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  • Writer's pictureJulia Ruff

What Christmas Taught Me About Leading Myself - Part 2

The year comes to an end and some of you may have thought about your New Year’s resolutions for 2022. But how can we make certain changes in our lives without giving us the feeling that we are not enough already? - This is an essay about the flow of life, our body-mind connection & possible pathways to emotional freedom. Get cosy, make your mind wander and let me know if you can relate.

In my last article I wrote about how this year's Christmas holidays reminded me again of a very important life lesson of mine: We are fully responsible for our well-being, and the warmth & love we feel in our hearts.

And after elaborating how I came to that conclusion, I pointed out the danger of falling into the trap of endless self-optimization. While trying to reach that dream state of well-being, we might cultivate or strengthen the belief that we are not enough and will never be unless we reach these certain goals.

In this article, I will reflect on the question that followed on that. How do we reach emotional freedom & well-being without giving us the feeling that we are not enough already? Because let me tell you, we are already enough!

You are enough! But if we feel discontent in certain areas of our life, we shouldn’t ignore our feelings. On the contrary, we should carefully listen. Our feelings are important messengers & can show us the way to well-being.

Covid is definitely an external factor that can become the chief source of unhappiness for many. It’s a challenge we all have in common, even though there might be major differences in which way it affects our physical & emotional health. Our relationship to covid is something we should all reflect on in order to understand the tension it can create within us & to find ways to navigate through this time without compromising our mental health.

But life has many more areas & factors that can drive us towards places of resentment, deep sadness, grief, jealousy, powerlessness, fear, worry or frustration. Some are more obvious, others much more hidden. And the effects can be very subtle in the beginning, but tremendous if accumulated over a long time period.

As indigenous cultures and now also Western science teach us: The body-mind connection is real. Our bodies can tell us if certain areas of our lives need more attention or a change in direction. Nature is smart. But us humans, we are great in making anything external accountable for our suffering. We either don’t see that we are responsible for our state of being, or we are in denial. Instead we victimise ourselves.

In my case, I know in the meanwhile that I am fully responsible for my health. I started to change external factors first until I thought it’s my mind only. Today I know, it’s both. The way I THINK & SEE…and the way I navigate through my life with the habits & routines I established, the activities I do & the relationships I cultivate. My body & mind decide over my well-being, together with the life environment I am moving in, which is an entire complex cosmos for itself.

Life is dynamic and so must be our responses to it.

And I guess life is about finding a good calibration between many things. Between support & challenge for ourselves. And for others. Between action & restoration. Between pacing up & pacing down. Between order & chaos. Between caring & giving a fuck.

In fact, to be aware of yourself & the flow of life can be a true game changer in my opinion.

To know when it’s time to face hard truths. To have uncomfortable conversations. To create space for tears. To reflect. To let things go & redirect. To speak out loud for your needs. To ignore your needs. To tap on your shoulder and to say: “Damn, you are truly amazing”. To go crazy and back to your cocoon. To say no, when to say yes. To let yourself hang and when to give you a push to leave your comfort zone.

I believe awareness is key to creating well-being for yourself.

And don’t get me wrong. I love to flow through my life unintentionally from time to time. But now, if I do that, I was setting the intention to flow unintentionally beforehand and it’s interesting what comes up throughout these times. When you let life just happen.

But in the meanwhile I became so attuned to my body & soul that I know when it’s time to let go & when to take back the reins. And life starts to feel like riding a rollercoaster that brings you naturally up & down, you can’t do much about that, there are always challenges… but you decide how high or deep you go. You decide if you hold your breath on the way up & on the way down. If you are led by fear or by a cool head. You decide if you want to get out, or surrender. If you worry or face it with excitement & curiosity. And most importantly, you decide if you allow yourself to feel whatever comes up throughout this ride, or if you suppress, ignore and clench your jaw. You decide.

So if she is so attuned to herself & the spaces she is moving in, how come that she hasn’t fixed her health yet?, you might think right now.

Well, as I said… life is dynamic and as life happens, I put myself into a position that made me slip back into old patterns & belief systems. But believe me, the old Julia would have been much deeper down than she is now.

At the source of my health issues are the feeling of unworthiness, a recurring sense of unsafety & the belief that I must suffer in order to succeed. And with changing life circumstances these feelings can evaporate completely or heavily aggravate. What I gained throughout the last years is a heightened awareness & tools to navigate throughout these times when I am pushed into directions that make me feel unwell. By observing the interrelationships between external & internal changes, I gained knowledge. Knowledge through experience. And now it is about taking that wisdom and transforming it into actions. But actions need commitment, and that’s where I am.

I am aware. I am aware of what brings me well-being and what not. But I am also a creature of habit & routine. I take the necessary steps to change, sustain it for months, and one day I fall back into my old patterns. Annoying, isn’t it? Well, it’s also human and our minds can be very distracted if we don’t take care of them.

I became very forgiving & easy with myself the last few years, but as I mentioned before: Life is about the perfect calibration between support & challenge, and now it’s again about putting myself out of the ‘comfort zone”, away from the bitter sweet spot, and make the changes that make be stronger & happier on the other side.

That’s the hero’s journey, and I strongly resonate with Mark Manson, the author of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck”, in this context. Life can be hard & unfair. Life can suck. Be angry, be frustrated and be incredibly annoyed by everything. On whatever “level” your challenges are. That frustration is valid. Your feelings are valid.

But to come back to my Xmas learnings this year and without wanting to sound too patronising: Own it. Own your life. Be aware of your responsibility, your power over your well-being, your thoughts, your words, your actions, your impact. My mantra for 2021 was to not bullshit around and to not allow others to bullshit around with me, and that was definitely the theme of this year. But you know what I also learnt? - To bullshit around more.

So that’s what I take into 2022: Definitely my mantra of 2021 (it served me very well) and my learning that emerged from that mantra: To express myself fully wherever, whenever and however I can, and by doing that, experiencing true joy.

What does that mean? - Well, everything what I already do, but also to write more, to dance more, to laugh more, to make stupid sounds & faces, to jump around like a monkey, to feel more than I think. And to design a work system that allows me to create the space for that full self-expression. To be more present (old but gold). And last but not least, to always know that I AM ENOUGH already and life flows through me, but I decide if I do magic with it or not.

Okay, to come to an end, let me sum up what I learnt from all my transformational journeys. I learnt that… 1) That I need to be patient. Change needs time, even if it requires jedi level patience.

2) That I need to trust my journey. I am exactly where I need to be. 3) That my thoughts play a crucial role and that I decide if they make me even sicker or if they support me on that journey. Mind over matter! 4) That the kinetic energies of life play an important role and that they are as important as my mind. An article on this topic follows. 5) That I need to let go of the critical parent in me. What brings me really forward is the perfect calibration of support & challenge. 6) That it doesn’t help me to be too serious about life. On the contrary, it causes even more inflammation in my body. It helped me big time to be easy on myself from time to time & focus on the things I love and bring me joy, as long as it doesn’t transform into ignorance. 7) That I always need to remind myself of the essence. Why am I doing this? - Because I love myself & life. Not because I want to punish myself. 8) That I gain immense power throughout each journey and every time it becomes easier. I know I can do it. And I know what my dream health feels like. That’s why I never give up and I improve my approach & my tools every year. 9) That environment trumps will. That’s why I also mention later: Take care of your environment & cultivate a culture that helps you to sustain your new habits & belief systems. 10) That I need to celebrate my successes, however small they may be.

Do you feel unwell (physically & mentally), depressed, anxious, suffocated, out of control, a lack of direction or anyhow else in a state of dis-ease now towards the end of the year?

Here are my personal key steps towards emotional freedom & true wealth:

1) Gain clarity & strong awareness about all spheres of your life 2) Confront yourself with the hard truths and make yourself vulnerable. 3) Express deep gratitude for the here and now. Feel compassion & forgiveness towards the old version of yourself. Understand that you developed certain tendencies & patterns to help you to survive.

4) Cultivate the belief that you are strong & that you are able to change. Because you are! 5) Be ready to surrender & to let go of the old version of yourself with the thought patterns & tendencies that hold you back. 6) Set clear goals & visualisations of the other version of yourself, pre-sense the new you. (I mean, the placebo effect proves it every time, and Joe Dispenza and his clients are living examples of how powerful meditations are to activate the self-healing abilities of our bodies. Key: No doubts! The deep belief that this works for you!) 7) Develop a strategy & work systems that bring you to these goals in a sustainable & healthy way. 8) Select indicators to measure your success over time & develop tools to make you feel accountable every single day. 9) Create space to feel & process everything that comes up throughout that journey. 10) Create (A LOT OF) space to express yourself fully. Do things that help you experience as much joy as possible & to let go of all expectations on yourself throughout that time. 11) Celebrate also small successes. Become your own cheerleader & motivational coach. 12) Develop tools to reintegrate your insights in order to give constant reminders & guidance for the future you. 13) Create an environment & cultivate a culture that you can maintain and that makes you embrace the new you in a playful & joyful way.

Need help on that journey? - Visit my website & learn more about my approach to mental health and regenerative leadership.

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