Empowerment course: I am and I can

the purpose of the course is to achieve empowerment – awareness:  I am aware of my talents, dreams and passions, but also I know what I find challenging in life and I know how to ask help and how to use self-care as coping strategy.

Introduction: Who Am I?

Question: ask yourself who am I?

Who AM I? you asked yourself.

Did you find it tough to answer? You are here for a reason. 

There are (hidden) thoughts like: 'I feel insecure. I feel depressed and lonely. I can't stop working. I can't set boundaries, I don't trust myself in doing things. I can't be intimate with someone. I jump from the other into other relationship. I see myself as a failure. I need a change. I feel trapped. I have emotions but I don't know where they come from.

There are efforts taken:  the new therapy, new courses, exercises, juicing, new diet, and new this and that. We start from a crisis, relationship crisis, job crisis or midlife crisis. We are all seeking for a purpose a sense of belonging. We are seeking for our authentic, or unique self. 

And that's why the answer is so hard. Because authenticity is exactly what we search and this 'state of being' creates passion and freedom in your life to think, feel and answer this question. We notice that this finding of unique me, takes a serious illness on us,  as we do so much effort but still we feel that all our effort is pushing against a big wall that prevents us to be unique. In this course, we hope that you find some parts of the self that will lead back to the empowering skills you already have inside and will happen effortlessly. If you can feel 'I am' and 'I can' you will cope with your obstacles in life. When you overcome big challenges in life you are able to help others and serve the world and at the same time be unique!

Who Am I?: why is it so hard to answer this question

Many people can't answer this question directly. Why is this so? 

Because we tend to see 'I am' in a self-concept which is based on external behavior. A self-made book about what we do and how we behave toward others. Like what we do for a profession, what kind of relationships we have. The idea of having specific identities and others allows us to assign specific sets of knowledge to them. This labeling is an advantage to organize our environment, but it also limits our perception towards ourselves and others. In other words, it prevents us to see our talents, dreams and passions. It prevents us to see the other and to see I. The parts that describe 'Who Am I'.


Well, as this is has been said. Let's continue. Click to the next.

Answer the question: who Am I?

Who AM I?

In this course, you will learn skills how to respond to the question: who am I?

Most people will react to this question with an action that is taken for others, so this action they define it as a personal part of identity. But is this answer really based on what we are? For example, if 'I am a clean person' that is because I have a clean house. However, I clean the house when people come over but when I am alone I let the mess be. So am I a clean person?

So did your answer looks like this type of answer? 

I will demonstrate this type of answer with an example of 'I am caring'

Most types of answers conclude this structure:

  1. I am caring (I-am)
  2. because I take care (action) of my family (others) and that's why I am a caring person (personal identity)

What we are gonna learn in this course is to speak through unique selves: I am-statement. To build answers that have a unique part in the answer.

  1. I am caring ( I am
  2. because I find feeling connected to others an important value in my life (unique story). That's why I take care of others and help them (I can)


Click next.


The basic needs of human

Self-care wheel

What I am = what I need: 

Every human needs sleep, water food and sex to live. But also emotional, like intimacy and, play, humor and a higher purpose in life through God or spirituality.

But what we often forget is our need to tell our unique story. Our wish to communicate, to be heard to speak out loud. The difference between other needs is that this need is unique. You express your own needs through your body language; posture, voice, intonation and so on. And how you talk to others and how you talk to yourself (self-talk) is important in belonging and creating your dreams.

So what are your needs?

Click next to continue.

Self-care is universal and protects personal needs


Self-care is universal!

We all need sleep, food, shelter physical exercise. Humour and laughing, higher sense of purpose in life and above all our own unique story:

This unique story makes us unique! It is the way we talk and behave to get our needs taken care of.

Self-care is listening to I AM

I AM are also personal needs and values. For example, if you know that you are a quiet person and like to hang out by your self you can take self-care not to go often too busy places with a lot of people.

Am I fully aware of my personal needs?

Instruction: We are gonna do a little experiment to see if you are completely aware of your environment.

Imagine you will watch a short video (next page) in which six people-three in white shirts and three in black shirts-pass basketballs around. While you watch, you must keep a silent count of the number of passes made by the people in white shirts.


Ok. Let's continue to the video.

The Awareness-experiment

Click on the link below

Did you see the gorilla?

  • Yes
  • No
  • I dont know

What we miss out because we are unaware

Almost everyone has the intuition that the answer is "yes, of course, I would." How could something so obvious go completely unnoticed? But this experiment at Harvard University was done several years ago, and the researches found out that half of the people who watched the video and counted the passes missed the gorilla. It was as if the gorilla was invisible. 

To the researchers' surprise, it has become one of the best-known experiments in psychology. It is described in most introductory textbooks and is featured in more than a dozen science museums. It has been used by everyone from preachers and teachers to corporate trainers and terrorist hunters, not to mention characters on the TV show C.S.I., to help explain what we see and what we don't see. 

This experiment reveals two things: first that we are missing a lot of what goes on around us, and second that we have no idea that we are missing out so much. And this got us thinking that many other intuitive beliefs that we have about our own minds might be just as undiscovered. And can you imagine all the passions, dreams and talents we miss on!

Click on to the next.

Awareness is like a Ice-berg

Empowerment course: I am and I can

Main objectives of the course:

1. Self-care: skills and tools in difficult situations

I know what I need to feel safe. I can stand up for myself! I can speak! Handles and exercises for releasing stress/tension. Strengthening skills to communicate: setting boundaries, taking initiative and leading, practicing in tune and following, building in cooperation and intimacy. 

2. Finding my own unique story through storytelling

I can connect with myself and others. I can listen to myself! I am okay!
Increase self-confidence: I am ok! I can be there, also with my difficulties, with my lifetime failures and with sadness about these. Exercises are offered in which the talents and positive possibilities of difficulties are examined. And who are the role models or special people who contributed to this?

3. Online counselling 

 Finally, you will get an online consultation to talk about the course results.


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Experiences of people

lotje


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So who are you?

Describe yourself

How old are you?

Where do you live?

What is your profession?

What do you like to learn from the course?

Empowering skills at the end of this program

Empowerment skills: attention, strength and connection

The e-course takes the perspective of empowerment that is based on the experience of changing psychosocial processes. It hopes to be able to lay a foundation for change not only in self-care and self-protection but also in raising awareness of his or her strength, needs, talents and unique story. The recognition of unhealthy experiences and the provision of skills in connecting, listening and speaking are central in this e-course.

Storytelling: Me Myself and I  

If you share such a story and dare to be vulnerable, then others usually dare to be vulnerable in response. It is the core of personal growth. We draw strength from that!

Self-talk

Positive self-talk is not self-deception.  It is not mentally looking at circumstances with eyes that see only what you want to see.  Rather, positive self-talk is about recognizing the truth, in situations and in yourself. If you focus too much on I don’t want no negative feelings or thoughts. That won’t work. But you can trick the mind! Self-talk is also listening to yourself, to your body and what it tells you.


Challenge of the day: picture your life

Picture your life 21 days

The following exercise can help you to stop thinking about the week in a natural way things that are valuable and important to you in your life. We will do this through “autophotography”; taking pictures of your own daily life.

The assignment is as follows:

Make every day at least one photo of something that your life make values, what you find important, what gives your life meaning. It is not about the perfect photo, but what this photo stands for. You do not need a good camera for this either; the camera on your phone or even a normal disposable camera is also great for this! Do this for a whole week (21 days), and eventually try to make 9 to 12 photos. 

Put the photos at the end of this three weeks together, subsequently, in a row, describe per photo what it stands for and what in this is so valuable to you. You then get an overview of the things that you as a person important in your life!

Day 1: What are my dreams, passions and talents?

Introduction

Passions, talents, dreams??

Yes, your talents, passions and your dreams. And with dreams, we don't mean the 'American dream;' where you have to work hard to get what you want, but the dream that is already inside: your life purpose. The dream you achieve with your passions, talents & gits (emotions and feelings) core values and skills

How do I find a life purpose?

You sure already looked for 'your thing', something that gives you pleasure and satisfaction and I feel that you have tried many different things. In itself that is a great strategy, just try and do what you like or exciting. At the same time, you might be able to deliver even more if you know what is important to you, what your motives are.

If you find your motives then finding your passions is effortless and doesn't cost any energy or any money. It gives energy and so it gives money. But a lot of the times our passions are buried, our talents are forgotten and we are afraid to dream. We think great jobs and great gifts are only for a few people guaranteed. This course will hopefully give you a little push in the back to see your motives.

Let's discover how!

Role models

Role Models

Is a person who you are inspired by. This can be an international hero, a guru, a teacher, parent, a caregiver, a friend and so on. They give you extra energy to believe in your dreams and to work find your talents and passions. Let's go through mine first.

For me, the most important thing in belonging to others and to the world is to serve with awareness, strength and connection. These figures below each represent of this.

 Ghandi

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SakitCoNYc

Who are  your role models?

A change starts now. Today not tomorrow.

"I want to change the world from an innate stubbornness"

For change, you need some kind of persistence. 

My change wishes: to myself

My change wishes:  to others

My change wishes: to the world

What are my talents

I find this questions difficult. Choose below you think suits for you:

  • Joke/humour
  • Creativity
  • Foreing language
  • writing
  • sports
  • learner
  • positiveness
  • hard worker
  • none of these. But I find one talent of mine

What are my passions? What gives my energy and strength?

  • Put your answer option here

Challenge of the day: take action on your passions, talents and values

Instruction: please fill in the form above (you can download this page in PDF). And focus your action on your passions. Think the ideas, do the things and connect to the people.

Day 2: How do I respond to stress?

Stress and the body: an introduction

What happens during stress?

Stress can affect your life considerably and in many different ways. These ways can affect your physical and mental health, which can quickly deteriorate. In addition, stress can lead to more serious problems such as depression, anxiety, and burnout.

Stress: the influence on your body?

Despite the fact that stress is something psychic, it can certainly have a big impact on your body. First, stress often causes muscle tension. This muscle tension can, in turn, lead to nagging pains and also headaches. Often people with chronic headaches suffer from tension headaches, which arise from muscle tension. Stress can therefore greatly affect these types of headaches.

Furthermore, stress can cause your rhythm to be disturbed, which in turn can lead to fatigue, but also to physical frailty. This lowers your immune system if you sleep badly for a while, but also when you exhaust your body, for example by constantly stressing all the tasks that you still have to do that day. Stress can also affect your sleep rhythm, which can make you feel tired and stressed.

Stress: the influence on your mind?

In addition to the impact on the body, stress can also have significant consequences on your psychological well-being. This way stress can introduce worry. Worrying is an accelerated way of circular thinking, where you stick to the same subject without finding a solution. If this persists for a long time, this can lead to psychic exhaustion, which in turn can lead to depression and burnout. Stress can also help you concentrate more on the worrying and less in remembering things, making work, household and other daily seriously tasks. It also ensures that these tasks can take longer, which in turn can generate more stress.

Fear lies underneath worrying,  an emotion that comes to mind with positive and negative stress. There is no fear without stress! That makes sense because under life-threatening circumstances the stress mechanism (adrenaline and the orthosympathetic nervous system) is activated to prepare the body for the life-saving fight, flight or freeze response (fight, flight, freeze). Fear never occurs without stress, while stress can occur without fear. In a sense, we can say that fear is a specific subtype of a stress response.

Fear becomes harmful when it occurs in the event of imaginary or unreal danger or in circumstances where there is no danger whatsoever.

Danger leads to a healthy fear

Healthy anxiety only occurs occasionally for a short time, and after the disappearance of the danger is always restored by the parasympathetic nervous system, which restores the underlying stress reaction (palpitations, sweating, high blood pressure, ...).

Risk of sight leads to unhealthy fear

Unhealthy anxiety quickly becomes dormant or chronic because it is no longer linked to a real danger that requires a flight response, but to a sham.

A vicious circle is created: an internal thought, an image, misinterpretation or fear of fear become the trigger that causes the feeling. People can react to the imagined scenario. This leads to flight behavior of a normally harmless reality. Avoiding a normal or useful reality such as a lift or a plaza square leads to a reduced sense of control over your own life, and consequently to psychological problems.


Question: how do you respons in social, difficult situations?

Different life areas and coping with stress

In relationships (also friends), the pressure in the shared life always ensures that there are less time and attention for each other. Young children, adolescents, changes in work, renovations, relocations, these are a number of examples of situations that put a lot of pressure on their own capacity for recovery. Reproach if the other does not do enough, that the other has caused the situation, that the other should be able to cope better, they lie quickly in wait. A relationship in which you make yourself largely dependent on the other can degenerate into a sense of powerlessness, resentment, hatred, feelings of denial, a lack of space. Dependence is the normal situation for children. For adults, it leads to a caricature of themselves. The remedy can be found in the re-search for your own responsibility. The paradox is of course that a relationship - and every form of cooperation - directly causes a dependency. The trick is to have a clear sense of the places where you have made yourself dependent. So you can see that dependence as a conscious choice of yourself.

At the workplace,  a little stress at work is not harmful. It can help people to achieve better performance. When positive stress turns into negative stress, it becomes less fun and has a negative effect on performance. A prolonged high workload can have far-reaching consequences. Work-related problems (also known as burnout or overstrain) are a depletion reaction of both body and mind over a long period of work stress. Sometimes this stress period takes years. People also say that the battery is empty. It often no longer helps to take a rest. Many people with burn-out have complaints in the areas of chronic over-fatigue sleep problems irritated faster worry feeling uneasy, memory and concentration problem sense pain complaints and overload.  Burnout is actually only spoken if there is a clear relationship with overburdening due to work stress. Factors that are often mentioned are: finding no satisfaction in the job, seeing no prospects, conflicts with superiors and reorganizations.

Stress in social, difficult situations

How do I react in social, stressful situation?

Most people learn how to behave in the right way - that is, they follow rules, expectations, routines and established social norms - by looking at the people around them and adjusting their behavior based on the feedback they receive from others. It is a process that occurs naturally in the development stages. Of course, we are guided by rules, consequences and social cueing, but sometimes these limits are not sufficient for the development of social skills. It can be that we are able to achieve things in the workplace but don't know how to respond in social situations. Or the other way around. 

Stress is a sign that too much of you is being asked. That means you better take self-care. Ultimately, that is also a question of wanting to be responsible for yourself. Who thinks that too much should benefit from asking the question of who should.

To know what your coping skills are we gonna do some exercises in social situations. Remember there is no good or false answer. The exercises are just to gain insight into how you react or respond in difficult, social situations.


Teddy-bear

The fixer:

  • Avoiding problems to protect a relationship 
  • Fear for the hurt in relationship or conflict workplace

Lion

The fighter:

  • Giving way is a sign of weakness 
  • Must be in control and to win 
  • Relationships are useful for self 
  • Want to have the highest position at the workplace

The Ostrich

The compromiser:

  • No fighter no fixer, winning a little and losing a little 
  • They see conflict or problem don’t act or sacrifice 
  • Ignore the problem and go for the short-term solution

The Owl 

Has empowering awareness. He is aware (attention) of his talents, passions and dreams but also knows what is difficult and challenging and needs nurturing. The Owl can act with the strength of the lion but respond in the sake of the relationship. The Owl connects like a teddy bear but doesn't step behind his boundaries and knows his or her responsibilities.

Example 1. In relationships content

Social conflict

Instruction. Answer the questions below. Sometimes we can be more types at the same time as first be a lion and then an ostrich.  Remember that there is no right or wrong.

Question 1. 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________




Question 2. 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Tips for communication

Tips and tricks

Make room for thought, emotion and behavior.

  1. Accept the possibility that you no longer have contact
  2. Make clear choices
  3. Replace irritation with interest
  4. Replace anxiety with respect
  5. Self-talk. Listen to your inner needs.
  6. Listen to the other needs
  7. Pay attention to what you find important

Example 2. At the workplace

Social conflict

Instruction. Answer the questions below. Sometimes we can be more types at the same time as first be a lion and then an ostrich and so on.  Remember that it is no good or wrong

Question 1. 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Question 2. 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Tips for work-related problems

Treat yourself as the most important person in your life

The most important person in your life, that's you. As soon as you become overstrained, you do not trade from this basic principle. Finding yourself the most important person sounds like egoism for some. But that's not it. Because as soon as you see yourself as the most important person in your life and act on it, you take good care of yourself and can take good care of others from there.

Ensure adequate sleep

Adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day. Your body is recovering and your brain is absorbing the impressions of the day. Prolonged sleep deprivation causes fatigue, lack of motivation to do things, lack of energy, mood swings, problems with concentration and memory. Do you suffer from insomnia? Read here 8 tips for better sleep.

Make time for things that you enjoy and that make you happy

Relaxing regularly and taking time for yourself is necessary to remain mentally in balance and to recharge yourself.

Exercise regularly

When you move your body makes endorphins, also known as the happiness hormone. The quality of your thinking also increases as soon as you move.

Be assertive

Take up space, define your boundaries, be resolute and learn to say 'no'. If you are assertive, you prevent yourself or anyone from going beyond your boundaries.

Avoid the word  'must' you put yourself all sorts of things without even wondering whether it is justified. This not only pollutes your own thoughts, but also your agenda, your time and your pleasure in life.

Stop filling in what another person thinks or intends

You do not know what the other person thinks and you will never know for sure. You will never know for sure why someone is doing something and how the other person sells it to himself. Nor does anyone think about you. It concerns that other person and not you. It is not your head, but that of the other. Filling things up for someone else is a waste of energy.

Manage your thoughts

Stop worrying, thinking in circles, doubting, repeating negative statements, asking useless questions to yourself and thinking in horror scenarios. Ask yourself future goals. Goal questions start with 'how' and ensure that you think in terms of possibilities and solutions instead of problems.

Challenge of the day: imagine a stressful event or situation

What is the worse thing that can happen? And did, it already happen?

'Man suffers most by the suffering he fears. Thereby, to feel is to change. And to change you need to confront your emotions and feelings in order to release them and let them be.'

We stop ourselves because we are afraid of what might happen. Usually very irrational. And it does not matter that you know that. Because you are no less afraid of it. What can still help is an exaggeration... Consider what can happen in the worst case. All over the top. Then maybe you can laugh about it. Because you feel like it, this is not going to happen. It can not be that bad. Imagine what might happen in the meantime. When you would like what you would like to do. Then there is more space again to realize what you can become when you worry less.

I like to work from examples from your daily life and from your experience about experiences. From here you better understand why you do as you do and you can change from control to acceptance.

Click for the filling in the questions.

Question: describe a stressful event or situation

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Question: where do you feel it in your body?

instruction. cross the section in this figure where you feel sensations in your body (e.g. stomach, chest, head arms or legs and so...)

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Question: what do you think?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Question: what can you do?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

React not respond: release the emotions and feelings

The owl is self-care

Strength, connection and awareness

For example: the feeling your partner isn't listening to you and you feel anxious about it

I feel anxious and my body tingles (awareness), and I know that my needs of feeling loved are not met because my partner is acting distantly (connection), I will ask him immediately to talk about how I feel (strength- lion acting out) or I will take more self-care and listen to myself and trust that there will be a moment to talk (strength-release of emotion). 



Self-care as a strategy  

We can all be tempted to use unhealthy coping mechanisms like drugs, alcohol, over-eating, and risk-taking. These self-destructive activities help us to regulate challenging emotions, but the relief is temporary.  The difference between unhealthy coping mechanisms and self-care activities is that the latter is uncontroversially good for you. When practiced correctly, self-care has long-term benefit for the mind, the body, or both. To protect yourself, from the inside and from the outside. To be safe and in a comfortable position so we can take action on our pursuing your dreams and goals.

For self-care examples see the lesson tomorrow!

Exercise 2. The ladder of fear

Fear ladder

Which fears are at the top of the ladder (= the worst)? Which things do you find exciting but would you dare to engage with some encouragement and help? Which fears are between the most exciting and a bit exciting?

Don't forget to make a picture of today!

Day 3: Self-care

Self-care : an introduction

Why is self-care so important?

Self-care is so important because it cleans the way to 'I am' and 'I can'. Because we get so much information in our brain system we the more are likely to forget or not to see our unique self.  Maybe in clear situations we know we are healthy or unhealthy. But what about the situations that are doubtful,  how can we take care of me if we don't know it's not right for us? If we are in an unsafe position (not aware) we feel anxious but we don't know where these feelings come from. That why we are gonna explore which kind of strategies or styles you use in a difficult situation to cope with a stressful (social) event. To see where anxious feelings come from and how we can respond to it with self-care instead of reacting, avoiding or medicating by substances and food.

Alternatively, maybe you aren’t convinced that you should not practice regular self-care. Maybe you think your resources are better saved for working and for looking after others. That they need it more then you do. Then the more this will be a suitable program for you. As it turns out, there are many different self-care practices, and not all of them suit everyone. This course will take you through the some of it and reasons why you need at least some sort of self-care in your routine, and will help you understand the specific changes you need to make.



Bad habits and lifestyle

There are many examples of a bad lifestyle and we regularly hear new ones. That is why we only mention a few here:

  1. Not good food. With the current health type, it is often difficult to indicate what exactly is healthy, but no breakfast and stuffed biscuits in the car at lunch is not that at all.
  2. Not enough sleep.
  3. Spending too little time outside (also in connection with sunlight and vitamin D)Watching and masturbating too much pornography
  4. A too busy lifestyle. Never a moment just nothing on the couch, but always on the go with children, friends, family and others obligations.
  5. Excessive use of party drugs or weed. We are not necessarily anti-drugs, but if you have anxiety symptoms be very careful with alcohol and XTC and if you are depressed too.
  6. Have few contacts with good friends or even acquaintances.
  7. Too much downtime. Coming home and watching TV every evening. Have no more fun, experience new things or be challenged.
  8. Play computer games overload

Self-care is personal

Self-care ideas

Body & Mind

1. Give your body ten minutes of mindful attention. Use the bodyscan technique on my website and check in with each part of your body.

2. Oxygenate by taking three deep breaths. 
Breath in your abdomen, and let the air puff out your stomach and chest.

3. Get down and boogie. Put on your favorite upbeat record and shake your booty.

4. Stretch out the kinks. If you’re at work, you can always head to the bathroom to avoid strange looks.

5. Run (or walk, depending on your current physical health) for a few minutes. Or go up and down the stairs three times.

6. Narrow your food choices. Pick two healthy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners and rotate for the week.

7. Activate your self-soothing system. Stroke your own arm, or if that feels too weird, moisturize.

8. Get to know yourself intimately. Look lovingly and without judgment at yourself naked. (Use a mirror to make sure you get to know all of you!)

9. Make one small change to your diet for the week. Drink an extra glass of water each day, or have an extra portion of veggies each meal.

10. Give your body a treat. Pick something from your wardrobe that feels great next to your skin.

11. Be still. Sit somewhere green, and be quiet for a few minutes.

12. Get fifteen minutes of sun, especially if you’re in a cold climate. (Use sunscreen if appropriate.)

13. Inhale an upbeat smell. Try peppermint to suppress food cravings and boost mood and motivation.

14. Have a good laugh. Read a couple of comic strips or stand up comedians that you enjoy. 

15. Take a quick nap. Ten to twenty minutes can reduce your sleep debt and leave you ready for action.

The Soul

1. Imagine you’re your best friend. If you were, what would you tell yourself right now? Look in the mirror and say it.

2. Use your commute for a “Beauty Scavenger Hunt.” Find five unexpected beautiful things on your way to work.

3. Help someone. Carry a bag, open a door, or pick up an extra carton of milk for a neighbor.

4. Check in with your emotions. Sit quietly and just name without judgment what you’re feeling.

5. Write out your thoughts. Go for fifteen minutes on anything bothering you. Then let it go as you burn or bin the paper.

6. Choose who you spend your time with today. Hang out 

with “Radiators” who emit enthusiasm and positivity, and not “Drains” whose pessimism and negativity robs energy.

7. Stroke a pet. If you don’t have one, go to the park and find one. (Ask first!)

8. Get positive feedback. Ask three good friends to tell you what they love about you.

9. Make a small connection. Have a few sentences of conversation with someone in customer service such as a 

sales assistant or barista.

10. Splurge a little. Buy a small luxury as a way of valuing yourself.

11. Have a self-date. Spend an hour alone doing something that nourishes you (reading, your hobby, visiting a museum or gallery, etc.)

12. Exercise a signature strength. Think about what you’re good at, and find an opportunity for it today.

13. Take a home spa. Have a long bath or shower, sit around in your bathrobe, and read magazines.

14. Ask for help—big or small, but reach out.

15. Plan a two-day holiday for next weekend. Turn off your phone, tell people you’ll be away, and then do something new in your own town.


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Self-care is not...

the remedy or cure...


easy...

Why do we become cautious when it comes to self-care: stopping, meditating, exercising, maintaining a good life hygiene ... Why do we have the tendency, if we are not vigilant, to become easy-going and passive? Why do we encounter such strong resistance when it comes to taking good care of ourselves?

Some of us find it difficult to do things for themselves. And prefer to do things that ease the burden of another. They are more focused on others than that they concentrate on their own needs and fulfillment. It is difficult for them to recognize and appreciate their own needs and to satisfy them through healthy self-care.

Or nobody showed us how healthy self-care looks like. Not only was there not a good role model available and it was not encouraged, perhaps it was even actively discouraged. You may have been told to take time for yourself, spend money on yourself, or pursuing a hobby is selfish or wasteful of time. Perhaps In your family self-care was seen as a sign of weakness. You should give and adjust yourself to the situation and not have to worry about how you can take care of yourself and your own needs.

What to do when you need self-care but dont want to

1. Enjoy every day

Lay the foundation for this by healthy food, rest and exercise. Healthy food, rest and exercise is the food for your body and mind. Healthy food does not require more time than junk food if you go to the supermarket with a prepared list. Rest and movement: 'man sana in corpore sano' is a statement that we all know and that has proved its worth.

2. Take initiative and create your own opportunities

A major cause of stress is the lack of control over how, when and where we work. Step aside and look at yourself. Where can you take more initiative? How can you give more shape to life? Are you afraid of mistakes? Mistakes are part of life because you learn from them. Create your own opportunities and see your stress level drop!

3. Know your boundaries and set your limits

By setting your limits to others you define yourself. Take a close look at your own reactions, so define your limits. Set not only limits what others expect from you, but also what you expect from yourself. Your environment will thus better notice who you are and thus less about your limits: a self-reinforcing effect!

4. Use I-sentences

Dare to say 'I think', 'I would like to' or 'I do not agree with that'. These sentences indicate that you start from your own strength and come across better than negative-formulated sentences or sentences where you look for the cause outside yourself. Also know that it is permissible to change opinions based on the conversation that follows.

5. You can and can not say no. 

This certainly applies to unreasonable requests. Find a workable compromise or dare to ask time to think about something, or to reformulate your opinion. Do not say no, but frame it. Say 'it will be difficult now, but ...' or 'you can, but ...' or 'now it is difficult, unless ...'. In a conversation with your supervisor it helps to override your planning.

Challenge of the day: my self-care wheel

What are my needs and values?

Instruction: use this subject self-care wheel to describe your needs and values. For example home environment: I need a clean house or for social life: I need support from others

Day 4: Storytelling: Me Myself and I

what are your difficulties or challenges in work life?

Tell me something of your difficulties

Challenges of the day: building a temple

Day 5: Boundaries

What are boundaries?

Healthy boundaries

Healthy boundaries are a crucial component of self-care in all aspects of our lives. For example, “in work or in our personal relationships, poor boundaries lead to resentment, anger, and burnout.” This is important because it indicates that properly-set boundaries can help someone find more fulfillment and less stress in their work life, which accounts for a large part of a working person’s day-to-day responsibilities.

Why are boundaries so difficult?

It may be that you are afraid that people will not like you anymore, or that you feel bad about disappointing someone, or that you feel guilty if you set a limit. The strange thing is that people who can clearly and clearly indicate their boundaries are often more respected and more respected and regularly liked, they are taken into account. How double is this really? It is, therefore, possible that you choose the wrong behavior to reach your goal. (nice to be found / to get respect).By setting little or no limits you become an easy target to "use".Are you regularly disappointed in people? Do they not give the same attention back, or will they never help you if you are busy, or do not call themselves? This all depends on each other.

Take care of yourself first!

  • You need to be able to say “no”.
  • Learn how to accept “no” from other people—they need to protect their boundaries, too!
  • By setting a good example, you are providing a template by which others can set appropriate behavior


Types of boundaries

Personal

Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits.

Emotional

  • Know “where you end and I begin”.
  • Separate identity—you are “your own person”.
  • Be aware of your feelings.
  • Be aware of your choices.
  • You are responsible for your

Mental

  • Thoughts
  • Values
  • Opinions
  • Beliefs

1

4. Material

  • What you feel comfortable lending
  • You can tell someone you don’t want them to damage your belongings.
  • Limits on time (your time is valuable)
  • Limits on favors/services/labor

5. Physical

  • Personal space
  • Touching
    • WHO can touch you
    • HOW they touch you
    • WHERE they touch you
    • WHEN they touch you
  • Sexual boundaries

6. Spiritual (religion)

  • Set spiritual guidelines concerning doctrine.
  •  It is vital for our spiritual health that we not give heed to false teachings.
  •  To have proper spiritual boundaries, we must know the truth—we must study the Word of God and commit to following it.

To define your boundaries

To DEFINE your boundaries:

Think about these main points. It might help to write down your observations of these main points in order to clarify these boundaries.

  • Most people don’t realize what their boundaries are until they’ve been crossed.
  • When they crossed the “invisible line” it was your boundary. You might not have known you had a boundary.
  • What upsets/offends you?
  • Who does this? It’s often the same person who crosses your boundaries.

In wich type or types of boundaries you find difficult to set?

What do you find difficult?

How does it feel?

What can you do?

Emotional calories: energy takers and energy givers

Clean up your emotional calories to set boundaries! 

Emotional calories?

In order to succeed by stepping out of your comfort zone, you need to develop a clear understanding of how you impact those around you, and whether you might need to make adjustments to your behavior. 

Sometimes, we don't need to add new activities or people to get more pleasure. We just need to soak up the joy in the ones we've already got. Trying to be optimistic doesn't mean ignoring the uglier sides of life. It just means focusing on the positive as much as possible.


Energy takers 

  • Everyday unhealthy eating 
  • Sitting without taking brakes to stand up or walk
  • People who absorb your positive vibes, see more on day (,)
  • Guilt about not doing enough to help someone else, when you’ve already done a lot, or the other person is not taking responsibility;
  • Guilt about thoughts that you don’t actually act on, like feeling jealous of a friend who just had a baby.

Energy givers

  • Close, quality relationships are key for a happy, healthy life.
  • Eating some dark chocolate
  • setting boundaries
  • Exercise
  • balance food intake
  • self-care

Challenge of the day: list energy takers and givers

Instruction: fill in the form below. You can use the pdf file to upload the exercise.

Energy takers

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Energy givers

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Day 6: Self- care

Mindfulness

Stillness 

Mindfulness is the process of quieting the mind in order to spend time in thought for relaxation or religious/spiritual purposes. When we take a look further we realize that meditation is not only defined by taking a moment to sit quietly or to ponder. This is only the beginning of taking the process on a deeper level were we profound deep awareness and connection to the body, mind and soul. 

Do you like to meditate?

Do you want to learn more about meditation?

Not for everybody is meditating the best solution for taking self-care. Altough,

  • Yes. I would like to learn more about it.
  • No. Its to difficult right now. Skip the meditation section and go to release tension.

Meditation exercise

Pre-instructions session

You may not feel any different during this session, but nevertheless, you will experience the physical and psychological benefits of meditation, especially if you engage in meditation regularly over a period of time.

During this meditation session, you will need to remain awake. The meditation process can lead to sleep, and can be used for the purpose of falling asleep, but this time the objective is to experience the relaxation response – which occurs when you are awake. Choose a position that is comfortable, but not one that will lead to sleep. You might wish to sit upright in a firm chair, stand leaning on a wall, kneel on the floor, or sit cross-legged. Find a position that is comfortable, but one that allows you to remain awake.

Find a comfortable position.

This script functions as a teaching or practice session of guided meditation. Once you are familiar with the meditation process, you will be able to meditate on your own, unguided. There is no right or wrong way to meditate. The most important thing that you can do is to bring a passive attitude – allowing, not forcing. Experiencing, not controlling. Don’t worry about meditating the "right" way – just let it happen however it happens without worrying about the outcome.

It is normal to have many extraneous thoughts going through your mind throughout the process of meditation – that’s okay! Just acknowledge the thoughts and bring your attention back to the phrase you will be repeating. It doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong.

When learning to meditate, you can begin with short sessions – 5 minutes is a good starting point – and work up to longer sessions as you become more comfortable and skilled.

Before we begin, think about your own personal spirituality. Think about what gives you meaning. You will need to select a word or a short phrase (up to about 5 words) that is meaningful and can be repeated within the time it takes to exhale.

For example, if religious faith is significant and meaningful for you, you might wish to repeat part of a prayer. If nature holds deep meaning for you, you might want to repeat a word or phrase relating to nature or the earth. Your meaningful phrase can relate to love, happiness, family, faith....or anything that is important to you.

Click to the movie clip to begin

Meditation script

Let’s begin.

Close your eyes or focus your gaze on one small area. Start by relaxing your muscles. When thoughts come to mind, disregard them, thinking "hmmm" or "oh well" and turn your attention back to your body.

Let your muscles become loose and relaxed, starting with your feet... your ankles....lower legs....knees.... upper legs....pelvis....torso... back....shoulders....arms.... hands....face....and head.

Feel your body....loose and relaxed.....

Turn your attention now to your breathing. Notice each breath, without trying to change your breathing in any way.... Just observe.... As thoughts arise, acknowledge them and let them go, returning your attention to your breathing....

Breathe naturally.... Slowly....

As your thoughts wander, simply return your attention to your breathing.

Notice your breath as it flows gently in and out of your body.... Without any effort....

Acknowledge your thoughts and focus again on your breathing..... Interruptions are normal....just let these thoughts go and return your attention to your breathing....

Now think of the meaningful word or phrase you selected....and say this word or phrase in your mind as you exhale....

Each time you breathe out, say the word or the phrase...

As your thoughts wander, bring your attention again to repeating your meaningful statement with each out breath.

Continue repeating the word or phrase each time you exhale....

Bring your attention back to the word or phrase you are repeating with each gentle breath out...

With passive acceptance, continue to focus on the word or phrase, repeating it each time you breathe out...allowing distracting thoughts to float by....

Now slowly begin to reawaken....and turn your attention to your breathing. Notice your calm, smooth breaths...in and out... Allow your awareness to turn now to your body... calm and relaxed.... Notice how your body feels.... become more aware of your surroundings...

Let your attention turn now to your thoughts... back to normal conscious awareness.... Normal attention to thoughts....

Sit quietly for a moment with your eyes open... enjoying the feeling of relaxation while gradually re-awakening... adjust your position slightly....

Reflect upon the experience of meditation... notice what it was like... notice how you feel now... Free from worries about how well you did...knowing that whatever happened was the correct and natural response.

Wiggle your fingers and toes... roll your shoulders..... stretch if you like.... And when you are ready, continue on with the rest of your day

How did you felt after the meditation?

Release tension: different kinds of breathing exercises

Silence meditation


focus on your breath
counting
visualisation


Different tools to help you be aware

Mantra
Yantra
Positive affimerations
Music and humming


Meditation in your actions


Challenge of the day: meditate for 5 minutes

Stillness. Meditate. Start with just 2 or 5 minutes per day. Take a walk in nature. Take a few moments to simply be. Disable notifications on your phone. Pray.

Day 7: Comfort zone

Comfort zone

Comfort is nice, and terrible!

It is nice if everything is predictable. That your life calmly rolls, and you do not have to have fears. You can organize your life in such a way that it is totally comfortable. Not too many novelties, no things that you find scary and no unexpected challenges. But, such a life is boring. You know what happens when you are completely comfortable. Nice rolled up in a blanket in front of the fire, with snacks, TV and a drink at hand. You take a nap. You feel fine, but also empty inside. In fact, a life full of comfort sucks the life out of you. Before you know it you're caught in a huge rut, and you turn into a kind of zombie: You live but you do not live. By extending your comfort zone you will once again get the feeling that you are alive. By doing scary things your heart will beat faster, your blood will flow faster. Your mood improves and you feel fantastic! You are confronted with your fears and uncertainties as a result of which you grow. Your self-confidence grows, your self-image increases and your life simply gets a lot more spunk! So stop napping, throw that winter blanket away from you and come out of your safe world!

35 Ways to expand your comfort zone

27 Ways to expand your comfort zone 

Below are 27 ideas to expand your comfort zone. Use these suggestions to get your creativity going, and to take your own first steps outside your comfort zone! Time to shake things up!

  1. Talk to five random people on the street.
  2. Give money to a charity. And give something more than you would normally do.
  3. Sleep naked.
  4. Surprise someone you have not talked to for a while with a phone call.
  5. Say goodbye to a product that you no longer use, but that you can never let go.
  6. Dine with people from different origins than you, learn to know as many cultures as possible in your own country.
  7. Take your chance to speak in public.
  8. Start the day with a cold shower! Brrr.
  9. Book a night in a five-star hotel, and behave as if it is the most normal thing in the world. Do the same with a hostel. Let yourself be bitten by those bedbugs!
  10. Start your day with yoga. And if possible, yoga in the open air while enjoying the sunrise.
  11. Visit a new restaurant every time you go out to eat. Do the same with nightlife and lunch and coffee shops.
  12. Start with a sport that you normally do not do. Such as running, yoga, boxing or speed walking (even though it looks ridiculous).
  13. Do volunteer work. Then you encounter yourself in all sorts of ways while also making yourself useful for others!
  14. Start with a course clearly outside your comfort zone. From tree cuddling to building space rockets yourself!
  15. From now on, dare to negotiate prices where possible. And it is more often possible than you might think.
  16. Ask a random passerby what year it is. As if you are a time traveler!
  17. Switch off your phone for two days. And yes, that is perhaps the scariest tip in between!
  18. say yes to the next invitation that you would normally say no to
  19. Stop an addiction for two weeks. Such as coffee, sugar, internet, Netflix or a game. Or, yes there he is again: your smartphone.
  20. Tell someone you like that you like them. Yes, that is awkward, but it will be appreciated.
  21. Speak only English for a week. Or Chinese, what you want.
  22. Look for a nice group of people with the same interests, and become part of that group by participating in an event or meetup.Tell your partner about a secret sexual fantasy, and execute that fantasy together
  23. .Get up at six o'clock and go outside to run, walk or cycle.
  24. Travel on your own. Even if only for a few days. 
  25. Wear something weird and go outside, and pretend nothing is wrong.
  26. Read a biography of a person that you actually hate.
  27. Dare to let go of the control of an important project, and trust other people to do it.

Responsibilities: you, others and the world

What are your responsibilities?

When I say the word ‘responsibility’ to you, what does it mean? Do you experience negative or positive emotions when you hear this word?

For many people, responsibility is considered to have negative connotations. It means burden, routine, monotony along with a ‘heaviness’ and even a feeling of being trapped for some. I myself used to struggle with ‘responsibility’. I thought it clashed with my personal values – one of which is ‘fun & adventure’. I didn’t comprehend that responsibility could ever be fun or lead to empowerment.

Let’s break it down for a minute. If you take the word responsibility – it’s actually made up of two separate words:

response ability

It literally means ‘your ability to respond’. If you break this down even further, it means choice. By having the ‘ability’ to ‘respond’ you have choices available to you – it’s how you choose to deal with those choices that make the difference.

If you think about the language we use around the word responsibility, you’ll notice that people talk about ‘taking’ responsibility – they generally are not ‘given’ it. So the very context in which we use the word evokes choice.

For me, once I understood that responsibility in-fact represented choices, I started to find it very empowering. And I think it often helps to remember this steps below:

Some helping tools

  1. Identify Your Limits. The first step in setting boundaries is getting clear about what your limits are--emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, etc (see day 5).
  2. Pay Attention to Your Feelings. There are three key feelings that are often red flags or cues that you need to either set boundaries in a particular situation or that you are letting your boundaries slip (and not maintaining them). These feelings are (1) discomfort, (2) resentment, or (3) guilt. You can think of these feelings as cues to yourself that a boundary issue may be present. If a particular situation, person, or area of your life is leading you to feel uncomfortable, resentful, or guilty, and it has happened several times, this is an important trigger.
  3. Give Yourself Permission to Set Boundaries. 

    The biggest obstacles often experienced at some point, when considering setting a boundary, are the feelings of fear, guilt, and self-doubt--the anti-boundary musketeers--that show up. You might fear how the person will respond (e.g., angry, hurt) if you set and enforce your boundaries. You might feel guilty about speaking up or saying no to a family member or friend.

  4. Consider Your Environment. 

    The environment you are in, for example, serves as your context and can have a strong influence on your behaviors, attitudes, and perceptions. Family and work environments are two examples of powerful contexts. Social circles are another. Why is it important to consider your environment when it comes to setting boundaries, you may be wondering? Your environment can either support your setting boundaries--making it easier for you--or present obstacles to boundary setting--making it more challenging for you. For example, consider your social circle of close friendships. Are these relationships generally reciprocal, with a natural give and take? Or do they feel lopsided, with you more often giving than receiving? If more lopsided, it will likely be more uncomfortable, and therefore more challenging, for you to begin to set boundaries or to maintain existing ones in these relationships.

Decision making: doubt

The function of doubt and what to do about it?

Making decisions, in and outside the comfort zone works trough self-care and the core needs, wishes, and talents. Doubt thus has a critical function to suspend one from taking an immediate belief stance and discern truth. But it is only useful if we are acting out or are in the need to take impulsive actions. 

Unhealthy doubt contributes to worrying, and as has said before comes with stress. So trick the mind. Your mind is like a supercomputer, and there is no error and no truth. If you say that you can not do something then you can not. It is not about something you can or can not do, but how you focus on action. Trust in the good outcome and 'fake it until you make it'.



Question: is there anything your doubting about at the moment?

What do you think?

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How does it feel?

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What can you do about it?

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The gift of doubt

Doubt as a Source of Power

Doubt is a perspective that helps you detach emotionally from what’s happening. Doubt becomes a powerful tool that supports robust decision making and nurtures humility.

Humility helps you stay grounded in the knowledge that you don’t know everything and always have something to learn. Humility also reminds you that as a human, you’re good at focusing and when you focus, you don’t see other things around you. Remember the gorilla on day 1?

Doubt can be seen as an informant that tells you about what you’re assuming/thinking, feeling and doing:

  • you’re rushing
  • you need new data
  • you’d benefit from creative perspectives of the situation
  • you’re downplaying/excluding existing data
  • you’re looking at the problem with a narrow perspective
  • consider learning from past experience, other emotions that surface, intuitive signals
  • you fear consequences
  • you want to control the outcome, putting your attention on the future vs being present
  • you’re judging your feeling of doubt or decision-making process, clouding your ability to see what’s really there
  • you’re assuming that doubt means something about you and your competence as a leader
  • you’re avoiding your feelings, such as feeling unsure

You can surely glean additional information from your feeling of doubt. Consider them all and listen to it carefully. The more you practice learning from your feelings, the faster you’ll be able to identify and decode their messages. As you integrate your rational, emotional and intuitive processes and resulting information, you’ll be able to make consistently congruent decisions that generate excellent outcomes, across different contexts. At work, in relationships and so forth...

Challenge of the day: ACT on a choice

Exercise make a choice.

Instruction. Write down a dilemma on work or in relationships. And then make a list of options that contents either yes's or no's. Choose one between them!

for example (material boundaries). John's sister wants me to help with moving because I have a truck. On that day I  have to do stuff in the house or else I have to do it after work hours. 

yes's: they will like me for my help, I can do both things on the same day and so on...no's: I have to take care of myself first before I can help others. I always help to move because I have a big car, and so on...

decision/action: I told John's sister that I couldn't help her with moving. 

Make a choice

Dillema:______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________yes's:_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________no's_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

decision/action________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Day 8: Skills to lisen

Self-talk: Observe. What do I hear? I have a gift? What are the inner voices telling me?

Self-talk: Observe. What do I hear? Do I have a gift? What are the inner voices telling me?

Feelings can not hurt us. 

They are perceptible in the body and even the most difficult emotional pain is very rare when it comes to the physical experience of it. As an example, let us try to evoke an intense feeling, such as anger/resentment, fear or the desire for fatty food or alcohol. Call up the thoughts, images and feelings as if the situation is now occurring. Watch your body. Where in your body do you feel the feelings? Is it a tension in your shoulders? A burning or empty feeling in your stomach? A tight feeling your forehead? If you have to classify those physical feelings on a scale of 1 to 10, how bad was it? Perhaps the situation felt like a 10, but the actual physical pain of an emotion can hardly be observed on the scale of physical pain.

What the problem is, is how we think about our emotions - "I can not stand that I feel like that." "It is not normal that I feel so bad." These thoughts still awake emotions continuously and make sure that they stay. The thoughts hinder as if they are troubleshooting. An alternative to respond to strong emotions is to sit down with the emotion and observe emotion as it swells and flows into your body. All emotions come and go if we leave them. If the emotion is softened, you can think of ways to which you want to react (or not respond, see day 3) to the situation.

Observe. What do I hear?

Do I have a gift?

 Identifying the emotions underneath your feelings and thoughts is the second step on the path to empowerment and many of us need help in recognizing our emotions

So see below for the types of emotions,  feelings, body sensations and their gifts.

What are the inner voices telling me?

Challenge of the day: examine your feelings

instruction. 

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Day 9: Self-care

Progressive relaxtion techniques

Self-talk: Me, Myself and I

1. Comfort zone and posture: How do I stand? How does the other person stand? How do I stand firm? Proximity / distance. How does it feel tense, how does it feel relaxed?

2. Eyes: How do I look? How do others see me? What happens if I look differently? - Vote How do I sound? How do I listen to the other person and how does the other person sound? What do I say with words and what do I say with body language? What does intonation do with the message?

3. Self-esteem: How do I think about myself? How does the other person think about me? What does negative thinking with me during a game or exercise? Do I dare to be proud? Do I dare to brag?

4. Comfort zone and limits: What are limits? Do I feel my own limit and do I feel the boundary of the other?

5. Strength: How strong am I, with my eyes, my muscles, my voice, my thoughts?

6. Intuition and connection: What else do I feel than boundaries without touching someone? How do I know if something is right or not right? Do I dare to trust my feeling?

7. Collaboration: what is collaboration? Can I work together, how do you come to collaborate?

Day 10: Storytelling: Me, Myself and I

Childhood experiences and problems in adult life

The key to a healthy mind? Bad memory!

Acute trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are well known to the public. You experience a terrible event. Perhaps you were in Afghanistan and saw your best friend disintegrate in front of your eyes. That's acute trauma. Months, if not years later, you have flashbacks and nightmares about the event; that's PTSD. But what about being hurt with a thousand little cuts and being unable to escape? 

We all experience bad memories from time to time. Some of them disappear or other stick. Perhaps you replay a conversation you had with your boss over and over in your head, and each time you envision your discussion, you beat yourself up for something you said. Playing the same scene over and over again increases your fear that you said the wrong thing.

Or maybe you can't stop thinking about the names others called you as a kid. Those hurtful comments invade your mind whenever you meet new people or whenever you have a few minutes of silence. As you rehash those painful times, your self-confidence plummets and hopelessness soars.

Memories of traumas, little or big, are hard to shake if we stay unaware of them. 

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Healing is taking care of Me, Myself and I

Think of a not so pleasant memory

Challenge of the day: write a letter

Instruction. Write or collect things of being free

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Day 11: Dealing with emotions and feelings

Guilt versus Shame

If you are feeling shame or guilt 


Recall a time when you experienced shame, whether it was a reaction to judgment by others or your own. You most likely experienced intense discomfort, feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness and the desire to hide (M. Lewis, 1995). And you most likely felt anger toward others or with yourself.  

Shame and guilt are two self-conscious emotions that everyone will feel several times throughout their lives. These are generally negative emotions which make people feel bad about themselves and can have negative as well postive consequences. That said, shame and guilt are important emotional components of leading a prosocial life. Guilt and shame sometimes go hand in hand; the same action may give rise to feelings of both shame and guilt, where the former reflects how we feel about ourselves and the latter involves an awareness that our actions have injured someone else. In other words, shame relates to self, guilt to others. I think it's useful to preserve this distinction, even though the dictionary definitions often blur it.

The function of shame

The function of Shame: A Positive Look at a Negative Emotion

When shame is experienced, we feel weak, shrunken, defeated, and self-critical. Of course, many people can't even let themselves get that close to shame, and to defend against the shame, they become enraged and attack the other. So what function does shame serve? It is a crucial emotion that serves several functions.

  • First, shame avoidance is negatively reinforcing, meaning that many work hard to avoid landing in a shameful situation. So, for example, many perfectionist drive themselves to achieve (or, more specifically, to not fail) so that they do not have to experience shame. 
  • Second, minimal shame prevents us from alienating ourselves from the group. You likely have heard or used the expression, “He has no shame,” and that is not a good thing. It is used to describe someone who is overly egotistical, brazen, deviant, lacking in humility etc. 
  • Third, shame communicates submission. When people experience shame, the head tilts down, the body contracts, and often tears emerge. The signal is I am weak, defeated, and will no longer compete. Finally, shame tells us aspects of ourselves that others will not value, thus it signals stuff we ought to hide from others.

Emotional freedom involves understanding the difference between “healthy” and “unhealthy” shame. The reason is that for many psychologically vulnerable individuals the emergence of feelings of shame activates an intense self-blame narrative, such as: “I can’t believe I failed at this. I am a completely incompetent loser”, or “It is no surprise she rejected me. Who the hell would want to date me? I am ugly”, or “I am damaged goods because of this. No one would value me if they knew the truth”.

Notice something about these self-blaming characterizations. They are indictments against the entire person. This is in contrast to healthy shame or healthy self-blame. Healthy shame is in response to specific situations of failure or rejection. Thus, the narrative here is, “I am disappointed in my performance here; I will learn from this,” or “Although she rejected me, I have successfully dated other women” or “This trauma wounded part of me, but I am much more than this event." 


The function of guilt

The function of Shame: A Positive Look at a Negative Emotion

Guilt is an aversive emotion that discourages behaviors that could threaten one's ability to get along with others. The experience of guilt can lead people to repair their relationships and learn from their mistakes; the anticipation of guilt can prevent people from damaging their relationships.

Guilt is an emotion that should come up for yous when you've done something that goes against your morals and values - you've told a lie, done something to hurt someone, taken something that didn't belong to you, etc. Guilt comes to tell you that you should make repair for what you've done. So the next time you feel guilt, ask yourself this: "Have I done something that goes against my morals?" If the answer is "no", then chances are you're judging yourself in some way. If you can stop judging yourself, the guilt will go away.

Here's an example: quite often, people feel guilty about doing nice things for themselves. Jill, for example, feels guilty when she takes half an hour to have a relaxing bath. Is she doing anything that goes against her morals? - No! Rather, she's judging herself - she's thinking she should be doing something else, that she's wasting time, that there are other more important things she should be doing, and so on. So if Jill can stop those judgments and just allow herself to enjoy her bath, her guilt will dissipate; and eventually, when she goes to take her bath, it won't come up at all.

Many of us are very judgmental, especially when it comes to ourselves; so working on reducing the self-judgments usually reduces the guilt over time. 


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Releasing unhealthy shame and guilt

“True confession consists of telling our deed in such a way that our soul is changed in the telling it.”     -Maude Petre.

It’s therefore essential to determine just when feelings of guilt are rationally based and when they’re more or less arbitrary—not grounded in fact, and so needlessly self-punishing. Obviously, if you’ve caused an innocent person harm, or failed to help someone in crisis when it would have been easy enough to do so, it would be unethical not to experience a few pangs of remorse. In such instances, you’d almost have to be sociopathic if your conscience didn’t bother you.

Self-forgiveness follows—and is dependent on—compassionate self-understanding. So it’s imperative to explore the circumstances that surrounded your misconduct if you’re to reassess yourself less negatively.


  • Focus on the Present. Start by accepting where you are now in life. Take a look at the areas of your life that are not working. Rather than avoid your feelings of pain, focus your thoughts and notice what you are feeling.

    It’s easier to move forward and become “unstuck” when you are ready to face what has been holding you back. Shame dissolves when it is brought out into the light. Do not allow the negative cycle to continue in secrecy.

    Release your shame in a way that feels safe, so that you can move forward.

  • Forgive yourself, as everyone make mistakes. You may feel like you have made mistakes that have harmed yourself or others.  Forgive yourself. You can make amends for any harm you have done and you can make changes for the future.

    Remind yourself that your mistakes do not make you a bad person. Everyone makes mistakes. It is an opportunity for learning and growth.

  • Open Up and Trust. Sharing your secrets of addiction may be a short-term solution, but you make progress toward healing when you break out of your isolation. Taking a risk and trusting others will bring you closer to finding the peace and serenity that you want.

    Surround yourself with people who are supportive and don’t take it personally if someone’s reaction is not what you had hoped for. Realize that you are not alone and that sharing is the key to healing shame.

  • Think of Your Mistakes as a Lesson Learned. As I look back on when I felt shame, I can realize that even my most embarrassing moments have taught me a lesson in life and led me in a more positive direction.

    Learn from each past mistake and let it guide you in the future. Remember that those who made many mistakes were those that learned the most.

  • Love yourself.  Be bold and let go of being uncomfortable with yourself. Allow yourself to open up to all the possibilities in life.  Allow love of yourself and love of others to enter your being.

    Trust that your inner wisdom will guide you as you move forward in life. You will go to a  better place when you love yourself. 

  • Get an Objective Opinion.  Take steps to get over your feelings of shame. If you feel that getting the support of  someone who can help you get unstuck and move forward is what you need, hire a coach. 

    If you feel that you have deep seeded emotional issues around shame, hire a therapist. Either way, take the time to let go of your feelings of shame so that you can enjoy your life in a better way.

  • Replace feelings of shame with compassion. When your feelings of  shame surface, replace them with compassion, empathy and acceptance for  yourself. Acknowledge the negative feelings, but remind yourself that you can get through this.

    This new perspective will help you to heal. The positive shift in your thinking will move you forward so that you feel better as a person, and as a parent.


Do Self-talk and listen to the inner voices

(1) Tell yourself that you did the best you could—that whatever lapse of sound judgment impelled you to do something you now regret was yet the best judgment available to you at the time.

(2) Consider that at the time of your misbehavior, you didn’t know what you know now. 

(3) Remind yourself that you’re not to blame for surviving a tragedy that someone close to you did not.

(4) Remember that to blame yourself for a mistake or mishap that at the time was beyond your control is to assume an intention, or volition, that may not at all characterize your behavior.

(5) Tell yourself that the behavioral ideals you set for yourself may be too high, or that your original family may have encouraged you to adopt—or even forced upon you—overly rigorous standards that you now judge yourself by.

(6) Acknowledge and honor your right to protect your self-interests.

(7) Recognize the legitimacy of standing up for your rights.

(8) Tell yourself that, even if they’re at odds with another’s, there’s nothing wrong or bad about diligently pursuing your own goals.

(9) Talk compassionately—but authoritatively—to the “inner child” voices of you with whom most of your irrational guilt programs originated.


Mantra for self-forgiveness

Ho’oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian meditation chant:

I am sorry. 

Please forgive me.  

I love you. 

Thank you.

Challenge of the day: I speak!

Exercise: talk compassionately—but authoritatively—to the “inner child” voices of you with whom most of your irrational guilt programs originated. Or talk to someone you feel safe to and share your negative feelings shame or guilt towards him or her. 

Day 12: Self- care

Self-forgeviness

Why is self forgiveness so important?

Remember yesterday we talked about guilt and shame. When we don’t forgive ourselves and hold on to our guilt and shame, we are not able to be the best version of ourselves as we have a constant worry and fear.

It’s important to forgive yourself, otherwise, you will be:

  • Stopping yourself from moving on from a situation and staying in the past.
  • Keeping yourself from doing what you want to do, meaning you won’t be able to achieve your goals.
  • Not caring for yourself; you will be putting blame and fear on yourself, which is likely to stop you from living a positive and fulfilling life.
  • Stopping yourself from learning and improving from your mistakes.

Self-care and forgiveness

 I am going to be talking about how we can forgive yourself and why it will help you. I will share some techniques to help you and once you have learned how you can forgive yourself, you can then start working on being the best person you can be.

You should also begin to treat yourself with self-care, which in turn will help you to create your best life. Being stuck with guilt will only hold you back, which is why it is good to forgive yourself and try and move on from the situation.

Let’s take a look at how you can do this.

How to forgive yourself?

  • Focus on your emotions. One of the first steps in learning how to forgive yourself is to focus on your emotions. Before you can move forward, you need to acknowledge and process your emotions (see day). Give yourself permission to recognize and accept the feelings that have been triggered in you and welcome them.
  • If you make a mistake and continue to struggle with letting it go, acknowledge out loud what you learned from the mistake. When you give a voice to the thoughts in your head and the emotions in your heart, you may free yourself from some of the burdens. You also imprint in your mind what you learned from your actions and consequences
  • Think of each mistake as a learning experience. Think of each “mistake” as a learning experience that holds the key to moving forward faster and more consistently in the future.
  • Give yourself permission to put this process on holdIf you make a mistake but have a hard time putting it out of your mind, Pickell says to visualize your thoughts and feelings about the mistake going into a container, such as a mason jar or box.Then, tell yourself you are putting this aside for now and will return to it if and when it will benefit you.
  • Have a conversation with your inner criticJournaling can help you understand your inner critic and develop self-compassion. Pickell says one thing you can do is write out a “conversation” between you and your inner critic. This can help you identify thought patterns that are sabotaging your ability to forgive yourself.You can also use journaling time to make a list of the qualities you like about yourself, including your strengths and skills. This can help boost your self-confidence when you’re feeling down about a mistake you made.
  • Notice when you are being self-criticalWe are our own worst critics, right? That’s why Pickell says one important action tip is to notice when that harsh voice comes in and then write it down. You might be surprised by what your inner critic actually says to you.
  • Quiet the negative messages of your inner criticSometimes it can be difficult to recognize the thoughts that are getting in the way of forgiveness.

The internal criticus

Self-nurturing means, above all, making a commitment to self-compassion. – Jennifer Louden

The critical inner voice is a well-integrated pattern of destructive thoughts toward ourselves and others. The nagging “voices,” or thoughts, that make up this internalized dialogue are at the root of much of our self-destructive and maladaptive behavior. These inner voices usually come from early life experiences that are internalized and taken in as ways we think about ourselves. Often, many of these negative voices come from our parents or primary care takers, as children we pick up on the negative attitudes that parents not only have towards their children but also toward themselves.  Our voices can also come from interactions with peers and siblings, or influential adults

  • Some common voices include thoughts like “You’re stupid,” “You’re not attractive,” or “You’re not like other people.”
  • Some people have voices about their career, like “You’ll never be successful,” “No one appreciates how hard you work,” or “You are under too much pressure, you can’t handle this stress.”
  • Many people experience voices about their relationship, such as “He doesn’t really care about you,” “You’re better off on your own,” or “Don’t be vulnerable, you’ll just get hurt.”

Many people think if they stop listening to their critical inner voice, they will lose touch with their conscience. However, the critical inner voice is not a trustworthy moral guide like a conscience. On the contrary, the critical inner voice is degrading and punishing and often leads us to make unhealthy decisions. These negative voices tend to increase our feelings of self-hatred without motivating us to change undesirable qualities or act in a constructive manner.

The internal critic strikes back!

Talk back to your internal critic. Train yourself to recognize and write down critical thoughts as they go trough your mind. Learn why these thoughts are untrue and practice talking and writing back to them. 

Exercise: On one side of a piece of paper, write down what your inner critic says (which tends to be critical and irrational). On the other side of the paper, write a self-compassionate and rational response for each thing you wrote on the other side of the paper.

Day 13: dealing with emotions and feelings

The four basic emotions

The four basic emotions

All human behavior can be reduced to four basic emotions: anger, sadness, happiness and fear.

It is said that basic emotions evolved in response to the ecological challenges faced by our remote ancestors and are so primitive as to be ‘hardwired’, with each basic emotion corresponding to a distinct and dedicated neurological circuit. Being hardwired, basic emotions (or ‘affect programs’) are innate and universal, automatic, and fast, and trigger behaviour with a high survival value. So much can hardly be said of more complex emotions such as humility or nostalgia, which, for example, are never attributed to infants and animals.

  • Anger. If a person experiencing anger will often experience physical conditions, such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and increased levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline.Some view anger as an emotion which triggers part of the fight or flight brain response. Anger is used as a protective mechanism to cover up fear, hurt or sadness. Anger becomes the predominant feeling behaviorally, cognitively, and physiologically when a person makes the conscious choice to take action to immediately stop the threatening behavior of another outside forceSadness
  • Happiness
  • Fear
  • Sadness

Emotions are like climbing a mountain

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Untitled open question

Feel anger!

How to trigger anger?

1.) Body-Raise your voice- Respond faster, louder- Making emotions sound in voice- Stamping, stamping feet, running on the spot- Kicking, hitting in the air or on a pillow- Squeeze something hard- Go screaming on the beach or the forest- Ball your fists, tighten your facial muscles (and relax again)

2.) Conversation with itself- Speak your anger, write it down. Keep conversations with yourself in an imaginary way- Let others know more often what you feel; what the situation or action does to you (owl: without accusing, attacking or avoiding)

Analyze your toughts

1. Name the behavior I notice that / I notice en question

4. Name the desired behavior

3. Indicates the consequence for you The result is that I behave like a teddy bear / lion / ostrich

2. Name the feeling that this gives you I get the feeling that / It makes me open question

.....

UntiChallenge of the day:tled content

Day 14: Skill to speak

i statement vs you statement

Day 15: Letting go

Subject 1. Letting go of suffering

Exercise 1. How would you treat a friend?

How do you think things might change if you responded to yourself in the same way you typically respond to a close friend when he or she is suffering? This exercise walks you through it.

Letting go of controle

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Excercise:

Day 16: Dealing with emotions and feelings

i statement vs you statement

Day 17: Storytelling: Me, Myself and I

Relationships and attachment

My needs versus other and world needs

Times I made others happy

Day 18: I AM and I CAN

I AM

Visual bord: create I am.


I CAN

Self- care wheel