Tag Archives: Learning from the past

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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What a post-it can do

Ever wondered what a post-it can do for you in your personal life? What it can do for your self development? What miracles this little notepad can spark on a daily basis? Here’s what it did for me:

Quite a few years back I moved to Germany to live with my boyfriend at the time. However, I ended up coming back to Copenhagen with (what I thought was) a broken heart after only 6 days! Oh the horror, the embarrassment. I had just told everyone (including employers and newly established contacts) that I was ‘out’. Coming back was excruciating! Today, though, I smile at it and laugh – because it turns out it was all necessary for me in order to realise I needed to be true to myself. This painful event was the best that could have ever happened to me.

Long story short, I had been in a long distance relationship for 2 years – and a rather dramatic one at that (a bit about what caused the drama is to be found here). We were very wrong for each other, but none of us really wanted to admit it – myself in particular. The balance was as off as it can get. I kept pushing him away, he kept trying to get closer. I wasn’t in love, which I kept denying. My feelings were nowhere near strong enough to settle down. I would try to change everything about him and I ended up not liking myself in the process. I truly didn’t like who I had become during our time together, but I stayed anyway. The fear of being alone got the best of me – especially as everyone else was settling down, getting married and having children. Unfortunately, he had become the symbol of stability, future (although the thought of having children with him made my stomach turn) and safety. I lied to myself daily with anxiety attacks as a direct result. I was constantly grumpy when around him while my mood was fantastic when around my friends. I became so good at lying to myself, that I actually started believing my own lies! I managed to convince myself that I wasn’t that into intimacy and that it wasn’t normal to speak to your partner every day when in separate countries – a phone call once or twice a week should be more than enough.
Just for the record, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the man. He’s lovely (and as far as I know he’s just as happy now as I am)! He just really wasn’t for me, and, I guess, deep down we both knew it.

So, there I was. I had packed up my flat once again and had told everyone that this was it. I was off to Germany! We were going all in. However, I met with one of my closest friends and her sister for brunch the morning of my departure and I cried through most of it. True story. The tears were unstoppable! I kept blaming the country – that I had a hard time picturing myself living in Germany. But the truth was I had a hard time picturing myself living there with him.

I left Copenhagen and a few hours later he picked me up at the train station. We had a fight first thing – a big one. Then we had another one later in the evening. We had a few more the next day and so it continued. We fought from morning to night every single day for 6 days and in the end he cut the rope. He finally put his foot down and we were both free (I have thanked him for this action a million times since in my mind). Of course, it didn’t feel good at the time – on the contrary (I panicked big time!) – but this goodbye, this curtain fall, marked the beginning of something amazing – a new and absolutely gorgeous scene.

Life started over. Once back in Copenhagen I hid for a while as I was so embarrassed about the outcome of what was supposed to be a big love adventure. And then slowly I returned to life, picking up the pieces and looking ahead.

I saw Lis once a week and I spent a lot of time with my friends. I joined a running club and generally got back to my healthy habits. I created a fantastic mind map (if you don’t know what this is, you can read about it here) and used it as my screensaver. Slowly I stopped lying to myself and I started living the life I had dreamed of.

After about a month or two I came home from a night out and I was so genuinely happy. You know, the kind of happy, where you’re all bubbly inside and just know that everything is right. A bit like being in love, but with noone and nothing in particuar to aim it at. Nothing special had happened that night, I was just at complete inner peace and felt fantastic. I was in love with my freedom, I guess. A huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I was free to do whatever I wanted going forward. I decided to make some sort of reminder for myself of that feeling – the feeling of complete bliss. So I wrote ‘I LOVE MY LIFE’ on a post-it and stuck it to my mirror. Then I smiled at my reflection and remember thinking ‘looks like we’re on the right track, Kat’ after which I went to bed.

That post-it stayed on my mirror the next 6 months as a daily reminder of how blessed I truly was (and still very much am). It became my promise to myself – my promise that I would never again ignore my own signals. I still have this post-it somewhere, as I brought it with me to London. And the words stay true; I LOVE MY LIFE. I honestly do. I feel blessed that I was redirected at such a crucial time and that I’ve learned to be true to who I am.

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If you find that your are in the middle of a storm right now, keep in mind that every ‘no’ takes you closer to a better ‘yes’. This hurt and frustration you’re going through shall pass and you are currently being re-directed to something better than what was.

So while going through the necessary motions, keep an eye out for the good moments. The times when you smile, laugh and truly enjoy living. When you recognise them (and they do happen, believe me), write down what you’re feeling on a post-it and stick it on your mirror. Do this as a reminder to yourself that a great feeling happened once, so it will most definitely happen again. And, by all means, don’t limit yourself to just one post-it. Fill out the entire mirror! Just make sure there’s a tiny space clear so you can send yourself a wink and a smile from time to time.

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The painful truth

You know that feeling of complete annoyment when your superior is bossing you around? Or when you get annoyed because it’s as if your partner has lost his / her spark – life has become booooring? Or when you feel like the girl from class is being such a bimbo (while trying to get the cute guy’s attention)? Or how you can sometimes hardly stand the fact that you are related to a specific person? How your father / brother / sister / mother says these awkward things in public? How they draw too much embarrassing attention? Why can’t everyone just be a bit more like you, right? Here’s the deal. Here’s the painful truth; They are. They are exactly like you.

All these actions / people represent a side of you that you are not at peace with. Let’s take the example with your superior. Any chance you could be slightly jealous of this person? Deep down inside, do you wish you were the boss? Or, could it be that you, yourself, are bossing someone else around and being rather unpleasant?
And moving on to the example with your partner having lost his / her spark. Before you start pointing fingers and telling your loved one how incredibly dull life has become in his / her presence, have a look within. How’s your own spark doing? Do you wake up every morning excited about the day ahead? Do you enjoy what you do for a living? Have you got a great hobby and fantastic friends that you socialise with? Making you happy and sparking your spark is not your partner’s responsibility – it’s yours. So next time your partner annoys you ask yourself whether you are annoyed with your partner or with yourself?
And what about the girl from class getting all the attention? Slightly jealous, are we? Why not go for some attention of your own? Or is the issue rather that you act exactly like her (maybe even worse) when in a similar situation?
Last, but not least, the awkward relative; Is this person in reality saying or doing what you would have said or done? Do you, in all honesty, resemble this person? Or could it be that you used to resemble this person (you probably still do – just saying..) and have been told to stop doing so by a partner, a different relative or a friend, which is why you can’t stand when these ‘forbidden’ actions happen?

We are all born whole in every way. Look at babies! They are perfect and flawless. They never get embarrassed. They do exactly as they feel like doing exactly when they feel like doing it. Then they grow older and in come the surroundings to teach them what is right and wrong. Society, friends, family – they all have a say in how this little person turns out.
So what were your surroundings like? It is inevitable that you at some point have been told to stop doing something in a particular way or that you have been told you should always behave in a certain manner. The right manner. Obviously.
Keep in mind when digging up the past that these people who have had a say in how you turned out have (hopefully) all done what they did the best way they knew how. And no matter how well they did, nobody is ever perfect! They did as they believed was right and acted the best way they were capable of, so this isn’t about starting ‘the blame game’. The past is brilliant, as it can help us understand the present. But then that’s that. Once you’ve discovered what you need to discover, leave the past in the past and focus on today.

The-secret-of-change-is-to-focus-all-of-your-energySo, what can you learn from your past? What have you been told to stop doing? What have you been taught was right and wrong? And do you, as an adult, agree?

Right now, this very minute, you decide. You set your own limits and your own rules. So if there’s something you’re not happy with, have a look within and try to figure out what it is. Once you know what sparks your annoyment, accept that this is a part of you and make a conscious effort to either do something about it or remove yourself from the situation. But never blame the person who sparked the feeling in the first place. You are an adult – how you behave and what you feel and think is all your own responsibility. It’s true that you can not (always) control what happens to you – but you can definitely control how you react to it.

Your surroundings are reflections of you. Accept them as they are, use them as a mirror and concentrate on yourself and your own development. Once you do this, you will find that the truth doesn’t have to be quite as painful after all.

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“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

About 5 years ago I met a woman who ended up changing my life by introducing me to her way of thinking. She is an older woman, wise, and – truth be told – quite wacky in her own charming way. Best of all though, she’ s fantastic to talk to.
I came to her because I was stuck in life (we all know that feeling). I was in the wrong relationship (which took me a few more years to figure out), had no idea what I wanted to do with my professional life, felt lost and, in general, I was just unhappy.

Lis, as she is called, came into my life by chance, some would say.  She wouldn’t put it that way. Lis would say we met in between former lives and agreed that this meeting would happen. However, as I am still undecided as to whether that kind of spirituality is something I personally believe in, I choose to believe that we were meant to meet and then I leave it at that.

I had just come back to Copenhagen from an internship in Brazil, was writing my thesis based on the research I had gathered there and took part in a rather dramatic long distance relationship with my boyfriend at the time. I was tired and worn down. I needed someone to be an adult for me. An adultier adult, so to speak.

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One day I bought a deal on one of those deal websites that have become increasingly popular. The deal was for one session of Craniosacral Therapy, which I had heard of, but was rather sceptical about. However, now that it was cheaper, I was ready to try it – and so I did. To be honest I didn’t really feel any difference physically (or mentally for that matter) afterwards, but the craniosacral therapist made a big deal out of speaking before and after the session, so as we sat down after the session she told me that she had never seen an aura as holed as mine was when I first came in the door. She believed I needed someone to talk to – whether I knew anyone? If not, she knew just the right person for me. This person was Lis.

Although this whole aura business was a bit too out there for my liking at the time, I figured I had nothing to lose and so I made it to Lis’s Copenhagen flat about a month later. I slightly feared this meeting, as she had sounded a bit tough on the phone and, to top it all off, I had managed to sign up for no less than three sessions, three days in a row, with this woman (a rule of hers).

I walked into an apartment made up of pastel colours (literally!) and was greeted by a little lady with white hair and a big smile, dressed in – surprise – pastel colours. The energy in her flat was so warm and welcoming that it took me about a minute or two to start opening up. I spent the next three days on her couch crying, laughing and, at one point, even being angry with her for giving me a bit of the ‘tough love’ that I had obviously asked for by being in her flat in the first place. Those three days became the start of a crazy and amazing adventure (I still try to see her when in Copenhagen) and although Lis is still a lot more spiritual than I think I will ever become, she has placed seeds in my heart and soul that have grown and continue to do so. Seeds of gratitude and warmth, of finally understanding who I am, what I am about and, last but not least, she has taught me to trust the process of life.

In this school of life Lis has been (and continues to be) one of my absolute favourite and most important teachers, but she has also made me aware that no one will learn anything unless they are ready for it.
I sent her a loving thought when I recently came across a line that made such perfect sense to me: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
I was ready. True, I had been well on the way for years, reading books and analysing past and present, but I was ready to meet Lis and I am forever grateful for having done so.

Have you got an adultier adult in your life? A mentor? Are you ready to make the necessary changes? Are you ready to become a healthier, happier person? If not – what is holding you back?

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Boxes

Have you ever noticed how your outer and inner states usually reflect each other? I find that it’s especially obvious when entering someone’s home. It’s even obvious to me in my own home.

We all (or, at least, most of us) enjoy when our homes are clean and tidy, but some days there’s just not enough time to keep it up. Some days the kitchen will be a mess and the laundry won’t be sorted – we’ll live. It’s part of life. Other days we find ourselves full of energy and maybe we even enjoy tidying up the living room and doing the bed so it’s ready for the night.

Last summer I sold my lovely, light Copenhagen apartment. It had been my home for 8 years at the time – my sacred haven. During those 8 years I had gone through hangovers, wonders and tragedies within that space and I especially loved returning to the flat every time I had managed to live in a foreign country for a while.
While living abroad I would rent out the flat, usually partly furnished. This meant that I would box up everything I had and left those boxes in the attic and / or basement in the storage rooms that came with the flat.

The last time I returned from being abroad was in August 2012 and I specifically remember having to be careful when opening the door of the attic storage room, as I knew the 12 square meters (about 130 square feet) were stuffed to the rim with boxes and things. The storage room in the basement was pretty much the same story (and the same size).
Back then I wasn’t sure how long I would stay in Copenhagen, so I only took down a few boxes from the attic to begin with. In fact, I ended up living in the flat for 6 months without taking down more than about 6 boxes or so during the time. Then I left for London and everything was boxed up, as I was renting out the flat once more. I never lived in the flat again.

Anyone who has ever lived in London will know that you pay obscene amounts of money for very little living space. My case was no exception. I moved into a room the size of my attic storage space with my two suitcases and this became my home for the next 6 months. Then I met my boyfriend and moved in with him.  Even though we have a little more room now (not much more – after all, it is still London) storage space is severely limited, so every time I buy e.g. a new sweater, I have to throw one away. This has probably been one of the most practical educational experiences I’ve had in London: The less room you have, the less crap you gather. Everyone should try it.

Last summer I had lived in London for a few years and could tell I would stay here for quite a while longer, so I decided to sell the flat. I was, however, in no way prepared for the fact that it sold in three days and the buyer wanted to take over the apartment as fast as possible. What was I going to do with all my stuff? After all, I had two storage rooms packed full of memories! If I were to bring all of my things to London there would be no room for my boyfriend or me in our flat.
I ended up doing the only thing I could do. My boyfriend and I went to Denmark for what was supposed to be a weekend all about my childhood friend’s wedding, and managed to fit in one single day (with a very good friend of mine – thanks Christopher) cleaning out the storage rooms. I got rid of three quarters of my belongings that day and we took the rest of my things to my father’s summerhouse, where it is currently stored till it comes to London in a few weeks.

Three quarters of my belongings. Imagine that. How is that even possible? To be honest, I’m not sure I would have been able to throw and give away as much if my circumstances had been different, but the truth of the matter is that storage in London is so limited and so I had no choice.
Surprisingly it was such a freeing experience to get rid of all those things. I had teddy bears and letters from old boyfriends stored away, old essays from third grade, cd’s (Christopher managed to save some of these), cassette tapes from the early 90’s, records, a broken keyboard, furniture I hadn’t used in years, 4 doors (this came as a surprise to my boyfriend especially), candle holders, clothes, flashlights, kitchenware, books from university – you name it, I had it. And now I’m rid of it and it honestly feels amazing!

In many ways cleaning out my storage rooms felt very much like starting a fresh. I have met the man I want to be with for the rest of my life and I’ve started a fantastic life with him in London. I’ve let go of a lot of things that I had kept close ‘just in case’. Emotional baggage I had held on to in order to not lose the people connected to those memories for good. I let go of the past and while doing so I realised that memories are worth much more when they aren’t connected to physical things.

I feel lighter. Happier. And I don’t miss a single thing I’ve thrown away.

When was the last time you cleaned out your closet, so to speak? Have you got excess boxes and bags stored somewhere? Chances are you don’t even know what’s in them. Maybe it’s time for you to thoroughly go through your belongings and give yourself a fresh start?

I once had a colleague who lived in a three bedroom flat. One of the rooms had belonged to her step son – a person she had loved dearly and who was ‘taken’ from her when she split up with his father. When we worked together she told me she hadn’t used her step son’s room since. It had become storage space and she hardly ever was in there. One day, after seeing a healer, she started cleaning out the room. She threw away boxes, tidied up and turned the room into a study. I still remember how uplifted she was when she came to work and told me about this experience. She felt she had finally let go and that a massive weight had been lifted off her shoulders.

So, the question is – what do you need to get rid of? And what have you got to lose, if you start now? Worst case scenario? See below:

childhoodmoney

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