• Vulnerability makes us human

    Vulnerability makes us human

    You know this moment when a song comes up in your music app you wouldn’t have come across? One year ago, I discovered this experimental song by Falling In Reverse. I don’t usually listen to the band, but this lyric immediately stood out to me:

    Your love is not a sin.

    “Coming Home” – Falling In Reverse

    Why does this song touch me so much, I asked myself then. It wasn’t so much because of the actual message of the song, but much more the way it made me feel. The song is about the singer and his daughter and “[his] never being around” (Ronald Radke). He is reaching out to her by assuring her that he will always be there, no matter how far away he is. However, rather than looking at the literal meaning of the song, I am choosing to take a broader approach with my interpretation and look at the lyric in a more global sense:

    In today’s world, many people, if not all of us, are taught that vulnerability and true authenticity is a weakness. Therefore, the majority of us is at war with themselves, unable to accept themselves or parts of their history wholeheartedly. Maybe we went through something traumatic or challenging in our past or childhood that taught us that we weren’t worth it. That there was something off about us, something broken, when in reality there wasn’t. This can leave us feeling anxious and numb, believing we don’t belong. These feelings of inadequacy can not only cause wars inside of ourselves in the form of bad self talk or neglecting of emotional needs, but also lead to wars outside of ourselves, as we can see in the world today. With so much hate in this world, many of us feel lost, unable to find true meaning.

    So we learn to hide ourselves. Over time, we create facades and armors because we are scared to show our true selves to others. Because we haven’t been taught to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, many associate it with weakness or shame. We don’t want to get hurt (again) and learn to “keep a straight face” when it comes to our emotions. In a sense, this may protect us from getting hurt, but it also prevents us from living our true authentic truth. Because vulnerability is actually a sign of courage and part of being human. It helps us to better empathise with the people around us and build deep connections based on trust and mutual understanding (Eugene Therapy).

    If you are experiencing a hard time, going through a loss or strong emotions, know that it’s okay to let it all out, to feel the depth of your emotions. Your emotions are there to help you. So how do we get comfortable with being vulnerable? A book that is very helpful is “Daring Greatly” by professor and vulnerability researcher Brené Brown. In her book, she explains why vulnerability is so important, as it is “the core, the heart, the center of meaningful human experiences“. It may help to work out on your feeling alone first. But if you find yourself still feeling lost or alone, try confide in someone you trust and show them what you need. You don’t have to deal with it all alone. It doen’t matter how many people are close to you, only one person is enough. Whether you like them to hold you, to tell you it will be okay or just to listen to you, let them know. They will understand. Here I have created a list of tips and things that helped me to accept me and my sensitive nature:

    • Journaling (letting go of overthinking)
    • Talking to trusted ones (connection -> “I am not alone”)
    • Learning about yourself (understanding your psyche and reality; finding your deeper meaning with spirituality)
    • Listening to music (emotional release)
    • Breathing techniques (calming stressful thoughts and anxious feelings)
    • Yoga (feeling and listening to your body)

    What’s important is that something might work more for you than something else does. What helped me the most is talking to trusted ones. They gave me advice and new perspectives but most importantly, they understood me. This can be an immense and relieving feeling when you experience it. About the fourth tip: I actually created a playlist with songs for emotional release. It contains music from Sleeping At Last, Keaton Henson and Jonathan Morali. Feel free to have a listen:

    And if anyone around you is going through a rough time too, let them know that you are there for them. Show them that it’s okay to show your feelings by living it out yourself. This world needs more people who wear their heart on their sleeve. It is scary to put yourself out there. Yes, you may get hurt by people, too. But over time you learn that these probably weren’t the people you could flourish around. The right ones will never give you the feeling that you had to change yourself in order to “fit in”. Every time you show how you feel you learn that it doesn’t make you weak.
    It makes you alive.

    My sources:
    – Eugene Therapy. (2021). Why Vulnerability Is A Strength. URL:
    – University Of Minnesota. (2016). Daring to be vulnerable with Brené Brown. URL:

  • My favourite quotes from “The Power Of Now”

    My favourite quotes from “The Power Of Now”

    Today I felt like putting together a quote collection again. This time, it is a book that I have quoted here and there before – “The Power Of Now” by Eckart Tolle. I haven’t yet read the whole book, which is why I will only share my favourite quotes from the first half of the book. Somewhere in the future, hopefully soon – I will do a follow-up entry with the other insightful quotes from the second half. These are the quotes from the first half that called to me so far:

    When it comes to choosing my favourite one of these quotes, it becomes difficult. There are just so many great ones! And these aren’t even all of them!
    Let’s say that I had to tie myself down to three quotes then it would be the first, sixth and seventh one.
    I like the first one because “You have it already” is such a bold position against the idea that one has to find oneself. It’s just not true. I mean, yes, things might happen in our lives that divert us from our natural mental balance, but … in the end, we always come back to who we are at the core. We might change in life through learning and evolving, but we are still who we are, beautiful and hurt, known and unknown, and isn’t that enough? Isn’t it more interesting to be on a journey of getting to know yourself (again) than a journey of finding yourself?

    The reason why I like the sixth quote as well is this one. They say that writing frees the soul, right? When you take a journal and write down what is bothering or worrying you, you take a great step towards understanding yourself. You write down everything that pops up in your head (about a certain event or feeling), letting your mind run free and therefore become free. By doing that you become conscious of your thoughts and can reflect on them. So, when you find yourself surrounded by dark or troubling thoughts again, try using the power of your consciousness. Because that is who you are. Light in its primal form.

    And last but not least: Quote number seven – or I should rather say the two quotes under number seven. The first one/ quote 7.1 (“Observe the mind. Smile at it.”) of them is so simple but not any less genius: Why not smile at your mind every once in a while. It makes things way more lighter and takes a little bit of the familiar sting off. When I read this part in the book, I actually tried to let the mind do its things and oberserved. Sometimes I even commented it and said: “Ah there you go, prefering laziness again”. It can be quite funny to be honest. And when the heaviness is gone, it is then easier to come out of a particular train of thought change things up and i.e. do something that you have postponed for a while.
    Quote number 7.2 (“Die to the past every moment”) is one of these quotes that state the obvious but to which we aren’t always awake to. In every moment we are a different version of ourselves. That is due to our varying thoughts, emotions we have, our behaviour, the circumstances we are under and the roles we play in our lives. We are complex human beings that are everchanging. That is why “dying to the past” can be so fruitful. It shows us humans who we have already been are still to be. We will carry everything that we have experienced with us as a piece within our souls. Because we are one with all things.

    – Tolle, E. (2004). The power of now: A guide to spiritual enlightenment. New World Library. pp. 1 – 92

  • How fears shape our reality – Synopsis on “The Hole”

    How fears shape our reality – Synopsis on “The Hole”

    Today is Halloween – So, I thought this was the perfect day to release my very first movie analysis! This is a movie I saw when I was still quite young, therefore being quite terrified by some elements of it. Now I want to take a look on it psychologically and examine what the fears tell us about each character, how they overcome their fears and what this movie teaches us about fears in general.

    The story

    “The Hole”, directed by Joe Dante, is an US-american thriller movie from 2009.
    Single mother Susan Thompson (Teri Polo) moves with her two sons, the little Lucas (Nathan Gamble) and his older brother Dane (Chris Massoglia), from their hometown Brooklyn, New York to the small town Bensenville, located in the Midwest of America. By that, Susan hopes that they can finally draw a line to the past in which the family was suffering from a violent father who is serving time in prison by now. When they arrive at and get settled in to their new home, Dane is sceptical if he is going to like the seemingly boring small town life, with him being miles away from his friends. However, these doubts soon dissipate when he and Lucas discover a trap door in their basement that secures a seemingly bottomless hole. Together with the pretty neighbor’s daughter Julie (Hayley Bennet) they try to find out, what secret is hidden behind that mysterious floor hatch leading into nothingness. But to their horror they soon learn that other-worldly forces emit from that hole. They come to realize that their innermost fears and unprocessed memories manifest themselves out of the hole – confronting them with their own, hidden human abysses.

    Why a “hole”?

    You might now wonder: Why did they choose a hole as the portal for their fears? Why not simply a dark room or a maze?
    This becomes more obvious when we look at the nature of fears. Fears are rooted deeply in human evolution. In ancient times, they were necessary for survival and defence against enemies. When we experience fear now, we experience the same kind of fight or flight response. Our bodies prepare to either fight the proposed threat or run away. But today we don’t live under the same conditions and don’t have to fear for our life, when we take a test or go to the dentist, for example. The book that Julie is reading in one scene (“The Divide Comedy” – Dante Alighieri) even draws an analogy to the theme of the movie. The cover is explicitly making a reference to the people who go inside the hole: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Hope is something that is based on past conditioning. When we want to accept ourselves, we also need to keep hold of our hope because we might not even know what to hope for. But when we abandon hope, we also abandon fear!
    In that respect, our fears do have one commonality: They all stem from the primal fear of death. Death is something we don’t know much about, yet we all fear it. Many of us fear that death is this endless nothingness, which we fall into after we die. Moreover, the fear of falling is associated with loss of control. So actually, when we are faced with fear, we are actually afraid that it will kill us and that we will have no control over it. On the one hand, this seems obvious. When you encounter a bear in the woods that could possibly injure you, of course you are afraid. This is one of our so called natural fears. On the other hand, there are conditioned fears, which we developed because of negative experiences in our past and our worry of them happening again. These are the kind of fears “The Hole” is about.

    The fears

    The movie ultimately shows different kinds and facets of fear. Therefore, the fears of the characters manifest themselves in different, individual ways. Factors that play a role are age, life experience and general emotional stability.
    Lucas’ character is shown to be a child that is playful and vibrant. His fear is the one that is first introduced to the viewer, even before the hole is found by the two brothers. After they discovered the hole, Lucas is startled by a clown puppet that is sitting on his bed, looking right at him. A few hours after, he is suprised by it in the basement again and flees after the clown tries to go after him. As a young child, this is an understandable fear. I mean, who wouldn’t be afraid of a creepy puppet who looks at you with a devilish grin? But nevertheless, Lucas also shows character development over the movie. Later in the movie, Lucas is lured in the basement. Lucas tries to flee at first, but it doesn’t work this time. The clown jumps on top of Lucas and starts beating him violently. As they are fighting, Lucas has an idea how to outwit the clown and eventually destroys him.
    When it comes to Julie, the viewer is introduced to her as a positive and self-confident person. She is also quite curious which we can see early on in the movie when she comes up to the two brothers in the basement and asks as to what they are spending their time with. She is first caught off-guard when she is out with Dane and went to go to the toilet of the Diner they were staying at. All of a sudden, the lights go out and Julie tries to open the door, which doesn’t seem to work. Then, a little girl steps out of one of the stalls, slowly limping towards Julie. It seems as if Julie is completely paralyzed by what she sees, she doesn’t try to leave or run away. Instead she just looks at the girl, maybe even a little brave in the face of the situation she is in. Julie is also the first of the three who conquers her fear. After she is once more visited by the ghost of the girl in her room, followed by her saying “Save me, Julie”, she realizes something. It is the ghost of Annie, her best friend who died when they were younger. Earlier in the movie she said that she hated funfairs, and that was for a reason. That was the place where her best friend fell to her death many years ago. Now Julie is hell-bent to save her friend, at least spiritually. She runs back to the funfair, Dane following her. She climbs up the side of a rollercoaster where she finds Annie. She is understanding of Julie, but also confronts Julie with her innermost fear. She lets herself fall again, but Julie manages to save her. She admits that she should have saved her and that she couldn’t because she was so afraid. Annie forgives her and then she’s gone.
    Danes fear has been hinted at over the first half of the movie, but he is only confronted with it a little later and more gradually than the other two. It begins with a rocking squashed beer can and a belt next to the hole as well as a large masculine silhouette at Julies pool. These little reminders gather up to the moment when Dane finds a letter on their dining table. It is a letter from his father out of the New Jersey penetentiary he is serving at. The letter contains two simple but triggering words: “Hello boy”. To face his fear, he has to literally ‘step into the hole’ because his father has taken Lucas with him. But he manages to face his fear like Julie was.
    When we look at Lucas, his primal reaction to his fear is flight. This is understandable, he is still a kid, after all.
    Julie and Dane however deal with their fears in the form of repression (Julie) and denial (Dane). They are quite touchy about their wound spots and try to cover them up by changing topics or leaving certain situations. But when they become conscious of their fear, they both face them with bravery. Facing their fears binds them together.

    The reason behind the fears

    Now we know what each character is afraid of. If one has watched the movie attentively, one can also know why they fear what they fear.

    Julie and her trauma of loss

    Julie isn’t simply scared of the sight of her dead best friend, she is scared by the feelings that come with her death. She feels remorse for not being able to help her best friend and these feelings shows up in the manifestation of Annie as well (“You let me fall!”). Annie appears to her as she remembered her in the last moment when she was alive. When Annie’s life was on the line, Julie feared that her friend might not survive, and that something might have happened to her herself if she had tried to help Annie. This is a natural fear. But after her friend had died, Julie felt haunted by her feelings of guilt. Over the years, she learned to suppress them. Now Julie is terrified that the memories of the past will catch up with her and she suffers quietly from her conditioned fear. And yet, she faces her fear death-defyingly. The film doesn’t say whether she has talked to trusted people about the incident or sought professional help, but apparently she has never been able to process it all.

    Dane and Lucas and their trauma of violence

    Dane also never had the chance to process his experience with his violent father. It sits deep in his subconscious and that is why he is faced with it so gradually. Early conversations with his mother and Julie already act as harbingers of his fear, but Dane’s fear itself does not appear until the middle of the film. It begins with the squashed, wobbling can that presumably contained alcohol beforehand. It’s the first hint of his father’s alcohol abuse. Later, it’s the overturned cupboard with the belt and then the huge silhouette of his father when they are in the pool. Like Lucas, Dane feels at the mercy of his fear, even if he doesn’t show or admit it to those around him. In the past, all attempts to protect his brother and himself from his father have failed. Because of this, he felt he couldn’t stand up to his violent father when he was younger. Constantly, the brothers were exposed to beatings and Dane did not know how to protect Lucas. Now, several years later, the family is safe because the father is in prison, but Dane is still plagued by the fear that if the father finds out where they live, it will all be ruined. He is afraid that history will repeat itself.
    So Dane and Julie are very similar in that way. They are both afraid of the past and that it might catch up with them.

    When it comes to Lucas, I didn’t know the reason behind his fear for a long time. It was only a few months ago, when I watched the film again, that I realized how his fear of clowns came about. The grin of the clown puppet is very similar to the mischievous smile of the brothers’ father. When Lucas and Julie had already conquered their fears and Lucas is about to pack his things for a sleepover, the father appears to him in the reflection of the window pane. The resemblance is frightening! So we can say that Lucas’ fear of his father has been transferred to clowns. The father’s smile must have been one thing that has been deeply engrained in Lucas’ memory… Apart from that, he was, like Dane, abused and beaten by his father. The traumatizing effect this had on Lucas can also be seen in his fight with the puppet. Like the real father, the doll throws things at him, plates, glasses, etc. Lucas felt at the mercy of the father in the past, which is shown by the basement door slamming shut just as he is about to escape after the clown first appears to him in the basement. Why isn’t Lucas’ fear shown in the manifestation of the real father? The way I see it, Lucas, unlike Dane, was too young at the time to be consciously aware of all the events with his father. He probably doesn’t remember everything. What his subconscious did process, though, was his father’s smile. It frightened him so much that he now recognized it in clown dolls. Therefore, the aspect that distinguishes his fear from that of the other two is that of the consciousness.

    Fear in the collective context

    There is one charater, which I haven’t talked about yet, and that is Creepy Carl. He is the one who used to live in the house Dane and Lucas live in now. His character has the fear, that all humans, including himself, will be sucked up by darkness. After he discovered the hole years prior to the boys’ arrival, he was obviously faced with that fear and couldn’t handle it. He developed a tremendous “fear of the fear” or “agoraphobia”, as psychology calls it. He is terrified of being in the darkness. In other words, he is afraid that fear will overtake his life. Darkness can have many meanings: As I explained above, the fear of darkness could stand for the fear of death but also of being confronted with ones own shadows or of “the things that one can’t see”. There are many possibilities but the fear of death seems to be the most prominent one. Carl remains to be the only character who doesn’t accomplish to face his fear. He never managed to deal with his ‘bain body’, like Tolle called it: “The pain body can only survive if it gets you to unconsciously identify with it. It can then rise up, take you over, “become you”and live through you.” Nevertheless, he leaves behind one final message on Danes sketch-pad before he succumbs to his fear: He draws how Lucas is taken into the hole by the manifestation of his father lateron in the movie. This being something that happens in the future, makes me think that he could represent some kind of medium that is guiding the way of Julie, Lucas and Dane. Carl’s character emphasizes once more that the fear of death is something that is seated at every human’s core: “The ultimate fear of the ego is to die” (Eckart Tolle).

    What happens when we overcome fear

    Binding together is an important word. There is something that all fears have in common:

    The moment everyone has conquered their fear, you see a change in the object of fear.
    When Julie admits that she is no longer afraid, Annie’s eyes are no longer bloodshot and the expression of pain in her eyes has disappeared as well. Instead, she now gives Julie a warm, compassionate smile and says “Goodbye, Julie.”
    Even when Lucas manages to overcome his fear, nothing more remains of the doll than the costume.
    And finally, the appearance of the father of the two brothers also changes when Dane conquers his fear. In the end, he is seen hanging from the precipice at a normal size, the claw-like hands have given way to normal hands, and even his facial shape is now more realistic and no longer resembles that of a monster. You don’t see intimidation in his facial expression now, only deep fear, which he tried to compensate for in the past by venting his anger on his family.
    So, when each character has faced their fear, the parts that made them think it was something to be afraid of have disappeared: “Anything unconscious dissolves when you shine the light of consciousness on it.” (Eckart Tolle).
    These changes show perfectly in my opinion the psychology of fear cinematically. Because that is what fears are: They are reactions. They are feelings that are entertwined with thoughts and thus make us react to our surroundings in the way our brain has been wired: “I know you’re not this big. It’s just cause I was little.” (Dane)
    So, facing your fear, or ‘stepping into the hole’ means facing your fear and staring it in the face.


    To conclude: I believe that our experience of the world and of life changes greatly when we face our fears. Psychologically, certain thoughts like “This situation/memory is threatening” lead to feelings like fear or panic. And through feelings, the behavior of us humans is influenced (The CBT triangle). That is – If we don’t face our fears, it will always limit us in our ability to engage with new or good things. This is different for each person, because everyone has a different sensitivity to fears and needs more or less effort to face them.
    However, when we manage to face our deep fears, we open up to completely new possibilities that life has to offer us. We acknowledge certain formative experiences as part of our history, but understand that we do not have to be defined by our fears. Only then we will know how strong we really are.
    By dismantling of the old patterns, we open the gate to a happier life and can consciously shape it ourselves.

    – Dante, J. (2009). The Hole [Film].
    The Hole (2009 film) (2009) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: (Accessed: October 31, 2022).
    – Buckley, D. (2022) What is the psychology of Fear?, BetterHelp. BetterHelp. Available at: (Accessed: October 31, 2022).
    – John Mathews, L.C.S.W. (2022) CBT triangle: A map for understanding how to feel better, Virginia Counseling — Midlothian VA and Online. Available at: (Accessed: October 31, 2022).

    Title picture:
    Available at:

  • We know so much and yet so little

    We know so much and yet so little

    This week, I wanted to share this quote by Shakespeare:

    The fool doth think he is wise but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.

    William Shakespeare

    The quote is from Shakespeares famous play “As You Like It”, which I aspire to see in a theater someday. The meaning is pretty self-explanatory, yet I still wanted to write about it because I’d like to look at the quote in the psychological context. I asked myself the question: How are we able to know so much and yet so little?

    What we can know

    There is this myth in psychology, called the “Ten percent of the brain myth”, acoording to which, you guessed it, humans only use 10 % of their brain. It is a myth that has an unclear origin and is widely disproven today. Brain imaging reasearch shows that in fact “the vast majority of the brain does not lie fallow [and …] any sufficiently complex set of activities or thought patterns will indeed use many parts of the brain” (Radford, 2019).
    So, we can say that our limits of knowledge don’t stem from a limitation in brain activity. Much rather, it seems that we can choose what we want to know by the direction of our attention and, depending on the acitvity, using different parts of our brain. We can actively look for knowledge in the world and our brain supports us in that inquiry to tap our full potential. This way we can know things about ourselves (name, appearance, hobbies, friends) and the world.
    But we can not only consciously know things. Every human has a large individual subconscious mind. If we were able to consciously be aware of everything that is happening around us, we would be cognitively overwhelmed. It would be so much stress to be aware of everything and that’s why we have selective attention and the subconscious. It stores information that pass our conscious mind and processes that information a lot faster than our conscious mind does. Psychologist Vera F. Birkenbihl once explained in a visual way that on 11 kilometers that are unconscious come 15 millimeters that are conscious. Some people might then say “That’s how small my consciousness is?” and she always replies with “No, so huge is your subconscious!”. Automatic behaviour, elements of decision-making and complex sequences of actions are all stored in the subconscious. Intuition is something that stems from it as well. Sometimes we might know something which seems impossible to know. But it is actually a product of the complex integration of larger amounts of knowledge. We might not remember where that unconscious intuitive knowledge comes from, but we still know without having to consciously think about it.
    Now we know what we can know consciously and unconsciously. However, there are still limitations to our knowledge. If these don’t stem from a limitation in brain activity, where do they come from?

    What we can’t know

    One limitation of our knowledge is the endless quentities of knowledge there is in todays world. Even if we were able to rewind time, we probably wouldn’t be able to absorb every bit of knowledge there is out there. Because while we are in the middle of understanding a specific topic, new knowledge is continually found and produced. Knowledge is continuous and ever-developing. Not to mention the evolution of the internet which created a whole new type of media to access to a broader variety of knowledge. . In the midst of the age of digitalization, this leads us humans now continuously having to choose between where we want to direct our attention towards. That way, information is filtered and only parts of everything are transfered into our conscious mind.
    A second limitation emerges when we look at the qualities of our memory. There is this one lyric in the song “Mind” by Sleeping At Last which goes: “Memory is historically inaccurate”.
    In fact, there are many factors that can influence the accuracy of memory. One of them is the retention interval. The APA dictionary defines this as “the period between a participant’s exposure to information and being tested for retention of that information” (APA Dictionary). The longer that interval between exposure and testing is, the more the retained information can be forgotten or changed. Experiments on that matter can be interpreted in a way that our brain hasn’t developed to precisely recall every little event but much rather to perceive regularities in the world.
    Our memory is also influenced in terms of premonitions. If we learn something that fits our premonitions, it is remembered significantly better. This lateron led to the implementation of the term “schemes” in psychology which emphasizes the more”reconstructive character” of memories. There are many more factors that can influence the accuracy of our memory, some are listed in chapter 8.3 “Accuracy and Inaccuracy in Memory and Cognition” from the book “Introduction To Psychology”. You can find it in the references.
    In short, our memories aren’t often as accurate as we think and our subjective confidence in the correct remembering of the memories doesn’t always have to be right. Let alone the fact that memories can change over time.


    We might now think that these limitations are a bad thing and start questioning if we can ever really trust ourselves. But what if it is a good thing and much more a protective mechanism of our mind? We don’t need to and simply can’t know everything (“It ruins the mystery if everything is explained” – Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)). But that doesn’t mean we can’t try. Ultimately, we need to recognize the limits of our own knowledge at some point in our lives. We never run out of new things to learn and that’s the beauty of it. We only have one subjective reality we know and can’t read other people’s minds. However, if we let people in to our way of understanding and exchange opinions with openness, there emerge endless possibilities. Possibilities of understanding, trust and even love. Because what are we here for on earth: To learn to live and love every day. Learning and philosophysing is a way of life. You can choose to close the curtains or step right into it and learn something new every day.
    It’s just like in that quote from “Samadhi”: “Most people think that they are free, conscious and awake. But if you believe you are already awake, then why would you do the difficult work to attain what you already have?”. What happens when we apply this quote to our knowledge? If we believe we already know everything, why would we do the work to attain more knowledge? So, if we believe we are already omniscient, we may very well be fools like Shakespeare said. But when we finally acknowledge what we don’t know, that there is and always will be so much to learn, that is where the journey of discovery can begin.

    – Radford, B. (1999). The ten-percent myth. Skeptical Inquirer, 23, 52-53.
    – Psychology Today. 2022. Unconscious. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 18 October 2022].
    – University Of Minnesota. (2010). 8.3 Accuracy and Inaccuracy in Memory and Cognition. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 18 October 2022].
    – Schmidt, D., 2017. Samadhi Movie, 2017 – Part 1 – Maya, The Illusion Of The Self. Available at: <; [Accessed 18 October 2022].

  • Waking Up

    Waking Up

    This week I wanted to build on the last blog entry which was all about climate change. Today it’s a bit shorter one, but not in any way less important. This song by Black Veil Brides embraces the topic of politics in a specific way:

    We, won’t let them turn away
    We’ll show them what they made
    We’ll be here when their heart stops beating
    We the nation of today
    Our hearts that never fade
    We’ll be here when their heart stops beating

    “Wake Up” – Black Veil Brides

    Song analysis

    With the first line being “All we know is time / Is slipping from our lives”, one can see that this song is an anthem to open your eyes to the truth. It has been clear for quite a while that our time on this planet is limited. If we don’t act against climate change and other harmful human influences, it is only going to get worse. However, humans have been in a deep denial of this very fact which can be seen in this line: “A world that kept the truth / Hidden in the lies”. We may try and tell ourselves that we still have enough time and that the human impact on climate change isn’t that big, but it’s just not the truth. The truth has been hidden in the lies, lies that are ever so often told by parts of the government or politicians in general. Us citizens can choose to live more eco-friendly but if the government doesn’t go along with that we only got half of the equation. This protest against the government comes through in the chorus. Citizens have several ways to get the government’s attention. We can demonstrate and we can initiate petitions about what we want to see happen in the world. The last line of the chorus (“We’ll be here when their hearts stop beating”) also reminds me of another phenomenon: Generational gaps in politics.

    The generational gap in politics

    According to a article by the Pew Research Center, there is a wide gap between the views, opinions and beliefs of the older and more recent generations. One of their surveys showed the job approval on four presidents of the United States from four generations: The Silent Generation, the Boomers, Gen X and the Milennials.

    Figure 1: “Generational differences in job approval much wider for both Obama and Trump” (Pew Research Center)

    While more individuals from the Silent Generation and the Boomers (46 and 42 %) approved of Trumps job as U.S. president, only 27 % of the Milennials approved of his job. In contrast, this generation approved significantly more of Obamas job as president with a percentage of 64 %. To summarize it, Milennials and Generation Z for example do have a more liberal and democratic outlook and also increased ethnic and racial diversity. In comparison, the older generations like the Boomers and the Silent Generation represent more conservative positions.

    Generational gaps in climate change awareness?

    How does phenomenon play a role in climate change awareness? While there have been many discussions about this topic, Professor Bobby Duffy makes the following important clarification: “There are many myths about the differences between generations – but none are more destructive than the claim that it’s only the young who care about climate change.” (Duffy, 2022). In fact, there is no real difference in the generations’ views on climate change. While many believe that older generations think changing their behaviour is pointless, the opposite is actually the case. “Parents and grandparents care deeply about the legacy they’re leaving for their children and grandchildren – not just their house or jewellery, but the state of the planet.” (Duffy, 2022).


    What does this tell us? Generational gaps certainly exist in many political topics. Racism and same-sex marriage only being two of them, show, that these gaps can have a great influence on the generations’ political preferences and attitudes. However, times are changing and slow and steady more of the older people are becoming open to more liberal ways of thinking. Generational gaps are also certainly not something to worry about in every political topic. For reference, there being a wider consensus on feelings of climate change responsibility amongst the different generations, is actually a good thing. Because it shows that we are stirring in the right direction mentally. What needs to happen is action. We need to live out what we preach and not wait for other people ‘out there’ to take the first steps. Staring to improve your own environmental footprint is important. Maybe this will help open the eyes of certain people in the government and leave a good example. Whether we are dealing with a generational gap or not, it is best to look past your rather conservative views once in a while and see what other and often times better perspectives there are on a topic. To work in unison, not exlusion.

    – Pew Research Center (2018). The Generation Gap in American politics. Pew Research Center – U.S. Politics & Policy.
    Available at: [Accessed September 18, 2022].
    – King’s College London (2021). Generational divide over climate action a myth, study finds. King’s College London. Available at: [Accessed September 18, 2022].

  • Do you turn a blind eye towards the earth?

    Do you turn a blind eye towards the earth?

    With our earth being at the receiving end of the natural consequences of climate change and many ecosystems being at the point of no return, I want to share another quote by my favourite artist Ryan O’Neal, which is called “Earth”, and write about climate change today:

    But I put it out of my mind / Long enough to call it courage / To live without a lifeline / I bend the definition of faith / To exonerate my blind eye / ‘Til the sirens sound, I’m safe

    “Earth” ( Sleeping At Last)

    Song analysis

    On the one hand, the song “is utilizing the idea of Earth in order to commentate on faith” ( But more importantly, on the other hand the song talks very clearly about us humans actively but also passively destructing our planet. It sheds light on the part we actively play as humans in the development and continuation of climate change. We can see this in the line “We cried ourselves a hurricane”. But it also takes a look at the way we ignore our responsibility, the passivity of our actions. We may sometimes not realize parts of our behaviour as something harmful and that this is damaging the earth. That is expressed in the lines “I bend the definition of faith / To exonerate my blind eye”. We may continue to do things like polluting the environment, etc. and say “This isn’t harmful to the environment” when it is in fact damaging the earth. Even if it doesn’t look like it in the moment, the accumulation of such actions by multiple people in the world has dire consequences in the long run.
    So I think the most important moral of “Earth” is the following: We can deny the part we as humans play in climate change all we want, but it doesn’t change the outcome. Until we admit the part we played and still play in where the world is at right now, global warming will continue to grow, water won’t cease to overflow and pollution will continue to happen.

    Humanity’s role in climate change

    Let’s take a look at the scientific perspective. In an article, NASA shared the distinct statement that “Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal” (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Evidence like carbon dioxide being at an all-time high compared to the last millennias show us that climate change is real and humans play a not inconsiderable role in it. In fact, according to a survey from 2021, which examined a random smaple of 3000 studies from 88,125 climate related studies from 2012 to 2020, human activity is the primal cause for climate change. In an update to a paper from 2012, the assessment from 2021 came to the consensus that “the scientific consensus on human-caused contemporary climate change […] exceeds 99% in the peer reviewed scientific literature” (Lynas et al., 2021). However, there are still many people who are in denial. According to a paper by the Pew Research Center, “only 27% of U.S. adults believe that “almost all” scientists agreed that climate change is due to human activity” (Cornell Chronicle, 2021). But why is that the case? Why are most people not acting?
    To answer this question, let’s take a look at the psychology behind anthropogenic climate change: Milfont et al. mentioned the key term “environmental numbness” in their paper “Global warming, climate change and human psychology”. This means that humans, while being able to think about climate change, choose not to do so. Along with that there are also several psychological mechanisms that can create barriers to the awareness of climate change. What they all have in common is that they create a form of “psychological distance”, meaning that our emotional involvement changes depending on how close we are to a perceived event. Looking at the term from an environmental perceptive, we can say that countries thay lay closer to a specific issue in proximity tend to have a higher emotional involvement and place a higher level of importance on it than countries that are farther away in proximity. They simply don’t exceed the “threshold of discernability” (Milfont et al., 2010). According to the 2010 paper “climate change has weak physical signs [psychophysiological barriers] […], so is perceived to be less likely to occur [judgemental barriers], takes place farther into the future (temporal distance), and is perceived to be more likely in more remote locations (spatial distance) and to people less like oneself (social distance)” (Milfont et al. 2010). The following figure shows the barrier of social distance.

    Apart from the scientific perspective, there is also the spiritual perspective to this topic which comes from Eckart Tolle: Many people in today’s world are unhappy with their lives and this may result in them projecting their unhappiness outward. “The pollution of the planet is only an outward reflection of an inner psychic pollution” (Tolle, “The Power Of Now”, 1999).
    Whether psychological or spiritual, all these factors can have an important impact on how humans can deny climate change and their responsibility in it. The consequences are only generally known.

    Where is the world at right now?

    When it comes to the evidence of rapid climate change, there is aplenty. Firstly, global temperature and the sea levels are rising. Milfont et al. state that “Global mean temperature has risen approximately 0.76° Celsius [about 2 degress Fahrenheit] since 1850” and that “sea level is projected to rise by about 0.5m by 2100”. Moreover, the artic sea ice is declining and extreme events are increasing in frequency (NASA). It is obvious that these changes in in climate aren’t just a change in weather, we can see that in the daily news. But not just in the daily news: This april I was walking across a beautiful meadow with daisies and dandelions and fast forward to this July it beared more resemblance to a veld than a blooming oasis. On the contrary, I haven’t experienced a winter with much snow for more than a decade. Ten years ago there was this winter where there was so much snow that you could build an igloo in the back of your house! These days seem long gone now. We need to notice these events to consciously become aware of the changes our world is facing and to aquire knowledge how to live more ecoconscious.

    What you can do

    So, what can you do to live a more ecoconscious life? Firstly, walk through your world with open eyes. Don’t switch channels when the news come on and climate news are broadcasted. Listen and talk to people about it. What you can do as well is donate. The Clean Air Task Force, the World Wildlife Foundation or Green Peace are three examples of organisations you can donate to in order to help fight climate change. And lastly, you can actively change your lifestyle. With that, I don’t mean you need to become a minimalist or turn into a vegan overnight. What I mean is that you try and find your individual way to become more ecoconscious. Start with, for example, taking a jute bag with you every time you go shopping for new clothes or start saving energy by switching off the lights before you leave a room. Here is a compiled set of advice where you can see what works for you. Do you turn a blind eye towards the earth?

    Thank you very much for reading this entry. Feel free to share this entry with relatives, friends and/or coworkers!

    Title picture:
    “Betrayal” (Mario Sanchez)

    – NASA (2022). Climate Change Evidence: How Do We Know?. [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 11 September 2022].
    – Lynas, M., Houlton, B. and Perry, S., 2021. Greater than 99% consensus on human caused climate change in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Environmental Research Letters, 16(11), p.114005.0

    – Ramanujan, K., 2022. More than 99.9% of studies agree: Humans caused climate change | Cornell Chronicle. [online] Cornell Chronicle. Available at: <> [Accessed 11 September 2022].

    – Milfont, T. L. (2010). Global warming, climate change and human psychology. Psychological approaches to sustainability: Current trends in theory, research and practice19, 42.
    – Tolle, E. (2004). The power of now: A guide to spiritual enlightenment. New World Library.
    – Jordan, K., 2022. Green Living: 10 Easy Ways to be More Eco-friendly. [online] The Wholesome Witch. Available at: <; [Accessed 11 September 2022].

  • Childhood abuse and social anxiety – “The Problem With Forever”

    Childhood abuse and social anxiety – “The Problem With Forever”

    Last week I shared my favourite quotes from “The Problem With Forever”. So today I want to take a closer look at one of the quotes at the very end as well as look at the impact childhood abuse can have on one’s mental health, in this case, social anxiety.
    Let’s first take a look at the statistics of child abuse:

    Childhood abuse statistics

    According to the American Psychological Association, child abuse is harm caused to a child by a parent or caregiver. “This harm may be physical (violence), sexual (violation or exploitation), psychological (causing emotional distress), or neglect (failure to provide needed care)” (APA, 2022). When a child is abused they experience so called “adverse childhood experiences” (ACEs). In a widely popular study Dr. Vince Felitti and Dr. Bob Anda asked 13,494 adults about their exposure to adverse childhood experiences. The categories they studied were physical, emotional or sexual abuse, physical or emotional neglect as well as parental mental illness, substance abuse, incarceration, parental separation or divorce and domestic violence. After collecting the participants’ responses, the researchers correrlated each individual ACE-score with measures of adult risk behavior, health status, and disease. The results were striking:
    “More than half of the population (67 %) reported at least one, and one-fourth reported ≥2 categories of childhood exposures.” (Felitti et al., 1998). What they found as well is that there was an interaction between the ACE-score and health outcomes, which means, the higher the ACE-score, the worser the health outcomes. The fatal consequences do not only include PTSD, higher risks of depression or suicidality, but also severe physical hazards: “A person with an ACE-score of seven or more had triple the lifetime risk of lung cancer and 3,5 times the risk of ischemic heart disease” (Nadine Burke Harris, 2015). This is due to the fact that these adverse childhood experiences have a tremendous effect on the human brain and body. Areas like the nucleus accumbens (the reward center of our brain) or the prefrontal cortex (responsible for executive functioning) can be severely inhibited. Researchers even found measurable differences in the amygdala, the brain’s fear response system. These changes in the human brain can explain how physical diseases as well as mental disorders can develop in children who have experienced child abuse. One type of anxiety that can develop is social anxiety.

    Social anxiety

    The ICD-11 defines social anxiety disorder as a “marked and excessive fear or anxiety that consistently occurs in one or more social situations such as social interactions […], doing something while feeling observed […], or performing in front of others […]” (ICD 11, 2022). Very often, this disorder is mistaken for shyness. But people who have social anxiety aren’t shy in the traditional sense; they are afraid of being judged by others. These people suffer from intense fear and anxiety when it comes to social interactions and the possible judgement by others. Symptoms, which vary from person to person, may include worry about being judged by others, worry about embarrassing oneself, avoidance of common social situations, anxiety in anticipation of a feared event or expectation of the worst possible outcome from a negative experience (Mayo Clinic, 2022). Those affected may also have a low sense of self-esteem and suffer from dysfunctional thoughts, i.e. “I am dumb and awkward and others will notice it right away”. In terms of causes, there are many possibilities on how a person can develop social anxiety. Anxiety may run in the family or the person concerned has an hyperactive amygdala, which leads to a heightened fear in social situations. However, like mentioned above, social anxiety can also be developed through negative experiences, childhood abuse being one of them.
    This can be seen in Mallorys story: She has experienced severe abuse and emotional neglect through her former foster parents, especially Mr. Henry and his aggressive behaviour. This has left a deep mark on her. Because of her past trauma, she has learned to stay silent and keep out of the way of other people. The reader gets to know Mallory as a rather quiet person who doesn’t talk a lot. Under the surface, she is afraid of being judged by others since she has never learned how to speak her opinion and speak up for herself. Because she hasn’t known what it is like to be free of the fear, she worries that she will feel like this forever and never leave her past behind. But thanks to her friend Rider, who has many times taken the physical abuse for Mallory in the past from their foster parents, Mallory now learns that she can face her fears and love herself as she is. They understand each other so well because they have went through the worst together and now both suffer from PTSD. They both deal with it differently but share a deep connection because of it. As their bond deepens after they see each other again, Rider tells her that even though she is quiet, this doesn’t take away from her great personality. It is something that she can work at. Receiving the support from Rider, her now loving foster parents and her best friend Ainsley, Mallory comes to a final conclusion at the end of the novel.

    All I needed to remember when I felt like not trying is that that feeling wouldn’t last forever”

    “The Problem With Forever” (Jennifer L. Armentrout)

    This quote shows to me that no matter how strong your fear is, it doesn’t have to define you. Even if you have gone through a difficult past or an event where you have been abused or treated badly, you aren’t broken. It may have partly gotten you to where you are today, but it doesn’t define or control you. I can only imagine how hard it is to deal with it, but by taking the first step to becoming aware of it, you have already won. I remember watching the two short films “Removed” and “Remember My Story” a few years ago which also tell the story of a girl who has grown up in an abusive home. The films show in a raw and honest way how the little girl tries to find her place in the world who took more from her than it gave. At the end of the second film, her foster mother gives her an important advice: “Right in the middle of all that spinning, you can let that tornado rip apart your heart or you choose how you let what has happened to you affect you.” (Remember My Story, 2015). Your individual tornado might look invincible to you, but you can learn how to survive in it. No one can decide what your future looks like or who you become. Only you can. It is okay to feel lost and confused about the past and have fear of the future. But there is absolutely no shame in asking for help. Therapy will teach you not only acceptance of yourself, but most importantly give you the tools how to work through your individual fears and make the most out of your life. To say it with the words of my favourite artist: “Fear won’t go away, but I can keep it at bay” (“Six” – Sleeping At Last); you can’t erase the past and the fear asociated with it, but you can use what has happened to you and transform it into something beautiful. For likeminded people, but most importantly, for yourself.

    Title picture:
    Delevingne, C., 2021. Art Illustration Art Social Anxiety Disorder. [online] Illustration of Many Recent Choices. URL:

    – APA Dictionary of Psychology. (2022). Retrieved 3 September 2022, from
    – Felitti, V. J., Anda, R. F., Nordenberg, D., Williamson, D. F., Spitz, A. M., Edwards, V., & Marks, J. S. (1998). Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. American journal of preventive medicine, 14(4), 245-258.
    – ICD-11 criteria for Social anxiety disorder 6B04. (2022). Retrieved 3 September 2022, from
    – Burke Harris, N. (2015). How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime [Video]. Retrieved from
    – Armentrout, J. (2016). The problem with forever. Some screts go to deep for words. Harlequinn Teen
    – Matanick, N., & Matanick, C. (2015). Remember My Story [Video]. Retrieved from

  • My favourite quotes from “The Problem With Forever”

    My favourite quotes from “The Problem With Forever”

    I am a person that likes to plan ahead. Next week I want to write about a quote from “The Problem With Forever” by Jennifer L. Armentrout and take a look at performance anxiety. So I thought: Why not share a few of my favourite quotes from the book as a preface today? Because of that, today’s post is a little bit shorter than usual, but I think the quotes speak for themselves. Every book that pictures mental health issues, sexuality or just every day topics in a real and authentic way, will be one that I keep very close in my heart. This one is definitely one of them. When I look at the German title for Armentrout’s book (“Tomorrow I’ll love you forever”), I much prefer the English title because it doesn’t give the image that it is “all about the love story”. I mean, it’s a pretty important part of the story and it is what makes Mallory grow in many ways, but it isn’t all about that. Her inner journey was even more beautiful.
    So there they are, my twelve favourite quotes! The ones highlighted in pink were the ones that stood out the most to me and are also the parts that were the most important to me when the quote was a bit longer. Let’s take a look at them and I’ll elaborate a bit.

    Actually, there is one more quote I wrote down in my little quote book back then, but forgot to highlight it. I couldn’t find the page now but the quote goes: “We’ve been separated. But we had never really been apart.” I love this one very much, but my favourite of all thirteen quotes is the one where Mallory is holding Rider. “Then it was me who put Rider back together.” For me, it resembles perfectly the reciprocity of true love. Mallory had grown through her time with Rider and now she helped him with the feelings he was hurting about. It shows how strong love can make you and also how vulnerable it allows you to be in front of another person who understands you like nobody else. The quote reminded me of the quote by Rainer Maria Rilke going something like “That’s what love is about. That two lonely people protect each other and talk with each other.”
    There is another reason this book means so much to me. I read it at a time in high school when I was also going through fears of my own. Throughout the book, I was able to empathize with her story. The way her thoughts were always there, willing to be said, but struggling to be spoken out loud. Little by little, Mallory trusted herself more and more and lived through her fears. Every time she took a leap of faith I was rooting for and genuinely feeling happy for her. It was important for me to see that the story of Mallory isn’t just a fictional story, but actually happens to children in foster care as we speak. The fears I had were fears that other people had too and I wasn’t alone. Maybe I didn’t share the background of Mallory, but I sure did know the feeling of being “lost” in one’s head. What I learned is that Mallory wasn’t lost or stuck in any way. She was so used to identifying with her thoughts and fears that she didn’t know what freedom it brought to be free of them. This book must mean the world to people who have gone through a difficult childhood like Mallory has. I can only give you the strong recommendation to read it, if you haven’t already.

    Title picture:
    From the book trailer for “The Problem With Forever”

    My sources:
    – Armentrout, J. (2016). The problem with forever. Some screts go to deep for words. Harlequinn Teen, pp.286 – 474.

  • Leaning into fear

    Leaning into fear

    Today’s quote ties in nicely with Murakamis quote from this Wednesday: My favourite singer Ryan O’Neal from Sleeping At Last also has a song about the fear of being hurt, called “Pluto”.

    I woke up from the same dream / Falling backwards, falling backwards /Till it turned me inside out / Now I live a waking life / Of looking backwards, looking backwards /A model citizen of doubt

    “Pluto” (Sleeping At Last)

    In a literal sense, the song is about the ruler of the underworld, Pluto (or Hades) whose job it is to look into the past and decide if a person deserves to be in heaven or hell. Pluto is yearing to escape this circle of life and change his ways (“One day I had enough”). That however would lead to a huge and possibly devastating impact to the rest of the world.

    What I want to do today is look at the psychological theme of fear that is woven into the song. As I mentioned above, the song is about the fear of getting hurt. In the first verse, the speaker seems to wake up from a reoccurring nightmare in which he had to face his fears that also worry him in his day to day life. After waking up, he acknowledges that he has been “a model citizen of doubt”, a person who has been worried for almost all his life. He has now taken the first step to bettering his situation, accepting that he is afraid. Even though the line before says “looking backwards”, I think the speaker isn’t only afraid of the past but also of the future. He is crippled by the anxiety of where he might be in the future and he worries that fear could hold him back. I don’t think there exists one person out there who’s never been afraid of their past, the future, world pain, war etc. in their life.

    “One day I had enough / Of this exercise of trust / I leaned in and let it hurt / Let my body feel the dirt / When I break pattern, I break ground / I rebuild when I break down / I wake up more awake than I’ve ever been before”

    “Pluto” (Sleeping At Last)

    Now begins the chorus. Here is where the speaker is making a decision: He doesn’t want to be held down by fear anymore. Instead, he now wants to lean in to the fear and look at what’s coming with a fresh perspective. He lets himself feel what he is afraid of. “Breaking ground”, which usually means “breaking up land” in a literal sense, can been seen here as an analogy for a new beginning in the speaker’s life. I wouldn’t say that this new beginning means that he has “overcome” his fear. In a sense he has, but this word has this meaning to it as if the fear was gone completely after that. But since it is a constant in our lives, a constant companion, I prefer to use the word “integrated”. By integrating fear and letting go of our resistance to it, we now know that it can be a valuable teacher on our life path, given that we let it of course.

    So show me where my armor ends / Show me where my skin begins / Like a final puzzle piece / It all makes perfect sense to me / The heaviness that I hold in my heart belongs to gravity

    “Pluto” (Sleeping At Last)

    After the speaker has decided to conquer his fear, he now looks for a way to do it, to let his guard (his armor) down. Looking for guidance, he seeks for someone that can show him the way. This can be any kind of god, but also a realtive or a friend in his life. When we as humans talk about our fear to other people, we begin to understand that they have the same fears too. Sometimes we may wonder that we are still dealing with these major, sometimes existantial, fears after so many years of human development. Psychologists call this the “evolutional mismatch”. In other words: We live in the modern world but our brains are still “stuck” in the stone age. Glenn Geher, a professor of evolutionary psychology at the State University of New York, phrases it this way: “Our brains are wired for certain conditions, but our surroundings no longer match those conditions”. So, when the speaker says: “The heaviness in my heart belongs to gravity”, he understands that this fear of his is something that everyone else has to deal with too and accepts that is simply part of being human. When we accept our primative fears, we can face them. “In recognizing this gravity as both a heaviness and protection, the speaker seemingly comes to peace with it and trust the feeling” (

    How can we conquer these primative fears of ours? One way is to aquire knowledge about fears. When you know where your fear stems from and how it can be triggered, it can quickly look less scary to you and you gather courage to face it. Eckart Tolle for example showed in his book “The Power Of Now” that fear cannot survive in the Now. He speaks about a phenomenon called “psychological fear”. This is fear “is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now”. So when we are worrying in the future, our body is still in the here and now, but our mind is compulsively projecting into the future which creates a so called anxiety gap. When we realize that both the past and the future are illusions, we can practice to become more present in the now. To conclude: Realization is the first step, then comes the training. If you need any help with fear, try talking to someone about it and maybe you can work at some of your fears together. You can also get help from a therapist who can give you a hand and helpful research proven techniques that can help you on your individual yourney. One helpful treatment is the acceptance and commitment therapy. This is a form of cognitive behaviour therapy which “helps clients to abandon […] restrictive strategies and instead experience and accept their difficult thoughts […] and feelings as a necessary part of a worthy life” (APA Dictionary). In a second step the patient now learns to apply new ways of thinking and behaviour that can help when challenges present themselves again. Of course, this therapy has to be spoken through with your therapist. If you struggle to deal with something alone, please know that there is no shame in asking for help. Thank you for reading!

    My sources:
    – Abramson, A. (2020). Our Brains Are Stuck in the Stone Age. Retrieved 21 August 2022, from
    – Tolle, E. (2004). The power of now: A guide to spiritual enlightenment. New World Library.
    – APA Dictionary of Psychology. (2022). Retrieved 21 August 2022, from

  • The storm is you

    The storm is you

    Today I wanted to take a closer look at the famous quote by Haruki Murakami from his novel “Kafka on the shore”. This quote can teach us a lot about how the things we go through actually happen for us, not against us, and how we can use fate as an anchor to go through difficulties in life. Let’s look at the first chunk of the quote:

    Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

    Haruki Murakami (“Kafka On the Shore”)

    So at this part in the novel, a boy named Crow, symbolising a wiser version of Kafka, makes the analogy that fate is in fact like a sandstorm. Although Kafka is leaving home, to escape his fate that has been imposed on him by his father, he can’t run away forever. Eventually, his fate will catch up to him ultimately leading to him having to confront his fate, or really himself, and embrace what is inside him. Himself is exactly the part which one should make an emphasis on, because in reality, every time you run away from fate, you run away from yourself. Whatever you do, you will always be reminded of what you need to do or where you need to go. In my opinion, that’s how the universe works. Everything you send out in the world, whether good or bad, ultimately comes back to you. Just like a boomerang. Andy Weir wrote about this too in his shory story “The Egg”: “Every time you victimized someone, […] you victimized yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself.” We may not know right away where we are going or what we are doing (“There is no sun, […] no direction”), we only feel that this storm the thing we need to go through to grow or move forward in life. Now we see what the storm is trying to tell us:

    And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

    Haruki Murakami (“Kafka On the Shore”)

    No matter how long it takes us to realize what we need to do, we will have to make it through the storm to emerge on the other side of it. “The only way out is in” (Junot Díaz), right? We may get hurt along the way, we may hurt other people, but that’s not because the storm is cruel by nature or because you have done something wrong. Pain is an essential part of life. Of course it isn’t pleasant to go through a loss, abuse, failure, an injury or letting someone down. It is human nature that we want to avoid pain. We afraid of it, afraid of being crushed, of being stuck in it forever. If you look back at your life, have you ever not been afraid of being hurt? But this avoidance can very well lead to down the wrong road. When there is no pain, does one really live? The movie “The Spectacular Now” tackles this topic in a great way: Because at the end, the protagonist Sutter Keely comes to a profound realization: “I screwed up. Not only did I shut out the pain, I shut out everything. The good and the bad; until there was nothing” (The Spectacular Now, 2013). Maybe we have to go through this numbness first, to realize what we are missing out on in our “shoving away of pain”. It is only when we get tired of our own fear of pain, that we begin to allow it in.

    And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.

    Haruki Murakami (“Kafka On the Shore”)

    So, what happens, after one has given in to the storm? If you allow yourself to be hurt, it can teach you what you don’t want in life and also grow you as a person. You realize that pain is part of life. Just like Sleeping At Last said in his song “Pluto”: “The heaviness that I hold in my heart belongs to gravity”. On the one hand, you turn your back on intentional hurtful behaviour like abuse or mischief and maybe even have the courage to stand up for it. On the other hand, you embrace pain in a new way. You don’t sugarcoat it as much, instead, you are a more honest person who is grown and emotionally mature. You may think you’re hurting other people with the truth, but I can tell you that these people will be thankful for you later. Being honest doesn’t make you cruel. Because what you told them is what they needed to hear. Unlike before that “journey” of yours, you also now have the strength to allow the pain that is useful to you and which one cannot avoid, like loss for example. It’s what we are here for in this life, right? To grow as a person. This storm, and most assuredly some more in your life, teach you to embrace the uncomfortable truth instead of a pleasant lie. Think of that one cartoon where there is a way longer queue in front of the “comforting lies” stand than in front of the “unpleasant truths” one. Be bold and be the one person who goes to the “unpleasant truths” stand. Accepting pain in life sounds awful at first, but when you look around at all of the people around you and listen to what they have lived through, you realize that you’re not alone. This can bring people closer together. What’s important for you most of all, is that you don’t compare your journey to someone else’s. Every journey is different. It may take you longer than others, but that’s okay. In the end, it seems that the only way to conquer this fear of change or being hurt in life is to live with it, to go through it. To stare it in the face.

    Title picture:
    From episode 5 of the video game “Life Is Strange”

    My sources:
    – Murakami, H., (2002) A quote from Kafka on the Shore. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17 August 2022].
    – Weir, A. (2013). The Egg – by Andy Weir – Paul Lowe. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17 August 2022].
    The Spectacular Now. (2013) [DVD] Directed by J. Ponsoldt. Athens, Georgia.

  • My favourite quotes from “Before I Die”

    My favourite quotes from “Before I Die”

    Why not do something a little bit different once in a while? When I read a book, I usually like to mark or underline my favourite, most profound and heartfelt quotes. Today I would like to share a collection of these quotes from the novel “Before I Die” (Jenny Downham) and my thoughts on them. The ones in blue are about life in general and the pink ones are about love. These are the ones I selected:

    I love these kind of stories which aren’t just sad “just because”, but also show significant parts of human life. Confronting the topics that many people would rather ignore or not talk about is one of the courageous choices an author or anyone at all can make. There is this quote I saw in a video essay on “The Lovely Bones” which describes the book in a very fitting way: “It reflects a moving passionate interest in and love for ordinary life at its most wonderful, and most awful, even at its most mundane” (Quality Culture). Both Downham and Sebold have the ability to give beautiful meaning to even the simplest of moments or events. Even though the protagonist Susie Salmon in Alice Sebolds book is murdered and the story evokes a different kind of dread and unease in the reader, both books are great at capturing life and death as well as their intersections. They both show how wonderful life can be by also confronting what it’s really like to die. When you read them, you of course feel sad about what happens (it’s inevitable :D), but you also develop a deep sense of gratitude; gratitude for your existence and that you get to live this intricate and also wonderful life.
    I think my favourite quote definitely is the eigth one: “There are signs everywhere. Some you make, some come to you”. It shows to me that we aren’t alone as we think we are. Apart from what humans are now able to discover in science, I also like to believe that the universe is responding to the energy we are putting out. When we have doubts, there come signs our way, that show us what could be possible or what we need to see. That can be a particular song on the radio, a slogan on someone’s shirt or an advice of someone close to you that touches you at the exact right moment.
    That’s all for today. Let me know what was your favourite quote! You can also share one from another book which also has a similar topic. Thank you for reading!

    This is the movie adaptation to the book, starring Dakota Fanning and Jeremy Irvine: “Now Is Good” (2012).

    My sources:
    – Quality Culture. (2020). The Lovely Bones Is Scarier Than We Remember | Video Essay. Available at: <> [Accessed 13 August 2022].
    – Downham, J. (2007). Before I die. New York: Random House/Listening Library, pp.169 – 344.