• Catharina van de Kreke - Freens

Make The Shift

Are you feeling stuck? Stuck as in not liking where you are in terms of your current reality and future outlook?! That sucks, and please know that you are not alone. Most of us find ourselves stuck at some point in our life, and rather than stepping into blame, self-doubt, ignoring or fake positivity, I encourage you to acknowledge and reflect on what is going on.

Let me state the obvious first. We all have been under the influence of our context from the day we were born. We have been shaped by the norms, opinions and messages from our parents, other family members, friends, teachers and society about who we should be, who we should not be, how to behave, how not to behave, what to do, what not to do, who to become, and who not to become. Many of these norms, opinions and messages are confusing, conflicting or overwhelming, making us walk around in circles, wondering what to do with ourselves and our lives, relationships and career.


For example, we were told to be disciplined, to make sacrifices, to work hard so we could provide for ourselves and our families, and now we are also being told take better care of ourselves, to put our health and family first before our work, to take breaks, even a power nap, to take risks and pursue our dreams, but how do we that if we still want to provide our families with the safety and security that we want to give them?


We were once told to count calories and do a lot of cardio because every pound would go through our mouth, and now we are told to stop counting calories, to do intermittent fasting, to exercise according to our age and to love our bodies right here, right now, but how do we that when we do not accept our bodies today?


We were told that in order to be seen as a professional, we had to swallow our emotions, to not bring emotions into the workplace, and now we are told to show our vulnerability to be better leaders. How do we show vulnerability as leaders while managing our emotions?

So, what do these mixed messages do to us? Well, they spike our fear and the bad news is that fear will always be there, and when we choose to give into the fear, we will live our lives as “playing not to lose” rather than “playing to win”. In this “playing not to lose or reactive space”, we are afraid to make authentic choices because we question everything and everyone. We have all these “shoulds and should nots” in the back of our minds and we are not sure what is important, what we want, and what is the best choice. We are afraid to make the wrong choice. We are afraid to fail and lose, afraid we mess up our lives and the lives of those we love. As a result, we often find ourselves stuck.


I have been stuck multiple times. I have suffered from depression, anxiety, imposter syndrome, compromised my career for love and experienced a burn-out, and it was only when I started to work with an ICF-accredited and Certified Co-Active Professional Coach, my journey to living a life and career of true fulfilment began. My first step to get unstuck was to truly listen to myself with empathy, understanding and approval, to explore, name and create what was important to me without judgment. The safe and courageous space my coach and I created, empowered me to make the shift from “fear or playing not to lose” to “authenticity and setting myself up for success, a win in every area of life”. Since becoming a coach myself in 2009, I’ve accumulated over 2,500 coaching hours with men, women, children, teens, families, teams and organizations feeling “stuck” for not achieving what they wanted to achieve. I have come to realize that not achieving, stuck, dissatisfied, switched off, frustrated are outcomes of fear, whereby people and systems are operating in the “playing not to lose space” by showing a mix of complying, protective and or controlling behaviors. These reactive behaviors erode consciousness, effectiveness, creativity, abundance, joy and prosperity.



For instance, when we live from “fear, our current comfort zone or playing not to lose”, we stay in relationships that are not right for us, we please and compromise because we want to be part of the group. We are afraid to lose being liked, accepted or loved and hence we sacrifice our needs, wants and dreams. We accept and stay in a job we do not fancy out of fear of financial insecurity. We have some ideas but we decide not to speak up nor take action because we are afraid to be laughed at, proven wrong or get ostracized. We bark orders at others and control their tasks because we are afraid that we do not get taken seriously if we do not. We dislike our reputation but we believe that we cannot change people’s perceptions. In short, when we live from fear alone, we focus on coping, getting through the day, avoiding as much pain and suffering, reacting to life as it happens to us.

On the other hand, when we live from “authenticity, love, and playing to win”, we work at our relationships and decide when it is time to leave, we do not just stay or quit. We focus on what is right rather than doing things right. We do things that are good for us and others as well. We practice self-care, acceptance, empathy and (self-)love. We express our wants and needs. We choose our words wisely. We take a breather when we notice we get upset. We do not withdraw our love. We distinguish behavior from character.


For instance, we might say: “I know that you are very energetic and I do not like it when you jump on the sofa because I value taking good care of our belongings. By jumping on it, it will break, and I do not want to buy a new one, so will you stop jumping on the sofa please? I know you just forgot in your excitement of the day. I am sure you will remember not to do it next time. Thank you, I love you.”


We listen with non-judgment, empathy and deep curiosity about someone’s request behind the complaint. We do not take anything personally. We do not make assumptions, we clear them. We try our best. We let go of our need for control. We let go of our need to protect ourselves and others all the time; We allow ourselves and others to learn from mistakes. We accept ourselves and others as they are; We understand that others are not our extensions. We believe that solutions can be co-created. To conclude, when we live from authenticity, we truly rise, connect, create, live and thrive, responding to life by making empowered choices and by taking authentic action.

You can make the shift by:

- Starting your day with meditation, practicing gratitude, stating positive affirmations and or positive self-talk

- Letting go off of blame, victimhood, resentment, jealousy and (self-)hate (we cannot heal what we hate or judge)

- Expressing yours needs and wants

- Being curious about self and others from a place of non-judgment

- Taking Me-Time (self-care)

- Nurture and communicate your vision and purpose


If you want to create the life, relationships and career you want, but you are noticing that you are stuck and that fear is getting the best of you, get in touch!

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