Help! I'm Not in the Drivers Seat of My Own Life

You sometimes have the feeling that you’re being lived by life instead of being in charge of it? Geert Vermaerke tells us how you can take life into your own hands again.

03-04-2017 -  by Kevin Van der Straeten

Comment this tv episode

Do you have an account on Sign in here
Do not have an account yet? Write your comment here:


You sometimes have the feeling that you’re being lived by life instead of being in charge of it? Geert Vermaerke tells us how you can take life into your own hands again.


Hi Geert, welcome to our studio.


Hi Kevin, nice to meet you.


Sometimes you have the feeling that you’re not in control of your own life.


I do receive that question quite often, and I can actually say there are multiple answers that you can have. But one of them is that people are actually dealing with all kind of problems, issues, tasks that they have to do. They don’t really think of what is going on, and they’re just rushed to solve those problems. And by the end of the day, they are saying: Jesus, what have I done the whole day, I’m not in control anymore. So the tasks and the problems are passing by in a very high speed. Another possibility or an answer is that people are saying: but each time when I’m having a problem, I’m not thinking how can I solve it or how do I should it better or differentially, they start doing it on auto pilot. That means they’re just starting from habits or experiences from the past, and just try to solve it, get rid of it as fast as possible. And they say also at the end: what have I learned now, nothing really. So they say: Jesus, it’s just like life is passing by really fast. So those are two possible explanations.


And what’s the risk of living on a way like that?


The risk, or the big danger actually, is that due to the fact that you have no longer control anymore, you feel that your body is giving you signals, by saying: you’re demanding too much of yourself, of your body, your energy, that your energy is dragging you down, and that you are getting up in the morning and saying: Jesus, I don’t want to go to work anymore, I don’t feel the energy, not having any motivation to start working or getting up in the morning.


And that’s what is called a burn-out, then?


It might be. As a final result it can obtain of course a burn-out. Which is of course the worst situation. But if you look at a daily life what’s happening right now, you see that more people are actually suffering on the edge of falling into a burn-out just in front of them.


And how comes, that more and more people are struggling with this topic?


Also again, there are different answers. It’s actually a combination. First of all, people have a lot of tasks and things to do during the day. More than before. Like the crisis that we have a few years ago. People are fired, but the same amount of work remains. So people have to do a lot more tasks during the day, with less people. So then at the end it would be nice if you could say: I finished my job, I finished my tasks, I can relax now. But the problem is that the load, the burden of tasks is so much, that people cannot relax anymore. So that’s one of the dangers. And the other one is also that people are saying, okay, if somebody is asking me something to do, I just have to say yes, because otherwise it would be impolite, or I put him in a bad mood, or whatever. So they say: yes, of course I want to do that. But on the other hand it’s like a small boy sitting on your shoulder, and saying: you should have said no. That’s one thing. So the difficulty to say no. Another thing is also people are saying: when I’m doing something, I’m doing it for two hundred percent, so it has to be perfect. Right? So there is no space for mistakes or whatever. And there is of course the combination of: a lot of things to do, hard to say no, being a perfectionist, and also doing good for everybody. These are actually the ingredients to result in a burn-out.


And what’s the cure then? Can you do something about it?


Not really. No, I’m just kidding. There are of course a lot of things that you can do about it. And basically the main point is that you mentally can do a lot about yourself. That you can actually become your coach of how you are thinking, how you are feeling yourself during the day. A pity of course is that a lot of people, when they are feeling like having headaches or suffering from burn-out, they are going to a doctor, quite easily, they prescribe of course medication. Which is not always the solution of that. But there are a lot of things that you can do. Is it okay if I give you one example for instance?


Yes, sure.


One of the techniques that we’d like to use: people are going from one appointment to another, and they’re driving with their car from one to another, and they are sitting in a traffic jam. Which is happening quite often. Then actually at that moment you have the possibility to say: okay, I put myself mentally already in the meeting, so I can prepare myself, that I can visualize the people, visualizing the conversation. But you also have the choice by saying: okay, that car is passing me all the time, I’m having all the red lights. So you are starting to stress yourself at that moment. So it’s your choice if you want to be stressed during that ride, or is it your choice to say, okay, the car traffics, I can’t change those, the red lights, I can’t change those, but mentally I can prepare myself. So when you arrive at your appointment, your mood, your behavior, will be completely different if you’re more relaxed, or if you’re more stressed during the traffic jam. So this might be one example already.


Are there other things you can do?


Well, another thing is, people are having sometimes difficulties in meetings to remain focused or concentrated on the topics that have been explained. Because the more topic thoughts that you have to do, that you’re concerned about… More than forty percent of their time they will be thinking: Jesus, I still need to send that email, or I have another task to do.


That sounds familiar.


Okay. But actually at that moment you should be focused on the things that have been said, or the topics of the meeting. So you can ask yourself, if you’re forty percent mentally somewhere else in a meeting, how effective are you. And that’s why we have developed several tools… First of all be aware of that you’re mentally somewhere else. And actually with some small mental tricks, techniques, you can say in five seconds: okay, now I’m back, focused, concentrated on what is happening. Without worrying: I still need to do that email, or to do your other tasks.


People who want to know more about this subject, they can follow a training?


They can of course follow a training. There are several issues that we can actually attack with those self-couching trainings. We can do that in open training skills which is in our office. That we can do. On the other hand, we also do it quite a lot incompany. If I look all together I think about 80 to 90 percent of the courses are incompany. The advantage of, first of all, organizing it incompany, you can stress out which topics they really want to have. Then it’s more like meeting skills, more like communication. Because when you’re higher in stress, your communication is becoming sometimes quite directly and also offensive. And sometimes people discover afterwards and saying: Jesus, I should have said this differently, or I shouldn’t have say that. So depending on communication, depending on meeting skills, depending on self-effectiveness; we have a lot of different topics we can attack in those trainings.


Geert, thank you very much for coming over to our studio.


You’re more than welcome.


And you at home, thank you for watching our show, I hope to see you next week