How “work” can become a drug

man carrying gray pipe
man carrying gray pipe
Photo by Yury Kim on

I don’t know if it is new, yet it is the most accepted behavior to “fall into” in the world. It doesn’t matter if it ruins families just as much as chemicals. It is considered a much safer place to hide the real emotions or to channel negative feelings than any other legal or illegal drug.

I am talking about work. It is good to work.

Work gives us the possibility to earn money, pay for the house and car, and all the other comforts we need to have a good and decent life.

Work challenges us to be creative by solving various problems that may occur.

Work gives a good social network and the sense of belonging all humans need since we are considered to be “herd animals”.

As long as we enjoy what we do, it helps us gain more energy than we waste by doing the work.

Work is good as long as it is done in moderates amounts of time, and it does not interfere with sleep, healthy eating, and physical exercise.

Those in relationships, or with families and children already know that all that requires work. It is a different type of work than the one we get paid for in money.

A teacher of mine told me once, “Gabriela, if you love what you do, then you don’t work one day in your life”. Although I do resonate with what he told me, at the same time, I also experience that I need to do something else as well. I also need to spend time with my friends and family, or just on my own, doing nothing. Yes, you have read well: doing NOTHING.

Too much work, no matter how much we like it, can be overwhelming and stressful if we cannot put a limit on it. Unfortunately, this is an issue many immigrants and ex-pats are struggling with.

I am a Sherlock Holmes fan, and of course, I have seen the movies where Benedict Chumberback plays the famous detective. I have recently heard a line there, which says: “Work is the best antidote against sadness”

People tend to “tuck away” or numb their feelings in various ways, especially those less positive. The most common ways to numb feelings are through alcohol, food, cigarettes, entertainment, screens, and games. A more powerful and more expensive list of drugs like gambling, cannabis, heroin, cocaine can continue. In the same line, work can also be a drug to numb feelings we don’t like. If family life doesn’t work, instead of facing the issues with the partner, many people hide in work. It is a way to regain the feeling of self-respect one may have lost in the relationship. Many people don’t even think if they like what they do or if they only like the sense of “identity” the workplace is providing and the feeling of “achievement” that comes up with the company’s results. 

Other people suffer from a huge amount of responsibility, making them think that the world would collapse if they don’t do the job. It comes from a childhood where the adults in their lives have failed them. It felt so awful at the time that now when they are adults, they have promised to themselves not to fail themselves and keep their word no matter what. It doesn’t matter how many sacrificed it implies that they may lose family, friends, and most importantly, health, but they will keep their word. 

Once I had a guest originally from an Asian country. Yet, this person was living in France. Why? Because the working hours were 09:00 to 17:00 and after 17:00 it was time that could be used freely. It was a time for housework, spending time with friends, having a hobby even, and cooking something from homelands. Because in the homelands, it was working all the time. The hours were longer than eight. They could stretch to 12 and 14, which would leave no free time. The breakfast, lunch, and dinner were for work as well.

This is happening in many countries globally, and most immigrants are carrying with them in their “invisible luggage” this behavior. As a result, when they reach a new country in West and North Europe, many of them do not know what to do with the free time they may have in hand.

The democracies in the Western and Northern parts of Europe have a long tradition of fighting for workers’ rights and have unions that take care that the number of working hours is limited. This way, people can also have a life aside from it. Yet, this is hard to understand for people coming from dictatorships and result-oriented societies. What I’ve seen them do is that they stay longer at work, even if there is no need and nobody asked them to, in the hope that their employers would more appreciate them. Some of them are, some of them aren’t.

A couple of years ago, there was some work done on the roads in my neighborhood. One morning, in the middle of the week, I woke up at 04:00 AM to a terrible noise. A worker from the company in charge of fixing the roads has already come to work and started using asphalt breakers with no regard for the people living in the area, especially the children who were having a school day. We found out later that he was an immigrant, and he could not sleep that night. Nevertheless, he thought it was a good idea to go to work.

Many of these people gain “the hatred” of their colleagues from the new country because they fear that the employers will raise the standards and ask them to work more. In our case, the road-building company has got a complaint from all people in the neighborhood as well.

This kind of behavior is happening because the world is spinning around results and money more than leisure. It is a fact that makes many people not have the opportunity to learn that they can have hobbies and that they can also have rights, and they become what we call “workaholics”.

Are you one of those?

If this article has raised some questions for you, please comment here, or let me know in confidence by signing up here.

I wish you have a life free from any drugs!


How Eating meets your needs and follow you around the World

Cambridge dictionary definition says that eating disorders are mental illnesses. I, though, don’t see it this way. I mostly see them as emotional distress.  

First of all, we eat so we can survive. Lack of proper food leads to diseases and malnutrition. Yet, food meets more than this particular need in many people.

One of the needs food meets is the need for variety. We saw it very clear during corona times when people were not allowed to go out for entertaining. Therefore, many people picked up baking and cooking so they could have fun with it. 

Another need met by food is that of comfort. In movies where children get upset, we often see that someone older and wiser gives them some cookies and milk, ice cream, and cake, so little ones would forget their troubles and find comfort in the food. We, adults, are no different. 

If we look around a little, we’ll see that many people use food for comfort

For instance, if someone is alone and misses company, something to eat will make things better. This is also something that often happens with people who decided to live in another country than their own, and they may lack the support network. 

If one does not speak the language and it is not easy to find friends, food can be a good ally. Or, food can easily be used as emotional support if someone is surrounded by too many people or only one partner that is not the perfect fit. 

If someone is a single parent, and there is no one else there to share the burdens and the joys of bringing up children, food will always be there. 

Many people eat when they are stressed as well. It is interesting to see what kind of foods people choose. The use of crunchy food increases since chewing something that meets resistance is also a good stress releaser. In eating because of stress, one may also notice that if it is not crunchy or chewy enough, the food is swallowed without chewing or feeling the taste, and one can suddenly eat way too much without even realizing it. Just at the edge of overeating if it happens from time to time. If this behavior happens excessively or every day, it is definitely overeating and getting under “eating disorder” category. 

Stress, anger, or discomfort can also make food be rejected. People may refuse to eat out for the same reasons as eat too much. There is no one else they can trough their frustration at, and they punished themselves by starving themselves (anorexia), or even if they eat, they through it up (bulimia). Anorexia and bulimia are also used as weight control. For some people shows up in childhood, teenagers most often, and has to do with severe stress (trauma). 

Family members mainly cause this stress, and I know that some parents may protest while reading this. At the same time, think about it. Who is that we are dependent on for many years at the beginning of our lives. No parent wants to harm their children, yet much harm can be done without intention and unwillingly. When children do not have any control over their surroundings at home or school or both, the only thing they have control over is their own body. A good example can also be the potty training children have when that time comes. That is the only thing they can still control, and they are using it to put boundaries between them and their parents. 

The same with food, when they grow a little bit older. Parents cannot control how much their children keep their food. Some go to the bathroom immediately after a meal and through up, and nobody notices anything. I am not mentioning that there is also little control over that when children are in school. Therefore, we have another need met by food—the need of control children/young adults need.

Under the weight control cames also counting the calories—the amount in and the amount out. And the amount out one is counting it by working out excessively. This one is called orthorexia and came on the game a bit later. 

When people are not aware of their eating patterns, they can easily say that they have no problem. And there is no need to be either. No matter where you go, your eating patterns will follow you and take different shapes and sizes according to the emotional state at certain phases in your life. Even as an adult, when the world around is difficult to control, the only thing one can control is own body and weight. Therefore, we see many diets and many people who work out excessively. It may be the only thing one person owns and can have control over.

Moving countries can sometimes make it harder for some than for others, especially when one is having issues with food and cannot read labels because one does not know the language. It makes it difficult to read the content of the products or the number of calories.  It can also be difficult in social gatherings which implies food. Especially when people do not want to eat. For some, it can be difficult to justify “the lack” of appetite, especially when the biggest honor for the host is to eat their food.

When you’re new in a new country, it is also difficult to control many things, at least for a while, and by the time things get settled. The need for comfort as well as the amount of stress is playing a part in eating habits. 

I argued here that eating disorders are not necessarily mental disorders, yet only ways many people choose to meet their various needs. If you have other ideas about how food is helping or not, please let me know by commenting here, or let me know in confidence by signing up here.

I wish you build balance in your life!


Hunger as a drive away from home

Among the feelings that drive people away from their countries, we also find the feeling of hunger.

Looking for a definition of this word, I found the Cambridge dictionary, which says the following: “a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat”, “the feeling you have when you need to eat”, “a situation in which the body does not have enough food”. The description of this physiological need is followed by the next nuance of the word: “a strong wish or desire”. 

I am approaching this feeling of hunger because I meet it quite often in my therapy room. People use this hunger for various reasons and in different forms, and to cover other needs as well, not only the one that is meant to keep the physical body alive.

Which is the main reason we feel it. Hunger is one of the first physiological human needs—the third in line after air and water. Without food, we cannot survive. Therefore, after the way food distribution looks like today, many people would do anything to have food on the table. Proof for that we have the history books, which mention times of hunger during and after wars or plagues. We see it today in countries with no war, but with severe dictatorship and corruption in its pure form.

Many people still do not have access to education and jobs, do not earn enough to put food on the table. Just take a trip outside the western world and outside the tourist areas in third-world countries, where things are not shined and polished, and it will stare in your face.

Hunger is one of those feelings which also chases people away from home. To make a move to another house, neighborhood, city, country, to feed themselves and their family. The lack of food in particular countries has made it a commodity that people would like to show.

We see on TV and travel channels or read in books how hospitable people from developing countries are and how welcoming. If you’re a guest there, people will put in front of you whatever they have best, even if they know that they won’t have enough for themselves tomorrow. It is a paradox and challenging to understand. Why?

What makes poor people more generous than people considered rich? From how I understand this behavior, in a country where food is scarce, showing that one house has food to give is a sign of wealth. Keeping up appearances is essential everywhere, no matter the cost.

Beauty standards are also different. A friend from Africa told me once that a chubby person is considered rich because that person needs to have a lot of money to buy that much food to maintain plumpness. Therefore, chubby is beautiful there.

On the other hand, in Switzerland, I have heard from another friend that doctors don’t even look at overweight people. The amount of extra kilos is a sign of illness. It means that people wearing them do not take care of themselves, do not exercise, and eat unhealthy food. Becoming sick is a result of that. Therefore, they need to lose weight first before the doctors take them seriously.

Hunger implies food not only in the strict way of survival. Food is also a big part of each country’s culture. If we travel, we want to taste the local food. If we are foreigners in a foreign land, we are asked about our traditional food. I, for once, am tired of speaking about it, yet I understand that it is a good conversation subject, and the way to people’s hearts is through their stomachs.

Food brings a common subject to talk about, a tasty experience, and a way of being together safely. Many problems of the world are solved and stirred around a dinner table.

Have you ever wondered why do we make more food than necessary, especially around holidays? Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Ramadan, and all the other holidays that exist in each country?

It is a celebration, we can say, and yes, it is nice to celebrate with food. However, is it necessary to make more than we need? Or to eat more than we need, for that matter? What causes this behavior? The first reason that comes to my mind is that many people come from families who have suffered from hunger at some point. If you think for a moment, when you lack something, with the first occasion you have to meet that need which was not satisfied for a long time, what is it that you do first? You buy it and use it in excess quantities so finally your need is met. And you are going to do this until you feel satisfied and suddenly, you don’t feel like needing that something, because you’ve had it for so long and in so large quantities that you’re saturated. It is the same with food.

Therefore, people who come from countries or families where food was scarce will make more food than necessary because in their subconscious lies that fear of starvation which was very present in their families at a particular time in history. Few people think it trough now, and call the excess of food making “tradition”. Yet, the times we live in today look nothing like they did 20 or 50 years ago.

Many people do not even realize this behavior and the reason behind it. If you read this article and you know that this perhaps happens in your family, maybe it could be a good idea to do some research and find out when some of your great grandparents or even parents have suffered from hunger? Then, you can think about if that is the case today, and if really, it is necessary to use that much amount of time, energy, and money to prepare or buy food that may end up in the trash.

I also noticed that many parents show their love to their children by making them the foods they like. They also think that putting food on the table is all a child needs and nothing more. Many parents prefer to sacrifice their time with their children for an extra job that brings more money and more food—not often realizing that the child may use that food to compensate for the lack of emotions they are supposed to receive from their parents. 

Or these children are using food to regulate the fluctuation and the unstable emotional ground created by overworked parents or single parents, or absent parents. That leads to a behavior, which clinically is called Eating Disorder, and I am speaking about it in my next article.

The lack of food the parents are trying to fill by working too much, just as well as the lack of emotions, these children are trying to fill when they decide to travel away from home. Most of them dream of better lives so they can offer (save) their parents from too much work. It is a way of wanting “to buy” the parents love, buy earning enough money to buy them food, and much more than food. This “hunger” extends to houses, properties, or successful businesses. Nothing wrong with it, I just think it is important to know where it comes from and what provoked both the travel away from home and the hunger, and hunger for what, exactly.

Therefore, hunger means much more than just keeping us alive. If you have more perspectives on this issue, please share them by leaving a comment underneath, or you can let me know in confidence by signing up for a chat here.

I wish you a balanced life!

Shades of Shame while being an Expat/Immigrant

There are many reasons people may choose to live in other countries than their own. I like to believe that our feelings drive us away, and at the same time, they also keep us in touch with our roots. There are positive feelings that determine us to move away. I link here the article, where you can see which ones. 

Yet, there are many less positive feelings we can struggle with while living abroad. One of them is the feeling of Shame, and its layers. 

Shame is something we live with since we are born. We meet it the first time with our parents.  

Shame is used as an educational tool. We are raised according to society’s rules, and each community has some ways of keeping order, which involves shame or the well-known phrase «What will people say». Some people live with the impression that what would people say is something we only meet in traditional societies, yet I do not believe it is entirely accurate. 

We are on social media these days, and we have influencers, which measure their popularity accordingly with several followers and views. It is usual for everyone to have a social media profile and post whatever they see fit. Each person has become a «brand.» What people say about us is part of us; we live in societies, both natural and virtual ones. Therefore, «What would people say» is just as present in modern societies as in traditional ones.  

Among many reasons people would decide to move to another country, we also meet the feeling of Shame. It is a feeling we rarely like to talk about, yet we feel it a lot due to various reasons. 

Some people decide to travel and work in another country because they do not manage to make a living in their own country. They travel and work somewhere else with the faith they will manage better. Whatever they think it stops them in their own country, it is shameful. It is the shame of not succeeding, of not being enough, of not managing to provide for their family, or perhaps because the democracy they thought they had in their country is not democracy at all. 

Many of them do manage better in the new country, yet when they return to visit their families in their country of origin can be accused of betrayal for leaving one’s country and wanting something better. As if the courage to want a better life and make the steps to achieve it in another country should be shameful. The shame is here as well, inflicted by the society that stayed behind. 

Another layer of shame is the shame of having a degree and not using it. An internal conflict arises which says: «Why did you spent so much time and energy studying if now you’re cleaning toilets/tables/cars/drive a bus or taxi, etc». 

If people manage to get jobs accordingly to their degrees, they may meet stigma and the reputation of their country of origin, which precedes them. Especially if they come from a country, which is not «Class A» as one of my friends, calls it. People they meet sees them first through the glasses of that reputation—a reputation, which each individual does not necessarily have. One person cannot be responsible for an entire country and history. It takes a lot of work for that individual to prove him/herself for what they stand for and who they are. Even so, some may still be denied promotions or increases in salaries just because they come where they come from, and local leaders see it fair not to treat them equally. These sorts’ of things are individual as well. The politics of the new country of residence may be tolerant in speech and law, yet how each individual applies that law in their yard can be different from the image their politicians are promoting. 

If the immigrants are smart, they meet another layer of shame: the shame of the locals when they see that an immigrant from a country they did not think much of, has a brain actually, and has good ideas. The locals feel ashamed by these people in their own country. It also has to do with speaking a foreign language. The immigrant often speaks the local’s language, even though with an accent. The shame the local feels in front of an immigrant who both speaks their language and has a good idea often comes out by shaming the immigrant for speaking with an accent or poorly pronunciation.

This layer of shame expands to the immigrant who can feel ashamed for being different, for having a better idea, for being who they are, for not fitting in, for not speaking the language perfectly which is common among many. 

Some mixed nationalities’ marriages or relationships can also have the veil of shame upon them. We can see a smart girl/woman or a man with an education from a country with not so good reputation who marries a nice person that perhaps treats her/him well (hopefully) from a country with a good reputation. Yet, if that person does not have an education, she/he can experience shame when she tells family at home, and not only that her husband does not have the education. That can be sweetened if a lot of money is involved because in the world we live in today, a fancy house and car still tell people who you are in a more significant measure than your personality does. At the same time, some people can experience the shame of not meeting the same level of education as their partner. Sometimes can even be a burden for the relationship. 

Diplomat shame is linked to the facilities own government provides and the material support around them: housing, furniture, payment, work environment law, etc. And, of course, the reputation of the country they represent. Again, the country’s reputation precedes, and the representatives need to deal with whatever their government does. 

Some people may also experience the shame of age. This we meet among students since in Western Europe we meet young people in the universities. At the same time, for people from many other countries, it can be a struggle to raise the necessary amounts to afford to take an extra degree abroad. This leads to the fact that some students may be older than their peers in the country they decide to study for a master’s. Then they would not have the same age as their colleagues, which may seem odd. Because of their age and background, these people may be excluded from the student life or exclude themselves since they may find it challenging to find common subjects and interests. Of course, it also has to do with traditions and prejudices, yet it does not feel less uncomfortable. 

Refugee shame is also one layer we should be taking into account. As refugees, many people run for their lives from countries where there is war. They get to the new countries only with their clothes on their back. They suffer the shame of being at the mercy of people they don’t know. People who many times judged them for various reasons: not staying and fighting for their country, leaving behind family and friends, not speaking the language, taking away their tax money or their jobs, not having a support network, and so on. How one deals with all this is only in each person’s heart, and many times it is not spoken out loud, again, because of Shame.

These are only a few examples to name, yet there are far more, and they can be very individual. If you have any examples of being ashamed while living abroad, let me know. I would love to discover new shades of it. You can either comment below or register here and let me know in confidence. 

I wish you build resilience!

What is “burn-out”

Photo: Pavel & Petruta

“Burn-out” is that state when you are so tired that you feel angry all the time. No matter what people would try to tell you, you answer with anger, and you wish people didn’t see you, so you won’t be forced to talk to them.
Is that state when you don’t feel like getting out of your house to do anything.

Even worse, when you are at home, you don’t have the energy to care for yourself, like getting out of bed, taking a shower, making and eating breakfast, eventually cleaning your room, and so on. It can also be mistaken for depression; yet, it is not that in all cases. Depression is linked with sadness. I am not touching this subject here.

I see many people who are unhappy with their lives because they think they do not do anything. In their world, waking up in the morning every day, having a shower every day, making meals every day, walking to the grocery store once a week or often, talking to someone, having a walk every day, taking care of their kids, and family every day, are not considered actions. People who feel they are useless even though they DO so much every day and are so much every day.

When I point all these actions to some of them and who present burnout behavior, they realize that they are running their lives on an “auto-pilot”. They don’t think anymore and cannot take the time to enjoy all these small joys in life. It is a “speed” that they are functioning after, which they do not seem to have control over.

Many times I notice they do not even breathe. The breathing is shallow at the top of the chest, and very few deep breaths are going all the way through the bottom of the lungs. Sometimes none. Breathing is exhausting, and it seems like the body does not want to take in the air.

Some of these people function after the motto: “time goes”, “time passes,” and “time is precious because it is a resource that we cannot get back if we lose”. Sometimes these convictions may be true. Yet, I wonder if these are not metaphors we have been conditioned to believe by society in the name of progress.

How would it be if we change it and we say that “time comes”. How would that world be then? How would these people react then?

In my experience, it has to do with the background each of us grew up in. In some cultures, living slow is a virtue, and nothing is to be rushed. Everything happens when the time is right. What is the difference between people who live under the pressure of “time passes”, and people who live by “time comes”?

I guess people for which the time comes may have lower chances of reaching the state burnout because they do not rush and do not pressure themselves. They enjoy the journey of getting somewhere, much more than the result.

Burn-out also comes from the way people priorities the things they need to do in their lives. Most of the time, the priorities are not always optimal for their specific context, and they need rearranging.

What I notice is that in many cultures, people are less important than things and money. The internet is full of images showing us how running after money takes most of the time, and there is no more left for the people who surround us. Perhaps it is a good idea to invest in people who help us grow, who support us, who believe in us. Some would say, family. At the same time, the family cannot help with everything all the time.

What I mean is that if there are members of our family who perhaps are not good for us, it can be a good idea to keep a polite relationship, and not more. I dare to say that family is not always and for everybody a good thing.

We see everywhere conflicts between family members, yet I experience that the idea of family is held high in many cultures. At the same time, from the idea of having or being a loving and supporting family to putting that into praxis is a long way. Relationships, it doesn’t matter their nature, require work and time, and investment.

Among the ex-pats and the immigrants I work with, I also notice that the burned-out state shows up after some years from landing in the new country and the new culture. People use a lot of energy to understand the new system, the new culture, and its written and unwritten rules. Learning a new language is also problematic, even if not many people speak about it aloud.

Learning and functioning in another language other than the native one is like learning a new DNA and functioning with a new DNA. I see that people rarely give themselves time to see the effort and the energy they have spent in the process of adjustment. It is brushed away by work, children, family, life until suddenly something goes wrong and there is no more energy to function.

If you live in a country that is not yours, and if you function in a language, which is not your native one, I would like to suggest considering the possibility of taking some time to think about this process, revise it, and make the necessary changes. How much have you accomplished in the years you have spent abroad. What happened?

Are you doing things and behaving according to your culture of origin, or have you understood the new cultural codes and function by those?

Often the new culture is much friendlier than the old one. The work environment has other rules; the labor law can be friendlier as well. Simultaneously, because of the hard times experienced in the culture of origin, people have a hard time seeing that things can be different and a new way of living.

The new way of living has to do with respect for human beings and balance work and leisure time. I notice that when people who come from countries with no regard for rest and leisure have difficulties adjusting to a system that does not allow you to work more than a certain amount of hours. That is the law. They work overtime without nobody asking them and then getting frustrated because the boss did not see it and appreciate it.

These people have also never taken the time to find out what they like doing in their spare time. Because they never really had extra time. I remember talking to a lady at a party for a couple of hours, trying to find out what she liked doing. Although she was nearly 50 years old, she could not answer this question. She didn’t know what she liked doing in her spare time. Because she always had to do only what it was needed to survive. Nothing wrong with that, yet she was unhappy. She felt that she didn’t belong in her new country of residence and did not understand what she needed to do to adjust and integrate better.

I thought it was sad. At the same time, there are very many people in her situation. Are you one of those people who does not know what you like doing? If you need help finding out, feel free to register for a free session here. ONE good conversation can sort out a lot.

I would love some feedback! Please let me know in the comments what do you think about “burn-out” feeling, and I wish you build resilience!

How to deal with other people fears / feelings

It is important to take into account the feelings of the people who surround us. We do not live alone in the world, and we usually tend to develop ourselves in meetings and relationships with other people.  

We are born in a social “system” with parents and eventually siblings, and perhaps extended family. 

The importance of extended family depends on the culture. Many times, with good intentions, parents and family or other people express their feelings when it comes to the actions we do or don’t do. It is used, unconsciously, as an upbringing method. When we are children and we are helpless, we need adults to help us survive. Therefore, we are very flexible, and many of us do more than children should do to make adults happy. 

If you didn’t know, children think they are responsible for what is happening with their parents. So did you, when you were a child. 

Well, they are not. At the same time, they don’t know that if nobody explains that to them, and they take this feeling of responsibility for the adults in their lives with them in adulthood. 

When some of these responsible children become adults, something goes wrong and determines them to move abroad at a particular time in their life. For the moment, I choose to speak only about two reasons they may choose to do this.

The first one would be because they feel responsible and go abroad to work to still be accountable for their parents and send money home.

The other reason is that they don’t want to feel responsible for their parents and siblings and want to live their own lives. 

Both categories keep in touch by phone and internet, since it is so easy these days. If you read some history or see films from not more than 40 years ago, you can see that sometimes people would leave and would not even call. It would either be expensive or because they would feel they do not have a reason to as long as they do not have “results”. 

The modern times where it is so easy to keep in touch makes it more difficult for some people who moved abroad to actually live their lives without any influence from the family left behind and without feeling guilty about it. 

After having and raising children and after retiring, some parents do not know what to do with their time, and they do not manage to let go of the children who left. Some of them keep calling even up to ten times a day. They do not have the emotional maturity to see that their children have grown and now need to live their lives. It is happening a lot in areas of the world dominated by traditional and patriarchal ways of life. 

Media doesn’t help either with a lot of stuff that is accessible about all the places in the world and is good in inducing fear in parents with children living abroad and not only. Therefore, they call and express their worries to their children and make them responsible, again, for their feelings. 

Now, I want to make it clear, that these parents are not aware of what they are doing. They simply do not know better. No parent wants, consciously, to hurt his/her child. The deepest intention is always good. It is just that not always comes out right.

The good news is that we are seldom responsible for other people’s feelings. We can consider them and be careful about them, and do the best we can to not hurt them. At the same time, we are not responsible for how they feel or react. The only responsibility we have is how we deal with our feelings and in the same way, they are responsible for how they deal with their feelings. 

The big issue here is that our parents did not learn how to deal with their feelings. Emotional education is not something we learn in school, but something we learn through the family and from our parents. Therefore, if they did not learn anything like this, they cannot teach their children either. Sometimes it can feel like a closed circle. 

As adults, we realize that they are important to us and we care about them. What we can do is to help ourselves first. Learn how to be aware of our feelings and then help them. Learn about them and figure out what happened in our parent’s past, so we can have an image of what they have experienced and what makes them react the way they do today. With new knowledge about ourselves and family history, we can become the adults in the relationship, and we can teach our parents about awareness over their feelings. 

It is not an easy thing to do. It requires a lot of work, even take up coaching or therapy. s out. There is no shame in that, and research proves it helps. 

This way, you can learn to distinguish between the fear other people feel regarding your particular actions and your own fear. I find it important because we often act according to society and other people (family & friends) and not according to our own wishes. 

I bring here as an example, The Five Monkeys Experiment:

Two Harvard researchers put five monkeys in a cage. There’s a bunch of bananas hanging from a string, with a ladder leading to the bananas. When the first monkey goes for the bananas, the researchers spray all five monkeys with freezing water for five minutes. Sometime later, when a second monkey inevitably tries to go for the bananas, the researcher once again sprays all five monkeys with the cold water for five minutes. The researcher then puts the hose away and never touches it again. But, when a third monkey tries to go for the bananas, the other four attack him to prevent him from climbing that ladder. They are afraid of the punishment that may come.

Then, the researcher replaces one of the monkeys with a new monkey who wasn’t part of the original experiment and was never sprayed with water. And, as soon as he touches the ladder to go for the bananas, the other four monkeys attack him to keep him from doing so. If he tries again, they attack him again. Thus, the new monkey learns not to go after the bananas because he’ll get attacked if he does.

The researcher replaces a second monkey with another new monkey. When this monkey goes for the bananas, the other four attack him, including the new monkey who was never sprayed with water. The researcher then continues to replace all the monkeys one at a time, until all five of the original monkeys are removed from the cage. Each time the newcomer goes for the bananas, the others attack, even when they, as new monkeys, have never received punishment for going after the bananas. And thus, the new monkeys, who have never been sprayed with cold water, learn not to go after the bananas’ temptation.

The researchers hypothesize that if they were to ask the monkeys why they don’t go for the bananas, they’d answer, “because that’s the way it’s always been done”.

The question here is who the people that surround us and hold on to us even from thousands of miles away are? What kind of experiences do they have? Are those experiences personal or learned from other people or media? 

What is the type of Fear we respond to? Our own fear, or other people’s fear? Are we aware of the distinction? Are we responsible for how other people are processing their own feelings, in this case, their own fear when it comes to our actions? 

In this case, fear multiplies it’s intensity. It is enough to stress being afraid our self of the journey we chose to take. When the other people are projecting their fear on us, then the burden is at least double. We can feel anxious, rejected, and responsible to calm them down and assure them that everything would be ok.

If this article made sense to you, please leave feedback underneath. Also, if you find that it could be helpful for you to speak about these kinds of fears, feel free to register for a free therapy session here. A lot can be clarified in ONE good conversation. 

I wish you build resilience!

Fear of what we know

Photo: Jurnal fotografic

FEAR is one of the four primary feelings we have. It is instinctive, and it is planted in our subconscious because we need it to keep us safe.

If we think of the old times, when people lived in cages and hunting in forests, fear was necessary. If they met a giant predator, of course, it was essential to listen to fear so they can save their lives and run or hide. At the time we are talking about wild animals and warriors attacks from other tribes.
What is happening today is that we still have those instincts because we still need them to keep us alive. In the world we live in today, the wild animals have been replaced with Thieves, Lack of Money, What people think, or Overprotective families, and the list can continue.

Each of these elements or all of them together appear in a different context, but our subcounscient fear, the instinctive feeling, cannot distinguish between them, and it makes it hard for us to see if it is accurate or not.
This type of FEAR is an element that influences our decisions in pretty much everything we do. Depending on where we live and how safe the environment we are living our everyday life is, it will influence the way we look at other places in the world.

Fear is a feeling of the future. We are afraid of something that may or may not happen in the future. We have no idea if what we imagine in our heads is true or not. Yet, we continue to write books in our heads about the scariest things our minds have been filled with through the personal experiences we’ve grown up with, media and films, whatever information comes to us in our immediate environment.

Our background, the family we grew up in, and how safe our childhood has been play a significant role in the picture of fear. If some of us have been unfortunate to experience a lot of uncertainties coming from the close guardians (parents, siblings, close relatives, and friends), it will be hard to break that pattern. The safety net around us is already ruined, and the need for control shows up. Or, in other words, the fear of losing control in a different environment where one does not know people/language/system and the surroundings will kick in.

We think about 50 to 60 000 thoughts a day, and research shows that all this huge amount of thoughts are pretty much the same every day and that they shape our reality.
If we keep feeding our minds with the same type of information and do not put in new and different information, we have little chance to change both the way we think and our environment.

If we grew up in a dangerous home and community, where our trust has been broken by people supposed to hold us safe, like family and friends, then there are two choices. We stay in that environment either because what we know is safer than what we don’t know, or we run/travel to see if there is the same in other places.

People who do not yet travel have a more significant need to keep their comfort zone, and therefore, it is easier to stay with what they know, even if that may not be safe either, than to go for something they don’t know.
In the second case, as travelers and people who move to other countries, controlling and making own plans not depending on other people is essential.

So, where is the “unknown” here that they may feel afraid of? The unknown is right there, coming from people they know well. We do not know how those people they know well and call friends and family are going to react. So the biggest unknown is happening right under their noses. To travel someplace else gives much more control even if they travel to unknown places. A foreign country and a foreign language is much easier to “control” than to control people in their lives.

At the same time, many people travel to see how it is in other places, and this way, they are “killing fear with fear” and discover that the world is much friendlier than what they expected. Simultaneously, some may observe how they carry with them invisible luggage, they may not have been aware of.

In case this article had awakened thoughts that may need to be sorted out, please leave a comment, or let me know in confidence and feel free to register for a free session here. A lot can be sorted out in ONE good conversation.

I wish you build resilience!


Photo: PHOTOFrog

There are many types of fear. And fear has to do with danger and with things that may happen in the future. It’s meant to keep us alive. 

Yet, some fears can do us more harm than good. One of these fears is the fear of being rejected.

Fear of being rejected is a kind of fear that can stop you from living your life comfortably. If you think that some people won’t like what you do and/or how you think, then you’ll be giving those people a considerable power over your life. They will be in charge of you and your actions instead of yourself.

One way this fear of rejection can be dealt with is to Face it. Easier said than done.

Put yourself in a situation where you could be rejected, so you can check it out. See if it is going to happen. Is like fighting Fire with Fire.

It is not always easy, and it requires a fair amount of strength. Yet, you do not know if you have that strength if you do not try.

You do not need to do it alone, either. You can always ask for help.

You can ask a good friend that you can open up to, to be with you while you face something or someone that can reject you. That person needs to be an excellent emotional support, someone you can entirely rely on. Someone emotionally mature enough so he or she can hold space for you no matter what.

If you do not have a close person you can trust with this kind of task, it is probably best to find someone trained like a therapist, a psychoanalyst or a coach. When you choose between these ones, be aware of the difference between therapy and coaching. You can read about it here.

Someone you know that they will be able to deal with their feelings and fears in that particular situation and support your feelings and reactions in the same time.

Most times, people find out in time that this rejection does not come from others but from themselves. As human beings, we are quite good at stumbling in our fears, and we reject ourselves in various situations. And we do that when being rejected serves us a porpoise. To be rejected is useful for us in a way or another. It keeps us in the comfort/safety zone, keeps us comfortable.

Now, if it would be for you to think about your fear of rejection, what is that doing for you? In which way it serves you if you still keep it around?

In case this article had awakened thoughts that may need to be sorted out, please leave a comment, or let me know in confidence and feel free to register for a free session here. A lot can be sorted out in ONE good conversation.

I wish you build resilience!

Knowledge VS Wisdom

Photo: PHOTOFrog

There is a lot of information around us when it comes to mental and emotional health. We are swamped with books, articles, TV and internet shows, opinions, and advice. Everything we want to know, we ask our best friend in need: Google.

Or, we ask friends and family and strangers on FB or Instagram. We are surprised to learn that everybody knows better than we do what we should do or not do about our problems.

At the same time, we also know very well what we should do about whatever is bothering us. We wouldn’t ask questions if we weren’t aware of the fact that we have an issue.

In discussions with people and sessions with my clients, I often hear, “Yes, I know that. I’ve been reading a lot on the subject”. Or “Yes, I know, my other therapist told me the same thing”. 

That is very good to know about the subject. At the same time, my question to the people I talk to is, “And what are you doing with what you know?”

How do you apply the information you know in your daily life? How is that theoretical knowledge manifesting in your behavior towards yourself and/or towards others?

This is the difference between Knowledge and Wisdom.

Knowledge is what we know.

Wisdom is what we do with what we know. 

This simple definition applies to all fields. We start from an idea that we picture in our mind, and then we see how we can materialize it and put into practice the knowledge and the theoretical information.

It is the same in coaching/therapy. If you’ve read a lot and you know many things, how do you put to work all that information? Which actions are you taking towards your well-being emotionally and mentally?

In case this article had awakened thoughts that may need to be sorted out, please leave a comment, or let me know in confidence and feel free to register for a free session here. A lot can be sorted out in ONE good conversation.

I wish you build resilience!