(Deutsch) Das Ja, und – Prinzip fuer mehr Gelassenheit

The Yes, and principle for finding your composure

The Yes, and principle for finding your composure

The Yes, and principle for finding your composure: Sometimes, life throws challenges at us, we reach our limits and our lightness might be washed away on the way. We can lose ourselves through functioning and performing of our duties. As a result, our composure is left behind. When then disruptions occur, they don’t fit into our plan and we’re not amused or become even angry. But life doesn’t always go according to plan. Disruptions are part of our lives. Just think of the beginning of the corona crisis: overnight we had to work from home, maybe in the beginning even from our child’s bedroom, doing yoga online etc. Here are two powerful examples of the “Yes, and principle for finding your composure which I’m going to explain further below. “Yes, and make the best of the situation.

The Yes, and principle – 2 powerful examples (videos)

Professor Robert Kelly, an expert on South Korea, was being interviewed live by the BBC when his children came crashing in. First his dancing daughter and then her baby brother hot on her heels in his baby walker. Their father managed to ignore the chaos behind him when his wife rushed into the room to remove the agitated children. At first, he seemed a bit stressed but then he took it with humour, like the BBC interviewer. The video went viral and people loved it. Rightly so, it is hilarious and a great example of poise. I’m sure that the situation wasn’t easy for Professor Kelly and presumably he used the “Yes, and principle” rather unconsciously.

Another example for composure is a  Professor from Israel. He was giving a lecture when the baby of a student began to cry. The mother was preparing to leave with her child when Professor Engelberg picked up the baby and continued on with his lecture, holding the baby: Video – Very powerful!

Composure at the push of a button? Sorry, that’s unrealistic

Again and again, in situations we can’t change, we often lack the laid-back behaviour we would wish for. E.g. in online meetings, the technique isn’t working. Thoughts like: “I could do more important things in the meantime!” or even “That sucks!” are coming up. Or, that’s now a very German thing: a long queue in front of a checkout. “I can’t believe it, the other checkout is quicker than mine. And now they even page a colleague to come over. So annoying!! I have more important things to do!” Or Your child rushing for the loo, just the minute you were to set off. You have a ferry to take!

We get agitated and needless to say, we waste our energy. Most importantly, it will be more difficult to be laid-back in situations which are really important and that need our composure. Being relaxed doesn’t work at the push of a button.


  • is a question of our attitude and (mindset)
  • requires practising
  • isn’t just related to our mind. Our physical bodies shape the way we think (embodiment) and
  • is a process.

-> Inner attitude (mindset)

When I, in general, am a more tense person, I will lack composure in most areas of life and I won’t show a relaxed behaviour in situations which are important to me.

So, how can I work on my inner attitude?

The Yes, and principle for finding your composure

The Yes, and principle is a pillar of improvisation.

  • “Yes, and …” instead of “Yes, but …” – Accepting what is and weighing up the scope of my action. The Yes, and”-principle encourages you to think in solutions and shape the future instead of thinking in problems. Our thinking affects our mindset. – Of course, “Yes, buts” creep into my thinking, too. I was at a training course recently which was absolutely amazing. Still, at the end of one day I was thinking: “Well, I could have done better today.” and I was going to retreat as I’d have done it in the past. But then I thought: “Nope, you know how resilience works.” and went out with other participants instead and had such a funny evening (not going into details now😊)

Watch yourself again and again:
-> When is your “Yes, but” in the way? How can you come to a “Yes, and”-mindset instead in the sense of a constructive problem handling? Yes, and I will make the best of the situation.

  • Yes, and out of your comfort zone. We human beings are often lazy and enjoy staying in our comfort zone. That gives us a certain control and a perceived sense of security. The thing however is that we’re becoming more and more anxious in areas that are out of our control. – When I drove to England, for the first time driving myself, it was a super massive step for me to leave my comfort zone, especially after a car accident I’d had a couple of years before. I was even close to panic attacks. I wrote about it in my blog entry “Making your goals reality – every step counts”

I want to encourage you to leave your comfort zone, again and again:
-> Is there anything new you can try out: a new restaurant? A new holiday destination? Performing on a stage?

  • Say yes to mistakes. Say yes to failure. – Mistakes are part of our learning experience. Failure, too. When we accept both and learn from them instead of reacting negatively towards them, we can turn them into a positive learning experience. – In our training course recently we had to give short impromptu presentations about proverbs we had drawn from a pile. Three rounds. The first two rounds went well, then I got stuck with the last proverb: “All good things come in threes.” I somehow had no idea what to say. So, I talked about the shape of the number three and just got carried away, completely off topic. We all had fun in our group and I enjoyed the feeling of failing and having fun to do so. It feels so good and liberating not to take life too seriously. Isn’t it serious enough already?

Food for thought:
-> How do you deal with mistakes?
-> Look at your mistakes from a different perspective (and some distance): Are they really so serious? How can you deal with them?

  • Say yes to humour. – I love British humour. Not taking things too seriously. That’s also what I like about the video with Professor Kelly. They take it with humour. What else could they do? – In an improv session recently, we were doing storytelling, Ella, our game leader, brought me into the game. I had to play another player’s wife: That was the easy part. In my role, I was an expert for dolphins. I was to show the differences between Scottish and German dolphins by demonstrating it. My first thought was: “What the hell is Ella asking of me? Honestly?! How can I do this?” But then I thought: “Who cares? Nothing to lose.” I think, had the dolphins listened to me, they would have been disturbed. We had lots of fun in our session. Humour is so wonderfully relaxing.

What about a bit more lightness?
-> Try out failing, again and again and in a safe environment and enjoy the moment when you don’t take life too seriously and your life gains lightness.

-> Feeling relaxed on a physical level (Embodiment)

Stress also shows on a physical level, e.g. shoulder and neck pain, in our back but also in our face. Make sure, you find a balance on a physical level, e.g.

  • Dancing
  • Exercises for your shoulder and neck
  • Walking
  • Moving in general
  • Making faces (+ good mood on top)
  • Shaking stress off. That’s what I do regularly, especially after being very focused at work. Shake off the stress. Dogs shake themselves, too😊

The Yes, and principle for finding your composure

Use your body to support you:

  • Open yourself up for your life: Roll your shoulders back and stretch your chest. I’ve written a blog entry on power posing in which I explain how our physical bodies shape the way we think and feel. – I practise this regularly myself as insecurity and anxiety leave you with a feeling of restriction and they block your thinking opposed to open poses.
  • Watch your breathing: I make sure that my feet are grounded and I breathe deeply in through my nose, I hold my breath a short time and I also breathe out through my nose. Breathing out is longer than breathing in.
  • Invite lightness & joy into your life.

-> A question of training

The „Yes, and”-principle for finding your composure is also a question of training like the playing of an instrument, doings sports or speaking another language. We often only see the results when people seem to master things so effortlessly. But the efforts behind it are unveiled to us. – I apply what I’ve written above regularly. Some of it comes naturally, some of it I had to learn or to recall from former times. When you feel the positive effect, it won’t feel like a must anymore.

Look for
-> opportunities. Try out and find out what works best for you.
-> like-minded people who support you.

-> Growth is a process

When you work on your inner attitude, be aware that this is a process. You might tackle limiting beliefs that have been part of your life for decades, e.g. “I shouldn’t make any mistakes.” “I must perform!” “I have to meet other people’s expectations!” It’s a process to get rid of limiting beliefs, however limiting they are. After all, they’ve possibly been part of our lives for decades. It is a process which requires time, patience and loving gentleness.

Words of encouragement:
-> Look for people who care about you and who will support you on your way.
-> Support yourself by treating yourself how you would treat others.

The Yes, and principle for finding your composure

We can’t ban stress & strain out of our lives, that’s unrealistic. But we can learn to live with the adversities of life and face them with the “Yes, and”-principle for finding your composure. I’d like to invite you to

  • make room for the “Yes, and” part of your life,
  • accept the adversities of life,
  • open up your body with an open pose,
  • practise regularly,
  • support yourself and
  • bring lightness & humour into your life.

Give it a try. It feels good:-)

The Yes, and principle for finding your composure

Are you interested in the topic

and would like to have further support?

–> Then my coaching could be interesting for you.
-> Alternatively, I offer resilience training courses for companies.

Are you interested? Then I look forward to hearing from you.

Making your goals reality – every step counts

 Every step counts

Making your goals reality

For many people, the New Year is a good opportunity to make changes in their lives. But you don’t always need the New Year to get things started, you need a goal, a realistic goal and then you can get there, step by step and every step on your way there counts.

According to behavioural scientist BJ Fogg it is crucial to set the bar really low if you want to be successful when developing new habits. “If you set the bar too high, you set yourself up to fail,” says Fogg. I read first about him in the Magazine Psychologies (issue February 2020). BJ Fogg is the director of the Stanford Behavior Design Lag, Mike Krieger, the co-founder of Instagram attended his boot camp of the same name. And he also points out that consistency matters as well as the emotion behind the habit. We’re more likely to develop new habits when we have positive associations with them, right?

Let me share a story with you. A couple of years ago I got a grant from the EU for a training course in England. I’d been to England many times before but never had I driven myself. The course would be in August, so I started practising in April. Some years before I had had a car accident. I was badly concussed with a broken nose and a painful whiplash injury. I only remember that I made the police look for my then 5-year-old son who I thought was with me which he wasn’t, he was at a friend’s birthday party. I woke up again in the ambulance and wanted to get out, I had to pick up my son, so I thought, and then woke up again in hospital because the treatment of my nose was rather painful. I had to stay in hospital for a couple of days. I’ve passed the scene of the accident many times, still no memories but for a long time an unpleasant feeling of anxiety stayed with me while driving.

Well, as mentioned above I had the chance to drive to England. My first trip in April was to take my family to our friends in Switzerland. I had never driven for such a long time before, I was completely exhausted when I arrived there after a 4 ½-hour drive. Our friends had prepared a wonderful barbecue for us. No food for me, I just went to bed, I felt slightly sick as I had been so tense.

About two months later I went to nearby Andernach with my family, only a 1 ½-hours drive from us, no big deal really. But for whatever reason I felt extremely anxious. Driving on the left lane, overtaking other cars, everything seemed so fast and the lanes so narrow. What if I caused an accident with my family in the car? I didn’t exactly panic but I was probably close.

My last chance to practise a longer distance drive would be in July, on our way back from the Black Forest. Again I was driving with my family. And again I was driving on the left lane when, all of a sudden, I thought: Why driving on the left lane, why putting yourself under pressure when you can drive on the right lane? Sure it’ll take longer to come home but so what? That was what I did and it took all the pressure from me. I was relaxed when I drove us home. I am a very performance-oriented person. Taking away the pressure off me did the trick, but it took some time to get there.

Our big day had finally arrived. I would drive to England with my son, knowing that he would be an excellent navigator. I felt well prepared. We had planned a lot of extra time, so that we would arrive in Calais in good time for the ferry to Dover. That would give me the chance to have a break every 90 minutes. Everything had been so well planned and in the end everything went so differently. Driving through The Netherlands and Belgium went really well but then, in France, all the traffic was redirected by the police, we all had to leave the motorway, past heavily armed soldiers, around a roundabout and back to the motorway. There had been the most terrible terrorist attacks in France before, so the French didn’t take any risks. A huge traffic jam made any breaks impossible, coming closer to the port, all service stations were closed, so no break and no more buffer.

Still, I stayed calm and had faith that everything would go well. Once in Calais, we could get on a later ferry, and everything went well. We arrived at Twickenham, London in good time, stayed with friends there before we spent the day in London the following day – I drove into London by car! – and later a 2-hour journey to Cheltenham after an exhausting (but also interesting) car spotting tour with my son through London😊.

Had I known beforehand that the French border control would take so long and no chance to have a break, I would have been completely overwhelmed. But taking things as they came, I arrived in England tired but otherwise fine. After a 13 1/2-hour drive I deserved to be tired.

Apart from now driving mostly comfortably and yes, I’ve been to England again, in fact, I quite enjoy driving in England, I took away very valuable lessons, lessons for life:

1) Take small, manageable steps, in my coaching training we called them baby steps. Most of our projects fail because we expect too much from ourselves. Driving to England mightn’t sound like a big deal for other people but it was for me, a very big one. Once I took the pressure away from me, I succeeded.

2) A question of perspective. Most of the time it is not the plan itself that causes stress but our accompanying thoughts. When I take a different, more detached perspective, I am aware that planning in extra time for breaks and driving slowly on the right lane keep my worries at bay. And, getting on a later ferry normally isn’t a problem.
–> Changing your perspective is something you have to practise, a bit like meditating, so that you manage to detach yourself from the actual situation that bothers you.

I often see that my language students put themselves under pressure by expecting too much from themselves. Especially my students who are, how I call them, my „gut feeling“ students. They have a feeling for the language but, like everybody else, they have bad days when they feel detached from their feeling for the language. I then recommend to speak simple English, German, or whatever. Short sentences, direct speech opposed to indirect speech. When you then speak in a nice flow, nobody notices that you’re having a „bad language“ day. Remember, it’s your accompanying, judgemental thoughts which put unnecessary strain on the situation. Because, who really cares if you have a „bad language“ day or drive slowly on the right (respectively left) lane as long as you don’t block anybody?

It’s your personality which counts, that’s something I learned in a beautiful way in the UK. Mistakes don’t matter, but my personality, being friendly, does. Don’t make the mistakes some natives speakers of English I’ve met in Germany do by being super perfect and thus losing your beautiful British lightness and humour for which we love you😊.

And don’t put on shoes which don’t fit you, it’s not one size fits all. Put on the shoes in your size and then start walking. Step by step at your pace.

Amy Cuddy: Power Posing

The power of body language – both outside and inside (your inner strength)

Often without noticing we use idioms which refer to parts of the body, e.g. to straighten up or show some backbone.

“Stomach in, chest out, straight back” – that’s how we want to impress others especially when it looks different from the inside, e.g. when giving a presentation which makes us more than nervous.
Continue reading “Amy Cuddy: Power Posing”

The Magic of Christmas

The Magic of Christmas

The Magic of Christmas & a short story

For me, Christmas is a special time of year. Bushes adorned with Christmas lights illuminate the yard and give our homes a festive look. Inside, our homes are decorated for Christmas and the smell of Christmas comes out of our doors. I don’t eat so many biscuits once they are in the biscuit tin but I can’t stop myself from nibbling biscuit dough while baking;-)

There is magic in the air and people seem to be friendlier – let’s ignore for a moment the pre-Christmas shopping sprees for presents and stuff – especially on Christmas Day there is this excitement in the air and when you do your last-minute shopping for food on Christmas Day – people don’t just seem to be friendlier, they are friendlier, at least in our village:-)

This is for me the true meaning of Christmas: it’s about Love. Accepting one another the way we are and treating each other in a respectful & appreciative, if not even in a caring way. I know, this can be challenging at times, even overwhelming and we will reach our limits which is perfectly OK but we can give it a try, every day anew. Just trying, every day, shapes us and makes us a person more at peace with others, and most important, with ourselves. And, isn’t it something we are all in need of especially in these challenging times with the coronavirus pandemic? Only together can we beat the virus.

I know, I might sound like a dreamer but if you want this world to change, you have to change it and the change begins with a dream, your dream. What is yours?

In this sense I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy and Healthy New Year. Have a peaceful time and enjoy the magic of this time. – I’ve written a short story for you. I wish you happy reading.

And now my short story:-)

Vera by Bettina Bonkas

 It was going to be a crap Christmas. I pulled up the duvet over my head, I just wanted to be left alone. How much would I have loved to spend all day lon in bed, but I was at a convalescent care, so no chance to stay in bed. I got up very slowly and got ready in the bathroom equally slowly as if I could punish the staff by being slow. I just didn’t feel like doing the whole thing but when I was honest with myself I could feel that I was in desperate need of a timeout.

Continue reading “The Magic of Christmas”

April 2020: Play your way to better English during the coronavirus crisis

Englisch lernen während der Coronakrise (auch online)

Ach, das waren noch Zeiten, als das Bild oben aufgenommen wurde. Das war unser letzter Tag in England. Spontan waren wir kurz nach Weihnachten hingefahren und haben unsere Freunde besucht. Sie hatten uns ein Kartenspiel beigebracht, das wir überall spielten, wie oben in einem Pub aus dem 15. Jahrhundert.

Eigentlich wären wir jetzt wieder in England. Traditionell fahren wir an Ostern immer nach England, unsere Freunde besuchen. Und wir hätten jetzt das schönste Wetter …

Hätte, hätte, Fahrradkette – wobei ein bisschen traurig darf ich schon sein. Ehrlich gesagt hilft es mir aber, dass es uns allen so geht; das ist irgendwie beruhigend.

Ich habe ein paar Spiele für euch zusammengestellt, denn ich finde, wir sollten das Beste aus dieser Zeit mit der Coronakrise machen.

In der aktuellen Ausgabe des Spotlight Magazins 5-2020 (Spotlight Magazin) findet ihr schöne Spielideen für die Familie und auch Spiele, die ihr mit Freunden z.B. über Skype oder WhatsApp Videoanruf spielen könnt.

Aus dem Magazin: Make an acrostic (Leistengedicht)

Continue reading “April 2020: Play your way to better English during the coronavirus crisis”

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