Du you have “Vujà-dés”?

Du you have “Vujà-dés”?

Vujà-dé is the opposite of the know-it-all-seen-it-all experience of déjà-vu (from French meaning already seen).

Vujà-dé is the experience of seeing familiar things and saying: I never thought about it this way! I never felt like this before! This is something new! I’ve never seen this in such light! We all love this feeling, don’t we?! We would go to great lengths to seek it, even if it means exposing ourselves to risks.

Children live in a vujà-dé world because, with their limited life experience, everything is new to them. They explore the world with positive curiosity expecting good things to happen! They build associative bridges between the known and the unknown and this is their natural learning process. And at some point, another natural process kicks in: habitability. The longer we live, the more experiences we have, the more tempting it is to rely on preconceived ideas based on what we’ve seen already.

Imagine you would cultivate this natural child’s curiosity and approach the familiar things in your life with it! Imagine how your life would change if you go about your day looking for the new, the unknown, the unexplored and the special in the most familiar situations? How would your experiences be different? How would you be different?

Sometimes vu-jàdés happen naturally and unexpectedly and people call them Aha-moment! We all have had sudden realizations or a creative ideas the resolve old problems. Where do these come from? Wouldn’t it be nice to have more of them?

Guess what, it is totally natural for us to have vu-jàdés! Think about it this way: your body is constantly renewing itself, every cell in your body is younger than you, one million cells die every second and this means that in one day, approximately 1.2 kg of cells die and your body produces new ones. Your body can teach your mind something about novelty.

You can cultivate the vu-jàdé attitude in simple and easy ways. For example, by breaking your routines or taking different ways to the places you frequent, going to new places altogether, taking up new hobbies.  Or, you can simply seek to see the weirdness and peculiarity we tend to oversee in the same old, same old familiar situations. I am guessing you might find yourself giggling and enjoying yourself all day long.  After all, this is the recipe for success the funniest stand-up comedians have mastered: they take some ordinary and right-down boring situation and flip it around in an unexpected way in the punch-line.

When you go about your day with the playful curiosity of vu-jàdé, you might start to notice that problems magically resolve themselves, or, at the very least, life is simply more fun!

Let me know how it goes!

Have you got your own Maginot line?

Have you got your own Maginot line?

The Maginot Line was a line of bunker defenses along the French border. It was built before World War I to repel German attacks. The French felt safe behind this insurmountable line of fortifications. What did the Germans do in 1914? They unexpectedly bypassed the Maginot Line via Belgium. Since then, the Maginot Line has been a metaphor for expensive investments and a deceptive sense of security.

Sounds familiar, right?

Maybe you place too much confidence in your education to keep you employed. And then you find yourself made redundant by new technologies. Or maybe you have been enjoying a period of relative stability only to find it all shaken by some factors you have zero control over like a pandemics.

Thing is, major set-backs can happen at any time due to all sorts of reasons. And many of us find that for all our foresight, our defenses are very vulnerable or that we have been fortifying the wrong bunkers.

The good news is that the reverse is often times true as well. When dealing with problems, for example, we mobilize all our power to face and destroy them, when the wise thing to do would be to find a roundabout way, like the Germans did. Who says that you have to go right through a problem in order to resolve it?

Have you heard of the Law of Reversed Effect? It is about making too much effort that ends up only reinforcing the problem. The more you try to resolve it, the less likely you are to succeed. If the Germans had attacked the Maginot line directly, they would have failed! They were smarter than that.

As a change coach, I help people  figure out where they have been trying too hard. I also help the re-evaluate their defense bunkers and see where they need to fortify, where to retreat, where to seek a way around an obstacle. And may be, the obstacle that forces you to seek alternatives leads you to the very short-cut you have been looking for.

Anyway, this is what a coach is for, to help you find the safest and shortest way to where you want to be.

Book a free first consultation now!

Mindfulness, do it your own way!

Mindfulness, do it your own way!

The buzz of mindfulness has been going around for some time. Companies and schools are picking it up and installing mindfulness programs. There are some benefits to practicing mindfulness indeed, but they seem to be hugely overrated. Contrary to bold claims that it increases happiness, there is no reliable research to back this. While mindfulness meditations do bring some benefits to clinically depressed patients, there is no big evidence it brings happiness to ordinary people.

Mindfulness is not supposed to add to your stress!

Mindfulness meditations seem to be a good gateway to some good things, such as stress relief, but only provided you do it in a way that does not actually add to your stress.  If you find yourself questioning whether you are doing your mindfulness meditation correctly, you are adding to your agitation rather than reducing it. If, on the other hand, you approach it like an accomplishment thinking how great you are for doing it, you are reinforcing narcissistic and self-consciousness tendencies that are the very thing mindfulness is supposed to relieve you from. Straining to be mindful and patting yourself on the back for doing so defeats the purpose.

Mindfulness is often associated with focus and concentration

And indeed, there is big value in being able to command one’s focus of attention among all the information noise we are flooded with. Training to fully focus on something at hand like your breath, as mindfulness teaches, is a good training wheel but why stop there? Why not let it go to better and nicer things? What better and nicer things, you may ask? How about how you will be being and feeling once you have resolved your problems? Your brain is a lovely time- and distance travel-machine, why not use it?

Mindfulness is supposed to be about the present moment 

What exactly are the benefits of the present moment? When I focus on the present moment to the exclusion of everything else, I feel like I am depriving myself of one of the advantages of human cognition: the ability to hold past and present and future simultaneously. Having a concept of the future is one of the things that are unique to humans as compared to animals. Animals don‘t plan for  future; as for the past, judging by how quickly an animal can recover from a near-death encounter with a predator and within minutes calmly graze grass again, shows that the past has no big grip on animals either. Animals are fully in the now but why should we strive for that?

To be fair, our lives are often much more fulfilling lived outside the present than in it. After all, where are you visions and goals if not in the future? And how do you build on your experiences and learnings if you are not able to hold the past against the future and compare alternative scenarios? Why shun automated actions and autopilot activities when they are in fact shortcuts to this kind of freedom of the mind that lets it go anywhere? Why banish this kind of journeys to focus on your breath?

Good things feel good

Finally, does mindfulness feel good? Because good things do. Practices that slows down your heartbeat feel relaxing. If focusing on your breath slows you down, it is a good gateway to relaxation.  But then, to some, me included, putting the body through some stress by doing physical exercises is more relaxing to both my body and mind than putting my mind on my breath. Your muscles feel more relaxed after you have tensed them than if you have not.

What is important is taking time to do things that feel good. And who is to say how this is best done? It may be a leisurely walk, it can be a nap. Somebody else’s recipes may not work for you. It is a great idea for companies and schools to schedule leisure time but mandating how is is to be spent may have the opposite effect. If mindfulness is about being mindful to your own needs, I am all for it! Do it your own way!

© 2020 Teodora Rudolph

Photo credit Gerold Guggenbühl, https://www.730andmore.com/

Afformations instead of Affirmations

Afformations instead of Affirmations

Affirmations are a big industry!

There are numerous books and recordings that echo the famous affirmation of the pharmacist Emil Coué “Every day in every way I’m getting better and better”. And affirmations do work because they trigger the placebo effect which is powerful, as extensive research over the last years has shown.

But there limits to how far an affirmation can go before it turns into wishful thinking.

In fact, there can be negative effects due to the discrepancy between the current state of affairs and the desired one. The difference between how I am feeling and how I want to be feeling can feel very bad!

Here is a better way to get into a state that feels better: some call it “afformation”!

How does it work? You ask yourself a question: Why am I so happy, loved, desirable, etc? Do not answer it!

Just seed the question in your mind, your unconscious mind will answer it! Because answers are conscious and you don’t want your conscious mind to come up with learned answers. Instead, you want your unconscious mind to go on a search for new ones. And believe me, your unconscious mind is great at this!

The question “Why?” is special too because it calls for rationalizations and justifications. You unconscious mind will come up with reasons for you to feel the way you want to feel!

Try it for yourself and let me know how it goes!


© 2020 Teodora Rudolph

Photo credit Gerold Guggenbühl, https://www.730andmore.com/

Would you like to be your own assertiveness therapist?

Would you like to be your own assertiveness therapist?

Would you like to be your own assertiveness therapist? Assertive therapy is about letting people feel comfortable saying No to other people and Yes to themselves.

A while ago I came across an old book, Manuel J. Smith’s book on Assertive Therapy. His BILL OF ASSERTIVE RIGHTS captures the essence of his whole theory. It is a famous quote, you can google it up. If you take this alone and make it your own, you will definitely become a more assertive person. How? Easy: turn the “rights” into affirmations and repeat them to yourself in every way possible, or chant them or write them on stickies! This is what I did.

The”Bill” is written in you-form, like “You have the right to X, Y.” I changed it to I-form and created a list of my own affirmations. Feel free to simplify the language or use a different language, one principle a day, 10 days for all, and repeat! It worked wonders for me and I’m sure it will do the same for you! My 10 principles of being an assertive person based on Manuel J. Smith’s Bill of Rights:

1. I have the right to evaluate my own behavior, thoughts and emotions and be responsible for the consequences

2. I have the right to not apologize or explain my behaviour

3. It is up to me to decide whether I am responsible for solving other people’s problems

4. I have the right to change my mind

5. I have the right to make mistakes and take responsibility for my mistakes

6. I have the right to say: “I do not know”

7. I have the right to not dance to other people’s beat just because they are nice to me

8. I have the right to make illogical decisions

9. I have the right to say: “I do not understand you”

10. I have the right to say: “I do not care”

And if you think 10 affirmations are too many to keep track of, take just this one and use it boldly and big time: I HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAY “NO” WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY!

There, you’ve done your own assertiveness therapy!



© 2020 Teodora Rudolph

Photo credit Arian Shkaki 2020