I can remember very well the morning when I gave my life a new direction: Monday morning, 5:30 a.m. I had slept terribly. I rolled restlessly from side to side of the bed. I felt as if I had just fallen asleep when the alarm clock woke me up. My first thought: "What crisis meeting is on the agenda again today?"
The fleeting thought was already enough to make my stomach prick. headaches, tension, fatigue - I was already used to that. But when I looked at myself in the mirror while brushing my teeth, I hardly recognized myself.
At the height of my still young career were my batteries are dead. My story began in record time after my studies in one of the most demanding sectors of the automotive industry. Deadline pressure, constant crisis meetings, weeks of business trips, countless to-do's, a hundred plans, a thousand mails and even more thoughts in my head. The external demands were high, the demands on myself were higher.
Driven by fears and worries
I wanted to prove myself, show what I could do. The initial enthusiasm gave way after only a few years of tiring routine. When I now think back to that time, not much was left of the once cheerful and enthusiastic person. I worked, but not much else.
In my case, the whole thing went on for a while. Less so in my working environment: four of my twelve direct team colleagues fell ill during this period with Burnout. A diagnosis that was already as normal as lunch in the canteen. But even in my case, the warning signs were becoming increasingly clear. stomach painheadaches, constant anxiety.
Nevertheless I kept on fighting, I still had so much to do, I had too many obligations! And so I did - until I couldn't anymore. After another two-week business trip, I was no longer able to go to work on that Monday morning. I had to admit to myself that my battery was completely exhausted. I was driven by fears and worries, no longer by what was really important to me in life...
A decision that changed my life
On this day I decided to give myself a new direction. My clear goal: I would do anything to find out what is necessary to live a healthy, happy and enthusiastic life. I wanted to find out what makes the difference between people who are at their best under stress and those who collapse under it.
I enrolled at university, studied psychology and read everything I could get my hands on. I also attended seminars and trained as a trainer and coach. Always with the clear focus on finding out what we humans need to live healthy and content lives in this society.
What I have learned, experienced and learned during this time is an enormous amount. It was the most intensive and instructive time of my life. It was like being thrown into cold water as a non-swimmer: You either drown or learn to swim. I must admit: I swallowed a lot of water. Recently I was asked by a seminar participant what the most important insights from this time were for me and I would like to share these answers with you:
1. I am allowed to live a stress-free life
"Of course I'm worthy of a stress-free life." That's probably what I would have signed in the hot phase before the breakdown. But on second thought, I wasn't worth it. Because, if I look back on my behaviour during that time, so many things were more important to me.
Of course I wanted to feel good, relaxed and powerful, but I had to do my job, I had obligations towards the customers, my colleagues. And then there was family and friends. I wanted to build up financial security. Not to mention my own expectations of myself.
The most fundamental error of reasoningwhich I also sat on was: "I have to do all these things first, and then... yes then I have time for myself and then I have no more stress because I have followed everything." It is one of the biggest misconceptions of mankind that the circumstances on the outside have to change so that we can finally be happy, content, calm and successful. We often firmly believe that the solution to all our problems and difficulties lies outside.
But she's not. We get to start our to give health and our well-being the highest value in life. It should be so important to us that we build the rest of our lives around health and well-being. Not the other way around. We should be able to spend our moments of well-being, relaxation, our Sport, Breaks, NutritionPut sleep and all the things that are good for us at the top of our list of priorities.
You are the most important person in your life
"Isn't that selfish?" You might ask here? Yes! In a positive sense. Because only if I'm okay can I...
- be a good father
- be a good mother
- be a good worker
- be a good employer
- live authentically and powerfully
When we put ourselves at the centre of our lives, we become a role model for a healthy and balanced lifestyle. We can then also move forward with the things that are really important to us.
It begins with the rethinking in our heads. It starts with deciding who most important person in the world is. It's always you! And it's not about just saying it. I would have said it then, too. It's about living it every day!
2. every emotion is a good emotion
The second insight is that every emotion is a good emotion. This realization was a longer process, because I came across the problem at a very young age.
I was already a big fan of personal development in my early 20s. Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy, Richard Bandler and many more were my idols. I am dedicated to the delusions lapse (even though those people had never said it like that) that must always feel powerful, enthusiastic and positive.
Negative emotions must not be and must be changed immediately, with a whole arsenal of techniques and methods. I judged myself when I felt bad, because I thought I could do better.
When nothing helped and every emotionally changing technique failed, I simply gritted my teeth to keep up appearances, at least externally. Something that I could do quite well, but which tore me apart inside. In the end, I was driven by fearand the claim to me not to have them.
Stop the optimization mania and start feeling!
For a long time I have not understood that every emotion can be experienced, accepted and lived. This is the natural way to release unloved emotions. The natural sequence of our emotions in our body is: They come, have a climax and then go again. Like everything in life, a feeling is something transitory.
Emotions are something natural. They are neither good nor bad. They only become negative when we give them this rating! We often no longer allow ourselves to be afraid, to be angry, to feel sadness or simply to show weakness. And we are afraid of our own feelings and try to repress them or just push them aside, because at the moment everything else is more important (than the feeling).
We all have an arsenal of Displacement strategies. Designed to stop feeling unpleasant things. From compulsive positive thinking to repression and escape. Because we have forgotten how to deal with our feelings honestly.
And then there are people who do not suppress their feelings, but rather get carried away. With negative thoughts they continue to lay firewood in the blazing flames of feelings, they let themselves fall into them and are literally devoured by them.
We may begin to simply feel the emotions again, without judging, condemning or suppressing them.
Just assume. Say "yes" with a smile. With time you will learn that even the unpleasant feelings are not bad. And you're okay even if you feel bad. Emotions lose their power when our mind is left out.
3. learning to surf in a storm
In my trainings, coachings and lectures I am asked again and again for the "miracle pill", the "shortcut", the one "golden tip" that will finally bring you the well-deserved balanced and powerful life. I always have to smile at this point, because I probably would have asked the same question in my hard time. I would have given anything for such a pill. Because I did not understand that the way is the decisive factor.
It is the problems themselves that make us grow. In my seminars and coaching sessions, I simply prepare people for the challenges ahead. Growth happens in life: Then, when we encounter difficulties and we manage to accept our emotions, when we solve problems, then, when we brave the storm and realize that life is often a wild ride, but still fun.
And there will always be waves in life that throw us off our surfboards. We will swallow salty water over and over again and we will break our knees. Our task is to swim to the surface. To get back on the surfboard and face the next wave with open arms.
Because life is growth and we grow with our challenges.
This article is a guest contribution from Peter Beer
I am the author of several textbooks, psychologist, mindfulness trainer and coach. It is my heart's desire to bring the mindful teachings into our society. That is why I founded the Mindfulness Academywhich is now Germany's largest mindfulness community. Hundreds of people, who together set out on a conscious and self-determined path.
The Mindfulness Academy shows all those who want to change their lives how it is possible to master the challenges of life with a positive energy.