All posts by Katrine

Katrine Lehmann (born 1981). A woman with an intense passion for self development, love, gratitude and happiness. "I believe it's all about staying positive, learning, loving yourself, trusting life and finding a balance. Once we learn to master these areas and truly manage to trust that life wants only what is best for us, we are in for the most amazing adventure, come rain or shine."

Life’s little miracles

A few days ago one of life’s little miracles turned up after a 9 month wait:

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As a result this blog will be on a short break after which I’ll be back, but for a little period of time the posts will probably be fewer and further between.

Stay up to date on blog activity and the occasional inspirational meme via facebook, instagram, twitter and pinterest.

Life’s little miracles come in many shapes and sizes. I realise that this one of mine is one of the more obvious ones. However, sometimes life’s miracles come in disguise, so keep your eye out for them; Chances are, you have more of them around than you are aware of.

Enjoy your summer – I know I will enjoy mine!

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Why you should trust the timing of your life

It’s so easy to manipulate these days – so easy to move things forward. We’re part of a culture where boredom is rare and options are all over the place. Settling or remaining calm becomes increasingly difficult because ‘what if’ something better comes along? ‘What if’ it never happens if you don’t force it? ‘What if’ you don’t do it now – will it ever happen?

I’m all for putting yourself out there. Pursuing happiness and doing everything you can to reach goals is admirable in my opinion – something I strive to do myself on a daily basis. However, there’s a fine line between the above and manipulating or forcing results before they (or you, for that matter) are ready.

Here’s one of my favourite examples for you:
I had been struggling with being single for YEARS and as all my friends were moving in with their partners, getting married, having children and completing the ‘dream’ I eventually forced myself into a relationship I was never whole heartedly a part of. He was lovely and I’m sure he’s making someone else incredibly happy this very moment, but we were not compatible and I tried changing pretty much everything about him every single day. It was awful – for both of us. It became a very stressful relationship and eventually the whole thing blew up on us in a rather dramatic manner. Life had been whispering to me (and probably to him too) for so long, but I ignored it due to a slight panic that if I didn’t go along with this relationship, I would never get what everyone else had. Oh, dear… We all know that trap. My intuition even screamed at me (I know this from my diary); Do you want what everyone else has no matter what the price? I stayed. I was stubborn. And, worst of all, I did this because I had absolutely NO idea what I was worth. I truly believed that if I couldn’t make it work with this guy, I wouldn’t be able to make it work with anyone. Who would ever want me? If we had stayed in this relationship one of us (if not both of us) would have become severely ill, I’m sure – mentally or physically. Personally, I was heading down this path, and it wasn’t a pretty picture.

So, after a few years the relationship ended and I was on my own. Again. I was exhausted and frightened. Was I going to be alone for the rest of my life? Would kids ever be an option? At this point I had met Lis (read about her here) and she spent the coming 6 months guiding me to self-love, gratitude and happiness (a process that I had already started years before, but had let go of during this relationship). I started letting go. I started trusting life. I took chances. I met a ton of different interesting men, but, for once, I was completely relaxed about it. I didn’t force myself into anything that didn’t feel right. I finally knew what I was worth – I knew my value, and, most importantly, I knew what inner peace and happiness felt like. No way would I ever compromise again.

I ended up moving to London – city of singles and pursuing careers. This move didn’t connect with my dream still being to meet ‘the one’ and start a family, but it felt right. Besides, I kept reminding myself that I could always go back to Copenhagen or travel somewhere else. Life was a clean sheet and I could do exactly what I wanted with it. Nothing was tying me down. No strings attached anywhere. Life had never been more exciting! I let go. I let life guide me for once. Sure, I had days full of tears. I had days where I doubted literally everything. Days where I I was close to giving up. But I stayed and I kept pursuing the goal I had set; To find a job and create some sort of life in London. This part was about me. Love would join in when the time was right.

One month in I went to a London networking event where I met a guy I could tell was younger than myself (turns out I had no idea just how much younger!). He was slightly mysterious and didn’t talk much, but when he did his intelligence revealed wisdom far beyond his years and I was intrigued. Believe me when I say we had absolutely everything against us ever becoming an item! There was no logic to it at all and my mind was very much against it. Especially one of my otherwise very supportive friends was shaking her head and reminding me of my age along with the fact that I wanted children. But I took no notice. The whole thing was out of my control – I had surrendered. The timing of my life was very much guiding me and I mean it with every part of my body and soul when I say the following; Letting go and pursuing a life with him turned out to be the absolute best thing I have ever done for myself. More than three years in I am still incredibly in love with him and my heart skips a beat when I think of all the incredible years we have ahead. I look forward to him walking through the front door every day and the thought of life without him makes no sense to me.

If I had met Morten before I knew what I was worth, I’m not sure we would have been where we are today. I had found my own inner balance prior to meeting him, so I dared take the chance knowing that life would catch me if I fell.
We were very different places in life when we met, but I purposely never pressured him into anything he wasn’t ready for. We communicated with honesty and respect from day 1 and we’ve had our fair share of challenges, but the trust and the depth of our love has carried us through all of them. I can honestly say that I am grateful every single day for waking up next to him.

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So, trust the timing of your life
I believe there’s a flow to life and that everything will happen the way it’s supposed to in it’s own due time. As you have just read, I’ve tried forcing results and I’ve tried letting go – believe me when I say that forced results are very rarely worth it (especially as you run the risk of reaching a result that isn’t actually good for you). If you let go of control and let things happen the way they are supposed to, it might turn out that a completely different option will show up. An option that’s a lot better for you and your happiness.

Pursue your goals – go all in on your dreams, but trust the timing of your life while doing so. Don’t force results. Trust that the best results will appear when you are ready.

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When you lose someone you love

Regardless of whether you lose someone you love to death, to another country, by choice, as part of a break up (or maybe even while still in the relationship) or to  a disease, the process of grief, anger, hurt, sorrow, frustration and pain is somewhat the same and never easy. It takes time no matter how we twist and turn reality, before we finally reach a stage of acceptance. It can take weeks, months – even years. And some losses we never recover completely.

It can seem strange how life goes on even when you feel like it has stopped; You look out the window and see how people still go to work, pick up their children, go jogging, talk on the phone, laugh and smile. The seasons change, the roses bloom, the grass grows and yet here you are feeling like everything should stop functioning for a while. The void is staring at you and there’s nothing you can’t do to change what has happened. Turning back time is not an option.

Maybe you head down the more destructive route* and start blaming yourself; If only you had been a better partner. If only you had made that call. If only you had been home more. If only you had seen her more. If only you had lost weight. If only you had a better body. If only you had stayed in the country instead of pursuing your dreams. But the fact remains the same; You have lost someone close to you, and as the old saying tends to remind us ‘time will heal your wounds’ (Even though all wounds are not always healed completely.. Sometimes time will simply teach you how to live with them).
*A little note on heading down the destructive route: Please stop! You are exactly as you should be and you did exactly as you should have done. No matter how painful, whatever happened was meant to happen this way. Nothing you could have said or done would have changed it.

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So what can you do to get yourself through it?

First of all, when dealing with sorrow (regardless of the circumstances) try to remind yourself that things could always be worse (read this if you don’t believe me).

When I deal with difficultues I think of three specific people; I think of my grandfather, I think of Lis (read about her here) and last, but not least, I think of a very good friend of mine who gave me excellent advice in my early twenties that has stayed with me ever since.

My grandfather asked me on the day of my confirmation (literally right after returning from church) whether I believed in God. Gotta love his timing! In truth, I wasn’t quite sure, and I think he knew this, so he continued ‘It doesn’t matter what you believe in – as long as you believe in something. Life will be easier on you if you manage to do so‘.
My grandfather was a fantastic man – I loved him dearly. He was also a very religious man, so the surprise of these words have stayed with me ever since. I honestly never thought he would be the one to encourage me to believe in whatever I wanted to believe in. I would have thought that to him there was only one right way of believing. I guess I was wrong.

Perhaps as a direct result of our conversation, I, today, believe in a lot of different things and so I have a hard time putting a specific label on my beliefs. I’ve chosen my favourite parts of a few different religions and mixed them up, added a bit of spirituality (this is where Lis comes in) and know deep down in my gut that my grandparents, who are unfortunately not physically with me any longer, are very much with me every day in spirit – watching over me and making sure that everything happens the way it is supposed to. I believe that everything happens for a reason and I trust that life wants only what is best for me. In other words, I believe that there are no rules when it comes to believing, but I do believe that believing in something bigger than yourself is important – so I do.
If you don’t believe, everything becomes your own responsibility (even the worst things in life), which can severely weigh you down. Although we should always own up to our responsibilities, some things are not meant to land on our shoulders alone. So let it go. If you’re not into religion and don’t wish to be that’s absolutely fine. Just trust that there’s a higher meaning with what happened and that you are being taken care of no matter how painful the process you are going through.

And while you do find yourself going through the pain, anger, sorrow and frustration, take this piece of advice that my good friend gave me several years ago; Make sure you have one great thing to look forward to every single day. It’s a rather simple task, but it’s got a very important purpose; It’s to keep you active and to make certain that you have something good to think about especially right before you go to bed. Going to bed on a positive note heightens your likeliness of waking up with a positive mindset.
It doesn’t matter what this great thing is – as long as it feels good to you. It could be going for a walk in the park. It could be reading a good book. Having coffee with a friend. Going to the zoo. Going for a run. Attending a dance class. Having a drink with someone you haven’t seen for a long time. Visiting a relative. Signing up for an online dating site. Heck – going on a date. Starting up your kitchen garden. Having your hair cut, your nails done – you name it. The important part is that it’s a positive thing to you and that it’s in your calendar (I’m serious – write it down in your calendar). Never go to bed with no plans for the next day. Your plans don’t need to be huge – they just need to be there. At least one great thing a day.

Last, but not least; Focus on the positive – always. Be grateful for what you had and cherish the memories. Time will take care of the rest one way or the other and the sun will rise again, I promise.

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How to stop worrying

Are you a worrier? Or maybe you’re ‘just’ worried about someting specific at the moment? You’re not alone. In fact, we are biologically programmed to worry in order to prepare for worst case scenarios. It turns out though, that worrying not only doesn’t do you any good, it’s also a massive waste of time.

I had a dream last night – about Obama. He taught me some incredible math tricks while we had drinks. It was awesome. What does this have to do with worrying? Absolutely nothing. However, apart from this dream leaving me with a great feeling of having bonded with the American President (and wondering whether, if I ever were to meet him in real life, I just might accidently greet him as if he were a friend of mine) it reminded me how dreams can sometimes be random (like this one) and sometimes carry an important message. Obviously we all have several of both, but I had one in particular – several years ago – that carried a strong message:

I was running up the stairs of a collapsing building, being chased by a huge, frightening beast. Bricks were falling everywhere and I was scared out of my mind, full of panic and completely out of breath. On each floor I would call for the elevator, which was the only thing still standing, but the elevator never made it in time. I could hear the beast approaching and had to run to the next floor in order for it not to catch up with me. As I finally reached the top floor of the building I realised there was nothing I could do. It was out of my hands. From here on it would be a matter of luck; Either the beast would get to me first or the elevator would make it just in time to save me and take me to the ground floor, allowing me to exit the building.
The beast made it first. Except it turned out it wasn’t actually a beast. It was a huge, soft, purple hippopotamus-like, peaceful creature, probably 10 times the size of myself. When it reached me it stopped. It never wanted to hurt me. It literally just stopped and stood there in front of me, looking into my eyes while we were both catching out breaths. The next thing I knew the elevator arrived, I stepped into it, faced the hippo while the doors closed and that was it. I woke up.

Imagine that. I spent all that time running up stairs, scared out of this world, only to find that really, there was nothing to be scared about. The ‘beast’ was a cute, purple hippo that never set out to hurt me. I had worried for absolutely nothing. Sound familiar?

Most of my life I have been a worrier. I never handled change very well and as a result I always analysed the 1000 things that could go wrong ahead of time – you know, just to make sure I wouldn’t be surprised by misfortune. What a waste of time.

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Thankfully things have changed a lot since then. Sure, I still worry from time to time, but nowhere near what I used to. When it happens, I remind myself of a study in a book called ‘The worry cure’ (2005), which concluded that 85% of what the studied subjects worried about actually never happened. And of the remaining 15% that did occur, 79% of the subjects discovered that they could handle it much better than expected or the difficulty turned into a life lesson. So, to sum it up, this means that really, there’s absolutely no point in worrying. How about that? Basically, if you worry, you’re just spending time punishing yourself ahead of something that will probably never happen.

How to stop worrying? I posted one of my favourite memes the other day on facebook, instagram, pinterest and twitter. The text on the meme pretty much sums it up: ‘Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and think about what could go right’. This is probably one of my most popular posts to date, which I guess is because we all know it. We all know that we shouldn’t worry as much as we do, but we all struggle to shift our mind-set.

The trick is to stay away from all the negatives and focus on the positives – which, as a beautiful bonus, will also keep you mentally and physically well for longer.

As with any other bad habit it’s about making a conscious effort to stop worrying. Here are three very simple things you can do:

  • Put a post-it on your mirror with the words ‘focus on the positive’ (or similar) across it – then every time you see this post-it you’ll be reminded to shift your focus in case you are worrying.
  • Place a red (or any other colour) ribbon on your arm, which will remind you to stay positive whenever you notice it.
  • Or, if you find it hard to change this habit on your own, involve someone close to you and ask this person to remind you to shift your focus when you start to worry.

Change takes time, but it’s worth it. And remember that what you focus on grows stronger. Focus on the positives. Focus on what can go right. Leave the rest behind.

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When to leave your comfort zone

Chances are you’ve probably seen the below image before. Question is, have you ever really thought about what it means? Where is your comfort zone? And how on earth do leave it to find that so called ‘magic’?

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Comfort zones come in all shapes and sizes. Basically it’s a state of ‘what you are used to’ – and if you’re completely honest with yourself I’m sure you already know what your own personal comfort zone is all about.

Comfort zones aren’t necessarily negative (which one could be led to believe from the image above). They can, however, become so. They can keep you in places that no longer serve you or grow you, which can eventually lead to a feeling of being lost, powerless and slightly (if not severely) depressed.

Let me give you a few examples:

  • You’re depressed and anxious on a daily basis and rarely leave the house. This state, unfortunately, just might have become your comfort zone (if this is you; read here). In fact, you might be in this state because you haven’t yet dared to leave your comfort zone even though you know, deep down, that you should.
  • You’ve found comfort in living life ‘as it is’, with no challenge and everything being predictable, which has worked for a while, but you’re bored with it.
  • You’re staying in a job that isn’t quite what you dreamed of, but it works and gets you the income required to get through each month.
  • From a distance (your comfort zone) you’ve been secretly obsessed with a specific guy for years, yet you haven’t found the courage to speak to him, so he has no idea you are interested.
  • (Insert your own comfort zone here)

What happened to the dreams? The hopes? The excitement? Where did all the ‘good stuff’ go? This, my friend, is what the image is about. Going for the magic doesn’t necessarily mean leaving your comfort zone behind completely (although, if your comfort zone is bad for you, I highly recommend doing so). It simply means ‘take the risk‘.

Most people have a dream of some sort that haunts them. Something they never did or something they keep postponing, as ‘the timing just isn’t quite right’. Tell you what; the timing will probably never be quite right. But how will you ever know what could have been if you don’t go for it?

Risking it can be incredibly intimidating. Believe me, I’ve been there quite a few times (one of which you can read about here)! Once you do it, though, you feel so alive. And even if you fail, you will have learned so much from the experience, that really, if you think about it, you have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain (have a read).

What a risk feels like is very subjective. What’s risky to you might be completely different to what’s risky to me (try this exercise for inspiration). Maybe it’s asking that girl out? Maybe it’s moving to a different country? Maybe it’s quitting your job and going all in on this incredible idea you’ve had for years? Maybe it’s leaving a relationship that’s not good for you? Maybe it’s simply stepping out your front door? Maybe it’s proposing to your partner? Regardless, if you imagine going for whatever it is you dream of and it gives you a slight scared yet excited gut feeling, you’re probably on the right track. Don’t let fear put you off! Leave your comfort zone (even if just for a short while)! Go for the challenge! There’s no time like the present – who knows where we’ll all be tomorrow?  Start planning now and follow through! Live! And, by all means, don’t give up!

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The choice is yours – choose wisely

Are you struggling? Feeling alone? Confused? Do you feel ike you don’t belong? Like you have no clue as to where you’re heading in life? Going through a break-up (or considering one)? Feel let down by people you love? Not being true to yourself? Bored with life? Does it all feel pointless?

One important lesson I’ve learned during my many years of intense self development and search for happiness is that when it comes to how you deal with resistance, the choice is yours – always. You can rarely control what happens to you, but you can definitely control how you react to it. Basically, you can choose to focus on the hurt and pain you’re going through or you can shift your focus slightly (even in the most hardcore cases – check this out) and find that life has so much incredible beauty to offer. It takes a little practice and I’m in no way saying it’s easy, but once you manage to find happiness and gratitude in the middle of pain and suffering, once you learn to dance your way through a storm, you will realise that happiness outshines misery by miles. Every time. It’s all about your choice of focus.

The challenge with emotional pain and suffering is that quite often we tend to find some sort of comfort in these states. It’s familiar. It’s something we know well and it doesn’t demand very much from us. You can just stay under the covers and / or in front of the screen, leave the blinds down, eat poorly and excessively, blame everyone else for what you’re struggling with, let the house remain a mess (or store the mess in millions of boxes somewhere) and give up. Although it doesn’t necessarily feel easy, believe me when I say this is you taking the easy route.

So often in these scenarios we forget to value what should be the most important; our own happiness. Basically, we forget our own value. And a lot of the time we do so because finding the light in darkness can be a difficult and rather demanding task that requires action and, in most cases, will have consequenses.

Self development can be incredibly painful. Sometimes it can even feel unachievable (have a read). It involves a whole lot of soul searching, bravery and being honest with yourself. Particularly the latter is something a lot of people find overwhelming (I know I did – read about it here), as your own honesty doesn’t always connect with what society and surroundings want to make you believe you need.

Taking the necessary steps towards happiness might mean letting go of people, lifestyles and self-perceptions, but believe me when I say that it will be worth it! Do yourself a favour and get a move on.

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How do you want life to be? Happy, healthy and full of passion? Or would you rather stay behind the blinds in fear? The choice is yours. Keep in mind, though, that the longer you wait, the harder the work becomes – and no one can do the work for you. Also, if you choose to ignore it (which might even work for a while) you can be almost 100% sure you will find yourself back here in ‘no mans land’ again and again till you learn the lesson and do something about it. So, in other words, there really is no time like the present. You can do it!

Make sure to follow the links I’ve placed throughout this blog post to get some pointers as to how you can get that self development started (providing you choose to do so, obviously).

Also, don’t forget to follow my blog on social media (links below) to stay tuned for new posts to come. Let’s spark that self development of yours and get you closer to a happier, healthier life.

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Exactly why ‘silence is gold’

We live in a (part of the) world where it’s perceived healthy to discuss our issues – and thank God for that. I’m a huge fan of communication and believe it’s vital to our well being. However, there are times where you should simply stay quiet. Or at least as quiet as possible. There are times where silence can end up being the best thing you ever did for yourself – times when silence is gold.

A very long time ago, in my late teens / early twenties, I had a boyfriend I was very much in love with. It got to the point where some would say I was obsessed. I more or less kissed the ground he walked on! (He’s been mentioned before – you can catch up here). It turns out he and our relationship had incredible amounts of life lessons to teach me. One of which I’ll let you in on here.

During our first year together he went backpacking in Asia for 3 months with one of his best friends. We were so in love at the time that I was never in doubt that we would make it. I sent him packages wherever he went, with love letters, candy, mixed tapes and what not (my toes are curling up as I write this). In addition to this he purchased a mobile phone while traveling and so we spoke daily for a minimum of 30 minutes (oooohhhh the phone bill!). I felt that I was very much a part of his trip and, quite frankly, that was probably the issue. He was supposed to be backpacking with his friend, living in the moment. Instead, he was constantly on the phone with his clingy and insecure girlfriend. Hardly ideal.

Long story short, one night he cheated on me. I woke up with a pounding heart that night – I knew something was off. I called him excessively, but he didn’t pick up till the following day where he was sad, upset and so incredibly ready to ‘go home’ that I was surprised. He was homesick and missed me. Although I loved the obvious display of affection, I kept asking him if something had happened, but he said no. All was good, he was just fed up – I ended up believing him. I tried, at least. You see, my instincts kept telling me something was wrong. I eventually became slightly paranoid. I kept asking him about particularly one of the girls I knew they had partied with and he kept denying that anything had happened between them. With time his story changed slightly here and there, but his message stayed the same; nothing had happened.

When he returned to Denmark we even had arguments about it. He kept telling me that I needed to trust him and that we wouldn’t make it as a couple if I didn’t. So I tried letting it go. But it haunted me – even in my dreams!

One day he left me. To be fair, this was inevitable regardless of what he had done, as our balance was probably as off as could be at this point, but it still felt like the breakup came out of the blue. He left and it destroyed me completely. A few weeks later I found out he had hooked up with the girl he met and partied with in Thailand and was seeing her now. Still, he stuck to his story – nothing had happened between them till after we broke up. I hated him. I hated her. I shut the door with a bang (and then I cried every single time I was alone because I missed him so much).

A few weeks later he wanted me back and although I did what I could to stay away from him, he had a power over me that kept me around. We dated for a little while, but I was too hurt to stay in it. Eventually, I left him.

Not long after this, I met my ex’s backpacking buddy at a Christmas party and asked him (casually, as if it were no big deal) exactly what had happened back then in Thailand. He gave me a completely new story. A story that didn’t connect with my ex’s at all and boom! That was it. I called up my ex and let him know exactly what I thought of ‘people like him’. I cried, was angry and said words I didn’t even know I knew. He tried to apologise, but I didn’t understand half of it due to his sobbing. Eventually I hung up and made my way home. But the story doesn’t finish here. On my way home, I called everyone I could think of that I knew had cheated at one point or the other. I’m not kidding. My real low point was when I, in a public bus, called up a guy from high school that I hadn’t seen or spoken to for several years at the time just to tell him off on behalf of myself and all women who had ever been wronged! This particular memory makes me smile today, but believe me when I say I wasn’t smiling then. Poor guy.

Now, you would think I would have had a moral hangover the following day, but I actually didn’t. I was still so hurt and angry! I did everything in my power to turn everyone against my ex – ‘the cheater’. I spoke to literally anyone who was ready to listen. The whole world knew my story in no time. He was a bastard and I was an angel. End of.

Even now, writing these words, I’m slightly embarrassed by the extent I took things to. But what was worse (back then, anyway) was that I destroyed the possibility of ever mending our relationship, which, deep down, was what I really wanted…

He called me every day, crying and apologising. He showed up in the middle of the night just to give me a present and leave again. He did everything in his power to show me that he was a changed man and tried to win me back. I did nothing but turn him away. At least, I turned him away till we ended up back together again a few months later. But this time it was different. The power had shifted – I was in charge. What’s more; No one knew a thing about it! I was so embarrassed! All our surroundings knew what he had done to me, yet here I was, back with ‘the cheater’. Had I no self respect?! I didn’t tell my friends and family that I was seeing him again. I mean, what would they think? What would they say? When they called and I was with him, I’d pretend I was alone. He told me later on that this broke his heart every time, but he put up with it because he still felt guilty. I treated him badly and he let me do so as he was so full of remorse.
Needless to say, our relationship didn’t work out and eventually we ended it (although the drama continued for years to come, but that’s a different story).

Now, why this story? As I mentioned earlier, I learnt so many life lessons with him, of which several of them are actually present here – one way or the other. However, the focus today is on this one; speech is silver, silence is gold.

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Once my initial anger had calmed, I wanted to forgive him. I wanted so badly to get back to where we were prior to his mistake in Thailand. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t because for one, I wasn’t mature enough to see that I had played a massive part in the reason he cheated. However, I particularly didn’t manage to forgive him, because I was constantly reminded of what he had done by simply being around friends and family. You see, everybody knew. Every single person around me knew.

Now, if I had been clever, I would have either kept it all to myself (and gone through the 10 steps you can find here) or maybe shared it with one or two people (tops) who would be open minded enough to NOT take sides and maybe even play the devil’s advocate and make me see the role I, myself, had played in the whole thing. Instead, I shared it with literally anyone willing to listen and, I guess, my favourite audience were the people who were 100% on my side as they would bad mouth him as much as I did. I told family, friends and strangers – I even involved his friends! And this was exactly how I doomed the chances of ever getting what I really wanted, which was to be with him.

Now, if you have gone through a breach of trust with someone you love recently (it could be anything – doesn’t have to be infidelity), do yourself a favour. First of all read this. Second – remember that silence in your case just might be gold. I’m not saying you can never tell anyone what happened. I’m saying wait. Wait till you know exactly what YOU want, before you doom anything, Forgiving is so much easier (and so much more achievable) if not everyone knows what has happened. Remember, we are all human, and humans mess up. Also, keep in mind that it takes 2 to tango – could it be that you are partly to blame for what happened?

If you do choose to involve someone, make sure you choose the right person / people. Sometimes the right people aren’t the ones you think they would be… It’s all about finding someone who is capable of not judging (any of you), staying somewhat objective and maybe even being able to turn the table and help you see the other side of the story. Someone who understands that people are people and we all have flaws. We all make mistakes.

Only you know what’s right to do and sometimes a breach of trust is irreparable. However, make sure you give yourself the time required to make your mind up as to how you would like to move forward. And while giving yourself this time, remember that in this case, silence just might be gold.

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10 crucial steps when hurt or angry

Have you been hurt recently? Do you feel left out by someone? Neglected? Misunderstood? Unloved? Are you angry? Sad? Feeling powerless? We all go through these emotions at one point or another and the degrees vary massively according to circumstances. Personally, this has been one of the areas of self-development where I have evolved the most over the years (which I am incredibly thankful for). My former pattern of dealing with emotional pain was rather explosive and so I would tend to end up in very unpleasant and quite often incredibly dramatic situations as a direct result. I have since found a strategy that has worked wonders for me and continues to do so when dealing with emotional hurt or anger. Would you like to know the 10 crucial steps when hurt or angry? Keep reading.

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  1. Remove yourself from the situation
    Don’t ever confront straight away when you are emotionally wired. When you’ve just been hurt, chances are you won’t be thinking clearly and you might end up saying a lot of things that don’t help the situation in any way. Keep in mind that you can’t reverse what you’ve said, so be clever and start by removing yourself from the situation. Go to the toilet, go for a walk, go home, close down your computer /leave your phone (if it was an email or a text) or find a different escape.
  1. Breathe
    When your emotions are all over the place you’ll probably be breathing in a shallow way, which doesn’t give you the oxygen your brain requires to function in a rational manner. Rational is what we want, so breathe.
    Take some deep breaths. I like to inhale while counting to four slowly and then I exhale in the same pace (this super simple breathing technique actually works wonders in most situations, so it would be a good idea to make a note of it). Keep going till these slow, deep breaths become natural.
  1. Write it down
    This might seem rather old fashioned, but writing down what you would say to the person right here and now can be a great way of getting it out of your system without doing damage. The thing to keep in mind here is to never send, email or text what you have written. You are writing these things in order to gain perspective – nothing else. So write it all down with nothing holding you back. Let go. Write exactly what’s on your mind. You can do this as a letter or simply a brainstorm – just make sure you get whatever is hurting you out of your system.
  1. Take a break / sleep on it
    This one is probably one of the most important steps in this guide. Take. A. Break. Do something completely different for a little while. If you can, postpone doing any more about this today – sleep on it. However, if you must confront today, take a break first; Do the laundry, the dishes, homework, go to the gym, go for a run, have a nap, go for a walk, go grocery shopping, paint, sew – anything! (Personally, I prefer activities where I remove myself from home and get my pulse going – exercise raises the happiness levels dramatically and usually ends up changing my perspective on things). Try to not think of anything while doing this, but if you must, then make sure you let your thoughts come and go. Acknowledge that they are there and leave them be, so to speak. Don’t do anything about them.
  1. Analyse
    Why did the person act as he / she did? What’s going on in his / her life at the moment? Is there a background to this whole story that you might not know so much about? If you know anything about this person’s upbringing, value, friends or family, can this have affected what happened earlier? Is the person stressed? Jealous? Keep coming up with more questions and answer them as well as you can. The thing is, you can never know exactly what’s going on inside another human being, but usually, you can come pretty close, and by doing so you get closer to gaining an understanding of why everything happened as it did, which will make it easier for you to confront in a constructive way.
  1. Status
    Having gone through all the former steps, where are you now? Try reading the result of step 3 – are these still your feelings and thoughts? Without knowing, my guess would be that you are probably not as angry or hurt as you were earlier on. Maybe the reason for confrontation no longer exists? (In which case congratulations! Your work here is done.) By performing the 5 steps prior to this one, you have created a huge advantage. If you confront someone with understanding and calmness, you will get your message through much clearer and will in most circumstances be met with more positivity and empathetic emotions. Chances are the whole thing will be resolved much faster than you thought or, at least, that the person will be more open to what you’re saying than you ever would have imagined.
  1. Plan your confrontation: Format
    Would you like to write a letter, text, make a phone call, meet up with the person? This is a very personal choice and quite often it’s decided for us – e.g. it’s not always easy to meet up with someone who lives half way across the world. However, keep in mind that the written word is more often than not misunderstood. Depending on who you’re confronting, it might still be the best way to go though. Was the person stressed? Maybe best to write down what you have to say so the person can read it in his / her own time. Personally I prefer confronting face to face. When we communicate, about 70% of our communication is in our body language, so if you meet up it will be a lot easier for both of you to really understand each other. Just make sure you keep the whole thing calm. Research show that as soon as you start screaming and shouting at each other, you no longer actually hear one another. All you react to is body language….and let’s face it. Angry body language is never a pleasant sight.
  1. Plan your confrontation: Avoid starting sentences with the word ‘you’
    A general, very wise, rule when speaking to others is avoiding the start of a sentence with the word ‘you’. Another way to put it is ‘don’t point fingers’. You have absolutely no idea what’s going on on the other side of the ball court – stick to your own side. E.g. instead of saying ‘you are not interested in what’s going on in my life at all’, you could say ‘I feel like my life has no importance on your list of priorities’. Do you see the difference? Another example could be ‘You don’t love me’ as apposed to ‘I become unsure of whether you love me when you do this’. If you start with ‘I’ you’re staying on your side of things and the person you’re confronting will most likely not have the same urge to defend him- / herself if you’re not attacking (which you very easily could be by starting the sentences with ‘you’).
  1. Plan your confrontation: Ask questions
    There’s a very good chance that you have no idea what’s going on in the other person’s life. You could easily have misunderstood the whole thing. E.g. I once received a gift that seemed rather expensive from my ex mother-in-law. When saying thank you, I used the words ‘this is far too much – you shouldn’t have’. Her reply was ‘Maybe it was a bit too much, actually.’ Auch. I was hurt. Why did she give me the present in the first place if this was how she felt about it? Unfortunately I never got to ask the following question; ‘What did you mean when you said that?’ – I really wish I had. Because (as a friend of mine pointed out to me afterwards) she might have meant that she didn’t want me to feel bad about receiving something so expensive. What I heard though was ‘you’re not worth that much money’, but in reality she probably just didn’t want me to feel bad about receiving it in the first place.
    Another example; Recently I found myself texting a friend of mine several times without getting a reply. I was hurt and felt like he didn’t care about me as he was obviously trying to avoid my question. I then wrote ‘how come you’re not answering me?’ and he immediately replied and apologised with a very, very good excuse after which he answered my question and all was good. So, in short, ask questions. Whatever happened might have been meant in a very different way than how you perceived it.
  1. Follow through
    You’ve done all the steps – it’s time to follow through. Actually confronting someone can be a very overwhelming step – especially if you, as most people, fear rejection and / or confrontation for that matter. But believe me, it’s worth it. How can we ever know what’s going on with each other if we don’t speak up? Read this, if you need a little push. Go for it. Confront the person that hurt you and remember that there are so many misunderstandings out there every day. This just might be one of them.

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Good luck. ❤️

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3 reasons why you should ask for a doggy bag

Bringing up the subject of a doggy bag on this blog can seem odd, but believe me when I say that a doggy bag can contribute to so much happiness, gratitude and – who would have thought – it can even enhance your mental health! Read on, my friend..

Recently my boyfriend and I were out with friends for what ended up as a very late dinner at a fantastic pizza place in central London. It was one of those evenings where everyone laughs a lot and you leave uplifted and slightly high on life (in addition to being so full that you feel somewhat sick).
This particular pizza place serves massive pizzas. Seriously huge! So even though especially the guys hardly ever say no to an extra slice, we still had a few rather large slices left over. Now, we could have just left the pizza there, as so many people unfortunately choose to do these days, however, we decided to ask for a doggy bag.

For a while now I’ve been working on an online project that will hopefully contribute to less food waste in the world once it goes live (did you know that roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year – approximately 1.3 billion tonnes – gets lost or wasted*? In the UK almost 50% of food waste comes from households. 7 million tonnes of food and beverages are wasted this way even though roughly half of it could have been eaten**!), so I generally have a hard time leaving food behind in restaurants where I know the employees (in most cases) have specific orders to throw it away.

Long story short, we brought the wrapped up pizza with us and, on our way home, gave it to a homeless man who was more than thrilled and incredibly grateful to get a warm meal. Think about this for a second. If we had left the pizza in the restaurant it would have gone straight to the trash and this man might not have had anything to eat that night. In other words, what you might perceive as trash could, quite literally, be another man’s treasure.

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Now, why am I telling you this? Why is asking for a doggy bag so important? Three reasons:

  1. Obviously, as you can tell from the above, eliminating food waste is a subject that’s very close to my heart and as it’s also a worldwide issue I urge you to always think twice before you throw food away. Keep an eye on expiration dates at home so you manage to eat what you’ve bought before it goes bad (you’ll save money this way too). If the food has passed the expiration date, make sure the food has actually gone bad before getting rid of it – quite often you’ll find it is still perfectly fine. If you’re going away for a few weeks and food won’t keep, give it to your neighbours, your friends or someone less fortunate. Last, but not least, if you’re having dinner out, ask for a doggy bag if there’s any food left over. For some reason a lot of people have a hard time doing this. Maybe it makes them feel cheap? If you are one of these people, please put those silly thoughts aside..  It’s ok to ask for a doggy bag. You paid for the food after all.
  2. When you ask for a doggy bag you have two options;
    a) You can decide to bring the food home and eat it the following day. This way you won’t need to cook and you have saved the money you would have otherwise spent buying groceries.
    b) Or you can decide to give the food to someone less fortunate and hereby do some good. Think about it. With this very simple gesture, you are contributing to someone else’s well being and brightening this person’s day at the same time.
  3. If you go for option b, there’s a part of the equation that works out really well for yourself; Research shows that acts of kindness towards friends and strangers alike lower your stress levels and contribute to your enhanced mental health! (Read more about this here) What’s not to love?!

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What you choose to do with your food is obviously your business. This is me urging you to think twice. And, for goodness sake, don’t be afraid of asking for that doggy bag. Do it with pride! So many restaurants throw away crazy amounts of food daily. Don’t let perfectly good food go to waste. Bring it home instead and enjoy it tomorrow or, better yet, be the reason someone smiles today <3

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* 2015, United Nations Environment Programme – www.unep.org
** 2015, Love Food Hate Waste, www.lovefoodhatewaste.com

How to work the wonders of a mirror

A lot of you may have noticed that I mention mirrors quite often. Now, I don’t keep mentioning mirrors to point out the importance of vanity (that said, there is a lot to be gained by having an extra thorough look at that reflection, believe me). I keep mentioning mirrors because they are a brilliant tool!

For so many unfortunate reasons, most people have issues with their bodies in one way or the other. A lot of the time the same people have issues with their personalities too. As a population we have become overly critical with ourselves and unfortunately this results in a lot of criticizing on a daily basis – in thought and speech.

Most people tell themselves that they’re not good enough in one way or the other every day – are you one of them? Keep in mind that this isn’t just about what you say out loud, this is also very much about your thoughts. Have you been telling yourself lately that you are fat? That you are ugly? That your nose is too big? That you suck at school? That you can never do anything right? That you’re single because no one finds you attractive? That your boobs are too small? That you look old? I bet at least one of the above apply to thoughts you’ve had about yourself recently.

Now imagine your closest friend said these things to you every single day. Imagine the person you trust and love the most chooses to focus on the negative things about you. Would you want to hang out with this person? Would this person make you happy? Would this person make you want to wake up with a big smile on your face every morning excited about the day ahead? I didn’t think so. It’s time for a change. It’s time to be your own very best and positive friend! It’s time for some light mirror work!

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Have a good look at the baby above. Does he look sad? Does he look like he hates what he sees? Does he look like he’s ready to criticise? Hardly. He does look like he’s just about to attack though – with a big kiss! He’s so excited about his own reflection in the mirror. Gotta love that! And this is where we want to get to!
There’s a good chance you used to look at yourself in the mirror this way when you were a baby. Then life happened and your inner voice changed. Let’s get back to basics my friend – be nice to yourself.

How to work the wonders of a mirror:
Next time you pass a mirror, stop. Stop and have a good look at that reflection of yours. Look into those beautiful eyes and smile! Not just one of those pretend smiles, but the real deal! You wouldn’t believe how important a smile is – it can be life altering (have a read: Why smiling is important). Keep the eye contact and the gorgeous smile on your face all through this exercise. Now focus on something positive about yourself and say (preferably out loud, but I appreciate others might be able to hear you in which case thoughts are ok for now) to yourself that you LOVE this trait. E.g. Let’s say you have a fabulous hair colour – tell yourself this! Or maybe you have great skin – tell yourself this! Maybe you just closed an important deal at work – tell yourself that you did an amazing job! I’m sure you get the picture by now. Give yourself the praise you deserve!

If this is all rather new to you, start with pointing out one positive thing about yourself today when you pass a mirror. Do this tomorrow as well. And the day after. Do it every single day this week. Then, next week, make it two things. The week after that, make it three things. Sky is the limit – tell yourself how incredibly amazing you are in every way and finish off with ‘I love you’ (I know this seems rather cheesy to most people, but the importance of self love is so severe I would urge you to do it anyway – have a read here for more on this).

There’s a good chance you’re shaking your head this very moment and thinking to yourself that this whole thing is nuts. I used to do the same, so I get it. However, here’s how I see it; What have you got to lose? Worst-case scenario, you’ll have a great story about the time you took a piece of advice from a blog and ended up talking to yourself in front of a mirror. This will then probably make people laugh and boom – a positive situation appears. In other words, this is a win-win situation. Go for it!

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