Stop complaining and be thankful for the things you have

I live in The Netherlands and for Dutch people it is common to complain about almost anything: the government and taxes, the weather, our spouse or our boss. You name it, we complain about it. If we don’t have anything to complain about we will find something. Complaining is part of being Dutch. We complain so much what we sometimes don’t see how great it is, and how thankful we should be, to live in this part of the world.

In my article stop blaming others and take control over your life I wrote that one of the biggest personal development steps you can take is to stop being a victim. If you stop blaming others for all the bad things that are happening to you, and the ones you love, you are regaining the responsibility over your own happiness and your life. So what’s next? I think it’s about appreciating the things you have.

When you stop blaming others you are in a much better position to be thankful. Stop for a moment and think about all the things in your life that are worth being thankful for: the lessons learned from the past, your successes, all the good memories, the friends and family you have and life in general (personally, I think being alive is a good thing to appreciate). There are many things to appreciate and be thankful for, you only have to be open enough to see them.

Where’s your focus and energy?

In another article use the power of positive thinking to change your life I said that if you start to focus more on the positive things in your life, you are programming your sub-conscious mind towards a more positive attitude. As a result more positive things will happen to you simply because that’s where your focus is. It is the same for appreciating things. Once you start appreciating all the things you have, or the things you do not have, you will see and experience more things to be thankful for.

Some people complain all the time about the things that are not working in their lives. Guess what will happen, where do you think their focus is? How will they view the world? What’s their perspective on the things and people they see around them?

My experience is that you are literally wasting your energy when you complain. I’ve done it for a while and I can tell you it doesn’t work, nothing will change. Why don’t you start using your energy for some positive action? If you don’t like a situation in your life, change it to something better.

And another thing: If your focus is only on the future, hoping your situation will improve later on without taking the necessary steps, you are not living now but in a dream world. If you always look forward to the next vacation, the next paycheck, the next job, or when the children will leave the house, maybe your retirement, you are missing a lot of what is happening right now. Before you know it you live is over without ever being satisfied. Now, how much fun is that?

Being thankful

Being thankful is easy. Be conscious how you view the world around you. Stop being a victim. Catch yourself when you complain about something. Ask yourself: why do I complain about this? Am I wasting energy on this and can I do something about the situation? You will see things work out better if you take action with a positive attitude. Find something you can appreciate, and start building from there.

Use your insecurity as a guide to change

After writing my article, feel insecure and build self confidence, I had a discussion with a friend who is also a life coach. While we talked about our own emotions, as life coaches dealing with clients, I mentioned my own insecurity and what it means to me. During this discussion I had a sudden insight. What would my own life mean without insecurity? Insecurity is part of life and I need to feel insecure to take action, to make changes. Without some sort of insecurity in my life I will lose interest in making the necessary changes to move ahead. In other words: I need insecurity!

Think about it for while. You are living the perfect life: you dress sharp and look good, have enough money to get whatever you want, no worries about your job or business. You have the perfect relationship, great sex, never having a single argument together. You live in the perfect city, perfect neighborhood, have perfect kids, perfect friends and your family is the greatest family in the world. No insecure feelings whatsoever. Can you imagine what kind of life this will be? For some this may be a dream come true, but is this really so?

I cannot speak for others, only for myself. But for me, after some time living and loving the very secure life as mentioned above, I will probably get bored, very bored. I will get lazy and start losing interest in a lot of things as there is no need to be creative or take any action. I need to walk the thin line between security and insecurity. Insecurity keeps me sharp. I need some insecurity in my life to make the necessary changes to adjust to an ever changing environment.

If you look at history, feeling insecure is a huge catalyst for the creativity of mankind. Of course, people cannot create masterpieces of art while war is threatening their families. But some insecurity is usually very good. Look at artists, scientists, entrepreneurs or politicians. They all thrive on a little insecurity. Insecurity isn’t paralyzing them; it’s taking them to great heights as they are taking their chances whenever they can. Once they are well established you will see that they start losing some of the earlier drive, and creativity, they once had.

Like change, insecure feelings are part of life. Don’t be afraid of them. If you resist them, ignore them or a paralyzed by them you cannot benefit from the message they are delivering to you. If you accept insecurity as an inevitable fact of life you can use it to your advantage. Listen to your insecure feelings. Start acting on them and make the changes that are necessary. Know insecure feelings are part of who you are. Life will be very boring without them.

Accepting insecurity as a part of life can be very powerful and will build self-confidence. Insecurity and self-confidence don’t have to be counterparts; they can go hand in hand. Without insecure feelings there cannot be self-confidence. Use your insecurity as a guide to change.

And for me, now I know myself a little bit better and have found peace with my own insecure feelings, I can help my clients, as a life coach, even better.

Feel insecure and build self confidence

Feeling insecure is normal. There are very few people who are self-confident all the time and never feel insecure. As a life coach I see that most of my clients are dealing with insecurity and it is probably the number one issue why people come to see me. As human beings we don’t want to feel insecure and often feel ashamed about it, thinking we are the only one feeling like this and no one else. But is this truly so and is trying to hide our insecure feelings always the best thing to do?

Everyone, more or less, is dealing with insecure feelings. We may not like it but feeling insecure is quite normal and part of life. It may surprise you but as a life coach, sometimes, I feel insecure myself. This week a client didn’t show up and my first, insecure, thought was “is it because of me, am I not good enough?” Now I have been trained to deal with this and normally have a lot of self-confidence. But still, insecure feelings sometimes present themselves and I have to deal with them.

People deal differently with insecure feelings. When feeling insecure, most people try to hide it, ignore it or pretend it doesn’t exist. Some pretend to have a lot of self-confidence, playing the self-confidence role, while still feel insecure on a deeper level. Others become frustrated or angry. Some will run away, wanting to escape the situation. And another group will become very silent, feeling ashamed. Everyone is different and no one is perfect.

Whatever the case may be, there’s usually one thing in common: we don’t want to acknowledge our own insecurity. We may be able to get away with it for a while but at some point in our lives the insecure feelings will get stronger and stronger unless we start to acknowledge them.

How to overcome insecurity

The first step towards self-confidence is the ability to acknowledge your own insecurity. Once you acknowledge your own insecurity you can overcome it.

Don’t try to hide your insecurity, feel it. There is nothing wrong with the feeling or with you. Feeling insecure is part of who you are. You are not alone. Most people who are acting with super confidence on the outside are insecure on the inside. It’s just a role they are playing.

Once you feel how insecure you are, once you acknowledge it, you can work towards building more self-confidence. Can you locate the insecure feeling in your body? Don’t try to run away from it but instead focus on it. Feel it. Acknowledging insecurity is the first step towards self-confidence. True self-confidence means you acknowledge your feelings, all your feelings, including your own insecurity.

Building self-confidence is the next step. Learn to recognize when you feel insecure. In what kind of situations does it happen? Is there an inner critic in you who makes you feel insecure? Learn to recognize the patterns and start building from there. Allow yourself to feel insecure. Insecurity has its function too. It warns you for taking too much risks. What would happen if you feel super confident all the time? How many unhealthy risks would you take?

To conclude this article, let’s go back to my own insecure feeling when my client didn’t showed up. I accepted the feeling completely. I was fully conscious of the fact that the feeling was there and allowed it to be fully present. The feeling was part of me, why ignore it? While I was doing this I was thinking about what had happened. What was the most logical explanation for the client not showing up? Did he forget to meet me, or something else? The moment I did this, the feeling went away.

When I called the client the next morning I found out the issue wasn’t about me at all. We simply had made an error writing the date of the meeting each on a different date in our calendars.

Unlimited possibilities exists when you think out of the box

When was the last time you thought out of the box?

Last week, while my three year old daughter Rosanne was playing with her toys, I overheard her saying,” Let’s take the plane to grandma Jannie”. You must know my mom lives 20 kilometers / 15 miles away so taking the car might be a bit more convenient to get there. But for Rosanne the possibility of taking a flight, together with her favorite toys, to go to her grandma was a real possibility, a possibility we adults will no longer consider as a real option. For children unlimited possibilities exists as they think out of the box.

Over time, when we grow up, we get conditioned by what people teach us: our parents, the teachers at school, our friends and the culture we live in. We get rewarded for the things we do well, we get punished if our behavior isn’t in line with what people expect from us. We learn to accept certain assumptions as facts and the truth; the only truth. We learn to think with what we know, not with what we don’t know.

During this conditioning process we gradually loose our innocence as a child and our ability to naturally think out of the box; thinking of all the unlimited possibilities what may be available to us. After time, as adults, when we face a problem, we look with our conditioned mind only at the possibilities we know can work for us, not at all the other options that may be available. Unless we relearn to think out of the box we may not see that “taking the plane to grandma Jannie” may be a real possibility, maybe the only option available given the situation that is at hand.

Thinking out of the box

I think that the best definition for thinking out of the box is that it allows you to think, and feel, as a child who has unlimited possibilities and options available to him. Thinking out of the box isn’t that difficult: All you have to do is to learn to be creative again. Use your imagination and allow yourself to have dreams. Do not limit yourself to the most obvious options available when you face a problem, but consider all possibilities, how strange they may seem at the time. Your best ideas will come to you when you think out of the box. Some problems cannot be solved with reason and logic only, but need the innocence and creativity of a child.

Think of it for a while. How do you think that the world most famous inventions came into being? Did their inventors thought inside or outside of the box? Would commercial flights exist if the Wright brothers didn’t dream of taking to the skies and only listened to their conditioned mind; saying that flying cannot be done? Would taking a plane to grandma Jannie be an option for them?

Be creative, use your imagination, think as a child and think out of the box. When you do you will see the world through the eyes of a child. Unlimited possibilities exists and are available to you. Nothing is impossible. Isn’t that great?

How to be a successful entrepreneur and run your life as a business

You may not realize it yet but you already run a business: your own life. Whether you manage your life consciously or unconsciously, and whether you like it or not, you are responsible for the end result. So you better make up your mind: do you want to have a successful life or an average life? Do you want to control your own life or is life, and the event and people in it, controlling you?

Entrepreneurship doesn’t limit itself to businesses only; it applies to our private lives as well. In a sense everyone is an entrepreneur. Successful business owners have one thing in common. They take charge and have a clear vision and goal on what they want to do with their business. Can you honestly say you do the same with your life? How much have you invested in a successful life?

Most articles on this blog are meant to help you with creating the life you want. You may not agree with everything I say, but at least I hope you start thinking about the things you really want and get out of life: the things that are important to you. Start thinking for yourself; make up your own mind. This is the first step towards conscious living.

Below you can find 11 essentials to help you with living the life you want. To be successful and how to be an entrepreneur and run your life as a business:

  • Take responsibility. Take charge over your own life. Stop blaming others and take control over your life. Stop being a victim.
  • Have a millionaire mindset. There is nothing wrong with making money. See: why I don’t believe that money is the root of all evil. Run your life with the intention to make a profit. Only when you make money you can do something good with it.
  • Be optimistic. Have a positive mindset; this will set the right tone for your life. See: use the power of positive thinking to change your life.
  • Play to win. See life as one big game. Enjoy every minute of it.
  • Take risks. You will only get ahead in life if you take some risks. Risks are part of life. Not taking risks is a risk itself as you may not see the right opportunity when it presents itself.
  • Embrace change, do not resist it and see it as an opportunity. Nothing stays the same, change is part of life. See: embrace change: a blessing in disguise.
  • Know what it takes to be successful. If you want to be successful and want to achieve something you need to put in the effort. In one of my previous articles the formula for success I said that Success = Passion + Talent + Effort. I don’t think there is much difference in running a business or our private lives. The formula fits both.
  • Prioritize on what is important and what is not. Manage your time effectively and simplify your life.
  • Promote yourself. You cannot be successful without letting people know you exist. Market your brand.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
  • And finally: Don’t be afraid of success. See my article celebrate your success and don’t be afraid of it

I feel therefore I am: Recognize your feelings and emotions

I think therefore I am. You probably recognize these words as it is a famous quote by philosopher René Descartes. Being good at thinking is considered an important quality in our current day society. Great thinkers are often icons, even heroes. Thinking is so important nowadays that we think it’s superior to our feelings. We measure our intelligence by the quality of our thoughts. Thinking is first, feelings and emotions are second.

As a Life Coach I know how important thinking is, but I also know the importance of our feelings and emotions. I would say they are even more important than thinking. Why is this? Basically, our feelings are an important feedback system our body is providing us and it’s a pity that most people see them as inferior to thinking. The reason why I think our feelings and emotions are very important is that they come from a deeper level than thinking. Thinking takes place only in the mind, but we feel with our whole body. Our thoughts can sometimes fool us, feelings are often more true.

When I was in my early twenties the company I worked for went bankrupt and I had to find another job. At one point I found a new job and ignored this subtle feeling (my intuition) I had about it. My feeling said no, my mind said yes. I rationalized the feeling as some sort of fear for the unknown and decided to go ahead with the job. This was a bad decision. Within days I felt really miserable, found out this job was no good for me and decided to quit. Had I only listen to my feelings I would not taken the job in the first place. With the next job that came along the feeling was quite different, it felt good. I worked for that company for almost 11 years till I felt I needed to move on to something new and different.

I learned the hard way. I can tell you of numerous other events in my life where I didn’t listen to my feelings or ignored them. In all cases my body didn’t lie and in the end I had to admit, often after a long struggle, the decision was wrong.

Nowadays I listen better to what my body is telling me. I use my feelings, my intuition, as a guiding system. If something doesn’t feel right to me I won’t do it. If the feeling is right, I will. Whenever I encounter a problem in my life, I will look for the feeling or emotion behind it, investigate it and look for the deeper message it is delivering me.

During coaching session feelings and emotions play an important part as well. As a life coach I investigate with my clients what they believe, why they are thinking these thoughts and if there are other possible truths than what they currently believe. Together with a matching coaching tool I will always focus on the feelings behind their thoughts, as they are often more true than what the client is thinking and believing. The feelings and emotions that go with a certain thought can give insight to an underlying belief that may be the real issue. This process can lead to real moments of insight and can be the beginning of the change my clients seek.

I feel therefore I am.

Stop worrying about the future and things you cannot control

I used to worry a lot about all sort of things. Especially in my early and mid twenties I had periods of extreme worrying, most of them related to work. When I look back at all those worries they now seem very insignificant, hardly worth the effort to think about them. Still they kept me awake for many nights.

Worrying always means you worry about future events, things than may happen, but never about the present moment.

One worrying thought was not enough. For some reason worrying thoughts like each other and before I knew it I was worrying about a bunch of things. A single worry like “I forgot to make that call” could lead to “I may lose my job” and all sorts of worries in between.

Another symptom of my worrying was that it was related to my level of fitness. If I was fit, I did not worry that much or not at all, but if I was tired I worried a lot more. At the end of the day, or doing the night, my worrying was at its prime. In the morning those worrying toughs that kept me awake, somehow seem less important.

I do much better now and if there’s one lesson to learn from the past it must be that problems that looked huge at that time are nothing, peanuts, after 1, 5 or 10 years. Another thing I noticed is that I always worried about the things I couldn’t control. I made possible problems bigger than they actually were and always worried about the worst thing that could happen. I can tell you it almost never happened and when it did I actually felt relieved.

Below you can find some tips on how to stop worrying about the future and things you cannot control:

  • Realize that worrying always means you worry about the worst case scenario. It is not very likely this will come true. What is the actual chance that the worst case scenario, the thing you worry about, actually comes true? Do the math and see how very unlikely this is.
  • Take things into perspective. Imagine yourself being in the future looking back at you worrying. How important is the worrying thought now?
  • Worrying means there is some uncertainty in your life, something you cannot control. Let go of control, nothing is certain in life.
  • The thought about something happening is always worse than the actual event itself. In most cases, when a worrying thought actually comes true, you stop worrying about it and will take it as a fact.
  • Keep your energy level up. Make sure you have enough rest, being tired will increase the chance of worrying.
  • If you do worry and feel tired, realize that your level of worrying is related to how tired you are. Being aware of this can reduce the worrying thoughts.
  • When worrying, stop thinking and start feeling. Take your attention away from your thoughts and focus on your body. Is there a place in your body where you can locate your worrying? Can you feel it and what do you feel?
  • Start moving. Do something with your body, take a walk and you will see it will make you feel better.
  • Write down all your worries before going to bed. This is especially useful if you worry a lot about things you may forget to do. When you write the thought down, you write them out of your mind so to speak. When you wake up in the morning you can pick-up the list and start doing all the things you planned to do.
  • Have you noticed that worrying always is about the future, things that may happen, and never about the present moment? Ask yourself: Do I have a problem now?

Good luck, and stop worrying now.