Our fears sabotage us – Article

Our fears sabotage us

Let’s take a step back and understand why we experience fear in the first place.

Fear is a useful emotion as it intends to protect us from dangers.

When we were cavemen, fear was there so we could be alert and not be eaten by a wild animal as soon as we came out of the cave.

Many of us are lucky these days not to face fears on a daily basis. We are lucky enough to live a life without needing to be vigilant second after second.

Yet we are filled with fears.

Fears in our minds.

Reality and imagination

Our brain does not distinguish real fears from imaginary fears and our body reacts the same way to both.

So when we start imagining the worst-case scenarios of what could happen, the fear is real for our body, our pulse starts racing, our breathing becomes short, we feel hot and sweaty.

Our body prepares to fight, flight or freeze.

Fight, flight, freeze for what exactly?

Is there real danger?

Is this fear trying to protect us from anything?

I do not think so.

I think in this case our fears sabotage us.

Worst case scenarios

You could say that this fear is actually useful, it helps us prepare, it makes sure we have thought of everything, it pushes us to do the best we can.

I doubt.

To obtain what results?

 Preparing for the worst-case scenario?

Is this the way we want to live our lives, always preparing for the worst?

Isn’t that actually preparing us not to succeed?

Isn’t avoiding the worst just an excuse for not being ambitious enough with our lives?

What is behind our fears.

Fears sabotage us.

We are not afraid to protect ourselves from real dangers.

We are afraid because we want to protect ourselves from shame, guilt, rejection, “failures”,…

We are so afraid to be wrong! 

We are so afraid of people judging us (as we most probably judge ourselves and others the same way) that we try to control all the “what if” scenarios.

And that leads us to try to control what is uncontrollable because we cannot control others, we cannot control changes, uncertainties, unforeseen events, we cannot control life,…

Paralysing fears

Our fears leading to control paralyze us.

They paralyze all initiative, all proactivity, all creativity.

They create a big gap between our dreams, our hopes, our aspirations and our reality.

In the process, we waste a lot of our time and energy.

But above all, we lose confidence in ourselves, we lose faith in life.

 

Fears enclose us.

They sabotage us to the core.

They kill the sparks of our inner child who would want so much more for us.

Fears are a vicious circle.

And in the center of this circle is our ego.

There is so much more for you!

Please get out of your head.

Get out of your fears.

Get out of yourself.

 

Instead of cowering in your fears, open up to others and to the world.

Think of what you can bring to the world, how you can help the world to be a better place instead of being fearful of your potential mistakes.

 

Yes, it is not easy to choose faith over fear.

And it’s not easy to change this habit of thinking the worst as your brain is used to watching for “dangers” everywhere.

He’s so used to trying to find solutions to save us from being hurt, from being wrong, from being ashamed, from feeling guilty…

But it is possible once you understand that there is so much more to you than being locked in with your fears.

 

We all have a purpose on earth, a contribution to make to the world.

Use those fears to challenge yourself.

Use those fears to understand what really matters to you.

Your destiny is certainly not to be afraid and to miss out on your life!

 

So dare to explore, dare to trust, dare to love, dare to live your full potential!

Far be it from me to tell you all this and leave you with your fears! 

Here is another article that can help you tame them.

And if you need support to overcome your fears and move forward in your projects, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Exhaustion – Article

Exhaustion

This is a cry from my heart.

Following two years of Covid pandemic, many people are experiencing emotional and/or physical breakdown.

They held on tight for a while in a very difficult context with a lot of fears and uncertainties, they held on and now that the pandemic is receding, they have the space to let go, to think about themselves, think about their lives…  and they start to collapse.

I see a lot of people around me who stop working, handing over medical certificates, unable to carry on because they’re too exhausted.

Most of them are women.

Indeed, during this period, gender inequalities were glaring and women, much more than men, managed most of the household: home schooling, cleaning, taking care of children,… all while working at the same time.

I wonder when we will realise that gender equality is far from being achieved.

Yes, we have the right to vote, to study, to choose our career, to be free,…

Yes, but in reality, it is always up to women to take care of the household, shopping, children, family activities… And it’s not just about doing it in addition to our work, but also thinking about it, organising it, coordinating it! The mental load is almost exclusively for us.

Should we talk about progress? I don’t know. I think that women are stuck for the moment.

And I think most husbands, fathers, men don’t realise that.

And it’s partly our fault (and at the same time it’s not, because we were well educated and programmed by the system…)

We play superwomen.

We proud ourselves and we convince ourselves we can do it all.

We don’t delegate because it takes time and anyway it will not be done as we want it to.

We manage everything.

We control.

And at some point, it’s way too much.

Ladies, we are caregivers, it is in our nature but the problem is when we care too much about others (and what they might think of us) and too little about ourselves.

Gentlemen, open your eyes, observe your house, do the exercise of listing all the invisible and repetitive tasks that your wives, sisters, daughters do without you realising it, as if it were completely normal.

We cannot do everything.

And if we do, at some point, we will crumble.

“5 strengths expat wife and entrepreneur have in common!” – Article

Expat wife

I wanted to write an article on expatriation for a long time.

An article on the challenges and opportunities of expatriation.

And to be very honest, more specifically on the unrecognised or undervalued role of the expatriate woman, the so-called “trailing spouse”…

But I wasn’t sure how to approach this article…

Reading back my notes, I realised that expat women have so much in common with entrepreneurs! And indeed many of them, like me, become entrepreneurs!

So, what strengths do expat wives develop during expatriation that makes them super suited for an entrepreneurial role?

I did some research and here are 5 traits that successful entrepreneurs and expat wives possess:

  • Social abilities
  • Planning
  • Confidence
  • Creativity
  • Optimism

And I don’t even dwell in this article on other qualities such as open-mindedness, risk tolerance, flexibility, resilience,… which are also common to expats and entrepreneurs! It will probably be in a future article!

The expat wife is a networking pro! 

Whether it’s online networking or face-to-face networking, the expat wife is compelled to step out of her comfort zone as she is often responsible for creating what will be the social life for herself and her family. 

Networking is a must when you are new in town to start understanding the dos and don’t and to create a support network for you and your family.

It doesn’t matter if you are extroverted or introverted, you must go out there, work on your social skills, be open-minded, dare to talk to strangers, ask anything and everything to find your place in this new environment (from finding the best grocery store or activities for the kids to solving passport or tax issues).

And to achieve this, the expat wife must accept to feel vulnerable and not be afraid of being rejected. 

After exploring all the possible avenues of networking, she will then choose those that will best suit her and her family, which also means diplomatically declining certain options.

Having created her own support network, knowing exactly whom to ask or whom to reach out for any possible questions or challenges, she often becomes the go-to person for new expats and when leaving her current host country for a new one, she becomes a pro at maintaining her global network!

She is a super planner and organiser!

At first, a new expatriate wife will probably think “what a great opportunity, I now have all the time in the world to do everything I always wanted to do when I was working!”.

And soon she will realize that like gas, time expands until it fills all available space…

If she doesn’t plan her day, time will pass and she will wonder what she is doing with her days, weeks, months,…

Without a boss telling her what to do or how to organise her day, the expatriate woman will become her own boss and create a routine for managing the household while achieving the goals she has set for herself!

She is definitely the great planner and organiser for the whole family;  taking care of the children, the school activities, the household chores, the maintenance, the shopping, the vacation planning, the social network,… that’s all on her!

But on top of that, she will also have to make room and take time to realise herself and achieve her goals!

Doesn’t that sound like a minister’s program? Or the planning of an entrepreneur?

Courage and confidence are her mottos.

Being in a new environment, being bombarded with new information, meeting so many new people, taking on a new role, being confronted with other ways of doing things can definitely make us lose our bearings.

In addition, expatriate wives are often faced with the fact of no longer having a job, and therefore losing part of their identity.

All of this can shake their confidence.

It takes a good dose of courage not to lose sight of who you really are and what you really want.

You need a lot of self-confidence to continue to value your talents, skills, values ​​and to move forward, find your place and make the right choices for yourself.

She cannot do it without being creative!

Creating a new balance for herself and the whole family cannot be done without thinking outside the box and calling on her creativity.

Creativity in how she will spend time with children. Being home full time doesn’t specifically mean quality time. It often means “Help, too much time with the children, I need air!”. To find a balance in this new situation, she must invent a creative way to spend time with her children so that everyone finds joy and fulfilment.

Creativity to make room for her couple. To be abroad means to be far away. We may have more time for our family nucleus and we get closer to our children but at the same time, the children are always there! No immediate family or friends to take them for an afternoon or on weekends and spend time as a couple. So creativity is once again at the rendezvous to reinvent a little respite for the couple.

Creativity to stay connected with the country of origin! It takes planning and creativity (especially if there is a big jet lag) to organise video calls, special moments for children with their grandparents, godmother and godfather, sharing family adventures on a blog, organise birthday parties online,…

Creativity on a daily basis to develop potential options and find solutions to deal with all the new problems the family is facing in a new environment!

Optimism is her second nature!

Everything is new, everything is to be discovered, the cool things as well as the less cool ones. There are many changes, challenges and uncertainties and at the beginning of the expatriation it’s a lot to manage at once.

Some days, everything is fine, life is good and expatriation is the dream.

Other days it’s bad, we realise that it’s not just a vacation but it’s our life now and there are things we don’t like. We are far from those who know us by heart and sometimes we just want to crawl back to bed and cry.

This is also what it means to be an expat; an emotional roller coaster, with high highs and deep lows; the sensations are greater there!

It is therefore essential to cultivate a positive mindset, no matter what happens. 

It also requires an unfailing optimism and sense of humour to overcome challenges and always see them as opportunities to learn and grow!

Isn’t that still the spirit of entrepreneurship?

“Why is it so difficult to say “no”?” – Article

“NO”

Such a small word.

Such a difficult word to say.

Why is it so difficult to say “no”?

As social animals we want to belong and be loved and the thought of being rejected is just super scary!

So we create many stories to protect ourselves and prevent us from saying “no”:

  • I don’t want to disappoint them
  • I don’t want them to think that I can’t
  • I don’t like conflicts
  • I’m afraid of his reaction
  • If I say no it will hurt her
  • If I say no he won’t love me
  • I don’t want to be selfish
  • I’m a nice person, I care about others
  • I don’t want be the fussy one

Of course, these are stories. We have no idea what will happen if we say no.

But the fear is there and we rather say yes.

We believe that this yes will protect us from the rejection of others.

It probably does for a while… but in the process, what we do is actually ignore our values, our needs, our limits and reject ourselves… More frightening, right?

 

Do I actually know where to draw my limits?

 

It can be very difficult for some of us to say no because we just don’t know our limits …

We may feel that something is not working for us, but we don’t really know what.

So how can we say no if it’s not clear to us in the first place?

There is an introspection to be made.

There is most likely a need or a value behind this feeling that is not being met and that is why we feel uncomfortable. 

Here are some questions that can put you on the path to discovering your needs and values;

  • What do you like to do?
  • What annoys you?
  • What brings you joy?
  • What is draining your energy?
  • If you could choose to live 5 different lives, what would they be?

It is also useful in this exploration to analyse the situations where you are asked to take a position:

  • Listen to yourself; do you feel comfortable saying yes or do you feel obliged. If you’re not sure whether to say yes or no, ask for some time and allow yourself to think about it.
  • Try to separate what you really feel (your intuition, your guts, your emotions, …) and what you are thinking. Often we tend to dismiss our feelings and rationalize with thoughts such as “I should”, “I must”, “I have to”, “This is how things are done”, …
  • Listen to the advice you give to others, very often it is a reflection of your own needs and values!

How can I say “no” constructively?

When you are clearer about the limits you want to put in place, you also need to know how to actually get the message across without hurting or feeling guilty afterwards.

Here are some recommendations:

  • First of all, change your mindset; you are not a bad person when you say no! To say no is to respect yourself and others. You are constructive and trustworthy in your relationships.

  • Remember, people are not in your head. If you don’t communicate what’s best for you, they can’t know. Opening your heart and letting them know where you draw the line is showing them that you trust them to understand and it will strengthen your relationships. And it doesn’t, so that definitely tells you more about this relationship …

  • Prepare the discussion. A useful tool is the Non-violent Communication Framework. This helps us better understand why we want to say no but also helps us frame the discussion.
    • Observation: what is the situation? 
    • Feeling: what am I feeling?
    • Needs: what do I need?
    • Request: what do you want to propose?
  • It is never black or white. Opening the discussion can open up perspectives and you might actually end up with different alternatives to meet your needs and the other person’s needs.

I hope this short article is useful for you.

If you want more information on the framework of non-violent communication, I invite you to download the flyer I made on this subject. You will not only receive more explanations on the framework of non-violent communication but also 4 additional emails with online tools to help you explore your needs, values, emotions, … Very useful content to start daring draw your limits!

“Do we expect too much from our relationships?” – Article

Do we expect too much from our relationships, be it friendships or romantic relationships?

I think some of us do …

Our expectations can be high, too high, sometimes even unrealistic. 

So let’s take a closer look at 7 situations where I think our expectations with regards to relations are unrealistic.

It may help us avoid the situations and work on building healthy and happy relationships with friends, with family and even with romantic partners. 

This article might sound a bit blunt and my intention is not to hurt anyone. Those are my thoughts, my reality.

Relationships are a big topic and if you’d like to discuss it further, I’m more than happy to continue discussing it with you!

No one will change for you.

I know you know this. We cannot change someone.

And yet, often, we try to help someone change… even a little bit… and this can lead to a lot of frustrations and disappointments as we cannot change someone…

For sure, anyone can change, but a person will only change if they want to. And it will be for himself/herself and not for you…

So, either you accept the person as they are with the parts you like and the parts you like less because you definitely can be close to someone even if you don’t like everything about the person…

Or you don’t try to be close to that person, and that is okay! But don’t try to mold someone the way you want them to be.

Don’t rate the person, look at the relationship…

It wouldn’t be so nice to be seen as a checklist, right? And yet I know a lot of women have this internal checklist.

Does he meet the criteria of intelligence, beauty, humor, socially acceptable, well dressed, …? The other has to meet so many criteria that he actually doesn’t stand a chance …

 Why not assess the relationship instead? 

  • How do you feel with this person?
  • Does it bring you joy and happiness?
  • How does the energy flow between you two?

I think the focus should be on the relationship, not the person.

Someone can indeed check everything on your list and be “theoretically” perfect and yet in reality, the relationship isn’t working.

The perfect person therefore just may not be perfect for you.

Hope is double-edged!

It is good to hope for better days. Hope is a beautiful strength.

But to hope for better when you haven’t seen any changes is probably unrealistic …

In addition to not trying to change someone, don’t expect that something missing will suddenly appear.

So, be real, look at the person in the present.

Look at who you are with. Look at the relationships you have. Don’t project what that person might become. Or don’t dream how this relationship could be.

Look at the present.

Today, with the positives and negatives, is it working for you?

If so, there is hope. Otherwise, hoping is probably more of a fantasy and by consequence a waste of time. 

No one is a mind reader!

Don’t assume he or she knows…  

Don’t assume you know…  

Talk! 

The idea that she or he “should know” is not a good one…

We often have unrealistic expectations of others.  They are neither in our mind nor in our heart. They don’t know what we are thinking or what we are feeling. If we don’t express ourselves, we can’t expect the person to know how we are feeling or what we want. And vice versa.

Yet, we are still hoping they would maybe guess… Indeed, it is less romantic to ask for something than to be surprised!

The “languages of love” (cf. Book; “The five love languages” by Gary Chapman) is a good illustration of this. We all want to be loved or appreciated, but the way we give and receive love can be very different.   

Do we feel loved or appreciated when

  • we spend time together?
  • we receive a gift?
  • we are physically close?
  • we are given a hand?
  • we receive kind and encouraging words?

The answer varies from person to person.

And often we will give love the way we want to receive it and not the way the other one wants to receive it… The goal is the same (LOVE) but the strategies vary. 

And if we don’t talk about it, how can we know what the other is looking for? 

The other one won’t complete you…

 

Do not expect that the other will fill you up, make you complete and that from then on everything will be fine …

Of course, the other will be there for you, to love you, to encourage you, to create a life with you.

But it is not his role to carry your pain or heal your wounds.

I would even say that unwittingly, the other will act as a mirror for you and show you where it hurts.

Don’t we say that it’s the closest people who hurt us the most?

Yes, they do like to push our buttons… 

And it is most likely to help us be more aware of ourselves and do the inner work.

That’s maybe why on a subconscious level we chose him or her and not someone else…

It shouldn’t be that difficult!

Sometimes the desire to be successful in a relationship is so high that we kind of force ourselves to make it work.

We strive for it, we challenge ourselves because we want it to work this time around and in the process we forget our needs, our wishes, our limits, …

Yes, relationships are complex, but I think they don’t have to be that difficult.

If there’s too much drama, too much pain, it’s probably not going in the right direction and not worth it.

And instead of questioning ourselves, we should just realize that we’re probably trying with the wrong person …

So choose your relationships, the ones that bring you joy and happiness, and let go of others. We don’t like everyone and not everyone loves us … and it’s okay!

Playing games, really?

If you want to build a lasting relationship, don’t play games.

Wear your heart on your sleeve. Be real, be yourself.

Yes, it is scary. The fear of being rejected and unloved can be immense.

But what good is it to be loved for a role that you play?

How can it work if you are not 100% yourself?

So don’t play games, be open, communicate what you want and take it from there.

Either there is positive feedback or there isn’t, either way you know what to expect.

If you play a role, you will never know it and the doubts will always be there.

I’m curious if this article has been helpful to you. Send me a message to let me know!

“Our emotions are our messengers…” – Article

 

Emotions…

or E-motions…

Energy for action!

What are our basic emotions? 

The basic emotions are like the primary colours of the emotions. 

According to experts, there are 8 basic emotions.

  • Sadness
  • Shame
  • Disgust
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Surprise
  • Joy
  • Trust

Then come the more complex emotions, such as jealousy, which can be a mix of fear, shame, and anger. Or at the other end of the spectrum is love, which can be a mix of joy and trust.

The multiple combinations create a very colourful palette, with each one of us having our own very unique version.

What strikes me in this categorisation is that we tend to start with more negative emotions (lower energy vibrations) than positive emotions (higher energy vibrations)…  Interesting, no? 

Our emotions are messengers… 

An emotion is an energy flowing in our body to deliver us a message. Our brain has processed an information (external stimulus) and the result is an emotion.

  •  What should we understand from our emotions?
  •  What is the emotion triggering in us?
  •  And what do we do with that emotion?

First of all, we should welcome and accept our emotion, not ignore it. Then try to name our emotion. Which one is it? It is not always easy to define… Finally understand its message.

  • Is my anger due to an unmet need or an unfulfilled value?
  • Does my joy tell me which way to go?
  • Does my fear invite me to surpass myself?
  • Does my sadness tell me to let go?

Asking these questions allows us to understand what is going on within ourselves. We can then decide what behaviour we want to adopt.

Unfortunately, very often, our reaction to our emotion is immediate, spontaneous, thoughtless, … 

We don’t take the space or the time between our emotion and our reaction.

How can we better manager our emotions?

 

As already mentioned, our emotions are messengers. 

The way we react to them is up to us.  There is a space between our emotion and our response.

Sometimes the emotion is so strong that the reaction is immediate. It is a question of survival, the amygdala takes over and our neocortex is not responsive anymore as our oxygen and energy are used to offer a fast survival response (fight, fly, freeze, flock). 

Example: Your kid is crossing the street without noticing a car coming, you are extremely scared, you don’t think, you grab him. There is no analysis, you act.

You will only be able to analyse the situation when the danger has passed, when your neocortex is connected again.

Usually, we have an emotion and we are capable to take a moment (and use our neocortex) before reacting.

Not taking that moment can lead us to a response we might regret afterwards…

Example: Your colleague is not delivering a paper as agreed, you are very upset. You could lash out your anger or you could take a moment, breathe and think about the best way to deal with it.

So, how can we better manage our emotions?

First thing first: PAUSE. This pause is essential!

How to use this pause? 

 

A pause helps us not to react immediately to our emotions.

  • To understand the reason for this emotion
  • To analyse if this emotion only concerns us or involves other people
  • To judge if a reaction to this emotion is important 

If the emotion only concerns yourself and the reaction belongs to you and has nothing to do with others, then the focus should be on what YOU can do to regulate this emotion.

Example: I was about to shout at my children. Why? I don’t really know, they didn’t do anything special apart from being kids. I’m pissed off because of my day. I need to exercise to reduce my stress level.

If this is an infringement on your needs or values, the first step would be to think and ask yourself if you have control and whether or not it is important.

Example: During confinement my need to have moments alone is no longer being respected … This strongly impacts me. This does not solely depend on me and I can take actions communicating my need and the importance of it to my family.

In conclusion

Whatever the emotion, don’t let your reaction take over.

Take a step back to pause and reflect and only after that, decide what is the best way to manage your emotion;

  • accept the emotion because it is a normal reaction (for example, being sad when faced with a difficult event)
  • take action (for example, communicate your needs so that you no longer feel upset)
  • reset (for example, do some exercise to relieve the stress of the day)
  • or even change your emotion (for example, recognize that you started the day on the wrong foot and switch to a happier mood)