by Elly van Laar | Jun 4, 2014 | Compassion, Personal Growth, Self-compassion
My grandfather and I are standing on the porch, ready for our daily 30 minutes of connection.
He stops and listens to the birds. “It is so beautiful here, so peaceful. I feel so happy to just stand here with you and listen. To feel the breeze on my skin, the sun on my face, to hear the songs of the birds. Just quiet. Nothing to do. Nowhere to go… I loved that back home. Sitting in the yard with my wife, your grandmother, watching our children run around. I loved working in my office and seeing your dad play with his cars on the carpet. I loved being with my family… It’s all I ever wanted…”
Tears drop down his eyes.
“You live in the world I dreamed of… Peaceful, safe, welcoming… I never wanted to be a hero. I much rather had lived a quiet life, full of love, laughter, togetherness. Much like the hobbits in Lord of the Rings… But we don’t chose the times we live in, we only chose how to respond to them…”
Tears roll down his cheeks.
“It is like you clearing up the poison ivy. Of course, you much rather read a book, or go for a hike, or relax in the sun. But that’s not your choice. Your choice is to eradicate it now or let it grow till it covers your grounds and blocks your path. I knew that if we didn’t stand up against the Nazi’s now, the consequences would be far worse, for far more people, than any risk I took individually. I didn’t chose my time, I only chose how to respond. I wished I had never had to make that decision.”
He starts sobbing.
“I wished I had seen your dad graduate, marry your mom, have her kids, be promoted at work… I wished I could have held you in my arms, your siblings, your cousins… I wished I had lived to be old enough to witness your dad grow into the source of support he is, for your mom, for you and your brothers and sisters, for his siblings, for his family-in-law… Gosh, he is a rock… An incredible son… An amazing man…”
“I never chose the time I lived in, only my response… You honor me most by enjoying and appreciating the world I tried to contribute to.”
We sit together, quietly. Then his sobbing calms down.
“Your times are different. And it is your choice how to respond to them. I hope you bring your delight and gratitude into your response.”
You want help to respond to the time you live in? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary, discovery session.
by Elly van Laar | Apr 18, 2014 | Acceptance, Compassion, Compassionate Communication, Nonviolent Communication, Personal Growth, Self-compassion
Image courtesy to fotomedia
I didn’t call my friend as promised. Last week I canceled our phone call too. I feel bad about it. How do I feel when I think I’m bad? Hum… I close my eyes and listen to my body. Your physical sensations offer wonderful opportunities to connect to what’s really going on for you.
I feel tired, sad, and scared. Tired, because I have so many projects going on and I want more rest and spaciousness in my schedule. Sad, because I really want to honor my commitments. I want more integrity: to make conscious commitments that are in alignment with my physical sensations, my feelings and thoughts, my needs and values. Scared, because I’m afraid that I’ll be judged as untrustworthy, unreliable, dishonest, and maybe even not good enough. Ouch… I resonate with that fear. I want understanding and acceptance that I have too much going on to keep track of everything and I want to be seen for the sincerity with which I reached out for my friend to make an appointment.
Gosh… I made a choice that didn’t include all needs. Let me just sit with that for a little bit… Let me just mourn that and move away from self-blame and self-judgment… Maybe I can connect deeper to the needs I was trying to meet by not calling… Rest and spaciousness… Yeah… I so much wish for more rest and spaciousness, less running around from appointment to appointment. And maybe I can connect to the needs that were not met by my choice of not calling… Integrity, understanding, acceptance, and to be seen for my intentions…
Such beautiful needs… So human and universal… I wished I had chosen a strategy that would support all of them… Ah… Let me just sit with that… I want to support all needs…
Yes! I’m gonna send her an email in which I express my regret for not honoring our agreement and in which I share honestly what I can offer with my limited time availability… Which commitment am I joyfully willing and sincerely able to make?… How can I offer support and include my needs for rest and spaciousness? Maybe less than I wished I could. And maybe this new offer can include all needs. Different than I originally thought, and more honest and true.
You want help to mourn some of your choices? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary, discovery session to see if and how I can help.
by Elly van Laar | Feb 15, 2014 | Compassionate Communication, Mindfulness, Nonviolent Communication, Personal Growth
I take my commitments very seriously. My yes is a ‘yes’ forever. At least, as long as they work for me. If they don’t, I do my utmost best to make them work until I give up and walk away. Just like that. “I want a divorce.” “I’ve found another job and am gonna leave.” “I’m moving to the USA and won’t be your big sister anymore.”
Balancing autonomy and togetherness
Gosh. Even after all those years, it hurts. My heart aches with all the broken commitments that were so important to me. I wished I had known thén what I am starting to learn now: how to balance my need for autonomy and pursuing my own dreams and my need for connection and supporting what you want.
I suck at that. I tend to accommodate others. And if my needs go unfulfilled for too long I assert them. And forget those of others in the process. I just can’t believe that I can have my autonomy ànd our togetherness.
Asking support for our needs
So when I noticed how overwhelmed I feel with all the empathy calls, mediation triads and business support groups I’m in, I decide to drop one. Just tell my colleagues “Hey, I need more spaciousness, I have too much on my plate, I’m getting out of here.”
And so I do. I tell Adam that I want to end my participation in our collaboration. He empathizes with me. Then I ask how that lands for him. (I have come that far!) He feels sad and a sense of loss, he values our connection. As I listen to him and feel touched by his feelings and needs, something dawns on me. Something new I learned in Mediate Your Life. What if I include his needs in my choice? What if we work together to find a strategy that supports all needs? Not just mine, not just his, but ours?
I feel surprised. This is new territory for me. Instead of dumping my choice and running away, I engage the other person in finding a strategy that works for both of us. I let the results follow the relationship.
Including all needs leads to better solutions
It works out beautifully. We decide to talk once a month, and experiment with a new format. Then evaluate and maybe adjust the agreement. This solution is better than anything I thought of before, because it not only supports our needs for autonomy and connection, but also for learning and challenge.
Gosh, it sounds so simple. It probably is. But for me it is revolutionary: I can hold on to what is important to me ànd maintain the connection. I can have the best of both worlds.
You want help to change your commitments? Contact me 512-589-0482. I would be excited to brainstorm together how to do that ànd include the needs of others.
by Elly van Laar | Jan 24, 2014 | Compassionate Communication, Mindfulness, Personal Growth
Visualize your desired result
“Ik ben een kanjer!” I yell, as I park in the driveway last night. “I am a hero!”. Or something like that.
I had just succeeded driving home safely through 10 miles of sleet, freeze, and storm. Over bridges, through winding roads, down the 23% hill to our house.
I was scared all the way.
I am not used to drive through such weather on hilly, winding, unsalted roads. Dutch roads are flat, straight, and immediately taken care of by government agencies when it starts to snow.
I applied my battalion of fear-reassuring tricks. Singing, focusing on my breath, thanking God for a safe drive, visualizing my warm and welcome homecoming.
Take your first step
The funny thing was, I was a more responsible driver, because of that tenacious determination to arrive home safely. I was so intent on keeping myself from an accident and my car from wreckage, that I carefully took all the necessary steps to make that happen. My desired end result was so clear, that I only needed to reason back from that end situation to my now to find the steps that would get me there.
I am noticing it with my application for the Order of Interbeing too. I haven’t even applied, I haven’t told my Dharma teacher, I haven’t asked my Sangha. And my visualization of whom I want to be is so clear, my commitment so conscious, that I can track all the steps my future self took to get there. All the thoughts, words and actions my future self took to come into existence.
Isn’t it wonderful? It’s it simple? Imagine your future self, and track back the steps your future self took to come into existence. And take that first step. Just that first step.
You want help to figure out your first step? Contact me for a complimentary, discovery session 512-589-0482 or email me
by Elly van Laar | Jan 23, 2014 | Compassionate Communication, Mindfulness, Nonviolent Communication, Personal Growth
How do we make commitments we can honor? I hope these six steps will help you.
1. Connect to the underlying needs you’re trying to serve
In my desire to be an aspirant-member of the Order of Interbeing I try to nurture my need for help on my path of mindfulness and compassion. It also supports a need for belonging to a group I feel welcome and at home. I have a need for contribution, to use my practice to benefit others and relief suffering. There is a need for peace, to be more open and accepting of reality, and more joyful of what is in this moment, instead of what I want it to be. And there is a need for harmony and trust. This community handles conflicts with such peace, ease and grace.
2. Brainstorm other strategies
Write all your needs down on a big piece of paper, step back and look at the overall picture. Are there other strategies that might support all those needs?
I see my needs for support, community, belonging, contribution, peace, harmony and trust, and wonder which other strategies would nurture those needs. My marriage, moving back to the Netherlands, seeking certification with the Center for Nonviolent Communication? I don’t see they support all of my needs. This choice stands out as the best.
Maybe more needs come up at this stage. Jot them down, and re-do step 2. Do they reinforce your choice, or change your strategy? I realize my need for purpose and clarity reinforces my choice for being an aspirant-member.
If you have more strategies available, you can use the polarity matrix to check which one stands out.
3. Imagine yourself six months from now, after your commitment
Look at your future self, and feel, see, hear, taste, smell all the aspects of your life. What are your experiences, activities, surroundings? Do you like this future version of yourself? Do you get excited and enthusiastic to be that person? If so, go on with step 4. If not, this is not the right strategy.
4. Sleep on it
Let it go. Repeat “Everything is in divine order, everything will be resolved in God’s love and wisdom” or anything else that rings true. Trust your subconscious’ wisdom and guidance. Relax in the miracles of sleep.
5. Express your intention
You wake up with the same commitment? Express your intention to an accountability partner. Someone who is willing to check if this is really what you want. Hearing yourself express out loud what you want to commit to, will help surface any fears, hopes, reservations and longings. With empathy you can address them and include them in your choice.
Go for it! That is the only way to know you made a true commitment. Even if it turns out to be the wrong choice, you can celebrate your sincere intention to consciously commit.
You want help to clarify your commitments? Contact me for a complimentary, discovery session 512-589-0482