The OpenUp of... Zoila Knel

Thoughts and feelings | Time to read: 6 minutes

In the section 'The OpenUp of ...' someone openly tells about his or her life. Topics such as meaning, awareness, doubts and insights all pass by. And how does psychology play a role in their lives? In this second episode we ask OpenUp psychologist Zoila...


How are you really doing today?

"Since 2 weeks I feel well again. I'm pregnant and the first trimester was quite tough, I was very nauseous and suffered from fatigue. That was quite tough. I got pregnant in the middle of April and at the same time we had a good but hectic period at OpenUp.

The first trimester was pretty hard, I was very nauseous and suffered from tiredness.

We were doing lots of corona consults, our team grew rapidly, and I was the one who had to help the new psychologist get used to OpenUp. All together it was quite a lot. The nausea was so prevalent, that's hard to turn off. Since a few weeks the nausea is gone and I feel myself again. So now I can say it's going well!".


What does make you feel fulfilled?


"Really connecting with someone else, like a good conversation with people you love. And really having time for each other, that gives me energy. Nature also has this effect on me. I noticed during the lockdown that I missed the forest and the beach. Going into the forest, or visit a quit place really helps me to recharge. It is a way to get away from everything for a while. It's not that I can't do that when I'm not in nature, I just don't have to put any effort into detaching from work when I do. It allows me to step out of the frenzy of everyday life for a moment.

Nature really helps me to recharge.

"Yoga and meditation had the same impact on me. But because of the hustle of the last few months, I found it difficult to get those moments of rest into my new routine. Especially in the early days of the lockdown I was working a lot and spoke to fewer people. As a result, I continued to think about work, after work. I wanted to do more yoga again, but I used to do this in groups. Since I had to work from home, by myself, it took a while before I had a new routine. Meditating was easier to keep in my routine. This always gives me something to hold on to in busy periods.


How do you fit psychology into your daily life?

"If you start with the Psychology education, you start to be more aware of your own thoughts, feelings and behavior. Also you'll be more aware of that of others. Awareness is really important, because it is always the first step if you want to change something and want to grow. We often want a quick fix, but if you skip the awareness phase you will never get a long term effect. You get to know yourself by exploring your thoughts, feelings and behavior. The starting point for personal development. Sometimes I'm curious how I would have developed if I had done another education".

We often want a quick fix, but if you skip the awareness phase you will never get a long term effect.

"When in my career I came into contact with other forms of therapy as well, I learned more about value-oriented living. What are my values and how can I do something (small) with them every day? That also gives me something to hold on to on days when I feel less good. For example, when I was so nauseous during my first trimester I applied this as well. My values include 'connection' and 'self-care'. On days when I felt lousy, I tried to talk to a friend, cook healthy, meditate or go for a walk. That way I did not put all my focus on the fact that I was nauseous and I could look at the bigger picture. If you know your values and apply them, this can also give you more meaning".


How do you deal with setbacks?


"What helps me a lot, and that's quite an open door, is to share this with someone you know well. If you keep it to yourself, you keep grinding about it. I always try to see if I can still give myself some credits or a compliment, about a positive part of the situation. And after a while I ask myself what I learned from the disappointment. You often don't see that right away, but you'll recognize it after a while".

I always try to see if I can still give myself some credits or a compliment, about a positive part of the situation.

"Actually, I always try to look for something positive. In my adolescence I couldn't do that very well, but throughout my education and as I grew up, I learned to see positive things in lesser times as well. I am not a positive guru, by the way. But if you can look at a situation from two sides, you also get a more nuanced picture. So it is also about becoming aware of what a situation has yielded".


What do you learn from your consultations with clients?

"I am still surprised by the vulnerability and openness of the people I speak to. In a short period of time you really get to know somebody. Clients really open up and dare to tell me what is going on. Opening yourself up can bring you so much. Sometimes people tend to keep things in front of them for a long time, while it can be very comforting to talk about them. My work has also motivated me to be more open and honest about my feelings. That always has a positive effect in the long run".


"The beauty of giving treatment is that you soon notice that we as human beings are so much alike, on so many levels. People think they are coming up with something very strange or crazy, but after years of working as a psychologist, I see that most of it overlaps. I think we can all connect more if we understand how equal we are instead of how different we are".

The beauty of giving treatment is that you soon notice that we as human beings are so much alike.

"Before my time at OpenUp I worked with people with traumas and learned a lot about resilience. I have often observed with great admiration how people pick up their lives again after a huge setback. Partly because of this I am convinced of the enormous resilience of mankind. Still, in daily life we are often more concerned with the things that don't go well. That's not surprising, our brain is always focused on what can be done better. In many situations that's fine, but not when it's about our emotional life, or situations over which you simply have no control".


"Something I also noticed during the lockdown. A lot of people kept focusing on things they couldn't control. That is enormously frustrating and pointless. That's why in the OpenUp sessions we look for things you can actually influence. I also find it extraordinary to see that you can also look at the positive aspects of an unpleasant situation. As in the case of corona: spending more time with the family, no travelling time to work and more autonomy to classify your own times".


What is the best advice you ever had, and why?

"That you should really stand for what makes you happy. I think at certain times in my life I was very focused on things I wanted to achieve, such as an education or a job. I was often busy with the end goal instead of the process. Because of that I forgot to ask myself: Do I like it too? Does it make me happy? You may choose that path too".

That you should really stand for what makes you happy.

"That realization did take quite a while. During my childhood I wanted to show that I could achieve something. If you keep saying that to yourself at a young age, it can be quite confronting when you're an adult. I didn't know what made me happy either, because I hadn't been aware of it. Now it's much easier. I regularly check in with myself and then ask myself: will this process really make me happy or is this just an end goal? And is the end goal really that important now or does it just seem that way? Of course it is not that in life I can only do things that make me happy, but it is an important point of attention for me".


Written by Meike Bergwerff

Want to share your own experiences? Contact us at team@openup.care.


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