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Embracing Emotions: Healing The Deeper Layers

Facing and embracing our emotions, especially the ones that we label as ‘negative’, is not something we’ve been taught how to do. Unfortunately.

There are innumerable incredible ways to distract ourselves and keep our attention outside of ourselves. But we have never been taught how to look within and often don’t know where to start.

And yes, the first step might not be easy. It’s about breaking a life-long habit of looking away and instead facing and embracing what’s going on inside. But the beauty of it is… once you do you’ll be rewarded big time.

Our emotions can actually be:

  • excellent teachers.
  • a portal to deeper healing.
  • a catalyst for spiritual growth.
  • a way to know yourself on a more intimate level.
  • the language your soul uses to communicate with you.
  • an early warning sign of areas in your life that need your attention.

Once your take your attention inside you might find: what you thought was Pandora’s box is actually a treasure box holding the answers that you had been looking for  outside all along.

Before we embark on the trip of exploring our emotions, let’s first pack the most important ingredients: Willingness. A little time. And a lot of love.

Here are four different ways to take the rewarding journey embracing your emotions:


1. Creative Expression

If you’re one of the lucky people who has found their art, you probably don’t even need to read any further. You pour your emotions into playing your instrument; singing, painting or dancing your heart out. You express your emotions in a creative way.

And if you haven’t found your specific creative outlet yet, well then you have all the freedom to experiment. Take a paintbrush or pencil and bring onto paper the dark clouds you might feel inside, turn up the volume of your favourite song and stamp out your anger or let your tears drop onto the paper as you describe your feelings in a poem… keeping in mind that it’s not about achieving a perfect result, but about the process of expressing your emotions.

And there are even more ways to deal with your emotions that are just as creative in the end.

2. Observing and Surfing

One of those ways is to observe and surf your feelings. You could observe your feelings from a distance, perhaps imagining that your feelings are behind a glass window, just as you would look at a pair of shoes in the window of a shop.

Or you could move one step closer by noticing the sensations that these feelings cause in your body. There is a mindfulness technique called the body scan, in which you bring your attention to all parts of your body. You can do the same with your emotions. Observing and perhaps naming the sensations that you feel, without judgment. Not altering them in any way, simply surfing along and wrapping them in love.

3. Loving and Transforming

One extra step I love adding is to let these feelings fill your entire body, almost like drinking them. It might sound contradicting, but in fact  your feelings can truly nourish you in this way.

Jack Johnson sings that ‘love is the answer, at least to all of the questions in my heart‘ and the same goes for our feelings. Putting your hands on your heart and saying ‘I love you’ to everything you feel, is the beginning of a love revolution according to author Matt Kahn, You can even imagine loving and embracing your emotions just like a little child.

And last but not least, there is the  Tibetan technique of tonglen. Here, you breathe in all your painful emotions (or even those of loved ones or other people) and breathe out love, compassion, peace or other positive emotions. You could also pray this way, transforming pain into pleasure for the benefit of all!

4. Sharing

The previous ways have been about creating and ‘holding’ a space for yourself and your emotions. But sometimes the emotions can seem overwhelming and too much to carry alone, and we need someone else to help us hold the space. Admitting and allowing ourselves to share our emotions can already be such a relief. The next step is to find a way of sharing that suits you.

You can of course decide to simply call a friend (or use voice whatsapp, great invention for this!), visit a sharing circle, see a therapist or explore your feelings in a coaching session.

Your pain can become your portal to pleasure.

There are many beautiful techniques to help you in letting your pain become your portal to pleasure. For instance ‘Focusing‘ by Eugene Gendlin, where you take a curious approach towards the feelings that arise and let them take you on a literal journey…. towards more consciousness and happiness.

Ultimately it’s all about letting our emotions be, not pushing them away as we are all used to in our busy lives, but allowing them to teach and enrich us.

Once we embrace our emotions in one of the ways described, they can enrich our lives and make us more healthy, happy, kind and peaceful.

How about you?

Have you tried any of these ways to embrace your emotions? Or do you have a different way that works for you? I’d love to exchange experiences in the comments below.

Nicky

PS. If you would like to experience a new way to relate to your emotions, you are welcome for a life coaching session.

When You Are Tempted To Give Up Or Give In

This is a letter from my heart to yours, for those of you who are in transition times. Those phases in life when you can’t see what’s next, when you’re tempted to give up, even though deep inside you know you shouldn’t.

Whether it’s a break-up or a move to a new city or country, the beginning of a new job or an old one ending, a health situation, a dream that didn’t work out (yet), a plan or a project you started or a habit you want to work on, but, it is all taking longer than expected…

Sometimes we get too tired to tell ourselves,
so this letter is to remind you that:

You are not alone, this too shall pass and it will bring blessings and lessons. This is a phase that you will probably look back on with gratitude, as it made you so much stronger and you wouldn’t have been the same without it, so hold on just a little longer:


Dear You,

Yes, you who are currently going through a difficult phase in your life… Whether it it is a heartbreak or a setback, tough luck or a waiting season. Whatever it is that has you tempted to become depressed, discouraged, defeated or down, first of all, it will pass.

You may be tempted to give up hope and return to what you were or did before. Tempted to no longer continue on the path that you chose, or that has chosen you, towards becoming a greater version of yourself.

Sometimes it’s just those last steps towards
the desired destination that are the hardest. 

Your situation may seem hopeless and immovable. You may have tried all you could and there is still no hope on the horizon. You may be tired of waiting. Tempted to give up faith. But before you do, I hope you can take these words to heart. Meant to remind you to once more, open your heart to hope.

Growth is hard. Life consists of  a series of chances
to make choices to change. 

It’s these crossroads that decide what our lives will look like, what direction we are moving in. Are you satisfied with yours? Just remember that you can always choose again.

Yes, circumstances may look gloomy, there are may not be many signs of improvement on the outside, and fear is raising its voice with arguments to choose the easy way out, to not take that risk, to not stretch, to no longer keep going into that direction.

Fear likes to keep you small… stressed… struggling… and stuck.

Because that’s its comfort zone, it knows how to navigate there. It’s what our past or a part of us is used to and longing for because it is familiar. No more challenges, no more change, no more uncertainty. Yet… change is the only constant in life. Life changes all the time. 

Seeds grow to saplings to flowers, caterpillars grow to cocoons to butterflies. It’s pure trust and faith that gets us there.

When we stop moving along with life, we wither… we can see it in nature and we see it in our own nature. When we hold on to a branch along the proverbial river shore of what we’re used to, we may stay safe for a while, but one day our strength weakens and we have to let go as the strong stream will take us along with full force.

So  in fact, it is not a question of whether will you go along out of comfort and into change, the question is: when and how.

Will you jump, and trust the process willingly while maintaining a hopeful positive attitude and perhaps having some fun along the way?

Or will you let yourself be dragged and complain about the speed or strength or stress of the stream?

It’s all in your hands, or actually, in your mind. 
You are the one who gets to choose your attitude and mindset. 

No one can take that power from you. How will you use it ? Will you fill your mind with hopeful, beautiful, encouraging, uplifting, faithful and fun thoughts?

Or will you let your kind be cluttered with thoughts of fear, futility, feeling down, doubt and doom scenarios?

You choose. Which path seems more appealing?
How will you choose to live?

It’s a choice that you get to make each morning, each moment at times. Your attitude is one of the few factors you can actually control in life. And if nothing else, this choice will determine your degree of happiness, optimism, confidence and likability in life.

So ask yourself, the next time you are tired and tempted to give up and give in,

Will you let fear and doubt win or do you dare to let love in?

I am here to believe in you until you believe in yourself once again. Wishing you strength on this part of your journey and especially the faith that all will be well.

With love, from experience, and with lots of encouragement,

Nicky

PS. If you need a little extra support, welcome to contact me for a free clarity call or life coaching session.

A Leap of Faith – From Comfort to Christianity

As some of you already know, meanwhile about ten months ago, I converted to Christianity. A change I had never, ever, ever expected myself to make in my life.

It has taken me some time to share my story, but here we go. Below are some of the milestones that led to this literal leap of faith and change of heart:


As a freedom-loving, slightly travel-addicted and soul-seeking digital nomad entrepreneur, I had spent years carving out a life I loved. Yet…

Sometimes life serves us such a surprising shift, that we’re never quite the same again

It somehow all started in January 2018.
New year, new intention.

I innocently coined my word for that year: MIRACULOUS. I was ready to take off but had no idea of the direction it was going to take.

First, I flew to Bali for a second time, and then kept on extending my stay. On the surface, my life seemed sunny. I was following my heart around the world, working from wherever and was now surrounded by sweet, hippie, happy, heartful friends, an abundance of healthy and delicious food, fun, sun, scooter, beach and palm trees. All my wish-list-items were checked off. Yet all excitement seemed to hide a sense of emptiness…which I would never admit to myself as I was supposed to be living my dream! Then it all began.

A series of synchronistic events that ended up
leading to a leap of faith.

It started on a Singapore trip when a stranger suddenly told me his story of how he had come to Christ. I listened respectfully and was touched… but soon shrugged it off. I love my “freedom lifestyle” too much to change. Christianity sounded beautiful but seemed too strict and serious for me.

The next clue came back in Bali, while I was waiting in a water temple to be spiritually ‘purified’. It was cold, crowded and I grew increasingly irritated with the loud conversations which seemed disrespectful at this sacred place. Suddenly this sense of peace washed over me. All noise dissipated and didn’t matter anymore. Then, as if to top it off, a dragonfly landed on my Balinese prayer basket and a Bible verse I had once read came back to mind:

‘And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds …’ (Philippians 4:7)

Some weeks later, on a less-than peaceful occasion, another Bible verse came into my consciousness.

This time, I was unexpectedly caught in the longest and strongest earthquake of my life, the one that had hit the neighboring island of Lombok but could be clearly felt on Bali. With all walls and even the floor shaking, there was no longer any solid foundation, everything that always seemed stable was now unreliably shaking. It began to dawn on me that the spiritual foundation I thought I had found for myself, was a façade. Again, a Bible verse came to mind, in which Jesus teaches about solid foundations:

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock” (Matthew 7:24)

At this point, I slowly started seeing the signs. They pointed into a direction I’d have preferred to deny. Christianity was calling. But not as the pious and preachy way of living I always thought it would be. This change was coming from the inside out.

My heart was leading me into a direction that
my mind was not yet willing to walk.

Opening my mind would mean opening the Bible. And although I resisted as long as I could, one day I ended up taking that leap of faith. And as I began reading the Bible, there was no turning back. Something had been stirred.

Page by page, my beliefs were seriously challenged and slowly changed. In my mind, the idea of God started to change from being a universal energy to a more personal (and patient) father-like figure, always there when I knock on the door and lovingly leading me. My concept of Christianity changed from following rigid religious rules to learning to live in a loving relationship with Christ and everyone else. My longing to Live in Love was changed from being a vague spiritual path to a daily process.

“The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of”
-Blaise Pascal

Whereas my heart had been doing the pioneering work, my mind was now catching up. Clarity came. A new direction. My life turned 180 degrees around: I was going to go back to my ‘home’ country, The Netherlands, where I hadn’t lived in years. I would quit working alone behind the computer and start working more with people. I would find a place of my own, perhaps even a church, etc., etc.

As simple as it had seemed, reality brought many bumps in the road and didn’t move along as swiftly and smoothly as hoped. Throughout it all though, my faith deepened, and I developed a sense of peace, trust, connection and calm happiness which I had never known but unknowingly longed for all my life.

I was coming home in every sense of the word.

For a while, I was on a spiritual honeymoon. For about three months I traded my free-spirit lifestyle for a faith-focused one, as I studied all about Christianity. I needed this deep diving, even though my family and friends were starting to slightly worry. Soon I became more balanced and am still integrating faith into my daily life. So much so, that I can now no longer imagine life without it.

As my life continued changing, so did I.

It began with remarks of those close to me who noticed more peace and stability in me, and I observed how my actions and reactions were shifting. Whereas I used to chase happiness in searching and surfing the highs of life, I now prefer peace over passion, the same goes for simplicity over status, solid foundations over facades and authenticity over approval.

There is nothing and no one that has changed me
as much and as fast as this faith

With hundreds of books, workshops, trainings and more that I have followed over the years, there is nothing that has changed me as fast, lastingly and deeply as this (leap of) faith.

This shift did have its consequences though, such as surrendering the cushy comfort zone that I had created for myself. This different direction also led to leaving behind part of my much-loved lifestyle, situations, surroundings and even people, which has been heart-breaking at times.

Yet, it also led to new people, places and a new path in life. A path that still feels like coming home, a lighter way of living and loving.

This journey has taught and is reminding me daily to keep the faith, no matter what, as Martin Luther King Jr. said:

Creating Change

The 5 Stages of Creating Change

Creating Change

There are phases in our lives that are quite difficult at the time, but offer the most powerful potential to change ourselves and our lives for the better. We may not be able to see it in the moment, but when we look back, we’ll find ourselves transformed.

Often though, when we are in the middle of those situations, it seems as though we are sensing our way through the dark towards, to find the light at the end of the tunnel. It helps to have some orientation during those times.

That’s why my intention is to create a little map with these 5 stages, so that the next time you find yourself in the dark, you can shed some light on the situation by remembering the stage you’re in and where it’s leading you towards.

 

                    Stage 1. Completion                                 

In this first stage of creating change, you will probably notice something itching inside of you. This project, person or part of your life that once meant the world to you (and that you may still love a lot) for some reason doesn’t seem to fit and flow and feel good as it used to anymore.

Some discernment is needed here, because this could also point towards the possibility of opening up to a deeper level of connection, commitment or communication.

What I am speaking of here though, is that moment when you realise that you have tried everything you could think of… you’ve been coached, you’ve communicated, you’ve cried your heart out and you’ve reflected, read or written pages about it. You’ve really made an effort. But the situation still does not change. Something just doesn’t sit right, anymore.

Perhaps the other person has changed, or you have changed over the course of time. Perhaps your priorities have changed. Perhaps all parties have learned their lessons and are now ready to move on.

“There comes a point when you just know, the time has come for you to go”
Tweet:

                              Stage 2. Clearing                                

This is usually when you enter the next phase, when it seems as though the truth is starting to slowly sink in. This project, person, part of your life is indeed coming to an end. And it hurts. A lot. Tears may flow. Lots of them. And it’s actually good. Because in this phase you have the potential to heal a lot of pain, perhaps even beyond this situation as far as childhood hurts, which in turns helps to

“The more you manage to fully feel, the faster you will finally heal”
Tweet:

When it comes to feeling and healing, here is a helpful blog post that goes into more detail about embracing your emotions and healing the deeper layers. Because this is a healing process. Goodbyes can bring grief. Whether it’s a lot or a little, a part of your heart feels shattered. Grief has its own five stages as well, which you can google en masse online. The most important part, is to be there for your heart. It’s hurting. And the more love you manage to give it, the more safe it will feel, and the faster it will hear.

So cry if you need to, slam a pillow if you need to, fill as many journal pages as you need, or book a coaching session if you need support. Do all you can to get the old energy out of your system. It will hurt, but it will help to heal.

This may also include physical clearing, this may mean that you clear out your house or computer of memories, clear your desk at work if you are changing jobs, or clear the belongings of a loved one, or yourself,  if your were living together in a relationship. This can be a heart-breaking part of the change cycle, but it does become better as it leads towards…

 

                              Stage 3. Clarity                                    

At some point, there are no more tears to cry, our inner and outer space have been cleaned and cleared. This is when we slowly start to see straight again. The clouds of emotions that had covered our hearts are slowly lifting, a little like in the song ‘I can see clearly now’. We start seeing the situation with new eyes, we may even begin to become hopeful that perhaps, this ending was for the best and brings a new beginning indeed.

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us”
~Helen Keller

In this phase of Clarity, we now start to become aware of new possibilities that we couldn’t see before. We may receive insights, inspirations and ideas… which lead us up to to the next phase.

                               Stage 4. Commitment                     

During the last stage, it was as though we were standing high on a mountain, overlooking our lives and seeing the possibilities. Now in this stage we have the chance to put this new potential to practice.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth
the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
that the moment one definitely commits oneself,
then providence moves too”
~William H. Murray

Will we enter this new relationship, job, collaboration or project that we’ve been playing with in our mind up until now? When we take the idea out of our mind and bring it into the world, we move from an  inspired idea to initiating action, we make a commitment.

When we do, we have this special magic of new beginnings, things seem to flow and we move forward with excitement and ease. Creativity, courage and creation abound at this stage. We seem to experience synchronicity and life seems to love us and laugh with us. Paolo Coelho calls it ‘beginners luck’ in his beautiful book ‘The Alchemist’. A reward for the many tears of the last stage.

                        Stage 5. Consistency                              

Once we have made the decision to walk into this new direction, no matter whether we have taken our first steps or are well on our way, we soon realise that…

“With every project that we start, at some point things tend to get hard”
Tweet: With every project that we start, at some point things tend to get hard.

At that point, we can either decide to ‘never mind’ and give up, or we can choose to ‘never quit’ and do what it takes to keep going and growing.

This stage holds a powerful potential for growth. Because where before we might have avoided that difficult talk, that deeper level of vulnerability or that dive of going ‘all-in’.

Each commitment brings a lesson, and after we have said yes to it, we will most like be tested or tempted along the way, will we leave or will we stay? Sometimes the lesson can be to have the courage to actually leave (phase #1) and at other times, the lesson will require us to stay and move through the challenges that may arise along the way.

“Consistency means saying Yes to your commitment- again and again
Tweet: Consistently basically means saying Yes to your commitment, again and again

When we decide to learn the lesson and put it into practice, we show that we are serious, we show that we are committed on a consistent basis. The roots or our relationship to the person or project we’ve committed to will grow deeper and deeper until the first sapling starts to appear and turn into the most beautiful flower.

         Transformation At The End Of The Tunnel        

This is usually when we really see the transformation we have gone and grown through. We are at times actually grateful that this situation that we were so heart-broken about, has ended. Since it led us to this beautiful new phase or place in our lives.

 

How About You?

Do you recognize and relate to these 5 stages? If so, which stage are you in right now? Love to hear in the comments below

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Ignite Your Inner Fire!

I have a question for you: if you knew you had a fire burning inside of you… what would that look like at this moment? You can even close your eyes as you determine its state: Is it burning bright, peacefully alight, perhaps a flickering flame, or is it even about to burn out?

Now that you are aware of the state of this inner flame, you have taken the first step towards a more empowered way of going about your day.

Staying aware of the state of your inner fire  connects you to your personal source of power and passion.

Your inner fire is your most valuable source of energy, passion, and fulfillment. It is the resource, the fuel, that allows you to breathe life into your dreams and desires. Your inner fire enables you to:

  • Stay motivated, inspired and passionate to work each day on the goals of your soul,
  • Rise above the voices inside of your head that may try and convince you to give up, that everyone else is better, that you’re not worth it, or whatever else it tells you.
  • Spark your heart, allowing you to share the warmth and love with those close to you.

When you Inner Fire burns brighter than your doubts or fears, criticism or judgment, you have a secret source of energy to sustain you.

The beautiful thing is: it’s all inside of you! It’s literally in your own hands to rub the wooden sticks that re-ignite your inner flame. You are the one who can add some paper or even a log of wood to rekindle your fire. Of course it is always nice when someone else fans your flames, as Rumi’s quote below says, but in the end, you are the one who needs to guard that fire inside your heart.

Sometimes it means that you need to:

  • Rekindle Your Flame = Taking a break from everything to bring the warmth of your attention onto yourself.
  • Feed Your Fire = This is the most important task we have. Just like we would regularly add wood to a fire, we too need to regularly feed ourselves with nourishing activities and people to keep our inner fire burning brightly.
  • Guard Your Fire = Setting boundaries with people and projects so that they don’t overload and suffocate your inner fire.
  • Blow Your Fire Back On = Sometimes our daily doings prevent us from tending to our fire in the way we need to, for a longer period of time. The flame might start to flicker… or even extinguish. In these cases we need some soul s.o.s! In order to blow back life into ourselves and our fire, we need to take a break and breathe… reconnect to that inner source inside, which eventually sparks the flame again.

Only You Can Guard The Flame and Feed The Fire Inside Of Your Heart.

Now that you’re once again aware of the importance of tending to your inner flame, what one thing will you today to add some fuel to your inner fire? Welcome to share in the comments!