BLOG ARTICLES - The Self-Worth Experiment
3 empowering steps to eliminate negativity and toxic self-talk
Sep 17

How to eliminate negativity and toxic self-talk

By Dr Berni Sewell | Transform your life

I still remember the day when I first noticed it.

Cursing the abhorrent weather, I stumbled through the front door off the storm-swept streets of Vienna. I shivered and sneezed, feeling sorry for my dripping wet self. It would be just my luck to catch a cold so close to my birthday!

I opened my mailbox with a feeling of dread. It only ever spat out bills, problems and evil tidings. I expected the worst, and wasn’t disappointed when a hefty supplementary electricity payment dropped in my hand.

This was outrageous! They were taking advantage of little people like me!

Disgusted by the world’s corruption, I stomped up the stairs to my flat. My mind racing with worst case scenarios of nasty conversations involving arrogant call centre employees defending a money-grubbing corporation. I loathed conflict!

Lost in gloomy thoughts, I caught my foot on an umbrella some idiot had left outside their door to dry. I tumbled down, my knee hitting the hard stone floor. I screamed in pain and frustration.

Why always me?! Why did the Universe hate me?

As I finally collapsed on my sofa, despair overwhelmed me. My life was a relentless string of disasters, catastrophes and anxieties.

What was wrong with me? Why did nothing good ever happen in my life?

I felt like a pathetic failure. I wasn’t good enough! My own incompetence and the cruelty of this backstabbing world doomed me to a miserable existence…

And right there, as my mind wallowed in hopelessness, it hit me.

Every thought I created was toxic, every word I spoke despondent. I had become a powerless victim of my own negativity which sabotaged my life, destroyed my happiness and ramped up my anxiety.

And I knew it had to change.

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How to meditate effectively (even if your mind won't shut up)
Aug 02

How to meditate effectively (even if your mind won’t shut up)

By Dr Berni Sewell | Transform your life

I am often asked why my tips on overcoming low self-worth and anxiety never seem to include meditation.

After all, it calms the mind, balances your emotions, deepens your breathing and helps to control stress, fear and negativity. During meditation, you connect with your authentic Self. Transcend your limitations and struggles. Enjoy the infinite peace, love, bliss and worth that dwell deep within your blessed soul.

And I know that. I tried.

When I first started to transform my life back in 2005, I believed a regular, healthy meditation practice was an indispensable part of my journey out of fear, emotional turmoil and worthlessness. Many times I sat down on my meditation cushion. Closed my eyes. Focused on my breath with high hopes and expectations.

But it always went a bit like this…

Me: “OK, breathe in. And out. No thinking now.”
Mind: “Shall we have fish and chips for dinner?”
Me: “Argh! Be quiet!”
Mind: “Oops! No more thinking…my back aches. That was another thought, wasn’t it? So sorry!”
Me: “Don’t worry about it. It’s ok. Just be silent now please”.
Mind: “Oh God! I have to give a presentation at work tomorrow. I think I’ll be sick.”
“Me: “Would you just shut up!”
Mind: “Don’t be so mean! I‘m trying my best here. I’m just not good enough. I will never get better. It’s hopeless.”
Me: “You know what, just forget about it! I can’t even meditate. I hate myself. What is wrong with me?!”

It was counterproductive, to say the least. Every time I attempted meditation, I abandoned it prematurely, feeling ever more anxious and upset. Despairing over my obvious inability to create a happier life.

I believed I wasn’t disciplined enough. Too weak and pathetic. Incompetent.

When, in fact, I misunderstood meditation altogether.

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A sure-fire way to fix your relationship with yourself
Jul 21

The sure-fire way to fix your relationship with yourself

By Dr Berni Sewell | Love yourself

Last week I was making my herbal tea to drink throughout the morning. As I do every day.

But as I poured the boiling water into the jug, the glass exploded and scorching liquid gushed towards me. In panic, I hurdled backwards, stumbling over one of little one’s toys.

And while I thankfully avoided a third degree burn, I tore a muscle in my thigh. Which rendered me immobile for the rest of the day.
So I sat on the sofa. Analysing some cancer outcome data for work, watching daytime TV and twiddling my thumbs.

Looking around, I could see all the chores that were waiting for me. The chaotic piles of toys, dusty floors, mountains of dirty dishes were mocking me from afar.

It upset me that I couldn’t tackle the mess or cook dinner for my family. I felt guilty because my husband had to cater to my needs and take over the child care. And I was disappointed that I would have to suspend my newly-established yoga practice.

As I brooded over all the things I should do, ought to complete or was missing out on, I started to feel angry.

“You stupid, idiot thigh,” I grumbled. “If you weren’t hurt, I wouldn’t be so restricted. I wouldn’t be such a burden to others. I wouldn’t be so useless!”

And the moment I said it, I knew how wrong it was.

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How to overcome low self-worth in 3 simple steps
Jun 20

How to overcome low self-worth in 3 simple steps

By Dr Berni Sewell | Heal your self-worth

Let me ask you a question.

Is it important for you to have worth?

Most people would answer yes. After all, you want to be worthy of happiness, fulfilment, love and abundance. You yearn for other people to accept, respect and admire you.

And if you don’t have worth, if you aren’t deserving of the good things in life, you will be deprived of them. Condemned to suffer in misery, isolation and austerity.

You have to prove your worth, work hard, be perfect, sacrifice in order to fulfil the requirements for a happy life. You have to earn it. Right?

Well, not quite…

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How to rediscover joy in everyday life
Jun 08

How to rediscover joy in everyday life

By Dr Berni Sewell | Discover your happiness

Joy is the Holy Grail of feelings. We all strive to be joyful, yearn to find joy in our lives.

But, if you are honest, when did you last feel really joyful? When did you last “jump for joy”? When was the last time your heart was bursting with love, happiness and the sheer joy of being alive?

For most of us it’s so long ago, we can’t even remember. Maybe in early childhood, when life was less complicated and serious. Before our struggles and responsibilities beat all the joy out of us. Before too much suffering, rejection, abuse, neglect sucked it from our injured hearts.

And yet, we never stop searching for it. We sense that it should be a natural part of our Being. Its complete absence from our life bothers us, causes us pain, distress and anxiety.

What are we doing wrong?!

We listen to celebrities and gurus tell us about what joy feels like. Describe how they rediscovered it and how “you can do it too”. Every day our minds are flooded with TV commercials implying that we can find joy if we buy a trendy perfume, a fast car or certain brand of dish soap.

And we try. We buy. But still, joy eludes us. A new exercise regime, meditation practice or purchase may give us pleasure for a while, but it never lasts.

And we start to think: “Maybe I’m not good enough? Maybe I just don’t deserve joy in my life? Maybe joy is only for people who are better than me, more spiritually inclined. Who cope better with the trials and tribulations of life?”

But it has nothing to do with your deservedness, your societal status, scent or level of enlightenment (or lack thereof).

In fact, there are only 3 simple (yet tragic) reasons why joy is absent from your life.

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The 69 most common signs of low self-worth
Apr 30

The 69 most common signs of low self-worth

By Dr Berni Sewell | Heal your self-worth

It’s odd, isn’t it?

When your life just doesn’t feel right. When happiness, contentment and fulfilment seem far away.

Yet, you don’t quite know why.

Generally, your life isn’t all bad. And you feel that you should be happier. That you should be grateful for what you have and make the best of it. ​But too many struggles, anxieties and worries darken your days. Too much negativity circles in your mind. You ​feel unbalanced, out of control. Stuck.

​You have trouble believing in yourself and your own abilities. Somehow, other people always seem ahead of you. More important. Their achievements superior to yours.

We tend to believe that we are born to be socially awkward, a procrastinator, people-pleaser, push-over or under-achiever. We think we are doomed to live with fear and anxiety because of our inherent nervous disposition.

We are convinced that we are condemned to a life of mediocrity, inferiority and “just getting by”. That’s just what it is. Not everybody can achieve greatness, stand out, matter. Not all of us are destined for happiness, purpose and abundance.

​Not all of us are good enough. Bad luck, right?

But ​has it ever occurred to you that all of your struggles might just be signs of low self-worth?​

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A liberating way to reduce anxiety quickly and naturally
Apr 24

A liberating way to reduce anxiety quickly and naturally

By Dr Berni Sewell | Overcome your fears

I had a sadistic teacher in high school who mocked and ridiculed every pupil who dared to attract attention. I was petrified of needing the toilet during his lessons because I knew he would verbally abuse me for asking permission.

So, I worried about German lessons all day in advance. And my body reacted to my anxiety with an overwhelming urge to pee as soon as the lesson started.

I suffered through those 50 minutes, digging my finger nails into the palm of my hand, so the pain would distract me from my screaming bladder. But too often, I was forced to raise my hand and face his derision because I couldn’t hold on any longer.

It made me feel pathetic. Like my body betrayed me. Worked against me.

I started to mistrust myself and my ability to control my actions (and bladder). As a consequence, I developed toilet anxiety, which haunted me during my teens and all the way through my twenties. Whenever I had no immediate toilet access (for example when travelling in the car, in the cinema or on hikes), I needed to go every 15 minutes.

And it wasn’t just in my mind. I really desperately, urgently had to pee! Every time.

Ashamed of my irrepressible bodily reactions, I tried to hide my anxiety from everybody else. When I was out with other people, it took all my strength to keep it together. To stop my anxiety from swallowing me whole and my body from humiliating me. All while maintaining a composed exterior.

So nobody would know how weak I was. How inadequate. How much of a failure.

But my mind was consumed by worries about the nearest facility access, absorbed by suppressing the feelings of panic, overwhelmed by the almost impossible task to act “normal”. And every outing was torture.

So, I avoided activities that involved other people whenever I could. Locked myself into my small flat where it was safe. Where I wasn’t at risk of humiliating myself and my bladder behaved.

For many years, I missed out on life. I merely existed. Imprisoned by my anxiety. Suffering in silence and isolation.

Until one liberating (but terrifying) step changed it all.

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What's your purpose in life (and why it matters much less than you think)
Apr 11

What’s your purpose in life (and why it matters much less than you think)?

By Dr Berni Sewell | Discover your happiness

Yesterday I had an astonishing realisation while I watched my cats sleeping on the sofa.

They were snoozing away peacefully. Blissfully content to spend the majority of their days chilling, relaxing and dozing without a care in the world.

And it occurred to me that our perspectives of life are entirely different. While cats nap all day (only interrupted by eating, casual strolls around the garden, stalking the occasional bird and, from time to time, defending their estate against foreign intruders), us humans are constantly on the go.

We rush around, stressed, anxious and breathless. Hustling, slaving, burning ourselves out. Sacrificing our emotional, mental and physical health so we can achieve, accomplish and contribute to society. So we have purpose and our life means something.

We believe that purpose is a prerequisite for happiness. But observing my cats in their slumber, I realised that they were perfectly happy. Without the need to find purpose in their lives.

So why is purpose so important for us?

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Why you never need to be ashamed of yourself
Mar 17

Why you never need to feel ashamed of yourself

By Dr Berni Sewell | Love yourself

I passed my driving test at first attempt when I was 18 years old. And didn’t sit on a driver’s seat again for the next 10 years.

The thought of driving a car made me feel sick with worry and anxiety. I was overwhelmed by all the actions that needed to be completed simultaneously. Clutch, accelerator, indicator, look left, right and back, use the side mirrors, watch pedestrians, traffic and stick to speed limits. It was just too much!

So, I avoided it. Convinced myself that a car in the city was impractical anyway. That the 3-hour journey to see my family on the train at weekends was more comfortable anyway. And that I enjoyed taking the bus.

But I always knew. Driving was my biggest failure.

Every time I found myself behind the steering wheel, I felt physically sick and froze, mind blank and petrified. Driving was my nemesis. An unsurmountable wall of shame I could never overcome.

Until my mind set started to change…

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How I silenced my self-doubt and followed my dreams
Feb 25

How I silenced my self-doubt and followed my dreams

By Dr Berni Sewell | Transform your life

All my life, my self-doubt murdered my plans, strangled my enthusiasm and drowned my passions.

When I was 7 years old, my deepest desire was to become an author. But self-doubt convinced me that my sister was the creative genius in the family. I could never compare to her, why waste my life on silly phantasies and unrealistic ideas.

When I chose a sensible career in research instead, self-doubt insisted that I was an imposter in a ridiculous scientist disguise. I lived in constant fear of being exposed. Of somebody pointing a finger at me, shouting: “You know nothing, little girl”.

And now, as I dreamed of rekindling my love for writing, self-doubt vetoed again. And I believed its warnings, bought its objections. Again.

As always, I stuck with my familiar life, my stale routines devoid of challenges, excitement and adventures. Busy suppressing my passion and disregarding my need for creative expression, purpose and direction.

While my dreams simmered on the back burner, neglected, oppressed, out of reach. I thought I didn’t need them to be happy. But I was wrong.

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