conscious living

How to make your resolutions work

The year is almost over!! To me, it isn’t really hard to say goodbye, it was a difficult year in many aspects, but also a year that taught me so much about myself! Who I am, what is really important to me, what I needed to change. And I found out on a very personal level that change isn't easy (wanted or unwanted). And it's even harder when you don't have the energy to experiment new things. 

What I also found is that real change can only come from within, supported by our deepest motivation. It all starts with a wish, a desire, a longing... but for what? I learned that having clarity on what I want, and more importantly, what I truly needed, was pivotal to turn things around.

So, I'll start the new year with much more clarity on the things I would like to accomplish, and what I want to bring into my life. That empowered mindset makes me much more confident that I will reach my goals.

I stated some powerful resolutions that are aligned with my heart, body, and Soul.

What are resolutions? Wishes and dreams, goals and plans. In short, resolutions are about changes we want to make.

Having navigated many changes in all areas of my own life, as well as supporting my patients in their journey after a diagnosis or illness when I was still in the medical field, and working as a project manager on implementing complex operational changes, I have seen up close what worked and what didn't work when it comes to change.

I would like to share some thoughts about resolutions with you, to explain why they usually fail and how to approach things differently.

When you ask people about their resolutions, you usually get 3 types of response. 

  1. Well, I should quit [X] so that's what I'm gonna try. Between the brackets are things like [smoking, drinking, shopping, spending, eating chocolate, overeating, ...].

  2. Well, I should start [Y] so I'm going to do that. Between the brackets are things like [moving, running, eating healthy, being there for my family, a project, ...].

  3. Resolutions? I don't have any because they don't work anyway.

The core feelings behind those responses are:

  1. guilt

  2. guilt

  3. cynicism, defeat

Not very positive. 

This is exactly why resolutions like this usually don't work. They are stated while we are in a restrictive or judgemental emotional state. We believe we are doing something wrong and we try to fix ourselves. 

Of course, there is nothing wrong with ambition, setting goals and trying to be the better version of ourselves. But, it's important to know what that version is and whether it suits us.

Usually, the wish for change comes from a sense of urgency. Things go wrong, we don't like the results we are getting. And that leads to stress. Our systems are built to eliminate stress immediately. And the way we are wired, it leads to behavior that temporarily decreases stress -> eating, drinking, smoking, shopping, checking our phones, ... 

Oops. 

The things causing us stress, are the same things we go to as a temporary stress release. And we know it. That's where the guilt creeps in, the 'shoulds', the inner critical voice. We punish ourselves with restrictive measures (causing stress) and we call it a resolution - "I am going to be a better version of myself without this behavior. I should ... "

We humans have stress on a daily basis and we have needs on a daily basis. We want to feel safe, supported and loved. However, during our lifetimes we taught ourselves to get positive feelings through external things. Self-soothing is a lie... We don't self-soothe, we externally-look-for-soothing. We fall into the trap of feeling good for a short while though unwanted and destructive behavior, causing stress and in the long run, not giving us what we are longing for.

It's a vicious cycle. Or a downward spiral. See how this will never work?

How would it be when we were able to shift our perspective and look within to find what we need? To give the love, care, and support to ourselves? To break the cycle in a different, lasting way? To spiral up an up towards the things you truly want?

When you create change by adding restorative practices, you will decrease stress and enhance relaxation. This creates so much more space to invite new things into your life! 

To create lasting changes, you need space and clarity on your deepest motivation and your true needs.

To help you state powerful intentions that are aligned with your heart, body, and Soul, and the energies of the January New Moon, I created a 9-day online program, the WinterLight Wellness Week.

You can find more information about WinterLight HERE.

The Moon Cycle - Lunar Phases 101

The Moon Cycle - Lunar Phases 101

Cyclical living can help you live your life more balanced. How can living according to the Moon cycle help you to create abundance, joy, health, and success? This article will explain the Moon cycle and Lunar phases to help you make a start with cyclical living.

Cyclical living to prevent and recover from burnout

I have been paying attention to the Moon cycle my whole life. When I was a child I often looked up to look for Her, and when I found Her I would marvel at Her brightness and Her shape. Sometimes She was full and round, sometimes barely visible, a small crescent. 

At a young age I learned what the waxing and waning Moon looked like (see RESOURCES for an explanatory e-book). It wasn't until my late twenties that I discovered that the Moon phases had their own energy and purpose. 

The Moon has been a guide for ages. Every year, a Farmer's Almanac is published, which lays out the Moon phases and the best days for planting, sowing, doing labor on the land, harvesting and more. When aligned with the Moon cycle, farmers have bigger crops, better harvests and less waste. People have lived with this wisdom since the birth of agriculture. 

Somewhere along the way we forgot. We run on a treadmill of achieving goals, always pushing, striving and making deadlines. New ideas, growth, and success are valued more than the stillness, where fertilization and incubation happens. This skipping of an important phase in any project, from a start-up business to writing a book to creating a successful product, seems efficient. It saves us time, and we can go on faster to the next thing in life. However, living in overdrive like this, and skipping rest and recovery, has a huge downward risk. At first, we don't notice. Until we collapse.

I had lived my life in this running, linear way for 38 years before I crashed. When I was in dire shape, in the midst of my burnout, I discovered something important. I noticed that my exhaustion was the worst at New Moon (and when I was menstruating). The depletion of cosmic and physical energy took so much that I wasn't able to move or sit up for days. 

Because I was following the Moon already, I found out quickly. I never thought this effect could be so profound, I was aware of the esoteric meaning of the Moon phases but I never really paid attention to the physical effects (or any bodily signal, to be honest). But when I started to connect the Moon energy to my own energy levels, everything clicked.

We are so used to living in 5th gear, never taking a break or allowing our body to rest. But we forget that we are cyclical beings. Especially women, because we have a menstrual cycle on top of it. 

Everything in the Universe consists of spirals, circles, and cycles. Galaxies, the solar system, the planetary movements, the Earth when spinning around its axis and thus creating the seasons, the Moon cycle, but also the cycle of life, growth, death, rebirth. Molecular structures move energy around in a cyclical motion. This is the basis of oxygen-dependent life, it's called the citric acid cycle (and it was a pain in the ass to memorize for my Med School exams, I tell you).

So, when everything is cyclical, why do we think we can just skip a phase? How can we systematically skip Winter? We need rest, recovery, contemplation, allowing new ideas to form, hibernating under the surface in order for the cycle to complete itself and start over again.

We can't skip the Winter, but we do it on a systematic basis. We have labels rest and recovery as 'laziness'. We think contemplation is 'unproductive'.

When we follow these voices, judgments, beliefs, and we continue to skip it, it leads to burnout. Burnout is nothing else than a very long Winter enforced on you by your body. When you are experiencing burnout, start with rest, not a weekend, not a vacation. What you need is real prolonged rest. This can be very scary, just have faith your nature. The cycle will start over again one day.

When you are planning a new adventure, start with rest, contemplation to be more successful. When you just finished a big project in your business or job, celebrate your success, then rest and evaluate. Learn from your experiences, and integrate them. 

Start paying attention to your energy and your cyclical nature today. Awareness prevents problems and it will help you to be more successful, and live a sustainable life. 

If you want to talk with me about this subject to find out what it can mean for you, feel free to book a complimentary discovery call with me. 

Remove these 4 energy leaks to decrease stress

To feel energized and to prevent stress-related illnesses like burnout, it's important to be critical of which energies you give access to in your life, and what of who you give your energy to. To feel radiant, strong and centered, it is important to be aware of energy leaks and to remove them. Here are 4 types of energy leaks to be aware of, and to take action on, to kickstart your healing process. 

An Englishman in New York

That is how I felt yesterday, traveling to Amsterdam for a training. I had to commute for 45 minutes by train and metro, using the busiest commuting lines during the morning hours, changing trains at the city center's financial hub station, Amsterdam Zuid (South). People were rushing by, on their way to work, dressed in corporate suits and high heels, using laptops and phones on the train. Almost nobody made eye contact or looked out of the window. 

I had to wait on a platform and suddenly I had this strange feeling of being in a movie. People around me were fading into sliding lines. I saw myself, standing like a soft pillar of peace and silence between movement and rushing energy, conscious of my surroundings and looking up close from a distance. 

I suddenly felt like an Englishman in New York. 

I speak the language very well. I have lived a similar life myself, traveling by train for years and years, day after day to the same station, studying, working 80 hours a week in the hospital. Moving to another job, the rat race, driving in busy traffic, rushing to the next meeting, making the next deadline. 

Suddenly, standing still in the midst of it all, on the platform, I saw the emptiness of it all. The unconscious movement, sounds, flow of data, people, information, all rushing towards the same deadline. The end of life (because, you know, that's the only deadline everyone will eventually make). 

Thinking about all these people and being conscious of their lives (they must have family, friends, struggles, challenges, homes, household chores and groceries to do), I realized that it is so important to live the life you love. The possibility that all those people rushing by might not be happy with what they do, caused an overwhelming sadness to take a hold of me. 

How can we be more aware of what we are doing? Why are we running so fast? How can we be more mindful of our day?

The simple answer is: PAUSE.

Take a break from your work and breathe deeply, feel into your body, look out the window every now and then (preferably often). Take the next train. Don't 'grab' a coffee but truly enjoy it. Go outside during your lunch break and find a park. Sit on a bench for 5 minutes and watch your surroundings. Connect with someone.

Don't make pausing another task in your busy schedule. Pause, to be mindful and to feel. It helps you make better decisions. And maybe you'll discover that you too are an Englishman in New York.