The power of self-connection

This is the speech of last month's event where I was a speaker, the story is about the journey to autonomy, the path to self-discovery, and finding the strength offered by the inner resources we gather through life, often unaware…

Ida Protuger



Happiness at work

Violence in the workplace can have different forms, including disrespectful communication and belittling behaviors. It remains a significant source of stress at work.

The power of collective thinking

Leaders hold a crucial role in nurturing collective thinking as a resource. Those appreciating the value of experience and knowledge in each team member foster a safe space for exchanging ideas. They see the synergy from combined resources as valuable input toward better, well-informed, and inclusive decisions.

The event I’m going to talk about tonight is connected with an authentic feeling of loneliness and being abandoned that was integrated into every cell of my body. So the beginning is sad but has a happy ending.

It started when I was three, and my parents got divorced. I don’t remember a lot, only sequences. I remember how suddenly I wasn’t in the apartment where I was born and lived with my parents but in a strange house. However, my mother is there, my doll Sashka is there, and a baby that my mother said I should name her. Luckily, my sister was satisfied with the name – Maja. And everything was alright; the source of love was there. 

The next scene is in the apartment where I was born and used to live with my parents. But my father introduced me to a stranger, the new wife, telling me she would be my mother. No one explained why I couldn’t be with my mother, where she was, and why she disappeared from my life. The new woman was not the reason for the divorce, but she was a stranger to me, as was I to her, and we needed time to get to know each other and love each other, which happened later. 



But the event I remember very well happened when I was five, and my father took me, after a year of not seeing my mother, to see her in the house of their common friends. I see her and have no idea why I wasn’t with her, but I see my source of love, run to her, we hug, and I stand behind her because, even as a child, I realize that it’s either here or there. I’m either going to be with my father or with my mother. I chose my mother and didn’t want to leave with my father. I remember her telling my father, “Don’t take her. Leave her alone. Let’s not make it worse for her.” So he left. Then the best week of my early childhood life started. I was with my mother – the source of love and safety. She took me to her apartment, where my sister was. There were a lot of toys. Me and my sister got to know each other practically. There were bedtime stories as well.

Then, one morning, my father came with two strangers and told me I had to leave with him. I looked at my mother, but she didn’t do anything to prevent this decision. As a child, I couldn’t understand her state of being in shock, being petrified. I realized she couldn’t change anything, and I reached for the only weapon at my disposal. I told my father I couldn’t go with him because I was still in my pajamas.

Of course, they took me out in my pajamas and put me in the back seat of a red car. I didn’t cry but couldn’t realize why I didn’t stay with my mother, and my sister did. Later I realized the people were from the Centre for Social Work, and my father was granted custody of me and my mother of my sister. It was a feeling of loneliness and abandonment, being taken away from the source of love. Feeling humiliated because I was outside in my pajamas. Hardly thinking why I was not with her, and my sister was, my childish brain realized that I was not worthy of her love. That’s why I wasn’t ‘the chosen one.’ This feeling was imprinted deep inside me, and I began looking for the lost love everywhere, in every person and in partners. It became a Holy Grail for me. Hence, I never found it in the form I lost. 

The feeling of not being worthy

Once later in life happened that I fell in love a lot. I thought we were going out on a date, but he told me he didn’t share my feelings. He even told me he was in love with another woman, but this woman rejected him. I cried afterward for days and weeks until a voice spoke to me. 

“Why are you crying, Ida?” 

“Because I love him!” 

“But you don’t have this love; you’re crying for something you don’t

have something that doesn’t exist. On the other hand, there might be someone who would want to share your emotions. Someone dying to be with you, talk to, and make love with you. Someone to be together with you. That’s an option, a possibility for you. But this is nothing! And to open the door for that possibility to happen, you have to close this door. And why would you think it has something to do with your worthiness?” (Because I felt the same I felt in the back seat of the red car. That I didn’t deserve the love of the one I loved). 

“Someone likes sushi, someone Bolognese, it’s that simple,” the voice continues.

“Now, I will tell you a story that might help you realize some things. 


A story about the ring

There was a young man who felt worthless, just like you, and he went to see a wise man and ask for advice. The wise man told him that to help him, he needed help first and sent him to sell a ring because he had to pay some debts. The young man went to the market, happy to help, and offered the ring everywhere. The wise man had told him not to sell it for less than one gold coin. He praised the ring and offered it to the people at the crowded market, but no one wanted to give him one gold coin. The highest bid was two silver coins. He returned to the wise man disappointed and told him about it, but the wise man said, ‘Let’s not be desperate. Who can tell the actual price better than a jeweler? Go and ask the jeweler near here but don’t sell it. 

The young man went to the jeweler, who appraised it and told him the ring was worth 28 gold coins. Since he didn’t have that much at that moment, he offered only 25. Shocked for not being able to get even one coin, when the jeweler said it was worth 28, he returned to the wise man and told him what had happened. The wise man thanked him and told him he had no intention of selling the ring but only tried to show him how important and worthwhile each of us was. But not everyone could see and appraise a person’s worth. Everyone is unique and precious. The story ends here, but I,” said the voice, “have something else to add. If you don’t know, you’re worth 28 gold coins and think someone else has to tell you your value, you are going to lose time on the markets and get no more than two silver coins.” 

Then I asked the voice: “But who are you? You gave me good advice and told me useful stories. You care about me, and you know me well.”  

Love as a resource

The voice then said, “I am the Holy Grail you’ve been looking for everywhere but in yourself. I’m your love for you and the love you’ve been carrying inside and had received from your mother. The love you’ve been giving to everyone but not to yourself. I realized I wasn’t alone but had myself on my side. The best friend who knew all my secrets and needs. This didn’t mean I didn’t need other people. But I build relationships with a sense of confidence and love inside me. This Holy Grail I found meant I wasn’t looking for confirmation outside any longer. 

With these resources, I have one more from the mother who raised me, and this was faith in my abilities because she always said I could do everything if I tried. Often, people are not aware of the resources that could get us, as we heard from the stories here, out of many situations.

This inner transformation I experience I can describe with another short story from the same psychotherapist who uses storytelling as a tool. The first story was also from him. 

So, when he was a child, he went to the circus and saw an elephant doing everything he was told, tied up with chains and being whipped, fulfilling other people’s expectations and demands. He wondered why the elephant wouldn’t get free because he was chained to a small nail on the ground. He could free himself easily. When the author grew up, he realized that when the elephant was small tried to get free but wasn’t strong enough. This feeling of being powerless was imprinted so deep in him that he never questioned its strength when it grew up. 

The girl from the back seat of the red car couldn’t decide for herself. Others did. However, the woman I am today can use all her resources and design life however she chooses. I’m using the greatest power everyone as an adult possesses – the power of choice and freedom to decide. Using this power, I can design my life, take the best of the given circumstances, and create opportunities for the desired future. 

In other words, I’m an author and not an actor in my own life.