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Huh? Did I make a mistake? Shouldn’t it be: “Don’t be mad at me”? No, I didn’t make a mistake. I mean it exactly like that. How often are we so mad at ourselves, calling ourselves names and saying things to ourselves that we would never accept from others? And that’s because we don’t live up to our own expectations – even though we’ve never questioned those expectations to see if they suit us at all. Confusing? Yes, and at the same time so human.

A client of mine is dissatisfied with herself. She is blaming herself for never being able to really relax. Yet she feels so overworked and thinks she needs the rest. I ask: “What do you mean by relaxation?” “Well, just doing nothing for a while, or just reading a book.” I ask again: “Is that true? Are you a person who relaxes like that?” She thinks. After a while she says, “No, not really. I actually prefer to bumble around. I do this and that, work a bit in the garden, do something around the house. Without time pressure and obligation. That relaxes me much more.”

I often encounter this phenomenon in my coaching sessions. People blame themselves time and again for doing certain things or not doing others that they should be doing. But who actually says that? Does relaxation have to mean lying around? Are people unengaged if they don’t want to devote themselves uninterruptedly to their job? Do you not love your partner because you want a little space now and then or even separate homes? What are the underlying ideas about relaxation, commitment, relationships, success and everything else that makes up life? In most cases, these ideas, often rather stagnant, come from our family of origin, culture and history. 

As a child, I was told I was lazy because I did my homework sloppily and sometimes not at all. But I am now sure that I was never lazy. I always enjoyed doing something, painting, playing music or reading. These are all activities that I find very productive and useful today and that may have taken me further than my history or English homework. What I really needed in terms of history and English I acquired at another time, as an adult, purposefully and with a lot of pleasure. I read a lot about history – what I wanted and when I wanted. And English I speak and write fluently today – thank you very much. Nevertheless, I believed the fairy tale of the lazy Franziska for a long time and blamed myself bitterly. 

So here is my plea: Don’t believe everything you tell yourself. There are so many ways to your own happiness. It is important to find out what is right for you. And if you insult yourself, ask yourself whose words you are actually hearing. Most of the time they are not yours, but those of your parents, grandparents, teachers or simply those of the society in which you grew up. 

Be kind to yourself, respect your way of doing things and look for an environment that also accepts you as you are. Not so easy? If you are too stuck in your self-imposed and incoherent expectations, a method like Logosynthesis can help you to dissolve some “frozen” beliefs. 

Cheer up! Life is merciful. You be it too.

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