How to find meaning in your life

How to find meaning in your life

How to find meaning in your life

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Woman in red dress dancing in field finding meaning in life

I was strolling down Kastanienallee, one of the trendy shopping streets in the former East Berlin, with my bestie visiting from Sweden.

Life is finally back to normal’, I thought to myself. But is it really back to what it used to be? No, not really. We socialise, travel and everything is open again, but life is different than what it used to be.

I have more real conversations.

I forgive and move on faster.

I look the people I care about in the eyes and ask: ‘How are you?

I interact with life on a deeper level.

I’m more honest and say, ‘I don’t enjoy camping’ and let my husband go alone with our daughter on a camping trip.

I have noticed I’m more grateful and I compromise less.

How do you experience ‘the new normal’? What has changed in your life?

My bestie and I walked into a random shop and the first thing I saw was a bag that said: ‘Think less, dance more’. If there had been music playing I would have started dancing immediately!

After some cheerful small talk with the shop owner, we headed towards our favourite ice cream place. I left feeling like something amazing had happened, and I laughed to myself when I realised it was just a normal interaction with a stranger!

What actually gives life meaning is the willingness to live it’. – The Untethered Soul, Michael A. Singer.

I hear so many people talking about finding their purpose and I always think about Elisabeth Gilbert’s talk about how much anxiety this search can lead to.

There is nothing wrong with trying to find your purpose, but for me, today, I find it far more valuable to ask myself ‘what gives life meaning right now?

Sometimes it’s just sitting at my favourite restaurant having lunch on my own in the sun.

Sometimes it’s calling a friend and sharing how we actually are doing.

Sometimes it’s reading (for the 10th time;) another poem my daughter wrote for me.

My bestie and I ended the day on my terrace. It was one of those unforgettable evenings, so warm we could stay outside as long as we wanted. We had a glass of wine and talked about the pain and the joy we had experienced since we last met.

Close to midnight I took out a photo album from a trip to Guatemala we had taken together in 2001. I hadn’t seen those pictures in a long time.

As we looked through them I noticed two things: one part of me was proud that I had embarked on this adventure, but I also felt sad.

I felt sad for the 20-something girl who was so lost and deep down unhappy. In my search for love and fulfilment, I was always looking outside of myself for a new adventure or relationship.

For a long time I felt incredibly lost. I was constantly looking for love and appreciation from the outside, never feeling satisfied.

Reading The Untethered Soul, I realise how much meaning my life has now. There is nothing I need to find, as I have what I need right here in front of me. If I’m just willing to live my life.

And just like the message on the bag in the shop, when I think less and dance more I feel like I’m living my life in every cell of my body.

What helps you to think less? I would love to hear from you. Please share in the comments.

Love,

 

 

Share this:

Hello, I’m Katarina Stoltz, a life coach and psychotherapist helping ambitious professionals prioritise their well-being so they can achieve fulfillment without burning out.

Welcome to The Time To Thrive Blog, where I share real-life stories and offer valuable and practical tips for how to prevent burnout, expand your self awareness and start living your vision.

I don’t offer ‘quick fix’ solutions, but my tips are straightforward and easy to follow. You’re in the right place if you’re looking for some thought-provoking articles and honest life stories.

I’m happy you’re here!

STOP people pleasing by setting healthy boundaries

STOP people pleasing by setting healthy boundaries

STOP people pleasing by setting healthy boundaries

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Image of woman with hand in stop gesture to demonstrate how to set healthy boundaries with Katarina Stoltz

I started to jot down all the things people said to me in the past when I set my boundaries—when I stood up for myself or for my daughter:

“You’re rude”

“You’re cold”

“You’re not respectful”

“You’re not empathetic”

“Psycho”

The list goes on…

No wonder it’s so damn hard for us to set boundaries! Who wants to be called all those things?

What are you called when you set boundaries?

Or maybe you’re only met with silence.

That’s the passive aggressive version of saying the same.

Setting boundaries is the area I worked on the most in my own personal development journey, and the area that many of my clients need support with.

I love talking and reading about boundaries!

Currently I’m reading Gabor Maté’s book When the Body Says No. He writes about how people with indistinct personal boundaries live with a lot of stress:

The blurring of psychological boundaries during childhood becomes a significant source of future physiological stress in the adult’.

Boundaries are learned in our formative years, and those of us who were raised by adults with poor boundaries have had to learn boundaries later—the hard way.

It usually starts just like that—the body says NO. We get headaches, belly aches and back pain. The body does what the mind can’t express.

Most people don’t like to hear a ‘no, I disagree’, ‘no, I don’t feel like coming, no, I can’t do that right now. So, we keep on people pleasing and swallowing all the ‘nos’.

We all want to be liked, right? So of course we do anything for people to like us.

What is it that’s so uncomfortable about other people setting boundaries?

What I have learned to be true is: We’re triggered by the things we’re not allowing ourselves. When someone else sets boundaries, we’re reminded of how badly we want to stand up for ourselves and others—but can’t!

When that child called me a “psycho”, she might have been upset about something she was not able to do herself, or maybe there was a lack of support in her close surroundings.

When that adult called me “not empathetic” she might have been angry for not being able to stand up for herself in the same way.

How other people treat you is a reflection of THEM. How you react is a reflection of YOU.

Two weeks ago, Gabor Maté was in Berlin to talk about the film that was made about him: The Wisdom of Trauma. During the Q&A afterwards, he advised:

Be as interested in your emotional reaction, as in the people who caused it’.

We can’t change others, but we have the power to change our reactions.

We have the power to unlearn our people pleasing behaviour.

We need to keep on saying NO, and stand up for ourselves. We need to do this for our mental and physical health. We need to do this for our children, family and friends.

Are you with me?

I’d love to hear what you are called when you set boundaries. Let me know in the comments.

Love,

 

 

Share this:

Hello, I’m Katarina Stoltz, a life coach and psychotherapist helping ambitious professionals prioritise their well-being so they can achieve fulfillment without burning out.

Welcome to The Time To Thrive Blog, where I share real-life stories and offer valuable and practical tips for how to prevent burnout, expand your self awareness and start living your vision.

I don’t offer ‘quick fix’ solutions, but my tips are straightforward and easy to follow. You’re in the right place if you’re looking for some thought-provoking articles and honest life stories.

I’m happy you’re here!

How do you get clear on what you really want? Slow down.

How do you get clear on what you really want? Slow down.

How do you get clear on what you really want? Slow down.

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Woman walking along the beach taking time to slow down and get clear on what she really wants.

You know what I’ve been thinking lately? – That I’d like to be a snail sometimes.

I wouldn’t want to carry a big house around, but I would like to be slow as a snail from time to time.

When I trained as a psychotherapist, a teacher once compared me to a horse; I was the one in the race who always started before all the other ones. Being fast is very familiar to me; I always walked fast, talked fast, wanted to see results fast.

But things have changed since then.

Have you ever thought about an animal you would like to be?

When we were on holiday in Fuerteventura a few weeks ago, I convinced my family that we should go out for Paella on a Sunday afternoon, just like the Spanish families do.

Outside our hotel there was a wide beach with hard sand that you could easily walk on. I was moving my legs in that direction when my husband pointed in another direction and said, “let’s take this way, it’s faster.”

A few years back it would have stayed as a thought, and I would have swallowed the possible confrontation and the inner battle of expressing my own needs.

“Yes sure, let’s do that”, “I’m fine”, “Yes, it sounds like a good idea”… but what I actually wanted to say is:

“I don’t want to do that”,” I’m not fine”, “I prefer to…”

Does this sound familiar to you?

When we don’t get what we want we end up blaming our partners, friends, or managers for not giving us what we need.

It seems to me that many of us are out of sync with our own needs.

“How can I know what my needs are?” a few clients have asked me.

And of course, it’s not a simple question with a simple answer. Many of us grew up learning that our needs are not important, and we have buried them deep down in our consciousness. Usually we have already resigned before we even try to express them:

“I won’t get what I need anyway”, you might think to yourself and quickly adjust to the situation. You say “yes” even if you mean “no”. You say “no” even if you mean “yes”.

Easier right? No confrontation or risk of not being liked.

The problem starts when we see confrontation as “bad”, we’re not seeing the value in confronting another person.

When we confront someone with our needs, we’re letting someone see us. We get in contact with the other person, instead of just being in a diffuse harmony bubble of fake happiness.

The other person sees our needs and has the chance to help us fulfil them.

But how can we express our needs if we don’t know what they are??

The first step is to SLOW DOWN. We can’t know what we want if we’re constantly busy.

I don’t want to take a short cut.

I don’t want to take the faster way.

I don’t want

I don’t want

want

want to be a snail sometimes.

Take it slow.

Walk on the beautiful beach instead of on the busy road.

When I take it slow, not rushing around like a headless chicken, and stop trying “to get there faster”, I start to feel my feelings. I hear my heart whispering my needs.

Watching the ocean, breathing in the fresh air, and listening to the strength of the waves coming into the shore is something that makes me feel alive.

“I don’t want to take the faster way, I want to walk along the beach,” I answered my husband.

Yes, it took longer. And we found a place on the way where my daughter started collecting snails.

Saying YES to myself and my needs has been a practice for many years. It didn’t come easy to me, I needed to relearn it. Get back in touch with the child in me who clearly knew what I needed.

It all changed when I stopped listening to the part of me who had learned what the world wanted me to say.

I still forget sometimes, and then I blame and criticise (yes I’m not perfect!).

Behind every criticism there is a wish.

Realising this was a huge game changer for me. When I started to say what I wanted instead of what the other person does wrong, my relationships changed tremendously.

I believe when we start talking about “what is” (I am hoping you can cook today because I don’t feel well) instead of “what is not” (you never support me when I’m feeling weak), we will get much more of what we need.

My biggest role model is my daughter.

The other day I was getting ready to drive her to school. I was stressed, and rushing around our apartment when she sat down on the back of the sofa and looked up and said: “Mama, I need a hug.”

As a reminder you can put a Post-it note on your computer:

Say what you want, don’t say what the other person does wrong!

“When we can name it, we can change it”, Gabby Bernstein says. Starting to name my emotions is something that has helped me understand what my needs are.

If you wish to get more in touch with your needs to feel more confident, I have created something really valuable for you: The one-month tracking journal TIME TO THRIVE.

If you are looking for increased energy, peace and clarity, this journal will support you to be kinder to yourself and create room for the things that really matter.

You’ll be amazed by how this simple life coaching tool transforms your daily life! And I’m giving it away for free!

Get the journal here.

Love,

 

 

Share this:

Hello, I’m Katarina Stoltz, a life coach and psychotherapist helping ambitious professionals prioritise their well-being so they can achieve fulfillment without burning out.

Welcome to The Time To Thrive Blog, where I share real-life stories and offer valuable and practical tips for how to prevent burnout, expand your self awareness and start living your vision.

I don’t offer ‘quick fix’ solutions, but my tips are straightforward and easy to follow. You’re in the right place if you’re looking for some thought-provoking articles and honest life stories.

I’m happy you’re here!

Think you’re wasting your time?

Think you’re wasting your time?

Think you’re wasting your time?

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Woman distracted looking at phone worried she is wasting time if she isn't always busy

I have a confession to make.

I said I would never look at my e-mail while waiting for the traffic light to turn green in my car. When my husband does it, it always annoys me, “are you crazy? It’s really dangerous!”

And yet I did exactly the same a few weeks ago, frantically scrolling through my emails while stopped in my car, waiting for the light to turn green.

“Fill the time.”

“Kill time.”

“Using the time right.”

There are many things we can do with our time while we’re waiting.

A friend of mine shared she felt she was in a kind of “waiting mode”, nothing much was really happening in her life.

Is this state familiar to you?

Many perceive this state as “wrong”. As if we’re not being productive enough or optimising our lives enough. As if time is just being wasted…

Our culture tells us that if we’re not rushing around, racing to get things done, our life is useless!

What do we think we are wasting by waiting or pausing our precious lives for a few minutes?

What was it I thought couldn’t wait when I was at the traffic light?

When we’re constantly busy with “filling our time” our minds tend to be in the future.

“You’re busy thinking about what you’re going to do next. You’re a month ahead of yourself, or even a year. You’re not living life; you’re living mind.” – Michael A. Singer, The Untethered Soul.

One of my mentors once gave me an exercise to spark inspiration for writing. I should practice “cloud gazing”. Easy, I thought to myself, not realising how challenging it was at first.

I have no problem laying in a hammock gazing at the clouds while being on holiday, but doing it just like that, in between tasks? More difficult than I imagined.

I can guarantee you – cloud gazing is not a waste of time. When I take the time to gaze into the clouds, I usually come up with either the best ideas for my business or get an answer to a question I was pondering.

The same mentor also taught me a simple exercise. Whenever you’re feeling guilty about being in a “wrong” state, for example blaming yourself for being lazy, ask yourself: what is the gift in being lazy?

Tough one, right?

I know you’re thinking: “what on earth can be good about being lazy??”

The gift in being lazy is – REST. You are resting. You are letting yourself REST.

And the same goes for waiting.

What is the gift in waiting?

The gift in waiting is – you are creating space to see and listen, aka “being present”.

You see the beautiful couple crossing the street while you wait for the traffic light to turn green.

You see your daughter – how she enjoys performing in front of the mirror.

You hear the birds singing.

You hear the exhaustion in your partner’s voice so you give him a hug.

And you might hear your heart whispering the answer to the question you’ve been asking yourself for months, while you’ve been too busy racing for the next thing.

Just imagine that for a moment.

Our “filling the time behaviour” makes us exhausted.

At the beginning of each session, I always ask my clients what their most dominating mood was in the last 24h. Guess which is the most common one?

Exhausted.

Therefore, I have created a special free gift, a journal to boost your energy. You will recognise hidden energy drains throughout the week so that you can feel healthy, free and energised again.

If you would like to receive a free copy of my guided journal – sign up here.

Love,

 

 

Share this:

Hello, I’m Katarina Stoltz, a life coach and psychotherapist helping ambitious professionals prioritise their well-being so they can achieve fulfillment without burning out.

Welcome to The Time To Thrive Blog, where I share real-life stories and offer valuable and practical tips for how to prevent burnout, expand your self awareness and start living your vision.

I don’t offer ‘quick fix’ solutions, but my tips are straightforward and easy to follow. You’re in the right place if you’re looking for some thought-provoking articles and honest life stories.

I’m happy you’re here!

Not inspired to set yearly goals? Do this instead!

Not inspired to set yearly goals? Do this instead!

Not inspired to set yearly goals? Do this instead!

Published on

Woman writing yearly goals in a diary with an open laptop and a cup of coffee. 
How is the beginning of the year unfolding for you? Do you have new energy or are you already tired from trying to make this year different? (aka I hate you 2021, let’s finally have a year when we can travel, hug properly and do ALL the things the pandemic has deprived us of).

Resolutions, intentions and goal setting–a new calendar year is a potent time for imagining something different. It’s easy to get lost in all the promising messages out there about how we can change, improve, optimise and just be all-around better versions of ourselves.

I have skipped setting my yearly personal goals this year.

So, what have I done instead?

I came up with an exercise to do with my clients this month where I took them through a visualisation exercise and asked them:

  1. How do you want to feel?
  2. What do you want to share with your friends/family on New Year Eve 2022?
  3. What were your learnings?

I did this exercise myself and I want to feel:

LIGHTER.

I want to let go of another kilo weighing on my shoulders—the pressure of keeping myself busy even if the only thing I need is to rest on the sofa and say ‘I can’t take care of that right now’.

What about you?

How do you want to feel?

After my last blog post I received so many messages thanking me for being so honest. I had friends and people I hardly know sharing their deepest secrets.

 

 

‘It was so worth it’, I thought to myself.

It hasn’t been easy writing articles from a raw, vulnerable place during the pandemic. It’s been the first time that I’ve gone through similar challenges at the same time as my clients and readers.

Before the pandemic my rule was: Don’t share when you’re in the middle of a struggle, share when it’s not that raw anymore and when you have created enough distance to recognise the learning.

As soon as the pandemic started, I broke that rule and asked myself how I could best serve.

It’s been a balancing act not losing my professionalism as a coach and therapist.

I took a risk of not being liked.

I took a risk of being laughed at.

I took a risk of inviting unpleasant comments and questions.

I’m happy I took that risk. I gave people the feeling that we’re all humans, including coaches and therapists.

This is what I want to share with my friends and family on New Year’s Eve 2022:

  • I showed up as myself.
  • I asked for help when I needed it.
  • I drank more tea than coffee even if that was uncool.
  • I said no when others wanted more of me than I could give.
  • I said ‘I don’t agree’ when I felt I had a different opinion.
  • I said ‘I have to think about it’ when it was not a clear yes.
  • I did not check my email first thing when I woke up.
  • I called my friends and asked ‘How are you?’ instead of having an opinion about their life.
  • I went to bed even if I hadn’t ticked things off of my to-do-list.

And my learning in 2022:

‘When I prioritise my well-being, I will be less reactive when I’m together with the people I love’. 

Feel like like doing the same exercise? Here are the three questions again:

  1. How do you want to feel?
  2. What do you want to share with your friends/family on New Year Eve 2022?
  3. What were your learnings?

I believe it will create less anxiety than setting your yearly goals.

I would love to hear from you how you experienced it. Please share in the comments.

Love,

 

 

Share this:

Hello, I’m Katarina Stoltz, a life coach and psychotherapist helping ambitious professionals prioritise their well-being so they can achieve fulfillment without burning out.

Welcome to The Time To Thrive Blog, where I share real-life stories and offer valuable and practical tips for how to prevent burnout, expand your self awareness and start living your vision.

I don’t offer ‘quick fix’ solutions, but my tips are straightforward and easy to follow. You’re in the right place if you’re looking for some thought-provoking articles and honest life stories.

I’m happy you’re here!