Our very existence is relational.
What we do to each other, we are doing to ourselves.
Everyone we meet and whatever we experience is mirroring something back to ourselves, about ourselves.
In the same vein, every relational dynamic is co-created. One of the most frequently asked questions that comes up in the therapy and coaching work I do each week is some version of this question:
“Who’s fault is this? Who was to blame for the conflict we had? Who started the fight and who therefore needs to fix it? Is this my work or their work to do?”
“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
— Maya Angelou
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
— Anaïs Nin
As I sit down this week to write about courage, I find myself reflecting on the places in me that seem to be infused with fear and ambivalence.
Like the conversation I know I need to have but am afraid to initiate.
Like those things I need to say, but the words just get stuck in my throat. …
“It is the ability to choose which makes us human.” –Madeleine L’Engle
I used to experience life like a puppet on a string: controlled by elusive, invisible ties to external circumstances and input.
For example, if someone — especially an authority figure in my life — criticized something that I did, I’d descend into shame and defensiveness. Or if someone paid me a compliment, my mood would instantly lift and I’d be walking on air for a while.
Hear some praise? Yay! I’d feel good.
Hear some criticism? UGH. I’d feel bad.
My feelings, my mood, my internal state were…
One of the places I’m most likely to stall out in my own personal growth and development is where I get disabled by self-judgments.
I have a pretty harsh inner critic.
She has high standards, very little patience, and a scornful tone of voice.
I can’t believe you just did that — what’s wrong with you?…
You have no integrity; you’re such a hypocrite…
That wasn’t just a mistake, that was a colossal mistake and you’ll never recover…
You see, I always knew you were an imposter and a fake…
The moment she takes over, I get flooded with shame…
Last week, we explored some core commitments that I return to regularly in my search for a more empowered and openhearted life.
This week, let’s take a deeper dive into the first one: consciousness.
I am using the word “consciousness” to refer to the quality or state of being aware, especially being aware of the things arising inside of ourselves.
When I’m talking about becoming more conscious, I’m referring to cultivating a present-moment awareness of the various sensations, perceptions, ideas, attitudes, needs, motivations, feelings, and patterns that are present within.
This kind of awareness helps us make contact with experiences…
Have you slowed down to wonder recently about what truly motivates your life?
Deep down, when you get in touch with your deepest motivations, do you know what they are?
I often find myself in conversations with people who are motivated to avoid pain, avoid suffering, avoid hurting someone’s feelings, avoid being judged, avoid rocking the boat. You see the theme, right?
And I know that internal place all too well myself. It’s where I self-silence and camouflage myself to be more palatable to others, where I avoid conflicts by keeping quiet, where I maintain the illusion of peace and…
Our emotions bring us a tremendous amount of passion and power.
They give us invaluable information about our underlying universal human needs and are a source of vitality, aliveness, and connection for ourselves and others. Embracing the fullest range of our emotional experiences on a moment-to-moment basis — without numbing out or acting out — is energizing and enlivening.
However, many of us grew up in cultures in which we were taught not to trust our emotions or our emotional experiences. We were taught to see emotions as problematic — especially the unpleasant ones. Some of us were taught that…
One of the biggest threats to conscious, compassionate connection is when our old-brain defensive mechanisms kick in.
Once activated, these ancient survival systems run roughshod over our good intentions. Whatever strategies and skills we’ve been cultivating to support us in such moments can be easily lost under an onslaught of signals from our psyche and physiology telling us that we are not okay and that we must take extreme, severe, decisive, and often destructive action.
Is all of our training and learning really for naught?
Is it to no avail that we practice “needs consciousness,” consider the importance of safety…
If you’ve been feeling discouraged lately, I want to point out some of the ways you may be doing better than you think you are.
1. You’ve already survived hard times.
When you look back at your younger self, you can say, “I made it. I did it. I got through that and not only survived it but also have come out stronger, more resourced, and wiser than before.”
Make a list of the challenges and hard times that you’ve already survived and grown through. …
I’ve been following Charles Eisenstein’s work and thinking for many years, and his recent essay about what we are facing collectively today stirred me.
I highly recommend reading it, but if you don’t have the time, here are some brief personal responses to it from me.
He focuses on two concerns: the reflex of control, and the war on death, pointing out that “Today, most of our challenges no longer succumb to force,” and then continues with a call to connected community, interdependence and stepping into our personal sovereignty.
I’m sure you’ve all seen the various memes circulating right now…
Writer, speaker, psychologist, and consultant offering practical tools and insights for conscious, compassionate, courageous living. Based in Minneapolis, MN.