How dropping some sandbags made my hot air balloon fly high!


Picture this. A 15 year old, young, insecure girl in High school. Finding her place in all the different social groups. Having a bit of a crush at that cute boy that is sitting in front of her in class. But way too shy to speak to him!

It is Monday, in her English class. Ooh no, not her strongest subject. Her homework was reading a text. The teacher starts with asking kids to read a paragraph out of their homework book. Aarrggghhh she hated reading!

“Who is next?”

Silence. Of course. She hopes that staring at the ground will help. Wishing that she is invisible. But she isn’t.

“ You there, blondie, in the second row, start reading the next paragraph”.

Nooooo seriously he must be kidding! Her face lights up like a Christmas tree, but she knows she has no choice.

She starts reading. But then the inevitable happens. She seriously has no clue how to pronounce psychologist. She stutters and tries her best.

“ Ok, that is not how you say that kiddo, try again”.

So she does. Wrong again.

“Ok, I don’t think you studied hard enough, I will give your neighbor a turn now.  Look if she is a bit smarter then you”.

Laughter. Laughter from the whole classroom. And that cute guy in front of her. She wishes she could disappear. Put an invisible blanket around her and get out of there. Her face is red as a tomato now and she knows one thing for sure. She SUCKS at English!!! Will NEVER learn it and will need to study even HARDER to save her from this embracement … and she is sure she can forget that that cute guy will talk to her during the break…

You probably figured … that girl was me. Me telling myself, in that moment, that I SUCK AT ENGLISH.

A picture of me back when I was around 15.

So years go by. I tried harder, got my diploma’s and I kept avoiding jobs at international companies. I ended up in a pretty safe place, the government.

But then it happened. Internally I seemed to be ready. Ready to break out. To question that inner chatter that I sucked in English. I was keen, like VERY keen to start a personal development course at Creative Consciousness. But oh no… it was in English! The master trainer was from Germany with two Dutch assistants but the main language was English. SERIOUSLY??? I spoke to a Dutch trainer upfront and he reassured me that I would be fine. There would be lots of Dutchies whose first language wouldn’t be English. And the assistant trainers were always happy to help out. So I enrolled. That was sooo scary… !!!

And I survived! It was all OK! I was sooo ready to learn something new, and was soooo eager to fly higher in my hot air balloon, that I did it. But it still was pretty hard work, I still was pushing myself through it with all those sandbags on my air balloon:

  1. My English is horrible
  2. I am not perfect in this! I need to do better!
  3. What will others think of me when I need to speak up? Will I fit in the group?
  4. I will never be good at this!

But that is the cool thing when you DO decide to show up, to step in that hot air balloon because you know deep down there is more out there you want to explore, that you NEED to let go of some of your sandbags. So I singed up for the second part of the training. And there, something life changing happened.

A woman, let’s call her Erica,  needed to come upfront to write on a white board in English. And she said: ” Oh I am not good in this!” I got triggered, I feel you girl, I suck in English too!

And then the trainer started coaching her. That is what I  love about group environments, in that moment, I got coached while someone else was being coached.

Trainer: “Ok, what is it that you are telling yourself right now?”

Erica: “That I suck at writing in English. And I hate to do it in front of the group.”

Trainer: “Ok, let’s take a closer look at that. Is it the absolute truth that you suck in writing in English?”

Erica: “Hmm… no, I am Ok in speaking English but not so good at spelling.”

Trainer: “Ok, soooo… actually you are telling yourself that you are HORRIBLE. But on the other hand,  that it is not too bad.”

Erica: ”Hmmm… yes you are right.”

Trainer: ”So is this inner chatter of you serving you?”

Erica: ”No.”

Trainer: ”Group, please show off hands whose English isn’t perfect either and wouldn’t really care if Erica would make a mistake?”

35 of the 40 hands go up.

You can see at her face, that she instantly feels lighter.

Trainer: ”Ok, so what is something more uplifting, positive you can tell yourself the next time?”

Erica:  “That my English is pretty OK and that it is OK to make mistakes.”

Trainer: ”Are you ready NOW to let that old chatter go for good?”

Erica: ”Yes!”

Trainer: “ Ok, then let it go now… and tell me when you have done it”.

Erica closed her eyes and shared with us that she had let it go.

Trainer: ”Cool, let’s take a closer look how you would like your inner chatter to be.”

Erica: “I would say to myself: My English is pretty dawn OK! And it is OK to make mistakes.”

BAM. That hit me right in the face. It can be that easy. So right there, right in the moment, I was with her. I was ready to drop three off my sandbags that where keeping my air balloon at the ground:

  1. My English is horrible
  2. I am not perfect in this! I need to do better!
  3. What will others think of me when I need to speak up? Will I fit in the group?

I changed it into: “ My English is good enough and it is OK that is not perfect yet”.

What a relief! That changed my own self-belief and confidence completely! It made it possible to finish the next two professional modules to become a coach myself. To be able to ask those powerful questions to you, just like my trainer did. And to pass my written and verbal exam with a 9.2.

I made it possible to move to Australia. All because I believed: My English is good enough.

It made it possible to start a business based on blogging, videos, coaching, training and communication, in English.

And today I feel super happy. I had to do an English language test for our new Visa. And yep, I was bloody nervous about that. But I did it! I passed with an average of 7 and a 7,5 in speaking.

Now, I am  confident enough to drop sandbag number four: I will never be good at this!

Now I can say with proud: “My English is good enough”.

And is this blog perfect? Probably not. There is serious room for improvement. But because I dropped my: “I need to work harder” and “it needs to be perfect” sandbags , I am where I am now.

All because I decided to let go of that crap I putted in my head when I was 15. And that feels light and good!  I decided to not let it defeat me. And I am free from my sandbags while sitting in my hot air Balloon. Lighter… and freer… Knowing that I can go wherever I want to fly too…

Are you ready to let go of some sandbags yourself as well? To start moving forward because it matter? Check out my latest offer and send me a message to have a chat!










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About the Author

Lieke Jansen