What’s your Secret Story about Childhood Abuse?

What’s your Secret Story about Childhood Abuse?

Abuse in Relationships

One hundred people – therapists, counsellors, social workers and clients – in a room. All is silent. What’s next? They are looking at her. She sits next to the therapist, her head down. What were the incidents in your relationship with your family?  The therapist asks. Sexual abuse and violence. Her voice breaks. A shocked murmur spreads.

Are You an Adult Survivor of Childhood Abuse?

How many years didn’t I dare to look into others people eyes due to the sexual and emotional violence of my past? For how many years did I feel stigmatized due to the generic judgment of being a hopeless case? For how long had I allowed other people’s opinion to define my worthiness? My answer is, for too long.

How about you?

How does this murmur make her feel? I look at her. She shrinks in her seat. You can never overcome the effects of abuse. Poor thing, she’ll never recover. The voice of my colleague – a counsellor – cuts through my thoughts.  I open my mouth, and I want to tell her, it is possible to heal abuse and violence. That is my experience. It is my truth. How to find words to express what can’t be described but only experimented? My rational mind never fully understood the transformation I went through. The more I was able to own my pain, the more I was able to experience joy. How can I express this to her?  I search for words. There is nothing. Silence. I shrink in my seat and feel small and powerless again. I lower my head and stay silent.

What is your secret story about childhood abuse?

The one I told – I called it A Brave, True Story – is mine. I wrote it for the woman on the chair. It is my intimate message to tell her that she is not alone. And it’s also for you if you feel like her.

Healing is beyond logical explanations. Meaning what? Healing is about becoming whole again. About reclaiming those parts of you that seemed to be lost in trauma and pain. A re-connection with your inner child to give them the love they have never received before. There will come this moment, when your inner child fully awake, full of joy, curiosity, innocence, dignity and intuition. Do you know how innocence feels like? I lost mine when I was three. I didn’t know what it was.

Recovery is about personal growth. While the trauma felt devastating, there is post-traumatic growth. Healing is about finding a safe space within yourself and take responsibility for your needs and dreams. Reclaiming your well-being is about letting go of the invisible barriers you have build around your heart and learn to love again, first of all yourself. Wholeness is also about finding empowering ways to deal with stigma.

What is essential for healing abuse?

Telling and owning your story makes the difference between merely surviving or really living. How does this feel? I don’t know what it will feel like for you but for me living means feeling. My image is that living is like a joyous dance to your favorite music, and you move and dance while you feel a sensation of deep joy in your body. Like looking at my cats and seeing their smiles and happiness. Like feeling the heat of the sun on my face, smelling the air after rainfall or seeing the fresh green leaves on the trees.  Simply, it’s a deep gratitude for being alive. A sensation of bliss that feels like exploding balloons filled with a multitude of bright colors. It’s feeling the embrace of a friend.

What can you do to heal the effects of childhood abuse?

No, I don’t want to force you to tell your story but I invite you to take your time, continuously taking small steps towards telling your story with full transparency. Rest assured that, however small, effects will be seen quickly and will empower you to keep moving.

Blame, criticism and judgment – both internal and external – can be powerful to silence your voice forever. And, if you are like me, you’re probably the one who gives yourself the harshest criticism. You perhaps try to adapt, to fit in, to be perfect and fulfill excessive demands about whom, how and what you should be. If you allow this to happen, you pay a price: you can never experience deep connection and true belonging in a relationship. If you try to fit in, you may end up with who you want to be and get some approval however they do not care about you but the illusion you play for them. Deep in your heart, you know that they don’t truly care for you.

What is genuine connection?

How can somebody truly connect with you if you don’t show them who you are – with your strength and weaknesses? How can you ever belong if you hide behind a mask, deeply afraid that somebody may find out about your secret?

How can I ask you to show up if I am not doing it? This is why I share these words with you, the reason why I wrote my memoir.

What is the healing power of telling your story?

Stories have the power to heal because they talk to your subconscious and can guide it gently into a new direction. They give you new pictures and perspectives for your situation you haven’t yet seen. They are like a protective cloak because they allow you to release painful emotions like shame and guilt without ever entering your story. And they show you that you are not alone in your situation. Aren’t we all human? What is so bad about being real? Why should we hide our imperfections and weaknesses when they make us human and our common humanity is our only hope to connect?

As a counsellor, I give to my clients what helped me during my own healing journey. I will not tell you what to do but I will collaborate with you so that you find the answers you need. You are the expert in your life and you have the power to transform your past.

Check out how I can help you.

Did the Partner You Love Leave You?

No Love

Well, the man I’ve loved most in my life left me. It happened more than two years ago. He was my best friend and the man I trusted most in my life. The beginning of our romantic relationship was supposed to be the brilliant ending of my memoir A Brave, True Story. Our story became the final chapter and the greatest defeat of my life – at least that was how I felt about it.

Do you feel the same?

Let me tell you how this story continued:

I looked at the screen. An email arrived. Message from Ben – the man I had loved most in my life. He had disappeared without ever calling me after we had become lovers. I couldn’t believe it. Under shock, I opened it. It said, Welcome to Canada! I am glad that you’ve made it. How are you? What do you do? I wasn’t sure what to do, but my intuition told me that I should answer…

A couple of weeks later, we talked to each other on the phone. He said, well, I know that our ending wasn’t the best… His voice sounded hesitant. I sighed. Our break-up had been horribly painful for me. But was it still a defeat? I took a deep breath and looked at my life as it was right now: I lived in the country I loved, I had found wonderful new friends, I did the work I loved, I was happier than ever before, and I was on my way to realizing my greatest dreams. No, our ending hadn’t been good, but it has given me the courage to fully commit to my path and to become the best version of me. Suddenly, the greatest defeat became a different meaning. I replied, Yes, it was painful. But it was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I have become the woman I always wanted to be. His voice sounded a bit insecure when he responded, They say that’s possible.

Do you want to transform your defeat, too?

Losing him was very painful, and I was in a crisis. I just wanted to run away from the pain. However, the pain can’t heal this way. I decided to transform myself and make the best out of this apparent defeat:

  • Setting an intention to be happy beyond belief.
    It was a moment when I felt down. My friend was the only person in my life I had never expected to lose. But I didn’t want to get stuck in bitterness, I wanted to make a landfall and to become happier than I could ever imagine. I wanted to move beyond any limitations from my family I was still subconsciously holding on to. If I didn’t start now, when would I ever do it? Do you choose to be happy beyond belief? 
  • Trusting and following your inner voice.
    I set down with myself and took an honest look at all areas of my life: What worked well? Where did I feel frustrated? Where was I aligned with my values and my truth? In which areas was I disconnected from myself? I noticed that there were still some relationships where I gave my power away. I asked my inner wisdom: What can I do to change it? Then, I gathered all my courage and took action. I repeated this process over and over again until I felt that I was who I wanted to be. Do you choose to follow your inner voice?
  • Healing your inner child.
    The rejection of my friend connected me deeply with the trauma of feeling unwanted in my family. I took the time to take care of my inner child and to heal her wounds. I allowed the emotions to emerge and released them. Later, I did some rituals to forgive myself and to forgive my friend. What emotions do you want to release?

A crisis is painful, but it can also be an opportunity to grow and to transform your life. My crisis has been a catalyst for positive change in my life. Even though I already had been on a good path before, it gave me the strength to radically love and accept myself. I stopped to give my power to people I deeply loved, and I quit judging myself. I stood up against negative beliefs, worries, and self-doubts, and I allowed myself to show up as I was with all my imperfections. I fully committed to following my path no matter what other people said.

Being who we are and following our path is like peeling an onion, and we may need to release some layers before we get there. However, if we take this effort, we allow us to be happy and to experience true love and belonging. And that’s what we are looking for, aren’t we?

What Does Your Soul Yearn For?

She is quite attractive and seems to have everything. She has a great job and a relationship. She lives in a nice apartment and has enough money to buy some luxuries but deep inside she is frustrated. Is this really all what life is about? She looks for a different job and improves her relationship. But it doesn’t matter what she does, she can’t find fulfillment.

Do you relate with this?

Some years ago, I was this type of woman. I lived the life I thought I was supposed to have but deep inside my soul was screaming. I felt like being stuck in swamp mud, and I sunk deeper and deeper each year. Was this the life I really want to live? Something felt wrong about it.

I knew I needed a change. Despite all my doubts, I decided to follow my intuition: I started yoga and nurtured my soul’s longing for creativity. I left my partner because our relationship didn’t have the connection my soul desired and started my journey to heal my heart and childhood wounds. The following years, I connected more deeply with my intuition. The more I listened to her voice, the more I connected with happiness and fulfillment.

I moved with my cats to Barcelona and rebuilt my life from the scratch. I only implemented what felt right, and I let go of all activities that didn’t. First, I went for long walks at the beach and spent hours sitting at the beach looking at the sea and the limitless sky. The waves seemed to whisper, “Open your eyes. The world is full of new opportunities. Allow yourself to see them.” A seagull flew above my head every once in a while, and her chirping seemed to tell me, “You are free to choose. You don’t have to re-live your parent’s life. You don’t need to live up to other people’s expectations. You can choose whatever you want and whatever makes you happy.

My soul yearned for so many things that my mind didn’t feel comfortable with, and he tried to talk me out of it. But my intuition told me to walk on this path.

What did my soul want?

She wanted to experience deep connection with other people and to belong. She needed creativity, growth and healing. She wanted to share true love and to give back. She desired to stay in nature and solitude. And so I took my awkward steps just like a child who learned to walk. Each step gave me a higher degree of fulfillment and happiness. One accomplishment let to a new desire – from healing myself to become a healer, from increasing my creativity to writing a book. I found that there were two types of intentions: If my mind wanted something, I had to put a lot of effort and fight against adversities. I felt bored, and my energy drained away. If I finally decided to let go of these intentions, I felt relieved. If my soul wanted something she went for it, no matter what challenges she had to face. Deep down in myself there was a power that gave me the strength to move forward, to learn new things and to achieve goals I considered impossible. If there were those moments of doubts, there always came this inner voice that told me: Don’t give up. Trust. Everything will be all right. Following these intentions expanded my life and gave me fulfillment and happiness.

What does your soul yearn for?

I’d love to read your comments below.

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

What if You Are In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship?

“It’s like a dream. I always wanted to be together with an independent partner like you are. And now I’ve met you.” He said this after we had talked intensively about our lives. And he was right. It had been a beautiful start for a relationship. I thought that he was honest. And this stage, I had no reason to doubt his words. I felt happy and very lucky.

Toxic dynamics are not visible in the beginning

The relationship seemed to continue in a good direction. We planned our future and did many activities together. We went hiking and spent our summer holidays at a meditation retreat. Then, I went away for a weekend because I attended a wedding of a friend. When I returned, he picked me up at the airport. Everything had changed.

Trust your inner voice

I was excited to see him, and saw a man with a different face. He started to argue. I felt confused in the beginning. Each day, he found another thing I didn’t do right. I became angry because I didn’t want to be treated like this. No matter what I did, it was not right for him. I felt drained. I gave him a warning. He apologized and promised to change. However, he continued with the same manipulative game. My inner voice said, it’s time to go. This situation isn’t good for you at all. The one thing I learned from dealing with manipulative behaviour is to trust my gut. If it says something is off, I take action.

Do they keep their promises?

The problem with people who have manipulative behaviour is that they promise a lot but they do not change their behaviour. He apologized constantly for his behaviour, but the next moment, he behaved the same way. Luckily, I was able to see the toxic dynamic very early. I didn’t doubt my decision to leave him for a moment. There is one rule I have for relationships: I do not tolerate any form of violence – and manipulation is a form of violence. As a child, I grew up with emotionally abusive relationship, I did not have a choice. I did not know anything else. As an adult, I have a choice. I choose healthy relationships. This is a promise I gave myself many years ago. How about you?

Keep firm boundaries

My ex-partner couldn’t believe it. He waited for me in a park where I volunteered to feed a colony of abandoned cats. He wanted another chance; he promised to change, just another time. Just give me a month, he said, and I rejected. But he did not stop there and continued to disrespect my boundaries. Your partner’s promises may sound sweet and tempting but don’t fall into them. They are part of the game.

Resist the presents

I sat in a workshop. The doorbell rang. My spiritual teacher opened and came back with a huge bouquet of flowers. She said, It’s for you. I had just told her the story about my ex-partner and those flowers were the last thing I ever wanted to receive. I felt angry because he didn’t respect my boundaries for another time. I said, I don’t want them. She looked surprised and said, you can’t do this. They are beautiful. I replied, you know that they come with the wrong intention, don’t you? Living compassionately doesn’t mean that I allow somebody to manipulate me. She sighed, you’re right. Giving gifts is another way to control you. Do not buy into them.

Work through your emotions

Even though I wasn’t responsible for his manipulative behavior, it took me a while to release shame, guilt and humiliation. Luckily, I was able to identify his toxic behaviours very early in our relationship. However, it is never easy to be around people with manipulative behaviour. The relationship lasted only a couple of months, but I needed some time to forgive myself for having fallen in love with him.

Love yourself more than a partner with manipulative behaviour

Emotional abuse is difficult to spot in the beginning and you may notice it when you are already in a committed relationship. While you can’t choose who you fall in love with, you have a choice on how you want to handle it when you recognize manipulative behaviour.  You have many different options on how to deal with it. Important is that you make choices that are good for you. Emotional abuse leaves deep wounds on your soul, eats away your sense of worthiness and your belief in yourself. You can’t change your past but you can start today to heal yourself and become whole.

Seek help

Manipulative behaviour is confusing and it is good if you do not handle it alone. It is a sign of strength to ask for professional help. It will help you to handle the toxic dynamics in a way that is good for you. You have many different options.  However, if you do not take action, nothing will every change. Yes, change is scary, but what price do you pay if you stay where you are?

You are interested in getting help? Find out more about our program for people who are in unhealthy relationships.

Do you want to read more? Check the article How to Become a Modern Hero

Can You Heal From Emotional Abuse and Violence?

Can you heal from emotional abuse and violence?

Yes, you have experienced traumatic events. Emotional abuse and violence have left a mark on your soul. Everything may seem dark and hopeless. You feel pain, shame and guilt. You may hear judgments of other people like “poor victim” or “you will never overcome the effects of emotional abuse.” You feel small, you feel unworthy. The scale of your life seems out of balance. The trauma seems heavier than any resources you may own.

And the trauma weighs so heavy on you that you can’t see clearly: you have precious and valuable resources. You have developed strength, perseverance and courage. You have resilience because you have learned to go through a crisis and move forward with your life.

It doesn’t matter what happened to you: you are worthy of love and belonging.

The emotional abuse or violence you have experienced don’t define yourself nor your future. Healing them is your challenge on your journey. Facing them is the starting point for the greatest transformation of your life. And that’s your hero’s journey. You have the power to become whole and to recover all what seems lost in the traumatic events. And nobody else can do this for you. Your partner can’t save you. Your parents can’t save you. Your children can’t save you. Only you can save yourself.

Let’s take a look at a lotus plant: Its roots stand in the dirt and mud, and out of these roots, it develops bright and colorful flowers. Its roots are strong enough to survive in an environment that seems difficult. Its leaves have a mechanism to repel water. And it can produce heat to the water that surrounds its body. This way it creates its own friendly environment.
You are just like this lotus plant: you have the strength to grow through these painful events and transform them into a bright and colorful life. You can release the negativity you have experienced and liberate yourself from its influences, and you can create for yourself a loving and nurturing environment.

Why am I so sure about what I am telling you? I have been there, too, and I used this path myself. I experienced emotional abuse and violence in my childhood. And I used the following steps to heal myself. If I was able to do it, you can do it, too.

How can you heal from emotional abuse and violence?

  • Create a bright and colorful vision for your future.
    Your past doesn’t define your future. The vision you create will define the outcome and you can create joyful and positive experiences you may never have experienced before. Everything is possible. Your definition of the future gives you the energy and courage to face your challenges and move forward on your healing path.
  • Become whole again.
    The painful events have shaken your soul and your sense of being. You have absorbed many labels and many opinions about yourself that are not true. Your task is to connect deeply with yourself, to love yourself and to liberate yourself from the conditioning you have absorbed. Re-establish your self-esteem and self-worth. Value your needs and dreams. Be loving and kind towards yourself.
  • Become a compassionate parent for your inner child.
    During your childhood, you have experienced painful events that you weren’t able to deal with at this age. Now, you are an adult. You can choose to become a loving and compassionate adult for this child within you that wants to be seen and loved by you. Don’t blame your parents for what they did or didn’t do. They can’t help you with this. You can’t change the past, but you can take the responsibility for your inner child. Be a good parent for your inner child. This way, he or she will heal and become a source for creativity and joy.
  • Connect with your intuition and your higher wisdom.
    You have learned many beliefs about yourself that aren’t true. Connect with your higher wisdom to clarify the truth of these beliefs. Sit in silence, go for a walk in nature and connect with this part of you that has all the wisdom you need. Listen to and follow your intuition. It will show you the right path for your healing.
  • Find somebody to go with you without judging you.
    You cannot do it all alone. You will need somebody who supports you on this journey. Find a person who doesn’t judge you or the events that happened to you. Find a therapist, counselor, coach or healer who deserves your trust and who deserves to hear your story.
  • Learn to practice emotional intelligence.
    Connect with your body, and learn to listen to your emotions. Learn ways how you can express them in a healthy way. Your emotions aren’t your enemies. They are your allies, and they give you signals. If you numb yourself to avoid painful emotions, you limit your capacity to feel joy and happiness, and it can lead to addictive behaviors. Explore your emotions and listen to what they have to tell you.

As human beings, we have a need to connect and love. Traumatic events can limit your capacity to connect. Healing yourself is your path towards love and connection. Take responsibility for your life and your needs. Dare to walk down this path. You deserve it.

How to Become a Modern Hero

Who is your favorite hero?

When I was a child, my favorite hero was Scaramouche, the hero in a movie that played during the French revolution. He has some love affairs with women who just weren’t a great match before he falls in love with the right woman for his live. The last scene showed him driving away in a coach just married to a beautiful noblewoman while people cheer to him.

What do you have in common with a hero or heroine?

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a hero? I thought that it was something that only happened in movies. However, every one of us can be a modern hero. Maybe you are a survivor of childhood abuse and you feel as if you are broken. Maybe you are in an unhealthy relationship and feel is if the world is against you. Maybe you struggle with depression and stigma. Unfortunately, life isn’t fair or perfect, we all face struggles and obstacles but how we handle them makes a difference. And maybe the beginning of our hero’s journey.

Nobody is born as a hero, but we can become one

Don’t worry if you don’t have to feel like a hero today. When a hero starts their journey, they never feel like a hero. They are thrown into an adventure. They feel weak or unprepared. And with all this, they fights dragons and overcomes obstacles. They learn new skills and develops powerful resources. They find allies and defeats enemies. They get wounded, are reborn and now shine with a new, brilliant light. Suddenly, they feel like the hero we have already seen them at the beginning of the movie. The hero’s archetype resides within all of us. It is your choice to activate it.

What is your challenge?

I was a survivor of childhood abuse and started my healing journey many years ago. Your challenge might be completely different. Maybe you struggle with an unhealthy relationship or the loss of your lifetime partner. You may be single for far too long. You may have lost hope for your future.  You may be the outcast of your family or society. Whatever your challenge is, it is also a calling to start your hero’s journey. The merit is to transform yourself, become your true, genuine self and create the life you want to live. And, isn’t that worth it?

A modern hero’s journey – of what does it consist?

Accept your calling

Your journey starts when you sense a calling. It is likely to speak in a very low voice. If you read this article you have it: this inner knowing that the place where you are at doesn’t feel right, that you should seek for something else. Maybe it is a healthy relationship, maybe it is healing your childhood wounds. Whatever it is, it may scare you. You may want to look away. Your mind tells you that your goal is not possible. You fear your calling and its message. It urges you to change. You don’t feel ready, but you have a gnawing sense that it’s time to walk on a new path. Take a deep breath and accept your calling. It is a loving invitation to become whole again. You have all what it takes to get there. You are more courageous than you believe you are.

Enter an unknown world

On your hero’s journey, you have to leave behind the world you know. Whatever kind of relationship you experienced in the past, it’s time to learn something new. Now is the appointed time to become courageous, compassionate and conscious. This will lead you into a new direction.  You will make steps into a new direction, a direction towards being whole, and explore things you never did before. Follow this path, leave behind the old and explore the new.

Heal your shadow

For many years, I feared my shadow. Finally, I looked at it and it lost its power over me. I actually found wonderful treasures in it. Your shadow is different, your treasures will be different. However, if you don’t dare to look at it, it will subconsciously control you. As adults, it is our responsibility to heal and to become whole. Your shadows may seem overwhelming and deeply frightening, but you are stronger and more powerful than they are. Dare greatly, and illuminate them. The treasures you will find are worth the effort. Enter the unknown world of self-discovery and healing and become whole again. Dare greatly and you’ll realize a profound transformation you never believed possible.

Let go of your masks

My favorite mask was being “nice.” It was comfortable because it is socially well accepted.  It also protected me from harm and conflict. However, it also led me to abandon myself and hindered myself to show up.The masks you put on to relate with other people may seem comfortable, but they impede you to experience belonging. With your masks you can only fit in. Fitting in is not belonging. Behind your masks, there is a brilliant, genuine version of yourself that wants to show up. It is perfectly imperfect, and that’s great. Only you can uncover it. What are the masks you are using? Get to know them and explore them. Then, tear them off, bit-by-bit, and connect with your feelings, needs and boundaries. Show up and speak your truth. Each time you do so, you move forward on your hero’s journey.

Find your allies

My most powerful allies are nature, the sea, silence, breathing and my counselling groups. I met fascinating people, inspiring teachers, cheerful companions, great coaches and complete strangers who gave me the right hint during a short encounter. Who are your allies? Find them. Ask them for help. Connect with them. Listen to them. Evaluate whether their words correspond with your truth. If your gut feeling tells you that it is right, then take action.

Release your dragons

Your dragons are everything that hinders you from choosing what is best for you. Your dragons aren’t in the outside world. They are within yourself. My dragons were the wrong truth I learned about love in my family, low self-worth and self-compassion, shame and guilt. They also consisted of resisting the temptation to stay with the wrong partner out of convenience and fear. Not every person you fall in love with will be a good match for a healthy relationship. What are you dragons? Write them down. Observe them. Liberate them. Question the truth of their words. Learn tactics how you can let go of them. Don’t give in to them. Change focus and listen to their anti-pole. Become a motivational speaker for yourself. Ask your allies for help. Conquer your dragons gracefully, one after the other.

What merits will you gain?

You will become the most authentic self you can be. You will look at the world with new, bright eyes. You will see the beauty of life. Even if something deeply painful happened to you, its darkness will transform into light during your journey. This is likely to happen in stages, just like a spiral. You will re-visit some themes throughout your life. Each time you do so, you will gain more understanding, wisdom and freedom. You can’t save the world, but you can save yourself. And by doing this, you will save the world. You will become courageous, compassionate and conscious, and you’ll be greater version of yourself.  As a result, you will experience a deep connection with your partner, friends and the world. And aren’t healthy relationships all what life is about?

So, when do you start your hero’s journey?

Find out about my program “Break Free From Toxic Relationships.”

Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash

Storytelling: The Power Of Story

Once upon a time there was a conference in Madrid where I was listening to the great masters of coaching, bored and tired. A woman stepped on the stage, sat down in the circle of the masters and told a story with love and feelings. Immediately my attention was connected with her, my eyes became bright and fascinated like a little girl. It was Lisa Bloom, storyteller and founder of Story-Coach Inc.

That was the day that I plunged into the beautiful world of stories for coaching, thanks to Lisa.

The world of the storytelling is great and has an enormous diversity. Although the world has changed a lot, the stories still teach us timeless truths and wisdom in a graceful and indirect way and support us to give meaning to our lives that sometimes can seem complicated. We live always in a hurry and listening to a story gives us a quiet moment in that we are present and deeply connected and it helps us to pause and reflect about ourselves and our lives.

When we tell our own stories we define how we see reality, whether it is a story about how we found our partner or the story that we tell to find a job. We do not only tell facts because we are not only rational. We are emotional and our emotions often cause us to decide. The stories include emotions and can touch us in a deep level, sometimes they even work in our subconscious mind. The stories of other persons can inspire us or give us hope. They can show us a new perspective, something we never thought of and they can open us new horizons.

What is the power of stories in our life and in coaching?

For me, the best person to answer this is Lisa Bloom:

What is the power of stories for you?

The power of stories is the ability to connect with people on a very deep level, to inspire and to get really their attention. Since the beginning of time we have expressed ourselves through story. We have passed on our culture, our value system and our sense of community through stories.

How do stories help us to understand our reality?

People tell stories all the time. If it is for example the story of “how I came to be where I am now”, you are not telling what is actual fact necessarily. We tell opinions, our approach, our point of view. It creates the framework about which we create our whole reality. I give a good example: My sister and I, we might reminisce about our childhood. Sometimes I do not know how she grew up. Mostly, it is because she tells a different story. She tells it because of her own personal outlook and her belief system. It is her story and is different to mine, although we grew up together.
Story is what creates our reality. When you listen intently to somebody else’s story, you get a picture of a lot more than the words they say. You get images, a sense of an opinion, values and a lot of information on how the person particularly sees the world.

What is the power of stories in coaching?

For me, storytelling and coaching is a whole methodology. It is about coaching at a much more effective level because you are using story as a way to access people’s inner most state to be able to create a change and new perspectives and to help them achieve their objectives. The idea is to inspire clients by using your own story, by fairytales or folktales. It allows you to bring them to a place where they have never thought of.

How do stories help us to heal our lives?

We have stories that we live with that generate pain for us. When you uncover this story of your live and look for different ways to transform it, looking more at the journey, the transformation and the outcome rather than the pain, then you relieve the suffering and begin to heal. Being able to find someone to listen to your story without judgment and without trying to solve it, allows you to tell it and this can be the start on the healing process.
Sometimes it helps us to heal our situation if we listen to stories that are inspiring us because we can imagine something better.

What influence do the stories have in your daily life?

Stories are the way I am in a sense. I find that I can navigate life in a more enjoyable way when I am aware of the story.
We create a lot of pain and tension because we have a story about any given situation that is not serving us well or that is not good for us. So much of how we live is simply a story that we can tell from so many perspectives. You can choose to tell an empowering, beautiful, grateful and contributing story. Or you can choose to be miserable. For me, deciding on how I tell my stories is a day-to-day activity.

Anything else you want to comment that I have not yet asked you?

I love to encourage people to inquire their stories and to learn a little about them and take the responsibility for their stories and on how to tell them, both the good ones and the less good ones and to figure out how they could create more powerful stories. Because many times we just do not think about it and tell stories that do not do us too well. Once you’ve identified these stories, look what you can change in your perspective so that you can tell them in a way that you feel better and that it serves a better purpose. This is how we can transform our lives and make a meaningful change.

Do you want to tell us a story that you particularly like?

It’s really hard, there are so many … I think one of my favorite stories is “The picture of peace.” The reason I love this story is because this message is so powerful, that even at the worst of time, when everything seems so destructive, peace is simply possible because it is in our hearts, it is not that it comes from outside.

What experiences do you have with stories?

I’d love to hear from you. Just leave your comment below.

Do you want to read more? Check my story in the post What if you fear relationships?

based on the article “Metáforas para el cambio: Cuéntame una Historia” published in the magazine “Crearte Magazine”, www.creartemagazine.com


Copyright ©2014, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

How hidden family dynamics may affect your health

Many people have difficult and painful family stories, perhaps with unresolved trauma. At least mine had them. Thanks to the constellations, I have found explanations and new perspectives and they helped me find peace. These family dynamics can cause diseases? It seems hard to believe and it is so. I saw touching examples during a workshop of Stephan Hausner in Barcelona, a German facilitator who uses family constellations in the area of healthcare. I was impressed by his respectful way to treat his clients and his ability to create an environment with the group that was free of judgment and his way to treat painful and difficult situations with love. After this impressive experience, I was glad about having had the opportunity to do an interview with him to present his valuable work:

What is a family constellation?

This is not an easy question. If you ask different facilitators, there will be as many different answers as people who you’ve asked. Actually, I do not use the term “family constellation” so often, I have replaced it by “systemic constellation” because my work is in the first step about families, but also beyond families. The constellations dig up how the traumas of our ancestors to whom we are bound by destiny, survive and influence the lives of descendants. Bert Hellinger opened the way for this method. My image of a constellation is that, among other things, it makes visible an internal process. I use this work frequently in a medical context because this corresponds to my experience.

How did you discover family constellations for your work?

I am working for 25 years as a homeopath and my original interest was the traditional Chinese medicine and the ancient Greek medicine. Both are medicines that try to discover what is in disorder in the body through a diagnostic system and try to restore order by putting an appropriate stimulus. I devoted myself to homeopathy for a long time and the constant search to reduce the treatment processes and to understand the disease and healing phenomena led me to a conference where I met Bert Hellinger and discovered his work. When I heard him talking about the order in family systems it was easy for me to connect these ideas with the understanding of health of traditional medicines, in the way that a disorder in the family system may create difficulties in daily life and working with constellations is the chosen method to reveal it.

Working with constellations means that I have the possibility to constellate a system of relationships with representatives physically in a room and then something happens that no one can really explain until now: the representatives feel like the real people. It still cannot be explained why this is so, but it is proven again and again that it is so and you can work with the dynamics and movements that appear there. So you can see unhealthy links in a family system and which connections are healthy. Through the therapeutic process it is possible to restore order in the system again so that the unhealthy links can turn into healthy connections.

What is systemic medicine?

For me, one of the most important observations of working with constellations with diseases is that a disease is not a personal phenomenon. Many diseases can only be understood when they are observed in a broader context. Systemic medicine means for me that there are diseases that must be understood by extending the system and through this larger system new spaces can be opened so that healing movements can emerge.

What fascinates you?

I consider working with constellations as especially suitable if good methods of treatment have not yet shown the expected success. I often meet patients who are in the hands of good doctors. However, they do not get better. Many times this is a sign that family dynamics are working behind this disease. I collaborate with a homeopathic pediatrician for many years, and if she does not achieve the desired effects with the children, she sends their parents to make a constellation with me. After the parents made a constellation, it happens many times that the homeopathic remedy that before has not worked suddenly starts working. What fascinates me above all is that this work addresses the power of self-healing of the patients and ideally it is a medical activity without the use of medication. Actually, it is a form of relational medicine.

What are diseases that often have an origin in the family dynamics?

I think that a disease always has multifactorial aspects. Multifactorial means that there is a physical, emotional and spiritual component and probably also a family component. Basically you can work for all diseases with a constellation, but it is not necessarily useful for all. Constellations are useful for chronic diseases such as autoimmune diseases, allergies, cancers, and when good treatments do not show the desired effect.

What is the potential of the constellations for the patient?

For me, it is essential to recognize that a disease is not a personal phenomenon of the sick person, but that many diseases can only be understood and treated if they are considered in a broader context, such as the family. In this way parents can alleviate their children. One of the most common dynamic in a constellation with diseases is to show that children are willing to carry a lot out of love for their parents, i.e. all the unresolved traumas that are still living in the family.

What are the limits?

One limit that is valid for all medical treatment is that the work can only be as good as the person who is doing it. It is not only about technique, but also about attitude and about body work which, in my opinion, is not adequately taken into consideration in constellations. My advantage is that I’ve been working with kinesiology for years. So I can feel in the client’s body if his body goes with what he expresses and what he says or not.

Another observation we make is that constellations are often about contents that were excluded and many symptoms remember contents that were excluded from one’s own biography or the family story. Deep down of the exclusion is an excessive demand in a traumatic situation in which you did not have sufficient resources to address this issue in a good way. The exclusion is a form of self-protection to survive. The experience is that these unresolved contents do not keep quiet, but are shown in the body or sometimes enter in later generations as children or grandchildren and show up as symptoms. In this aspect, an important limit is the customer himself: to what extent is it possible for the customer to open his heart to what he lives in the constellation. Finally, it is an integration process. You also have to say that it is a step-by-step procedure and an approach to that what was formerly experienced as dramatic and traumatic. It is about the freeing of the force that was tied up to the trauma and, ideally, this what was tied up will later become a special resource.

What role do you have as facilitator in the constellation?

When I got in touch with the constellations I was already firmly convinced that in cases where healing takes place, it is in the end self-healing. If you get to this point as a doctor, one has to ask himself, what can I actually do for the client? Perhaps, you succeed in creating an environment in which the forces of self-healing take effect perfectly. That was already my desire before and when I encountered the constellations, I realized that it is a good way to create this atmosphere of self-healing with a group. In the end, everything in the constellation is perception and attitude. The facilitator must be able to create an environment with the group where everyone feels that he can open up and that nobody will judge you for what has been brought to light. This is a great responsibility of the facilitator. You also have to master the technique, you need a good perception and at the same time you should be with both feet on the ground. I would like to add something here. In my opinion, the working with constellation has one problem: you can constellate everything and there will always appear something. And sometimes the movements of the representatives can induce traumatic processes that later over-strain the client again and re-traumatize him. The facilitator should be trained to have a constant contact and a constant attention with the client, so that he can prepare everything that is showing up in the constellation for the client so that the client can integrate the important things. So, on one hand, the facilitator prepares the field as a gardener and promotes the growth processes, on the other side he acts as a mediator between the events of the constellation and the client so that the client can make a proper integration process.

Is there an experience that has impressed you in particular?

I want to share a case of a 35-year old man who was suffering of high blood pressure for three years. When I asked if something happened in his life three years ago, he said that the company where he was working suddenly went bankrupt and he had to find a new job, he confessed that he felt like “they had taken his life. ”
I asked if anything had happened in his relationship with his father. The patient was reluctant and said, “when I was 17, my father left my mother!” I asked if he was angry with him, “yes, because I had to take his position.” To not go into detail of his anger I chose to change to the objective level, “Often the hidden family dynamic of patients with hypertension is a love that is or has to be repressed.” The patient was moved by statement: “I always loved my father, but I felt that I was not allowed to because he had done so much damage to my mother. “At this point, I asked the patient to choose three representatives for his father, his mother and himself. The patient positioned his representative next to his mother and the father’s representative a little apart of both. When I asked the representatives to follow their impulses, the representative of the father turned his back to his wife and to his son resignedly. The impression was that he had no chance with his wife. The representative of the mother said it was too much and that her son was too close. She made a clear step back and felt noticeably better with the greater distance. The representative of the patient, however, followed immediately. The representative of the mother breathed again heavily when her son was at her side and took several steps back. When the son wanted to follow her, she gave him a serious look to make it clear that she did not want him to follow. Her family history revealed that the mother lost her father when she was five years old and with this loss on her history she found it hard to get tied up with her family and to allow closeness.

I turned to the patient and asked, who was always responsible for the difficulties in the relationship of your parents? He immediately answered: “My father!” I gave him time to reflect and I asked again: And what do you see reflected in the constellation? The patient replied, my mother. I asked the patient to look to his father and say, “Dear father, I’m sorry, I was not free!” He cried when he repeated the phrase. The father’s representative approached the patient instantly and embraced him. The patient cried in the arms of his father and held his hand to his heart. Again and again he said: It hurts a lot. The representative of his father grabbed him and said: “It’s good, everything is fine”, the representative of the mother was relieved watching at the child in the arms of his father. She looked at them both benevolently. At the end of the course, the man said: “As much as my heart ached in the arms of my father, something is resolved. Now I feel a lightness that I have never known before”.

This case shows an impressive change of perspective. Initially, the father was guilty and responsible for all the suffering and during the constellation the patient could see that it was related to the mother because she had lost her father so early. 

How I can know that it might be good for me to make a constellation?

There are several possibilities. You can read my book Even if it costs me my life, it is written as a journey and if you’re free to open the heart to the written processes, you activate processes in yourself and you can recognize where you are in a similar situation and what steps could be a solution for you. It was my desire to write this book as self-help book. There are many examples so that everyone can learn from the difficulties of others and, above all, find processes to solve problems. Ideally you participate as an observer in a group of constellations and examine these processes in greater detail from a safe distance and allow yourself to be moved. This will produce one or another question that will be important to you and for your own growth process.

Is there a healing attitude? If so, what is it?

In many cases it is about excluded content that is part of one’s own biography or the family history. My impression is that you can already start to establish changes in attitude if you open up to these taboo subjects, these difficult issues that are traumatic or heavy, benevolently from a safe distance and recognize them as realities. Finally, it is about accepting what happened with the consequences it had. Many diseases arise when someone holds on to a reality that is different from what reality really was, and if this fight against reality ends new spaces will open up in which healing processes can take place.

What role do you wish for constellations in the healthcare environment?

I think it’s a great tragedy today that you can write a clinical history for years or decades in a so-called “developed” country without anyone raising the question of what really happened in the family. Anyone can probably understand that the death of the mother during the own birth produces an emotion of incredible guilt in one’s life that can manifest in emerging of an illness or symptoms. My wish would be that a kind of “critical mass” is achieved so that a disease is no longer seen as a personal phenomenon, but perhaps as family dynamics, and above all that a form of “health education” comes into the schools to teach the children the importance that a disease can have on family systems and what would be the necessary treatment. Right now I am collecting keywords that are related to health in my opinion. The words that come into my mind spontaneously are identity, authenticity, connection and presence. For me, it would be revolutionary if these concepts were present in classrooms in relation to the appearance of diseases and perhaps also to the prevention of disease.

Is there anything you would like to add?

It is my great desire that the work of the constellations in the area of “Health and Disease” occupies its place and that the possibilities can be explored and the limits are recognized and that it has its place in therapy. I also want to thank Bert Hellinger for opening the way for this method.

Many thanks to Stephan Hausner for this interview!

The hidden dynamics in my family influenced my relationships and my way to look at the world in a way that did not serve me well. Looking at these hidden influences liberated me from any negative influence and transformed my life. What do you know about the hidden dynamics in your family?

I look forward to reading your comments below!

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

Why Does The Heart Go Through So Much Heartbreak?

Some weeks ago, a client asked me this question: Why does the heart go through so much trauma and heartbreak?

It remembered me of the times when I asked this question myself. My heart had experienced heartbreak, hurt and pain, and this question made me feel hopeless and deeply frustrated in the past. I did not see a feasible way to get out of this pain, and it accompanied me for many years, even though in different forms. In my childhood, my family relationships were full of suffering and, as an adult, my romantic relationships seemed to be a repetition of, at least, part of the hurt and pain. I asked myself, Why does the heart go through so much suffering? many times, but it did not lead to a solution. One day, I saw that I was asking the wrong question, and I started to ask myself, What can I do so that I can let go of trauma, shock, hurt and pain so that I will attract a healthy relationship? And suddenly, I saw new perspectives, and I found out that I had the power to heal my heart and get out of this painful circle.

Here are my recommendations so that you can let go of pain, trauma, shock and suffering and create a healthy relationship:

Connect to your dreams.

Most everyone wants a healthy, depth-of-their-heart true love relationship. Yet, many of us have deep wounds that need to be healed to experience this. Use the power of your dreams to motivate you to heal yourself and your heart so that you can attract the relationship you want. You deserve a healthy relationship, and you have the power to create it. See your past pain and suffering as a blessing because it showed you all that you do not want and transform it into joy and happiness by defining what you really want. It does not matter what happened in your past, you can now create the relationship you really want. Imagine how would be your life in a healthy, depth-of-your heart true love relationship? Imagine how would you feel if you really have attracted it? Never give up on your dream and use its power to motivate you on your healing journey.

Create a loving relationship with yourself

Learn to love, honor and respect yourself. This way, you will develop a healthy self-esteem, which is vital to a healthy relationship. Loving yourself is an inner process. It allows you to be authentic and speak your truth, to say “no” when you want to say “no” and to leave a relationship that violates your boundaries. It also supports you to enjoy life as a single person until the intimate love relationship that you desire becomes real. Be loving with yourself because the relationship with yourself is the most important one you will have in your life and the way you treat yourself can influence the way how your partner treats you.

Become a complete person.

Heal your childhood wounds and other negative experiences of your past and become complete. Learn to be aware of your needs and start to fulfill them by yourself. You are now an adult and able to fulfill your needs by yourself. This means that you are independent, and you can consciously choose the relationships that you want to have. And it empowers you to decline relationships that produce suffering. You may not be able to avoid short-term pain but you protect yourself from further long-term suffering.

Learn about new realities.

Your reality is shaped by your experiences. What type of relationships did you experience as a child? I only had painful experiences, and I thought that all relationships were struggle and suffering. As an adult, I learned that there are other realities. Healthy relationships do exist and creating them isn’t a mystery. Behaviors and attitudes that nourish a positive, joyful relationship can be learned. Look for positive relationships in your family or in your circle of friends. Look for stories about positive role models and create your picture of a healthy relationship and say no to relationships that do not comply with your picture.

Always remember that you are the most important person in your life, and you deserve to be loved, honored and respected, by yourself and your partner. If you have a loving relationship with yourself, this will protect you from staying in relationships that produce continuous suffering and it will give you the strength to leave these relationships. This way, you open the door so that better opportunities can arrive.

I look forward to reading your comments below!

Do you want to read more? Check the post Do you know your worth?

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!