind: Not every negative person is a toxic person.

Set boundaries

Toxic people cross borders, invade your privacy and act encroaching.
They do things they shouldn't do. They don't do things they should do.
What you can do is verbalize a factual and clear statement. Your statement should outline the consequences of ignoring it.
Stipulations should be clear and precise. Try to focus on the facts only. No emotions. No conclusions.

Focus only on your own goals

A toxic person can trap you in his web of blackmail, lies, allegations, self-pity, etc in no time.
That can make it hard to keep a level head. Often we resort to putting ourselves on the same level as the toxic person. We fight back in the same emotional way.  At least we try.
On the playfield of the toxic person, we are hopelessly inferior.
The poison dwarf (I hope that translates from German) just has more routine.
A simple question can help to redirect your thoughts in the right direction:
"What do I want to achieve in this relationship realistically?"
Emphasis on realistically.
Your realistic goal could be to seek the help of a coach. Or to find a new job in the next six months.
Sometimes, for instance, if the toxic person is your sick Grandfather who has only two months left to live, the only realistic goal is to protect yourself mentally and physically.
You should always set a goal for yourself when you're dealing with toxic people.
Important is that you set a realistic goal.

Keep your compassion in check

It speaks for you if you are a compassionate, empathetic person. Your excellent character can become a trap when you're dealing with a toxic person because they will try to take advantage of it.
They will make it sound as if their negative behavior is your fault and you're the one to blame.
They will offer explanations and excuses for why they are who they are. You might feel bad for them.
And they deserve our pity.  It must be horrible to be trapped in your own destructiveness and negativity.
You will be a helpless victim in the hands of a toxic person if you develop a guilty conscience for looking after yourself or setting boundaries.
Feel bad for the toxic person if you like. But stick to your goal.
Whatever causes the person to become destructive might be sad, but your well-being comes first.

Get support

Being exposed to someone toxic is exhausting, energy-sapping and upsetting. It can damage your self-esteem and well-being.
Consider hiring someone who can help you through it.
People who deal with toxic people on their own often doubt themselves at some point. Friends might listen and comfort you but could provide unhelpful advice because of a lack of experience with this kind of situation.

Don't assume the toxic person wants peace

Positive peaceful people assume that others feel just like them. That everyone wants to get along. But that isn't true. Toxic people are looking for conflict, emotion, intrigue.
A high EQ helps you to understand the agenda and motivation of someone. Misjudging someone's motivation can lead to clumsy and unhelpful actions.
Toxic people are not looking for peace. They are not looking for harmony.  They want war. Whatever they might tell you.
For them, it is not exhausting, troubling and hurtful like it is for you. For them, it is a distraction from having to be alone with themselves.

Don't try to convince poison

"Oh, if only he would understand that he's making life difficult for others. If I could just make him understand my perspective."
Well, you can't. Accept it.
Toxic people are not interested in learning about your perspective. Some might pretend to be to keep the energy theft and parasitic relationship going.
Don't try to convince them. They don't want to hear it. They don't want that there is truth in what you are saying. Because then they would have to question themselves.  And that is not what they want to do.
Again: set limits, set a goal, protect your soul. Get support.

Don't try to understand the toxic person

When someone acts toxic and destructive, our first reaction is perplexity. We ask ourselves: "Why are they doing that?"
Difficult childhood?  Mental disorder? Never got chances?
It doesn't matter. The only time when this matters is if you are their psychotherapist. The human mind is a complex matter and you will not understand why they act the way they do.
You are just wasting energy  that you should invest in the three important points:
  • What is my realistic goal in this situation?
  • How can I protect myself mentally?
  • What are my limits, and how can I protect them?

Act, don't just react

You often end up in an exchange of blows when dealing with destructive people.
He does that. I retaliate. He attacks again. Now I will show him what wood I am made of!
That can soon spiral out of control.  Just look at the silly number of sensible people who end up in court after fighting their neighbors for years.
People will often act upon the actions of their "enemy". They react and that makes them calculable.
And that is the playfield of manipulative people. Toxic people are way better at the game of action and reaction than you.
They are not afraid of conflict, stress and pressure. On the contrary, it's why they are playing this game. They need drama to feel alive and they thrive on it. Keep in mind, to them it's not exhausting like it is for you.
Once more: emotional intelligence is the key. Stay in control of your emotions and actions. Focused on your goal.
Some questions you can ask yourself to not become the play ball of the destructive person:
  • Which reaction do they expect from me?
  • What will happen if I don't react?
  • How can I break free from the spiral? AND
  • What was my goal again and which reaction supports it best?
Act. Don't react.
Take a deep breath. Turn on your intelligence. Look at the situation from a distance.

To sum things up

  • Don't take it personally
  • Protect yourself mentally
  • Set clear borders
  • Set goals and stay focused
  • Let no one guilt trip you
  • Get support
  • Don't assume the other one is looking for peace and harmony
  • Don't try to convince toxic people
  • Don't try to understand toxic people
  • Act, don't react
Is that easier written than done? It is.
The higher your EQ, the easier to deal with situations like this - and any other situation. Healthy self-confidence enables you to get out of abusive relationships.
Mindfulness training will help with stress-management and make sure you don't focus on the negative situation more than necessary.
Recommended tools:

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Symptoms of Depression

It is now 20 years ago that Steve jumped from the rooftop of the office building in Frankfurt, Germany.

Symptoms of a Depression

My colleague AND friend, Steve (Dr. Steve R.), was an extraordinarily good Management Consultant. Even though he did not speak German, his expertise and sincere interest in supporting clients made German companies overlook that fact.

No one saw it coming. We let the last weeks and months pass in our heads over and over and over again, searching for signs we overlooked. We did not see any.

Two days before he jumped, he told me stories about his evil cat and we laughed and giggled for hours. He told me how his mean cat hated and terrorized his wife and him. She might grab her purse and find ... (how do we call this here? Typically, I do not talk a lot about the liquid that must not be named) ... yellowish cat liquid in it. Or he might find one of his slipper in pieces.

I am not aware that he had financial, health or any other problems. He was not drunk. In the middle of preparing an offer, he left his desk went to the rooftop. And. Jumped.

The selfish feeling of guilt is still with me. Guilt that I did not even realize that my friend was in a very dark place. There were times when he seemed to be far away. Similar to when I wake up and have to come to my senses. He looked at you, but did not seem to see you until he was back in the "now".

With what I know today, I could have helped my friend to save himself.

Depression is a scary beast. It´s not always obvious. The ones who the beast is already holding in its firm grip, might not talk about it. Or care, for that matter. They might not show "classic" signs.

Depression changes the brain and is a serious condition.

Some overdiagnose every bad mood - some do not even acknowledge depression as a serious condition.

Symptoms of Depression

When to get help

Having a bad or sad day are normal parts of life and are usually nothing to worry about. Setbacks in our personal life and our careers can give us the blues, just like the loss of a friend or a loved one. It can be hard to find the balance between taking yourself and your symptoms serious and taking yourself too seriously which can lead to self-created symptoms.

That is what makes it even harder to tell if you have a problem.

Just today I saw a Forbes article on my LI feed "Stop the excuses. The truth about burnout". There is still a social stigma. "Boys don´t cry" - and business people don´t get depressed or suffer from burnout. Vulnerability, authenticity and empathy classes reflect an ideal-world scenario that is not always compatible with our reality.

What are symptoms of depression?

  • A "bad mood" or sadness becomes the norm or lasts longer than two weeks without improvement
  • Not everyone will show every symptom, some might have a few - others have many
  • The sadness and empty feeling are accompanied by a feeling of indifference
  • You need a lot of sleep. You could sleep all day long and would still be tired. The energy level goes down
  • Sudden loss of appetite and weight - or the opposite
  • Thoughts of suicide ("there´s no point")
  • You just want to withdraw and the consequences matter less and less
  • Your hobbies and what you loved to do (even sex) become irrelevant
  • Getting yourself to do simple tasks is becoming more and more difficult and exhausting
  • You suddenly seem to get angry easier, you´re restless and/or irritable
  • Everything and everyone goes on your nerves
  • You feel helpless or unworthy or
  • Pessimistic and hopeless
  • Sometimes sudden ongoing digestive problems, headaches, and aches that do not respond to treatment accompany depression
  • Statements like "It would be better if I wasn´t here" or similar
  • Problems concentrating, remembering details, making decisions and focusing (a depressed mind has trouble remembering positive and neutral events, it tends to store all of the negative events of a day)
My personal definition of what I have learned from clients who book my EI and mindfulness training is: You stop loving things/people. You just stop loving life. 

None of the symptoms listed are exclusive to the state of depression so that it is really hard to self-diagnose. The symptoms also vary depending on the state and severeness of the depression.

This is not a complete list of symptoms. 

If you know someone who is in a bad place warning signs can be
  • they suddenly start seeing people from their past that once meant a lot to them
  • they get their things in order (for instance write their will)
  • all of a sudden they are super happy, nearly euphoric
Please seek help for yourself or anyone you might know who could be suffering from depression.
10 % of depressive people kill themselves. It is estimated that as many as 1 in every 8 teens and 1 in every 33 kids have depression.

1. Hotline: at 1-800-SUICIDE
2. Can mindfulness change the brain
3. The default mode network (20-minute presentation about changes depression causes in the brain)

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HUGE Mindfulness Gift Set + Infographics

UPDATE: Currently, this free offer is not available. Please check out our current free offers HERE   It is my pleasure to announce that I have created the most complete free mindfulness set for you.

Mindfulness Infographics

Also, here are some new infographics for you (original size: download with right-click):
Mindfulness Gift Set
Mindfulness Gift Set
Mindfulness Infographic
Mindfulness Infographic

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