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Dear Ingrid

Eros and Philia

Eros and Philia

Anonymous (25): “I have feelings for a colleague. However, he is married and I am also in a relationship, which by the way is good. What should I do with my butterflies?” Ingrid: Practically everyone wants to share his or her life. In our culture it is customary to choose one person to do so. That is what we consider normal. When we ...

Slow down

Slow down

Romy (22): “I am thinking about doing a second mater’s to increase my chances on the labour market. For the same reason, I am on the board of an association. I finance my study by working. I am exhausted and I wonder how long I can keep this up. Do I have a choice?” Ingrid: “Slow down,” Douwe Bob sings. The singer-s...

Sharing

Sharing

Bram (23): “I am not feeling so great and that is why I spend more time alone these days. My friends are looking for my attention and that bothers me. I find it difficult to keep saying 'no'. What should I do?” Ingrid: At the beginning of the nineteen-nineties the 22-year-old recently graduated American Chris McCandless leave...

Monkey

Monkey

Milan (26): “I worry about everything. About how I should tackle matters, but also about the way in which I have done things. I get tired from all that thinking. How can I create peace and quiet in my head?” Ingrid: I’m on my bicycle heading into the city centre. I have cycled this route along the Maas many times, but never bef...

Go with the flow

Go with the flow

Laura (24): “I have a problem when things don’t go according to plan. If the train is delayed, if I have a flat tyre, or it rains when I have to cycle, I get into a bad mood. How can I deal with these things better?” Ingrid: Since the arrival of the precipitation radar, we cycle and walk in the rain less often and because of ou...

Righting reflex

Righting reflex

Chantal (19): “My best friend’s mother is sick and has not long to live. Of course my friend is very sad and I don’t know how to deal with that. What can I do to cheer her up?” Ingrid: When someone we love is sad or in mourning, we want to do something to make that feeling smaller, less intense. Of course, the suffering i...

Pretending

Pretending

Wessel (21): “I am the chairman of an association. Everything is going well, but it doesn’t feel like I am really the chairman. I play a role. Should I continue or would I be better off quitting?” Ingrid: A yoga weekend in Zeeland. I am twisting my sweaty body into the dog, cat and cobra position. Time and again. “Don&rsq...

The same cup

The same cup

Fabiënne (22): “My new boyfriend and I are enough for each other. That is why I have put contact with friends and family on the back burner. They do not agree with this and are pulling at me. What should I do?” Ingrid: In the novel Jij zegt het (Those are your words) Dutch writer Connie Palmen describes the relationship between the f...

Travelling

Travelling

Jeffrey (23): “I have a growing aversion to the shackles forced on me by my study and society. That is why I am considering giving it all up and going backpacking. Is that a good plan?” Ingrid: In the Dutch television programme Ik vertrek (I’m leaving), we see people going abroad to find fortune. Paula and Peter, for example, s...

Turn it around

Turn it around

Patricia (23): “My mother doesn’t show much interest in me. Instead of just talking about herself, she should pay more attention to me. How could I achieve this?” Ingrid: I once read somewhere that there are only two problems. Either there is something that you don’t want, or you want something that isn’t there. Of ...

What you see is who you are

What you see is who you are

Stan (22): “People who put themselves in the spotlights irritate me immensely. Those who do most of the talking in the tutorial group meeting and who are also chairperson of an association. What should I do with my irritation?” Ingrid: “A person is a person because of other people,” declared archbishop Desmond Tutu. It&rs...

Comparative quality study

Comparative quality study

Sandy (21): “When I look around the pub, I see people who are better looking than I am. My physical fitness is less than the other rowers in my club and my fellow students have a way with words that I don’t have. I always come off worst.” Ingrid: A mindful summer weekend. A colleague and friend of mine and I make course partici...

Being happy

Being happy

Jasmijn (24): “I have read dozens of self-help books and I even have a subscription to the Happinez magazine. I do what they say, but I am still not happy. What am I doing wrong?” Ingrid: I read on Facebook that happiness is a choice. As long as we are positive and optimistic, life is wonderful. Sheer nonsense. The glossy Happinez se...

Key question

Key question

Babs (24): “I am often asked to sit on committees or to act as chairperson. Before I realise it, I am doing yet another thing I don’t really want to do. How can I break this pattern?” Ingrid: “I was recently asked to give a workshop on a subject that I don’t really know much about. Still, I said ‘yes’. I...

Make yourself heard

Make yourself heard

Meike (20): “I daren’t open my mouth during tutorial group meetings. It is not that I stutter or have an accent. I just feel extremely uncertain. I am no good to the group this way and I’m cheesed off with myself. What should I do?” Ingrid: What you think, determines how you feel. When you think ‘oh dear, I am never...

Allow heartstrings to be slack

Allow heartstrings to be slack

Sanne (21): “My boyfriend regularly has an evening out with his fraternity. We often argue about that. The idea that he meets other women on such an evening drives me mad. Sometimes he stays home for me, but then we don’t have the best of evenings. And when he chooses to go, I also have a horrible evening. How should I deal with this?&r...

Making definite plans helps

Making definite plans helps

Thomas (24): “In order to complete my study, I have to write a thesis. I have had trouble getting started with it for months now. I keep telling myself that I will get started, but I can’t seem to put pen to paper. Do I need a good kick up the butt?” Ingrid: Deferment behaviour. It is imperfect, but completely human behaviour, ...

Focus on your own business

Focus on your own business

Eline (18): “For the past few months, I have been living and studying in Maastricht. My parents expect me to come home every weekend. I feel less and less inclined to do so, but I don’t want to disappoint them. What should I do?” Ingrid: We force ourselves into all kinds of situations in order to avoid that others get disappoin...

Limited opening hours

Limited opening hours

Hilde (20): “I am always there with a listening ear for my roommates and friends. And so they often come to me with their problems. Lately, I have noticed that it is costing me more and more energy. And when I have a problem, it seems as if there is no one to listen to me. What can I do to change this?” Ingrid: I recently attended th...

Don’t rescue, try to help

Don’t rescue, try to help

Noa (22): “My mother is very dispirited lately. She spends a lot of time lying on the sofa and not taking care of herself or her house. I tidy up regularly, do her shopping and cook for her. She seems to be getting worse. I made an appointment for her with the GP, but she didn’t turn up. What can I do?” Ingrid: Despite the help...

Not knowing

Not knowing

Marcel (21): “I study Medicine. It regularly happens that, having studied a disease, I am convinced that I suffer from it myself. Despite my symptoms, my doctor keeps telling me that there is nothing wrong. But my worries remain. What can I do?”   Ingrid: About one in every three medical students experience physical symptoms ...

Practice what you preach

Practice what you preach

Tara (21): “I want to be the best student of my year and I am prepared to make sacrifices to achieve my goal. I study a lot and in doing so I regularly turn my friends away. Even though things are going pretty well – I get very good grades – I am very troubled when every once in a while my efforts don’t pay off. How can I de...

Digital detox

Digital detox

Maurits (24): “I use WhatsApp a lot and am also active on Facebook. I follow what others are doing and I regularly post messages myself. Obviously I constantly check my mobile telephone to see how many people like or react to my messages. It is taking up more and more of my time. Should I do something about it?” Ingrid: WhatsApp has ...

Pressure of suffering

Pressure of suffering

Julian (24): “I have made various attempts to stop smoking. All without success. After only a day, I am lighting up again. Certainly if I go out with friends, before I know it, I have a cigarette butt in my hand. How can I stop smoking for good?” Ingrid: Last year, I got myself a trial subscription at the gym. Nothing wrong with tigh...

Orange frog

Orange frog

Niek (23): “I have a lot of negative thoughts about myself. I often think I am not clever enough to pass my exams, that I’m not a nice flatmate or not a great member of the student association. How do I get rid of these thoughts?” Ingrid: Before you continue reading, do the following: get a pen and paper and for two minutes do ...

Empty words

Empty words

Isa (26): “Because I don’t always feel a hundred per cent, I regularly get advice from others. I should let go of things more, make contact with the earth and embrace myself. I can’t do anything with that. ” Ingrid: A friend made an announcement on Facebook of an upcoming course ‘Coming home to yourself’. If y...

Action-reaction

Action-reaction

Sander (31): “My boss gives me assignments and then tells me how to implement them. He is hardly ever interested in my opinion. We clash regularly. What can I do to improve our working relationship?” Ingrid: Human behaviour is predictable. If you call out to your colleague ‘hey, could you get me a cup of coffee,’ chances ...

Surrender

Surrender

Jorinde (22): “I’m afraid of flying. That has never been a problem, but now that I am in a relationship, it tends to be awkward. My girlfriend would love nothing more than to travel to faraway places with me. I am afraid that we will crash. What can I do to get myself to board an aeroplane?” Ingrid: Like any cognitive behaviour...

Extinguishing

Extinguishing

Stephanie (22): “I have eating bouts. When I’m in my room alone in the evening, I can’t control myself. Afterwards, I feel really miserable. What can I do?” Ingrid: After working all day, I usually come home hungry. Because I first have to cook, I eat snacks. Crisps, nuts, a slice of cheese or sausage. Delicious. I even l...

Feeling compelled

Feeling compelled

Frederique (24): “I feel I always have to have something useful to do. I hardly ever relax and enjoy myself. It makes me so tired. What can I change? Ingrid: Having a to-do list that never ends, is exhausting. What happens if you stop working your way through the list? Most likely, your internal critic will have something to say. Thoughts ...

Vulnerability

Vulnerability

Jurre (24): “Other people say that I don’t show enough of myself. I admit that I always act as if everything is great and therefore I don’t have many real friends. What can I do to change that?” Ingrid: Last winter, the Netherlands was watching another episode of Boer zoekt vrouw (Farmer looking for a wife). We saw how th...

Sore spot

Sore spot

Richard (26): “I can’t take criticism. If someone makes comments on my behaviour or achievements, I go on the defence. This takes a lot of energy and I don’t make many friends that way. Ingrid: If a remark made by someone else can throw you off balance so easily, then that has something to do with your past. At such a moment, y...

Watching series

Watching series

Ruth (23): “I love watching series. Homeland, Breaking Bad, Lost, I have seen them all. Sometimes I even watch several episodes in one evening, because I just can’t stop. Do I have a problem? Ingrid: Watching series is popular. I notice that at my work, where they often talk about the umpteenth episode of the so-manieth season of a s...

Bottomless pit

Bottomless pit

Michelle (28): “My third relationship has just ended. I am disappointed time and again. I put all of my time and energy into them and never receive the appreciation that I deserve in return.” Ingrid: Your relationships end up on the rocks because you expect the other person to give you what you cannot give yourself: recognition and a...

Saying ‘yes’ to yourself, is saying ‘no’ to someone else

Saying ‘yes’ to yourself, is saying ‘no’ to someone else

Anonymous (25): “I am a PhD student. My research doesn’t make my heart beat faster. I want to quit, but I’m afraid of disappointing others. What should I do?” Ingrid: Zayn Malik quit. After five years with the band One Direction he decided last March that the time had come for him to leave the popular boy band. There has ...

Follow your heart; choose the study of your dreams

Follow your heart; choose the study of your dreams

Mike (19): “I am studying law. This is my second study. I stopped the first one after six months and now I want to quit again. It is not what I expected it would be. The problem is that I don’t know what I do want. How do I find that out?”   Ingrid: “If only I had,” my grandmother mused just before she died....