Getting started

Let’s keep the momentum going. I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to keep following through, but it is my intention to do just that.

So, when you’re fed up or dissatisfied with your status quo, where do you get started changing things? Often, we try to go cold turkey (so to speak) by attempting to change things in an unsustainable way. You want to quit smoking? Throwing out all cigarettes is going to work for about as long as the craving kicks in and you’re heading out to buy a new pack.

You want to cut down on alcohol, sugar, junk food? Throwing all related food items out or pouring your liquor down the drain is also only a temporary fix. What is going to stop you from having a beer when you go out with friends? And that side of fries your friends want to share? And afterward, a piece of cake because why not?

Clearly, none of that works because it isn’t sustainable.

So, here is what I am going to do. First, I take stock. What is my status quo?

  • I have a part-time job that I truly like. It’s beneficial for several reasons as it pays a steady income, and it covers my medical insurance and comes with some social insurance and retirement benefits.
  • I have also my freelance work, which pays well but the main challenge here is that I don’t enjoy the subject matter I write about. I stick with it because it pays well. Do I feel secure in this income? Not always. Assignments can be steady, but they can also be so sporadic that I am unsure whether I will make enough to get to my desired income for my next invoice.
  • I’m not writing for myself nearly as much as I want to.
  • On a personal level, I’m dissatisfied with my current shape. I cycle to work at least three times a week and the job is quite physical in that I walk around a lot. I get plenty of movement this way, but my strength and flexibility are not where I want and need it to be. I do feel flabby in places and I’m not happy with that. That said, this is a question of comfort and health rather than one of looks or beauty standards (which I care nothing for).
  • I spent too much time on social media, reading the news four times a day, browsing YouTube for the latest videos that may interest me and just do the equivalent of online window shopping (looking through my favourite online shops without every buying anything, which is good, but it is still a waste of time).
  • Finally, my financial situation. I have a little bit of credit card debt, but that is in hand and I’m paying that off every month. It does keep me from putting that extra money towards my savings. Also, whilst I don’t have a shopping problem as such, I need to cut down on that.

This is a bit of a conundrum, to be honest. I’ve been putting a capsule wardrobe together with only sustainable clothing during the past year. I spent some money on that every month in order to have the wardrobe that will keep me going for years to come. I’m almost done with that, which is good, but it has been somewhat expensive. It’s also one of the things that have had me falling into YouTube spirals about minimalism and anything else on the subject. And I’ve done extensive research about materials and whatnot. You name it, it’s been taking up a lot of time and it’s been cutting into my funds.

I’ve made some mistakes along the way and purchased items that I ultimately decided not to keep. This is certainly one of those things that get me a quick dopamine fix when I make a purchase, but it is leaving me with some regret when I realize that maybe I should have returned the item I initially liked because it doesn’t quite work for me.

Anyway, I’m looking at my status quo with brutal honesty, which may mean that I don’t like what I’m seeing. There is no way around that, though.

So, once I have looked at where I am at, the next step is to look at where I want to be:

  • I’m happy with my part-time job, but a raise is in order. So, I that’s the next goal here.
  • I’m not happy with my freelance work. I want to find new clients and potentially diversify my streams of income.
  • I want to be stronger and more flexible.
  • I want to waste less time on social media or just doing things that don’t serve me.
  • I want all my debts paid off.
  • I want greater financial freedom.
  • I want to write for myself.

It’s not too difficult to look at where you are at and then to summarise where you want to be. Next, I’m going to have to come up with a plan of getting from where I am to where I want to be.

Stay tuned 😊

Out of excuses

It is quite obvious just how much I have been neglecting this blog. And I find myself out of excuses as to why I have not been writing. Putting procrastination aside (which is clearly the main reason), my job has also taken up much of my time and afterward, simply resting from work.

And since I have my freelance work, I can still claim that I write every day. Or most days anyway.

But it is not the writing I want to do. In fact, it is quite tedious at times as I am not engaged in the topics I write about.

The discovery that I feel most inspired to write when I am traveling is somewhat helpful. But it would kind of mean that I should take trains more often to places I’ve not been before. As lovely as that sounds, it is currently not feasible. I have a commitment to my job, which I actually enjoy doing as well.

But I do know that once I’m done with it, I will move on – quite literally.

If I have no reason to stay, it will be time again to leave.

Until then, I can’t wait for the next trip to happen and to feel in the mood for writing. It’s not as if I feel that I have nothing to say when I’m sitting at home. Quite the contrary. I always have something to say.

I watched this video on YouTube yesterday, where this guy talked about his Dopamine detox experience for the past year. He didn’t just do it for a day or a week. He went for an entire year on this journey, and it was very interesting. He was incredibly blunt, and I am not exactly his target audience (young guys are), but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get something out of it.

I know I’ve fallen into the same trap as so many others when it comes to instant gratification. Scrolling through Instagram to read yet another uplifting post, cliché, or watching the umpteenth video of a cute parrot or parakeet.

Or deep-diving into YouTube, watching videos about minimalism, financial stability, traveling, backpack reviews, and whatnot.

But all I do is watch. Or read. I kill time. I’m not doing anything. And I tell myself I deserve a break.

Sometimes that is even true. But who needs to spend hours on social media? Sure, I take some valuable lessons away and some things do stick. But beyond that, I am not moving at all. In any direction. Or with purpose.

Another video I watched talked about how fatal inaction can be. Letting everything happen to you and not taking action. Whether that is writing a journal, going for a walk, doing that work-out, paying off that debt, approaching someone new, or even just saying no to more work on your plate.

There are so many ways in which we can and should take action but never do. We feel powerless and let things happen. We let our lives happen to us instead of taking charge of it. How is that acceptable?

Sure, there is a time and place for social media. It can serve a purpose. But surely not for hours at a time.

And feeling like a slouch on your sofa and complaining about that flabby belly is not going to improve by eating more junk food and putting off yet another walk or work-out.

I’m officially out of excuses.

Let’s get going.

When we sit in silence

It is usually when we sit in silence that the weight of the world becomes noticeable. That all our worries, anxieties and fears can be felt most acutely. It is the time when we are closest to ourselves because we allow ourselves to hear our thoughts and feel those feelings that are always there but that we usually quiet down.

Life is an endless stream of distractions. We scroll through social media, play games, watch TV shows, meet friends, busy ourselves with the daily tasks live imposes upon us. And, of course, there’s work. All of it seems to be distraction. None of it seems to serve a purpose. Other than distracting us.

I mean, honestly, do you feel as if any of it serves a purpose? Is there any meaning to any of it? Do we feel fulfilled by playing a random somewhat addictive game on our mobile phones? Is the work you’re doing satisfying? Do you enjoy going to your job every day? Or even some of the time at least?

There are several problems here.

First, does anything have to have a purpose? And what purpose do we speak of? Do we want to change the world? Do we want to leave something meaningful behind? And what does it mean in the grand scheme of things anyway?

Come to think of it, there is a lot to unpack here.

Honestly, when you begin to think any of this, and you ask all these questions you will never get to the end of it. You can keep asking all these questions about the meaning of life and not find a satisfying answer. No answer that can possibly apply to everyone anyway. These are things we must figure out for ourselves. I believe that the purpose of the thing is whatever this thing is made for. The purpose of a violin is to play it. It doesn’t mean that we have to play it well or that we need an audience to play. It simply matters that we play.

Similarly, whatever idea you choose, whatever thing you look at, the purpose is right in front of you. You do not need to make more of it than there is. Just that we don’t need to search for meaning where there might not be one. Not everything we do is meaningless. Playing a game can be a means of rest and recreation. Watching a TV show is a way of shutting down our brains (somewhat). Simply doing nothing can have its own meaning or purpose. Not everything needs to revolve around saving the world. Or having a job that has an impact. Sometimes the purpose of a job is simply to earn enough money to have a roof above our heads. To pay the bills.

In the grand scheme of things none of it is going to matter anyway. Which means we might as well try and be happy with what we have, with what we can do, with the people in our lives and the work we do. Because we only get so much time and in 100 years from now nobody will remember us maybe not even in 10 years. And we have to be okay with that.

So, I guess the second aspect to consider is to stop asking these questions. What is the meaning of it? What is the purpose? It is what we make of it anyway. Asking these questions doesn’t help. It serves very little purpose actually. It only drives us mental. Every once in a while, it is useful to check in with ourselves. To ask whether we are happy with what we’re doing, whether we find meaning in what we’re doing. But we must always be aware that none of it truly matters in the end. So, no we don’t have to change the world. But we can contribute to making it a better place. At the very least, not making it worse. That counts too.

The thing is, we are much more aware of the world at large. We don’t just sit in our little villages never knowing more than a few dozen people and more than the patch of land we live on. Our world is simultaneously restricted to our immediate environment and as wide as the horizon. We see the stars and know how insignificant we are. That means suffering from an existential crisis or existential dread seems to be much more common among us today than it was even 100 years ago. If you are self-aware and aware of the world around you, there is a weight associated with that that is hard to shake and sometimes difficult to carry.

Oddly, it is by scrolling through social media that you will find that you’re not alone. That there are so many other people who feel exactly like that, who share their thoughts about their own existential dread, search for meaning, and feeling of insignificance.

We’re all alone. And it is when we sit in silence that we feel it most dreadfully. But we’re also all in this together. We can find purpose, if even just for ourselves and not the world at large. We can give meaning to everything we do, even though it might not matter to anyone else.

And yes, I’ve been feeling like this a lot lately. I haven’t found all the answers yet. I do feel like I am making some progress, though. Spiritual growth is a long journey as well.

Reaching for the wrong people

Every now and then I have an epiphany. It usually happens when I talk to myself, thinking out loud. That’s when I seem to have the best ideas.

I’m currently in a situation where one of my friends has retreated. I’m not entirely sure why. We had a miscommunication. We were exchanging messages when I was feeling a little down. In fact, I was feeling lonely. That doesn’t happen to me very often. I can usually deal with it, but I didn’t deal with it very well when we talked.

And that meant that what I said, which could have been meant in jest, weirded her out. the problem is that she didn’t say anything. Instead, she simply didn’t answer at all. And of course, that weirded me out. I knew I could have handled that situation better, could have chosen my words better, but for her to simply not reply sucked.

Ultimately, after two days or so, I wrote her again to defuse the situation. That’s when she confessed two having been weirded out. I admitted that I have been in a weird mood which affected my responses to her, and I apologised. The problem here is that she again simply did not reply.

That did not just suck, it hurt.

It’s completely unnecessary. Instead of reaching out, talking to me, or asking what might be wrong, she retreated, and I don’t see why.

Usually, I would have followed up and sent her another message, just to explain myself a little more. I have composed that message, but I decided not to send it. Because I always do that. And in the past, it never served me well.

My impulse is to reach out. I have a problem with letting go. Especially when I like somebody. But I have been the one to reach out more often than not. At some point, I’m gonna have to leave her to it. If she wants to reach out, she knows where to find me. But I don’t expect her to. In fact, I expect that she will send me a random message at some point and pretend nothing ever happened.

When I deal with situations like that, I think out loud to myself, essentially conversing with the other person without them actually being there. I can only go with what I would say myself, not how they would respond, but it helps me sort through my thoughts.

And there it was, this epiphany, as I was thinking that I keep reaching for the wrong people. Not because there’s anything wrong with them, but because they don’t reach back. And what is the point of reaching for someone who doesn’t reach back? I’ve been doing that so much in my life and I was always the one ending up hurt in the end.

Mind you, I have people in my life who do reach back. They ask how I am, they want to know. They are my friends. And I’m blessed for every single one of them.

The question is why I keep reaching for those unavailable ones. One of my friends would probably say that this is one of my projects to figure out. Maybe it is a lesson in letting go, which will repeat over and over again until I finally learn. Because it is very clear that I haven’t yet.

In German, we have a saying that hope dies last. And I am one of those people who seem to operate on that premise. As I said previously, always giving somebody the benefit of the doubt even when they have shown themselves to be undeserving.

Ultimately, to find the ones who will stay, those who reach back, we have to go through a lot of people who simply don’t care enough.

Repeating patterns

If you ever ask yourself what’s wrong with you, the answer is probably ‘a lot’. Though that’s not necessarily the best way to look at it. We shouldn’t think in terms of something being ‘wrong’ with us. Of course, the feeling that something is just not ‘right’ tempts us to think of the opposite as ‘wrong’.

The truth is, we’re all complex and complicated. We’re all damaged in some way. And much of that damage has been done to us by our parents. Even if we had happy childhoods with loving parents, they inevitably screwed us up in a way we’re probably not even aware of.

I had a good childhood. I was free, had friends, could play outside without worrying about predators. I had all I needed. But I also had an often-absent father, who barely had a hand in raising us, and a relatively strict mother, who had an introverted child at her hands and didn’t know how to connect to me emotionally.

Don’t get me wrong, I always had a good relationship with my parents, and still do. I love them dearly and they love me without question.

But that doesn’t mean that I got everything I needed when I was a child. Especially emotionally.

This isn’t anybody’s fault. My parents had their own burdens to carry and are probably not even aware in which ways they’ve been damaged by their parents. Every generation damages the next one, usually without intent or without really knowing any better.

We now know better. We know that parents influence their children in a fundamental way as they grow up, especially in their early years. Our adult attachments patterns are a repetition of our attachment to our parents, the way they loved us and connected with us.

We may grow older, turn into adults, but the child in us never truly disappears. It would be a tragedy if we lost our inner children, the part of us that never truly grows up.

But sometimes it is just as much of a tragedy how this child influences our behaviours and needs as adults. How we keep repeating patterns that are not good for us because this child is still desperately trying to find something that may not be there.

It helps to recognise this. It helps to be aware that this is happening. We can’t blame our parents for raising us one way or another, unless they are narcissists or abusers (or both), they usually tried their best. And we can’t blame ourselves for turning out the way we did, for forming certain attachment styles and having unmet needs.

But where do we go from here? Especially since everybody else is just as screwed up as we are.

It’s a lot of work.

My past relationships and many of my friendships have taught me what I need and want. That’s a good thing, though sometimes I paid a pretty steep price for a lesson.

This work we must do, the growth we must undertake, it’s painful. It can be heart-breaking.

I know my patterns. I know my unfulfilled needs. I know what I look for in people and I know that I somehow always land on those who can’t give me what I need. I also know that I keep hoping to be wrong about someone. That we just don’t know each other well enough yet and that things may not be as they seem.

But that hope is unsustainable because when people show you who they are, you really should believe them.

When I’m at a low point, this is very hard to accept. I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt, but I am usually the one who ends up being hurt in the end.

Walking away from your own patterns—breaking out—is difficult. We grasp onto straws, which will inevitably break. Our inner children are pretty stubborn, especially when they potentially discover a kindred spirit.

The thing is, you can hold onto people all you like, if they don’t hold onto you as well, letting go really is the only option.

That sucks. And it hurts. And it never gets any easier either.

But it does teach you that the people who do hold onto you as well are the right ones for you. And they are the ones who will help you break your patterns.

You will likely only have a few such people in your life, but they matter more than all the ones who keep letting you go.

Moving forward

I’ve not written for over three weeks now, which was not my intention at all. I’m back at work with my second job, which required a bit of an adjustment. Also, there’s still my freelance writing, which takes precedence as it is paid work.

I don’t feel good about neglecting my blog, however. Instead, I feel guilty about it. Which is not great. It tempts me to sit down and force myself to come up with something new, even though I lack the energy to do that.

Obviously, I have not written anything, forced or otherwise.

I have been thinking. About a million things. Travelling. Relationships. Friendships. Moving on and moving forward. Work. Writing. Work. Progress.

Whilst the pandemic is not over by any means, life is returning to normal. I worked my secondary job full-time in June. I visited my parents for my mom’s birthday. I’ve booked a little getaway for summer, which will mean a few days of taking my motorbike up north and touring around the area.

But a part of me has yet to catch up from spending seven months in lockdown. Priorities are shifting, the outside demand for my time is growing, I’m asked to plan further ahead than just a few days.

Lockdown was difficult. Lonely. I truly don’t need that much time to myself, and I am an introvert. I am ready to get back into things, to make plans, to travel, to pursue goals that have been on hold for too long.

Hence the thinking I’ve been doing for the last few weeks. I suppose, with the sudden shift of normalcy returning, I have been trying to synchronise my mental and emotional state with the outward aspects of my life. There was a lot of catching up to do, which is likely going to continue for some time to come.

But I am ready to get back into it with everything that I am.

Behind in life

Unless you are phenomenally successful with whatever you do, you may very well have moments that you feel behind in life. You check your social media, see postings of old acquaintances, classmates, distant friends and a range of celebrities you may follow and wonder why you are not where you thought you should be at this point in your life.

Why is seemingly everyone more successful than you, has ‘got it together’ and gets to post about it when you are stuck in your same old life, wanting more, more, more and having no clue how to go about it?

What is success?

This is probably the first question we should ask before we delve any deeper. What do we define as success? Owning a car at 25, getting a mortgage to our first home at 30 or 35? Having started a family by then? Being famous and rich in our chosen field? Or at least moderately recognised? Being able to afford five exotic vacations every year?

What is it you actually want for yourself? Are you keen on having a car and all the expenses that come with owning it? Do you want to be tied down by a 25-year mortgage? Were you planning on having 2.5 children with the next best person to show up?

Is your path in life defined by these conventional milestones?

Admittedly, I do wonder where I am at in life sometimes, if I couldn’t be more successful, completely debt-free, have published half a dozen books already and maybe think about buying an apartment.

But that’s not where I am. I’ve made decisions in life that took me down a different path. And you know what? I’m happy that I made those decisions. I got to travel and live overseas for ten years. I’ve had some of the best experiences of my life doing that and nobody will ever be able to take that away from me.

Yes, I traded in other experiences, but I can only have one life. I have to choose. We all do. I may not have had success by conventional standards. But I have incredible memories and made wonderful experiences and they brought me happiness. They will continue to make me happy for the rest of my life. That is what I call success.

Why do we feel the need to compare ourselves?

Because here we are, comparing ourselves to others. This is easier than ever thanks to social media. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, we follow people we know and don’t know, those we want to stay in touch with or whom we admire.

You see an old classmate, who is obviously your age, posting about their accomplishments and inevitably feel that twinge of envy because they have more than you do and are already ‘further’ along the road.

Why? Do you truly want what they have?

Why do we compare ourselves to others? The only standard that should count is the one we choose for ourselves. If you have a goal and don’t reach that, you can still beat yourself up over it. But don’t set it arbitrarily based on conventions others may have set.

Is there a way to ‘catch up’?

Look only at your life and set expectations that are realistic. You want to be rid of your credit card debt? Come up with a payment plan to pay off a reasonable amount every month. Set goals you can achieve. There’s no point to set yourself up for failure.

This goes for every other goal you may have as well.

We don’t have to catch up to anyone else. Their lives are none of our business. However they got to where they are, you can bet they have faced their own struggles, probably still are. And no life is ever as happy or successful as social media makes it out to be.

If you feel the need to ‘catch up’ to anyone else, don’t let yourself be driven by envy. If anything, find someone who is already at a point you hope to one day reach but let them inspire you. This isn’t a race.

Nobody is keeping score and if you are, you should stop doing that.

You get to define what counts as success to you. Sometimes it is a success to get out of bed, shower, eat and do some chores. Other times it is finishing a project at work and receiving well-deserved praise for it.

I firmly believe that we are never behind in our own lives. Not if we manage to be happy with where we are at. And that is only possible if we own our past decisions and accept that we chose this path for a reason.

Sure, we all go wrong sometimes, we make mistakes and stupid decisions. But we need to own those too. Our failures are as important on this journey as our successes.

Sometimes I look back at the path I took, wondering how I got here and what it would look like if I had made a different choice elsewhere. I can identify some key crossroads, where fundamental decisions would have changed my trajectory.

Then I realise that I am happy with where I am at. And I can never know where else I may have ended up if I had chosen differently. If the multiverse exists, another version of me made that decision, which is strangely comforting. But I will never meet her so that she may tell me of her experiences. I have this life to worry about and work on.

And yes, I do still have goals to accomplish. Plenty of steps to take to get there. If I never manage to reach some of those goals, it’ll be okay as well. Because whatever I do to get there, I will make sure that I live my life well and that I am happy. That’s all the success I ultimately need.


Three years ago today, I was informed by the person I loved that she needed a break. Things had been getting pretty serious between us, but then she met someone else and apparently realised that there are other people out there she could crush on.

I’d always known she was a flight risk, not ready for a serious relationship. I’d always known she’d never chose me. I was too different from anyone else she had relationships with before or had dated.

I was hopelessly in love with her and would have wanted more. I thought giving her the time and space she needed, she would eventually realise that I was right for her. And whilst she admitted that I was good for her in many ways, what we had was probably too ‘boring’. Because there was no drama between us.

Until she created it and ran off.

There is more that happened after she first left me hanging just a few days before my birthday. But it no longer matters. She not only broke my heart, she also ended our friendship and ghosted me for an entire year, followed by a self-serving email for my next birthday, which I didn’t take well and blew her off.

It took until the pandemic hit and lockdown was imposed for her to check in with me, more genuinely caring this time. After sporadic contact over the next four months, we caught up in person last August and it was actually good to see her. I thought things might have changed.

But no.

Until that point I had already done a lot of healing. I had grown so much stronger than when she had first ditched me. I’d gone through all my failings, of which there were a few, though I did not take all the blame.

I had chosen her and allowed myself to fall for her fully aware of what I was getting into. I had known three months into our acquaintance that I would be the one to end up in heartbreak. I couldn’t resist falling for her. I didn’t want to.

And she had feelings for me too.

In hindsight, I know our dynamic was not a healthy one. She called the shots, decided the speed at which we moved ahead and strung me along. I didn’t mind because I am confident and secure in myself and had no immediate plans for our friendship/relationship (which would now be referred to as a situationship). I wanted to give us time and see where things were headed. I felt no need to dictate a path for us.

That probably looked passive to her, though it was not my intention to be passive. Since she was the hyperactive type (surely still is), there was an apparent imbalance. In reality, we balanced each other out, but she didn’t perceive it that way.

Things being what they were three years ago, I knew we didn’t stand a chance. We were ridiculously attracted to each other, but that wasn’t enough to hold us together.

The way she ultimately ended things remains inexcusable. She acted selfishly, cowardly and without any care for my feelings or opinions. I could accept that she ended things. Of course, it would have hurt not matter what. But doing so in an email, putting all the blame on me, broke something in me that took a long time to repair.

Seeing her again, made me realise that I had healed enough to move on. I also realised that I would probably always have feelings for her and that she would never be available for what we could have.

She needs drama. I don’t. I would only ever be able to offer her a grown-up, ‘boring’ relationship. That’s all I have to offer anyone at this point.

The last time I saw her, I told her that a friendship was not an option for me because we never were ‘just friends’. I was at risk of falling for her again but knew that she would never be able to give me what I needed. I also told her that.

I had the guts to face her and tell her how I felt.

Whilst she appreciated my honesty, she offered none herself. I only later found out that she was in a relationship with the person she had originally ditched me for. Had been almost the entire time.

It was the final blow, of course.

Whatever she wanted from me, has always wanted from me, I was and am no longer able to give it. The true imbalance between us was me being good for her and her being bad for me.

When I talk or write about her, I keep the pain and resentment at bay. It serves no purpose. I fell for her for a reason. There is much to love about her. I will never be truly able to purge her from my heart. But the memory of us will also always hurt at least a little.

I am happy now. My heart is scarred but free and nowhere near as heavy as it was for the longest time. My self-worth is not dependent on anyone. And no one will ever get to touch it again.

What she did and how she treated me says more about her than it does about me. I have enough flaws and shortcomings and certainly made mistakes. But I always treated her right. I never said or did anything to hurt her.

Though in my final message to her I told her that she would not be welcome in my life again. I’m done with her and will stand by that. Chances are, I haven’t heard or seen the last of her. We live in the same area, barely 15 minutes’ walk from each other.

My love for her was unconditional, but her presence in my life is not. There is no basis of trust or respect between us, which saddens me the most.

In her last message to me, she told me not to wait for her. That was never an option anyway. The problem is, me moving on means that she will never be able to catch up with me again.

But that is her problem, not mine.

Commit to yourself

If there’s one truth we can all agree on it is that there is only one person we each spend every day for the rest of our lives with: our very own selves.

Our first commitment should therefore be to ourselves. And I am not promoting self-centredness, egotism or even narcissism.

Any commitment should be a healthy one, this includes the one we must make to ourselves. I say ‘must’ with good reason because so many of us have a tendency to not just neglect ourselves but to also give ourselves an overly hard time.

We tend to be gentler and more forgiving with those around us than we are with our own selves. Why is that?

Of course, I have higher expectations in myself than I have in anyone else. But I also know that I can expect certain things from myself, which I can’t expect from anyone else. It wouldn’t be fair to them. That is true for many of us.

But how do we treat ourselves when we fail those expectations? Is it truly okay for me to beat myself up for failing in an endeavour of whatever kind?

No, it isn’t. It’s not okay to beat myself up over anything. I can be disappointed in myself, sure. I can be disgruntled. I can chastise myself. That’s all okay. But then I move on. I smack myself and let it go.

I have a bad day and waste it with doing nothing? Happens. Is it going to be any better if I also feel bad about taking some time out when I clearly need it? No.

We achieve nothing by being mad at ourselves. Except feeling worse than before.

So, how do we make a commitment to ourselves then?

Many things that apply to a relationship between two people and how they wish to commit to each other also apply to the relationship we have with our own selves.

Indeed, a strong case can be made that the better our relationship to ourselves, the better our relationships will be with our friends, family and partners in life.

First, we need to understand who we truly are. That means we need to commit to getting to know ourselves as fully as possible. Understand where we come from, what our damages are, how we cope with just about anything, why we have certain coping mechanisms.

That is the biggest task we have on this journey. You may think yourself emotionally stable and mentally healthy, but the truth is that we are all damaged goods. Some have it much worse than others, mind you, which means some need outside help whilst others get along with much introspection and reading various books or listening to Alain de Botton on The School of Life.

I do consider myself emotionally stable and mentally healthy and I am fully aware that I am damaged goods. I’ve been through a world of pain, felt worthless, doubted myself before doubting anyone else, asked myself what could possibly be wrong with me or why I am not good enough.

Which brings us to the second aspect of committing to ourselves: acceptance.

Once you truly understand yourself, your flaws, strengths, weaknesses, triggers and everything beyond, you need to accept each aspect of your being. This is who you are in this moment, for better or worse. These are your hopes, your fears, your past mistakes, your goals.

You must accept your brokenness and that it doesn’t define you. You must accept that you can behave erratically, irrationally, idiotically and like the most altruistic person on the planet. Every weird thought, stray desire, off-putting sexual fantasy is part of who you are, and all of it is okay.

It is important to accept that our thoughts are not the only thing that matter. You can have taboo sexual fantasies and never ever consider living them because those stray thoughts are just our brain going through its motions. Confronted with doing something about those weird thoughts or ideas you may have about murdering your neighbour for once again turning up the volume of their TV, you will likely find that you are not in fact a sociopath and don’t want to go to jail for murdering someone over something that can be handeled in a more mature way. And if you simply send a petty little note, you are still a far better person than the one who decides to take a knife upstairs and get to it.

Having weird thoughts or elaborate murder fantasies does not seem to overrule our core values of not actually murdering people.

So, yes, you may wonder what’s wrong with you for having these thoughts but ask any psychiatrist or psychologist and they will tell you that everyone has these same thoughts.

Accept that they are also a part of you and move on.

The third commitment we must make to ourselves is this: growth.

When you’ve understood who you are at this point in time and have accepted that this is you, you can begin to truly grow. Understanding and acceptance are already part of that journey. How you continue is entirely up you.

There is no direction we must take, there is also no final destination. We all remain a work in progress for as long as we live.

And the goal is not to attain perfection. That is impossible. It’s also really not a desirable goal to have. Flaws are what make most things interesting and unique, including us.

The things you may wish to work on are likely the things that annoy you about yourself. But remember to be gentle and that it takes a while to break old habits and develop new ones.

If your social media consumption annoys you, begin by reducing it in small steps. Make an effort to not check your phone every five minutes but perhaps only once every twenty minutes.

Whichever goal you have, it will require mindfulness and it is certainly an effort.

Develop strategies to reach your goal. Our brains are inherently lazy, going for the least amount of effort. Given how much they have to do every minute of every day, it’s understandable that additional effort is not desired.

But if we make achieving our goals fun, the reward mechanisms in our brains will kick in and make it easier.

Also, I once heard about this interesting approach of not just envisioning our goal and taking steps to get there but instead assuming we have already achieved that goal and start immediately behaving as we would if that were the case.

For instance, if you want to stop smoking, don’t think of the steps you want to take to become a non-smoker. Instead think of yourself as a non-smoker who really doesn’t like the taste of cigarettes and therefore won’t touch them.

That doesn’t mean you’ll stop smoking instantly, but you may actually find that even the thought of another smoke may be quite disgusting, and you won’t enjoy having a smoke at all.

Of course, it doesn’t quite work if your goal is to become rich because you hate being broke. You can’t simply think of yourself as rich (in terms of money), but perhaps it helps to stop thinking of yourself as broke. Something worth trying.

As for me, I’ve gone through the understanding and accepting of myself. I am working on growing, every single day. And I don’t beat myself up for my shortcomings. I also accept them and vow to do better.

The most important commitment I am currently making, the promise to myself I wish to uphold, is to write more. It’s one of my biggest struggles right now, which is also why you’re getting these roughly 1,300 words from me.

Thanks for checking in 🙂

When at first you don’t succeed

Try again.

And, yes, again.

It sounds so much like a cliché and perhaps it is, but not trying is worse than failing. We only learn from our mistakes, from those trials and errors along the way. Not doing anything, not even trying, keeps us in place – stuck.

When I feel stuck, I tend to go on a journey. I once left home for 10 years because I needed to know what else there is in life. I found my answers. And myself.

I returned not quite home, but somewhere else to build a new life as this new version of myself I had grown into.

But I digress.

I still feel stuck sometimes. In life, with my work, with my writing, sometimes even with my friendships. Whenever I feel stuck in one way or another, something needs to be done. During a pandemic, travelling is rather not an option. Which is a shame because it really helps. Not because I am running away from something or towards something, but because I am more myself when I am travelling than sitting on my sofa.

So, lately, I have needed to find other ways of handling things. Since moving helps, I may go on a walk or cycle through the city if the weather allows for it.

Whilst showers make me feel better, they don’t help with runaway thoughts. Cooking doesn’t help either and if it’s really bad, I can’t even eat what I cooked.

Writing helps.

Music too.

What’s the takeaway here? Whatever it is you need to succeed at or need to at least try, you first need to figure out what works for you.

Sometimes last-minute panic is the way to go. Sometimes careful planning. And every once in a while, a leap of faith.

Whatever your goal is, as you long as you keep working your way towards it, it doesn’t matter how many times you stumble and fall and fail. It matters only that you get up and continue – perhaps not right away, but eventually.

There is no shame in failing. There is also no shame in not trying. There may be regret, though.

When I announced to all my family and friends that I would go and travel the world, a lot of people called me brave. Nearly everyone told me they would never dare such a thing.

For me, it was a simple necessity. It was the only path I wanted to take, and I never considered myself brave for taking it. I still don’t. I know it was the right thing to do and I know I would have regretted not going.

I might tell you one day about the many times I fell and failed. But I always got up and continued onwards. And I always will.