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Our inner Kampf commandant

Since this September, I’m doing a yoga teacher training. It’s been an inspiring journey, and a great challenge to combine it with taking care of my son, my work and therapeutic endeavors.

There is one thing I’ve noticed that many of the – all females -participants share: we are much too hard on ourselves. How our teacher Mandy Lathan states it: “In our culture, we have too much tapas”.

Tapas is the Sanskrit word for self-discipline. And I believe it is true, that we are trying to discipline ourselves with strict and rigorousness. But judging from the conversations with my fellow trainees, it actually fails to bring us the effectiveness and good results we so desire.

Actually, being so hard on ourselves is a perfectionist endeavor. We want to try to be ‘perfect’ and to achieve something worthwhile. The harshness we put unto ourselves is tremendous. It is definitely ‘himsic’ – meaning violent.

Ahimsa is the Sanskrit word for non-violence. It’s one of the yogic Yama’s, the first branch of the eight-limbed tree of yoga. I’m sorry to say this Yama is very hard for me to uphold. Although I reject it with all my consciousness, I’m honestly very violent. Not only towards myself, but also towards others once I hold onto my ideals of perfection for dear life. It’s a very sad conclusion, and it takes practice to let go of this rigidness.

Regarding my spirituality, I truly aim to be a kind, loving and peaceful mother. Thankfully my anger has never been directed towards my little one. He summons up reservoirs of love and care I didn’t even know I have. And gratitude and bliss are states I bathe in regularly as well, knowing and seeing how richly we’ve been blessed, with a healthy, happy child. When I’m breastfeeding him and staring at his pristine and beautiful face, I know, I’m the luckiest woman to live on this earth.

Sadly, there is a darker side to myself always. Like we all have, I believe, although I struggle with it more than others. The emotions I experience might be normal, but my being hard on myself, my too strong ‘tapas’ – if that is the right word or concept matching my experience – is killing my joy. I’m currently taking therapy to make amends with my negativity and try to understand this side that rises up, like bubbles coming up from a deep lake and I hardly understand why.

I know why I have these dark moments, the fear and loathing that starkly contrasts the way I seem to many people as bright and bubbly. My past seems to have instilled these negative patterns in my life, and I’ve been spending my entire life since adolescence fighting against it. I hope my son won’t have to spend as many years in therapy as me so that he can have an inkling of a better life than me. And I’m already doing quite okay, most of the time. At least it’s starting to feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Thank goodness.

Are you also a perfectionist? Do you recognize what I’m writing? And what do you think causes your perfectionism and excessive strictness towards yourself? Do you think future generations might not have this inner anal monster bothering them?

Anthropologist, Mother, Yogi, Chocolate addict and writer


  • Richard Jucewicz

    november 22, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Dear Sabine,

    Thx for sharing the emotions you experience from time to time! I recognize a lot in the way you describe them. I had feelings like this for many years. and since i didnt find a solution to the problem, my inner kampfcommandant has made several “assasination attempts” so to speak. I survived really weird car accidents and one of the worst diseases. then i finally got the message my inner kampfcommandant was trying to convey to me. You are here to learn. Learn to forgive, learn and move on. Not just forgive in the Christian sense. As in forgiving and let a god take the burden, and forgetting about the lesson as a result. But actively trying to correct whatever i messed up in my life. And whatever my parents didnt clean up in their life. That sounds like sacrificing myself for my family I know. But the reality is that we live in a world which has been shaped by our parents and in fact by all our ancestors. And as we can witness right now. there is a lot to correct in this world :). I think in my case the feelings I experienced similar to the way you described what you experience are related to my family history. Like a burden. I felt guilty about smth from the start but didnt know what. Of course I can not undo the mistakes of my ancestors. On top of that it was something that they needed to do to learn. But what I actively starting doing was to look at my own past mistakes and those of my ancestors. and then find a way to correct them. and it actually only really worked while i enjoyed the process. it’s not like: you or your family did something wrong so you have to suffer and pay. You can pay but feel joy at the same time. pay attention eg. 🙂 thx again for your post, cause this is a good reminder for myself to keep doing that. keep correcting and having fun at the same time.

    • Slow Parenting Family

      november 22, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      Thank you for your reply Richard! We are here to learn. I feel it is quite normal that we experience such turmoil in our inner selves when so much of the outer world is yet in distress. Our parents and grandparents lived through wars, we have a peaceful period here in the Netherlands and in Europe which I hope will last. Yet there is still much war around us. Trump seems like an outer kampf commandandant as well.

      I hope we learn to develop ourselves beyond the things we might have missed or which might have gone wrong when we were young, into forgiveness mainly. Into being kind for ourselves and the ones around us. It is a hard journey, but we have to try our best.

  • Richard Jucewicz

    november 26, 2016 at 10:22 am

    I wonder what would happen if we all were to envelop our inner Donald Turmps and Vladimir Putins etc. in shiny loving light. and then say “resistance is futile you will be assimilated”. 🙂

    • richard Jucewicz

      mei 13, 2017 at 5:33 pm

      a correction on my last remark. to be more precise about enveloping in love and assimilating. i think one gets the best result with assimilating only one’s own responses to what we see as the outside world. it’s not about good people versus bad people whether it be Trumps, Putins, Sanders’, Obama’s, Kim’s the neighbours, bosses at work, happy times, unhappy times, spouses, kids etc etc. which are part of our life and how we experience it. But our responses to whatever we perceive. Ultimately it’s about either an auto-immune disease or an auto healing. so it’s not about embracing and assimilating perceived enemies, bad guys, annoyances, irritations etc. but only embracing and assimilating one’s own responses to them. cause all opposites are united in essence.

    • richard Jucewicz

      mei 13, 2017 at 5:42 pm

      Correction on my last remark. A much better, ecological, and creating sustainable peace would be only to assimilate one’s own responses to people in one’s life. whoever they are. Live and let live.


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