Tell us a bit about yourself and your background in personal development.
„Hi, my name is Matthias and I’m a personal development junkie.“ – if there were a meetup for people addicted to personal development, I would probably be there. I mean hey, it’s a meetup to improve yourself, so it doesn’t hurt to join, right?
Joking aside, I have a pretty long history in personal development. It all started around 8 years ago with me going to a therapist because I didn’t feel happy and didn’t want to accept that. Like many people, who consciously decide to work on them, I was sure that there was more to life than what I had experienced up to this point. Not knowing anything about therapy I ended up with a cognitive behavioral therapist and at some point I found myself doing comfort zone challenges to tackle my social anxieties. I still shiver when I think back at giving spontaneous presentations in the subway. Sorry if I ever bothered you 😉
From there one thing lead to another: I joined a local meetup in Vienna called talkin’, started to become an NLP trainer & integrative coach, went to live in a Buddhist monastery in Taiwan for 1 month, experienced shamanic treatments and changed my life by becoming more transparent in my communication – greatly inspired by Brad Blanton’s Radical Honesty. Lately, I’ve become more and more interested in expanding sexually, and especially tackling all my shame around body image, performance pressure, desires and sexuality in general. I went on a naked retreat for 1 week, started to look into Tantra and even helped organize „The Intimate Revolution“ – a festival dedicated to end superficial encounters and transform human connection and intimacy.
If I take a look back, there’s one common thread that always was there, ready to be discovered: meditation, looking inwards and breathe. Which paved the way for another adventure: going hiking with Wim Hof and exploring the Wim Hof Method in Poland in January this year.
How does what you currently do contribute to the community?
This might sound cheesy, it probably is, and I still 100 % believe this is true: The best way to contribute is by actually living what you preach. I’ve had enough of „do what I say, not what I do“. I imagine I still fail a lot at this, and I always try to come back and see whether my thoughts, words, and actions are still aligned.
One thing I’m really proud of is that in the past 2 years I’ve helped pupils become better at giving presentations and public speaking. I think public speaking is an extremely important skill, and for many people, it takes courage to go on stage and show an authentic, vulnerable and still professional you. Unfortunately, these so-called „soft skills“ (I really don’t like the term) are still not part of the curriculum in most schools, so I’m happy that I was able to give a couple of classes the chance to practice and learn.
I’ve also taken over the English speaking group of talkin’: talkin’ vienna. We meet once a month for an always different social adventure and create a fun, friendly and welcoming space together. A space where it is allowed, even encouraged, to try out new things, challenge yourself and potentially fail – joyfully. We believe the best way to grow as a person is to get out of your comfort zone and have fun along the way. Joining this meetup has helped me grow tremendously, and I’m happy that I can now give back by supporting others and making sure the meetup continues to happen every month.
If you feel the calling, it’s your chance to join us!
In your opinion and based on your personal experience, what steps can we take today to improve ourselves?
I’d start by admitting that everything is fucked and that it’s ok that way. This might sound overly dramatic, but the first step in improving is admitting that there’s something that wants to be improved in the first place. That there are dark corners in our lives that we like to hide – from others, but especially from ourselves.
It all starts with transparency – being honest with ourselves and others. And from there on: getting comfortable with doing the uncomfortable. Courage is not the absence of fear, courage is acting despite fear. If there is something that you feel drawn to, but at the same time you are afraid of doing it: that’s the best hint you can get that this is exactly what you are supposed to do. You will know it when you feel it.
Ask that cute woman or man for a date, ask for a pay raise, book that trip even though no one wants to join. Make the jump – but don’t forget your parachute. Take baby steps, be gentle with yourself, and join a local meetup to practice and meet likeminded people.
What’s the most valuable thing you learned on your personal development journey?
There’s a beauty to simplicity. When you hike up a snowy mountain just in shorts, when you sit in an ice-bath and jump into a half-frozen river you realize, that you are capable of so much more than what you think you are. Our minds always try to belittle ourself, whispering or sometimes even screaming „you can’t do that, you are not enough“.
Fuck that, YOU ARE ENOUGH! And the world deserves to see you.
Meeting Wim „the Iceman“ Hof in January was one of those experiences, that are powerful enough to change the way you see the world. Many things can be said about Wim, but to me, 2 words come to mind: completely crazy. And I say that with the utmost respect – because I love that! „Crazy“ because he doesn’t listen to this voice whispering „you can’t do that“, „crazy“ because he doesn’t listen to these self-limiting beliefs keeping us down, „crazy“ because he doesn’t give a fuck about what other people think. Whatever he says or does, he is just Wim. And that’s something beautiful. That’s something I aspire. That’s something the world needs more of.
Over the years he has broken with so many assumptions about what is possible, and even at the age of 60, he continues to do so. At the same time, he is down to earth, funny and approachable – I have probably never seen anyone as authentic as Wim. Maybe it’s not Wim who’s crazy, maybe it’s me – for having listened to these limiting beliefs for so long.
You are capable of incredible things, co-creating your reality by taking responsibility for where you are. You have all the tools you need inside of yourself, you have all the tools to figure it all out. Set aside time to look inwards and meditate, set aside time to breathe consciously and things will unfold. My days always start with my morning practice: Yoga, Wim Hof Breathing, Meditation and – last but not least – a cold shower. To me, that’s the most beautiful way to start the day – by taking time for myself. I imagine some of you might now think „Good for you, but I really can’t find the time to do that.“
I’d like to ask you one thing: Are you being honest with yourself? You deserve nice things.
What would be one small thing you wish everyone would start doing tomorrow?
Asking for help. I think I mostly speak to myself here, but YOU DO NOT NEED TO TACKLE EVERYTHING ON YOUR OWN. There are plenty of people on the same journey, plenty of people that are not just willing, but in fact happy to help and support you. Asking for help is the first step in taking responsibility for yourself and your wellbeing – and therefore for the wellbeing of your family, friends, and surroundings.
If you have any comment or feel like reaching out: I’m happy to hear from you on Facebook, Twitter or via Mail. I’m available for 1-on-1 coaching sessions and trainings – to help you reach your goals, face your fears, grow personally and find more clarity in life. And – whenever you are dealing with something that feels like a huge obstacle in your life, simply remember Wim’s words: Just breathe, motherfucker!