Three Magical Secrets To Make You Happy Our Gift To You

Vicky van Praag & Menna van Praag

These three little pieces, taken from ‘Men, Money & Chocolate: Secrets for a sweeter Life’, will give you some surprise gifts!

They will help you be happier and explain why you aren’t yet as happy as you want to be. Right now you have beliefs and behaviors that are sabotaging the fulfilment of your deepest desires.

They are impossible to identify by yourself but, once you see them, you can stop stumbling and start running to the life of your dreams! Just read on…


Why Are You Still Single?

‘You wish you had a boyfriend,’ Rose said. ‘Partly because you’re lonely, but mostly because you believe that not having one means you’re unlovable. Nothing could be further from the truth.’

When we think something is wrong with our lives, like not having a relationship, we batten down the hatches, survey the damage and look around to see what’s to blame. We reach for the practical reasons first. We’re single because it’s hard to find someone. All the good ones are taken. Dating never works out. Then we go to the more personal ones: you’re too old, insecure, unattractive, stupid or shy. There is something wrong with you. There must be after all, or else someone would be in love with you.

You mull over these fears. You sit in the sadness and self-loathing they generate. And you tell yourself that if only you were different, if only you were younger, more confident, gorgeous, witty and wonderful then you’d find a soul mate in a second.

But you know, deep down, that your practical reasons don’t hold up. You might meet hundreds of people a week: at bus stops, bookshops, cafés and supermarket queues. The world is full of good people. The personal reasons don’t stand the test of inquiry either. People of all kinds of types, shapes and sizes fall in love, there is nothing so particularly bad about you. You have everything you need to be in a loving relationship. You don’t need to be perfect.

What is really holding you back isn’t you, but all your hidden reservations, the ones you’re unaware of, subconscious reasons why you’re really rather ambivalent about getting into a relationship. You have probably been heartbroken before, and you’re a little terrified of it happening again. It’s not the idea of falling in love that scares you, but what love might turn into that holds you back.

With these fears it’s difficult to find love. It becomes hard to look someone you like in the eye. And it’s almost impossible to bare your soul. What might they see? What might they say? How might they hurt you later?

There are other reasons that you won’t be aware of. You already know you’re scared of getting hurt. And there are many other reasons hiding in an unhealed heart. It’s only when you uncover these subconscious traps that you’ll be truly free to step wholeheartedly and unreservedly into love. Once you’ve unearthed your previously unrealised reasons, they’ll no longer hold so much sway over you. For example, when you become aware of your unresolved anger towards men, it won’t lurk like a subconscious iceberg ready to sink your next relationship. Or when you discover some unfinished guilt about your last relationship, you can heal it before it blocks your next one. Or when you recognise your fear of losing control and your identity in a relationship, then you can begin to reassure yourself and trust in love again.

You can’t clear these obstructions until you’ve become conscious of them. It’s the hidden blocks that have the greatest power over us, and it’s only when we identify our true fears that we can begin to challenge them. When we can’t see what’s running us then we have no hope of controlling it. It’s only when we see them that we can start to work with them. And then you’ll be ready to open your heart to a relationship again.

Those subconscious blocks keep you closed and shut down, and from that place it’s hard to create love. But when you clear your fears, doubts and reservations to open up your heart you’ll step towards love. When you smile at strangers, and connect with people in all sorts of places, then you’ll begin to have your pick of all the hundreds of potential partners in the world. Because, when you’re so radiantly alive, people will be attracted to you in a heartbeat. Then you’ll find your love. Because, when you really want a great relationship, one hundred percent, completely and utterly, without holding back, then you will have it.


Are You Still Waiting for Your Life to Begin?

Maya kept her dreams to herself. Secrets locked away, only to be studied in moments of great solitude. This didn’t stop her dreaming all day long. As long as no one interrupted her, Maya could daydream for hours.

Do you spend as much time fantasizing about a better life as you do living the one you’ve got? Do you while away dreamy hours imagining your perfect life? How does it look? How does it feel? Is it full of love and romance, wealth and abundance, pleasure, creativity and fulfilment? And how does it compare to your life right now? How big is the gap between your perfect life and your real life? And what are you doing to bridge it?

We all lose ourselves in fantasies from time to time. We even purposely focus on them in order to positively think our way towards our dreams. But, unchecked, these daydreams can do more harm than good. Because they can trick us into believing we’re taking steps towards our perfect life, when really we’re doing nothing but staying stuck in limbo-land.

The mind is a sneaky thing. It’s clever and cunning and doesn’t always have our best interests at heart. Think of something you really want to do. Get fit, for example. So you research all the different forms of exercise, you spend hours on the internet, buy the best machines, you unpack the boxes, set up a mini-gym in a corner of your house and then… You never touch it again. Over the days and months it gathers dust, but you don’t remove or replace it, you keep it because just having it there makes you somehow believe that you’re doing something towards your goal.

So it is with fantasies. They keep us stuck with what we’ve got – when we spend so much time imagining a better life, we forget to take the practical steps towards creating one. So we dream about doing up our home, but content ourselves with looking at make overs in magazines. We picture the night we win the Pulitzer Prize, but never pick up a pen. We imagine the wedding but never go out on the dates. We delight in dreams of doing a job we love, but never leave the one we hate.

These fantasies keep us warm at night. They keep us awake at our desks. They stop us from crying about what we don’t like in our lives. At least we think they do. Of course they don’t make us more alive, more vibrant, happy and joyful. Instead they keep us in a state of suspended animation. They stop us from taking real action to create a really wonderful life we wouldn’t want to escape from, mentally or otherwise.

The reason we fantasise about our lives rather than changing them is because we’re scared we can’t do the things we dream of, and we’re terrified of the disappointment we might feel if we try and fail. This way, we think, at least we won’t get hurt. But of course we are hurting, every single day. And the pain of never trying is a far worse pain, insidious and soul-destroying; it eats away at our sense of self, our power, our courage, and our residual belief that we can change our lives. Because, the longer we live in our dreams, the deeper we become aware of the difference between fantasy and reality. Until, ten years down the line, what was once a motivational picture in our minds, has become proof that change is impossible.

Perhaps it’s time to open your eyes, to stop fantasising and start living. Take a good look at your current reality. Imagine that it’s never going to change unless you do something to change it. And, if you can’t, then perhaps it’s time to move on. Once you take away the half-light comfort of your daydreams you’ll be a lot clearer about what you want to do next. You won’t be able to put up with a badly behaving boyfriend anymore; you won’t endure the job you hate any longer. You will start taking action because you know that is the best way to make your dreams a reality.

How do you want your life to be? And how is it right now? Chances are there is something of a chasm between the two. But, instead of leaping across it in your dreams, you can begin to step across it in reality. Brick by brick you can build a bridge to the life you want. And, although it’ll take longer than a second, it probably won’t take as long as you fear it might. Which, of course, is why you got lost in fantasies in the first place: a quicker fix you couldn’t find. But, even if it takes years, at the end of them you will have really transformed your life rather than still be dreaming about it. You will have met the man, found the job, created the business, become fit and fabulous. You will have done whatever it is you wanted to do. And the feeling that will give you is better than any you’ll be able to fantasise about.


I’ll Eat the Whole Cake if I Want To!

All day the chocolate treats tempted her and Maya wondered desperately why she couldn’t win a battle of wills with a slice of fudge cake, just once.

Can you remember how it felt to be a child? When you were helpless, dependent on your parents for everything, and powerless, your life subject to their every whim. Do you remember how frustrated you felt, whenever you wanted to do something and weren’t allowed, or wanted to eat something but they wouldn’t let you? Did your parents force you to swallow peas but deny you the delights of chocolate cake? Did your mum hide the yummy snacks and give you carrot sticks instead? Perhaps you were actually put on a diet and deprived of food while the rest of the family ate whatever they wanted to.

When we’re young we’re powerless to control our lives. And, while our desires are forever thwarted, we often console ourselves with the knowledge that when we grow up we will do whatever we damn-well please. We will wake up late, watch TV in the middle
of the day, stay up into the early hours feasting on films and ice cream. So, with the exception of the occasional teenage tantrum, we store up our frustration and just wait it out.

Finally, we leave home, and are free to do and eat what we want. The world, and the sweet aisle in every supermarket, is our oyster. There is only one problem. You’re not four anymore. You’re acutely aware of your body and, more than likely, you don’t like it. So, as much as you want to assert your newfound independence by scoffing your way through the pastry section,
you also want to be thin. And, in a misguided bid to squeeze into a smaller size, you’ve stuck yourself on a diet.

So begins the life-long inner battle of domination and rebellion.

With the rules and regulations of a diet you have unwittingly subjected yourself to the traumas of childhood once more. You have become the dominating adult, telling yourself what you can and can’t eat, controlling calories, making certain foods forbidden and generally ensuring that you feel powerless all over again. Inevitably, sooner or later, your inner child kicks in. You see the chocolate cake, you tell yourself you’re not allowed a bite, and then the internal toddler, fed up with feeling powerless, rises up, grabs the sugary goodness and gobbles it up.

And so it goes, on and on and on. You’ve doomed yourself to years of deprivation and rebellion, a cycle of diets you will stick to for a few days and then rebel against, and a lifetime of hating yourself and your body.

When your inner child takes over, and you scoff the sweets, devour the doughnuts, and stuff yourself with everything you think you shouldn’t eat, you feel as though you’re a runaway train, a drug addict, completely out of control. But this is only partly true because, as far as your inner child is concerned, you’ve finally found control. She is sick of being told what to eat, yet again, she’s fed up with feeling powerless and she’s had enough. Scoffing sugar is her only way of seizing control and, dammit, she’s going to take it!

When you force yourself onto a food regime you’re replacing your parents with the diet dictator, whose fascist rule leaves you in such powerless pain that your only option is to surrender to that suffering or rebel against it. With the cruel government of dieting and deprivation to which we subject ourselves, the way we beat up our bodies, is it any wonder that we channel our frustrated four-year-old and rebel against ourselves? The torture we submit ourselves to in the name of thinness is probably as painful as anything we suffered as a child, so that it evokes our inner rage is hardly surprising.

Until you realise the frustration simmering underneath your obsessive fantasies about forbidden foods – the anger that fuels your overwhelming desire for yet another chocolate bar; the helpless rage that feeds your fight with the fridge – you’ll never be free.

At the moment you are caught in a cycle of domination and rebellion where your food choices aren’t really made from your true desires for doughnuts but as a knee jerk reaction, carefully honed as a child, against all the carrot sticks you’ve forced yourself to eat. And, as long as you maintain the regime, you’ll continue to rebel against it.

If you drop the diet, if you depose the dictator, you might discover some surprising things about yourself. Firstly, you might want to have a no holds barred freak out in your bedroom, a full- fledged cathartic adult tantrum, instead of munching on yet another flapjack. Given permission to finally vent all that frustration you could find food doesn’t hold quite as much interest anymore. Then you might realise that perhaps you don’t actually want to eat twelve chocolate bars a day, maybe you wouldn’t really enjoy ice cream for dinner every day of the week, it’s possible you don’t even love cake that much. But, until you stop threatening yourself with celery sticks and broccoli spears, you’ll never know.

Once you stop telling yourself what to do, as far as food is concerned, then you’ll also stop doing the opposite. Then you will be neither four nor forty-four, you won’t be an angry child or a dominating adult, you’ll just be you, free to put down the rules, give up the rebellion and just choose, perhaps for the first time in your life, what you really want to do.

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01223 511154