This blog post is inspired by a conversation I had with my sister on the phone, she lives in Frankfurt with her family. Lovely Katrin, I’m dedicating this post to you.

My sister and me haven’t been chatting for a while, so there was loads to catch up on, but also I wanted to talk with her about Christmas. All these last years, my sister stayed in Frankfurt to celebrate Christmas and I would be with my parents in Munich. However, this year, it was important for me to bring us all together.

And yes, there are always ‘problems’ to overcome, like who sleeps where, who brings what, what do we cook, etc. We all know that these are no real problems though, hence the quotation marks. These are ‘problems’ we create in our heads, we make things way more complicated than they are, and there are various reasons for why we do this.

However, one thing became super clear to me in this conversation. There were only two options.

Option 1) We really want to be together for Christmas. In this case, we can work the rest out and everybody just needs to relax a bit.

Option 2) We don’t want to be together for Christmas. In this case, let’s just be honest with each other and say so instead of looking for ‘problems’ and making things difficult.

One big learning I’ve had over these last couple of years is to talk ‘Tacheles’, haha, this is German and basically means, that you should speak the truth in an honest and straight-forward way. Of course, we should all keep in mind not to offend someone. But rather than making things complicated and talking about non-existent problems, let’s just be honest with each other and make things work, one way or another.

Back to the Christmas story. I mentioned exactly the above points to my sister. And suddenly it was like a big knot in her head popped “Hm, yes you are right”, she said. The next day she called my parents to organise what needed organising. I was so pleased.

In that same conversation, we talked about relationships, children, time for ourselves and how we are sometimes not too happy with how things are splashing along. Within seconds, I was fully switched on. I’ve been dealing with these topics for the last couple of years really. And in these last few months specifically, I’ve been looking into the subject of resilience, de-conditioning and re-conditioning and how one can let go of old identities and beliefs. In doing so, I came across a lovely quote from Jean Houston, which I will translate into English for this post:

Development involves letting go of a small story to become aware of a big story.

I realised in the last couple of years that I paid too much attention to the small stories in my life, that I gave them too much room. I was simply busy dealing with external things, maybe I was trying to escape…? But then suddenly – triggered by two broken relationships within a short period of time – I had my Aha-moment. I became aware that I can choose freely how much time and space I’m giving to certain things in my life, how much suffering I’m accepting in my life, how many good things I let into my life or even attract into my life and I can also choose freely how I react in challenging situations.

And then I realised:

This is my big story. Personal development.

The progress of letting go and re-conditioning certain identities and behaviours in my life to my true self by giving myself permission. I didn’t really understand that there was one piece missing until such time that I was already right in the middle of my personal development. And suddenly it became clear what a wonderful change I had accomplished for myself and my life.

I’m still en route, but this route feels so much more beautiful and aligned with me.

And now I want to explain the title ‘Brainwashed’ of this article. When my sister and me talked about the topics mentioned above, I realised just how calm, focused and clear I was. At the same time I felt full of love for myself, for her, for my path and for hers. And she responded with a little laugh (as she probably doesn’t know me like this):

Have you been brainwashed, Nina?

And I replied ‘Yes, but I brainwashed myself. With personal development.’ To live a more fulfilled and happier life. A life that is right and true for me.

If you can relate to this article, look no further, but at yourself and walk your way. It will be worth it.

Yours, Nina

Let go

Letting go has been a game changer for me. Letting go of everything negative in my life that is no longer serving me. And at the same time, taking in all the positives that my life has to offer.

We all experience small and big moments in our lives, where we want to control a situation, where we cling to something beautiful in our life, we get annoyed about a person’s behaviour, we feel unfairly treated, we don’t feel recognised sufficiently etc.

It is important to know that it is a ‘normal’ reaction and behaviour to switch into survival and defence mode (e.g. by protection mechanisms like aggression, adaption, anger, control). However, ask yourself honestly whether you feel good with your reaction and behaviour in that specific situation and also afterwards, when regret often sneaks in.

Rewinding to 3 years ago, I was definitely a person who was trying to control situations, or at least let’s say I was struggling to accept certain situations as they were. I wasn’t really aware of my behaviour to be honest, otherwise I would have changed that earlier to make my life much easier. I am wiser now. And this is exactly the reason why I’m sharing my experiences with you, as I’m sure you will benefit positively. The first step to change our reactions and behaviours is always to make us aware of them. Move your behaviours from the unconscious to the conscious and you’ll experience a whole new you. As only then, you will recognise your behaviours, you will be able to observe them from a different perspective, you will be able to change your behaviours and finally, you can become a whole new you!

I’d like to give you a few simple examples that probably most of us can resonate with.

  • I am on my bike and a car just pulls out from the right.
  • I am in a crowded tube and the person next to me pushes his elbow into my stomach.
  • I am in a supermarket queue and I am in a rush, but the people in front of me take like forever to pay and complete their shopping.
  • My colleague is delegating tasks to me, although he/she is not superior to me.
  • At work, my manager perceives an email differently to how I meant it.
  • I feel like I’m doing more for the relationship than my partner does.
  • My partner didn’t do something the way I wanted him to do it.

I could keep going, but I guess you have already found a few examples that are relevant to you.

Now, there are always 2 sides of a medal and hence 2 ways of reacting upon the above situations.

Let’s take the first simple example with the car. Three years ago (and all the years before), my reaction would have been very impulsive, a bit aggressive, I probably would have shouted at the driver telling him off for not seeing me, that he should do his license again, whether he won his driver’s license, etc.

Now, being calmer, I know that this doesn’t help at all. It doesn’t help the other person to become a better driver, especially if I’m shouting at him/her. But most importantly it doesn’t help me, it doesn’t serve me.

I had to understand that the above mentioned situations instantly cause negative vibes, and that my whole body is tensing up. I had to understand that I cannot change this person’s behaviour. I had to understand that we are all just human beings and that it is normal to make mistakes, like in my example not looking properly left and right before pulling out of the street. I had to understand that in most situations it is better, wiser and healthier to just let it go.

To be clear, that doesn’t mean that we should like incapable car drivers, but we can decide how to react in that situation. We can freak out, we can shout, we can run away, we can become aggressive or we can work on our resilience, the capability to react flexibly and stable in a difficult situation that drives us up the wall. Resilience allows us to feel competent and safe when dealing with difficult problems and obstacles that life throws at us. And we all know, life does that regularly.

Another point to remember is that whatever bad behaviour you are faced with, in 99% of all cases it is not intended, it is not a purposefully evil behaviour. We often believe that though and we wonder how other people can be so mean, why they say certain things, why they act the way they act. Well, they just do so based on their beliefs, values and education.

To make our lives easier, it is way more beautiful to believe in the good in every person. If somebody treats me badly, I often think to myself now, well that person must have had a tough day. And I put on an even bigger smile. I let it go.

Breathe in positivity. Breathe out negativity.

Yours, Nina