I was born and raised in Maastricht (Netherlands) and after living in Tilburg (also Netherlands) for 9 years I am back in my hometown again. After my Law studies in which I specialized in Legal History (which is tremendously interesting for its own sake, but I needed to work with people not papyri), I decided to turn my hobby improvisational theatre into work. I followed training to become an improvisational actor and trainer and that led to starting my own company Troeba Theater & Training, which has been my homebase for working as an actor and trainer since 2010. I love theatre and have had the privilege of playing a lot of wonderful shows. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all positive…
Since 2014, I had already been really tired and overstimulated after having combined my Master in Law with the improvisational actor training. Hey, but you can’t stop when you haven’t really started, right? So, I got to work and played, taught and grew my network. At the time I also had just refound love in a wonderful relationship AND my fellow actors and I became finalist at a major Dutch improvisation tournament. Even though “things” were looking good from the outside, “I” wasn’t well, so it would become clear.
In the summer of 2015 I had the privilege of playing an act in entertainment park De Efteling. This meant playing a physically heavy show 3 or 4 times a week. It didn’t just drain me physically, however. Also, mentally, I was nearing the bottom of my energy reserves. I couldn’t concentrate, conversations with colleagues left me feeling empty and for all I knew I had no clue how to improvise or play anymore. I had been used to being open and alert and being able to quickly respond to impulses in the present moment, but now all I could feel was as if I had a stone brick in my head. “How?”, I often thought, “How does everybody around me manage so easily, while I am so so so tired…”
The last hit before I ‘woke up’ was 6 months later. Again, my friends and I were performing in the finals of a Dutch improvisational theatre tournament. We had played shows for an entire weekend, and now the finale was two full hours of play on Sunday evening. After the break I – there is no better way to describe it – had absolutely nothing left to give anymore. When our competitors started a hilariously funny scene in which our team also participated, the only thing I could do is try to hold on to one of my team mates so that I wouldn’t be left on stage as a zombie. That hurt…
Not much later I decided, supported by my girlfriend and family, to put all my activities on hold and take a break to figure out how I could do things differently. It was time for that proverbial journey to my core so I could find the treasure within.
Well, it certainly wasn’t quite the ‘personal development party’ I can tell you. Before I had made the decision to stop working I was dead afraid. Afraid to lose everything that I had worked for, relationship, job, friends, everything.
As soon as I had made the decision to take a break, there was some sort of relief that I could reset for a longer period of time. At the same time though, it seemed as if my body finally had the opportunity to tell me how bad it was. I hardly slept, my stress system was totally out of control, every sound I heard hurt like somebody dragging a nail straight across my brain. And the headache, oh, the headache…
The first few weeks were focused on surviving. I had to find a therapist and also had to investigate the possibility of benefiting from some sort of social security. As many starting independent professionals, I also didn’t have any insurance that covered the risk of disability to work.
It was only when all these things were taken care off that I experienced a bit of space to start feeling and turn towards ‘ok, so now what?’. I started reading a lot about psychology and discovered a lot of things that helped me take small steps forward. I learned more about my introversion and high sensitivity, and why that makes some things in life difficult for me. Together with my therapist, I also started digging in the past and untangle some patterns that I had inherited.
It during this period that I encountered Voice Dialogue for the first time. My first experience with the method was a very physical one. Instead of battling my stress symptoms with relaxtion exercises or sport, I just focused on the feeling of stress and gave it all the space it needed. Very uncomfortable and intense, certainly in the physical condition I was in then. After a few minutes of focusing though, I noticed that I experienced more space and deeper relaxation than I had experienced in all my therapeutic exercises in the weeks before.
Over the months my physical condition improved, and then I joined a workshop intensive on Voice Dialogue at the Institute of Transformational Psychology (the workshop was led by Ruud Zuurman and Rene Grimbergen). I became an instant fan! What a wonderful, loving and accepting method was this Voice Dialogue, a tool that helps you to really look at yourself and take a step forward. I had to continue on this path, so I found out that Elvira Lesman and Laura Las of Voice Dialogue Zuid-Nederland offered an intensive Voice Dialogue education near where I was living.
With Elvira and Laura, I got to know my own ‘inner bus’ full of ‘passengers’. I thoroughly acquainted my inner Perfectionist and Pusher, as well as my Inner Critic who loves to sing a polyphonic melody to the voices of the other two. Step by step I learnt to create more space for relaxation and for the feeling of being good enough. Obviously, that is still something I am working on, but for now it is good en…
Let me be very honest with you: concerning my burn-out I have until this moment not regained the energy I had before, nor am I symptom-free. I am not back at the level I was before, and that is ok – even though it can still be very frustrating to me to experience my limits. I pay close attention to my health and create room for relaxation. By making this shift towards living more aware, my resilience has increased by a lot. I trust in the fact that this shift will help me in the long run to be able to do what is most important to me: to have enough time for the people I care about and to do work that helps people.
And now, I am a Voice Dialogue coach and facilitator. Ever since the beginning of my working life as a theatre teacher I have been passionate about personal growth. In that context too, my focus and interest lay with the process that the players go through rather than the eventual final product of a show. My drive is that everybody deserves a spot on his or her own stage (however small) and that I can strive to facilitate that.
To me, this also applies in a broader context. I believe everyone has a valuable role to play in this life and that everyone has unique talents with which they can contribute to a better world. I strongly believe that you have to attain a certain level of self-acceptance before you can start growing. Becoming a leader of your own qualities and pitfalls and start designing your life in a way that fits you.
Finally, that is also how I look at coaching. As a coach, I am not the one who has all the answers – no, I am just a professional who can walk along with you in your process with open heart, mind and soul. My education gives me the tools to help you turn inwards and grow towards more self-insight, self-acceptation and a greater wellbeing.