Bring your life into balance

Empathy works. It always does.


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Restore your core-value

“I feel frustrated with my marriage. I am done with it! I don’t want to deal with his anger and resentment anymore…”

“What would the absence of his anger and resentment bring you?”

“A sense of peace. Someone who is available to me, someone who is willing and able to listen and support me. Maybe just enjoying life… You know, I am 43 and I don’t want to spend the second half of my life with someone who is constantly dissatisfied with life. That was not my vision when I married him.”

When you are married to someone who struggles to hold his unmet needs in a way that respects your needs, you might take it personally. You might start losing your self-respect and self-worth, and think you are at least partly responsible for his anger and resentment.

If so, Steven Stosny suggests four choices to reconnect to your own basic goodness, your core value as a human being:

  • Appreciate. When you appreciate what brings you joy, a sunset, the flowers of the plant you carefully nurtured, the smile of delight of your baby, you reinforce your values, your sense of self. You reinforce your inner goodness by appreciating outer goodness.
  • Connect. When you connect to people who stand by your side no matter what, you realize you are lovable enough to receive love, acceptance and belonging. Even if your husband doesn’t meet those needs. It doesn’t really matter whether your friend is a human being, your pet, the nurturing part within yourself, God or nature. Any connection with someone who has an unconditional, positive regard for you helps you connect to the place of positive regard within yourself.
  • Improve. When you improve your life, you restore your sense of self-agency. You are not in control of how your husband feels, thinks or acts. You are in control of improving your own life, whatever he does. It might be cleaning up your room, finishing chores, weightlifting, taking a class in ceramics: anything that makes your life a bit better. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to get better.
  • Protect. Protecting what you care for, something that is vulnerable and precious, calls upon your inner warrior. The one that protects and defends. Not against anyone, but for someone. It is not reactionary, it is pro-active: “This is important to me and I won’t let you contribute to harm, because I care for this and for you.” You appeal to the compassionate core value of your husband. You call upon him to be more than his unmet needs and act from the place within himself that wants to contribute and protect.

Try these strategies out and see if they help. I also suggest you read “Love without Hurt” by Steven Stosny. I find it highly valuable to maintain your core value.


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The legacy that motivates me to get up in the morning

I am born and raised in the Netherlands. As a child I saw my dad suffering deeply from his experience as a child in WW II, an experience that he never talked about till a few years ago.

2015-05-04 - Koning WIllem Alexander en Koningin Maxima tijdens de Nationale herdenking op de Dam. ANP ROYAL

Every May 4 the Dutch people commemorate those who died in WW II and the aftermath of WW II’s devastation, with 2-minutes of silence. We as a family sat together at 8:00 pm and watched the solemn national ceremony on television.

As a child the night before, every May 3, when everyone was asleep, I would sneak down to the living room, take out a book of war heroes and look at the picture of my dad’s dad. He had been part of the resistance movement that smuggled Allied pilots into safety during Nazi occupation. In September 1944, right before my dad’s 11th birthday, the Nazis arrested my grandfather. He died in prison 10 days later. My grandfather left behind his wife and 10 children.

2004-01-15: FOTO: GPD/PHIL NIJHUIS

My dad recently told me that my grandfather “stood up for compassion, inclusion and care for those who are vulnerable” and that “he died for his principles.”

As a child, I didn’t have the words to describe the inheritance my dad had passed down to me, even though my lifelong connection to compassion shows I was strongly impacted by it. As a small child, I spent hours rescuing hedgehogs and blackbirds caught in the nets around my father’s raspberry bushes. At 12, I inspired my class to “adopt” Diego, a boy in Colombia, through Plan International, and collected our monthly donations for him and his village. At 30, I joined Pax Christi to bring refugee children in Croatian refugee camps to the Netherlands for 3-weeks of peace and safety.

At 51, I now have a special dedication  to bring compassion, empathy and mindfulness to couples in divorce. I specialize in helping them maintain mutual respect.

This is my contribution to transform conflict into respectful understanding, right here, right now.

I hope I can leave the world a better place, and honor the legacy of my granddad.