It is time… to connect with yourself

“I think somehow we learn who we really are and then we live with that decision.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

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I really like this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt. It basically says that who we really are is a matter of our decisions. It is not something god-given and unchangeable, it is something we decide for ourselves. Therefore it is important to know what we want and to connect with ourselves to know who we want to be!

I had the idea for today’s blog today. I was sick for almost two weeks; it started with a minor bug, a minor cold, it got better, then it got worse. Long story short, it was “only” a severe cold. On the bright side, I had a lot of time to do something I didn’t do in a long time – connect with myself.

Today’s blog is about the one person, the one most important person in your life, that is yourself. How can you expect that somebody loves you if you’re not able to love yourself? How can you expect that anybody treats you with respect and takes care of you, if you can’t take care of yourself or if you can’t respect yourself?

Connect with yourself

Are you connected with yourself? When somebody asked me this question for the first time, I was a little bit surprised. My first reaction was “Yes, of course!”. On second thought, I hesitated. I mean, I lived with myself every day, but it didn’t mean that I knew me (it sounds silly, doesn’t it). But do you know yourself? Do you check with yourself often?

To get to know what I want, I learned to check in with myself regularly. So, every once in a while, I have a little hiatus, a break from every-day life, a few hours just for myself. I am not online, I am not checking the phone, I am not listening to music, I am just there. Existing, breathing, practicing mindfulness; I watch my train of thoughts, my mind wanders around, and it is the best feedback I can get about myself, my thoughts, my desires, and what is going on with my life.

Start with little steps

To connect with yourself, start with little steps, baby steps. Practice mindfulness, and try to sit quietly in a room for 5 minutes. No Internet, no mobile phone, disconnected from the world, but connected with your inner self. Now, watch your train of thoughts. Don’t judge, just let it flow, let it go. Whatever comes into your mind, observe it, but don’t judge. It won’t be easy, but it will get easier every time you do it. The next time, try to do it for 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, until you have the amount of time you are comfortable with.

Something I can not repeat often enough – get a journal! Write down anything that came into your mind. Psychological studies state that once you write something down, it is out of your mind (i.e. “taken care of”). Over time, you will see a pattern, your desires will become more clear, and you will get a feeling and an idea for your goals in life. This is truly important because once you know your goals, you can take care of your goals to connect with yourself.

Take care of your goals – and reward yourself

If you don’t know what you want, how can you ever expect to get what you want? An important step in connecting with yourself is to think about your goals. What do you want? Write down some of your main goals, either short-term or bigger long-term goals. When you write down bigger long-term goals, I recommend breaking it down into smaller easily achievable goals; it is always helpful to think of small steps towards something big. Do not forget to congratulate yourself when you achieve your goals. For example, when your goal is to go to the gym regularly, and you made it through week 1, reward yourself!

Once you have set goals, you need to think about your next steps. Be as clear as possible why you set a certain goal and how your life will be different once you achieved your goal. Think about help, support and resources you need to achieve your goal. Be not afraid to ask for help!

I have to repeat it one more time – get a journal! All my clients who started a journal stated that their life changed significantly after a while. Backed up by science, daily logging into a journal helps us shape our mind and focus on our goals. There is nothing that you can’t do today to take the first step towards your goal (and if it is just buying a journal for logging your progress)!

So what?

Of course you know about eating healthy and going to the gym, of course you know about how exercise helps you to feel better. My question is – why aren’t you doing it? The problem is, we probably aren’t doing enough of it, we don’t feel connected with ourselves.

Our life, our day is filled with our decisions we make. Instead of sitting in front of the TV, we could make the choice to meet with somebody. Instead of playing the game in front of the computer, we can cook a nice dinner for our partner and cuddle afterwards. Instead of eating chocolate as a snack, we can choose to eat an apple. It sounds simple because it IS simple. Life is about our decisions. It is not the big decisions that change our life permanently, it is the small decisions we make every day. Changing these small decisions, one by one, towards our goal, we will find ourself in a better place after some time.

I hope you have an interesting and insightful time with connecting with yourself! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

 

About the writer: Dr. Mario Lehenbauer-Baum focuses on positive psychology to help people live a better life with greater happiness and authenticity. Currently, he is a Visiting Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Vanderbilt University in Nashville/Tennessee, and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Sigmund Freud University in Vienna/Austria. He is a Clinical Psychologist and Health Psychologist as well as a certified Industrial-/Organizational Psychologist (certified by Austria and the Board of Organizational Psychology – Austrian Psychologist Association), a motivational speaker and coach as well as a researcher concerning positive psychology. He is a passionate gamer and uses new technology frequently. His research work combines (Clinical) Psychology/Organizational Psychology and new technology (e.g. online-based social skills trainings) as well as the “side effects” of using new technologies, such as being addicted to the Internet, games or smart phones.

 

 

New year’s resolution- be authentic!

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Three years ago, an incredible journey started for me. I was not unhappy, but I was not happy either. I wanted to change things in life, but I did not know how. So one of the first things I did, I made the resolution to be more authentic, to be more my “real” self, no matter what other people think. Over that following year, I watched amazing things happen… I built new relationships, got a new job, found new friends, and even found myself getting married to an incredible human being – something I would have never even imagined happen to me three or even two years ago. With my post today I want to tell you why it is so important to be the REAL you, to be authentic. Once you start being authentic and take care of your needs and your real self, everything will change, and I will tell you why.

How we lost track of our real self

When we were little kids, we had flaws, we had a personality, we had qualities that defined us as human beings. However, while growing up, society influenced you and molded you into your today’s self. However, very often we ended up flexing our behavior; when we grew up, we learned to flex our personality to fit what we think others expect from us. This is a very natural thing. Think of ancient tribes – it was important to be good with everybody, it was vital for your survival; the more people like you, the more they help you survive. However, being grown-up, this can lead to serious issues. When you fake your personality or do not have the courage to stand up for yourself, you only hurt yourself.

Once you are aware of who you are, what you want and what you deserve, and start being yourself, it will be an amazing journey for you!

You will attract the right partner!

Something that happened to me too… When you are able to show your real personality, your flaws, your worst and your best sides, you will attract certain people. Sure, when you fake your personality and are not able to face your fears, you may attract someone… But I can guarantee you that it won’t make you happy. It is exhausting to fake a personality 24/7, to be not able to just be yourself. You might feel unhappy, exhausted, resentful or even guilty when your needs are not met. When you are authentic, you automatically create a consistend experience for other people; just be authentic and real, and you will attract someone who is truly meant for you.

Relationships change – you will find your right clan!

I had different relationships and friendships three or even two years ago. I was not surrounded by people who really supported me, who wanted to see me succeed. Quite the opposite, they projected their fears onto me, and tried to hold me back. However, the minute I focused on myself and started to be authentic, I lost some of these “friends”. It was a painful process, but trust me: once you are your real self and not subconsciously faking your personality like others want you to be, you will find other friends and colleagues.

You will find people who inspire you, who want to help you; you will attract other authentic people who are in line with your flaws and strenghts.

You will be healthier

Faking your personality (even if it happens subconsciously) is extremely exhausting. Subconsciously, you are always worried about other people’s thoughts, you try to impress almost everybody. It takes a lot of energy, and of course all these worrying can affect your immune system and your health.

Once you stop faking and start being authentic, all the worrying stops. You will have a lot more energy for authentic positive things, and you will gain confidence by just being present and yourself. It feels good! Being with the right people will boost endorphins. You will feel good, you look good, and you attract good. Over time, it creates major positive energy in your life!

You will be more successful

It is true – people do not want to buy fake experiences. When you are authentic, people can trust you, that you’re always you. It will be painful for some, and you should not be afraid to hurt some people with your opinion; however, you will be respected when you are able to speak your truth in a polite way.

When you’re not faking something, you are able to connect to people on a deeper level and you are able to build real relationships. Once people feel secure in your relationship, they will trust you and your opinion. You will attract people who want to spend time with you, and you will attract customers and clients who respect you.

Summary

Faking personalities is vital during adolescence; you experience and try different roles. However, as an adult, it is truly exhausting to fake a personality 24/7, at work and at home. You don’t attract the right partner or the right circumstances at work. Once you start to listen to yourself, to who you really are and your needs, you will be authentic. Being authentic creates real happiness, because you will find yourself surrounded by completely different people: Colleagues and friends who will want to see you suceed, who support you and uplift you. Most important “side effect” – you might find your real love, the one partner that is meant for your and who fits your flaws and your strenghts! You experience real and authentic happiness – just like you deserve!

Feel free to talk to me when you need assistance or coaching in finding your real inner needs and live an authentic life.

About the writer: Dr. Mario Lehenbauer-Baum works as a Life Coach in Tennessee; he focuses on positive psychology to help people live a better life with greater happiness and authenticity. Furthermore, he currently is a Visiting Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Vanderbilt University in Nashville/Tennessee, and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Sigmund Freud University in Vienna/Austria. He is a Clinical Psychologist and Health Psychologist as well as a certified Industrial-/Organizational Psychologist (certified by Austria and the Board of Organizational Psychology – Austrian Psychologist Association), a motivational speaker and coach as well as a researcher concerning positive psychology. He is a passionate gamer and uses new technology frequently. His research work combines (Clinical) Psychology/Organizational Psychology and new technology (e.g. online-based social skills trainings) as well as the “side effects” of using new technologies, such as being addicted to the Internet, games or smart phones.

 

My grandfather’s golden watch

“What day is it?” asked Pooh.

It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.

My favorite day!” said Pooh.

A.A.Milne

Have you ever thought about not wearing a special shirt or not putting on that cologne in the morning, because it was too expensive? You wanted to “save it for later, for a special occasion”? You shouldn’t. You should feel special every day, and it is in your hands to accomplish this feeling. My article today is about my grandfather’s golden watch and how it can teach us a lesson to embrace and welcome every day. Many of us save things for later and forget to live today.

My grandparents’ “war” generation

I spent a lot of time with my grandparents at their house. As a kid, I never wondered about the fact that my grandmother had “good silverware” and “every-day silverware”. She also had the “good cups” and the normal cups for everyday use. All the good silverware and dishes were stored in another room and only taken out for special occasions. I grew up with this, and it was not until later that I realized that this was a special way of thinking, inherent to the old war generation.

My grandparents grew up during World War II; my great grandmother even survived both world wars. They had to learn how to survive with a minimum of resources. After World War II, there was an economic boom in Austria. People were able to buy stuff they never had before, such as TV’s, special silverware or dishes – luxury. My grandparents grew up with almost nothing, so they had to learn how to plan ahead. They wanted to save the “good stuff” for later, for special occasions. However, with all the “saving up for later” my grandparents forgot something important – to live in and embrace the moment.

My grandfather’s 60th birthday – the golden watch

I remember my grandfather’s 60th birthday, I was 13 or 14 years old. We celebrated my grandfather’s birthday with the whole family, and he got a lot of presents. One of these presents was a golden watch, from my grandmother and my great-grandmother. They didn’t have a lot of money, so they had to save some money for it. It was a nice watch, with a golden clock-face and a fine leather band. When he got it, my grandfather opened the case with the watch in it, looked at it, said “This is nice, thank you” and put the watch back in the case.

He probably never opened it again until the day he died.

My grandfathers death – the good-bye

My grandfather died a year ago, three weeks after I went to the United States. He was sick for a long time; his death wasn’t a surprise. But even if it was the end of a long suffering, the whole family was devastated.

However, I am glad that I had the opportunity to say good-bye before I went to the U.S. He suffered from several strokes; he was not able to move his hands anymore. He also was not able to speak anymore, and was almost blind. But you could still see some light in his eyes when he recognized something.

Saying good-bye was hard for me. I knew that I would never be able to see him again. I went to his room, he was in his bed. I took his hand and I said goodbye. His eyes were always closed, but as I gave him my last kiss on his cheeks, he opened his eyes. He saw and he recognized me. I told him that I have to go now. He looked at me, I saw it in his eyes that he heard what I said. He stared at the ceiling. I saw a tear in his eye, and I am sure he knew that this was the final good-bye. I didn’t want him to see me cry, so I swallowed my tears; I cried a lot after that.

The golden watch

A couple months after his death, I spoke to my grandmother. I totally forgot about the golden watch; when she told me about it, I remembered it. She took care of my grandfather’s belongings after his passing, and she found the watch. She wanted me to have it, to have something from him when I am in the U.S., something to remember him. My grandmother told me that he was never wearing this watch, always waiting for a special day.

The next time my mother visited she brought me that watch. And there it was – the golden watch in a case; it looked like a brand-new watch. I had to get a new battery, but still – after almost 25 years it looked like a completely new watch.

Live and embrace the moment

I love the golden watch. It reminds me of my grandfather and where I come from. And it is a reminder to live every day. My grandfather waited for a long time to wear his golden watch, but he never did – until it was too late.

Unlike my grandfather, I do not want to wait for special days to wear my watch. I also do not wear for any special occasion; I wear it every day if I choose to. And this is the important lesson this watch teaches me: When I wait to for a special day, I will probably never wear it. The same goes for “expensive” clothes or “special” shoes or “fine” fragrances – I wear it every day I can. Every day is special, because it is YOUR life! You are still alive, and you should feel worth it – wear your best cologne, your best clothes, eat that special dinner, because you deserve it! Celebrate and embrace your life in this very moment!

Take away message from my grandfather’s golden watch

We never know how long we live; we never know what tomorrow brings. Of course, it is good to save some money for later! However, it shouldn’t stop us from living, enjoying our life today. Think about yourself: What are the things you don’t wear, don’t do, or don’t eat because you want to wait for a special day? Why can’t you do it today? You can wear your best clothes, order  that special dinner just for you, have a bath with that special bath salt, nourish your skin with that special body lotion, wear that special cologne when you go shopping… it is your list. Feel special and don’t wait for a day in the future far ahead because it might be too late some day!

 

About the writer: Dr. Mario Lehenbauer-Baum wants to help people to thrive in life. He is a Clinical Psychologist and Health Psychologist as well as a certified Industrial-/Organizational Psychologist, a motivational speaker and coach as well as a researcher. He is a passionate gamer and uses new technologies frequently. His research work combines (Clinical) Psychology/Organizational Psychology and new technology (e.g. online-based social skills trainings) as well as the “side effects” of using new technologies, such as being addicted to the internet, games or smart phones. In his coaching and therapy work he focuses on positive psychology to help people live a better life.