A Secret About Change Nobody Else Will Tell You

Do you struggle with changing yourself and with your growth process?

I did struggle when I first started my growth and healing process. Actually, I had a similar experience as when I started to do jogging:

Fourteen years ago, I was in a rather bad physical condition. I hiked during my holidays in the National Parks in U.S. and Canada but I didn’t do any other sports. One day I decided to start jogging. I went to a small park in Munich with my former boyfriend who was supposed to serve as my personal trainer and wanted to start running. He began to run elegantly with grace. I started to follow him and couldn’t keep his pace. He turned around, looked at me and said: “Come on, faster, you are too slow.” After one minute, I had to stop. I was completely frustrated. Yet, I continued. I ran a minute and then stopped. My head was red; I could hardly breathe. It was a fight against myself. One inner voice said, You’ll never make it. The other said, Look at you, plumb and not fit at all. People laugh at you. Another said, Give up. Just stay as you are. And with all this, I continued running.

Fifteen minutes later, I sat down with my boyfriend on some stairs that let to the entrance of a nearby house to relax. I breathed heavily while sweat ran down my face, and I could hardly talk; he seemed rather bored. I looked at the other runners in the park who ran like beautiful Arabian horses that ran in the wilderness with a flying mane while I was like a giant hippo that tramped down a path. I felt ashamed that I couldn’t do better.

Despite all my negative voices in my head, my intuition told me to continue. It just felt right to do so. I dismissed my boyfriend because it was only my journey. Every second day, I ran alone and fought with myself and my inner critics. After three months, I suddenly could do half an hour. I did not have to stop anymore, and my movement became more fluent. The inner critics stopped. I got up in the morning and wanted to go running. A year later, I ran for more than one hour.

Today, fourteen years later, I still run. Actually I can’t imagine my life without running. I run down to the beach, and I see the sea that glitters in the sunlight, the palm trees with their green leaves, the masts of the yachts in the harbor. I feel the sun and the wind in my face, and I hear the sounds of the seagulls. I enjoy each and every second, and it gives me energy and joy.

I experienced the same in my growth and healing process. In the beginning, I had to make an effort and push myself. It seemed to me that everybody else were already “better” than me. I had to overcome my fears and many times I felt awkward. Sometimes, I felt intimidated and even frustrated. Yet, I moved forward and took tiny steps. Today, it is a fluent process that is just part of my personality and my life. I trust in my resources, and I know that I have everything I need to achieve what I want. I can see the beauty of life each day. I have been richly rewarded for my efforts.

What attitudes are nurturing your growth process?

Here are some winning mind sets that will nurture your growth:

  • Change is an inner process that may feel overwhelming and impossible in the beginning. Yet I know that you can master it. Split it into little steps, let go of any expectations you have towards yourself and just take one step at a time.
  • It does not matter where you start, it matters that you start.
  • Don’t compare yourself with others. Everybody has their own unique journey in life. You have a unique and special journey, and you have to make your own experience and learning. Others might have to grow in areas where you are already expert in and vice versa. You just waste your energy if you compare yourself with others. Concentrate on your own journey and move your foot forward.
  • Have patience with yourself and never give up. I assure you that you’ll be richly rewarded.

So, what is the first step that you can take today?

Do you want to read more? Check the post How to Become a Modern Heroine.

I look forward to reading your comments below!

Copyright © 2013, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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Forgiveness – Your Choice To Find Freedom

I listened to my friend’s voice on the phone, That Saturday, twenty years ago, I was ill, and she didn’t give me the right medication. She just didn’t see what I had. I had to go to the hospital to be properly medicated. His spouse happened to be a doctor and it seemed that she had made a mistake. He finished his story, I will never forget that she did this to me. I could hear the indignation in his voice. The anger and resentment was buried deep in his heart and he carried it around for twenty years now.

Listening to him, I wondered, How many similar stories were stored in his mind and in his spouse’s mind? How did they influence their relationship? How deep was the invisible crack produced by the anger and resentment in their relationship? My friend was a person who sought peace in relationships so I became curious and asked him, Have you ever thought about forgiveness? At the other end was silence. Then, he said, Forgiveness? His voice sounded astonished as if this option never had come into his mind. No, we have never forgiven each other. We are far away from this. He sighed.

What role does forgiveness play in your life?

It happens so often in a relationship: your spouse did you wrong and you feel hurt, angry and sad, maybe an unfair critique or even a betrayal. Each time, the invisible crack in the relationship and in the heart grows a bit deeper. Forgiveness seems impossible due to the involved injustice because there exists the general belief that forgiveness implies that we accept the unfair incidents or that we liberate the other person from their responsibility.
Yet, forgiveness is not about liberating others from their responsibility. If you forgive them,  they remain responsible for their actions and the involved consequences.

What do you win if you forgive? What will you lose?

Forgiveness is merely your decision that you let go of anger and resentment or the desire of revenge. This way you can liberate yourself from the painful story and move on with your life. It is not necessary that you still have a relationship with this person to forgive them. It is your inner process that will follow its own rhythm and will lead you to a higher level of well-being and healthier relationships. Medical studies show that practicing forgiveness leads to lower blood pressure and relieves stress. Without forgiveness you risk that you bring bitterness and anger into existing relationships and into new experiences. You may not be able to experience deep connectedness to other people.

How can you practice it?

If you feel ready to forgive somebody in your life, I propose to you the following exercise:
Set your intention to forgive this person, maybe it is your father or mother, your ex-spouse or your current partner, or a colleague at work. You can start by writing down all negative feelings you have about what happened to you. Allow yourself to describe all that you feel. Don’t judge your own feelings, allow them to emerge. If you have finished, you can burn the paper in a safe place. Now, think about what might have motivated the other person to act in such a way. It is likely that they wanted to avoid pain, perhaps they acted out of fear or maybe due to their childhood wounds. Try to see the world through their eyes and their experiences. Alternatively, you could also write the story out of the perspective of this person. How would they tell what happened? Try to understand their motivation, their weakness and their immaturity. Take all the time you need. Then, think about everything that you are grateful for and write it down. Everything is important, it doesn’t matter whether it is big or small. Finally, close your eyes, imagine the person in front of you and tell them I forgive you. Repeat these steps as often as you need to. If you get stuck in your process talk to a friend you trust in or ask for professional help.

What did you learn about forgiveness in your family?

I grew up in a family that rejected forgiveness and I have experienced as a child the never-ending cycle of bitterness and hatred that was toxic for the relationships and the emotional well-being of the involved people. I now practice forgiveness for my own well-being. If you decide to let go of anger and resentment, you will release the control and the power that the offending person and the situation has about your life, you will be able to move on with your life and to experience a higher level of inner peace and compassion as well as healthier relationships. If your mind regards forgiveness as difficult or impossible, this prospect should be a motivation to give it a try so that you can make your own experience.

What experiences did you make with forgiveness?

I look forward to reading your comments below!

Do you want to read more? Check the post How to become a Modern Heroine.

Copyright © 2013, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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Do You Believe in Miracles?

I admit that I had some doubts that miracles really occur and then, there happened something special:

It was on a Sunday evening in December, on the birthday of my wonderful late grandmother, so it was a special date for me. After a weekend of training, I went into the Parc de la Ciutadella in Barcelona where I always helped feeding a colony of abandoned cats on Sunday. It was nearly dark.

Suddenly, a shipbuilder from Port Olimpic arrived with a box. Vicki, the lady responsible for the colony, looked into it and screamed, Look at this! I did and saw a little kitten, just several weeks old with his two back paws taped with bandages. She looked at him and said, He won’t survive the night here. I touched the little head with tears in my eyes and saw his eyes that were full of pain and asked,  We really can’t do anything? Vicki called the organization and they allowed us to bring him to a clinic. I got into a taxi to bring him there. There, the doctor looked at him with worries, We have to amputate at least one leg,” He said and I asked cautiously, Will he survive the night? The answer was that they would try to stabilize him. I left the clinic. There was nothing I could do.

I went home, called the kitten Angel, prayed to the universe and sent him Reiki. After three days I received the first information. The list of problems seemed overwhelming: On the first day he had a cardiac arrest, they reanimated him, then he needed a blood transfusion, he was nearly starved and had necrosis in his two legs in the back. He must have been lying injured at the harbor for several days. On the third day, the little cat started to eat. The veterinarian said, It is very likely that he will lose both legs and stay a bit stupid because of the cardiac arrest. Anyway, if this cat survives, I will start to believe in God. He gave him a chance to survive of 5%.

On Christmas Eve, I was allowed to visit him the first time. I sat in the animal clinic with a bundle of towels on my knees and in the middle of the bundle there was Angel’s little head. I returned every second day. One week later, on New Year’s Eve, another veterinarian told me, This cat will not survive. He has too many injuries. I looked at her and asked silently, but he has survived until now, hasn’t he? He eats, doesn’t he? Why are you seeing it so dark? I did not dare to discuss with her. I went home in tears because of the apparent hopelessness in this situation. On my way home I bought a candle to show that I trusted that he would survive. The candle burnt each day, I continued with my visits and Reiki. Two weeks later, they amputated the first leg. That day, I asked my veterinarian about how to handle a cat that lacked both legs in the back. He looked at me with worries and said, That will not work. I left the animal clinic and decided to trust.

One week later, they amputated the second leg. Then, they gave me hope for the first time, We hope to dismiss him next week, if everything goes fine. Yet, they had to do another amputation. A week later, the veterinarian told me, You can take him home on Friday. That’s a miracle.

Two months after I had brought him to the clinic, I was allowed to bring the little cat home. The veterinarian gave me diapers because they believed that he wouldn’t be able to go to the cat’s toilette because of his missing legs. I decided that he’d learn it. He learned it within two days.

Angel fought for his life and had never given up. He had suffered a lot in the first months of his life and I want him to enjoy the rest of it. I trust that he can do everything that he wants. And he surprises me every day. He is playful, joyous and affectionate. He loves playing soccer with a little ball and runs like hell. And I was terribly proud of him when I saw him the first time in the cave of the cat tree that is at a height of 20 cm above the floor.

He reminds me everyday that miracles can occur. And so they do.

I look forward to reading your comments below!

Do you want to read more? Check the post Do you have impossible dreams? Find out how to realize them!

Copyright © 2013, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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What Are the Limits of Love in A Relationship?

“I don´t need to own to love. I don´t want to be the owner of the person I love. I don´t neither want to conquer nor take: love is not an act of war. Saying she is mine is treating the other like a thing, as if it were a matter of buying and selling. I don´t possess you, I enjoy you while you are around in my life; and that means a lot.”

Walter Riso, Psychologist & Writer

This phrase describes well how a relationship should be like. Yet, there are also these types of relationships that are painful, difficult, confusing and incomprehensible, maybe you have seen them in your family, in the circle of your friends, at work or maybe you have experienced them yourself. As observer, a separation seems to be the only wise solution and you wonder why the couple stays together. If you are involved in abusive relationships you may feel like Don Quijote fighting with the windmills: powerless, guilty, without energy and maybe even embarrassed when you talk to friends about your relationship. Love has turned into continuous suffering and fighting even though you saw all through rose-colored glasses at the beginning.

Why do abusive relationships exist and why is it so difficult to get out of them?

Many people miss a healthy image of a relationship because they grew up in dysfunctional families. They have never learned how a healthy relationship should look like due to a lack of positive role-models and they do not know that love in a relationship has clear limits. For this reason, they keep repeating as adults what they have learned during their childhood. However, your relationship should give you support, positive energy and well-being. This also implies that you have the responsibility as adult to heal your childhood wounds and your past to generate new experiences.

People also have idealized thoughts about love. Beliefs like “love is limitless” or “true love is unconditional” may make it difficult to set clear limits and leave the relationship if necessary. Another obstacle is that the society or your own family may tell you that you have failed when you get separated or that your children might suffer because of the separation. These beliefs are sometimes deeply anchored into the subconscious mind and make a separation a very difficult decision due to fear, guilt and shame. In reality, you should say, “no” to a relationship when it affects your dignity, your identity or your happiness and if it breaks with your values and principles. A healthy relationship signifies that you love your partner while you love, value and respect yourself.

Another limit of a relationship is if your partner doesn’t love you. It is not necessary to continue with the relationship, but you must face reality and to learn how to give up. In a relationship, both partners must love each other. It also cannot be considered a healthy relationship if you don’t have the possibility to realize yourself and to follow your dreams. A relationship should give you the freedom to grow in the way you want. Another impediment is if you have to change yourself to be accepted by your partner. A healthy relationship implies that the two partners accept each other as they are.

Physical and sexual violence clearly breaks the limits of love. Love doesn’t justify violence. There is nothing to argue about. Despite the evident signs like maybe a bruise in your face, physical violence also leaves a mark in the soul that requires profound healing.

A very subtle boundary is emotional violence or manipulation. It is hard to be noticed, but like physical or sexual violence devastating. Manipulation destroys in a hardly perceptible manner the self-esteem, the well-being, the happiness and the identity of the victim. In an abusive relationship, the victim and the aggressor are in a dangerous cycle of control and power and may even switch roles from time to time.

What are the signs of emotional abuse?

Here are some of them:
• Your partner makes you feel inferior, guilty or humiliated and he recurs to insult you by telling you phrases like You’re insane, You’re ugly, You’re stupid or You’re fat.
• He begins to isolate you from your family or your friends. He controls whatever you do or whom you talk to. He may watch the place you are visiting and he uses jealousy to justify all his acts.
• He may use threats by mentioning suicide or separation or he may frighten you by falsely reporting you to the police. He provokes fear through looks, gestures or by destroying objects.

All these behaviors break with the limits of love in a relationship. Often, the aggressor would minimize or deny the abuse, in occasions he makes even his partner feel responsible for the abusive attitude or clearly says that she provoked it. Sometimes, the aggressor looks like a charming person to other people and only shows his abusive behavior in the relationship. This makes it difficult for the victim to ask for help since no one else understands it. The affected person loses self-esteem until she starts believing that there is really something wrong with her personality and that all the horrible things she has been told are true. That is the point when the victim is convinced that her partner is right, and has a false image of herself. The affected person lives in fear and experiences a strong feeling of guilt and self-hatred. The victim faces difficulties at the time of giving up an abusive relationship due to a strong emotional dependence.

Even though it seems difficult, you can learn a lot out of these situations: you can clearly say, “no” to this relationship and walk away while facing the pain of separation. This pain is a useful suffering because it opens a path towards a healthy life. You don’t have to make the road alone, you can and you should ask for professional help that supports you in facing the fear of loneliness, in healing the traumatic experience, in learning to set up healthy boundaries, in regaining self-esteem and dignity and in learning how a healthy and mature relationship looks like. This is an inner process that can guide you to freedom, happiness and connecting deeply with your essence. The beauty that life has to offer is worth to take this step.

I look forward to reading your comments below!

Do you want to read more? Check the post Can You Heal From Emotional Abuse and Violence?

Copyright © 2013, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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What If You Fear Relationships…?

Sometimes we learned difficult and hurtful lessons in life and as result, we fear relationships and deep connections. Let me tell you my story:

We were at a wonderful market, surrounded by booths selling colorful things from all over the world, the air filled with the smell of exotic food. I looked at the man at my side. I had achieved all I had dreamed of. The first date with this charming man – Spanish, good looking and humorous. It seemed so wonderful, like a dream. Instead I felt horrible, awkward and caged. I noticed this solid wall around me all the time. It put an unbearable pressure on myself. When we went home, he tried to give me a kiss – and then it happened. I heard myself saying, This will never work out, cold and sharp – the voice of my fear. I pushed him away and just tried to get out of the situation. I felt this fear inside, dark, deep and ice-cold – telling me, just to get out of here… otherwise I would die. My inner child had taken over control and was projecting all its anger and fears from its childhood to this man. I was powerless and unable to stop it. And inside my heart was crying.

We continued with a difficult relationship for one year, splitting off and starting again, never really being able to communicate with each other. I was his mirror and he was mine. Finally, I bought a book about fear of relationships. I wanted to understand our dynamics and how I could deal better with this. And I found a picture of myself I did not like to see – I had the same fear of relationships I had seen in my partner. It made me feel small, like a loser. I had never wanted to be influenced in such a strong way by my experiences in my childhood. And I was. I felt like a failure, ashamed of myself. I started working with myself and my inner child. For the following two years I focussed on changing this picture of myself. I did not dare to have a new date again because I was too afraid to return into my old habits.

And then, there came this man who I had not noticed in the beginning. By some lucky circumstances I could not avoid seeing him again. He was tall, brown-haired, attractive. In the past, my inner child always feared tall men for its experience in the childhood and this time it was o.k. My inner voice told me that it was time to go for a coffee again. So I dared to ask him for a coffee.

And I had dinner with him on a Saturday evening. Later that evening we went for a walk through the city. We just talked about ourselves. I felt well, relaxed and connected to myself. I said what I really wanted to say. I just was who I am. When we said good-bye I was able to give him a hug and to say him thank you for the nice evening. That evening I had not run away for the first time in my life and I had achieved something important for me. And I knew I could repeat it anytime I wanted to.

My fear has transformed me, now I work actively on my relationships, looking at every situation with the perspective What can I learn from it? It helps me to be authentic and not to play any games. And even though love has its limits if there is any kind of abuse or mistreatment, I now see a relationship as something very precious that should not be thrown away easily and deserves the constant effort to learn and work on one self to stay together. If I leave my partner and look for a new one without learning what I should learn from the situation I will face the same problem – only with a different actor. I would just waste my time and would have to do the learning I could do now at a later stage. My fear helps me to stay curious and creative in finding the best way to relate to someone. In the end, we all want to connect to other persons and connecting to others should give us positive energy and a lot of fun.

Stories are powerful to heal our lives. We are all human and have our scars, wounds and mistakes. Important is how we deal with them and what we make out of them. A long time I saw my fear of relationships as my “biggest” mistake and I was not able to forgive myself. By writing the story the wound and sense of failure got a new definition and a different description. This time it was written from a loving and compassionate point of view. This is the true healing.

I look forward to reading your comments below!

Do you want to read more? Check the article How to Be a Modern Heroine.

Copyright © 2013, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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A Wolf’s Separation

Once upon a time, there was a majestic wolf who lived happily and content with his female companion and their offspring in a green forest out of fir trees. The wolf was a loyal companion and a loving father. He took care of his pack so that they had a good meal and a safe home. He anticipated every wish of his pack.

One day, there was a terrible thunderstorm and nothing was as it had been before. The wolf and the she-wolf decided to go their own ways, separated from each other. For the wolf, his pack was his all in the world and he lost everything he ever had. He felt torn into pieces and his heart was broken. He felt guilty for not having it done better. His eyes lost the radiance and his coat the brilliance.

In a deeply black, rainy night the wolf ran into the woods. He did not know which direction to take. He just ran, ran and ran until he collapsed exhausted. Lying on the ground, he suddenly felt a gentle touch on his wet coat. Painfully, he raised his head and saw a tall bear. He thought, A bear, my God, a bear. He saw the imminent death in front of him and did not know whether he should greet him or be frightened. He was too weak to run away.

The gray bear lifted up the wolf lovingly and gently and carried him into a warm cave with an infinite amount of mirrors. The wolf stood up carefully and asked the bear, What is it?

The bear replied, That is you. Each mirror is a part of you and you’re more than all the mirrors.

The wolf looked at the overwhelming amount of mirrors and saw that in one, he was played with his children and in the other he hunted prey. Then he saw his beloved she-wolf in a mirror that was no longer his companion. When he saw her tears came up into his eyes and panic overwhelmed him. What would he do without her?

The bear touched softly his shoulder and said, She will always be in your heart. She has given you your pack. The wound is now so deep that words cannot describe it. And, one day this pain will pass by, too. If you do not see it now, you will then know that it is good as it is.

The wolf bowed his head slightly disbelieving and the bear said: Look over your left shoulder. The wolf turned around and saw a brown saddlebag on his back that was very heavy. What is it? he asked. The bear answered, These are your negative experiences. Now look at your right shoulder. The wolf turned around and saw a saddlebag that was made out of colorful and bright cloth. The bear continued, …and that is all that you have learned from it. At that moment, the wolf felt how the load on his back became balanced and lighter.

Then he saw a new mirror in which he saw another wolf, this one had a wonderful gray mane, a kind smile and a special sparkle in his eyes. This wolf looked calm and peaceful in the world, as if nothing could shock him. Astonished he asked the bear, Who is he? The bear smiled softly and said, He is you. You have all the power and strength to overcome this crisis. You’re more than just a companion and you are more than the people who surround you. Even if it’s painful, sometimes a part of us has to die so that we find ourselves. Never forget how many stars you have inside yourself. Never forget how valuable you are as an individual. I give you this stone as a reminder.

He gave the wolf a beautiful, gleaming green stone and the wolf put the stone into his heart and bowed in gratitude.

He left the cave and his head was now upright and his step powerful. When he entered in the forest again, he felt how the stone completed his heart. The rain was now over, and he looked up at the sky and saw the moon and the stars. That moment he knew that he would find his way.

I look forward to reading your comments below!

Are you interested in reading more about this theme? Check the article What if a Separation is not the end…?

Copyright © 2013, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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