Alternatives vs. Choices

There is a subtle but significant difference between “alternatives” and “choices”.
An alternative is something that is offered to you – outside of you, the person, they are external to you. Choices, on the other hand, are alternatives that fit in with your internal map of how the world functions (or, in your opinion, how it should function, what fits best to you).

You may be offered many alternatives – or options, but still think or believe that you have no choice. Choice involves actually being able to select from those alternatives, to find the most appropriate one that fits in with your own beliefs, your internal capabilities – your “world”.

In a discussion today, it came up that if there is only one choice that fits for you, then that really is not a choice at all. It is a “given”.
When you have two choices, well that is actually better defined as a dilemma.
Only when you have three choices – or three possibilities that would work for you and your internal beliefs – that is when you are actually able to “choose”.

Even if you are given good alternatives, these are not necessary the choices you have.

How could you broaden your choices, so that you’re not stuck in a dilemma?

How could you evaluate if the alternatives are really choices for you?

Something to ponder the next time you are offered alternatives. Not only when you stand in front of the ice cream vendor, or are trying to decide on a new color of wall paint at the selection counter.


I was reflecting on a presentation I saw today on resilience and how a person best builds it up … The ideas presented were good, yet I still think they overlooked the most basic things that are at the heart of having resilience: trust and faith.

Trust as in:
trust in yourself,
trust in your abilities to bounce back – regardless…,
trust that the universe has your back;
trust that in the end, everything will work out.

To me, resilience means, that although I may not know right now how it will end, I am just sure that I can cope with the outcome. Be that a burned dinner, a botched sales pitch or a broken leg …

Faith: Resilience also means having “faith” to me.
Faith in myself, as well as in the faith I put in trust.

Resilience to me, isn’t overcoming the bad, but knowing that I can handle whatever I set out to do.

Dealing with criticism

We live in a world of freely shared criticism. Because the barriers are down and almost everybody has the means to criticize almost everybody else– at least it seems that way with social media. Yet I do wonder where all these folks that freely exercise their ability to criticize, get the impression that they have the right to criticize anyone that they take their fancy to.

Are we just plain stupid? I mean, those of us that put ourselves “out there” and go public with our ideas and thoughts and opinions? Opening ourselves up for those critics – getting a hard left swing, while we have our cover down?

I think not.

Although it seems like we, the open ones, are vulnerable, I prefer to see “putting myself out there” and expressing my thoughts (or choice of whatever it is) as a show of my strength and my individuality.

Yes, as we say something or do something that is not in line with general public stance at the moment, we could get verbally beat up. Yet we are also being ourselves, the incredibly valuable individual that we are. (I saw this on a T-Shirt somewhere and love this saying: “If I were you, I think I would rather be me.” How is that for not-so-hidden criticism?)

If I mess something up – then, ok, stuff happens. Nobody’s perfect. Tell me in a way that will help me to make myself better the next time – don’t bump me off my tree stump just so you can stand over me, dwelling on your self-righteousness.

Oh, so you know more than me? Well, you and about a billion or so other people on the planet do, I’m sure. Not in everything though – especially not about me. In my life, I am the Chief Experience Holder. And that means my logic or reasoning is a bit different than yours. I could reach different conclusions, see things differently, feel differently about things than you do. That is just another one of those quirks, about me being me and you being you.

There are all kinds of reasons to criticize. It is the easiest thing in the world to do, to find fault with someone else.

So how can you cope with criticism?

Here are some not-so-good coping options:

The iceberg. Go cold. Stop all communications. Do not look at the critic and do not reply or respond. Ever. Again.

The argumentative type. These are the ones that really get down to defending themselves. Even as far as getting very personally demeaning with the critic.

The justifier. These folks can give you a lot of reasons why they did what they did, said what they said, wore what they wore, or even why they danced a walzer to a fox trot beat.

The ridiculer. Put that critic down! Minimize their intelligence, their research ability, their IQ, their EQ! They are total nincompoops! The school they went to and the music they listen to, the car they drive and the dog they have… it is all so, so “ugh”.

Do you waste a lot of words explaining to someone who doesn’t care why you did what you did, or what you do what you do (if they even bother to listen)?

Or do you “roll with the punches”and put on your shiny armor and fake smile and at the next best opportunity slip away to cry in the bathroom?

When criticized, what is your go-to coping mechanism to manage your feelings about the criticism? How do you manage your relationship with the criticizer?

Here come my favorite coping options – and believe me when I say that I have learned these hard way:

Ask – always stop and always ask – yourself: Do I believe this criticism? Is it really true?
The answer will generally be “No”. Because the critic is not in my skin, and their neurons aren’t firing like mine.

Ask again: Can I fix it? Whatever “it” is. If it is in my power to fix “it”, then I just go do that. End-of-story.

Just one more thing: if what you think I said is criticism, then tell me how you feel about it. I sincerely hope that the words that came out of my mouth or (through my fingers) was intended to be loving, constructive feedback, because that is how I want it to be for me. I appreciate to be helped. Because without good feedback, I will not be able to grow (you probably neither – but you are the Chief Experience Holder of your life – so maybe you are different).
This part – about loving, constructive feedback helps me to grow – holds especially true if one of us automatically tends to take on one of those not-so-good coping options mentioned above.

What’s your relationship with “power”?

I’ve been thinking a lot about “power” lately: who has it, who is not using their own, where does it come from, how is it being used … and also about what the different meanings of “power” could be for each individual.

Because I am bilingual, German and English – I am also aware that the word, even though it is used in everyday language here in Germany, could mean something different than what the original, English term, is used for. Here (to clarify: I do live in Germany) it generally is used to describe a person as energetic.
As in “Ich hab’ heut’ richtig Power!” (loose translation here): “I have power today” and the generally accepted meaning for this statement is: “I feel really energetic”.

We all have “power”. Power over <enter who or what here>, power to <enter what or how here>. At the very least, we have power over our thoughts and actions, and we have the power to do or to be.

What meaning does “power” have for you? Where are you using your power? Does power mean energy for you, too?


Silence can lead to better answers

How long can you wait after asking someone a question, before you give the answer yourself? Or before you ask another question – that supposedly clarifies your first question? Can you just sit and wait for the other person to answer your original question?

Sometimes just by asking a following question, that, in itself, changes the original question. I have found that a stance of “friendly curiousity” is my key go-to strategy, when I have asked a question and find myself wanting to rush in with a probable answer to that question, or to offer “support” in how to understand my original question by asking even more questions.

Being curious and attentive helps me to stay quiet (ok – granted – not all the time! But hey, give me some credit,  I am trying to be mindful of this, and trying very hard at that!) because that way, I am really, sincerely, truly interested to find out how my inital question was received.  Who knows what kind of good thoughts could come out of an answer that was allowed to be reflected upon before I hijacked their train of thought until it jumped its tracks.
Imagine what kind of a resulting discussion that could lead to! 

Do you leave the other person time to give you a thoughtful answer? What do you do if you feel like the answer to your question is taking a “long” time? How long is “long” for you? Can you extend that time and just wait it out to see what happens? What answers could come if you just let your question “sit” with the other person for a while?

Do you know it all?

*Quote by Madeline L’Engle

Offering advice instead of asking questions? Jumping to conclusions?
The best questions asked, are those of ourselves.
This has nothing to do with not trusting yourself or your judgement, by-the-way. This has to do with “awareness of yourself” and paying attention to what is really going on inside of you when someone else is speaking.
I have found that the best way to listen, is to simply be curious. Curious about the person that is talking to me, about the words being said, about the story being told, and a little bit about the emotions I sense in my body.
I don’t have to have an answer to any of these things. It is simply sufficient to just be there, in body and mind, with the other person. That makes a much more lasting impact than any solution I could come up with. Because, as we all know: what is real – their reality – is in the “beholder’s eye”. Agree?

It takes courage to be a leader.

To be a leader, someone that others follow, you need 5 things:
1. Clarity about yourself. Do you which values are driving your decisions?
2. Clear language. Are you willing and able to engage in the difficult conversations?
3. Clarity on the “price” of the risks you take. You know the chances and the risks -and you can move forward?
4. The knowledge you have gained from your mistakes. You know you can trust your judgement (and not your emotions?)
5. Your behavior is one of courage. Are you moving out of your comfort zone?

Where are you demonstrating courageousness in your life? In your work? Are you initiating the difficult conversations and helping others as you do so?
Where are you leading?

Neujahrsvorsätze: Frage 5

Heute ist der erste Weihnachtstag! Ich wünsche dir ganz herzlich „Frohe Weihnachten!“

Wir kommen heute zu unserer fünften und damit letzte Frage, und die ist heute ganz im Sinne von Weihnachten und Geschenke. Und dabei meine ich nicht Schmuck, Bücher oder Ringelsöckchen.

Vor einigen Jahren habe ich selbst die Entdeckung gemacht, dass worauf du deine Aufmerksamkeit richtest, davon wirst du mehr bekommen. Einfach weil du, was auch immer es ist, es bewusst wahr nimmst. Bewusste Wahrnehmung, oder Achtsamkeit, ist ein Geschenk den du dir selbst machen kannst.
Ganz besonders wenn du eine Dankbarkeit in dich trägst, wirst du die Geschenke wahrnehmen, die dir das Leben gibt.
Heute möchte ich dich auch um etwas Bitten: sage einfach mal “Danke!” zu dir selbst.

Die Frage für diese Woche – und die letzte Frage in unserer Neujahrvorsätze-Liste für 2018 Challenge:

Wofür bist du dankbar?

Neujahrsvorsätze: Frage 4

Jetzt sind wir schon in der vierten Woche unserer Neujahrvorsätze-Auflisten-Challenge!

Wie geht es dir? Du hast schon einige sehr wichtige Fragen beantwortet! Wie wirst du diesen gewonnenen Erkenntnissen für dich nutzen in 2018?

Wenn du eine Route planst, dann wirst du vermutlich dein Ziel in dein Navi eingeben, oder in Google die Route eingeben, vielleicht noch ganz altmodisch eine Landkarte studieren, oder den Straßenplan zur Hand nehmen.
Doch zuerst wirst du deinen Ausgangspunkt festlegen. Dein Startpunkt, von wo du den Weg zum Ziel verfolgen kannst. Irgendeinen Punkt den du schon kennst, wird dir dabei als Startpunkt helfen können. Das ist ganz wichtig, damit du von dort aus den noch unbekannten Weg antreten kannst.

Die Frage dieser Woche soll dir helfen Klarheit darüber zu finden, wo du gerade stehst – wo Dein Startpunkt ist.

Wo befinde ich mich gerade auf meiner Lebens-Landkarte? Wo ist mein Startpunkt?

Neujahrsvorsätze: Frage 3

Heute kommt die dritte Frage in unserem “Neujahrsvorsätze-Auflisten-Challenge” (ich habe es inzwischen zu einer Challenge gemacht!):

Inzwischen hast du dich damit beschäftigt, mehr Klarheit zu gewinnen über wie du dich im nächsten Jahr fühlen möchtest.
Du hast dir auch Gedanken darüber gemacht, wie du dich selbst wieder auf die richtige Spur bringen kannst, wenn es mal blöd kommt.
Diese Woche wollen wir uns mit einer ganz wichtigen Frage beschäftigten: mit den Menschen die in unserem Leben ein- und ausgehen.
Wenn du schon mal geflogen bist, kennst du die Durchsage die jedes Mal kommt bevor der Flieger abhebt: da spricht der oder die Flugbegleiter/-in und erklärt was zu tun ist, im Falle eines Notfalls. Ganz besonders wichtig dabei, die Passagiere werden angehalten, zuerst die eigene Sauerstoffmaske aufsetzen, bevor er (oder sie) mitreisende Kinder (oder dem schlafenden Sitznachbarn) Hilfe leistet um deren Sauerstoffmaske aufzusetzen.
Hast du dich schon mal gefragt warum das so ist? Ich kann es dir verraten: weil du für dich selbst aufkommen sollst solange du noch dazu in der Lage bist.
Solltest du erst jemand anders helfen wollen, und während dessen ohnmächtig werden, bist du (erstens) nicht mehr in der Lage jemand anderen zu helfen, und (zweitens, was weitaus schlimmer ist), du wärst jetzt eine Last für andere, den andere müssen sich jetzt um dich kümmern.
Darum sollst du, solange du noch in der Lage bist für dich selbst zu sorgen, dich auch zuerst um dich selbst kümmern.
Inzwischen konntest du einiges über dich selbst in Erfahrungen bringen: die Gefühle die du am häufigsten haben möchtest, und wie du dich selbst wieder aufrichtest wenn es mal schief läuft. Jetzt erst können Fragen über die anderen Menschen in deinem Leben kommen.
Die Frage diese Woche lautet:
Welche Menschen sollen mich im kommenden Jahr begleiten? Und wie?
Diese Frage kann auch so verstanden werden: manche Menschen wirst du weniger “an dich dran” lassen, um manche möchtest du dich vielleicht etwas mehr kümmern. Diese Woche willst du über die Menschen in deinem Leben, und den Platz und Raum die sie in deinem Leben einnehmen, sinnieren.