Looking back, I have taken a diverse path for myself to come to where I am today. I learnt to reflect on myself, my thinking, my needs and desires along the way. It was not always easy for me, because I had not learnt that the latter were supposed to be all that important in my life. And I was basically happy. Everything was okay. The fact that I have given myself permission for more joy than obligation in what I do has been one of the greatest changes in my life.
Today I work as a mindset and transformational coach, examining my clients’ thoughts, beliefs and perspectives with the goal of being in one’s element. I love to write, which has been a new discovery in my life after my recovery journey from my diagnosis of breast cancer. Through writing that I publish in my space for my thoughts, I often process overall topics that are on my mind, and I choose the words and form of expression that feel right for me at that moment. In the meantime, I have noticed that I also like to speak – thus far, for example, in the context of interviews or round table discussions. I like to share my experiences and my learned and intuitive knowledge.
When I reflect on my professional career, I particularly enjoyed working in an international environment. I love the world, other cultures and the diversity in collaboration. That’s why I never used to feel I was somehow “wrong” in my jobs, and yet I felt I was searching for a long time. When I remember how I made my career choice after graduating from high school, I can only smile about myself today. For a long time I had the convictions and the feeling that “work combined with performance” had to be hard. Exhausting, even over a long period of time. However, I never showed or admitted to myself that something was exhausting for me, after all I had strength and energy. I believed that my efforts also had to come at a price. And I also had to give a lot for my salary. For a long time, giving was much easier for me than accepting or receiving. Both are supposed to be in balance, but I also had to learn that anew.
When I was faced with the decision of a university course of study after graduating from high school, the variety overwhelmed me. At that time, I didn’t know where I wanted to go and where I should go. Since I did very well on my Abitur final exams, many options were open to me. But this did not make it any easier for me. I found a lot of things interesting. To be honest, I didn’t ask myself what excited me. I probably would not have allowed myself to have enthusiasm as a goal.
And so I decided to study clinical pharmacology at the FU Berlin. Really. I am myself amused or still surprised as I write this now. It didn’t suit me at all, zero percent. My majors were English, Spanish, my other relevant exam subjects were mathematics and political science, just for the record. These were easy for me. At some point I had dropped biology and chemistry. But hey, you can learn anything. That’s true in general, but at what cost in terms of energy? I was sitting in an initial get-together with a lot of researchers’ and pharmacists’ kids. I grew up in a restaurant business. That doesn’t make any difference either, as long as you’re on fire about something.
Already the first lectures were a disaster for me. I can remember those miserably long strings of carbon on the blackboard. I studied, got tutoring, lost three kilos (and I was already quite thin). There were lab days. We were supposed to analyze samples according to their chemical components. If the analysis was wrong, we had to “re-cook” on Fridays. I always had to “re-cook” on Fridays. The one element that stuck in my memory was magnesium (Mg) with its flashing flame. I was happy when magnesium was involved, at least a small sense of achievement. I’d needed tutoring in the past, so catch-up learning was a completely new experience for me. I often did tutoring myself during school. Oh well…
I tell this story in a little more detail at this point, because the fact that I ended up in this program and tortured myself for one semester also had something to do with my inner attitude and conviction, which had been unconscious for a very long time. What I was engaged in had to be demanding and difficult, and learning had to be demanding, because everything was achievable anyway if you only tried hard enough. Giving up meant failure. And failure was something really bad. At that time I “failed” – at least that’s how I felt. As unreal as it may sound now, I had to admit to myself that I was unhappy with my choice. I had to give up on that choice and it was draining me. I put off the decision. When I finally courageously communicated my decision and returned my lab key, the research assistant back then told me, “You know that if you withdraw now, you won’t be permitted to re-enroll into this program.” Oh no! One more heavy punch, those threatening words hit me hard. I felt nothing but despair that day. Guilt plagued me. It was, of course, the best decision I could make. But, it wasn’t funny at all at the time; it felt only terrible. I was not even able to go back. How awful! The pain involved, however, was far from cured. It repeated itself and it had nothing to do with this choice back then. Even after this experience, it was not easy for me to pursue my needs.
After my business administration degree, including an inspiring semester abroad in New Orleans with friendships that still last, the international world awaited me. In fact, I also felt at home there, simply because of the variety of people and encounters and the great wide world. Today, I am still grateful that I chose this career path, including almost ten years with the Lufthansa Group. But here, too, I realized that I was on a journey. At some point, all the professional traveling felt draining, and although I had mastered all the analytical tasks and excel spreadsheets and financial project management tasks, I didn’t realize, or didn’t acknowledge to myself, that they were very demanding and also drained my energy. I changed three jobs internally; there were many opportunities within the Group. But I hadn’t really changed much.
After just about fifteen years, I said goodbye to my corporate career. Just like that. I intuitively knew I had to change something else, I just didn’t know what exactly. Since I, too, believed back then that the solution lies in external change rather than in my inner self, I set out on my journey. Without a goal, it didn’t really feel good, but I had learned that somehow my life would go on and that it couldn’t be easy. Enduring. I was also good at that. During this time there was at least in my private life the best change. I met my current partner and life companion, who is a great supporter in every aspect of my personal life.
It took a while. I forged my way into self-employment. First on a freelance basis as a consultant. A powerful path, because I neither had a network, nor did I like to ask for support. There it was another inner attitude: you have to do everything on your own. And I repeated what I no longer wanted. I was on the road again, first in Ukraine, later in Germany in organizational consulting projects. Completely against my inner needs. I pictured myself cycling to work and being very flexible in my work. It should take a few more years. I skipped my inner needs again. Everywhere I met nice people that I worked with. And I often felt a great loyalty and commitment towards them. It was therefore even more difficult for me to detach myself. Finally, I also disengaged from my consulting work at the end of 2014. Internally, these processes turned out to be quite a struggle for me. I believed that I would disappoint others if I left, that I had no right to do so, that I would have to learn a lot more anyhow, that it was also all OK. And I believed a lot more. These beliefs made it much harder for myself than it obviously needed to be.
However, as long as we do not recognize what drives us internally and predominantly also unconsciously, changes are difficult or we repeat a lot of actions in the outer world over and over again. We just float with the tide. We remain in our so-called “comfort zone”. For me, the comfort zone is not a true comfort at all; in fact it is uncomfortable. When I stay there, I am subject to my old experiences and beliefs and I am not in my full power, energy or as I like to call it, “in my element”. The latter requires work and a close look at yourself as well as a clear YES to your true needs. It’s not about right or wrong, in many situations my above-described attitude can also be a strength and very helpful in certain circumstances. It is rather about recognizing what is useful for yourself and contributes permanently to your inner balance.
In the course of many trainings and continuing education courses that I have attended since 2010, I developed myself further and learned more about my own thinking and feeling; or rather, I have learned to “unlearn”. My biggest change, looking back, was my health experience and recovery journey after my cancer diagnosis. I was all of a sudden very close to myself and my needs. My intuition was clear and guiding me. This journey experience was very impactful and brought me unplanned into a new life. I wrote a book and experienced for the first time that something came easily to me. How beautiful. Ease was the term I defined as the focus for me in many yoga classes for years and this one seemed unattainable.
A very good friend introduced me to my further path of spirituality during my healing journey through literature recommendations. I have been integrating this path of spirituality into my life ever since. There were times when I did not give myself permission to show this side. Because, there it was, this blocking belief: What would others think about me then? We can learn to authentically integrate all parts that form us. Then the judgment of others will no longer play a major role. On the contrary, then these judgments one is afraid of experiencing, do not even occur or they do not bother us. These constructed judgments are only with us as long as we carry our fears within and hide behind them. Fears are thus a good guide to more integrity.
I am an extraordinarily big fan of what I call dis-identifying from my thoughts. Being free, not being attached to what I believe and think, examining my thoughts, tossing them overboard, reinterpreting them, and most importantly, looking at not-knowing as a resource. These are my greatest lessons learned from spiritual literature or continuing education. Everything that irritates me first of all has something to do with myself. Assigning blame to others, adopting a so-called “victim” attitude in relation to other people or external circumstances, is then mostly automatically dropped. Conversely, this does not mean having to put up with everything and everyone, but it does mean clearly recognizing one’s part and taking responsibility for it. Life offers us a daily learning environment to reflect on the above.
What I do today, I do with all my heart and with ease. I work flexibly, meanwhile from two locations (Cologne and Brela in Croatia). I like to accompany people in their professional and personal changes. I see and mirror my clients so that they recognize themselves, live their potentials and thereby bring joy and their self-defined success into their lives.
Today I know that we can save some detours or approach our learning and growth processes more directly in order to authentically become and be the best version of ourselves. I am certain that by doing so, we achieve more satisfaction for ourselves, which we then carry and pass on to the world in the form of positive energy and joy. With this alone we make a big difference. That’s why my guiding principle is: “Don’t believe everything you think and be the best version of yourself.”
The best you can do is start seeing and recognizing yourself today. This is the best gift you can give to yourself. You can do much more than you think.
Brela, February 10th, 2021