by Elly van Laar | Feb 13, 2014 | Acceptance, Compassionate Communication, Nonviolent Communication, Personal Growth, Self-compassion
I’m cleaning our guest room. I dread it. The task seems overwhelming. The room is filled with little rattletraps and the desk hasn’t been cleaned for more than five years. It just collected stuff upon stuff, dust upon dust.
I decide to clean for an hour, then stop. I don’t have to catch up with the cleaning arrears all at once. I can do it one bit at a time.
I think of Peter Senge’s ‘The Fifth Discipline‘. He writes about the emotional overwhelm we feel, when the difference between our perceived reality and our aspired vision seems too big. We don’t trust that we will ever be able to reach our dream, and to avoid the pain of this unfulfillable vision, we give up on what we truly want. We resign to what we think will never change: an unsatisfying marriage, overweight, financial scarcity, low self-worth, a simmering conflict. We pretend we accept our situation, so we don’t need to face up to the pain of not having what we want, and fearing we will never get it.
I have been in that place of stuckness more than once. And I have been in the place of holding on to my dream, ferociously trying to find ways to make it work, even in the face of discouragement and disbelief. Peter Senge calls that creative tension. It generates the energy to move forward.
I have found that I am more energized to take a step, when I realize I don’t need to get to the top in one jump. You know ‘A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.’
When I am brutally honest about my current situation ànd passionate about my dream, I can invite my future self to tell me how she got there, and then take that one step. And then, maybe, rest a little. Celebrating the commitment it took to take that one step. Maybe learning if it didn’t get me closer to my vision.
You don’t need to get from toddler class to the PhD program in one year. It is fine if you start with the alphabet and 1+1=2. You can take your time to cycle through all the classes. That doesn’t make you stupid, slow or bad at it. It makes you a champion of personal mastery and a hero of holding on to your dream.
To my fellow participants in the Mediate Your Life Intensive who feel overwhelmed: hang in there and focus on the one skill you can practice. That is your first step to your aspiration of mediating your life. And one step is all you can take in this moment. That is enough.
May we enjoy being on a journey!
You need help to figure out your next step? Contact me 512-589-0482. I would be honored to help.
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 6, 2014 | Acceptance, Compassion, Compassionate Communication, Nonviolent Communication, Personal Growth, Self-compassion
Changing old habits can be hard
“This happens to me all the time. I just can’t quit smoking. I was so committed to not smoke. And then, at last night’s party, I couldn’t resist temptation and smoked one anyway. It is just me. I just don’t have it in me. I know it is bad for my health, I know it is way too expensive, I know my clothes smell terrible, but I just don’t have enough will power to stop. I read ‘Stop smoking’, I tried patches, had an accountability partner, but nothing ever helps. I just don’t have it in me. I am not even gonna try anymore. I am a smoker, and I’ll always be. Let’s just accept that.”
Do you recognize this? Maybe your issue is not with cigarettes, but with eating less sugar, gluten, dairy. With speaking up for yourself. With getting up on stage. With applying for a job.
Maybe you, too, feel discouraged and hopeless about your ability to change old, ingrained habits. Maybe you, too, give up on your ideals. Maybe you, too, don’t trust that you’ll ever take a step towards your dreams.
The number one thing to sustain change
Don’t despair! Change is within your reach. The number one thing you can do for yourself when you want to change your behavior, is to empathize with yourself. With both parts: the part that wants to change, and with the part that wants to remain the status quo. Both the old and the new behavior are strategies to nurture universal needs. Understanding these needs will help you find creative new ways to include all needs.
Maybe not speaking up nurtures a need for acceptance, safety, belonging. Eating chocolate might help to calm ourselves when we’re anxious. Watching television might be our way of comforting ourselves when we are sad and lonely.
Getting up on stage could be a strategy for self-expression. Eating more fruit might be a way for autonomy. Writing blogs can be a form of authenticity.
When we understand why we are doing something, we are more empowered to come up with solutions to that why, that also address our other still unmet needs. When we don’t know why, the solutions we come up with may not serve all our needs. As soon as we connect to àll our needs, we have more space to brainstorm strategies that nurture both sides.
I invite you to empathize with yourself, and connect to the needs behind the behavior you want, and the behavior you don’t like. And once you understand and accept all needs, think of a new year’s resolution to support them.
Find an empathy buddy
If it is hard to empathize with parts you don’t like, find yourself an empathy buddy. A friend, a sibling, a coach. Call me if you want my help (512-589-0482). I would be honored. I’ll teach you empathy skills, and share my compassion. We’ll collaborate, so you will successfully step towards your dreams.
May this year bring you encouragement, excitement and trust.
by Elly van Laar | Jan 2, 2014 | Acceptance, Compassion, Mindfulness, Personal Growth
No change is gonna happen, unless you have a vision of what you want more of in your life, that is positive and within you influence. Unless you have a goal, you’re not gonna move.
Saying “no” to your current situation is not enough.
Imagine your friend asks you to book a holiday for him. He tells you not to book a holiday to Syria. Now what? Do you have any idea what he does want? A sunny beach holiday in Mexico? A city trip to Los Angeles? A family visit to the Netherlands? It will be difficult to organize a holiday that he likes.
How can you do a don’t?
I like to share a visualization exercise with you, to help you connect with what you do want (gratitude to Francois Beausoleil).
Find a quiet, private spot.
Find a comfortable position. Relax. Maybe close your eyes. Bring your attention to your breath. Notice how it flows through you.
Let your attention drift into the future. Say, 6 months from now. You’ll find another version of yourself. Slightly different, in important ways. Feel what it’s like to be that future self. Breathe exactly as they would. See through their eyes. Feel how good their experience feels.
You might feel gratitude for the way they live their lives. The people they serve, the friends they have. It seems simple and obvious to them to share their deepest values, dreams and beliefs with those around them. They let go of some of the negative, old beliefs they had. Beliefs that limited them.
What have you done that led you to that place? You have learned some important key elements to get there. You have alignment between your vision, your inner world, and what you do.
As you keep breathing through your future self, you take three snapshots from your future life. Maybe feedback from someone who is grateful for how you served them. Maybe your friends and family, celebrating your existence. Maybe the house you always wanted. Maybe a feeling of joy, peace, love. Take three snapshots from your future life, and take them with you in this moment.
Now travel your attention half way and above the time line between the two versions of yourself. You see the entire 6 months. Feel appreciation for all the learning you achieved, all the actions you took, all the challenges you overcame.
Step again in the future version of yourself, and from that future version make eye contact with your current self. With a smile, pass a small gift from the future version to your current self. Something only known by the two of you. As your current self receive it with gratitude.
Relax. Breathe in and out. You are fully into the current version of yourself. You are connected to your current experience. You accept the smile, the gift, the insight you received.
You bring your attention back to this moment, this place. Open your eyes, and be here.
A happy new year!
Contact me if you want support to take a first step to your future self, 512 589 0482
by Elly van Laar | Jan 1, 2014 | Acceptance, Compassion, Personal Growth, Self-compassion
This is a tender letter to all my friends who experience shame. Shame about the choices you’ve made, and how you think these reflect on you as a person. All my friends who have come to believe that whatever you do, it is never good enough. It is never good enough to cover up the fundamental flaws of your being. It is never good enough to get the love, acceptance, support, and understanding you so deeply long for. You just want to hide and never face the pain, fear and loneliness of this shame again.
You’re not alone. I am here. We are here. For you. For me. For us. We all know what shame feels like. We all know the devastating impact shame has on the freedom of choices we make.
We also all know the healing power of compassion.
Last year I participated in a yearlong program Nonviolent Communication. We were invited to offer a workshop to the other participants as a learning opportunity. I had two participants show up. Josie had 14. I felt deeply ashamed. Here was direct proof that I was not attractive, interesting, and inspiring enough to have anyone show up. When I shared my shame in my empathy-group a shame storm raged through my body. I hardly could look at anyone. Then they responded. With compassion. With care. With understanding. With a longing to include me, support me, reassure me.
I was flabbergasted. I was showing up naked, covered in my shit, and instead of the anticipated response of disgust, rejection and exclusion, I received love, belonging, acceptance.
I wish this healing experience for everyone in the world. I wish we all can find a friend, a coach, a therapist we trust. Someone who is willing and able to listen and empathize with us. Someone who doesn’t brush off our experience, or tries to cheer us up, but who is willing to be there for us in our suffering.
Then we can start to heal. We can start to heal the wounds of our childhood. We can start to believe that love, acceptance, and belonging are possible, just for who we are, with all our flaws. We can start to open up and be vulnerable. We can start to share our dreams, our aspirations, our heart’s desires.
After the shame storm is heard, we can listen to the quiet. We can hear everything that brings joy in our lives, and help us bloom, blossom and grow. Our vision will reveal itself, guiding us on the path of becoming more fully who we are.
May this year shower you with love, acceptance, and support.
You want help bringing compassion, healing and integration in your life? Contact me, 512 589 0482