Making Mistakes

On Saturday, I was out to run a quick errand. The white Honda in front of me had slowly crept down the street at 40km/h. Now it was turning right, and so was I. The lane was clear to turn. The Honda started turning and then abruptly stopped. I hit his rear bumper. A gentle bump but still my front license plate scratched his bumper, making repairs necessary. It was my fault for hitting him.

On Tuesday, I got out of my late morning session with a client and found a text and a voice mail from one of my favourite clients who always has a long drive getting to Mississauga. Her text said, “I am here for my appointment, rang doorbell, no answer”. I pulled up the last email I sent to her. It clearly said, “Next appointment, Tuesday, July 4 at 10:00 a.m.”. Yet, I had entered her appointment into my calendar for Wednesday. I screwed up.

I had a week of quite a few things escaping my attention, a week of “screwing up” if you so like. A few important emails also slipped my mind and an important anniversary. A mistake, screw up or failure like the ones I experienced this week is exactly what brings a particular part inside of us to the forefront: our Inner Critic loves to use any mistake or situation of fault as an opportunity to blame and criticize us harshly.

I have been asked in the past, what is the most common limiting belief? As much as we are all individuals and have very individual beliefs which hold us back in life, I would say that the most common beliefs are the ones which make us feel not good enough. At the top of the list is the belief that it is not okay to make mistakes. We learn this early on and our school system often manifests this belief. Our Inner Critic loves to “pounce” on us and really beat us up for past decisions we regret or more recent mistakes that we feel we have made.

mistakes - movie clapper.jpg

What if we could instead see a mistake just as a “missed take”, like in the movies? In most cases, we get another chance for a “Take Two” or even a “Take Three” in life. And in those case where we don’t get another opportunity we really need to let ourselves off the hook, heal the past and forgive ourselves in the process. Any choice we have made in the past was made with the knowledge and wisdom we had at the time. From a place of greater knowledge, we might have made a different decision, yet, we need to be compassionate with that younger self that did not know what we know today.

We are part of the human race, and as humans we don’t always make the strongest choices. We all mess up, miss opportunities or make decisions we regret in retrospect. In fact, we can even take it a step further. It is not “making mistakes” that is often the problem but “not making mistakes”. “If you do not make enough mistakes, that’s evidence that you are not taking enough risks, that you are not growing, that you stay in the comfort of your own safety zone” (Rachel Naomi Remen). Making a mistake can be one of the best things which happen to us because it gives us a feedback. The discomfort we feel when we have made a mistake means that we are more likely to remember what we have learned—unless we allow fear to drive our future choices.

Fear combined with the expectation that the same mistake, rejection or loss will occur again increase the likelihood that we are co-creating that same situation of failure or loss once again. We need to acknowledge the fear and face it. How can we learn from the past without allowing fear to take over our present and future?

What keeps us stuck in a feeling of “unworthiness”, of “being a failure”, is not the mistake but the lack of self-forgiveness and self-compassion. The feeling of “not being good enough” has its foundation in shame. It prevents us from going out and trying again, whether that is going to take another professional risk or healing our losses or relationships. Shame vibrates at a very low level. According to David Hawkins’ scale of consciousness, it’s one of the lowest possible vibrations.

Hawkins Map-of-consciousness

The only way out of that swamp of shame and fear is through self-love and self-acceptance. “There is this place that we all have deep inside us that is untouched by trauma and shame.” (Mark Nepo) There is a deep wisdom inside of us. Our essential self knows that we are perfect and whole, that we are love and light. In meditation or hypnosis, we can experience that place of deep and profound love-ability.

Once we have experienced this, it is easier for us to change our narrative about ourselves. We can change our story from “I am flawed. I am not good enough” to a different inner narrative of “I am human. I make mistakes. And I learned from my past mistakes”. As we change our story, we do not just change our perspective, but we literally change our brain. When we change our story, we change our life.

Often we feel stuck, when we are at a point in our life when our story needs to change. We always have the choice between a victim story or an empowering story. We have the choice to bring up a loving supportive parent voice as opposed to the judgmental voice of our Inner Critic. You are after all not your Inner Critic; that voice is just a part inside of you. Separate from it. We all have the capacity to personify and create a visual image of this part in us. You can even give it a name. Pick a name that is a bit ridiculous to make the separation even clearer and easier.

We want to be able to identify the voice of the Inner Critic. We could communicate with it. Like all parts, it has a purpose. The Inner Critic sees its job in keeping us safe from outside criticism and rejection. You can thank your Inner Critic for how it’s been attempting to help you. You can even find out what that part fears for you. Let it know you appreciate it is trying to protect you from embarrassment.

inner child - little girl

The second step is to bring up a loving parental voice and to connect with our vulnerable inner child that needs to hear and feel support and compassion. If you find it challenging to tell an empowering and self-compassionate story in a given situation, imagine the story someone who loves you tells about you, different from the story you tell yourself. Or imagine what you would say to a friend or a child in a similar situation. The Inner Critic talks to us in a way we would never dream of talking to somebody else, especially not a child. When we speak to others, we know exactly what words are encouraging, uplifting and motivating to do better next time.

Here is an exercise you can do to practice separating from your Inner Critic. Think about a choice you regret, or a moment in which you felt a sense of failure or shame. Imagine sharing this moment with a wise and loving friend. What would that friend say to you? They would most likely first of all show compassion and say something along the lines of “that sounds so difficult” or “I am sorry you had to experience this”. The second thing they might do is empathize and respond with something like, “I know how you feel. We have all experienced something similar.” The third thing they might do is remind you how lovable and amazing you are. They might encourage you not to give up but to try again. You can even write a letter to yourself pretending to be this compassionate, wise and unconditionally loving friend.

Compassion is not so much a trait but an action. I recently came across another interesting suggestion to increase our awareness of being compassionate. Get a pretty glass jar. For each time that you are compassionate with yourself (or others) you place a beautiful stone or colourful marble in the jar. The accumulation of crystals, stones or marbles becomes visual evidence for how compassionate you can be with yourself. When you do something self-critical, you can look at the jar and remember that those compassionate acts are not taken away and that the glass is just waiting for the next colourful token.

Glass Jar 2.JPG

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Angelika, Belief Change Coach & Relationship Coach


The Four Pillars of Relationships

Healthy, loving and empowered relationships sit on four strong pillars: the relationship we have with ourselves, the relationships with others, the relationship between couples and the relationship with our divinity. They affect each other.

For example, how much I love myself affects my other relationships. In each relationship, we are either projecting “I am lovable” or projecting the basic fear “I am not lovable”. Others reflect to us what we think and fear, and most importantly, how much we love ourselves. If we don’t trust others and ourselves, we are not open to receiving love, we are safeguarding our heart. We need to trust, love and respect ourselves to give these things to someone else. We need to feel accepted and heard to truly listen to another person.

Relationships with others—and with our partner specifically—push our buttons, and trigger old wounds and our disowned energies or shadows. They affect each other and also influence how we feel about ourselves. We need to be conscious of the dynamics in those relationships, have clear priorities and be willing to do the relationship work on all four pillars.

The fourth pillar also shapes all our relationships. The Beloved or Divine resides within our heart. It is experienced when we have brought our inner masculine and feminine energies, our inner god and goddess, into divine balance. We feel whole and complete and are able to embody love.


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Within each of those four areas of relationship, we can find another set of pillars. The relationship of a couple for example rests on different pillars or principles, like building a friendship, managing conflicts and creating shared meaning.

Gottman 7principles

To read more about creating shared meaning in our marriage or primary love relationship click here.

Self-Compassion – Luxury or Necessity?

Sarah comes in through the door, I pour her a water and I ask, “How are you?” She replies, “Aww, not that great. I have been feeling really down for the last two weeks. So much has been going on with my family, and at work, too. It all feels futile. I have failed in so many ways. I just can’t handle all these conflicts and problems anymore.”

I don’t usually see clients when they feel good or are at the top of the world. Instead, they normally come back when something has happened and they need to work through a conflict, often both an outer one as well as an inner conflict.

Life throws us these curve balls and the Inner Critic voice we all have loves nothing more than to beat us up in the face of adversity. It pipes up especially loudly when we feel we have made a “mistake” or “failed” in some way. We didn’t get the grade we were aiming for, we are being laid off from a job or are not being hired for a position we have applied to, the person we would like to date rejects us or our marriage is struggling, we are experiencing fertility issues or our teenager is acting out, we have received worrisome health news or are trying to lose weight with little success, and the list goes on and on.

self-compassion 1

The “I’m not good enough in some way” story is almost universal. We all struggle with it at some point in some way. How much we struggle is largely based on the experience we had with our caregivers during childhood. Were they compassionate, empathetic and able to love us unconditionally? Or did we have the experience that we were loved when we were “performing according to certain standards and ideals, and that love was withdrawn or guilt was applied” (Dr. Kelly McGonigal), if we didn’t meet the expectations.

The sad news is that most parents did not know how to raise their children with unconditional love. And we cannot even blame them because what we have not experienced ourselves is hard to pass on to the next generation. Sarah, for example, had an emotionally absent father and a harsh mother, who preferred her younger children and had unrealistic expectations of Sarah as the oldest. No matter how hard Sarah tried to please, she could never win her parent’s attention and full love. When she was 18, she married to get out of this cold home. Unfortunately, that marriage didn’t last, as Sarah naturally brought her childhood issues around love with her into that relationship. She tried to be perfect and to please, but never felt that she was good enough. The failure of the marriage, however, added to her list of regrets and mistakes, which all seemed to prove her unworthiness.

Receiving conditional love as a child is the breeding ground for pathological perfectionism and the feeling that we are never quite enough. The good news is that we can still heal those wounds with self-compassion and the compassion of others.

self-compassion 2

Our feeling of lacking in some way is very old. When we go back and remember moments of self-esteem deflation, we realize how early this started. The qualities and criteria, however, which allow the Inner Critic to collapse our self-esteem, have changed through the different developmental stages and can be quite arbitrary. The Inner Critic will always find something to criticize. Ultimately, that critical voice is the internalized parental or societal voice. It has the power to completely deflate us and affect our mental, emotional and physical state.

Smaller or bigger Inner Critic attacks are not only very common but brain research has shown that self-criticism and self-judgment are the default setting of our brain. When we are not focused on doing something specific, the Inner Critic is running its programs of comparison and categorizing into good and bad. Sadly, most of the time that voice is not all too friendly with us, which has direct effects on our health. “We know that people who are highly self-critical, who are never good enough, are obviously at increased risk for depression. And depression reinforces those feelings.” (Dr. Kelly McGonigal)

Nicola Hermanto, a PhD candidate in Clinical Psychology at McGill University, published a study in 2016 that looked at adults in Canada, England and Portugal and the relationship between self-criticism—so in other words a lack of self-compassion—and depression. This study did not just find a high correlation between those two factors, but they also found that the fear and inability to receive compassion from others contributes to depression. Feeling unworthy of receiving compassion, or being suspicious of other people being kind and caring, increases the link between self-criticism and depression.

Dala Lama

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them humanity cannot survive.
– Dalai Lama

If we all have a default tendency to be self-critical, the one thing that becomes a necessity to counteract that Inner Critic voice is a loving, compassionate Inner Parental voice. Part of that process is the ability and willingness to receive kindness, empathy and loving support from others.

Subconscious belief changes therefore need to address the issue of deserving and receiving, as well as beliefs around making mistakes and embracing failures as part of life, instead of a sign that there is something deeply unworthy and shameful about us.

Once we have changed some subconscious beliefs about our own worthiness, it becomes easier to practice self-compassion or inner compassion. True self-compassion means feeling a “sense of love or self-acceptance or inner acceptance even in the moment of self-esteem collapse” (Dr. Ron Siegel). When we have this sense of okay-ness, or sense of value and worth in the world, we can lovingly re-parent ourselves. With love for ourselves in moments of crisis, we can ask, “What’s good for me in this situation? What is the self-loving thing to do or think right now?”

self-compassion 4a)

Another very powerful piece of work in practicing kindness and gentleness towards ourselves is self-forgiveness. Often the most important work is to forgive ourselves for our past choices and decisions. We don’t need the forgiveness of others nearly as much as we need our own. We can alter our relationship with ourselves by releasing those harsh judgments and self-critical thoughts that keep us imprisoned within that sense of not being valuable, not being good enough. Moment by moment of inner compassion, we are healing our sorrows and wounds and ultimately changing our entire life.

self-compassion 5

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Life Coaching, Belief Changes & Forgiveness Work

Taking Care of Our Vulnerable Feelings and Needs




Easter is my favourite holiday. It is a time for family get-togethers, less commercialized and overloaded with expectations than Christmas, and I truly love the feeling that spring is in the air. I loved Easter when I was a child and even more so when my children were younger and excited about the more and more elaborate Easter Egg treasure hunts I would create for them each year. Easter is one of those occasions when our own Inner Child might come out, no matter how old we are.


Our Inner Child is that vulnerable younger part in us which carries our playfulness, our imagination and creativity, our sensitivity, our fears and needs, and last but not least, the ability to be completely in the present moment. “This child inside of us which never grows up is of the uttermost importance because it carries our psychic fingerprint, the rhythm of our essential being and it’s presence determines the level of intimacy we are able to achieve in our relationships.” (Sidra Stone, The Child Within)

In our development of our personality, our move is towards power. We move away from the vulnerable child as we develop our personality structures, our sub-personalities, that protect us in the world. Some examples for sub-personalities are our Rational Self, our Perfectionist, our Pleaser Self, our Ambitious Self, our Smart Self, our Confident Self, our Intellectual Self, our Aggressive Self and so on. Those sub-personalities make us tough and able to cope. The purpose of this development is to protect the child, make life safe for it, and ensure it is appreciated and loved by other people.


The downside of this development is that without the child, we lose intimacy in personal relationships. “You can have marvelous contacts with people, exciting, exhilarating, intellectual contacts or power contacts but there is something missing; there is always something you are yearning for and you don’t know what it is and that’s the child being a part of things.”(Sidra Stone, The Child Within)

It’s the job of our Aware Ego to be responsible for the Inner Child. The Aware Ego has the job of parenting all the different selves but with the Inner Child, it is particularly important. If the Inner Child is not cared for by the Aware Ego, that child is going to emotionally reach out and bond into another person in our environment: our partner, our friend, or one of our real children. We then expect that other person, our spouse, friend or child to take care of our emotional needs.


With nature awakening, our Inner Children love the opportunity to be outside more. They adore the playfulness of searching for hidden Easter treats. The more you are in touch with your own more vulnerable feelings and needs, your child can come out to be playful and carefree.

Here are some ways of caring for your Inner Child now at Easter and at other times:

  1. Spend Time with Your Inner Child

Visualize the little girl or little boy and feel them. Find out what his or her feelings and needs are. What type of an Easter weekend does he or she want? Does he or she, for example, really want to spend hours on the road to drive to the in-laws to sit inside all weekend and eat, or does he or she want to be outside to connect with nature? How can that need be met in conjunction with your other Easter plans?



  1. Honour Your Fears

Don’t be a slave to your Inner Child’s fears no more than you would let a small child dictate to you what you are doing with your life, but honour the fears which come up and see what you can do to make allowances or lessen them. For example, you are going to meet your girlfriend’s parents for the first time on Easter and you are nervous. What can you request from your girlfriend to make this easier?


  1. Allow Time for Creative Activities

When you engage in creative non-demanding activities, child-like activities, like playing with clay, painting, drawing, or other craft activities, your Inner Child rejoices. It is important those activities are without the goal or aim of producing something marvelous. Also be aware that our Inner Critic likes to come in and criticize child-like activity because they don’t produce anything and are not necessarily of any kind of aesthetic value. The Inner Child part is not production oriented. The adult parts in us are. Now at Easter can you engage in some playful arts and crafts with your kids or by yourself, just for the fun of being creative?


  1. Learn How to Express Hurt

Learning how to take responsibility for hurt feelings and how to communicate the fact that your feelings are hurt helps the child inside. Do you remember the last time your spouse said something that hurt your feelings and you bit your tongue? How could you successfully and productively free of blame express a hurt next time?



  1. Learn What Hurts the Inner Child and Stay out of Toxic Situations

Ask what situations or relationships you are exposing your Inner Child to that are doing damage; and then make a conscious decision whether you want to continue those situations or relationships. There are some situations which are damaging but which—as sophisticated grown-ups—we feel we should be able to manage. That could be toxic work situations or relationships we feel we have to deal with.

For example, each time you go to a celebration or event of your partner’s children and grandchildren, your partner’s ex-wife and the mother of said children is also invited, and your partner doesn’t leave her side but serves on her and flirts with her. The proud grown-up part in you might feel you just need to handle this maturely and be fine. The revengeful part in you might feel it’s best to somehow show your partner how you feel by punishing him. Both parts are trying to protect your vulnerable feelings, but you are still exposing your child to unnecessary hurt and pain.


  1. Enough Food and Rest

Sometimes we forget that having enough food and rest is basic care for that child. We need to make sure we have healthy nutritious and regular meals and get enough sleep at night.



  1. Financial Security

Inner Children feel better when we are able to pay the bills. They don’t like debt and dependency on others. In a situation where a woman is financially totally dependent on a man, her Inner Child is never completely safe because she doesn’t have money of her own. Honour your Inner Child by planning ahead, paying bills on time, and doing what you can do to give yourself some financial security and independence.


  1. Allow for Some Predictability

Inner Children, like real children, like some predictability and schedules. They can be playful and spontaneous but too much unpredictability often frightens them. Make plans for the future and give your Inner Child some predictability.


  1. Treat Yourself

Sometimes Inner Children want particular things. We do not need to go broke over those wants but some physical objects make the Inner Child feel important and good. Does your Inner Child want something special for Easter?



  1. Be Conscious of Your Environment

The Inner Child is often sensitive to how comfortable, cozy and safe the environment feels. Is there something that needs to be changed in your home or office environment? Does your Inner Child right now maybe rejoice in Easter decoration, more plants, pleasing colours or some other elements that adds homeliness?



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How About Love?

Five hundred twenty-five thousand

Six hundred minutes

How do you measure – measure a year?

In daylights – in sunsets

In midnights – in cups of coffee

In inches – in miles

In laughter – in strife

In – five hundred twenty-five thousand

Six hundred minutes

How do you measure

A year in the life

How about love?

(“Seasons Of Love” song from the musical “Rent”)

Love is a topic which occupies all of us. As a society, we are obsessed by it: books, movies, TV series, musicals, Valentine’s Day, talking with your girlfriend, seeing your therapist. Everything revolves around relationships and love. We long for it and we wonder how to “get love”. At the same time, there is hardly any other topic we have learned more myths about.

Science has revealed that love is vital to our existence. Love is a basic survival code for us as humans. Our brain is wired to read and respond to others. Feeling safe and loved by others makes us stronger. We all need the emotional and spiritual nourishment of human relationships. Human comfort is our natural remedy for fear, stress, and doubt. Rejection, abandonment and disconnection are cues for danger that plunge us into anxiety and cause us not just emotional but also physical pain.

“When your mind perceives the experience of love, it causes the brain to secrete neurochemicals, such as dopamine, oxytocin and growth hormone into the blood (…) you are generally healthier and more alive when you are in love (…) fear provokes the release of stress hormones and inflammatory agents such as cytokines into the blood (…)” (Bruce Lipton, The Honeymoon Effect)

Love is not something we “get” or “fall into” when we are lucky or happen to just be cute and lovable. Love is an energy to embrace; it is a consciousness. It doesn’t just happen to us. We are co-creating it based on our core beliefs about ourselves and the world. If we have learned that we are lovable and worthy of experiencing love and joy, it is easier to vibrate at the level of love. Love is an experience but it is an action first and foremost.


Dhebi DeWitz


Dhebi DeWitz

If you are going through life, waiting to feel love when you meet others, you have misunderstood the true essence of love. Love is a discipline; it requires us to personify love and to practice being loving with yourself and others.

In fact, an essential aspect is learning to unconditionally love ourselves. Many of us have been taught to give to others, to love others and to under no circumstances be so vain as to love ourselves. In Bruce Lipton’s workshops, 90% of people fail the muscle test “I love myself”. I can certainly confirm that from my own sessions. “I love and accept myself the way I am” is a belief most of us do not hold in our subconscious mind.

Instead, we hold back on truly loving ourselves until a certain condition is met. “I’ll love myself and my body when I have lost weight”, “I’ll love myself when I have reached my goals”, “I’ll love myself when somebody else truly loves me”. That conditioning completely misunderstands the true nature of love.

We exist as love. Children come into this world open, loving and unguarded, until they learn to protect themselves and guard their heart. Reconnecting with our true essence simply means reopening our heart to love. It means the end of loneliness and separation. Instead it fosters unity with others, with other people, with nature, with the source of life with all there is.


Dhebi De Witz


Dhebi De Witz

Self-Love is as misunderstood a term as love. Self-love isn’t just a verb. Self-Love is beyond taking care of yourself and doing things for yourself. Self-Love is knowing who you are and knowing you are made of love. Love is your original energy, your true essence.

How do you open your heart, you might wonder? How do you start loving yourself and others more? You create love by creating an atmosphere of love in your life. Seeing the beauty in yourself is as necessary as seeing the beauty in others. Your thoughts determine who and what you attract into your world. Allow yourself to see more of the joy and beauty of life that is surrounding you daily. Allow yourself to be at peace with what is, instead of criticizing and focusing on the lack in yourself and others.

You create this love by speaking kindly to the people you meet. You consciously look for the good and the positive in everyone. You tell people why you appreciate them. You listen from your heart to the words that others speak. You give yourself permission to be truly present with them. You build bridges to connect with others. By being loving—by being considerate in your thoughts, your words, and your actions—you are attracting more love into your life.

We are conditioned to believe that happiness and love comes only after we have found our ideal lover. This attitude limits our personal growth. Instead, decide to be truly happy right now, today. And because your sincere joy makes you more attractive, others find you lovable and want to be around you. Soon you begin to feel the joy, the lightness, and the laughter, that comes with love. You realize that love is more than a lover adoring us. Love is an open heart for everybody, including yourself. That kind of love is healing.

There are two basic human emotions. One is fear, the other is love. One cancels out the other. Fear impacts our ability to love. Love, on the other hand, heals all fear and chaos. Love is the solution to disease and pain, whether physical, emotional, mental or spiritual. Love is not just inside all of us. Love is the actual essence we fundamentally are. Therefore we are our own and other people’s healers. “Love is a healer because it undoes the basic problem of separation and also the basic fear of not being loveable. It restores our awareness of our Unconditional Self and our true nature. Love is, I believe, the solution to every problem.” (Robert Holden, Loveability)

Join Dhebi DeWitz and myself for another

FREE webinar on

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

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TOPIC “Love”

E-mail either one of us to receive the link to join us live. You can also send us questions on the topic “Love” prior to Feb. 8.


Watch Dhebi DeWitz beautiful video Love is your true nature

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Have you ever found yourself feeling unappreciated? I have; quite recently, actually. For a couple of weeks, I found myself running programs about how much I do for some people and how little these things are acknowledged or appreciated. I sounded like one of our older female relatives who always complains about how much she does and how nobody ever thanks her. Yikes. That certainly was a rude awakening! I didn’t like that image in the mirror at all

On New Year’s Day, when I was talking to my best friend, who often seems to go through similar lessons as I am, I had an epiphany. The only one who is to blame here is myself. I made the choice to over-function because I perceived others as not functioning sufficiently. I made several things my responsibility that strictly speaking weren’t; and my friend had realized the same for herself. For the holidays, we had put self-care somewhere lower on the list of priorities and not at the top where it belonged.



What is the solution? It is very easy. Stop over-functioning! The house does not need to look like in an Ikea catalogue; making everybody feel happy and loved at Christmas is not your responsibility; and if other people miss their deadlines, remind yourself that they are their deadlines. If somebody takes you completely for granted, walk away.



Instead, make yourself first priority again. Don’t do anything unless you absolutely want to. Give only if you can give without expectations. Treat yourself to more “me time”, to all the things you like to do. Ask, “what makes me happy today?” and then do it.



May 2017 be filled with healthy priorities

and lots of rejuvenating “you time”!


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A Strong Position of Self-Respect

Mary-Ann and Paul are retired and live close to their only son who has three boys under the age of eight. They love to babysit but find that there are expected to drop everything at short notice when her son and daughter-in-law want to go out. “As if they think, we have no life of our own”, Mary-Ann says. She is growing more resentful about this. Lately, she has made some snippy remarks to Grace, her daughter-in-law, hoping she will “get it” but the pattern remains the same. Her resentment and feeling of not being appreciated is beginning to cloud the babysitting and the relationship with her children.

Unless we set clear boundaries in a loving and consistent way, we cannot expect that other people will automatically treat us and our needs with respect. Grace cannot mind-read what Mary-Ann and Paul need. The grandparents have always made themselves available last minute. Mary-Ann will have to say something like, “If you want us to babysit this weekend, please let us know by Wednesday”. Being informed three days prior is her personal boundary. If her daughter-in-law ignores that request, Mary-Ann is free to make other plans and will need to lovingly say “I am sorry, we made other plans because we did not know you needed our help.” She will also need to extend an invitation to interact within her boundaries. “If you want to go out next weekend, we are happy to babysit as long as you let us know by Wednesday.” No apology,  further explanation or justification of that boundary is needed.

Mary-Ann is afraid that if she sets boundaries and says “no”, her son will be upset and her daughter-in-law will find another babysitter. In order to have her needs respected, she will need to be okay with the fact that another babysitter might be called. She will need to trust that she and her husband are valued and appreciated as grandparents and sitters; valued enough for her children to be willing to plan ahead. She will also need to be okay with displeasing her son. Boundaries are not meant to make others happy. Their purpose is a strong position of self-respect which in turn leads to mutual respect.

Setting boundaries is necessary and beneficial at any age. Sometimes the older generation does not hear or respect the needs of the younger generation without clear boundaries. Caroline and Mario have been married for seven years. Their children are 5 and 3 ½ years old. Caroline lost her parents when she was young. When she married Mario, she was excited to become part of a big Italian family.

What she hadn’t bargained on was the dysfunctionality of her new extended family. Despite her in-laws being generally warm and welcoming, there were, from the first moment on, also a lack of boundaries and a continuous level of disrespect for the individual needs of the family members. Everybody shared every private detail about the other family members with each other. Mario grew up used to discussing his decisions with his parents and brothers. They had an opinion about everything.

Mario’s mother is the matriarch of the household and “what she says goes”. She uses manipulation and emotional outbursts to keep everybody in line. Her habit of meddling, prying, and giving unasked advice is being tactless and crossing personal boundaries between adults. Yelling at others and threatening or guilting them into doing something they have decided not to do, are also disrespectful interactions and crosses boundaries. The father is usually quiet but when he has had too much to drink he becomes inappropriate or angry. He then acts very similar to the mother.

Different family members have learned dysfunctional ways of getting around the parent’s dictatorial ways. One of Mario’s sisters is always the poor victim in one way or another; one of Mario’s brothers lies and secretly meets his own needs to avoid arguments and angry outbursts. Those are all understandable choices to walk the path of least resistance. However, nobody can ever take away your self-respect and integrity unless you make the choice to give it to them.

Self Respect 1 Ghandi quote

Caroline and Mario have decided that they want to walk a path of honesty and greater self-respect than his siblings. That required that they set different boundaries with his family together. Mario and Caroline asked to receive a phone call before his parents would just pop over for an unannounced visit. They asked to have alone time on weeknights after they both had an exhausting day at work. They asked to spend part of each holiday with their children alone before going over to the parents’. They are discussing their matters first, making their own decisions before sharing with the extended family. They have learned that they do not need to share every decision with them.

Caroline and Mario have also learned to recognize triangles within the family which are set up to control all the family members. Whenever the mother felt she might not get her will, she would complain to one of the other siblings, who then in turn would take on the role of making the mother happy and get involved by approaching Mario. Mario had to learn to refuse these unhealthy interactions, whether he happened to be the son “fallen out of grace” or the favourite one at any given time. A healthy communication is a direct communication between the people involved. Triangles serve the purpose of pressuring a person into submission and are not a respectful way of interacting.

Initially, setting boundaries was interpreted by Mario’s parents as rejection. Fear came up for them that they would lose Mario’s love. But a surprising thing happened. Mario’s—and in extension Caroline’s—love for the parents grew once they stopped making their decisions based on making the parents happy but based on everybody’s needs, including their own. Instead of out of fear of repercussions, they spend time with Mario’s family out of desire and true love.

Boundaries are not meant to control other people. They are meant to help meet our needs and to respect each other. Boundaries always have two parts. Part one is setting or re-setting the boundaries, part two is extending an invitation to interact within the boundaries. Mario and Caroline had to lovingly re-set the same boundaries several times until the parents accepted them. They had to walk out a few times when emotions tipped over and one or both parents started to yell them down.

Self-Respect 2 Jim DeMaio quote

Each time, they walked out with an invitation to connect the next day, or when a calm, sober and loving talk would be possible. Letting somebody abuse us is hurting them as much as it is hurting us. Underneath the person’s anger is a feeling of helplessness and fear. The disrespectful behaviour comes from the fear of being unloved and rejected. Exercising control through threats, guilt and shame, gives the person the illusion of power and of being respected. They confuse fear with love and respect. True love and respect comes from an interaction which considers everybody’s needs and desires.

A strong position of self-respect opens us up to self-love and loving others, instead of fearing them. Guilt and shame keep people at a low vibration of fear and prevent true love. Mario realized that fearing his parents was not loving them. Instead of feeling ashamed or guilty like he used to so many times when he grew up, he now feels he can pour all his love into his own small family and into his parents. In order for the old dynamic of power and control to change, he had to repeatedly refuse being cast as the “bad, guilty boy” who had done something wrong.

Self-Respect 3

Mature love is strong. It is aware of the dysfunctionality that exists in most families in some way or another, and it is patient and consistent despite the choices others make. Setting boundaries and inviting others to interact within those boundaries helps to get out of and stay out of dysfunction and disrespectful interactions.


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The Perfect Mother

A client said to me this week, “I saw my mother again and suddenly realized that I could just be with her, treat her with compassion, see her as a human being. I really have stopped judging her, and am more able to love her the way she is.”

Isn’t that beautiful? Each time when somebody I am working with is healing a relationship, it touches me deeply in my heart.

Another client of mine wrote a letter of gratitude to her stepmother this week. She hasn’t seen her stepmother or her father in twenty years. Their last encounter was one full of anger, conflict and mutual hurt. The daughter has spent the last two decades blaming the stepmother for everything. Those feelings had bound up her energy in the past, and left her feeling unloved and “broken”. She felt she was victimized by her stepmother, who struggled to raise her stepdaughter with the same affection she had raised her own biological children with.

perfect mother - letter

My client did not write the letter for her stepmother, she wrote it for herself. After doing the inner work, she was able to acknowledge her own feelings, but also everything her stepmom had done or had attempted to do; she was truly able to forgive her for what she didn’t do. Nothing of that needed to be written in the letter. Instead it was a simple letter of thank you to the woman who was in her life for most part of her childhood. She didn’t send the letter off to receive a response, nor for the purpose of changing or influencing her stepmother. She wrote it to clear her own energy of resentment and anger out.

Forgiving and shifting into appreciation and gratitude is always primarily for ourselves, “for-giving” ourselves love and freedom. It is also a huge step towards taking responsibility for our own life. When we finally let go of blaming others, we win the ability to respond differently to past, present and future events in our life. We gain true response-ability.

Why do so many of us struggle for such a long time with forgiving our parents for their imperfections? Why do we insist on blaming them and on feeling that they ruined or affected our lives negatively?

We have idealized images of what our mother (and father) should be like. We might all have slightly different ideas, but the perfect mother somehow should be selfless, she should take care of us, she should always be patient and supportive, she should listen well and encourage us, she should be proud of us and make us proud of her, and so much more: in short she should love us unconditionally. Media images, TV shows, movies and books often perpetuate these ideas of the perfect mother and affect our beliefs of what a “good mother” is like. These images stem from our deepest desires to be truly loved. Yet, they cause us to judge our mother and ourselves as mothers because we naturally fall short of this perfect mother myth at times. They are the source of guilt and shame instead of enjoying the love we do feel.

Perfect Mother -Carpenter quote

Most people, no matter whether they are parents or not, are still learning to love themselves and others unconditionally. The perfect mother images disregard the fact that we always mirror and trigger each other’s issues and challenges. Children trigger their parents and parents trigger their children. That is a good thing. It is an opportunity to grow and do our inner work.

What triggers us in others, what we judge and dislike about them, is really what we dislike in ourselves. As long as we refuse to give ourselves what we would like to receive from others, it is out of our reach. Only when we truly feel we are good enough, do we become just perfectly lovable the way we are. We can feel loved by others, no matter how limited their ability to love unconditionally might be.

Perfect Mother - Desjardins quote

Nobody and nothing can prevent us from truly loving ourselves. It is our job to love ourselves; nobody can do it for us! No amount of love from the outside can penetrate through if we do not take the cape of self-judgment, self-loathing or even self-hatred off.

 John Gray cartoon love-hate

  from “What You Feel You Can Heal” by John Gray

On this Mother’s Day, make the choice to let go of the past. Forgive your mother or stepmother, whether they are alive or dead. What happened in the past is over and does not matter anymore. Realize that it doesn’t mean anything unless you give it a certain meaning. Decide that your mother, stepmother, or mother-in-law for that matter, is just perfect the way she is. Start telling your story differently, with love.

Perfect Mother - Tolstoi quote

Free yourself up to love your parents without expectations or needs. Be willing to love them the way they are. Take the cape off that prevents you from feeling the love of others. Finally give yourself the gift of loving yourself the way you are.


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Every Relationship is a Mirror

Every relationship in our life is a reflection of the relationship we have with ourselves. When we take a closer look, we realize that everybody is a mirror in some way.

One of my favourite philosophers when I was studying philosophy in school was Immanuel Kant. I loved his fabulously clear and simple Categorical Imperative, which guides us on how to treat others: “Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time want that it should become a universal law.”

Yet, why is it so challenging sometimes to treat people like we want to be treated, with loving kindness and understanding? Why do we judge others? Why do other people trigger us?

Kant also said, “Wir sehen die Dinge nicht, wie sie sind, sondern wie wir sind,” which translates into, “We see things not as they are but as we are.”

What we see in other people is how we are. These mirrors show up in several different ways. James Gilliland summarizes the Seven Essene Mirrors as follows:

  1. Somebody reflects for us what we are but might not realize that we are. Children are beautiful mirrors. Ask yourself what you notice in your children. Are they showing you something that you are?
  2. Somebody reflects for us what we judge. We have disowned that particular characteristic and are denying that we could ever be that way. There is a strong emotional charge connected to that particular behaviour or trait. Are you harshly judging others as “selfish”, for example? Is taking care of yourself or your own needs possibly something you never allow yourself to do?
  3. Somebody reflects back to us what we have lost in some way, for example our playfulness.
  4. Somebody reflects to us “our most forgotten love”, which could, for example, be a way of life or a relationship.
  5. Somebody reflects our mother or father to us.
  6. Somebody reflects our greatest challenges or fears to us.
  7. Somebody reflects our self-perception. The other person treats us exactly how we perceive ourselves. For example, if I don’t truly respect myself it will show up by others not respecting me.

People reflect to us what we think and fear, and most importantly, how much we love ourselves.

“When we meet each other we also meet ourselves. This is the Mirror Principle that operates in every one of our relationships. And because we always meet ourselves, we also can observe that in every relationship, and even every interaction—at the most basic level—there are only two things really happening. Either we are extending the basic truth ‘I am lovable’ or projecting the basic fear ‘I am not lovable’” (Robert Holden, Loveability, 126/127)

When we lose sight of the truth that we are lovable just for ourselves, we project that fear onto others. Without that essential feeling of loving ourselves, we cannot live successful relationships. Self-love turns our romantic partnerships into truly fulfilling relationships of loving each other unconditional. Self-love is the basis for parents to love their children without conditions, without endless sacrifice or guilt. Self-love is needed to give to people without neglecting ourselves. Self-love guarantees that we truly give from the heart without ulterior motives.

If you want to learn more about mirrors and our shadow, sign up for Darryl Gurney’s four day SHADOW ENERGETICS WORKSHOP from Sept. 25-28.

No Mothers Out There

No Mothers

The search for Mother has ended.

The story of Abandonment is over.

The too-good-mother has vaporized into the idea that she was.

No mothers are forthwith.

No mothers on order.

No mothers in back pockets, to pull out at eleventh hours, when all seems lost.

No surrogate mothers.

No hand me down mothers.

No wannabe mothers acting out their mother on me.

No mothers except for She who whispers as the wind.

No mothers except for She who walks beneath me.

No mothers except for She who speaks my name without words.

No mothers except for the One that embraces the space that I am.

No mothers out there.

No mothers out there.

~ Maria Mars, copyright 2014


Maria, a very talented friend of mine, wrote this poem. It reminded me that I too used to look for a surrogate mother—until I didn’t anymore. I used to look for that ideal mother in other women my mother’s age. I used to look for her mothering qualities in all my love relationships. Until I realized that the key to wholeness is self-parenting.

The mother is not to be found outside of us in another person. The mother-love is what we open up to. It is always there. We need not earn it or learn it. We need not search for it or find it. We just need to be it and receive it.

Many of us have an inner child which feels scared, lonely, lost or abandoned. Often the only times that we connect with that vulnerable part in us is to criticize or be unloving with that little boy or girl inside. Instead of being supportive, encouraging and unconditionally loving with ourselves we make ourselves feel “not enough” in one way or another.

We can continue in the endless cycle of looking for that love and acceptance outside ourselves in other people, or we can take charge and begin to parent ourselves. We all have wounds to heal; some experiences left smaller wounds, other experiences left bigger ones. There is no wound that cannot be healed through self-love.

When my clients begin their inner child work they are often surprised by how real that little child feels. They might realize that the little one inside is scared or insecure, or feels neglected and is angry for not having been heard. Sometimes the inner child is the part in us which makes us run away from opportunities, or push people away, or act impulsively in some other way. Once we have a clear perception of that voice and realize this is an important part of us, we can embrace it and bring it into the wholeness of our being.

Inner child work is emotional and sometimes surprising; it is always rewarding. Being in touch with your inner child is a huge gift to yourself. What we call the “inner child” is the side of us which allows us to be close and intimate with others.

Being able to check in with the little child part inside to ensure her or his needs are met is the basis for an authentic and fulfilling love relationship. Before we can have a successful relationship with others, we need to establish that relationship with ourselves. When we truly know who we are and what is going on inside we can address what comes up and continuously do our own inner work.

Being aware of your vulnerability in a relationship can mean expressing your feelings and needs calmly, non-confrontationally, lovingly and with the clear expectation that your partner will understand and acknowledge them.

Taking care of our inner child includes taking responsibility for our feelings. Nobody makes us feel a certain way. It also means taking responsibility for our own needs and desires. We need to make sure ourselves that our needs are met, or we need to make clear requests for them to be met by other people.

Embracing all parts of us leads to wholeness. The rewards for doing your inner child work are relationships which arise from an authentic heart space of love, caring and compassion.

Are you ready to connect with your inner child?

Contact Angelika